Friday, August 29, 2014

Danger: Entering Trauma City

Yesterday was really triggery for me.

My health insurance has this program called Begin Right (or something like that...). It's a maternity program. If I do this program, we get money. Who doesn't want money, right?

I had to take this survey at the beginning of my pregnancy. And then I had to talk to... I don't know what to call her. My health insurance maternity agent? She is a representative from the program just for me.

When I took the survey, Ben sat there with me (because I really didn't want to do it) and helped me answer the questions (because I like to minimize what I'm going through). There were questions about my mood and depression symptoms. Which, of course, I had to answer honestly. Actually, Ben honestly answered them for me...

Anyway, those questions became a topic of discussion with my maternity representative. She asked if my mood had gotten better, if I had stopped feeling "low." I told her my moody feelings had more to do with outside circumstances in my life than my pregnancy. I'm sure hormones have something to do with it. And I know feeling sick and barfing a ton hasn't helped ease the depression. But, the truth is, my depression does go much deeper than my pregnancy.

So, of course, she asked what we were dealing and if I would talk to her about what was going on in my life. I tried to keep my answers polite and simple, but she KEPT DIGGING. And my breaking point was when she asked me if I ever had "tearful episodes." When I said yes, I do, but I'm not that worried about it, she expressed her concern with my "tearful episodes", and to me, it sounded like she was saying that normal people don't cry. Like, ever.

After more probing questions, I finally told her bluntly that I didn't feel comfortable talking to her about issues that are very personal to me and I would appreciate it if we could move on to something more relevant to my pregnancy, not my personal issues that cause me to have "tearful episodes."

It kind of went downhill from there. I got off the phone near tears and reached out to some friends to tell them about this conversation and how I felt that a person who has NO IDEA who I am or what I am going through was minimizing my pain.

God has blessed me with good friends. Friends who kindly reminded me (and humorously. I have to quote this because it seriously turned my day around) that I "have been crazy sick and...dealing with trauma. Not having an emotional response would indicate you probably also torture animals."

I've been really tender and touchy since the conversation I had with this woman. I've had some other triggery experiences in the past 24 hours. Sometimes they pull me down, and sometimes I can be strong enough to pull myself back up.

I feel like I'm starting to go into Trauma City, and I just want to lay on my couch and watch Veronica Mars all night. With a half gallon of ice cream for company. Ben can come too, I guess. 

But on another note, I really did do something super strong and brave yesterday. Except I'm not going to write about it because the experience I had could be triggery to some, minimized by some, or I could look foolish to some. So I'm keeping that in my heart, but I know I'm a warrior. And I will make it through Trauma City. Hopefully I don't have to take too many detours.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Is trust a choice?

Trust is a funny thing. It's precious. It's something to be earned. But is it something I can choose? I don't know. I haven't quite figured that out. Maybe I'll figure it out as I write.

Sometimes I forget how truly awful this addiction is. I don't know if that makes me forgetful, naive, or blessed, but when I get in a "good place", it's really easy to forget what the addiction has done and can do.

But then things might come up that trigger me or cause me to greatly fear the next big fallout of the cycle.

I haven't written in a while because I went to visit my family for a few weeks, and blogging is not what I wanted to do during that time.

When I left for my trip, I had tons of anxiety. It brought me back to the hell I experienced when I lived in Arkansas and Ben lived in Texas. All the relapses, lies, and trickles of truths hit me again. Along with my past Arkansas trauma, I was also hit with the memory of previous lies and discoveries from earlier in our marriage. So I went to visit my family with this panic settling in my chest, wondering what I could do about it.

On one hand I wanted to trust Ben. Maybe it was intuition or the Spirit, but I just couldn't really trust him. I tried to push my panic off. I tried to live my normal day and not think about what he could be doing. But I found out halfway through my trip that he had been lying and had some episodes the first week I was gone--during the time I had felt all the panic burning in my chest.

But he told me. Not right away. Not without some lying first. But he did tell me.

So do I trust, can I trust, that he told me the truth? The full truth?

He wants forgiveness. He wants our relationship to heal.

But can I forgive and move on? Can I do that after everything? Knowing this is not the end, that it's NEVER the end? Maybe one day will be his last relapse. But can I trust, can I hope that is now? Can I trust or can I hope that things will really be okay? I once trusted that I was doing the right thing in giving my life to him, in planning my family with him. It's hard not to question that when trust has been so horribly broken.

Last week, things were pretty unstable between us. He gave me space. And when I wanted to voice my thoughts, hurt, and anger to him, he listened. He's good like that.

He had been traveling to Arkansas on the weekends while I was there. So we drove home Sunday night. The end of my little vacation with my family and back to real life.

