• jess

LIVE: My comfortable, crazy-controlled life is over. Leaning in instead of running away.

This series of posts is about my return to my childhood home... but even if you're not visiting your childhood home and experiencing all your old triggers, I think we're going through some similar things right now.


Isn't the "end" of COVID causing a lot of us newfound bouts of stress, anxiety, and hopelessness?


Suddenly the world is changing again. Suddenly, our coping routines are completely upset again. Suddenly, all our health worries are irrational again. Suddenly we have to adapt to a whole new way of living... again.


And trauma doesn't wanna play nice.


I'm back in uncomfortable circumstances for one particular reason... but the underlying stresses aren't so different from this rapid return to "normalcy" that everyone is going through.


I don't have a single solution for the shitshow going on in our pandemic-forgetting world right now... but when it comes to feeling uncomfortable and scared, the answer for me is simple. Lean in.





Who needs a lobotomy and a liter of whisky? It's Jess! (jk, please don't give me either.) In my last unscheduled post, I got honest about how I'm doing right now.


Spoilers: Suddenly, it's not great!


For these pandemic-driven months, I've been sailing with bright skies as I quit my abusive job, left an emotionally confusing/addiction-ridden relationship, and started working triple time on my writing & art endeavors.


I've actually been doing great (relatively speaking). And then, I left the controlled comfort of Atlanta to take care of some unemployment business back home in Illinois.


My head has been fucking spinning.


A simple change of scenery and circumstance has completely stalled out my clear-thinking and forward-directed momentum. My emotions feel unmanaged. My anxiety is creeping up at random hours. I have the sense that nothing is right and something is waiting for me.


Instead of feeling like shit and punishing myself for my trauma backslide in silence, I decided to document it in real time.


Anyone wanna watch a dumpster fire?


I wouldn't be helping the cause by being secretive about what a roller coaster my trauma journey has been. I know how many times I felt like a total psychopath for freaking out as soon as I got home, and got around my family. With complex trauma, for every slow climb to the top there seems to be a rapid descent back to the bottom, triggered by god knows what. Let's talk about it.


So, here's another installment in my unplanned Series, "Live: I'm losing my mind!"


This is what I'm trying to do to save this sinking ship of my mental health. Instead of desperately swimming away while the suction pulls me under, I'm riding this bitch to the bottom of the ocean.







Feeling terrible, leaning in, and being less of a dick to myself

So, I'm not feeling great. Now what?


Well, it's easy for me to get lost in working, creating, and phoning when I need distractions from myself. I can put off my itchy feelings for a long while by being immersed in action. I can push things away instead of dealing with them. Being back home, I see how much of that I get from my mother and my anxious upbringing.

Too bad, this doesn't work for long. Compartmentalizing and ignoring will only stave off the uncomfortable truth for so long. Meanwhile, tension grows and unprocessed thoughts accumulate like an angry swarm of bees.


Too bad, this doesn't work for long. Compartmentalizing and ignoring will only stave off the uncomfortable truth for so long. Meanwhile, tension grows and unprocessed thoughts accumulate like an angry swarm of bees.

When I felt especially stressed a few minutes ago, I finally decided enough was enough. I had been running from my discomfort rather than confronting it head on.


So, I did the most terrifying thing; I leaned into my anxiety and tension by laying down in silence and letting it happen.


"Oh, you feel anxious? Ha, ha, adorable. Let's do it."


You know that phrase "lean in?" Applying it to shitty emotions is actually the best thing I can do. (scoff? I know) I realized, since I can't rely on my normal preventative measures for trauma management right now, I'm going to have to get bold.

And, it worked MF wonders.


When I push deeply into the feeling of anxiety, welcoming them to fill my body so I can figure out what the source is, it's not so scary. Things seem a lot clearer. My emotions are just emotions. My problems have some context.

It worked MF wonders. When I jump deeply into the feeling of anxiety, welcoming them to fill my body so I can figure out what the source is, it's not so scary. Things seem a lot clearer. My emotions are just emotions. My problems have some context.

When I take a few moments to be alone and dig into my dangerous feelings, I can explore all the areas that are causing me grief, just like I normally would on the trails during my hiking meditations.


I can reasonably see that I'm doing everything in my power. I can start to let go of my future worries, even when they're legitimate stresses (will I be homeless in a few months? We'll see!). And I can examine my silly ego, which is never satisfied and constantly searching for new hot wires to touch.


Experiencing my anxiety instead of running from it leads to mindset shifts, realizations, and epiphany moments in my world. It helps me put words to my feelings. It gives me self-control when I could easily lean on habitual crutches. It forces me to admit - I'm doing the best I can.


Experiencing my anxiety instead of running from it leads to mindset shifts, realizations, and epiphany moments in my world. It helps me put words to my feelings. It gives me self-control when I could easily lean on habitual crutches. It forces me to admit - I'm doing the best I can.

It also brings buried knowledge to the surface.


All day I've been struggling with my disorganized thoughts, anxiety, and trauma brain. All day, the answer was already here.


When this happens, I just need to slow down, feel the discomfort, and realize I'm probably experiencing something similar to a billion other people.


