I found this picture of myself from twelve years ago. It jarred me. I think I recognized something that I was unable to see at that time. ( in addition to wow! talk about a good hair day! )
As a survivor of Complex PTSD I have lived my entire life looking over my shoulder, expecting the boogeyman to be hot on my trail, waiting for the other shoe to drop, never able to fully trust in any good fortune that came my way, sleeping with one eye open, so to speak. You get the picture.
I never understood the physiological ramifications of this until this past year when I learned about the parasympathetic nervous system and how this vigilant behavior causes dysregulation within the vagus nerve which is responsible for keeping things running smoothly, that is to say in a way that enables normal, healthy individuals to effectively deal with stress. What this year taught me is that I have a completely blown-out vagus nerve.
I’d like to say that it is less invasive than what last year taught me, which was that I had a blown-out gall bladder, but while I did have surgery to remove the rotten organ, my healing from it took about six weeks and then I was able to put it behind me. It was no picnic, but I’m 30 lbs lighter and in much better physical health because of it.
Recovery from a tapped-out vagus nerve is ongoing. I am basically bereft of the ability to naturally regulate myself back to emotional balance after being triggered. It makes the struggle with anxiety often feel like a death sentence.
Fortunately, I have never felt better about where I am in my healing journey than I do at this moment. Learning about my body’s physiological response system has made committing to daily meditation all the more important.
While I know this is a picture of me, the twelve years that separate me from her feel more like another lifetime in so many ways.
It seemed like all this middle-aged woman-child could do was look in the rear-view mirror. But she was a badass warrior, and I love her so completely.