Stuff I Learned By Going To Mexico With Internet Strangers. By Kirsty. Aged 41.

I came across this passage recently and I thought about a recent experience which would make a real case for it being legit advice. Lots of people
have asked for the story behind my trip to Mexico with internet strangers and so I figured it was time to tell you all about it.

A couple of months ago, I was feeling really angry and stuck in my life. I was feeling as though I had missed out on many opportunities through no true fault of my own. In short I was really focusing on my story of victim-hood and in a mental space of loss and scarcity and I was pouring a lot of energy into finding people to be mad at and things to blame for it.  That's always a great use of one's time and it totally draws people to you, I highly recommend it if you wish to feel miserable, have toxic relationships and stop being invited to places.

Every so often though the Universe decides to give you just one more chance and in my fury  (which by the way is perfectly justified and had been triggered by a perfectly valid thing and all of that blah blah blah.....for what all that is worth, WHICH IS LITERALLY NOTHING). One day I just reached overflowing with the pent up resentment and rage and to my surprise I verbalized what was really bothering me. Basically, I was mad that I hadn't seen more of the world. Because that's what I've wanted to do since I was a little tiny girl. I wanted to see a lot of the world. And so I said it.  I wanted to travel, I needed more adventure in my life. I had the time, the health, the energy, but I didn't have the cash. I didn't just verbalize this to my therapist or in my journal. Oh no.  I mused over this conundrum on Facebook. How does someone without much expendable income get to see the world? Putting stuff on Facebook is the equivalent of putting it out into the universe. Whether you have 4 friends or 4000 over there,  recognize that what you put out into the world there carries weight and energy. This is something I often forget and I need to regroup and think about all the time. Because we do have a responsibility for our output of energy. More on that another time ;) 

The response I got was quick and overwhelming. There were hundreds of options for someone in my position and most of them were actually smart and feasible. All of them required a little sacrifice of the comfort zone. That's the first secret about getting the stuff you think you want, moving to the reality you are dreaming about. It's only logical that it means sacrificing your current reality. And that's often a shock to people. They think they want stuff but when it comes down to it, they prefer to just be safe and want it from afar and think about reasons why they can't have it so they don't have to take responsibility for not getting it.  I was coming up with all sorts of reasons why I couldn't do the things the people were suggesting and they were all lame but they suited me,  because then I could stay bitter and in my comfort zone. 

Then a message popped into my facebook messenger.
"OK Where do you want to go?" A friend I had met through the Nasty Women Project book.   And look, honestly, I mean friend in really, the  loosest sense of the word. I knew her name. And I knew she was funny and smart and forthright and I got the instinct that she was honest. We'd had a  handful of conversations on facebook messenger before. I didn't know what she did for a living, I didn't know where she lived or whether she had a pet. I'm pretty sure I didn't know if she had kids. I have developed some really intimate online relationships over the years but that wasn't this. 

So back to the question at hand. "So Where Do You Want To Go?" The Universe was answering my call with a direct question. It was calling my bluff. 
Me: ""
The Universe in the form of goddess new friend laid out her plan. She was going to Mexico in a few weeks for a week. Did I want to accompany her?  I would have to pay an unthinkably small amount and she was even fronting the costs. I checked the flights to her hometown in Nevada. We'd be driving the rest of the way to Mexico together.  Screaming deals. If I sacrificed a few personal things I had been budgeting for...I could make this happen.  Within 10 mins I had confirmed with her. I didn't talk to anyone else about it.  I just decided. This was happening.  "Oh HELL YEAH, I'm in"
 I typed back.    I think we were both in total shock.

After she had booked my room she sent me a link to where we'd be staying.  We would be in a timeshare resort on the Sea of Cortez. I screamed like a little girl. "THE SEA OF CORTEZ?"

