Progress Hurts

My Avoidance won out for a few weeks.

Every time I make progress it hurts. But then I am noticeably better. The hurting parts are really really terrible; and my self has lots of practice with protecting me from painful things the only way it could when I was young: Disassociate.

Every time I blog I make progress and it hurts. Up until “This is about Something Else” I was able to take the bite-size pains. Then it got a little too terrible and my body resisted the writing that I wanted to do. I would create scenarios where I planned to write but only after I did some other things…and those things would  take the whole time. Of course they would. I hadn’t worked it out, I was a little puzzled and scared by this version of Avoidance.

It might mean I had something big coming, or maybe it meant that I didn’t really want to get better. Blaming myself was the only route that allowed me to feel in control. I still wasn’t in control but pretending that I was kept the panic attacks away. And blaming the wrong thing helped to keep the emotions fragmented and less threatening. You can’t deal with what you can’t see. I sure couldn’t see it.

I muscled out another post before the Avoidance really gained steam and insistence. It was sort of an acknowledgement of the troubles and pains I was feeling from this recovery process. It was progress. And it stung. I could feel I was getting somewhere with this emotional work. My conscious Self was mildly puzzled by and blissfully unaware of the reasons my subconscious was trying to avoid progress. I didn’t think about it too much. I noticed that I needed to write. Then it was a week without writing! Then it was three weeks. Still didn’t think something painful was coming.

Oh be still my thundering heart.

For several years I have been getting in touch with my feelings. It sounds corny, but it was something I didn’t know how to do. Younger me couldn’t deal with some of the things I had to deal with and my family was all going through terribleness. So I never learned how to deal.

As I’ve grown up I see that adults, especially those that empathize, really have trouble with knowing how to deal with a damaged child. I told everyone everything I could. I had this urge to cry for help from any adult that would listen; even though I wasn’t aware of how awful everything was, I knew many things were wrong and I didn’t want to stay in that situation. So I would tell, and talk, and ask to be helped even though most people were unable to help at all. If I hadn’t been so young and my brain hadn’t needed to disassociate and repress, I probably could have escaped faster. But that’s like saying, ‘if I was just not who I was; if I was less of a target; if I wasn’t born’. Any of those are clearly ridiculous.

I didn’t get relationships. I didn’t understand friendship. I couldn’t wrap my brain around small-talk and being petty. I couldn’t even feel things and I knew other people could. My brain couldn’t fathom how you could be friends with someone who hurt you, or how to like someone but still not like other things about them. It was difficult for me because I knew I was the weird one, but when emotions would come out they would be completely incomprehensible to me.

I’ve made moderate progress in the friendship arena. It still hurts a lot to think of all the relationships that I might have been able to keep up if I didn’t have this metaphorical millstone around my neck, but that pain is something I can actually feel now. I can feel it and I can put words to it like ‘disappointment’ or ‘sad’ and I can observe my own reactions like shame, guilt, and anger at myself without internalizing those feelings. I can see them and allow them to exist. To me, this is progress.

In the process of this I’ve been tuning in to how I feel about certain activities and learning how to gauge what I can do and what I have energy for on a given day or at a given time. I used to feel so little that things like heatstroke and hunger and exhaustion would always surprise me when they showed up. I know this is because of the incredible amounts of neglect and gas-lighting I went through while developing, but I still have difficulties with it. Especially with hunger and especially when combined with another stressor like money worries or social pressures.

I have been practicing this skill when I need to travel somewhere. As I’ve practiced I’ve increased my range, being able to look ahead and tell how I will feel about driving in an hour or how I will feel about my ability to deal with certain stressors. I’ve been able to make more and more accurate guesses about my spoon count and how things will effect me. Sometimes I will guess very wrong, but that’s quite educational too.

I made a goal to take a long road trip with myself and listen to my feelings the whole time. I worked to be able to consistently tell when I needed to find a rest area, when I needed to take a nap, when I needed to find food and what kind I wanted.

I took this trip and just got back.

It was amazing. I feel a little different. Listening to myself and being alone in a hotel was utterly incredible. I did things because I wanted to and for no other reason, and you know what? I was okay! Making a point to trust my own choices and respect my own decisions was astonishing. It was calming. It was soothing. It was right.

So much happened on this trip. Stay tuned.


3 thoughts on “Progress Hurts

  1. Chloe, your writing is incredible. You are obviously amazingly insightful and “get” the world so much better, already, than those in your birth family. And YOU, on your own, can claim these victories. I, too, grew up in a very religious family. No “pastors”, but my mom almost lived at the church, involved in as many things as she could muster. I have completely researched the whole realm of religion and have come to the place where the rules are gone and true compassion resides. It’s hard to stay here, though. I’ve found an online forum of women who have become my lifeline–so understanding–so supportive–they nearly bring me to the brink of cleansing tears every day. Gosh. Commitment. Real commitment. There’s a new one! For me anyway. You are young, so probably breaking away at this point would not be something that I could, in good conscience, suggest. If you CAN ever safely find a way out with genuine care and support…well, I hope you stay open to that and never feel an obligation to go back or feel guilt. There is no loving God anywhere who could possibly support your continued pain. All the rest of the rules were made by men for the purpose of control. (That concept took me a good bit of time to grasp!) I am totally confident that you can trust your feelings. If something “smells fishy”, you’ll be right. I never knew that I could trust mine, but now–every new day–I know that I am really me and always was. You are, too. 🙂 (Oh, I still go to church, but this one would never have been approved by my fundamentalist parents!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Support and connectedness can seem so foreign when you grow up disassociating from all your own feelings. I am still piecing together my identity. At this point it feels like I have made progress, yes, but the destination seems even further away than before … it’s difficult for me to focus on the journey instead of the destination.


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