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Monday, July 11, 2016

Anxiety Update: Grounding

another tropical looking beach view in Northern Michigan

I can't tell you where this is. So far, it is the emptiest beach we have found and I want to keep it this way for a few reasons. The biggest reason, anxiety. As I have said, getting out to the beach and getting my feet in the sand, water and across the rocks is grounding. And I need a lot of grounding right now. This is where we were on Saturday and what we were doing.

You, undoubtedly, have heard the term from a mental health professional or even the New Agers. Grounding is the process by which we literally find our feet. If you are going to use New Age speak, grounding let's the energy in the earth, travel through you, connecting you and your energy, to the ether or cosmos. This creates a complete circuit and allows you to navigate your life choices with a kind of certainty and freedom that is otherwise impossible when circuits are broken. In mental health terms, when you are grounded you are living in your most authentic self. And the most authentic self is the one least troubled by the outside of the world. Granted this simplifies things a bit much. The process and the need is a little more complicated than one paragraph or one blog post can cover. This is a good start though.

Grounding involves being in the moment, being totally involved in and engaged with who you are in respect to your gender identity and personality. And the steps beyond those two basic identifiers are in living your passions and callings. When one denies any part of ones self there is discord, disconnection and then dysfunction. And that is where I think that mental illness begins.

I'm not an expert in this area so I can not be clinically certain of this. Nor can you do more with the statement than run it passed whomever assists you with your own issues. I come to this conclusion by observing my own life and comparing the periods of greatest contentment and greatest discontentment. Nothing can make me more certain of this than the moment in which I am currently.

Today, and for the rest of the week I am in Grand Rapids. I have been invited by a friend, staying with him and with only 2.50 to live on for the week. I have brought with me enough material to work productively during the week. The plan is to attack the projects that I have not had the focus to accomplish much while I have been at home. Too much to distract me and none of it all that helpful. So away for a week. Away to someplace that dredges the past in both good and bad ways. Not that good or bad is even accurate. Happy and sad are not accurate either. Whatever the description is or should be for the memories or the feelings those memories bring the effect is the same.

I am anxious.
I am sad.
I have a longing for something in the past that rather haunts the present.

I came to Grand Rapids grounded. I spend either Friday or Saturday every week grounding myself. It is something that I have not done for most of the last 10 years. Much like people who stop taking medication when they feel better give illness a foothold to return, ceasing to perform your personal rituals gives illness in spirit and mind a foothold. You lose your defense against many things, many influences. When you lose defenses you lose direction. When you lose your own sense of direction then others can control you. Today I struggle with control. I don't want to lose myself to memories. Today I struggle with a disconnected past. Grand Rapids represents disconnect.

My anxiety is officially diagnosed as PTSD. My sense of this, where the city is concerned, is an unsettled past. My Wondertwin lives here. Our story might be considered tragic for the fact that a romance will never come of it though at one time that was the goal for which we both had hoped. Yet, for reasons that are completely obvious to me now, romance was never wheat the Universe had intended. It should have been obvious to each of us that if we called each other Wondertwin then we were connected only as siblings could be connected. And we were connected, are connected in a way that Souls are meant to connect for sustainable support.

When men and women connect it is usually assumed that it is going to be for the purpose of relationships, sex, pro-creation. So with those assumptions, it is very easy for them to get confused. And he was always confused. Sometimes I get confused about these things too. And I confused things with him. But back then, something inside of me wouldn't let the confusion last. I was strong enough to not let who I was slip away. I tried to keep us both centered in our own personality. He resisted. I could not survive as something other than who I am. So we parted.

Every once in awhile he would contact me. The last time he did I was dating someone. This didn't fit into his plan. And when I realized that someone else, yet again, had expected me to make my life about them at my own expense I lashed out. Being here, in his city, I want to reach out and heal that scar for both of us. You see, I know myself. I have always known myself. And when I am asked to be other than myself I have to stop whatever course would allow me to become lost. This often means that I must disappoint someone. Some people do not handle the disappointment well. And sometimes I do not handle the redirection well. This was one of those times.

And one of the reasons that Grounding is so important. If I had been better grounded, I am certain that I could have handled things with him better. I believe I could have stated my case without anger and we could have parted as friends. If I had been grounded I would not have been dating anyone. When I am grounded I know that I am not supposed to be dating anyone. It is not who I am. Whenever I do things that are out of my nature there is chaos and then there is anxiety.

When anxiety comes it does not leave as easily or as swiftly as it arrived. I don't know if the potential for mental illness lies dormant waiting for the right circumstance to manifest or if it is entirely a deposit of circumstance. All I know is that the worst times I have in dealing with myself and the things that go on in my head and the panic of dealing with situations come when I am not grounded. And I can not deal with them until I am grounded.

