Monday, April 13, 2009

In this moment...

Living in the!

Ok. How did I learn to live in the moment was the question posed by a friend recently.

There are tons of things I have learned in this journey of moving from a life of black and white thinking to accepting all the color and experiences that life has to offer...but for this particular subject - (drum roll please!) - the answer begins with awareness.
In my journey I have found that many of the symptoms of PTSD have to do with avoidance. I would attempt to block out any type of stimulation that might trigger the intrusive memories and flashbacks of the life events that were too overwhelming for my mind to cope with.

I developed ways to avoid facing the feelings that went along with the memories. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, work....addiction and obsession in general, irritability, cutting, promiscuity and yes - dissociation. PTSD and C-PTSD survivors labeled as "disordered" and their trauma issues unaddressed may develop a variety of coping mechanisms to avoid dealing with the intrusive memories and nightmares.

In order for me to begin to heal, to live in the moment - I had to be willing to start to let go of my avoidance behaviors and learn to recognize when I was USING avoidence.

This is where things get tricky because once I opened this door - in order to stop avoiding and become aware of this moment, my LIFE - I had to acknowledge the feelings and learn to face what I was trying to avoid.

(Note: this did not mean that I had to repeatedly relive the trauma - but to face the feelings I was avoiding today that ultimately were connected to the trauma's I'd experienced)

Over the years, I had become a pro at my avoidence behaviors to the point that I was losing time, I had difficulty recalling memories and I lived a life of isolation where I could control my environment so therefore I could control what might trigger the flashbacks and nightmares.

Dissociation - was my friend who had saved my psyche from experiencing firsthand the trauma and related feelings that were overwhelming me - had now become maladaptive as it interfered with my ability to distinquish that I was no longer in danger but not ready to deal with the emotion, not ready to face the past. explains the healing process very well I think:

So - in order to begin to "live in the moment", I had to be willing to become aware of the thoughts, behaviors, feelings…that I had been avoiding. This in turn allowed me to develop emotional resilience, courage and strength as I took the baby steps necessary to grow myself up - emotionally.

This is how I "went through" the tough stuff to find my freedom from the pain of the past and learn to live today as the "creator" of my "best life".

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