When I was a little girl I had become captivated by a book called The Girl of the Sea of Cortez. I don't know why. It just spoke to me.  That little girl was such a badass. She was so free and so capable and so strong. She discovered amazing things on her fishing adventures, all alone. When I read that book I could feel the sun on my back and smell the salty air. I have always been passionate about the ocean and while Lake Michigan offers beautiful beaches there is nothing like the wild ocean of my South African childhood to make me feel equal parts serene and excited. I even used to spit into my swimming goggles to keep them from clouding up because I read about her doing that in her diving mask. It seemed like a confirmation from Universe.
Go make your little girl dreams come true, chica. Do little Kirsty proud.  So that's what I did.

Let's look at the excuses I had for not doing this thing:
1. Um, strangers. Mexico. What? Who does that? It's irresponsible and dumb.
2. Um. You have five kids. One of them is starting first grade. Another is having a really tough summer. All of them would probably prefer you to be around as they start a new school year.  Who abandons their kids to have fun in Mexico at the start of the school year? 
Who does that? It's irresponsible and un-maternal.
3. Um. You are poor. Did you forget? You have like 5 kids and they need everything. Plus two of them have birthdays this month. This is the poorest time of year ever for you. You can barely pay for groceries so why don't you go buy a plane ticket right now? Who does that? It's irresponsible and crazy.
4. Um. You are married. Your husband works hard .This is so not fair to him to dump him with the burden of 5 kids getting ready for school and also the financial hardship of one more thing. 
Who does that? It's irresponsible  and selfish.
5. Um. If you don't mind me have a lot of issues. You are just finally getting to a really healthy place. What if this experience is terrible and triggering and you have a total spiral and lose all the great progress you've made and it's a nightmare for everyone. It's irresponsible and imma just throw in crazy because that's the word we've all been thinking this whole time.

So I wrestled with this nonsense for a couple of days. I embraced them in my go-to safe mode of "Be Self Destructive".  Then I consulted with those I love and trust and got their full support and encouragement to say fuckit to my Safe/Self Destruct Mode.  And this is what I came away with.

Reasons Why All Those Excuses Are Bullshit

1. I have good instincts. If I feel unsafe in any way, I am capable of getting out of harms way.
2. My kids, particularly my daughters, need to see me doing the types of things I want them to feel free to do when and if they become mothers. Because moms who are martyrs do nobody any favours. Martyr moms are the worst and they won't see that bullshit modeled by me. 
3. I must do this precisely because I am stretched thin financially, and the opportunity to go to Mexico for a week for this little financial outlay might well never present itself again.
4. My husband loves me and wants me to have a good time and is extraordinarily capable of holding down the fort and will only feel the brunt of my resentments if I don't do this. 
5. I do have a lot of issues. And I've worked really hard to successfully overcome them. And if more issues result I have faith that I will do what I need to do to overcome those too.

At the end of the day, this is a simple trip to Mexico not Mars right? It's not a big deal  But I see, so, so many people, women in particular  being inclined to make doing anything for themselves into a great big fat impossible deal. And so they sit in their safety zone, or they make a martyr of themselves and they tell themselves they had no other choices. "Life is just like that." 
When in fact they made life like that. 

Ok if you are sick of reading already here's a spoiler alert: I ended up having the most sublime time. I connected with the two other woman with the greatest of joy and ease, before we even started driving to Mexico my abs were sore from laughing so hard, and I honestly see them as soul mates now. I could not have asked for more hilarious, kind, stimulating, accepting, fun  travel mates. The goddess in the middle is the one who made it all happen. Don't hate her because she's beautiful as well as generous. 

 I also connected with myself. One day I spent an hour running on the beach and another hour exploring it and all of it's thrilling offerings in total solitude.  I felt the most simple, profound, uncomplicated child-like wonder and joy. My soul felt weighed down by nothing. I've never been under the influence of you drugs so if I sound high right now it's just on life. ;)
Here's the truth. Having achieved my childhood dream, I felt filled with nothing but clear, bright light. I was perfectly warm, felt perfectly safe, was perfectly at peace and one hundred percent in that moment. I will treasure that memory always and forever and I brought home an ember of it and the desire to stoke that feeling often.

