A year in review…or maybe not

This is when I typically do a year in review post, but for reasons I may attempt to explain, words are not my friends right now, and haven’t been for quite a while. 2020 was not kind to my brain and the relational trauma I hold scares from have been really loud all fucking year long.

This past year, I discovered and with great relief named myself autistic. This was huge discovery and has given me so many more tools to use and compassion to understand my brain better. I am not crazy, my brain simply works differently than non-neurodivergent brains. my brain is different, my brain is unique to me.

But until I was able to uncover this layer about myself, the damage I’ve caused myself for beating myself up because I couldn’t “conform” enough for the people who insisted I should be the way they wanted me to be, that I am wrong, uncomfortable to be around. Now I cry shame on those who have turned so viciously on me because my brain didn’t work how they wanted me to work.

I lost a lot relationally this year. 4 people who I thought were close friends made sure they twisted my words so much that I sincerely believed I was losing my mind. They blamed me for everything, silenced me, took away my autonomy, their hands squeezing my throat shut. I had no defense, no way to speak up, my perspective was silenced, ignored, beaten down. The amount of grief I cried as the biggest question I asked was what happened? I still don’t understand why or even how things went bad so fast and completely.

I felt the iron doors in my mind starting to slide shut after that happened over the course of barely three months at the beginning of last year. All this happened during and then continued after I was dealing with massive trauma triggers from having moved and trying to get used to a new area, a new dwelling I was frantically trying to transform into a safe space for my panicking brain. The things those people told me will be always carved into my heart and mind. Will they always affect me, make me shatter and collapse into tears of grief and confusion? No, but they will always be with me. Those words have joined the jagged marks of everything my parents have said to me, and all of those who have followed suit after them.

My brain has been shutting down. Words have not come easily, even speaking has been difficult. It’s like my brain went into severe self-preservation mode and I switched back to the deeply traumatized brain of my 6 year old being raped and drugged self. Having conversations with my partner, with the few friends who are left, felt like I having to literally carefully pull each and every single word from the far reaches of my mind. Many words have been slipping, words I haven’t been able to catch in time and I’m left standing there mid sentence with no coherent thought of what I was saying.

Writing has not been happening. This is only the second long-ish piece Ive written in over 6 months. Trying to explain the non-verbal weight that has been crushing my shoulders for a year has been impossible. Trying to give voice to the soul crushing grief that is still barely kept under wraps is a feat I shudder to attempt.

Then a few months ago, around the beginning of the fall, I had to listen to all of the things get repeated again about what is so wrong with me. This time from my in-laws, and they did not hold back. Why is it that the people who are supposed to have you or your partners back the ones who can cause so much irreparable harm??

It really truly does feel as if my brain has recessed and I’m trapped in a repeating trauma cycle but my brain doesn’t have enough bandwidth left to break out of it. I am aware enough to recognize that I feel scared because of how much it feels like my brain has shattered. Relationships are so crucial and I have lost so many I don’t think my brain can handle anymore. I have always given my all in a friendship, relationship, and yet it’s been so rare to have that given in return. The 4 friends I lost this year promised that, but reneged and then blamed me for being needy and too much.

I’m tired.

But that is such a shallow word. My body is numb, my weary bleeding heart is protected behind barbed wire, twisted thorny vines, and iron walls. My mind is constantly weeping tears of agony and grief and confusion and it’s as easy as a flip of a switch to recess back to the younger selves who lived in a constant state of panic and fear.

I’m sure all of this has been heightened because of living in a country that can’t take a global pandemic seriously, and I weep for the unacceptable, unnecessary deaths, and for the righteous anger and grief of black and BIPOC people. I don’t say this as an excuse, but this has been an issue of extreme frustration to me this past year. I have very much wanted to add my thoughts and raise my voice in support for my black and BIPOC family, but my brain has not allowed me space enough to even have my own words. I have felt so much shame over that while also trying to hold space for a very real brain meltdown that I have had absolutely no control over. I have tried as hard as my exhausted brain has allowed me to to share posts of other’s more eloquent words and show the support I can. But i don’t feel like it has been enough, and I’m probably right.

