Yesterday, I talked about milestones. Markers. Places to look back from and see how far I've come in the last year .... or so. Sort of like tombstones in a cemetery which are basically markers of a person's life.
In the last few years, I've chosen to view my birthdays as markers, milestones on my journey towards recovery.
Originally in the earliest part of Phase 1, the journey post workplace abuse situation #1, I also had milestones; however, I chose specific places to revisit each year at a specific time, i.e. the time the trauma happened.
Yesterday, we looked more at the physical journey, the victory of conquering a fear which had controlled me my entire life. Basically, a journey I could chronicle through pictures because that part of the adventure was visible, external.
But there's more to the journey that that. There's more to milestones and markers than yet. There's the internal part. The part you can't take pictures of. The part that is not visible to anyone - even those closest to me.
Looking back, I could not have done Saturday's trip a year ago. Not just physically, although that plays a definite part, but also emotionally.
For one, I had absolutely no energy. Walking to the back of my yard and back was a challenge.
I had balance issues. Especially if I got tired. The more fatigued I got, the worse the balance got. I still remember visiting my mother at the seniors' residence and envying the residents and their wheeled walkers. I also remember a period even earlier in Phase 2 of recovery post workplace abuse situation #2 when I had to use the shopping cart as a "wheeled walker" when grocery shopping.
Speech problems - which I still have but are less pronounced. My therapist has told me that trauma scatters the brain cells. Kind of like a brain injury or concussion but without the physical blow to the head. I call it "scattered brain syndrome" (my own catch phrase).
My cognitive skills, once extremely good, were a mess. There have been times in the journey (in 2012) when I couldn't figure out how to read an analog clock or other very simple things which I've done my entire life.
I discovered last year when I purchased my nifty bike with adult training wheels that the old axiom that you never forget how to ride a bike is not true - at least not for those who've had their brain cells scattered by trauma. I had to relearn how to ride a bike. Fortunately, because of the training wheels, I did not have to relearn how to balance on a bike. But I had to relearn how to brake, how to steer, how to turn corners After I relearned the basics and felt just a little more adventurous, I discovered to my dismay that I could not ride in a straight line. I was doing great in a nearby parking lot but utterly failing on the sidewalk or if I chanced on the road and had to stay as close to the curb as possible.
Even before my mom died in August of 2012, I found things very overwhelming. After her death, everything overwhelmed me. Simple things like putting on meals, ordering a meal, etc.
Last summer, I was firmly in the grips of anxiety. I was OK in my house and especially in my safe room. I was OK with those who have proven to be safe people in my life. But I was not OK in the outside world. It frightened me. People frightened me. I still felt a lot of fear in regards to people because of some of the things that had happened during the work situation - and after.
Fear, mostly of people, was a huge part of my life. Trust as well.
Anxiety and fear of people combined was so prevalent in my psyche that I found it extremely difficult even to sit through a church service when the sanctuary was full during the summer as the two church services had been combined into one for the summer months. It was so stressful that eventually, I gave up and came back when the summer had ended and the normal schedule resumed. Even though, I faced challenges.
You may look in the mirror and not find yourself to appear threatening at all. But to me, you would be very, very scary.
I couldn't very well be working on my deep-seated fear of heights, etc. when there were more pressing fears, things, to be worked on. Like simply coping in daily life and learning how to cope.
That was where I was last year. So where am I now? What, if anything, has changed?
Besides a lot?
A lot can happen virtually unnoticed in a 12 month span of time.
The biggest thing that happened in the intervening 12 months between last August and this August was that in September my personality came back! I didn't realize that people don't really understand what I mean by that until someone asked me point blank: "What do you mean that your personality came back?"
I mean that that piece of me that sparkles, is witty, a bit irreverent, sure of herself, happy, fun-loving, etc. reappeared. In a way, it was great. In a way, it was strange. It was like a stranger had been living in my body since the workplace abuse escalated past the point of bearable in 2010-2011. A stranger I didn't really like, but had no choice but to accept had taken over. There was no joy, no sparkle.
When that stranger got "evicted" last September, I had to relearn in a sense how to live life with the real me. It was like a pendulum which swung from one extreme to the other before it finally settled down in the middle.
It was that single event which made last Saturday's victory at the CN Tower possible.
When my personality came back, a lot of the affects either left or were toned down to much more manageable levels.
Fear. Specifically fear of people left.
A year ago, I was still barely able to function in many respects. Going out even for shortish periods of time exhausted me.
Factor in also the extreme anxiety I felt around people.
Going to Toronto was definitely not a viable option last year.
Standing in line for an hour would have been unbearable last year - for everyone.
This year, that fear was gone. Completely erased.
That is the biggee.
But there is more.
This blog is already too long, so we'll leave the other internal factors to explore during another post.
I think I'll stop the post here. What I thought would be a simple posting - which may be simple in my rather fertile but deranged mind, is not turning out to be simple in the actual putting fingers to keyboard part.
The part where the mind has to think, to analyze, to form words to express itself.
The part that is still the most unhealed of all the damages I've sustained during and post workplace abuse.
The part I'm still very much learning how to live with and discovering coping mechanisms.
So today ... I will stop for now and give my poor brain, the left brain part that is, a well-deserved rest.
Until tomorrow ....