Brainspotting

I’ve realized a few new things about myself over the past couple days. The things I once thought were normal, or at least normal to me, I am questioning. I think I just got used to some things that are just not right.

There isn’t a day that goes past that I don’t think about the childhood trauma I’ve experienced. I wish I could just get over it or at best think about these things every other day. As a result, I’ve struggled with lifelong anxiety and depression.

But that isn’t all. I constantly experience exhaustion and fatigue. My doctor wanted me to go in for a sleep study when I was in my 20’s. I did and was told that I never went into deep sleep.

I started reading the book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk. I would highly recommend the book if you have experienced or are interested in trauma in general. One of the chapters talks about EMDR. EMDR is a therapeutic process in which someone focuses on a pointer moving back and forth while thinking of traumatic experiences. It somewhat mimics REM sleep which PTSD sufferers apparently don’t get a lot of. It is supposed to be very effective in healing trauma.

When I was a little girl, my autistic brother was physically violent with me on a daily basis for years. Sometimes while I was trying to sleep at night, he would come in my room and threaten me with violence. As a child, I slept with my door open. You see, I was afraid of the monsters in my closet and the ghosts under my bed that would attack me when my door was closed. I thought like a child. I feared illogical demons instead of credible threats to my safety.

The stress hormones pumped through my veins with a steady beat day and night. My body learned to never relax. I had to be alert for danger at all times. Deep sleep wasn’t safe.

I started paying attention to my sleep patterns lately. They’ve been the same as long as I can remember. I don’t have problems falling asleep, but I can’t seem to stay asleep. I usually awake between 2 and 4 and stay awake for an hour or two. I try not to think because then I might as well get up because I won’t be able to fall back asleep. Sometimes I get up and walk around.

Usually once or twice a week, I have bad dreams. It seems when I am just about ready to go into REM sleep, my body awakens me. Even though the danger is gone, my body is still on high alert.

I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a nightmare when I had a dream. When things are really bad, I experience insomnia and intense nightmares together on the same night. These are the nights that I wake up sobbing, can’t go back to sleep, and if I do I have nightmares again. Thankfully it doesn’t happen all that often.

I am exhausted, but can’t relax. My anemia is making things worse. I lack energy and can’t seem to think straight.

My counselor is trained in brainspotting, which is an offshoot of EMDR. Next session I am going to give it a try and see how it works. Maybe I’ll finally be able to get some sleep. Even though a pattern of insomnia and nightmares is normal to me, I don’t think that it is normal. Maybe there is nothing I can do about it, but I’m going to try.

How can I sleep??

Noise! Sometimes I would give anything to be able to sleep.

When my kids were little, I would have given anything to sleep until 8. Now as teens they sleep in past eight. But I still wake up at 6. I try to sleep in, but I can’t. 

Last night my oldest daughter Angelique was talking to her boyfriend on speaker phone while skyping him, sending stories on snap chat, checking her facebook feed, making bracelets, and catching up on her favorite netflix shows. How can I sleep?

My son Alex is the incessant gamer. I hear the taps of the keyboard, the clicks of the mouse, his TV that shows highlights of some gaming competition. He yells into his gaming mike, “No, no, no, what are you doing? I can’t believe you just did that. Are you a newb?” How can I sleep??

My youngest daughter Arabella just got braces this week. She had a sleepover last night with her best friend who also has braces. They spent the evening laughing, giggling, and screaming while slurring through mouths full of metal. How can I sleep???

Paul asked if I wanted to watch a movie with him at 8:00. Sure, why not? Ten minutes into the movie, I am asleep! ARRGgggg! How could I sleep??

Post modern parenting

Last week I had the opportunity to go a really nice indoor waterpark in WI Dells, the waterpark capital of the world. Why the supposed waterpark capital of the world is in a cold climate is beyond me. They only keep the outdoor parks open 3 months of the year. I absolutely love waterparks so I decided to tag along with my husband while he went to a conference. The first body slide I went down, I banged, bruised, and scraped up my elbow. By the end of the day I had a matching bruise on my other elbow and another on my back. Seems like I can no longer have fun without somehow hurting myself.

That day I ate lunch by myself at the waterpark. By MYSELF! That hasn’t happened since at least 1994. It gave me time to people watch, one of those hobbies that I don’t seem to have time for anymore. As I was waiting for my lunch alone at the table, I became surrounded by babies. There were strollers everywhere. I had to go through a maze to get back to my table with my food. As I watched the young parents, I noticed something. As soon as the babies fussed at all, the parents handed over iphones to pacify the infants. The babies watched music videos of some sort. It didn’t sound like baby music, but had more of a dance beat. Gone were all of the ridiculous toys to pacify babies like the plastic keys that I used to use. Gone also was the parental entertaining of infants. Gone was the opportunity to ask the babies how to set up parental controls for my teens.

What is going to happen to these device pacified babies? Will they be texting and getting their own phones at 3? Carpal tunnel at 4?  I remember being told that it was bad parenting to have your infants and toddlers watch TV or movies. What about cell phones, ipads, and/or kindles as babysitters? Who knows? When my kids were little I would have given anything to sleep to 8 AM. I was thankful if I could get a shower in. I wasn’t going to get up at 4:30 in the morning to take my shower before they got up. During the day, I would sometimes pop in a movie and take a shower with the door slightly ajar. That didn’t keep one from escaping. Little Arabella when she was around 2 took off for the road while I was in the shower. I remember running down the driveway after her wrapped in a towel with soap in my hair screaming at her to stop. Those were the crazy days of parenting. Now I wake up at 6 AM regardless of how late I stay up. I would give anything to go to bed by 10PM, but have to wait for my teens to get home. Oh, how parenting changes. Pity the poor parents with babies and teens. Do you actually sleep?

As I was sitting at the waterpark eating, writing blogs in my mind, and reflecting on the life cycle of parenting, I was also scrolling though facebook. That is when I found out from a post by Paul’s cousin that my mother-in-law was in the hospital. It is always great to find out things through social media, isn’t it? Especially when my husband was in meeting and I had no way of contacting him. I certainly was NOT going to wander around the conference hall sobbing and sopping wet in my swimming suit blubbering around with waterpark bruises all over my body.

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. It is great to be able to be in contact with anyone anywhere. But you can never truly get away from life’s problems and busyness unless you put your phone away. I long for the solitude of a phoneless weekend. Someday I will do that, until then my phone is two inches away still waiting for test results for Paul’s mom. We are hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.