The far left picture was taken after my solo 10K run and subsequent exploration on the beach. The far right picture was taken after my first dip in the Sea of Cortez. It was at sunset and the sea was pink and the sky was pink and the sea FELT LIKE BATH WATER. And it was so calm. And I was talking to my new sisterfriends as we bobbed gently up and down in the pale pink swells and I was like, "is this real life?"  Another moment I don't even want to forget.

  As a child I remember telling someone that the only reason I could see for being wealthy would be to help people and to travel wherever you wanted whenever you wanted.  I can't think of any better way to learn about yourself, spend your money or enliven your mind and soul. I can't wait to travel and travel and travel some more. My child-self knew what makes me tick.
I am so incredibly grateful for the generosity of an internet "stranger".  It should also be noted that we would never have connected were it not for difficulty, strife and trauma.  Were it not for shitty stuff in my past. Were it not for me addressing that shitty stuff to the extent that I could put it in its place and move forward.  Were it not for being willing to be uncomfortable and exposed and scared and write about that shitty stuff and have it published in an effort to help others. Were it not for the horrible outcome of the election. Were it not for my frustration and anger the day I posted my "I want to travel but I have no money" post on facebook. Were it not for me verbalizing what I wanted from from my life. Were it not for somebody following through on a kind instinct to help me out. Were it not for a leap of faith from all parties. Were it not for the kindness of my incredibly supportive "village" at home. Were it not for the friends who told me to get over myself and Just Do It.  This is how dreams are achieved.

I know this is kinda a random selfie but it makes me smile all the way through me when I see it. I took this picture in the pitch dark with a flash as I was stargazing and laughing to tears with my friends on the beach one night. We saw so many constellations and shooting stars between our hysterical bouts of laughter. The last time I saw that many stars I was about 12 years old and I had woken up on a camping trip to see them blazing above me and I was in absolute awe. That night I felt the same awe and joy. And  I love that this picture captures exactly how I felt.
As always I overpacked. Drastically.  And it made me so, so mad (more on that later. It's a Whole Thing with me). But I intentionally packed my orange stilettos because to me those shoes  represent girls night out if a shoe ever did. And I knew that I needed a proper girls night out and that these shoes would insist to be worn on such.  I shared this with my new friends and they committed to helping me to have a tangerine stiletto moment. I got to wear them on my last night, back in Phoenix. And after a week wearing nothing but flip flops,  I needed assistance walking to and from the car in them. But I could not drag those damn things back home unworn. I Could Not. And I'm glad I didn't. Actually, I ended up leaving them for my friend to enjoy wearing all Arizona Winter long. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Stiletto.  I do not recommend overpacking or bringing stilettos to Mexico, but if you do, make the best of it. Have your moment. 

Hey did you know that we were celebrating the 50th birthday of that hottie in the front? Which is mesmerizing to me because she looks half my age. She's also the funniest, smartest. kindest most generous person ever. 

Ok. Here's something else. Let's look past my gleaming forehead and talk about my dress. I LOVED this dress.  It was so light and so comfortable and so fun to wear...and doesn't it look so Greek?  That's because it was Made In Greece! Did you know I'm 1/4 Greek? So basically it was made in Greece For Kirsty.  I found it at Goodwill just before I left, and I almost didn't buy it. Because you know, it was like a whole $5 and I was feeling strapped for cash so I wasn't sure about it.  Sometimes I make really poor decisions in the name of frugality, I'm glad this dress wasn't one of them because I would have regretted it for a long time. That sort of silly self deprivation is called sabotage and I am resolved to stop giving into it because that's not virtuous, that's just sad. Enough of all that nonsense. Enough I say! When you find a beautiful comfortable Greek goddess dress from Greece? Buy the damn thing. Even if you aren't Greek and it doesn't cost $5.

