… not to be confused with losing it.
Last week Monday, fresh off of the kidney stones, I had a triggering experience that left me with symptoms and signs of needing much more emotional support than I was giving myself.
By Tuesday, I was unable to get out of my car without feeling my heart race and my palms get sweaty.
Add in four more “objectively hostile encounters” on Tuesday, all in Brattleboro, Vermont.
My car was the only space in my life left where I did not feel at risk for harm and attack. The safety within my car was still conditional said My Loosening Mind…I could hold on to my sanity if I could navigate my world with less than four episodes of blue flashing lights from the police in my face each day.
I knew “the magic number”, because I had hit four in my attempt to go down to Greenfield for the “Alternative to Suicide” group Tuesday evening. Four police cars was right “at the line”. I knew– in my body and my mind– that if I saw one more police car with its blue flashing lights on going somewhere self-important, I would collapse in tears in my car and be unable to drive myself home… or I would “Do a ToWanda” and smash my car into the first thing or person I could.**
I crept quietly home (driving carefully!) Without getting support from that “Alternatives to Suicide” group because Greenfield has blue lights flashing pretty much every half hour as I have come to know that town these days.
That is how an entire town became unsafe to me.
From my cabin space in Dummerston, I began to strategize on how I could get more emotional support as things were continuing to break down in my life. Tuesday night was the first night in a while where my emotions woke me up at 4:20 and I found myself unable to get back to sleep again AT ALL.
Same sleep pattern, on Wednesday night, at a friend’s home on their sofa (geographically now I’m down in Turners Falls–fewer police cars than Greenfield). Now I’m becoming sleep deprived and confused. By Wednesday, I was feeling that outside of my car–in my workspace, in restaurants, in supermarkets– that everyone was looking at me…
And, as a black person in areas where there are simply no other black people for hours at a time it is hard to sort out paranoia from reality! Usually, in rural Vermont white people ARE looking at me. But I was imagining that I saw more hostility in those looks.
Or was it my imagination?
Next emotions to rear their ugly heads were self-doubt and self-criticism. Why did I move to Vermont in the first place–this “whitest state in the Nation”? I begin to obsessively second-guess all of my life choices; a dark spiral that I try not to go down…
I knew what I needed. I needed peer support. True Peer Support.
Which looked like two hour drive from where I work to Rochester Vermont to speak with a staff member at this peer led respite:
That is where one of the other two black women that I know who work in progressive alternative mental health was working. AND I NEEDED PEER SUPPORT to maintain a rudder for my ongoing dance at the edge of madness.
I had tea with her, with the other staff person, and one client. And she and I went for a walk together. Then I drove back home two hours to Dummerston.
Where I got back in time to do that two hours prep in my cabin to get it warm and toasty enough for me to sleep there…
And, I had a fair night’s sleep. But, still woke up at 4:30 and could not get back to sleep again.
So as of Friday, I have accepted sanctuary in the home of a friend and lover in Fitchburg. I am esconced in the front room of that home and I am feeling SAFE.
And I’m not in my car. And I got back to sleep again when I awoke at 4:20 a.m.
I will continue to take this one step at a time.
**I imagine psychologists would name that “an obsessive compulsive thought”? Whatever the language it is important to note that that thought is heavily tinged by the news this week. There were more than one instance in the international news where extremists plowed into crowds of people with their cars. Sometimes it’s not all inside my head, but reverberations of the Collective Consciousness as well!