14 April, 2006

Bounded in a Nutshell

I might count myself the king (queen) of infinite space, were it not for the bad dreams.

Last night, I dreamt that I woke up screaming from a nightmare. I noticed that W. hadn’t woken up, and I realized that it had just been a dream. I whimpered, and tried to wake her up, but I wasn’t really capable of talking. And then, as she wasn’t responding to that, I realized it was still a dream. I think I actually woke up at this point, because I got out of bed. I managed to get back to sleep, but kept waking up from nightmares (and not remembering the nightmares) all night long.

Last night wasn’t what I would call a “good” night.

Sometimes I feel like I’m being really ungrateful, to my psyche, or to the gods and fates that determine how well or poorly I cope. For the last week or so, I’ve managed to have sufficient self-discipline to be able to get through the days, getting a lot of stuff done so that we could have people over for a Passover Seder last night. For most of a week, I was able to make myself do things, simply because they had to be done.

On the one hand, I’m profoundly grateful for that capacity in myself. It’s how I’ve gotten through the hard times in my life: that ability to manage to get things done, and even to get them done reasonably well, regardless of whether or not I can actually handle doing them.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself more and more often in a situation where very little absolutely has to be done, and in this state, I seem unable to force myself to do things that aren’t vitally necessary. So I kind of fall apart.

It makes me feel rather guilty, since if I am capable of forcing myself to do things when they have to be done, if I am able to suppress the panic and the flashbacks and that horrible chaotic overwhelmed feeling some of the time, why can’t I force myself to have sufficient self-discipline to do this all of the time? I have those voices at the back of my head, accusing me of just not trying hard enough, not wanting desperately enough to feel better. If I tried harder, those voices reason, I could continue to manage all of the time, and not just when there is a deadline.

Now, rationally, I know that this is unreasonable and unhealthy. Heck, rationally, I realize that this is probably why I ended up with things like fibromyalgia (the year before I had what turns out to have been my first fibro flare-up, I distinctly remember having the constant sensation that I was sucking the energy reserves out of the very marrow of my bones, in order to get done all of the things that had to be done).

I realize that self-discipline alone isn’t going to keep me from having flashbacks. I understand that it’s not even healthy to suppress them. But, damn, I really wish I could.

I am also resentful that I don’t seem to have a choice about the panic, about the memories. If I could choose, I would have more time to just get to be peaceful and happy and enjoy living my life. And I hate that it takes strict self-discipline to pull this off, because if I’m not constantly putting at least part of my mind to the task of holding off all of the negative stuff, there it is, in the middle of my brain-space, taking over everything.

I suppose I do have a choice, but I don’t seem to know how to make it. Or I don’t have the courage for it. Because I know there is a dream I don’t even remember, the one that I dreamt made me wake up screaming. And I cannot bring myself to, I do not know how to, I am terrified to face the content of that first dream.

I wish I could just let the past be the past, inert, over, done. I wish that the fact of my survival were able to give me the strength to face what I survived. (And the voices in my head sneer, “It was nothing, it wasn’t bad, why are you whining about it?”) In a more positive sense, I try to tell myself that nothing I remembered could be as bad as the struggle to not remember. But I don’t seem to be convinced.


handspan said...

You were restless in your sleep. You were doing that thing, moaning, hmphing, whatever. I put my hand on your back and then you were still.

I love you. You ARE strong enough to face what you survived. I KNOW you are.

Meridith said...

I wake up screaming (or thinking I am) a lot lately. Maybe I'll just read your blog to find out what's going to happen next and how D. will respond to it :)

Best wishes for a *sweet* set of dreams this weekend.

agiftofgrace said...

Dyke Grrl, as much as they hurt, your nightmares coming to consciousness like this are a good sign. You are finding the capacity in yourself, the reserves and the strength, to deal with the trauma, yanno? I think maybe that's why you're unable to force yourself to do things except for special occasions... I bet that all of your energy on "ordinary" days is going towards dealing with your abuse issues. I'm also willing to bet that when you do get the whole thing processed and have come to some sort of resolution around it, the nightmares will end and your energy will come back.

Until then, you have my prayers and best wishes.