 One more thing. I felt relaxed finally, on a cellular level in a way I think you can only be relaxed when you are truly accepting of your body and your right to adorn it or cover it however you truly feel most comfortable. Think about the way you would dress if you were totally alone on your private beach and the sun felt just perfectly right and you could feel it soaking up into your bloodstream and your bones making you feel stronger and happier by the second.  Even though I'm naturally pretty uninhibited and fairly accepting regarding my body, and I wear as little clothing as possible in the comfort of my own space,  I've lived most of my life in the confines of some pretty extreme ideas on modesty and no matter how silly you think those ideas are,  they do tend to stick with you for a while. Add those to the typical western female body hangups and being in public in a swimsuit has felt really stressful and steeped in all sorts of self shaming for as long as I can remember. For. As. Long. As. I. Can. Remember. Seven years old? Yep.
 What I discovered in Mexico is that when you add drinking alcohol to your swimsuit wearing experience, and stare out at the huge big beautiful ocean which has the magical power to make you feel infinite and your problems seem completely insignificant at the same time, you can finally feel totally comfortable and present with the pleasure of just being ALIVE.  And you can just forget about how you look in your bikini. Even though you aren't at your goal weight, and even though you've had 5 kids and there are literally written rules about not wearing two piece swimsuits if you have had any kids, or if you are over a certain age (I'm not sure which age it is but I have strong suspicion it's long in my rear-view mirror) .  
Staring down those ridiculous rules and then laughing happily in the sun in the face of them is a combination of factors which should be enjoyed by every woman at least once in their life. But preferably every day of their lives. So many women have no idea, have no concept, have no recollection as to what it is to just feel relaxed and happy to be alive and to have the sun on your skin. They have no idea how brilliant it feels to be giving absolutely zero effs  or thought to who else might be watching, or what they may be thinking about your stomach roll or your thigh stretch marks or where the hell your boobs are and what they may be doing at any given time.  You guys. That sense of freedom and acceptance. It's sublime. Please make it a goal to feel this way sometime soon. One thing: I  guarantee you it won't come from reaching whatever weight it is you think you should weigh though. So don't even bother with that.   You don't even have to be a Mormon first either.  Just put on a swimsuit. Maybe a two piece. Whatever makes you feel natural and comfortable and sexy..  Hell, go nude if it's allowed. I would have if I'd found the right beach.    And if at first  you don't feel comfortable wearing that swimsuit, add alcohol until you do, and think about what a gift it is to have a body that can enjoy feeling the sun on it. And once that happens, take a selfie in the flattering light of the sunset and think to yourself, "this was an awesome day, I love being alive and I love the brave, hardworking amazing body I get to live inside of. Yay body, thanks for everything you do for me. You freakin rock ".
If that first attempt is a bust,  keep practicing talking to your body kindly as often as you can (yes I know it's not easy, trust me I'm constantly talking about all the plastic surgery I want between being kind and affirming of myself. I'm really inconsistent with being nice to myself but I reset and try again every day.  It's a process. We do our best. So keep trying. And then try again.  I predict you will stop needing the alcohol really quickly once you get the hang of it. 
Life is very short, my friends and in the words of Jack Kornfield:
"the trouble is, you think you have time".  None of us are guaranteed more than this day. So ask the Universe for what you want, grab onto it with both hands when it offers it up to you, love yourself, love your people, love your body, love your life. Be grateful.  Let your spirit fly free.  And if there's a big fat heavy rock sitting on the lid of your box of dreams and your ability to do any of these things, do the work to get it off.  It's hard but it's worth it. Don't wait. There's no time for that. It's time to take off and fly babies. xoxoxo.


On Being Fiercely 40 (now that I'm 41)

Darlings. Look at this! A blog post! I had to do it. For posterity. By the time I finish and publish this post I will be celebrating my non-official birthday and will have completed my 40th year on this mortal coil.

And what a year it was, yo.

Honestly? I have lost track of time and space this year. So much has happened it feels like at least 10. Which isn't a bad way to go when you are 40 and 40 happens to have been your favourite year so far.

I have always heard women proclaiming that their lives began at 40 and everything fell into place and it was the literal best and I was like..the lady doth protest too much, methinks. BUT I AM HERE TO TELL YOU IT IS ALL TRUE.