2020 was absolutely the year of relational trauma and a deep rebuilding. It was also the year that I feel like very clearly defined for me what is important and worth fighting for in a relational situation. For the 4 people I lost, I’ve gained 3 other friends who are the live and die for friends. They have my back, their maturity as people is such that I know I can count on them to tell me if something is wrong and we will be able to deal with it maturely and with grace for each other. My partner and I started couple’s counseling and it’s been just what we needed to push through the cycles we kept getting stuck in it. It brought about significant changes that needed to happen, and I finally feel like we’ve gotten a real [second] chance at our marriage and relationship. I have a partner now, not just a spouse in name. We are a team more than we have ever been, and it is a credit to our history that we are still here. We are about to hit our 10th wedding anniversary and it feels so monumental in light of all of the relationship work we’ve both put in over the past 6 months. To all of those who were utterly determined to destroy us, our relationship, and predicted we would never last, FUCK YOU.

The word that was given to me for 2021 is MOVEMENT. I feel like the stagnation I felt throughout last year is finally releasing and shifting into movement. The release started around Samhain/Halloween, I released all of those who have caused me harm and stabbed me in the back. I opened myself up to receive the things i needed to, and surrendered to the waves that have been more strongly pulling me. As per usual, this year has already started with health issues, but I believe they have and are bringing about serious forward momentum in giving my body healing. And Thursday (a day from now) brings my 7th surgery, and 2nd venous procedure. I saw several specialists in November and they gave me some crucial insights into the remaining health concerns I have. I just came off of a 14 day antibiotic treatment. My body is still recovering from how [necessarily] sick the two antibiotics made me. I’m hopeful its a step forward, but I won’t know that for a bit longer.

My body, my mind, my heart is so weary it feels like I am sprawled on the ground and I’m a second’s breath away from giving up and taking my last breath. It feels like I am war battered soldier staggering off a battlefield in shock. I have withdrawn from most of the people in my life, which has been so easily done due to the already enforced physical isolation the pandemic has brought about. I just don’t have enough left to give to anyone except for my partner and one or two other people I keep in almost daily contact.

In the midst of the antibiotic induced flu I had a meltdown, tearfully voicing my fears to my partner of needing to get away from him and our children, but being terrified I’m going to like being away too much and never come back home. He reassured me that he completely understood what I was saying and did not shame or guilt me for feeling that way. Even though his reassurances helped, that fear is still there. I know it’s a nod to how much this past year broke me down. It’s going to take a lot longer to maybe fully heal and be stronger again.

I don’t know when this brain recession is going to be relieved and my entire being won’t feel so broken down. In my moments of silence, when the trauma isn’t loud and is actually calm, I feel much frustration that it often feels like it’s a never ending cycle of being activated and the trauma wounds are so big. I know it gets better, it already has in the past, and I acknowledge how severely damaging and wounding this past years losses have been. Wrapping back around to being autistic, I have a better understanding of why my brain processes things the way it does. Because of this I am no longer masking as much anymore and I think this is part of why I am feeling so unsure of myself. I am having to relearn how I work without the masking and discovering my true face and processes. It is, in some ways, like being reborn and having to relearn basic functions.

I am learning to not apologize for the way my brain works. I am learning to let go of the things I simply can’t explain, but also to speak up when I have one of those “ah-ha!” moments and have the words to actually explain where my brain deviated and how I reached the conclusion I did. But it’s a process. It takes a lot of effort and I think it’s part of what has completely overwhelmed my brain.

Without further adieu, it’s time to wrap up this post. My brain is shutting down and I have nothing else to coherently say. If you feel so inclined, check in on me. But please hold an understanding that if my brain is really overwhelmed, I am going to really struggle to respond. But also, please don’t give up on me? I would like to think that this brain recession is merely temporary and I will adjust to my new normal and understanding how I function.

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