Boxes have been dancing around my head like cubed sugar plum fairies. In my first attempt at therapy with a Jungian therapist she diagnosed me with past sexual trauma based on an image in a dream she made me draw out (it was a doozy of a dream). I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO MEMORY OF THAT KIND OF TRAUMA. She told me it didn’t matter if I remember it or not, the dream image was proof. So I’ve been carrying around this idea in my head and dreading the day I would have to unbox it and deal with something I couldn’t remember. Ellen and I talked about this. No memory means no memory. The dream image is just a dream. There are survivor behaviors I exhibit (behaviors defined by talk-shows and internet articles), but it’s still not proof of abuse. We discussed my childhood and some of the frugal techniques my parents employed could explain a lot of those issues. Something which needs reframing further down the road.
Ellen pointed out the issues are in boxes and neatly put away. They are safe and secure and they don’t need to be dealt with right now, if ever. Not avoiding. Not ignoring. JUST NOT NOW. I can adjust their position on the shelves, but I don’t have to do anything right now. Right now is just too busy to be opening a possible cobra-in-the-box to scare me back into the void. I don’t need that right now. Relief doesn’t even describe what I felt at this realization.
Then why have the dream? Why would my subconscious bring this to my attention? One of the ideas which came to mind is I am starting to reduce my dependance on Ellen. It’s nice to have someone help you sort out the threats from the paranoia, if you will and it’s easier to have her on my calendar then to deal with things as they happen. I am doing okay on my own but I’m always afraid I’m going to mess up. When I start spinning on that fear I eventually stop myself and correct it with: “So what? You mess up. It’s not the end of the world.” Considering how many time I’ve found myself at the equivalent of square one due to mis-calculations and didn’t die or get arrested proves messing up isn’t the horror my brain has always made it out to be. Though the tool doesn’t present itself at the start of the spin, it does work once I get my hands on it. As long as I don’t stop trying I will succeed. As long as I get up every time I fall, I will cross the finish line. Right now, doing the needful is enough.
I have always had vivid dreams. I think of it as the wellspring of my creativity and imagination. You know, if you dream it you can do it. Unfortunately flying is still only capable in a plane, but I love flying in my dreams. It means you’re happy. I haven’t flown in months. What I don’t normally have are nightmares. Dreams where you are so relieved when you wake up and realize it isn’t true, when you have to repeatedly assure yourself ‘the monsters aren’t real’. I realize now that writing in my journal on Saturday defining my current mental state and having a frustrating conversation about my mother and brother with my sister the night before might have been enough to crack open the door of darkness.
I was with my mother again and she was ordering me around like a five year old. I felt compelled to move around boxes, like wood shipping cartons, in a storeroom to “straighten things up”. The containers were too heavy, too over my head and the utter helplessness made me feel too weak to tell the monster of my dream “No, I don’t want to”. I was plotting to let one of the oversized vessel fall carelessly on my forearm and I could vividly envision the ulna and radius shattering about one third of the way up my right arm; essentially hurting myself to escape the situation I was in. I was successful at talking myself out of it because there was the an urgency of having to have to move in a set amount of time oppressing the whole psychodrama. I felt as trapped as I was when she was alive. Back at the time I didn’t realize I was feeling trapped because I committed to taking care of her, I just felt tired and drained. Not knowing I was trapped it never occured to me to gnaw off my leg to get away because it would be better than to be dead. I was trapped again, I was terrified and I couldn’t find a way out. Then I woke up.
- The boxes: Boxes that are out of the way, tucked high on shelves in a dark warehouse-y environment I see as the major issues I still need to address in therapy. They were on huge gorilla racks and I needed an industrial step-ladder on wheels to reach them. The shelves below were empty. There was trash on the top shelves around the boxes I was able to remove but trying to get my arms around these sharp edged monstrosities was not really an option. I’m not sure I was able to even shift them on the shelf much less navigate them to break just my arm, I did try. Luckily unsuccessfully.
- The Warehouse: This is rather obvious, but the portion of my subconscious where I store all the things I don’t/can’t deal with right now.
- The Shelves: The lower shelves were empty. To me, that is a confirmation of the work I have completed. I have done a lot of work. However, I have done the stuff that was in reach, the more recent trauma/drama of the last, I dunno, fifteen years or so. Having made the room, maybe that means I can move the bigger boxes down to the lower shelves and spread out the items in the box one by one. This would negate the need to accidentally lose control of the box and break something in an act of defiance and avoidance.
- The Trash Around the Boxes: I’m not completely unaware of the storage facility in my subconscious. I know there are big things in there that need to be addressed. Since the lower shelves are clean I keep making a superficial attempt at moving the boxes around to make it look like I am working on it. Its like I can’t open those boxes until everything in my life is perfect. I need to stop studying the trees with a magnifying-glass and take in the scope of the forest ahead of me. I have tools, whether they are strong enough to fell trees we will see.
