Resilience

I want to write about how different this time is from all the other times when I felt good for a while and said things like “now that I’ve finally made it” or “now that I’ve fought my  way through” only to find, two weeks or six months later that I’m back in the Pit, “feeling as bad as I’ve ever felt” and complaining “I’ve worked so hard for so long and still haven’t gotten anywhere.”  When I read through my old journals and come across one of these statements that I’m “all better now” I feel a little embarrassed knowing what’s going to happen.  I’ve posted some of these, but with a warning from the future. (See March 3, 2011 and February 23, 2011.)
This time I haven’t felt like I “finally” got somewhere, that’s such a simple idea, that one could be “all better” from PTSD, or from any major wounding.  Now I have a much better sense of what might be called “normal ups & downs.”  I know there was a point, actually not that long ago (see April 17, 2011) that I had a sense of getting to the top of the cliff, not having to “climb” any more, and being able to walk around and explore new territory.

Today I’m feeling a little blue, and I’m just hanging out with it.  I’m not afraid that it’s the start of a long slide downhill.  I’ve had enough experiences of coming out of this sort of mood in a few hours or a few days to be able to hang out with it with compassion.  I’m not angry at myself for being down again.  Instead of tensing my body in resistance, trying to hold myself up out of the quicksand of depression, I’m relaxing, letting my weight settle down, being here in the present with it.  I have faith, based on experience, that I will come out.  This is different from telling myself “You’ve come out before and you’ll come out again” which is only an intellectual knowing, not the visceral knowing that results in real change.  Instead of imagining “I’ve finally made it,” I’m using words like “resilience” and “self-regulation.”  “Self-regulation” essentially means I can trust my body to restore equilibrium when I become activated.  Instead of the illusion that “I’m fine now and nothing bad will happen again” is the reassurance that I can handle almost anything that comes at me.  If I can’t “handle it” I’ll surrender and pop up on the other side.

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