April 2023 Round-Up: Trauma Responses

For the record, I know next to nothing about trauma-informed everything. It’s a topic I’m really interested in, but I’ve read like two chapters of a Gabor Mate book one time, and I have a couple friends who know a lot about it.

But I have spent a lot of this month in a state of fight-or-flight, trying to process a traumatic event in our family that I am absolutely not going to say anything about, trying to take stock of my support system, and generally more or less function.

You might get the impression from my posts that it’s been an all-around good winter. It has not. It has really sucked. I post about the positive things on this blog for a few reasons: 1) I’m a big fan of discretion, especially around my family. 2) I don’t think you come here to read my complaining. And, most importantly, 3) choosing to write about and share the positive and fun parts of my crafting life is an exercise in thankfulness that generally helps me be more resilient.

I finished some projects and wrote about them. That was cool.

Crappy stuff is still not resolved, though I have reason to hope it will be by the end of the month. In the meantime, I have been living with unresolved tension and threats hanging over my head, and high levels of stress. Traveling to Vancouver helped. Traveling to Yellowknife helped. Seeing friends in person in both places really helped. Talking to a counselor helped. I feel like I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of this season.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing a lot of… coping.

Two of my #15aday projects. I’m loving that twill weave, though the light makes it look terrible. And this is one of my new support spindles. She needs a name, with that watercolour that looks so shiny when she spins.

I picked up Instagram again. Ostensibly, I did it for professional reasons. But, me being me, I picked it up aggressively. I now have three #15aday crafting initiatives I’m doing, a daily practice of posting about my meals on a separate anonymous account, and I’m doing #memademay.

It’s a narrative. It’s a way of reflecting on my life, giving structure to very isolated days. It’s a way to feel accountable to the daily habits that genuinely feed my body and soul. And it’s not performative – I’m almost compulsively authentic on these platforms. I don’t have the energy to curate myself, so I don’t bother. (So much so that my Facebook friends, who see all the posts that go through Insta, are acting a little worried about me. I curate/edit a lot on FB because I know so many of those people in person and in a ministry context. It’s a heck of a line to walk.)

In Yellowknife

At the same time, I’m hyper-aware of how different these online relationships are to in-person relationships. Hanging out with Rachel & co. in Vancouver, and with dear friends in Yellowknife, was such a reminder that even a Zoom hangout has its limits. Sometimes, I make a connection on Instagram, on Slack, or even through One Hour One Life (an amazing game I could write a whole post about), which is a magic spell of kindness arcing across the void, allowing me to feel seen and cared for. Other times, I am made very aware of how online interactions scratch an itch that cannot be satisfied.

Instagram, and the way it captures my attention so successfully, always makes me reflect about the nature of human connection.

Extremely neurotic spindle wrapping. I mean, I’m sure when other people do this, it’s not neurotic, but with me it’s completely a neurosis.

I’ve also picked up… drumroll please… spindle spinning. And boy, when I picked it up, I really picked it up.

I mean, I knew this would happen. I resisted support spindling hard, partly because I knew that if I got into it, it would be all about the thing-ness of all the amazing supported spindles out there.

But it also feels amazing to do.

When I sat down to listen to Diana Twiss’s lecture at Fibres West, Greta passed me a supported spindle and bowl. I think she just wanted me to note a particularly good spin on it, but I’d never held one before at all. I gave it one flick. My exact thought was, “$#!&.”

Spinning is all about twist. It’s about taking some loose fluff and making it go round and round in some kind of way, while stretching it out some kind of way, to turn it into a one-dimensional line with tensile strength. When you flick a support spindle, you actually feel the twist which goes into your yarn. The rotations are in your fingers. It feels lovely.

I was given a support spindle before I left Vancouver. I was also given a teacup, for tea-making purposes, which was co-opted to be a spindle bowl. I was going to make myself spin daily for fifty days before I ordered another spindle. I lasted about seven days before reaching out looking for destashes. I now have seven. With three more Turkish spindles waiting for me in Maryland.

New friends, fresh from the post office.

Was part of this intense fall down the rabbit hole a coping mechanism? Absolutely. One thousand percent. Yes, yes, yes. (As is the rather intense diet I’ve been messing around with.) I have spent money that I did indeed have, money that was saved up for use in my now-defunct cake business. But it’s time to stop.

