Leveling it out

The road takes the brunt

I woke up this morning at the usual time — 6:30, which is regular, even for weekends — and the first thing I did was sit. Sit and breathe. Just to get myself balanced as best I could before launching into the day. I sat for twice my “usual” time — 100 breaths or so — then I stretched my legs and realized that now that I was more relaxed, I was also really friggin’ tired.

So, I lay back down and went back to sleep.

Now, the disciplined, go-go side of me that wanted to get up, do my morning routine, and get into the day with a full head of steam, was kind of disappointed in myself, for lying back down and sleeping for another hour. But the rest of me — the sensible, truthful part of me that’s a whole lot more pragmatic — won out over the self-chastisement, by reminding my go-go self that go-going without a full tank of fuel sorta kinda defeats the purpose of go-going in the first place.

First things first — rest when I can. Even if that means being a “wuss” and going back to bed after morning sitting.

In a way, it makes sense that I’d start getting all up in my stuff about going back to sleep. Because in the process of sitting and breathing, my fight-flight dogs of war had their influence balanced out by the parasympathetic rest-digest side of life, and the dogs of war weren’t happy about it. They want to run the show. They want to drive the action. They want to be THE MAIN EVENT, and screw everything else. Get on board, people. If you’re not with ’em you’re against ’em. Or something like that.

So, the barking dogs didn’t get to be the main attraction, and they got all pissy about it, gave me crap for taking care of myself, and they’re still growling, hours later — even after I did get up and do my morning exercise, and I did get out and run my errands, and I am in the process of packing back up and heading home again to do yet more errands… before going back to bed to sleep. Somehow, with the barking dogs of war, it’s never enough. There’s always some other thing I could do more of, or better, or less of, or smarter. It’s just never enough.

Thank the heavens for this sitting and breathing business. Sitting. Just sitting. Counting my breaths. Paying attention to… absolutely nothing. Giving my sympathetic nervous system a rest, and getting to that place where I’m suspended between mental and physical, flight and rest, maraud and digest… and letting myself just be, for 15-20 minutes, before I launch into my day.

Living on sympathetic overdrive is a little bit like driving through life in all seasons with studded snowtires on. It rips the crap out of the roads of my life, and although it may help me when the going gets rough and slick, and I can’t see where the hell I’m headed, it still tends to dig up the trail as I’m blazing it.  So, even when I’m chill and have some measure of sanity in my life, the rugged terrain still persists somewhat. And the combination of depleted energy (from all the fighting and flighting) and complications introduced by my double-barrel “c’mon – I’ll take ya!” attitude, ends up ripping huge gaps in the otherwise level spaces in my life.

So, something’s gotta give. And I know how to make it give. By taking time out, the first thing as soon as I wake up, to sit and breathe and NOT get into all the upheaval, first thing in the morning. I count my breaths. I get my heart rate to slow down. I feel myself rooting into the ground (even though I’m on the second floor of the house), and I feel my bones become like an ancient tree that reaches deep into the earth and high into the sky. Okay, maybe not that deep, and maybe not that high, but you get the idea.

And I do it, no matter whether my brain is telling me gotta-go-gotta-go-gotta-go, or I’m feeling tired and worn down.

And what comes after it, totally depends on the day and what’s required of me. Today is Saturday. Screw rising and shining, if I’m completely tapped out. If I need to go back to bed to regain my humanity, then so be it. Of course, if I’m up for it, then yeah, I’m up — and more power to me. But sitting and letting everything balance out and get even across the board at least gives me the choice about which I’m going to do.

So long as I let myself make that choice. Today, I did. And another hour of sleep is exactly what I needed.


Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

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