Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Visceral Awareness

Over time I have to learn to be uncomfortable when I write. Being able to but thoughts to paper is easy when there is nothing bothering me, but consistency in content creation isn’t about commitment when it’s easy. Keeping to a consistent schedule means doing it when I’m ill, upset, or dealing with a lot of stress.

Over the last few days something has been resurfacing. For me repairing my sense of safety has been a high priority. Many trauma survivors are taught to make a “safe space” where they can relax and unwind. Many thing of a park, or a comfortable room, but these techniques never really struck a chord with me. Imagining armor or a mech suit would help, but never provided significant gains other people would discover. Recently I’ve tried out visualization techniques that have managed to make significant progress.

Where safe rooms, spaces, and armor fall down is that there is a separation between the rest of the world, and me. A suit of armor can deflect an attack, but it also stops me from connecting to the world around me. A room is as much a barrier to stop me from working through me issues with hostility and fear. No, what seems to really work is focusing on “Visceral Awareness” or how I carry emotions in my body. For a long time people use the phrase “my body remembers” and it turns out people knew what they were talking about.

What helps is a visualization of connecting spots of visceral tension to a sense of safety. I’ll imagine threads of energy coursing through my body with associations of safety. I can’t overstate that this is a difficult thing to do. Not for any technical skill involved, this is just visualization. What makes this so hard is connecting to parts of my body which carry iron clad knots of trauma. Known workarounds other people have success with simply aren’t effective, yet going straight for trauma seems to give some degree of gain.

A day after trying this technique I felt pain in my guts like knives sunk deep into viscera. I wasn’t working that day so I spent most of the next 12 hours rapidly checking messages, email, you tube updates, anything for a small momentary distraction. This strange sensation was best described as knives with countless thread of piano wire strung to hilts and tugged in every direction. Like lying a bed of razor wire any movement promised bloodletting. The following day, yesterday, proved to be a day of venting out a glut of pent up anger and guilt which needed released. My guts feel a lot better today.

Yesterday I ran another therapeutic table top game. Eight hours of fun conversation mixed with intense emotional gut punches. Pulling a lever to activate an elevator was upgraded to whole new levels of being a Macguffin.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Still dealing with guilt.

Blogging exists to help me, and shouldn’t be a source of guilt. Guilt in general tends to be a logical fallacy. I can’t be everywhere and all things all at once. People have limitations. I have limitations. What seems to happen is my capacity for feeling I should live up to expectations, and prolific rate of acquiring expectations, seems to outstrip anything grounded in reality. Blogging, writing, game design, GMing, and organizing a platoon all heap on at once. Maybe my knack for seeing the big picture makes it so I can see how each individual piece needs to fall into place. Where most people would see a smaller scope, I see me, so more expectations follow suit.

Oh well, self-management seems to be the lesson of the hour. Instead of pushing a metric ton of information on soldiers, I should instead offer a small amount with the offer to learn more. Instead of trying to champion all my friends’ problems, I should focus on a relaxed conversational tone. Instead of blogging 1700 words per day, I should take it in small portions of what will help me most at that time. Maybe this is what it means to assess healthy boundaries, and learn healthy habits which will help me thrive in life.

I could talk about what I know is fueling all this guilt. I still blame myself for what happened to me as a kid. Illogical and not grounded in reality, but I feel guilty all the same. That’s why I’ve been missing blog posts the last few days. Organizing a platoon means accepting I really do have self-worth in the eyes of people around me. With this realization and acceptance comes a whole slew of trauma which unclenched. This salvo means addressing self-blame for being a victim.

Self-blame. Deceptively simple in wording, but comprises a towering monolith of adversity a survivor of trauma has to face. Maybe if I work through guilt I won’t feel it like vile ichor permeating through my skin.

On a different note, one thing I’ve been thinking about is why I’m so insatiably curious with the unknown. In a video game exploration will be my primary form of deriving entertainment. Finding the highest mountain peaks in ice capped isolation, or ancient forgotten caverns will be my idea of good time. Even when given character creation the more esoteric underdog builds will be more satisfying than an ivory tower build. There is a unique spark that happens when new pieces are put together in a new creation.

