Today’s theme was Life Affirming.
You might have read yesterday’s post about my near death experience when an avalanche of snow fell onto my car from a cathedral roof about 200 feet up. The windshield and front end of my vehicle was pulverized by the weight of the snow.
Thankfully, I was not. I was in the car, and the windshield shattered but held in place. I emerged from my vehicle unscathed.
Physically, that is.
Not so unscathed emotionally, as it turns out.
Yesterday I tried to go to work and should have taken the day off. I was mentally in orbit. Physically, I kept having chest pains, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations.
There was other stuff too.
It would be dishonest to say I nearly lost my shit on the guy from the YMCA aftercare program who called at 1:30 to tell me the program had been cancelled for the afternoon due to snow. I completely lost my shit on this poor kid, who was just doing his job.
“It is re-goddam-diculous you are calling me this late in the day to tell me this,” I shouted.
“Well we have been broadcasting it on TV and Facebook,” the kid stuttered.
“Dude!” I yelled. “The reason I need your services is because I work! I am not at home surfing the Facebook or watching TV! I am going to hang up on you now so I can figure out what I am going to do about getting my son who gets out of school in an hour.” And I hung up.
No sooner had I arranged for my in-laws to pick up my son, I realized my reaction was totally out of line and completely uncharacteristic for me.
I was being trauma-reactive. My cortisol and adrenaline levels were out of whack and I was interpreting even minor inconveniences as threats. I had done the same thing with the children that morning while we were getting ready for school. I’m both cases, I felt like an ass.
I arranged to take a day off.
So, today, after my kids went to their respective places. I went to my doctor and had her listen to my chest to make sure I was not having a heart attack. She was in shock of my story and prescribed some medications to help me relax.
Her embrace was life affirming.
After that, I went out to lunch by myself. I thought about different career paths I could take. Maybe I would volunteer for La Leche League and work towards becoming a lactation consultant. Maybe I would go back to school and get certified to be a Montessori teacher. These are possibilities! And having possibilities is life affirming.
Eating poached eggs smothered in hollandaise on a bed of spinach and artichoke hearts was life affirming.
I drove to the beach and got out of my car. The freezing air was life affirming. I plodded through three feet of snow and walked in the sand right up to the water. I picked up a shell. I held some rocks. I looked at my foot prints. I am here, I chanted. I am here.
I stood like a super hero with my hands on my hips, my feet wide apart and my chin high in the air.
Thank you, I whispered into the wind. Thank you, Universe. Beautiful Universe. I am so happy I am here.
Walking down the beach was amazing. For so many weeks I have felt claustrophobic from the snow. But on the beach, there was just wide open, snow-free space. And over my head there was the endless blue sky. Nothing was going to fall on me.
Drinking coffee was life affirming. Pooping was life affirming. Getting a mani/pedi/and 20 minute chair massage was life affirming.
Putting my hair in a bun. Texting my husband “luv u” and getting his “luv u 2 :* text back. Shuttling laundry up and down the stairs in my house. Opening envelopes. Paying and mailing bills. Crossing a street. Shifting the gears in the rental car. Liberating a Buddha from Home Goods for $14.
All life affirming.
It sounds hokey and is almost as uncharacteristic of me as yelling at that poor YMCA kid on the phone.
It also sounds kind of fraudulent to be waxing about my life affirming gratitude for the frustration of waiting in line at CVS, when 20 minutes later I am flipping out over traffic. 45 seconds after placing my beautiful, serene $14 Buddha in a sacred corner and bowing to him, I am swearing under my breath because I’ve dropped my keys.
I kind of think this is how my trauma response is going to go for the foreseeable future.
One moment I am marveling at the tenderness with which my daughter strokes my cheek in the middle of the night, and the next I am screaming at her to get a sweater for school. One moment I am awe-struck at the beauty of an icicle and the next I am terrified because the trees are covered in snow and something might fall on me.
Truth is, if I weren’t ridiculously hyper-focused on just how freaking precious every motion is, I would be out of my mind with fear at the realization of how small and short and fragile life really is. So, trying to make every move a joyful reminder I am alive is preferable to the bone-grinding reality of what I’m really feeling.
I’ve got to call that dude from the Y and apologize or something.
And I’ve go to chill the fuck out with my kids.
This winter has been so hard. Ever since my client’s suicide a couple months ago, I have been fighting a much stronger depression and anxiety than I usually do, even at this time of year. This trauma was a wake up call, but it also complicates things for me a bit more because of all the chemical/physiological crap involved with trauma.
So, I’m going to drink some water. And order pizza. These things are mundane, but they will be life affirming.
I am here. I am here. I am here. I am so here.