Yesterday, I had a bit of a mental Shit Storm. There were some really good things to come out of it, but as it was happening, I felt like I was in a warzone in my own head, cowering from the rapid shrapnel of stinging thoughts.
It so happens that every month around this time in my cycle I struggle with PMS. (Yes, it’s real and anyone who says we’re making it up (and I know some that do) is automatically setting himself up to receive its wrath and rightly deserves it.) This change in hormones, just like any drastic change in body chemistry, is Your Body On Drugs. Mostly for me, this means my depression (and sometimes anxiety) flares up. Sometimes, it presents itself as anger. No not anger: RAGE. I mean the kind of rage that actually scares me, that could do real damage, where I feel a thunderstorm of destructive energy take control of my mind and body. I can usually keep it at bay, conscious that the anger is a result of hormonal cold front creating an energy surge. The anger is sometimes directed outwardly. For example, I have been the closest to breaking up with Andy during this time of the month, nearly convinced of our absolute wrongness for each other, only to come back into the light after a few days and realize just how off my perception had been. I have definitely lashed out at friends, most of whom thought I was incapable of lashing out, but usually the rage is directed at myself. This month the roulette wheel of destruction landed on me.
I’m not exactly sure what the trigger was, but I think it was the moment JT (I only wish he were Justin Timberlake) came into my office, interrupted me in the middle of something requiring great concentration, and asked me to do a huge list of things. Seeing things through the PMS filter, I took that to mean he thought I didn’t have enough work to do, that he thought I was just sitting around wasting tax dollars because he also clearly doesn’t know all that my job entails (that last bit is actually true). I’ve gotten angry at JT in the past but it never results in anything productive, so I think my brain automatically directed that anger inward. That’s when my inner Abuser got really loud.
This Abusive Voice turned on me, viciously declaring my worthlessness, my laziness, my stupidity, my absolute Brokenness Beyond Any Repair.
It was LOUD. And I believed it for a few hours and I struggled to hold myself together. Until I pealed myself away from it far enough to recognize it as not who I am, it is not speaking the truth, but merely one voice. I cried walking back from lunch, feeling the pain as though someone I love deeply and desperately just betrayed me, punching me in the gut.
I felt wounded all afternoon, but I knew I could hold it together until 5:30 when I would be at the barn and find comfort and quiet in the horses. And I did. As I walked out to get the horse I was riding, a huge mare with a giant head and kind eyes, I could feel my chest expand to take in full, easy breaths again. Her massive shod feet clomping on the driveway slowed my heart rate and calmed my mind. I had a workout of a lesson that was more like a meditation because I was concentrating so much on my present tasks that the rest of the world, and that Abusive Voice, fell away. The little things stood out more to me then. I gave the mare peppermint treats and I focused all of my attention on the softness of the mare's velvet nose, her sweet peppermint horse breath, and giant stomping hooves.
I drove home, walked up the stairs to my apartment, and opened the door to let Abby out when Andy came bounding up the stairs, his long legs skipping steps, excited in the most Andy-ish way. When he hugged me, I let his hug smother what remained of the Abusive Voice.
As we sat on my couch later last night, each of us reading our books, I sank into a deep relaxed state of calm that earlier yesterday I would never have believed I could feel again. Andy’s presence calms me, it has from the first time we ever cuddled on his giant green chair. His presence feels like respite, peace, and safety. All that intense pain I had experienced earlier in the day transformed into gratitude for the horses, for the people in my life who make the horses possible (especially Jenn), and for Andy for loving me so thoroughly in the ways that truly matter. He reminds me, when I forget on my own, that I am loveable. He reminds me what love looks like, love for another and love for oneself. Through this I remember how to release myself from my own pain. No, having a person doesn’t prove that I am loveable nor does it make me any less responsible for my pain (I could argue it makes me more responsible for dealing with it), but Andy is my person and as such is the co-creator of my life and my future. Andy’s presence matters; his thoughts, his feelings, and his life philosophy get intertwined with my own in ways that have made me more balanced and more solid within myself. I am so proud of myself for shaking off the Abuser yesterday and I will remind myself, the next time it begins to shout, that I pulled myself out of a potential trench of depression and that it’s okay to need guidance in the form of horses, dogs, friends, great loves, whatever I need to climb out of it.