Head's up: this post's going to dive into personal psychology and mental health and recovery rather than writing stuff - although it's related, because my creativity is still struggling and I'm still avoiding things by making myself busy with organizing events and managing people. If you're not interested in reading through all of this, that's the TDLR.
I had thought I was getting pretty good a learning how to grieve well. Over the past year, I've been getting better at putting words to my experiences of self and life (August and September had some good blog posts, if you want to look back) and coming to terms with the fact that there's a lot of sadness built into my body chemistry. Knowing that I need time to be sad and knowing why I'm sad are two different things: I have not been able to figure out if it's just because I have a naturally melancholy temperament, if I'd internalized a lot of my parents' sorrow due to loss when I was very little, or if it's just because my brain developed in a challenging but not unsafe environment... Or maybe all of those stressors laid dormant in my nervous system until my burnout in 2013. Maybe all of the above.
Regardless. I don't believe knowing why is as important as knowing what to do about the sadness, and I've realized recently (a few weeks ago?) that there's an extra layer to this perpetual sadness that I hadn't been able to acknowledge until my mind was ready to notice it. That's how that goes.
I have a complicated relationship with food. This is not new to me. In 2018 I figured out that my mind had developed a relational attachment to food as though it were "the friend who was more reliable than people." It became my ultimate go-to for emotional support because my emotions weren't ever invalidated by that "friend." Around about that time, I started the Very Long and Arduously Slow process of stretching my self-support capabilities so that I was leaning on food a little less often and have made steady progress. As I've learned how to hear my body and find out what "full" feels like, I noticed something. There was a hollow aching pit in my stomach. I've always interpreted that hollowness as "I'm hungry" when in fact it was "I'm sad." When I'm being instrospective like this, I can usually tell when I've interpreted something correctly because there'll be some sort of visceral emotional reaction. This time it hit me like a truck. I've never resonated so hard with that phrase "like a punch to the gut" before. Suddenly I could feel all of that saddness. And it hurt! There is still so much sorrow stuck in my body and, despite all the things I know about trauma and psychology and the nervous system, I'm not quite sure where to start.
This is the part where I wish I lived in a bigger city. As a therapist myself, seeing a therapist is an important thing to do when needed - but the treatment I need is a somatic approach for nervous system regulation, and that means in person appointments rather than virtual (which has been my go-to), and I'm in much too small a city for in-person appointments to be comfortable for me. I've started looking at somatic yoga workouts, and maybe I need to be more diligent with the exercises I do have - the ones I often assign to my clients.
While none of this is directly related to my writing, I know that some of you are also creatives and might relate to this experience of learning to hear your body properly. If you have any ideas for somatic yoga options (free, preferably), I'd appreciate hearing what you've found. I feel like I'm delving into a whole new area here and am not quite sure where to look.
This is doable, right? One step at a time? One step at a time.