Fathers Day awareness

Sunday was Fathers Day in New Zealand.  As the day was approaching, a friend asked me how I reacted to the day – whether it needed to be something on my radar of potentially rough, or triggering days.  My response was a rather confident and nonchalant…  “Oh, it’s no big deal.  I usually hide out and withdraw, but am fine”.  I wasn’t minimising anything with my response; I was answering from a place of honesty, based on what I remembered from previous years.

This year however, was different…  Very different…  I was swept away by overwhelming emotions, lost great chunks of time, and felt the need for demeaning forms of self injury.  On some level, I remained functional… I tweeted, cleaned the house, did some gardening, and finished some chores.  But, I also had flashbacks that left me curled up in terror, I easily became disorientated as to time and place, and experienced an emotional roller-coaster that left me shaking like a leaf.

I say that this year was different, but I wonder if it really was.  Did I react differently to it; or, was I just more aware of my reactions to the day?  This is the question that I’ve been asking myself… I wonder about it because if I’m more aware, then that indicates a level of healing that is positive in the long-term… But, if this year was bad purely because I approached it in a different way, then that could indicate that I’m back-sliding by “looking for triggers”.  Either option is possible, but the latter seems more likely.  I feel less connected to everything and everyone than I did at the start of last year, so find it difficult to believe that the awareness is about positive healing…

As soon as I type that, a voice of dissent that speaks up… Allison has seen improvements in my functioning, and being aware of the chaos has to be a good indicator, doesn’t it?  And so it goes on… this continual to and fro.

Then, I see the internal arguments for what they are… another form of distraction.  If I get caught up in an internal argument over my progress, or lack thereof; then I can avoid reflecting on the weekend…  Instead of paying attention to the pain and associated feelings, I can start intellectualising.  Climb back into my comfort zone of internal debates about what constitutes healing, defines progress, etc…  That’s one step away from beating myself up for not being “healed” yet (whatever that means).

Ahhh Distraction Land, I know you well…

I know that we all need to distract sometimes; but, I need to learn to face my experiences as well.  No matter the reason why I had such a rough weekend, it was rough.  I need to learn how to cope with that… to learn how I can manage those times better… to heal…

In this instance, it was my emotional reaction to Fathers Day.  It would be really easy to now put that event in a box within my mind, label is as a triggering day, and store it away.  Yes, that plan of action would help me prepare for next year, but what can I learn from it to help my everyday life?  I think that’s where my healing will come from… I’m already really good at compartmentalising things, and what I really need to learn, is how to ease those compartments so that they blend into my everyday existence.  I’m always going to experience triggers – that’s just life.  I need to learn how to cope with those triggers better every single day, not just on triggering days…

An indication that I still have a long way to go in my healing, is that I deliberately chose to go to the lake on Fathers Day to take photos… On one level, this was a good decision, as I often feel a sense of calm by the water; but, on other levels, it was such a bad choice…  It was Fathers Day, after all… that means families playing together, and in particular fathers being the centre of attention within those families.  At times these images can be positive, and act as a reminder that not all fathers hurt their children… at other times, they can cut like a knife through my wounds.

Was it wise to go to the lake?  Probably not.  Another friend once told me about looking for the windows of opportunity in a situation… the windows where there is the possibility for you to choose a different option, or way forward.  I had one of those windows when I was deciding where to go to take photos… I could have chosen somewhere less triggering, but I didn’t.  This was reflected in the photos I took… Some reflected my pain…

While others reflected my ability to be in the moment…

Sparrow

I’m not so good at being in the present moment…

—————-
Now playing: Eddie Vedder – Don’t be shy

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9 thoughts on “Fathers Day awareness

  1. Hi CG,

    This is a great post, and when I read it, I had many thoughts right away, as I listened to the different views you presented on recent events. For example, I thought hey, why not that you *both* reacted differently *and* were more aware of your reactions to the day? I also thought that being more aware of your reactions to the day could only be good, and only evidence of the loosening of dissociative barriers within yourself. But then you suggested that you may also have been “looking for triggers”, which you saw as “back-sliding” … and yes, that could account for more severe and terrifying experiences for you. You did not give firm evidence as to why, but did note at least indirectly why you suspect this, or why you might choose to feel that going backwards is a more likely explanation.

    Then you pointed out your use of distractions. I agree … we need them at times, certainly where traumatic memories and triggers are concerned. And indeed, you make another important point: let’s not use distraction to the extent where you are distracted from pathways, resources, tasks and efforts towards healing!

    I, for one, have read your blog long enough to agree that you do sometimes evaluate your own progress in somewhat of a “beating yourself up” kind of way. But on the other hand, you’re a thinker: you have a strong intellect and a high degree of emotional sensitivity and perceptiveness, as well as a need to examine, compare and evaluate … and thankfully, the inherent *ability* to do so. So, then I might ask you on those levels, these questions:

    What holds you back in your healing? What holds you back *from* healing?

