Small Changes, Big Improvement

Just because the growth isn't in public places and visible to everyone doesn't mean it's not happening, that it's not good or significant. -E

I feel like so much is changing in me for the better. I also feel ashamed (there it is again!) that from the outside, unless you're in the extreme inner circle, you might not be able to see it. I still panic when I think about going to public places, (never mind actually going) or sickness or having someone over. I still can be triggered and stuck fixated and a whole day or night lost to it. It's still limiting me and my freedom to enjoy my beautiful life. I have so far to go to reclaim my life, but y'all, I'm making big progress. It doesn't look as big because the obvious limitations remain, but I feel, on the whole, better than I have in nine months probably.

In the past month almost, I have woken up with the elephant on my chest less than a handful of times, and all were directly related to being physically overtired. That's incredible, because prior to that I can't remember the last time I woke up without the elephant. I'm also getting up at seven, when my alarm goes off, which is not early, but it's also not staying in bed until the kids are both wide awake and yelling either. Mornings are not a source of dread anymore…

…which makes it easier to go to bed at night. For at least 5 months, I stayed up far too late every night, if I'm honest, because I dreaded the morning and the elephant and the fear. That's not a thing anymore. We are lights out by 11 most weeknights, which sets me up for eight solid hours of sleep. Nightmare free sleep now, too, y'all. Again, a huge change, as for most of the past year, the little sleep I got was full of terror and stress. I tried everything I could to make my sleep come easier and be more productive, and nothing helped. But I just realized last night I went to sleep on time, even after the extrovert boost of my therapy session, without any help. No wine, no melatonin, no Zzzquil. Nada. Just sleep. And I didn't wake once in the night.

My days are free and overall full of so much more. More joy, more accomplishment, more productivity, more laughter. More. I wrote about this the other day, but I'm finding freedom in setting routine and not schedule. There are things we do, but I'm not a slave to the clocks, so there is no failure in the when of their occurrence, no pressure, no tension, no hurry. There is a block of time, and a list of things to accomplish, and it works. Each week I add something, and it is going fantastically well. I am less stressed, the kids have less pressure, and we are all enjoying life more.

My house is clean, and in making it so I didn't burn myself out on housework, and I'm not being crazy nitpick lady either. I say this because often when I clean a lot ( I cleaned the whole house top to bottom last Wednesday on my rest day-instead of resting. Hello overtired and visiting elephant.) one or both of those things usually happens. I'm so tired from cleaning so hard that I don't have the energy or motivation to keep things up, and/or I feel so unappreciated for my hard work that I break down when any little mess is made. Instead, I'm using the housework plan/chart that I designed years ago and have never used, along with a ten minute tidy at 5:15 every evening, so Scott comes home to a generally tidy home and the maintenance work
is being done in small bites throughout the week. Some weeks I may need more help, and I know Scott will be willing to give it to me.

This is a big one, if you know me. I am seriously contemplating pursuing my drivers license, like…sooner than later. If you don't know me, suffice it to say, I've never had it, and anxiety is a big part of why. The rest is some interpersonal trauma I'm not going to get into here. I have never really missed being able to drive because, well, I have never needed to do so in order to feel like I was living a full life. I never thought "gosh I wish I could drive so I could…" Until the past year or two. Now, I find myself wanting to go see people or do things with the kids (all entirely in theory at this point, because, you know, Social Anxiety.). It's starting to feel like the positive outweighs the negative enough that I can start thinking about it. Like everything else in this journey to healing, I can't say when, but for the first time EVER I can see it happening.

I'm beginning to find freedom from
Shame. I wrote all about it yesterday, but it bears repeating because it's a lifetime struggle that is beginning to heal. Just that I feel a weight lifted after making a decision instead of another replacing it is a huge improvement. I feel like a big part of that is the tools that I'm learning to use to help me process my panics.

I'm finding freedom and joy in the things I love to do-the passion that has just been missing for so long is returning and blossoming in new areas. I'm writing with passion and purpose and excited about where it could take me- and yet there is no expectation or pressure-I'm letting Him lead. I'm working out hard and consistently and enjoying it- even finding myself craving more. My time with God each day is not just going through the motions of what I "should" do, it's communion. My time with Scott is fun and laughter again, much more than it's him pulling me out of a fear spiral. It still happens at times, but it's not every night.

Here's a story that illustrates growth even in the area of my worst trigger. A week ago when I got in the car after therapy, Lexi announced immediately "I threw up!" My panic button was hit and I looked at Scott wide eyed, just as he said "she got carsick. I took a turn too fast." I took a moment to process, and asked "but she's ok?" He assured me she was and pointed out that she was singing and energetic and happy. I said, "ok. This is just a thing that happens with her sometimes." And that was it. Y'all, that's growth. Most other times I'd have been a quivering mess thinking she was sick and everything was falling apart for at least the rest of the night. Scott said he was so proud.

I can't list everything here that's happening, but, man, am I enjoying it.

Oh yeah, we went to the park for awhile on Sunday. Victory!

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