We talked the entire way home. It was really good and very healing for both of us. And I feel a lot closer to him. But now we are back in Texas together, and I'm left to wonder what steps to take next. Really, I know what to do because it's what I always do. I feel things out and take baby steps as I see fit and as I feel safe. I hold on to my boundaries to keep myself safe. And I try to work together with him. Because I keep reminding myself that the real enemy is the addiction. I'm trying to see him as he really is, a son of God, not just as an addict.

But, trust. Trust keeps coming to my head. I wish I had some super wise words to share about what I'm learning about trust. But I don't really have any. I think I'm learning a lot, though.

Trust is something to be earned. He has to prove himself trustworthy. And he is trying [I think--see? Trust issues].

But can trust be chosen? If I see that he is truly making efforts, can I let go of my pain and hurt? Can I forgive and trust again like the snap of a finger?

I don't know. Sometimes I think I can choose trust. And maybe I can in certain moments because maybe I feel safe in those moments. But sometimes I can't choose trust because I don't feel safe in the moment.

I couldn't choose to trust Ben when I went to Arkansas. I didn't feel safe. My gut was screaming at me that something was going wrong. Maybe it was a result of my past trauma (which I thought it was, and that is why I tried to just push it off and choose to trust him. But I couldn't fully trust him). But maybe it was a warning that something was happening or going to happen.

But I feel like right now I can choose to trust him with some things. It feels conditional on how he behaves--is he sharing certain information with me? Does he seem to be actively seeking recovery? Is he doing things to prove that he can be trusted? Maybe it's more of a combination of his healing along with mine. Maybe as he heals, and as I heal, that is how trust can be mended. And maybe I can choose to trust when I feel safe, and maybe a trauma response or traumatic memory will hit and I can't trust in that moment. I think that is okay.

What I've learned the most about trust, though, is that nothing in this life is consistent or stable. I can't put my trust 100% in Ben because he is human. I can trust him enough to bear his child and remain married to him, but I can't trust him with my all. I can, however, trust my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the one in whom I can put my trust. He is the one who can truly bear the weight of my pain. He can lift me up. He can comfort me when I cry. He can send me angels. He can send me warnings. He can bring me peace. He can do anything.

So while I'm trying to figure out the trust issues with Ben, I know for sure I can lean on Christ. Always. So I'll stick to that for now.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Trauma Response

My body has been conditioned to feel a trauma response when I am faced with decisions. Any decision, big or small. I start shutting down. I feel it start in my head. Then it starts closing in on the rest of my body. And holy cow, I just need to lay down and shut the world out. Except I think I've been trying to lay down and shut the world out for months. It's not getting better. I still feel that trauma response erupt every time I have any kind of trigger. But the triggers aren't necessarily about sex/media/etc. Most of them are emotional triggers that remind me of the pain I felt earlier this year and bring me back to every pain I have felt in my life.

I don't know how I can live this way. I'm not living. Every little thing requires a huge decision. Every decision requires hours and hours of thinking and weighing all possibilities and making sure I have evaluated as much as I can with the information I have. 

I have decisions to make today. One fairly big. One pretty small. Both are shutting me down.

When will I stop feeling so frozen and be able to make a decision again? 

I'm trying to turn it over to Christ. But it's hard. So hard. So many fears. So many traumas erupting. 

I was introduced to Casting Crowns this week. I'm a little obsessed. You should be too. Listen to both songs. Drink in the lyrics. 

Just Be Held

 The Well

POST EDIT: I have spent the morning praying and turning my turmoil over to God, along with asking for guidance in the decisions that needed to be made (which were actually three, not two, as I said earlier). I received answers to my prayers, which were not the answers that I was anticipating. But, from the answers I received, I know that God is mindful of me. He knows my limitations and needs. I've also had a few other things happen this morning that show me God is near. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Oh Lord, how many times?

How often do I need to be reminded that I can't do this alone? This being life.

I've struggled with a faith crisis, as is normal among women who have gone through trauma. I think it's good for life to shake your faith and make you question things. It makes us stronger and gives us a deeper love for what we do come to believe in.

This faith crisis has been brought on by many things. There are a lot of things I have been wrestling with. But the most important thing is my faith in God. I've wondered if He is actually there. And if He isn't...that would change everything. Everything. I've wondered if Christ is real. Is He real? Is the Atonement real? Am I really never alone? Is He really always there for me? Because I've felt alone many times.

When it comes down to it, I feel that the most important thing I need to reconcile is my faith in God and Christ. So that's what I've been focusing most of my efforts on.

As I've been questioning things lately, I keep finding little answers or things that help me hold on. A tender mercy that is in no way coincidental. A little sign that God is aware of me. Sweet feelings of peace when I work on my Healing Through Christ steps, pray, and ponder. I've received so many blessings. There are so many things that show me I am not alone. I am never alone.