- Mom: Other than being the general dragon in my dreams, trapping me and stripping me of all power, I don’t think she has any more weight in my dream than that. I believe your subconscious pulls the best characters in your mind to put on the scariest, freakiest and most unsettling drama it can to both scare you away from what it’s protecting and yet to encourage you slay the dragon.
I don’t know if it needs to be said, but I need to slay the dragon, (overcome my fear), bring the boxes down to a safe and comfortable working height (figure out and deconstruct the hidden trauma) and then store it in the light and close down the hidden place where only trauma dares to tread (bravely confront the past injuries, resolve the confusion, and end the subconscious suffering to move forward).
I promised myself when I finally hit the absolute minimum medication level I would start ashwagandha based on what I had heard about it. To be honest, I like the word too. When I wrote Uncomfortably Numb I essentially hit my absolute minimum and started taking Ashwagandha. Stupidly, or it would be if it wasn’t living up to the health store hype, I didn’t do any research before hand. Costco sells it, afterall, and they do what is the absolute most popular at all times. I do know enough about herbs to know it’s not good to put something in your body without knowing what it is, does and can do. Plus with the other drugs, for both psychological and physical ailments, not researching interactions for each and on the whole is again, stupid. Well, stupid if it blows up your face. Absolutely brilliant if you can jump stressful buildings in a single bound and not even scrape your tushie on the pointy bits at the top. Consider…..The move. Quitting my job. Working up until the move. Having people touch my stuff. Keeping my emotions in check. Colonoscopy and biopsy results. I’m sure I can name a few other things, but those are the ones coming to mind at the moment. Though I felt the strain and my sleep was severely disrupted each night, I never not felt I couldn’t handle it. I would give that credit to God and Ashwagandha. Both got me through.
I found an article on Forbes Health: Seven Science-Backed Health Benefits of Ashwagandha. Not all of them apply to me, and I kind of wonder what increased testosterone will do for my current health, I really don’t need more robust chin hair.
- Relieves stress and Anxiety. YES IT DOES!!! The adaptogenic qualities of this herb live up to it’s billing. When I first took the pills I got from Costco (Youtheory) I wanted to slow down my heart rate and maybe eliminate the paplaptations. I noticed a drastic difference when I started taking it, however it didn’t make it go away. When I was focusing on other things, like what I was supposed to be doing, I didn’t notice it. My sleep was deeper, though still fitful and once I woke up around 2:30am I tended to stay awake. But I felt stronger for the sleep and rest I did get. I guess you can say the rope got longer and the knot at the bottom bigger and sturdier with Ashwagandha.
- Lowers Blood Sugar and Fat. I wasn’t aware of this. When I had my fasting blood sugar before my colonoscopy it was in the 140’s which isn’t bad, but is high for a fasting blood sugar. I think I was still just taking the single dose in the evening when that happened. If it does lower fat and sugar, good since when I’m stressed sugar and fat become the two most important food groups for me, however, if the ameliorating of the anxiety and stress of the first benefit is in effect, I won’t need sugar and fat and it lowers my blood sugar and fat. So, this is just a happy side benefit.
- Increases Muscle Strength. This is awesome. You’d say that too if you had to hike 30+ boxes up 20+ steps over five days. That is not counting the things which didn’t fit in boxes or needed to be hauled up from shopping, etc. My thigh muscles should be so angry with me and refuse to get out of bed, my arms unwilling to support my hands to type but I haven’t had to stop. I pulled something in my back, but that was just imprudence in the way I was carrying things instead of doing too much. And even still, it’s not debilitating.
- Doesn’t apply.
- Doesn’t apply.
- Sharpens focus and Memory. I wasn’t aware of this benefit either. However, I have been constantly impressed with my memory of late and my ability to write during a stressful time when I normally spend more time hiding from it than embracing it. In times of trouble and stress I either become scattered like a dandelion in the wind or stymied and unable to move or function. I normally have to use psychic prybars to get my proverbial butt in gear. The stress of the move, of joblessness and so on, has been something I’ve been able to pick up, deal with and then move onto the next task. The ability to not just focus but to remember what I was focusing on is a boon of no little proportions. Of course I say this looking back through the filter of a grateful memory of living through it, at the time I wasn’t as composed and focused as I would like you to believe. However, being in less stressful situations without herbal help and being more scattered and less focused to compare to, I can honestly say it has helped tremendously.
So, during the move I was doubling the dose because if a little is good a lot is better. And it was better. But the article mentions “Larger doses may even trigger unwanted side effects, such as vomiting and diarrhea.” Now that I’m moved out of the apartment, or psychic hell hole as I prefer to call it, and almost completely moved into my room I have cut the dosage back to the 2 pills I’m supposed to take per the directions on the label. My sleep is starting to level off, according to my Oura ring, my heart rate is returning to a normal pace when I’m sleeping (85 bpm down to 69 bpm). The goal now is to get back to doing what is needful: prayer, scripture study, exercise, meditation and see if I can’t get some semblance of a schedule and normal life before I start work again. Sigh. Normally, the idea of this never ending habitrail hamster wheel I feel like we all endure fills me with anxiety but it’s just a sigh and a nod to the reality of what is and that I can do it.