I’ve always thought that I was a patient person, but I’ve realized that I’m a master internalizer. What I attributed to an unnatural ability to remain calm in a stressful situation was simply me processing my emotions through my body. That’s a fancy way of saying my body suffered because my mind refused.
I have an exceptional threshold for emotional discomfort. And I mean “exceptional” in the worst sense. I often can’t identify I’m struggling emotionally until I see a physical manifestation of my pain. This could be tender joints or stomach aches. Waking up with a sore neck from clenching my jaw at night. Craving sweets in stressful situations.
Recently my body started shutting down on me. Everything hurt. My neck pain was excruciating. My craving for sweets and alcohol sky rocketed. At times I felt damn near catatonic because the overload was unbearable. I knew I wasn’t coping well, but because I wasn’t lashing out at my family, I thought I was keeping it together.
I thought that yelling and swearing was me at my ultimate limit because it’s so foreign to my natural self, but I’ve learned that unresponsive me is the scariest. I have a tendency to recede so far inside myself, that I’m unreachable for a period of time.
Yev recommended I see our hypnotherapist, but I was hesitant. What was the point of talking about a problem I couldn’t fix? The girls weren’t starting school for six months, Yev was still looking for work, and we would continue to be home together, in a new place, knee-deep in winter. I felt trapped. I was suffocating.
I am ruthlessly resilient, but, thankfully, Yev holds that mirror for me to see I’m falling apart. I won’t admit I’m a mess, if I can’t change my situation. Like a victim of a gruesome injury. It’s the shock that kills you first. I think I thought if I couldn’t see my wound, I could hold on a little longer.
Covid, quaratine, and isolation have deepened these wounds and ramped up all of my maladaptive coping skills. And when I had my hypnotherapy appointment, explaining how my body was falling apart, she told me my body was screaming for me because I wasn’t screaming back. Because I don’t lash out at others, I lash out at myself, internalizing all of my frustration and pain and stress. I wasn’t being patient; I was absorbing everyone else’s emotions and shoving them down inside myself.
Now I’m working through how and where to process my emotions, and I’ve started with two things: I commit to less and breathe more. As soon as my family sees me close my eyes and start breathing, everyone just gets quiet. In support, and if I’m being honest, with a little fear. They know I’m overwhelmed, and everyone steps back to give me that space to regroup. Then I open my eyes, and we move on.
I’m not sure when I would have learned this without Covid. I have been pushed the farthest emotionally than ever in my life, and I am glad to be incorporating some healthier practices. I am thankful to no longer use my body like a punching bag.
How has Covid changed your understanding of yourself?