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  • Writer's pictureAngee Stevens

This is 42. (Day 08)

Some days I am just barely keeping it together.

This morning my husband and I got into a huge argument that started as one thing but quickly became about so many other things.

It all started when I said I wasn't sure if I wanted to plan our trip to Disney World for this upcoming February. I suggested we push back to February 2025 or said I would need him to plan the trip because I have too much going on in my brain.

This felt completely out of left field for him, which I understand, though I had been ruminating about it for over week by now. And, to be fair, I am the one who insisted we take the kids to Disney this year so it all makes sense why he would react the way he did.

What didn't make sense was why I would react the way I did. Feeling justified in my overwhelm, I failed, once again, to see how my childhood wounds continue to hold me back.

After a good argument of who's right and who's wrong, where my husband tells me what I actually mean and what I'm secretly thinking (he's usually wrong, by the way) and I repeat how he doesn't truly listen to me nor does he accurately share his feelings ('attacked' is not a feeling), I begin to sob.

The truth is, I don't know. I just don't know. I don't know what is wrong with me. I don't know why I just can't do things. I don't know why everything seems to be in gibberish and I no longer seem to understand the rules of the game. I don't know why there are some days when I feel I am on top of the world and beyond grateful for my life and other days when I long to escape the very body I am in. I don't know why I can love myself in one moment and then the next not even want to be near me. I don't know why my brain feels like it's on fire or why I find myself having to pretend everything is fine within me when it clearly is not.

I am not fine. I am not okay. I am sad.

Suddenly, I was a child sobbing in my husband's arms. It seems my entire life has been spent looking for someone to fully understand me and not let me down. To just let me be me, without judgment, expectation, or pretense. But I realized the person I am begging to not let me down is myself. It's me.

Hello, it is ME I'm looking for.

"We all do things we're not proud of to survive." -Coriolanus Snow (The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes)

Coriolanus used this line when justifying the lengths a person will go in times of war and starvation to survive. Yet, it resonates with me because, similarly, we adopt maladaptive coping mechanisms to survive within trauma situations. Case in point, I had a repressed memory of sexual abuse at the age of 4 suddenly flood my brain at age 39. A part of me separated to protect itself and survive until the timing was safe to return.

Which leads me to wonder how many more maladaptive coping strategies I have adopted to survive that I am not fully aware of? Especially the ones that can easily hide behind "good intentions."

"My kids need me right now."

"They are only young once."

"I can't work until the house is cleaned and organized."

"I don't work best with 'scheduled' times."

"I find inspiration in creative outlets."

Though these statements may be rooted in truths, they are merely distractions to keep me from moving forward; like a form of self-sabotage. My survival brain is trying to protect me from the pain of failure and not being enough. It's my inner child saying "please don't go in that dark closet because there might be monsters in there".

To be fair, my inner child has seen some of the scariest monsters so to be afraid is completely normal. However, we can't be brave if we aren't afraid. My inner child needs me now. She needs the grown-up me to take her hand and look those monsters in the eye to see them for what they truly are...

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