Because I’ve noticed another pattern that feels connected to trauma. When I’m overwhelmed, I distract myself, then I start something new. Then that project gets added to the list of things overwhelming me, and I start something else now. I think it’s a specific Enneagram-7 personality captivity, though I’m sure any personality can fall into this.

Maybe because it’s spring, I’m becoming more hyper-aware of this. I walk into a room, see some project, and think “I should work on that.” And this happens at least once every time I walk into a room. It gets added to the fight-or-flight state of mind that leaves me feeling constantly either exhausted or panicked.

I took some time last week to do an inventory of all the projects that were grabbing my attention. I came up with 18. I organized them into 1) impulsive projects, which I probably shouldn’t have started at all. It was FOMO, or something new and shiny, or I don’t know what; 2) projects that just need finishing, though there may be other major steps in the way of that finishing; 3) “work” projects that need to be plugged away at, preferably one at a time, or done in spurts with the podcast schedule; and 4) long term love-projects that I want to work on a little every day.

Category 1: above spots 1-5. Category 2: above spots 6-9. Category 3: Below spots 1-6. Category 4: Below spots 7-9.

The three items in that fourth category became my #15aday projects. And you know what? That’s been really nice. I’ve gotten a look at how much I can really get done in fifteen minutes a day. I’ve given myself permission to fill small spaces of time with a little weaving, or a little support spinning, or a little hand-sewing (though that really takes more like 30 minutes to get a chunk done). And seeing progress made on those beloved projects has been super-satisfying.

The one impulse project that was allowed to live.

The first category has been almost completely frogged or shoved out of sight. The second category is… still being ignored. They’re basically “work” projects, but prioritized below actual work. And the work projects themselves have their own patient schedule that I don’t have to actively worry about.

A work project you’ll learn more about in the summer and/or fall. I looooove it.

I’ve also been made aware of how much I need a tidy space. The kids have been home for most of the winter. They’ve averaged about 10 days of school a month since January. They might actually get three full weeks of school in May, though we haven’t had any blizzards yet, so we’ll see. Having all of us home, and me feeling overwhelmed and avoidant, and having two active short-haired dogs, our house gets trashed fast.

“We turn every stuffed toy into a layer of acrylic stuffing spread across every carpet!”

But today, I took a garbage bag to the corners of the playroom (which is also my office) and did some de-junking. I have a nice vacuum now, and I use it a couple times a week.

Can you hear the anxiety sort of fizzing away in the background, even when I’m being positive? That inability to focus that has me drifting off in the middle of sentences? That’s how I’m doing. I’m doing my best, and I know we’ll make it through this, but it’s not great. And we’re in a bit of a holding pattern right now. It’ll take a while to get resolution, to get self-care, to calm down. So I am doing my best to be kind to myself, to ask for help from those few people that I really trust, and to keep expectations reasonable.

And to let those “you could be doing this” statements just bounce right off me. I got one of those yesterday – my kid is bright so I could be having her do more math at home. I was just like… sure, I could do that. I could also not, and she’ll be fine. My kid doesn’t need another math book. She needs her mom well enough that she can pay attention to her for half an hour a day, and teach her where she stops and someone else starts.

I probably sound completely insane in this post. It’s pretty stream of consciousness. Why am I even writing this? Because I try to do these round-up posts every month. Because I think being completely authentic in my stuff, and still writing about it, is a reminder to myself that all is well and all manner of things shall be well. I don’t know what you’re going through this month, but I hope it’s also a reminder to you that you are not alone in whatever crap you are dealing with.

I hope you get to share your joys and tears with someone who sees you. Even if it’s from across the void. I pray God shows you he loves you in a way that speaks specifically to you.

9 thoughts on “April 2023 Round-Up: Trauma Responses

  1. Thank you for your post. My life is in a constant state of panic, grief, and being overwhelmed at this moment. I know God has not brought me this far in my life to drop me on my head now. I just have to listen to his quiet voice, believing he is beside me and recognizing and making use of the life lines he’s throwing me. His life lines are there for you too. You are on my prayer list.


    1. For some reason I’m just seeing your post now. I’m sorry to hear you’re in such a rough stage right now. I hope in the intervening weeks you’ve gotten some breaks to process, and that you’re getting the support you need. Praying for you today.


  2. Thank you for your authenticity Rebecca. Your posts have brought me so much joy. I am sorry that you are going through such difficult times. I am thinking of you and sending strength and courage. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

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