Grounding is being rooted inside your Self. It is knowing who you are and making choices that support that. In my case, with him, it is knowing that I am to be single. Be it a state of birth or the consequence of early traumas, I am a single woman. I knew that when I was 14. And the biggest mistakes, the ones that bore consequences both bitter and difficult to over come, were made when I was less myself and trying to be more like others. In the attempt to fit into the shapes others chose for me I fell through into a kind of nothingness. This is so for each mistake I made. I married when I knew that I should not. I married to please a friend, to please my sister and to please the society that we lived in. I did not marry to please myself or fulfill my purpose. And it cost me the ground I gained in the attempt to fulfill my purpose. I dated my Wondertwin to please him, and then again to gain acceptance into a circle that I felt I was supposed to belong to. In the end, neither my marriage nor the relationship with my Wondertwin withstood the chaos.

You see, we know who we are at a very young age. When we are counseled to embrace our inner child we do not take it quite far enough. We stop at wonderment and joy of creative expression or of natural expression. We do not go as far into the life of our inner child as the contentment of being true. Children do not dampen their enthusiasm or curiosity until they are compelled to do so for fear of punishment. Adults squash the exuberances of youth because they are naturally messy and chaotic. Somewhere along the line of evolution we have learned that adulthood is for order and construct life to be that way. It is not so. It can not be so because life is a tangled skein of yarn, spun from the unpredictable events in each of our lives. We spend a considerable amount of time as adults in the untangling of it while as children we just use the parts we can get to. At least that was my hands on experience with yarn. I will never be a knitter.

We unravel ourselves to be able to make use of ourselves for purposes that are not always our own. I am certain that is where my anxiety comes from. The traumas I dealt with were in trying to bend myself to others so that I could survive their schemes and then to avoid them alltogether. It is exhausting. One can never know another well enough to predict how they will approach interactions with one's Self. When you try to live in 100% subjugation to others then you can not live with yourself. This is where we break down I think. This is where our brain's chemistry changes and mental illness sets in. And this is where knowing yourself and being grounded in yourself helps.

Once and done
Our consumer life is constructed around fast and easy. So anything that requires maintenance is a chore. As a chore, the kinds of things that we do to take care of ourselves is drudgery and something to be avoided. When I participated in Christian settings getting people to pray daily became increasingly difficult. Pray once and be done. Set your problems at the foot of the cross one day and never worry over it again. It is the same in the New Age world. Consumers do not like maintenance unless it can be farmed out for someone else to service. Once and done does not work with Grounding.

You have to do it regularly. It is like taking a shower. And if you are a water person that might be the perfect place to do so. As with showers or eating, grounding should be done daily. As we deliberately sit down to pay bills or balance check books, it has to be done deliberately as well. I could go outside and sit on the porch and soak up the sun. It is quick, easy, convenient. But it is also mindless as I make no extra effort. There is no choice to participate in the experience of grounding. Just going outside, walking out the door and plopping down with the cat, is passive. And it is subject to comfort. Or rather, to how easily comfort can be obtained by going three steps back into the house. Planning to go to the beach, driving X number of miles to that beach, then actively interacting with the environment, THAT is what allows the grounding to happen. And in that process of participation when you are actively engaged in the feelings in the process that is where the magic happens. That is where everything that is not the beach, the waves, the rocks, the wind, the sun, the gulls and water fowl, the smells and the company disappears.

All of the senses get involved in the grounding process. Whatever is outside of your location, whatever is inside of your head that does not pertain to the immediate experience, disappears from your awareness. It doesn't make your problems go away. They will be there waiting for you when you get back to them. Grounding makes you strong enough to deal with them. Grounding gives you a much needed break from your hamster wheeling so that you can think clearly and make the best choices you can to resolve issues. When the hamster wheel slows or stops so does my anxiety. And when the anxiety subsides then my blood pressure returns to normal.

crinoid fossil looks like a typesette'rs case for Morse Code
spilled on to the floor. It is a mix of dots & dashes that used
to be living things cemented in  Paleozoic sediment
I grounded well this week knowing that this trip was going to bring up issues. There are a lot of confusing emotions right now. The past wants healing, the present wants resolution as well as to be enjoyed as it is. The future wishes to remain a mystery. And I wish to be the most authentic Self that I can be without the guilt I felt in the past. And that is where all of the garbage that presents itself as mental illness begins. The Past.

Perhaps then it is no small surprise to me that I am finding these kinds of fossils highly collectible and significant in my grounding rituals. Look at all the little bits. The rings of white are the arms and stems of corals that lived millions of years ago. The long rectangular bits are the same, only sliced in a side view. Each white spot in the black stone is part of a once living thing, individual living things frozen in time. They are the broken bits that remain after glaciers plowed through inland seas and bedrock. Unsuspecting creatures with no idea what was happening let alone aware of potential immortality... just not in a shape they might have envisioned if they were capable of such imagination.

My grounding leads me to collect a record of the past. If I look at where and when my feet were most firmly planted it is in the times that I did not waiver from my path or deny who I was. People couldn't make me nuts. Angry yes. Frustrated by cruelty yes. But nuts? No. They could not make me that. I did not suffer anxiety then. I was grounded, rooted in an immutable state of being.

And I think that is where I have to begin to take control of and heal the depression and anxiety. I have hope that it is possible.

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