The F-word

I shut down when I feel overwhelmed. When I can't express myself, I feel frustrated and my body reacts. My ears fill up and get warm, my cheeks warm up, my head hurts, my jaw tightens, and I can't make eye contact. It's worse if the other person tries to get me to open up. I feel pushed to express myself, and the problem is that I can't do that. My therapist told me it might help to understand what's going on in my system. She said she thinks I go into hyperarousal - my prefrontal cortex shuts down (hence, the inability to form the words to express myself) and my brain stem and limbic system go into overdrive. She suggested that recognizing what's happening can help me work my way through that reaction. Maybe trying to bring my left brain back in and add logic to my response can assist in changing that overwhelming feeling.

We also broached the topic of mindful breathing. Am I familiar with it? Yes. Have it tried it? Yes. Am I "successful" at it? NO. I have tried many things. I have struggled in yoga classes and anytime I am trying to bring awareness to my breath. My mind goes so many other places. I even wonder if I am breathing correctly. Yes, I actually worry about whether I am breathing the correct way.

I don't have any problem recognizing my thoughts and letting them just be there. I can't let them go, though. That's when we talked about attachment. Perhaps by attaching my thoughts (why they're there), I can better release them. This is a precursor to mindful breathing.

I tried it the night after my session. I discovered I'm very scared and uncertain about things. Many of my thoughts are about tasks I need to complete the next day, and I worry about them. I've been so forgetful lately and I can't stand it. I feel like there is so much to remember and it overwhelms me. The uncertainty surrounding some of my thoughts is worse. I have so many fears. I have fears about relationships, what it is I am doing with my job, if I can get in shape again, whether I can run, and if I can, if I can 13.1 miles. These fears are in my mind daily.

I was able to let go of them over the past few days while I was on a retreat. I don't know if I felt more relaxed or if I was so tired I couldn't think about much. It's all back, though. Mostly fears about my body. I got a body scan and I was NOT okay with the results AT ALL. I'm a good 13 pounds heavier than I was a year ago. I cried a lot over the scan. I had no idea how "bad" I had gotten. I thought I needed to lose some abdominal fat but overall I was doing well. That's not actually the case.

So... I am going to take the "Knowledge is power" approach. I'm scared of the journey and how hard it will be, though. I'm scared of hurting myself because my body just hurts and there's so much I need to relearn. I'm afraid to discover that at 35 I can't run or do hard things.

I don't know where to get my strength from. There are times I am trying to dig deep and give it my all, and I let it get too hard. I allow myself to let it be too hard, and I don't give it my all. Sometimes, going 75-80% is too hard. My body starts to hurt and I get scared. I get scared I am going to fall flat on my face. I get scared my knee is going to get injured. I'm scared. I can take pain, but I have injured my body enough lately that I am scared to put too much into a workout that could hurt me. Every time I try to get back into running, I get injured or sidetracked. I don't want to stop running. I know I can run once I figure out how to heal my body. That's what I don't know. I feel like I get tools, and those tools aren't the tools I need. Or, something is missing.

I get so caught up in what I should be doing. So many people around me are running, training for triathlons, mountain biking, etc., and I have managed to gain almost 14 pounds in a year! It's embarrassing, really. I'm ashamed at how I have treated my body. I recognize the place for self-compassion here, and yet it's more self-deprecation that's creeping in and making a home for itself.

It would be very easy to just kick it into high gear with the workouts and the food I eat, but that's not going to get rid of my fears. What I really want is to be able to allow myself the grace to recognize I am a work in progress.