Fear came up. The cold vibration in my diaphragm. It didn’t fade so I stayed with it. Tried to meditate — actually maybe I did finally hold on to the lovingkindness prayer for myself. Somewhere along the way I realized that the fear had been triggered by being invited to join a facebook group called Being my own Best Friend. I went to the page and scrolled down and got to one about “Falling is an accident, staying down is a choice,” and one about “I can choose to not let my life be dominated/controlled by the past.” I immediately feel guilty. I’m unable to make that happen, so I must be choosing to let my life be dominated by the past. I feel totally judged and found wanting. It’s the old old “I’ve worked so hard for so long. Why am I not feeling better?” It makes me just want to quit.
Went back to check. One entry says “Let go Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”
The other says “Don’t allow your life to be controlled by these 5 things:
1. Your past 2. other people’s opinions and judgements 3. Your own limited beliefs
4. relationships 5. money”
That left me feeling like I was failing. It’s an invalidation just like “If you really wanted to, you would feel better.” I’m starting to suspect that this feeling of total despair may be depression, and that depression may have more to do with how trauma affected my developing brain and nervous system than with psychological factors I can change. This depression may not be amenable to neuroplasticity (changing my brain through deliberately not thinking certain things, and forcing myself to think something more positive). Or if it can be changed, it may take a long time. So I’m going to go back up to 100 mg imipramine & see what happens.
Looking at this today, I see that the two messages from the website contradict each other. “You are not in control,” and “You can choose not to be controlled by…” “You are not in control” is absolutely true. It’s the basis of AA’s first step: Admitted that my life was unmanageable.
“You can choose not to be controlled…” is much trickier. Whether or not you can choose “not to be controlled” depends on how the controlling functions. If you are being controlled by your thoughts, you can change your thinking. If you are being controlled by your emotions, you can take a pause, breathe, and then examine what’s going on. Marshall Rosenberg pointed out that someone does not “make you angry,” you are angry because of what you think about the other person. On the other hand, if a car nearly runs you down, you are not in control of your fight/flight/freeze response. If someone bigger and stronger drags you away to jail, you cannot choose not to be dragged away. You can choose not to be intimidated, to start doing (or continue doing) your spiritual practice. You can choose to feel angry at yourself for what you did to get dragged off, or for not being able to stop them. If you are a veteran, and your body dives behind a couch because a car backfired in the street before your brain has time to say “That’s a car backfiring,” you have no choice to not be controlled by your reptilian brainstem. After it has happened, you can tell yourself that the gunshot happened THEN, even though it feels like now, but you can’t stop your body from reacting the next time. That takes one of the new trauma healing methods, of which there are many right now. Somatic Experiencing and EMDR are probably the best known, but there are more.