I've started doing The Artist's Way book by Julia Cameron again with an online group of 400 other people (which each week drops lower fortunately) and I have to say, after running these types of groups myself years back, this go-round I find more resistance to actually doing the reading and exercises than I ever did before.
Julia says that's a good thing because it means it will have a deeper impact on your creativity, but after two weeks of not wanting to take myself on an "artist date" I find I finally want to do it. Today, the Zilker Botanical Garden has free admission and since I've never been, I thought that would be a nice treat. The weather is brisk, but sunny and clear too.
I'm still big on researching the brain and how trauma affects our lives. I listened to a Harvard expert discuss stress and trauma's effects on the brain on the Good Life Project Podcast which I enjoyed. You can listen too on Spotify here. Here's the episode blurb for reference.
Dr. Nerurkar offers realistic ways to introduce ease into our days through small, sustainable steps. Learn how to "do better" so you can start to "feel better" and thrive."
I've been practicing some of the things she discussed and have seen my blood pressure slowly lower. It's still high, but I have reason to believe once I've addressed and healed all the trauma in my brain, it might go down too.
Last week with my trained EMDR & Brain spotting Therapist, I learned that we have 3 parts to our brain, the frontal lobe, a middle section, and the cortex. When we have trauma, our frontal lobe where we have rational thinking, is short-circuited and prevented from acting properly because the trauma is blocking our middle brain from reaching the rational part of our brain.
(I'm putting this in very simple terms, but if you click the links I've provided above, those go into much more detail.)
People have 4 different responses to trauma which divides into 2 forces - Fight, Flight, Freeze, and Fawn. Fight or Flight is one type of response and Freeze or Fawn is another example of how people choose to deal with their trauma.
Fight reaction is where you blow up or react in a way that is highly exaggerated in comparison to the actual incident. One of my former therapists described it as reacting at a level 10 to an incident that people who aren't traumatized might react at a much lower level. The goal of therapy is to reduce the reaction to a more normal level.
Flight is commonly seen in leaving jobs, places you live, and other situations because you need to escape because you're emotionally unable or unaware of how to deal with stressful situations. It's something I've done a lot, moving from state to state and job to job because I haven't been aware of this being a reaction to stress and trauma.
Now that I'm aware, I can work on it.
What I find interesting is observing how many other people live with trauma unaware of how it's affecting their lives because nobody has ever shared with them that these patterns are caused by trauma. What you don't know, you can't heal.
I'm reading Miss Independent A Simple 12-Step Plan to Start Investing and Grow Your Own Wealth by Nicole Lapin and she had a very traumatic upbringing. As soon as she mentioned in the book that she had moved numerous times, I understood trauma was her life experience even before she shared a horrifying story from her childhood.
The book is really easy to read and I highly recommend it if you want to understand finances through a female perspective. (I'm not just saying this because I get credit if you buy her book or any of the books I'm mentioning too.:)
The other two reactions Fawn or Freeze I've never really experienced. Fawn would be telling someone nice things about them to get them to leave you alone. I watched this in a video of a girl trapped in an Uber with a creepy guy who wanted to date her. She kept telling him he was a nice guy and she was flattered, but she needed to get out now. That just made my skin crawl.
Freeze is pretty self-explanatory. If something bad is happening, you just freeze and are unable to say or do anything or leave because your body's response to this danger is to freeze.
I look back at my life and I can see so many times where I just ran away from situations in my home life. When I was very young like 10 years old or less, I was mad at my Mom and packed up a bag to run away leaving the house crying. I got to the end of the block of our home in Hermosa Beach before turning around and coming home. LOL
Another time, we were living in Kenya, Africa at a missionary boarding school while my Dad taught school back in the 80s and I decided to run away for some reason. I distinctly remember walking on the dirt road out of the compound and seeing huge black and white Colobus monkeys swinging from the trees as I walked. Here's what they look like because it's hard to describe. Aren't they amazing?
I eventually returned home and ironically, when my African friends learned of my running way, they all thought I was shab, a slang term at the time for cool, or at least that's what I remember. LOL
As I grew older, I remember running away on holidays. My Dad would want the house to be perfect when my youngest sister would come to visit with her family and inevitably, he would take out his stress on me and demand I leave.
I still remember driving to Santa Barbara one Thanksgiving because I had asked if we could have something other than water at the dinner table for once. Real stupid stuff, but it would cause stress and my Dad's way to deal with it was to tell me to leave.
We've had a very complicated relationship my entire life and it's a miracle how far we've come. Not perfect now by any means, but much closer since my Mom died. You always love your parents even when it's not a good relationship because it's what you've grown up with and you don't know anything else.
As I've grown and healed through therapy, the way I've dealt with situations and people has also grown and changed. Behaviors that I would normally put up with, I don't anymore. Gaslighting, negating my feelings, blaming, and other normal activities for a narcissist, just don't sit well and I've begun to narrow my circle more and more.
What I am beginning to realize and welcome living in Austin, TX is that sometimes God pulls you away from everything and everyone you've ever known so you learn about yourself and draw closer to God because He's all you have.
Boundaries become firmer on what you will or will not accept in a friendship or relationship. What used to be acceptable because it was familiar or comfortable, becomes uncomfortable and not acceptable. I recently told a "friend" that our "friendship" had run it's course after one last especially hurtful situation. I'm done pretending something feels good when it doesn't.
I'm at the point in my life where I'd rather be all alone without friends or family than have toxicity in my life. I'm enjoying my peaceful life right now. I feel more creative than I have in years. And I feel that I'm focusing on what makes me happy, not what makes others happy. It's strange to be promoting my work vs my client's work, but it's also really exciting to hear positive responses and have supportive friends encourage me to keep going.
When you are surrounded by noise, distractions, or political unrest that consumes your attention, it's hard to listen to your own still small voice whispering what you need, want, and desire. As the noise, distractions, and politics fade away, then the voice becomes louder and if you listen to it, ultimately, it replaces all the others.
I felt compelled to write after spending a few unsettling minutes on Twitter reading. I wanted to get back to my thoughts and back into my body. Writing does that for me. Other forms of self-expression might do it for you - baking, painting, sculpting, swimming, etc.
All I know is, as the popular song on TikTok says, I think I like my little life.
Not much going on at the moment, but I feel that's going to change as I continue to pursue The Artist's Way course and reading. And pursue my therapy with brain spotting and EMDR. I'll keep you posted.:)
Now to get ready to enjoy the botanical garden and explore Austin.