Survival Mode
Survival Mode

Survival Mode

December 2023 Blog

Register for the December Hook today!

Survival Mode

I did a thing this past week which I don’t recommend, but also highly recommend: I read through old journals from my teens and twenties, after a proper junk purge of my house. I was stunned, first, by how much clarity I had at age 16. I was also stunned at how my journaling entirely stopped at age 24. I mean, after that age there were a few journals, but all of these contained a similar scene of trying to retrieve myself. I would write a few entries at the start of the journal, all of them beginning with neat handwriting and a “hello again” message. And then nothing after that. Just an empty journal. Blank pages.

I felt so completely disoriented after reading through these. As a teen and young adult, I had had such a pulse on my need to express, to not keep everything locked inside, and to willingly dig into big feelings. I was messy and emotionally illiterate, sure, but I was also in touch with myself as an artist, as a wanderer, as an adventurer, as a mover.

The loss of this part of youth is normal, I do know this. I don’t write this within a scope of angst, but more to reflect on something more important that has greatly affected my relationship with my body and my perception of its capabilities. Those blank pages are less about a loss of time and autonomy - normal parts of adulting - and more about when/how I got ushered into full-on survival mode.

And I plan on being vague in this next part and that is because I need to write in on my terms. This survival mode I speak about lives in my body’s memory in instances in which I was T-shaped, arms locked straight out and paralyzed from the waist down. Yes, three of these memories are the c-sections that birthed my daughters. And one of these is the first time I was sexually assaulted, the main thing I remember very clearly was that my arms were stretched out the side and restrained against the hardwood floor.

In all of these T-shaped moments, I didn’t walk away from them knowing their cost. How could I speak about the birth of my children being associated with anything other than wonder and miracles and love? How could I speak about the assault in this way, when I believed it was my fault and didn’t even know to name it what it was?

But, yes, they plunged my entire system in a state of hypervigilance, like a wild animal only able to access instincts for basic safety. The tricky bit of this is that the brain’s focus when in this state is to normalize, normalize, normalize so that other bodily functions can continue. I had no idea, truly, how everything in my life changed after these moments - every decision, every feeling, every movement, every single thing. I can only know now - as I look back and process after the right kind of professional help - what was really going on.

As you know, I’ve been in a place of beginning again here in MommaStrong and it’s been glorious and also disruptive. I feel like I am ice skating most days, some days gliding with solid balance and some days just desperately seeking traction. I didn’t expect, but now feels obvious, that I would find myself face to face with all the loss and all the blank pages of the past two decades.

I am grateful today that I am sober, that I can be with this and not opt-in for self-destruction. I find myself wanting to be with the pain, wanting to move through the tunnel of the feelings, wanting to “sit in the suck”. I also do not feel urgency here, which is new. I am not trying to solve problems, I am simply trying to carefully retrieve some things.

My body is a mirror of this. I have worked so hard to show up every day for the past 12 years and this relentlessness has undoubtedly been a life-saver. It is also evidence of a person in survival, trying to hold on and keep some life in her body while not pushing beyond her container. I feel ready to move into another phase of healing, one where I begin to really move again beyond the boundaries of the screen in which I film. To be fluid. To build myself up. To allow myself to take up space. To challenge it again in all the ways the young kid in me loved to be challenged. To retrieve self-expression and make it matter as much as the caretaking I give to others.

And as much as I intended to spend December creating content for prolapse and pelvic floor dysfunction, I can’t. I barely made it through last month’s back pain theme. I need to instead start with a hug for my nervous system, before I dive into my bigger goals. Whether you have pasts similar to mine or you have simply been a human trudging through the last few years in this world, I can bet that you need that hug too. My hypothesis here is that we can’t get strong if our nervous systems are trashed. So, let’s start there. A big embrace for all we’ve carried and survived and how that grit and resilience has had a price for our primal sense of safety.

Please join me this month, before we hit the New Year, in The December Hook, in which we will engage is a Year’s End Reflection: Hugs for Your Nervous System. It starts on Monday, Dec 4th and you can register for it by clicking here - and, if you are a new member, just a heads up that you’ll have to first sign up for our intro offer of $5 first by clicking here in order to get access to The Hook and our content.

OH, and in case you don’t know how a Hook works, you register for it and then we send you weekly emails and weekly community posts that contain a mini podcast episode on the theme, some printable materials, and a summary of all we are learning together. During that time, you also will attempt to show up for daily-ish exercise, which we will encourage you to track by using an old-school coloring sheet.

AND SIDE BONUS NOTE, I might start experimenting with some new features in our platform that allow for live content and - get ready for it - check boxes for completed workouts. STAY TUNED!

That’s all for now. Hugs to you.