Which is not to say for a single second that 40 has been one big joyful skip in the meadow of serenity. Not so much. Not at all. I mean when I think back on the year I feel really happy and good about it but apparently lots of shit went down (which I know cognitively and I can even identify to be all too true for several moments like earlier today around 2pm as I sat in my empty bath, fully clothed texting  "FML" messages to a friend).

HOWEVER. HOW.EVER my general sense is that this year has been awesome and that isn't because it has been easy because it hasn't all been easy.  It's just that I feel like me.  And I'm (finally) cool with who I am. All messy and twisty and volatile and angry and peaceful and kind and bitchy and hurt and healed and wise and ridiculous and immature and disciplined and driven and lazy and cool and sexy and dorky and insecure and confident and self loathing and confused and clear thinking. All of me. I'm down with it. I finally am who I am and I love this crazy broad I call Myself.  Yes I do. And I make no apologies for whatever it is I am on any given day because...I am who I am. And that's what 40 looks like. That's the gift it's brought me. Accepting that I am who I am and working within that acceptance to be the best version of me that I can muster on any given day. And some days that looks like just getting out of bed (or getting into bed and staying away from the defenseless public).

Other stuff I love about being 40/41? I'm fortunate enough to be healthy and active and old enough to know how lucky I am to be healthy and active and experienced enough to be good to my body and treat it with the respect it deserves instead of doing crazy things to make it look a certain way I listen to it so that it can feel and function a certain way.  I'm not even going to pretend that I don't care about how it looks. I want it to look as good as it feels, and when it doesn't I get frustrated and I'm not sorry about that either. I think enjoying the way we look and feeling confident in our skin is nothing to be ashamed of and certainly something to strive for.  

I'm just not willing to do weird stupid things in the pursuit of appearance at the expense of being able to enjoy life.  I have never enjoyed being inside of my body more than I have this year.  And I know these are jinxing words and I know that this might sound braggy or insensitive to those who are struggling with health issues but please do know that I cherish every moment when I am challenging myself physically or just feeling relaxation or the good type of tired or pleasure in its many forms. I don't take it for granted. I have had long periods where I have struggled with considerable physical pain with illness and crushing fatigue, I know how soul destroying it is.  Having a healthy, vital body to live inside of as I have continued the hard work of healing from PTSD has been a beautiful gift which I appreciate with a great sense of joy and wonder.  This year I have done some sort of yoga almost every day,  I have kept up with running and I feel like I'm the best runner I have ever been since I started running at age 17. 

I finally figured out good form. Seriously, how did I not know how to run properly all these years and miles later?  A few months ago I started going to a mixed martial arts gym. A couple of years ago I would have laughed at the concept. It was so not me. But do you know what? I left my comfort zone and have discovered that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing have been the most fun, healing things I have done in a long time. But more on that later.

And as ever, the  PTSD thing. Man alive that's a beast! Am I right? However, it's a beast that can be conquered. With patience and determination and education and support. It can absolutely be conquered. I still struggle mightily some days. Life has a way of just pulling the freaking rug out whenever you think you are nailing it. Life is a total bitch that way.  But here's what's hopeful. I still get triggered from time to time and then I hate everything and it's the worst and I take a moment to do whatever just to stay alive and passes. It. Passes.  There have not been any major spirals into despair. There haven't been any more weeks/months lost to torturous pain or perhaps catatonic numbness. There have been excruciatingly painful, confusing, isolating horrible moments, hours, maybe a day or two and one month in particular this year was grueling, but the reprieves have come quickly and regularly. This is profound progress.  Darlings, please listen to me. If you are in the catatonic numbness or the greyness of the days when you wish you could just cease to exist...please know that this too shall pass and with the right help, you are going to experience those times less and less and even when you are in them the edge will not be quite as sharp and the despair will not be as enveloping and terrifying. It honestly does get better.   And none of this is for naught. I have been so honoured to walk beside others on this journey. In places similar to where I am now, or further down or forward on the path of healing.  As an ex-Mormon, a religion which finds meaning in everything and nothing, it was weird to suddenly find myself at a loose end. Having to define my own belief system. Weird is the wrong word. It was devastating and horrifying and terrifying but also liberating AF and ultimately it has brought me so much peace.  My pain means something if I'm willing to use it to hold space for others who are experiencing their own.  And that's enough for me. I need nothing else to find meaning in my life. I'm here to help with what I've learned through suffering. There's enough struggle and grief in the world to keep me occupied with that for the rest of my days. And they will be days well spent if I do.