Right now, the world is on fire, no one agrees on how to extinguish it, and there's no end in sight to this wild ride. At the same time, my personal life is disrupted, people are adding complicated factors to the mix, and I'm trying to cope without my usual coping activities.

I'm not wrong for feeling strange, disillusioned, and scattered today. But I am wrong for fighting them, beating myself up, and holding my discomfort inside.

I'm not wrong for feeling strange, disillusioned, and scattered today. But I am wrong for fighting them, beating myself up, and holding my discomfort inside.

Instead, I guess I should welcome my unsettled feelings, acknowledge that I've had a hellofa 3 days (and 3 weeks and 3 months), and share my shitty experience. I'm going to keep struggling here, most likely, but there's no reason to keep that a secret from the people who care.


Every time I fall down, I'll do my best to get back up. And I should be brave enough to put it on the internet, because I'm not the only one who keeps tying my own fucking shoelaces together.



Finding a lesson in suffering; less self-hate, more authenticity


To make a short point shorter - no, I haven't been able to hold myself to my usual trauma and anxiety management practices during this travel-experiment. But by being mean to myself, freaked out about the potential of feeling more anxious, and closing myself off... I made my day harder than it needed to be.


No, I don't have the ideal circumstances for my usual thought-organization and mental health management, I'm nowhere near the woods that I wander. But I'm doing my best, and hiding from my slightly off-kilter feelings are only going to give them power.

No, I don't have the ideal circumstances for my usual thought-organization and mental health management. But I'm doing my best, and hiding from my slightly off-kilter feelings are only going to give them power.

What's my best option? Being an open book, both to myself and everyone.


I'm feeling less than stellar, and that's important for people to see. Hiding my mental illness from everyone is part of the unresolved tension that builds. Keeping my rise-and-fall experiences with complex trauma to myself doesn't help other Traumatized Motherfuckers or the conversation around trauma recovery.


I might as well write about it. Might as well make another impromptu Series. Might as well demonstrate that I'm serious about how quickly my mental health is negatively affected by a stagnant, semi-indoor day or three and the dissolution of my rigid lifestyle.

I'm feeling less than stellar, and that's important for people to see. Hiding my mental illness from everyone is part of the unresolved tension that builds. Keeping my rise-and-fall experiences with complex trauma to myself doesn't help other Traumatized Motherfuckers or the conversation around trauma recovery.
Might as well write about it. Might as well make another impromptu Series. Might as well demonstrate that I'm serious about how quickly my mental health is negatively affected by environmental factors and the dissolution of my rigid lifestyle.

And with that decision, suddenly, I have direction, focus, and an outlet for my 3 days worth of anxiety. I've been able to sit and pen this post without wandering thoughts or aching belly.


It feels clear, it feels genuine, and it feels like what I'm supposed to pour my effort into... rather than whispering shitty things to myself. Homecoming "should" be relieving and fun, but for Traumatized Motherfuckers, it's full of landmines and anticipation.


So, on this trip to traumaland, I'm going to write about the ugly times. Why motherfucking not?


This is the epitome of my trauma experience; the perfect opportunity to talk about day by day struggles and successes on the long journey towards complex trauma recovery.


The perfect chance to lean in, explore it, and come out the other side stronger.


Accountability and wrap it up ya'll

I'm determined not to let this trip during a semi-apocalyptic world shake me.


I'm going to stay accountable. I'm going to keep myself afloat. I will survive this trip to my home environment without falling back into the habits that developed here. I won't try to escape with self-sabotaging skills.


I will face the challenges and I will be fine in the end.


My old triggers and trauma responses aren't going to get me off track from my health and lifestyle changes. I won't lose my self-improvement momentum. I won't dive headfirst into a narrative of self-defeat, depression, and doom. I won't abandon my projects and go AWOL from my relationships.


My old triggers and trauma responses aren't going to get me off track from my health and lifestyle changes. I won't lose my self-improvement momentum. I won't dive headfirst into a narrative of self-defeat, depression, and doom. I won't abandon my projects and go AWOL from my relationships.

I will sit the fuck down and acknowledge all the nasty things I'm feeling. I will put them here, for anyone to see and hopefully connect with. I will keep moving forward, even if I have to crawl through some bramble.


In our current global community of previously unseen firsts, this is going to be one for me.


I know everything is all sorts of fucked up out there right now. I know there's no viable solution to the current political state of a global pandemic or civilian uprising. I know that fear is running rampant and people are feeling out of control.


If you can lean into your bad emotions and at least learn to experience them with a sense of calm purpose... it won't fix the world burning outside your windows... but it might give you a sense of control in your own inner environment.


At least, it works pretty well for me.



Cool, I'm outta here. This has been a public service post about returning to childhood trigger-city... direct from my silly, out-of-its-element brain to yours.


Hang in there everyone.


Shit's nuts out there and in here, but we're all in it together.


You're not on your own, and you're not wrong for feeling how you feel. Just feel it... and write to a friend if you really want to show your trauma it doesn't own you anymore.

Freaked or feeling imbalanced? Hit me up and we'll rap about the state of this uprising.

@ traumatizedmotherfxckers@gmail.com



Traumatized Motherfxckers

Not doomed. Not damaged.

Not dead yet.

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