Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Put Down that Book!
(Lilly cat is one of my main gurus. You can see why, I'm sure.)
I have mentioned many times that reading pretty much saved me when I was young. I would just dive into books and stay there for hours and days on end. I think, too, that books gave me these wonderful glimpses into other ways of being.
Any time I was interested in anything new, my first instinct was to head to the library and read about it. Part of this was a general fear of living, a fear of anything new, and a safety inside those pages, and another part was that, due to my home life, it was very unlikely (pretty much 100% of the time) that I would actually get to try any of those newly intriguing things.
Living vicariously, for sure.
This habit continued into adulthood and only recently have I started to see how negatively it has impacted my life.
(Thank goodness I did not just stick to reading about dance, for instance...or yoga! Thank goodness I also DO those things.)
I have also mentioned, only half jokingly, that I have read enough in the field of psychology to be awarded some level of degree.
So when we finally figured out that I suffer from Complex PTSD, I started doing my thing. I started reading anything I could get my hands on about it. I started looking for the most current thinking about treatment. I started digging into the cutting edge work about what they think is going on in the brain.
And then it happened.
Something I thought would not happen to me, for some reason.
Have you ever seen those blog posts written by trauma people that say at the top "Warning: This may be a triggering post."
I always think, "Yeah, whatever..."
I don't know why I have dismissed this. Perhaps because I have just always seen reading as part of my "medicine."
About three weeks ago, I was reading about how and why our brain will cut up the most difficult memories into sensory chunks, storing them in different parts of the brain and not creating connections between them. This is why a smell can bring back part of a feeling of a memory but not the whole thing, for example.
This article really stuck with me.
And then...a wave of partial memories started washing over me. One after another.
It made me sick to my stomach.
I used to get so angry that I couldn't "complete" these bits and pieces of memory, that I couldn't figure out what and when they came from. Now I know that my brain is a bit smarter than I have ever given it credit for.
Sometimes our brain is protecting us. Sometimes things aren't meant to ever be remembered whole. Sometimes our brain knows that that would be too much for us.
We had a couple of very difficult days here at the Lilypad from my reading induced trigger episode. But we got through it.
And now I have some new rules for myself:
First, no more reading (for now) about Complex PTSD; it really can trigger you, even just the theoretical stuff. Or maybe MORE SO the theoretical stuff because it allows your triggers to fill in the blanks, so to speak.
Second, no more disrespecting my brain's wisdom. I go on and on here about body wisdom, and I often bash brain, but brain is part of this body and now I see what it has been up to all along.
This is not about intentionally repressing. NO WAY! But it is about appreciating the function and efficacy of the brain's natural tendencies.
It is also about respecting the fact that I know enough of my own story (in great detail) to know why I am the way I am. I know enough to now notice my triggers and to work with and through them. I know enough to figure out why I behave the way I do sometimes.
I know enough to heartily and steadfastly work toward health.
I know enough to respect the intuitions of my brain and body and put down those books.