I realized today that in 6 weeks, 2013 will be over. It’s been a hell of a year. I’ve fallen down, gotten back up, learned a lot, lather, rinse, repeat. Even the two worst things that happened to me, in the grand scheme of things, taught me a lot in a very short period of time.
Given my drinking history, it wasn’t a matter of if but when I would get caught. Of all the places I could’ve gotten arrested for DUI, I happened to be in one of the best. The fines are some of the lowest in the state, checking in and paying them takes all of 5 minutes, the woman working the desk is very pleasant, and it’s about as painless as it can be given what it is. I learned I can navigate a really crappy situation like an adult. I learned who I could count on and who I could leave behind. I learned to let go of the last bastion of my unhealthy coping mechanisms. I haven’t had a drink since March 24. I haven’t even wanted one. That was well before I was told if I wanted to remain seizure free, I should stay away from it. I also learned I’m not cut out for prison. A useful thing to know. In a way, it prepared me for the next situation that would hit me.
On some level, I knew the seizures weren’t panic attacks. When I’d tried everything to minimize them and nothing changed, I knew something was up. I fought going to the doctor and getting a diagnosis. I didn’t want the stigma that came with having a chronic condition. Then I got the diagnosis. It was like being punched in the stomach. By a 300 pound boxer. In the end, my quality of life has gone up. I don’t live in fear of having multiple seizures in a day. I sleep better because I’m not having them in my sleep. As long as I take my meds, stick to getting enough sleep, and regular exercise, they won’t really intrude on my life. It could always be worse. At least this time, it wasn’t self inflicted.
With all that, I have 3 things to shoot for on a daily basis for the next 6 weeks.
1. Get a better emotional grasp on the fact I don’t control the universe. All I can do is react in a way I can stand behind. Of course, I’ll fuck it up from time to time. I’ll say something I can’t take back. My knee jerk reaction will kick in. The ideal is to take a second, think, then react. That cuts down significantly on the number of times I’ll have to apologize later.
2. Be kinder to myself when I falter. Translate this into those around me. This month is the third anniversary of when I started trauma therapy. I spent many, many years bottling up anger, frustration, tears, and tantrums. There are plenty of times I still punish myself for having feelings. I’m human. I have a vast array of emotions. They won’t all be fun or easy, but I’m not stuck with them. In the meantime, I can be easy on myself. Don’t be so quick to jump on someone when they make a mistake or show emotion. I recently brought up an incident from someone else’s past when I was ranting. Boy was careful to point out she made this decision almost 10 years ago. I know how I would feel if someone brought up a choice I made when I was 19 and waved it in my face. It’s not fair to do the same to someone else. I may get frustrated or angry with them, but in the end, I have no idea what burdens they’re carrying around.
3. Say “thank you” and “I love you” more often. Don’t assume that the people around me already know that. Even if they do, it never hurts to repeat it. I know I appreciate hearing expressions of gratitude or love. In turn, see other people’s expressions of thanks and love for what they are. Sometimes they do a total flyby. Sometimes they’re clunky and awkward. The heart of the message is the same. My mom and I express our love in very different ways, for example. I’m more like a puppy. I’ll tackle you and pronounce my undying love. My mom is more like a cat. She’ll sit on you for a bit, then move on. Love and gratitude are universal.
In other news, I’m going to start hosting guest posts once a month. These are from other rape and abuse survivors. The stories will vary as will identifying details (whatever the author is comfortable with telling). I thought it might be beneficial to have voices other than my own in here once in a while. The first one should go up sometime in December. Until then…