Losing Ground

I’ve been losing ground since I first stopped changing the hangings at Neskaya eight times a year, for the holidays of the Ancient Nature Religion of Western Europe.  I didn’t even notice when that began to happen, I guess I was focussed on getting through one day at a time.  I was mostly spending my energy on healing from trauma, which involved three therapy sessions a week, and a lot of emotional pain.  At least I still had Neskaya across the road, exercise and yoga classes once a week, circle dancing once a week.  Kayla was teaching every other week, so that made my load less, but I remember when I began to just teach old favorites.  Dances I really knew well didn’t require any preparation.  I also did very simple centerpieces.  My spirits were still being lifted by two hours of circle dances.  I could start teaching depressed, and feel much better by break time.  So I think I didn’t notice that it was costing me more and more to teach.  The last time I taught, after I moved to Kendal, I was fine while teaching, but when it was over I almost fainted.  I could barely put food in her dish for my dog.  Fortunately, I was going back to spend the night at a friend’s house, and she took care of supper.

All the work of moving further exhausted me.  Fortunately I had help, and I didn’t have to sell the house right away.  Once I got here, I finally started paying attention to my therapist who kept saying “You are BEYOND the end of your resources.”  I hoped that being here, with meals provided, exercise classes, and no extra demands, that I could begin to recover.  I think I was starting to when I found that just having dinner with a bunch of friends, even if the conversation wasn’t particularly interesting, began to feel comfortable.  I think it was being so depressed for so much of my life that made me very uncomfortable with small talk.  Only meaningful conversation would engage me, otherwise I felt the time was wasted.  Erica pointed out that, as I recovered from having pushed myself unmercifully for most of my life, I began to be supported by ordinary things: ordinary conversation, ordinary hanging out doing not much, going to movies and concerts put on here in the community.

But alas, the pandemic stopped all those things.  No dinner with other people, no exercise classes, no movies unless you had a TV — actually I guess I could even watch movies online — at least we started doing Quaker Meeting on Zoom, so I still had that.  At first I was able to feel energetic connection while on Zoom.  But gradually it began to be apparent that I really need to be present with other bodies, other nervous systems.  When your own nervous system is dis-regulated, being with a calm person will help you calm down.  Because of very early trauma, I need this help on a regular basis.  Bessel Van der Kolk says that what heals trauma is “touch, rhythm, and movement.”  Folk dance, and then circle dance, have been doing this for me for years.

So now I am getting more and more tired, having trouble sleeping.  My body is beginning to hurt on a regular basis.  My brain often ceases to function when faced with even an ordinary task.  Today, even after a reasonable night’s sleep, I woke tired.  Walking Mocha I felt like I was a diffuse cloud, not something with solid muscles.  Instead of brewing a cup of decaf, I just heated up a cup of regular, brought back from the dining room last night.  That has kept me going during the half hour it’s taken me to type this.  I am feeling almost as without hope as I ever have.  What’s missing is the energy to feel really deeply.  I don’t know how I’m going to be able to keep getting through the day.

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