Being 40 has given me focus. I have streamlined my life considerably in recent months. My circle is small and tight, my commitments are few and focused, my goals are reasonable and I am patiently tenacious about achieving them. "Patiently tenacious" means that I am learning to adapt when necessary but that I'm not just rambling around in the dark hoping to get shit down. That's another thing about being 40, there's definitely a sense of actually actively figuring out how to get shit down rather than just dreaming and hoping about that "one day" when it will all magically fall into place.  I have checked a lot off the old bucket list this year. And once you get into that zone you find that it becomes easier and easier to do.

In summary this year I have loved my life (even when I've been cursing it) and I love my people. I am grateful to have lived another year of this brilliantly brutiful life. I have been incredibly fortunate in my circumstances and my relationships.  I so hope that I can live many more just as eventful, exciting, growth filled, humbling, confusing and fully alive as this one.  Thanks for being along for this ride, and for letting me be a part of yours.

And since I drink now (which by the way is really most enjoyable in moderation in case you were wondering), cheers and L'Chaim and bottoms up and all that!


The Fascination of Fixing your Flooded Basement

In keeping with the promise I made to use writing about my experience less as catharsis (which is fine but I do have a therapist and a private journal) and more in terms of offering help in practical portions, I want to cover one of the things that has been very useful to me in being on the path to overcoming my crippling PTSD relatively fast. And that has been to Stay Fascinated.

I am fortunate that the capabilities of the human body and mind are endlessly captivating to me, and while I used to know that there were definitely mind body connections, I had no idea how deeply and inextricably they run together.  I had no idea of how layered and protective the human mind is. How brilliantly the webs of memory and trauma are woven to help us to cope in the short term.

Because I am prone to oversimplifications and analogies in my explanations, I will liken it to when your house is a DISASTER.   It's the worst it's ever been and then suddenly you find out that you have overnight guests on the way. Maybe your in-laws. So what do you do? You deal with the mess but not in a way that is a long term resolution. You don't have time to sift through the crap and make decisions, you just need to create an appearance of not living in a slum and having your shit together.

Maybe you grab a bunch of bags in the method of "Stuff and Scream" I outlined sometime ago, whereupon you grab all the crap off all the surfaces you can see and scream at the family members to join you in stuffing it all into  random bags which you will hide in the basement until such a time that the guests are gone and you can deal with it properly.

 So that's what often happens with trauma. Childhood trauma particularly. Especially when it's dealt by people who are supposed to be safe and in charge. When trauma comes at you when you are a kid or a teenager or maybe just very overwhelmed and/or unsupported, you are like...Oh HELL no. I am a kid. I am not equipped for THIS. So you stuff it into all the bags and put it into the basement and pretend that everything is fine. 

Now some people actually forget about all the crap in the basement but others are uncomfortably aware of the piles down there. And some forget about it for a while because life is full and busy and distracting, but then something reminds them and oh dear, what a bummer that is.

But regardless of how consciously unsettled you might be, having all your hastily grabbed, not properly filed or disposed of clutter randomly stuffed down in the basement, is going to wreak havoc on your life when bills go unpaid and permission slips are lost and people are crying about the precious artwork they created for you that you obviously don't care very much about....

And soon enough, if you don't get down there to sort stuff out, other guests come and you'll just keep piling more shit on top of the original chaos and and all the mess gets mixed up, and life will get messier and more chaotic, and more confusing, and if you leave it long enough eventually those piles..well they are going to start making sure that you deal with them.