And yet, Satan still trickles in there forcing me to ask questions and second-guess everything I know and feel. But I'm starting to learn how to sort out the things I know from the things I think I know and the things that need a little more work. I'm learning how to hold on to the things I do know and work on the rest. I'm learning how to recognize what is from Satan and what is from God.

And God, bless Him, keeps giving me little challenges to test my faith. He keeps showing me that I can't do this alone. I can't. But He is always there with me.

Yesterday, I spent four hours at the hospital. This week has felt like the pregnancy week from hell. I've been so sick. After the intense nausea buildup Monday and Tuesday morning, I started throwing up Tuesday night and yesterday morning. I've had quite my fill of pregnancy barfing, and I am equipped to handle it. Or, I thought I was until yesterday when I realized I hadn't kept anything down in almost 24 hours and the barfing would. not. stop. I called my doctor to ask at what point I should be worried and possibly need an iv. I described what I was experiencing in my body. Her response? "Now. Go to the ER and explain what is going on and get fluids in you."

All the retching put my back in a foul condition. And caused other physical issues. Needless to say, I was pretty miserable.

Last night I expressed to Ben that I feel traumatized by my life. I've experienced a lot of different physical and emotional traumas that I'm starting to wonder if I'll go crazy and freak out about every little thing. I also sometimes wonder how I can keep going. And why God keeps letting me have these challenges when I KNOW He could very easily call some of this off (or all of it, but I wouldn't expect Him to let me go without any trials...).

I asked for and received a Priesthood blessing last night. And I hate to admit, I was a little MAD at God that I wasn't just told I would be healed or that I wouldn't throw up any more and I could finish the pregnancy smoothly. I was MAD that whenever I ask for blessings of healing, I am never healed. I am just given strength or whatever and instructed to use the Atonement. I just want to be healed and be done with this crap.

As I've thought about the words that were said in my blessing, along with my initial reaction, I was hit with this thought that if God did take away this pain 100% or assure me that I would be physically healed every time I asked Him to heal me, I would never learn. I would never grow. I would always crap out because of the expectation that He will heal me. I would never develop a real sense of faith or understanding of the Atonement and how that works in my life.

I'm so stubborn. Seriously. How often do I need to be reminded that I can't do this alone? How many times does God have to tell me He will give me the strength to keep going as I seek Christ and let Him carry my burdens? I used to know how to do that. And then I got too comfortable. And then I became too traumatized and started shutting down.

I have to keep going. I have to seek Christ.

I'm working on step 2 in Healing Through Christ. It's all about believing that the power of God can restore me. Today, I answered a lot of questions about the Atonement and my relationship with Christ. I've been kind of avoiding this part because I'm afraid to really dig deep into my faith crisis and identify what exactly is going on. The questions were pretty simple, but as I dug deep within myself, I found things I have buried.

I do feel traumatized by my life. I have been through a lot--even outside what I have suffered from this addiction. I'm getting tired. Just tired.

If Christ is my Savior, and if He really does know and understand my pain, what is holding me back from welcoming that in and turning to Him with my burdens?

Fear. I'm afraid that maybe He isn't actually there, so I kind of don't want to test it. I'm afraid that maybe He won't save me. Or maybe His will is different from my will.

I want to believe He is there. In fact, I do believe He is there. I'm just wounded and haven't picked myself up yet to go find Him and ask Him to tend to my wounds. Because maybe I'm afraid that He is also so wounded that He won't be able to carry me (which I KNOW is not true).

I know He can carry me. I've had that witnessed to me many times. I know He is there. I've had that witnessed to me many times as well. I know I am never alone. Those witnesses are what I hold on to. I have been given light. I have been given multiple instances to see God's hand in my life. And I hold on to those. I cling to them, actually.

I'm never alone.

I'm never alone.

I'm never alone.

I can't do this alone.

How many times do I have to be shown that I can't do this alone?

I don't know. But I do know that if I turn my burdens over to Him, He will be there and will help pick me up. And I can keep carrying on because He is by my side.

He will keep testing me. And I will keep getting stronger.

Monday, August 4, 2014

You'll Be Okay

There is no predictable time to feel trauma.

There is no time when you should or shouldn't feel trauma.

Trauma affects us to our very core. It changes who we are, and the effects may flare up at any given time.

When trauma hits, be brave. Take time to show compassion to yourself. Remember who you are, take care of yourself, and ride it out. Don't rush it. Just take it in stride and do the best you can.

Try to stay close to God, even if it's just a simple whispered prayer begging for mercy.

We're all doing the best we can.