Wednesday, October 21, 2015. I never thought of myself as “old” when I began this blog 6 ½ years ago. I never even thought of myself as “aging” back then. What has changed so much for me in those few years that I now feel like I am an entirely different person?
I could just as well simplify this question by asking myself, “What resources did I have then that I lack now?” Is that what aging IS? Nothing but a depletion of available resources?
Real or imagined?
How do we know the difference between these two states?
I have a dear friend who is what he has termed for all of us high ACE score people – a TADPOLE – a Trauma Altered Person from way early in our development. My friend talks a lot about “bandwidth” in terms of our continued experiences of our self in our life. Huge amounts of trauma take up huge amounts of “space” within our bandwidth.
We FEEL this!!
But it’s not “just the trauma” – past and present – that so taxes our resources. It is – as Laura Porter describes – the TOXIC STRESS of trauma that wears us down and wears us out. Nearly all the transactions a very high ACE score person experiences involve some kind of stress because the stress is IN our body. Toxic stress BUILT itself into is as we were getting built in the first place.
So I don’t think we ever really escape the stress of toxic stress. We are stressed by stress. Or, more specifically, are distressed by stress. All of this being caught within this “bandwidth” of resource we negotiate our self through our life with.
Aging? When I was younger I did not need to KNOW what this felt like. I can no longer, it seems, avoid feeling what this feels like!
No more ignoring the effects of toxic stress in my life. No more “back burner.” If “working memory” includes ALL of who we are and what we know about our self in our life including how we FEEL in every way – then my “aging” self’s working memory is packed with information that I did NOT HAVE TO have any awareness of on an ongoing basis – when I was younger.
Maybe I am thinking about a process that could be talked about in terms of “saturation.” Be stressed enough long enough – and live long enough being stressed too much – something is going to give. It won’t be “anxiety” that gives way. It will be a sense of well-being.
That “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”
I think we need to pay very close attention to even the smallest, tiniest, perhaps nearly insignificantly-seeming experiences in our life that are on the side of INCREASING our sense of well-being – because as these things help us feel BETTER they – even for the briefest of moments – diminish the impact of toxic stress in our life.
Toxic stress is, for high ACE score people, present all of the time BECAUSE it is built into our body. BUT we have a RIGHT to figure out positive ways of claiming some space in the bandwidth that is our ongoing life – for things that bring us calm, peace and, if we are lucky, joy.
Yesterday I woke up to the roar of a big Bobcat mower destroying the cattails in the only small area of natural beauty in Fargo anywhere near where I live. The Bobcat got stuck in the wet black clay mud. The yard service hired to complete this (dastardly) task brought in a 4×4 pickup to tow out the mower. It got stuck.
Round and round they went until finally – my one positive soul-stirring visual tie to ME – was turned into a smashed, rut-scarred ruined horror of a mess where once I was able to look out my window and at least see a little bit of beauty. A little bit of nature.
I felt devastated. I called one of my daughters in town who so kindly called to talk to management about this, to me, bandwidth shattering experience.
Today my daughter heard back from management that every few years they have to mow down the cattails (which are part of the rain water control system for the land these apartment buildings are built upon) so that they can then grow BETTER for the next few years. Most importantly, nothing is going to be BUILT in that space!
Oh, yeah, I feel relieved! Did I OVERREACT to the horror I watched happen? NO! Did I REACT? YES!
There are not many experiences up here in this northern land that feed my soul. I suffer in this apartment (my friend calls this a Gulag – he is not wrong). I hate it. I suffer in this city. I hate it.
But it is very clear to me that for reasons I don’t even understand, or even NEED to understand, it is not yet time for me to leave here to return south. But another horror of a North Dakota fierce-wind-driven winter marches closer to me every moment of each of these days. My escape has been to watch the birds among the reeds. The rabbits. The neighbor children playing hide’n’seek there.
To watch the wind shifting among the reeds solaces me.
Now what? A different kind of hope?
The raving meanness of a material life – when that happens – when “things” tough happen – and people – and other life – get stronger and better for the battles?
When the Pruning happens. So that new and better life can appear.
Don’t like it necessarily.
Nobody asked me.
I may be feeling very fragile and vulnerable right now, but I am NOT helpless. And, I have a plan.
Sometime in the next few weeks I am going to thin my son-in-law’s packed bed of hardy orange lilies. I am going to gather a hoard of sturdy roots and I am going to surreptitiously find a way to sneak-plant them at the edge of this cattail area. I am not going to ask management for permission. I am not going to risk being told NO.
Once those lilies are in place they will not only survive among their cattail neighbors, they are going to thrive there for as long as these buildings stand and this area is draining water into that muddy place.
Long, LONG after I am gone from here.
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Tags: adult attachment disorders, adult reactive attachment disorder, anxiety disorders,borderline mother, borderline personality disorder, brain development, child abuse,depression,derealization, disorganized disoriented insecure attachment disorder,dissociation,dissociative identity disorder, empathy, infant abuse, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),protective factors, PTSD, resiliency, resiliency factors, risk factors, shame