Living and Perspective
This is the point at which this blog takes a decidedly personal turn. I am probably going to start writing about things that are more about my day-to-day life, though I will always try to tie it into a broader picture on healing.
The last four weeks have gone like this: I had an enormous trigger in the middle of February. I handled it well initially, but it eventually led to an internal breakdown and huge disconnect internally. I landed up in the hospital and truly thought I was set back two decades ago. I was certain it was going to take a long time to turn things around and would need to cancel my obligations for the next several weeks. But, I am not in the same place I was two decades ago, one decade ago, or even a year ago. I was able to turn the incapacitating disconnect into a total connect which propelled me forward in just a couple days. I learned that my "resilience" is probably here to stay. And that knowledge gave me confidence.
I did not have to cancel any of my obligations. After I got out of the hospital, I had to prepare for a big elementary school "lip sync" show I was co-leading for the following weekend. That went super well. All 150 kids loved it. They got a taste of being on a real stage with real sound, lights, props and costumes. I dressed up as the school mascot, a "penguin" and danced a final act before all the kids came up on stage and we closed out the show with the traditional "Cotten Eyed Joe" dance. I had enormous satisfaction for having a big role in making it happen.
The following week, I had to meet a work deadline of a large research proposal that had been in discussion and preparation for many months. It was a single-spaced 15 page main narrative document with a whole host of ancillary materials. I was not happy with the quality of the main narrative initially, but I had some people contributing pieces to it, and eventually I was able to pull it all together and submit something I was proud of.
Traditionally, there have been total collapses after these work proposals. I have done many dozens of them over the years, but relatively few over the past several years. Even with the last one that was due middle of January, I had a decent sized collapse and I only wrote one part of the proposal. But I did not collapse this time. Instead, the next day I went to the championship swim meet for my youngest daughter and photographed the whole event.
There was definitely a worry of collapse after that. I struggled quite a bit the beginning part of last week, and last Tuesday I started to write a post titled "System Disconnect" but did not get very far as I was too mired in difficulty. I found myself run down. I cancelled some obligations.
But if I had to describe what it felt like, it was as if there was a little something extra in my "tank" that I could call upon. In the not-too-distant past, I could easily find myself in bed for days, unable to do practically anything. Instead, by Wednesday I was back on schedule. Thursday was St. Patrick's Day and I photographed a town event. Friday I went to work and attended an evening social function for work. Saturday I cleaned the house and then went to my youngest daughter's swim banquet where she won a trophy for "Most Improved Swimmer" for her age group. Sunday I was out hiking with the kids most of the day while my wife was in bed sick with a flu. Monday I spent most of the day volunteering in our town's elementary school—more on this in another post. Tuesday, today, I was at work by 6 am and was busy until I left for therapy at 4 pm.
So, what is the problem? Well, on one level there really is no problem at all. I know that to the outside observer my life has looked incredibly smooth. I have been navigating everything perfectly. My wife is the happiest she has been in a long time, because I have been very engaged with the family for a long time now and my engagement is only increasing with time. To me, on one level it feels like things are also very smooth.
But what I do not quite understand is why I am not at all connected to the past week or two or more. It feels like the proposal was a lifetime ago (or really didn't happen). It feels like all the stuff at the end of last week and this weekend was a lifetime ago too, even though I can recount the days and everything. Being able to recount the events though doesn't feel so natural. If never pressed, I would have no need to recount them. But, yet, they are all on my electronic calendar. And they are in email records. And they are in my journal. All of those things I did not have a few years ago or even a decade or two ago—at least in this way and so accessible. All are tools I have now that seem to help me in so many ways.
The last week or so has not just been about "doing things." I know that there has been a really unusual quality to my piano playing that is a step or two or three beyond where I normally am at even when I am playing really well. There have been expressions about religion and Easter and possibly going back to the church that I went back to for the first time last year with "My Healing Guide." I seem to know exactly what to say to my kids, without really getting irritated with them. I have even been more open about what I struggle with, telling certain people some things that seem to naturally come up in conversation, but saying just enough so it feels safe and appropriate. If I were just "disconnected", none of these would be possible. So, it is not the normal disconnection which leads to problems with safety and lands me in the hospital.
The reality is that life has not really been so smooth. "My Healing Guide" brought up her assessment that my ability to tolerate distress is extremely high. And if I think about it, I know that in between all this wonderful "functionality," there have been some massive panics. I know after my proposal was done a week and a half ago, there was a huge conflict about getting home safely and I actually needed help to get home. I know there has been a lot of pain and that I have not taken heavy duty pain pills, but instead Tylenol and Advil.
What I do not quite understand is how there can be so much connection and flow that must require most all parts of me, yet there is a huge degree of disconnection (for me).
After spending time in therapy today, then writing about all of this in my journal, then writing about it here, there actually does not seem to be that much disconnect anymore. So, maybe all that I need to do is allow myself to "live" (which is what I have been doing) but merely stop now and again to assess where I am at and maintain perspective.