More on Trust:

For the last several years I’ve been working on trusting myself. That looks like trusting my feelings, thoughts, and body. I’ve been validating the things that come up for me to create consistency, so that I no longer question myself and what comes up for me. This has been a process, and un-doing that has been a slow consistent effort that has taken so much practice. I think in my last post I wrote about this through being gaslit, and I wanted to write more about learning to trust myself, through a different lens.

Just over 10 years ago I got into a car accident, and on the same day, I fell pretty hard on my tailbone. On that day, I did a lot of damage that ended up really hurting me for years to come. I did treat it at the time with some chiropractic, some light PT, and massage. I have to be honest though, I was in my mid 20’s and taking care of my body wasn’t very important to me. Now that I’m in my mid 30’s, it’s something I cannot take for granted anymore. 

I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone how badly my issues with my lower back, hips, and spinal area can be for me. I have a lot of fear of my own body hurting, and the impact on my daily life it has. It hurts daily and most days it’s fine, or okay… and then sometimes it gets triggered and I’m out. I can’t sleep due to the pain and I end up at the chiropractor which helps and it gets better within a week or two. Since Covid, the daily pain has gotten worse. I was in the chiropractor often, and my right hip had adjusted itself and I was walking crooked every day. I also had moments where I literally was losing function of my spine and was falling to the ground, with my feet swooping underneath me. I was in tears nearly every day. 

For the last several years I’ve taught myself how to take care of my body, as a reaction to pain. I was lifting my leg into my car with my hands to alleviate pain, I was pushing on the steering wheel to get out, I would put pillows on the floor if I knew I was going to be there a while, I had a system for flipping myself over in my bed (talk about a beached whale visual), I avoided certain kinds of exercise, I hated bending over (so I avoided it as much as possible), I do not like emptying the dishwasher or putting things in lower cabinets… All of these things were a natural avoidance for me, It became a muscle memory that I embedded to protect my body, and the pain that would come with it. 

Chiropractic, and protecting my body have been temporary solutions. I knew it was temporary, I also knew that it was a bandaid to the real problem. The solution? Was strengthening my core, of course, something I had been avoiding. I got referred to physical therapy and have made a lot of progress in such a short amount of time. I acknowledge that this will be a long journey to get my strength and build trust with-in myself. 

By building strength, I am also building trust in myself to be able to trust my body. Trust that I do not have to protect it anymore in the way that I had been. Trust it to get into my car on its own without extra support, trust that it won’t hurt if I tie my shoes or put on my pants. Also, trust that I will continue to do the work. I’ve been building trust with-in my brain, and the movement that comes with it. Retraining muscles to work correctly, retraining my brain to not be anxious when I bend over, and allow my body to do these things in slow, safe environments. 

Other things that have been helping: Noticing and validating my success, taking it really slow, heating pads, ice packs and massage.  

Recent Lessons Part 1

 by rachael

Pattern revealed: 

I will never forget the moment that I was on the phone with my therapist a month ago or so. It had been a busy day, and I had scheduled the appointment with an agenda. It was dark, it was cold outside, I had just gotten out of a chiropractor appt and dialed her up in my car on the phone (because that’s how we see our therapists these days). At some point I became silent and became really still. All I could say was fuck. I realized what I needed to do, and didn’t think that I could get out of this dilemma without hard work, once again. Our personal work is never done.  

The pattern is: Whenever I try to implement new routines in my life, I do them well, really well at first. I think a lot of ego gets in the way. I am a people pleaser, I’m doing good and I get positive praise. It is a vicious cycle. After a while I go into a full on mental health crisis. I feel like I have to fight myself to continue. It feels like anxiety, and rage. It comes across as procrastination, and falling into old habits. I neglect what I, Rachael, really wants to do. It feels powerful than myself, bigger even, and I envision it with it’s bags packed, running away giggling and keeping myself in complacency, or it goes extreme and it becomes a monster that is fed with my bad habits. It’s resistance, strong willed, bull (I’m a taurus, if you believe in that sort of thing) resistance. You might think I’m kidding, but while I was on the phone with my therapist, it just sort of clicked. It helped to view it as something separate from myself. It is a part of me, it’s luggage I didn’t even know I had. Separating myself from the luggage when I’m calm, helps me open it up with less emotional charge so that when it does come up I can start to unpack it slowly. With knowledge comes power, and the ability to see and feel the other part less and less. 

This anxiety with transitions and new situations that are hard (seem hard) is not a new feeling to me. I have been successful before. It was when I started to address my eating disorder (and now that I’m writing this, grad school). That was fucking hard work. I know where it stems from, and I know why it keeps coming up. That is a whole other topic and I probably could write a book on trauma and the impact on the brain, especially as a child. It feels really hard to live a normal life (what is normal anyway) when the past comes up in ways that are unexpected and uninvited. 

First step in addressing this is acceptance. I know it’s not going away and at some point I invited it along for the ride. When I had this level of commitment with my ED Journey I did something that felt a little silly. I literally laid in my bed and introduced myself to the part of myself that was the ED part and said: “Rachael, meet Rachael (ED Rachael). I know you are not going away, it is time to step down and let Rachael take the lead”. **Disclaimer, I didn’t say this so eloquently at the time, but it is a constant reminder now, helping my true self take the lead. 

Second, I processed it for a while, okay a long while (To be fully honest I did a lot of checking out). Some could say I got swept up into the month of December with Christmas and watched a lot of Christmas Movies. Fourth, I started to set some goals. Actually I had been setting goals all along, but it is really important to remember that you do not hold a lot of weight to follow through. High expectations for yourself is important, yes, and also there needs to be a level of self dignity, patience and less beating yourself up in the process when you are creating new patterns (whole other post). Lastly, practice practice practice and more practice.I will be honest with you, I do not know what will come next or what it will look like,but it is important to be honest with yourself. If you are not honest with yourself, you eventually gaslight yourself into something you are not, and live that message. 

One last thing that I wanted to include was a message from my therapist, that I haven’t had the chance to put into practice yet is: Any feeling, acknowledge its existence, welcome it, thank it for coming, and also thank you for wanting to keep you safe. 

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day.