Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Brain is Broken: And Why Giving Up Hope Freed Me

From our local and delightful shop, Chicory Hill

(Please note: It's super important that you not argue with or try to "correct" -- even with/from love -- my chosen language here. This language works for me in a positive way so don't load your own baggage onto it. Thank you.)

My brain is different. I've written about my aspie brain a lot and shared what it's like, especially via Facebook posts about day to day challenges.

There is some thinking that that different brain, which is awesome in many more ways than it is challenging, set me up to be more susceptible to the long term repercussions of unstable and frightening childhood experiences.

In other words, what I've been through early on would affect anyone, but my brain was even more sensitive to it than a typical brain on a neurological level.

Lucky me. ((sarcasm sign))

But also, lucky me. ((no sarcasm)) Because like I said, this brain comes with a lot of gifts, including that very same sensitivity that left me vulnerable. I can't imagine NOT being this sensitive to my world.

I have worked really hard for a very long time to deal with the repercussions of my childhood.

I have done ALL the things. Except take medication, which I tried and which almost landed me in the hospital. (Again...sensitive system.)

I continue to do ALL the things and even more.

I tell people that above all, it is curiosity that saved my life. I am always seeking, looking, trying, experimenting, starting over.

To this day, I work hard on this brain and the troubles its history brings to my life.

Dance is key. As is the love of my little family. Also it's uber vital that I keep myself intellectually challenged but not overstimulated by the outside world.

And yet...

A large percentage of my days are filled with struggle.

I get these bursts of awesome and then a day or many more of...not.

Each day, I try again. And so a lot of my life feels like this never-ending series of battles. Wins and losses stretching forever past the horizon.

It's frustrating, to say the least, but I never give up, ever hopeful.

Ever hopeful.

The Dalai Lama once said that giving up hope is crucial. I hated that. HATED IT. But now I get it.

Back up a bit...

Another very smart man pissed me off in much the same way when I was at a body and trauma intensive at Kripalu.

Bessel von der Kolk was my new hero and to be in the same room with him for many hours for many days was thrilling. I thought...this is the man who is going to clear it all up for me.

Until a few hours in to the first day when he said it the first time. And then over our days together, he kept saying it...

He said that all the trauma work and research he had done was relative to one-off traumas, specific traumas. (Fine.)

Then he would say that as far as people who suffered ongoing chronic, day after day child abuse, there seemed to be little hope. The damage was so deep. So integral to the development of their brains.

I was FURIOUS!

How dare he!? And besides! LOOK AT ME! FULLY FUNCTIONING! No addictions! Not homeless!

I ignored him.

But he was right.

Fully functioning? Really? Not so much. I have a great and intelligent brain that most days cannot even begin to realize its potential because it struggles just to get a hold of the basics of living.

I get glimpses here and there of its greatness and it feels mean and taunting because I can't hold on past the glimpse.

Some of you are thinking, "but look at the great work you do! Look at what you've accomplished and the people you have helped!"

Yep. And that's been done on about 25% (being generous) of what's really in this brain and this heart. Imagine that? Watching yourself day after day only get to about 25% of what you KNOW you are capable of.

It can feel like agony.

So I push and push and push and push and push and push and fight and fight and try and try and try.

And then I wonder why I am tired all the effing time. TIRED ALL THE EFFING TIME.

Just a couple of days ago, I awoke from bad dreams. This damages my day from the get-go.

Marcy and I talked it through a bit.

And I don't know what happened, but suddenly, I turned to her and said, crying, "What if...what if really? They just broke my brain? And this is it?"

And she said something I was not expecting as she gave me a hug, she said, "I think that all the time."

And I felt this great big giant awful ugly pressure just POP.

The pressure just popped.

I thought for a brief millisecond that I "should" be upset with her response and instead I felt nothing but freaking RELIEF.

Oh. Broken.

Different AND broken.

No fixative available...simply broken.

I don't have to KILL myself trying to fix something that can't be FIXED.

I could just ACCEPT this brain. Take the good when I get it. When it's bad, just...take care of it.

I had just rewatched that movie A Beautiful Mind. The key to his happy and productive life was his acceptance of his brain AS IT WAS. No trying to fix it. Just going with the flow.

I knew I had rewatched it for a reason.

This was it.

Bessel and the Dalai Lama and Marcy...they were all correct.

I could stop beating myself to a pulp to be something that I am simply not to be in this lifetime. I am not to be free of the repercussions of this damaged brain.

The damage is built into the beautiful in my case.

But I can stop resisting that fact and be free of all the self-flagellation and mortification that has come with the resistance.

I can just...breathe and BE.

You can now learn how to teach dance as a spiritual practice! My first teacher training is coming at the end of September! Just visit the "Teacher Training" tab at the top of this page.

If you want to explore more deeply how to create an at-home dance sadhana (spiritual path) practice, you could join my super secret Facebook group, Inferno of Awesome. This group is invisible until you're added. FIRST, make sure you are my friend on FB, and SECOND, ask me to add you.