    I’m presuming the answers, when explored into and perhaps found, are far too detailed and personal for exposition on your blog, or for heaven’s sake, in blog replies! So I’ll instead wait for the results of the healing to be laid out in future brilliant blog posts. 🙂

    So glad the horrendous father’s day debacle is now past, CG … please take care,
    Michael

    • Hi Michael,

      You might be right, and it’s a combination of both being more aware and looking for the triggers… This does make sense when I think about it more, as the question from the friend did prompt me to look at the day more… and therefore go into it with a little more awareness of the day. So, each factor could have fed the other… Thanks for raising the possibility 🙂

      Hmmm… would it be beating myself up, or honest, to say that the simple answer to both of your questions, is “Me”!?! I know that there is more to it than that… but, that is the answer in a “blog friendly” format 🙂

      I will seriously ponder the questions further though, as I think they will lead me to further interesting answers and questions…

      I’m still recovering from the weekend (and the flu/virus of last week), but am getting there… 🙂

      Thank you, and please take care,
      CG

  2. Hi CG, my first reaction to your post was that I could have written the first few paras myself, about my own horrendous father’s day this year. I’m sorry it was such a difficult day for you. Please do try not to beat yourself up for any of the things you did. Perhaps your trip to the lake came from a part of you trying to exercise some self-care?

    Like others, I recognise and applaud your steps forward. I agree that noticing your reactions is a giant leap forward, in many ways. I also noticed reactions in myself … in part, that’s what threw me. But that’s a topic for an all-too-infrequent blog post of my own 😉

    Please take care. ((hugs)) if wanted.

    (Sorry if this is vague and rambling – I’m still coming out of my anaesthetic!)

    • Hi Kerro,

      I was wondering how you were coping with the day… Such tough days for many survivors…

      Thanks for the vote of confidence 🙂

      Please get better soon!! (((hugs)))
      CG

  3. Hi CG,

    Healing…that can mean so many things and be so individual…how can we define it completely? I think the general idea is to lessen the pain we feel, in healthy ways and to become more whole…whatever that means for each person.

    You show awareness here of what happened, of choices made. That’s good right? And personally I don’t think you made “bad” choices. You tried to handle the day by being out, doing something you enjoy. Sometimes we have to try things and see what happens, so we can learn. I admire the hell outta you for doing that.

    My therapist says that it’s not back sliding, it’s still going up…just taking a side path.

    I’m sincerely sorry about the self-harm. Please don’t beat yourself up. It’s all because of pain that is in no way your fault.

    I have a season pass to Distraction Land so I’ll see you there. 🙂

    • Hi CI,

      The rides a Distraction Land are a little different to the ones at Disneyland, huh? :-/

      During my session with Alison today, I defined healing as not living in terror every day… At other times, it means something different… So, the concept can mean different things, at different times, to the same person. I think most people would agree that it’s a process, or journey, rather than this magical thing that happens overnight.

      Yes, there is awareness of the choices made… especially some of the unhealthy ones… Thanks for the vote of confidence 🙂

      I managed not to self harm… I was kind of proud of that fact, and Allison kept saying how good it was too!

      Take care,
      CG

  4. Father Day is really a tough day for many survivors.
    It was difficult for me to deal with this topic after reading your post. Avoiding….. Distraction….. same here 🙂
    Isn’t it natural that we want to avoid it? With all the pain and loss that exists secretly?
    Because I know that I always have difficulties these days (and on other special days) I often try to ask my thera for her opinion. Except that we have to learn to face our experiences, I think we also need to learn that we don’t have to carry this all alone.
    Perhaps you can discuss with Allison, what you are planning on a day like this. It helps me to reflect what’s going on inside. I think, sometimes we make “bad” choices as a kind of compulsive repetition.
    I hope you feel better soon. Warm safe hugs to all who want them. Take care.

    • Hi LSC,

      Yes, I think some distraction and avoidance is natural… we’re dealing with incredibly painful experiences, and who wouldn’t want to avoid that? But, there’s also a time when we have to start looking at things, and working through them. Both options are difficult… I don’t know if there’s a right answer for when you need to change focus to facing things… possibly when the pain involved in distraction is also too high??

      We don’t have to deal with any of this alone anymore. They don’t have to be secrets anymore. There are safe people who are willing to listen, and help. Today I shared a really safe internal coping strategy with Allison, and there was so much comfort and validation in telling her about this seemingly small, but vital way I coped within the world. There’s a shift in power when sharing our stories… a really positive shift 🙂

      I’m feeling much better this week, thank you 🙂

      Please take care, and with (((warm safe hugs))) to those who want them,
      CG

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