“Your healing is the world’s healing. Allow it.” —Randi Buckley
I know a lot of us are feeling constantly disrupted because of this election and the aftermath, and who are still feeling panicked and unsafe. After awhile that feeling becomes almost an addiction, and it feels like we’re betraying other people and the world if we can find calm and comfort.
If you’re someone who’s been traumatized in the past, you already know this cycle of anxiety and alarm, and how terrifying it is when you stop feeling anxiety and alarm, and how that feels like something even worse is going to happen if the anxiety isn’t there.
You deserve to feel peaceful within the situation you’re in. Peace is power. It allows you to live the life you are capable of living, to be the advocate for the kids in your life that you can be, and to take joy in being alive.
Realistically, you are going to have to live the next four and eight and twenty years the best you can. Working and loving, with the most you can bring to both of those. Trump and his acolytes and the white supremacists and the oil companies don’t get to steal your life from you any more than any of the structures of our racist misogynist society get to. You have been living through our system already. You can live through these new changes and resist them at the same time and be at peace and heal from trauma every day.
And you have to. That’s not up for debate. As Randi says, “Allow it.”
First, triage. For when your chest gets too tight and your stomach clenches and you wake up with a start or you can’t fall asleep:
Assess your situation. Are you safe? Is your body ok? How is your breathing? If you have children, are they safe? If you are safe and as whole as is normal for you right now, start thinking about your breathing. Be intentional about breathing in and breathing out, paying attention to how that feels. Draw your focus to your toes and then slowly up your entire body, assuring yourself that you’re still here and you’re still the way you normally are. You are still here, still resisting.
If you are not safe, do whatever it takes to become safe, whether that’s leaving your location or asking someone else for help.
Breathe and think about the parts of you body that are ok. Think about the items on the to-do list I posted yesterday. Once you have worked your way through that list, you can put it aside and know that it’s taking care of itself, and you can focus on your real life and handling whatever comes up in your view as it comes.
To regulate yourself and get yourself out of the loop of fear, I’m giving you three assignments to do today and every day:
- Move your body rhythmically for 30 minutes. If you can walk outside, walk outside. Jog or run or swim or bike or row or step dance or jump rope if you like that better. Or put on music you like and dance for 30 minutes. It is better if you work up a sweat doing this, but I’ll take anything you give to it. If you can’t do 30 minutes today, start with however many you can do, even if that’s 1 minute, and work up to 30. You’ve got all the time in the world. Spend it on your body.
- Do something with your hands that involves rhythm and repetition (if you can move your hands). Knit or crochet or embroider or latch hook or carve wood or soap, or do cat’s cradle or origami, or knead bread dough or make meatballs or stuff dumplings or chop carrots, or do connect the dots or coloring books, or do rhythmic hand games with a kid you know, or Spirograph, or (air) drum along to some loud music, or something that keeps your hands moving in predictable ways. The goal is 20 minutes every day, but I’ll take 10.
- Spend some deliberate time snuggling with at least one other mammal today. (If you’re a bird or lizard snuggler, ok, and I don’t actually get it, but if it works for you, go for it.) If you live with other humans, make sure that you give each one of them a long, tight hug that gives them energy when you first see them in the morning, and when you last see them at night. If there’s someone at work that it’s not creepy to hug, hug them, or seek out a friend every day to hug. Spend time petting your pets. Make an effort to have some skin-to-skin or skin-to-fur time, even if it’s just your cheek against their cheek.
Make an effort to do these three things today and tomorrow and the next day. Making the effort for each one counts. Progress, not perfection. Eventually, once you’re more healed from a lifetime of trauma, these activities will keep you regulated on a daily basis. Start now.
All my love,