Games which favor variety of play tend to be my favorite. Deus Ex, Morrowind, and Mass Effect were excellent platforms for giving the player a wide range of abilities without holding a select few as the only effective solutions. Knights of the Old Republic has to be one of the only exceptions which come to mind where story and characters were so amazing where scarcity of optimal builds wasn’t a major issue. Come on! I could use Force Lightning and Force Dominate, I really don’t need anything else.

There could be a correlation between looking for ill-used underdog builds and how I go about trauma recovery. Ever look up how the SR-71 Blackbird was developed? Everything had to be invented. On one hand having to make it all up as I go along can be frustrating, but I enjoy the exquisite struggle of forging ahead into the unknown.

Off to go work on my game tonight. I have a laundry list of things to familiarize before it’s time to roll dice.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Measured Progress

Today is a strange cauldron of emotions. A year ago I would be paralyzed with fear, but here I am acting and pushing goals posts a little further out. The big rock at the moment is getting to a point where I can call my soldiers and build a rapport with a brief phone conversation.

You would think this would be easy, but I need to establish a safe environment for myself and my soldiers. What I want to do is gauge who is willing to talk over the phone, then establish an open line of communication. Fuck, how do I put what I’m feeling into words?

The heart of this issue is I was harassed, hazed, and assaulted because no one took the time to establish a good sense of boundaries. As a kid, in the the military, and everywhere else. Even when a girl or guy puts hands on me, not one fucking person has raised a hand to stop it. Friends, peers, teachers, leaders, no one came to help me. I can’t stop terrible things from happening to the people I care about, and the soldiers in my charge. The only thing I can do is better prepare them to speak out when they can’t escape from harm.

I’ve been helpless and voiceless before, and no one in my charge deserve to feel like that.

So what do I do? For some reason this time around I’ve been keeping my enthusiasm in check while keeping up personal boundaries. Usually I’ll just lose myself in the rush of a new task, but someone I’ve been mindful of how badly going full on gung ho can be. Instead of drowning in activity I’ll be mindful that I have limits, boundaries, and need to keep things in balance. Somehow I got a lot healthier. To the point where I’m able to keep control over a habit which haunted my grandfather all his life.

So why do I feel so guilty? Guilt over not pushing hard, guilt over not accomplishing goals fast enough, not feeling guiltier? Something is trying to brew to the surface and emerge.

Something about what was said at the CRCC alumni group. When a guy puts his hands on my a few years back, what was on my mind was how other people would react if a broke the guy’s elbow. I automatically assumed I would be blamed for be accosted. Yeah, I see how this is related. By trying to go through the whole platoon and trying to build up healthy boundaries, I’m facing one of the biggest points of guilt I had as a rape victim. I never realized I had so much guilt buried down. How guilt welled up and spread through every facet of my social perceptions. Fuck. I didn’t expect to find this. Oh well. Time to take care of myself this evening while I sort this out.

Earlier today I called my platoon sergeant to let him know I’d be contacting each person in the platoon to brief them on personal boundaries and what to do for harassment. He actually gave some fantastic advice. Most soldiers aren’t receptive to phone conversations. Because of this most platoon leaders don’t call, which doesn’t change their lack of receptivity. While making calls it may help to make a brief hello to touch base with an offer to talk more if their open to the idea. Instead of opening the floodgates up all at once, taking a tiered approach where I make the offer the let the soldier determine how much they want to scale up the intensity.

Sure the conversation was a little awkward and stumbled in places, but the key points were communicated clearly. What surprised me the most is that he offered to let me teach a class to the whole platoon.

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

Not ready for talking about harassment, boundaries, and assault to my entire platoon just yet. I’ve gone from not being able to talk about assault to anyone, then to trusted individuals, then slowly building up to giving an interview to the CRCC. Give that less than five people read this blog anymore I fill like I can’t openly talk about my feelings. If the CRCC links to here, well, then significantly more people will be hearing about me.

Still, measured steps of progress instead of diving in all at once.