Maybe you get a situation where your family just can't even with the fact that you don't have any idea where the passports are,  or your wife is hella pissed because the basement is now essentially unusuable or omigod...maybe.... there is a flood down there.  And then...well you are out of options. Time to face the music. Right?

When it comes to trauma believe this one truth if you don't believe anything else I ever tell you. You are going to have to get down there and sift through all that stuff at some time if you are going to have a fully functional, happy life with good, satisfying relationships, and if you don't, you are going to be consistently unhappy or anxious and weirdly triggered in ways that don't make any type of sense to anyone least of all you, and eventually you will just dismiss yourself as a horrible, worthless person. That happens a lot sadly, with predictably disastrous results.

Here's where Staying Fascinated is a life saver. Look. Friends. Nobody relishes the idea of going down into a nasty flooded basement full of soggy crap that you have convinced yourself you don't need anymore.  I mean I guess some weirdos do. There's probably a show on TLC about that. I dunno. Back to most people though.  This is why you have to find a positive motivation. Not just: "Omigod the house is going to literally fall down if we don't sort out the flooded basement."

But how about:  "Ok so when we clean up the basement,  I bet we are going to find so many cool things we have been looking for, and maybe we can even put in new flooring and make it super functional and cozy and have people over to play pool and chill on the yoga trapeze". 

Is this analogy clear as mud? Yes? Ok: Working through PTSD in therapy is like that. You can look at it as a chore and a nightmare or you can approach it as a fascinating opportunity to understand so many amazing things about yourself and others and how to navigate a life that seemed like it was in charge of you rather than the other way around.
Because honestly, it is.

I was reviewing a few blog posts from May's gone by and there is a clear pattern. First when I wasn't aware of my triggers, everything was just awful. Then I was aware of my triggers,  but I was so upset that I was continuing to be triggered and I wasn't OVER IT already, so everything was even more awful.

Now I know what I'm dealing with. So everything is hard, like really hard but it's getting better. Slowly but surely,  it is getting better. My therapist tells me that it's not even happening slowly but very fast actually. And when you consider that I'm working through decades of trauma over the course of a couple of years I must agree. But without her help and without what I understand now, well, you guys I just don't know. I might not be here. 
Knowledge is power. Knowledge is fascinating.

 Knowledge is healing.

I find that when I'm in a perpetually triggered state as I have been this last month I alternate between not sleeping and then falling into an exhausted catatonic sleep whereupon I have the most vivid often disturbing dreams which are always highly symbolic. That's draining and triggering in turn and so I resist sleeping or I wake up a lot and so the cycle continues.  Today after several days of bad sleep I found myself having the deep sleep with hectic dreaming. None of it was pleasant. I was working through a ton of trauma in those dreams.  At one point I actually woke myself up doing a jiu jitsu escape. It was jarring but also kind of cool. And while it was all rather harrowing I take it as a good sign that the basement purge is going well. 

Where I used to wake up after these dreams, feeling a sense of dread and panic and anxiety and then spiral into a full fledged PTSD episode; I find that I am now at the point that I can wake up, feel a sense of dread and panic and anxiety, acknowledge my emotions, remind myself that they are stemming from my dreams and not reality, analyze the dreams, put them in their place and use them to solve puzzles.

Part of my dream today was about being very sick. I remembered that I always used to get very sick at this time of year. I very rarely get sick,  but I can't remember a single late May until this year where I wasn't truly ill. This year I haven't been sick.  That's not a coincidence. You have to get this trauma out of your cells or it will make you sick. 
One way or another, the basement is going to need to be addressed.

I once read an article about experiencing physical pain as an interested observer instead of a victim. I have used that technique to successfully deal with physical discomfort and athletic challenges many times. And it works just as well with emotional pain. We can transfer ourselves from victim to survivor when we choose to be interested in this process. When we decide to take wisdom from it. When we look at it like a puzzle to be solved. When we anticipate what we will be able to do with the cleaned out basement. 

Stay fascinated darlings. Life is about learning.