• Lauren Morris

Can I Break This Cycle with Cheez-Its?

I was doing meh or even eh but Wednesday took an actual right turn and bam, I am stuck in some real reactive mother fucker mood.

I went to the pharmacy because I’m living my most suburban gangsta stay at home mom life and decided I was going to live a little by taking the “other” route home.

Take the right-hand turn and BAM my brain hits the play button on some random memory from 10 months ago. Next thing I know I was ready to fight. Typically, I’m ready to panic and freeze, this one though, rage boiled over and I had to sit in the car for several moments before heading into the house so I wouldn’t punch someone in the face. That someone is the kids who do school from home these days and call me old fashioned but that isn’t appropriate parenting techniques.

I tried to just let the memory come and go while doing whatever coping mechanism seemed best. I calmed down enough to move into the flurry of “oh, don’t forget about these moments” memories that usually follow when I’ve been activated like this. I recall a podcast or something I read once saying how impulses and thoughts even when they are dumb are in response to our brain thinking it needs to protect us. It goes on from there and it seems reasonable. My issue is I don’t seem to fit that cycle the person was describing.

Instead of struggling with whatever demon the intrusive thought or impulse conjured, I seem to be doing okay. Triggers happen for me and then that sets off an array of physiological responses because my body learned to do that as a protective mechanism. Even that I understand. It’s when there’s no discernable trigger that fucks with me. I suspect there has to be a trigger I just fucking have no clue to what that is. In this scenario, the memory had to do with the actual road and a right turn which is some really fucked up shit that just traveling down a road evoked all of this. Especially because the memory, while steeped in clear relationship issues, is nowhere near as bad as the other shit that also resides in my history.

Broad daylight. Meh mood because it’s always a meh mood, trigger, flashback, THEN intrusive thought to avoid painful feelings. Being in that kind of pain wears you down hence why I built an array of defense mechanisms over the years so this whole scenario is a circle jerk I didn’t consent too.

Throughout the day, I settled a bit but there was an ongoing sense of unease. Maybe a good night’s sleep would help? That’s hilarious given the last time I had a good night’s sleep was when I was in my mother’s womb. The truth is, I haven’t slept well in about 4 months. I’ve been experiencing vivid dreams, nightmares, breakthrough memories, and all this takes place around 2:30 AM. Plus side is I’ve caught up on a shit ton of podcasts while being safe from any kids interrupting my sobbing sessions.

The day started and I could tell it was going to be difficult. Okay, well what can I do? Uh, ride it out? Compartmentalize for now and deal with it later. Compartmentalizing is my jam while also working on it not be my jam. This avoidance of feelings all this time makes it tricky because if I open the door on compartmentalizing I may never close it again. I’ve tried journaling, like 10,000 written words minimum, yoga, meditation, and a fuck ton of Cheez-Its followed with leftover pumpkin cheesecake.

This heightened mode is not sustainable. Ultimately, I’m going to shut down. Another podcast I was listening too (like I said a shit ton of podcast listening) was describing how therapy (also, this makes it seem like all I do is listen to podcasts about psychobabble bullshit. I assure you I listen to all kinds of pop culture, comedy, film, and TV bullshit too) is a mystical place where you can slow down your brain and dive in there to explore and feel these oftentimes overwhelming feelings. Uh-huh. I don’t prescribe to one thing being a cure-all and there’s some truth to this while also being limiting. I mean maybe you are a one-dimensional person who only has one small problem but it seems to me humans are complex systems. So then, what? Wait it out, explore this one moment in session which then means not working on your root system which is probably poisoned, and the 15 or so other incidents that happened throughout the week? Yes, there is of course crossover but hanging on until session where there's limited time doesn't seem doable and the whole thing just doesn’t seem to be set up in the best interest of the individual.

The result of these cycles is my irritability factor. It skyrockets and explodes like the Challenger (too soon?). So much is grating on me right now. I’ve got one kid doing school full time online and I swear every 15 minutes he’s on some break because he’s barreling through his work. I mean kudos to him and also fuck me. I can’t get anything done because every fucking fifteen minutes he’s flitting around talking about some shit some kid name Brinkley told him. Yeah, he goes to a school where kids are named Brinkley. I only have myself to blame for this.

Another kid is part-time through the same school and we picked up a couple of classes with Florida Virtual. This kid though is in the real shit. He’s fighting so hard with his health so he doesn’t end up with a feeding tube and who the hell knows what else. He’s trying to manage feeling like death every day, doing school work so he can stay on track, finding a way to make friends (turns out there’s virtual school clubs! PHEW), and puberty. It’s a lot… for both of us.

The toddler years when you have three kids in three years is a nightmare but I swear this is making me more miserable than I’ve ever been as a parent. Why? Because I’m dealing head-on with my bullshit which includes re-engaging the parts of me that have been shut down so now I get flashbacks on a random fucking day in the fucking suburbs that leave me in reactive mode for days on end. Fuck me.

The stress piles up and the path ahead just narrows when I’m in this state and I’m reminded my life isn’t the kind where people show up on an emotional level, fuck, even on a physical level. This is how my brain operates when I’m stuck in one of these places and since there is a lot being sifted through because I have years to undo it happens more than I’d like or can handle. It’s less here’s this thing that happens some of the times and more here are these moments of levity that might happen but the rest of the time you are in this whatever the fuck you want to call it mode.

I wish I possessed bravery. If I did real (I think that’s code for ugly and hard) meaningful change would happen. I wish I wasn’t conditioned to keep my kids safe even if it means my life has to suck (which by the way is a direct quote I heard this week from someone), and I wish this post wasn’t so woe is me and a bummer.

Oh, look! More Cheez-Its maybe that’ll help.

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