Turning Things Around, Part 3

By the time I was on the road I was in emotional agony but also determined to do something about it.

I got on I69, determined to go at least as far as Muncie, IN. I’d brought my laptop along, figuring if I needed to extend my break from home that I could stop at a Starbucks and play Dragon Age: Origins for a bit. I started speaking out loud, talking myself through what I was feeling, but also affirming my strength of will and strength of character.

I’ve always been someone that walks through fear to achieve goals. When I was 4 years old, I was terrified of dark water, water too murky to see the bottom. There was water like this under the bridge that crossed our creek, but there was also a cement platform I wanted to play on. I remember forcing myself to crawl onto that cement platform in spite of the fear I felt. I would continue to push myself through fear, whether the goal was something I wanted or not.

I could also remember, in this childhood of guilt, shame, trauma and brainwashing, that I still found joy in existence. I spent time by myself. I liked myself and my own company, in spite of believing that I was a selfish sinner. As a child I walked through loneliness and isolation and alienation and still managed to cling to joy. Still found beauty in the world around me. Still hoped and wanted. If I managed then, maybe I could manage again in the future.

As an adult I educated myself and challenged my beliefs and faced the fear that my beliefs were right and the fear that my beliefs were wrong. I kept going. Maybe sometimes I was dragging myself through muck on my hands and knees, but I kept going.

I told myself I would do it again. I would keep going for me. I wouldn’t look to exist for anyone else, I would exist for myself, for that little girl all those years ago that was being conditioned to believe she deserved suffering, that she had to sacrifice without expectation of receiving anything in return, that she didn’t deserve affirmation or happiness or even kindness. The little girl being taught that she wasn’t allowed to have appropriate boundaries or be an equal.

I formed a mental image of reaching back through time and grabbing my younger self by the hand, assuring her that I would be there to protect her future. I’d show kindness to that little girl who at 7 years old looked out of photographs with a shadow in her eyes. I don’t go in for this kind of thing, normally, but it seemed fitting in the moment, and if it worked, it worked.

I couldn’t control the loss of everything else in my life. I couldn’t control losing connections, or communities, or opportunities, or belongings, or friends, or family. That did not mean I had to lose myself. Every step I could take towards the future was a chance that future would be better. I’d already taken many steps, and those steps were paying off. I was stronger now than I’d been before.

I’d been crying my eyes out this whole time. I was proud of myself for driving as well as if I weren’t having a breakdown on the interstate. My entire face eventually started twitching in response to this outpouring of tears and emotion, but I was regaining control, the agony was diminishing.

I had the thought I should stop for a drink. I sternly told myself no. I had the thought I should stop for a dessert. I told myself no. I had the thought I should stop somewhere and sign up for tinder. I told myself no. I knew my brain was seeking quick, cheap ways to boost positive chemicals in response to the stress it had just undergone. I also knew none of those quick, cheap boosts would pay off in the long run. I just had to keep working on building myself up through healthy habits, healthy changes.

By the time I arrived in Muncie, I was much calmer. I no longer felt the need to stop at a Starbucks and kill time. Instead I noted that if I headed home I would arrive in time to tell my youngest goodnight. So I found a place I could pull over and programmed the GPS to take me home.

I resolved that I would not think too far into the future. I would get through the rest of my evening. After I achieved that goal, I’d get through the rest of my week. I wouldn’t think any farther than that. Do what needed to be done now, and eventually I’d see my work pay off. At some point in the future, my brain might be healthy enough to want and feel hope and be able to think of goals without being traumatized in the process.

I would survive. For her. For me.

3 thoughts on “Turning Things Around, Part 3

  1. I’m yet to catch up with all that’s been happening for you, but wanted to send you my zappiest and most powerful well wishes for 2020. You’ve been and continue to be an inspiration for me, and I think your younger self would agree. Love and grit xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

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