Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lizard SOS

March, and especially this next week, is full of bad memories for me. I've talked about this on the blog before, and I've discussed it ad infinitum with various therapists. Last year actually went fine, although the year before didn't, so I hoped that this year I was going to sail through.

However, my psychiatrist informs me that it takes three years for body memories to go away, which means that I have to have two more years of an uneventful Spring Solstice before my lizard brain won't be screaming "Run away, run away!" every third week of March.

Two of the traumatic memories involve the implosion of important friendships; in both cases, people I loved handed me a long laundry list of all my faults and told me that a) they didn't actually like me much and b) they never wanted to speak to me again. I haven't heard from person #1 since, although person #2 and I have exchanged cautiously civil e-mail recently.

Last night, I had a dream about encountering person #1, who acted like nothing had ever happened. In the dream, I was very uneasy about this and felt like I was walking on eggshells.

This morning, I learned that I'll be seeing person #2 later this week. I might be able to duck the encounter -- which is probably what my shrink would advise -- but if I do that, I won't have the chance to replace bad memories with a better one, which is what I'm hoping will happen.

I thought I was dealing with all of this like an adult, until I went to the health club to swim and realized that I was actually a terrified little knot of anxiety. There's nothing rational about this: it's lizard-brain PTSD stuff ("Run away! Run away!"). My Inner Lizard is convinced that somebody in the world is out to get it this week, and all it wants to do is hide under a rock to keep itself safe. It doesn't even like my writing this post, because it's scared someone will use the info as ammunition. The Lizard's motto is, "If you show your soft white underbelly, someone will consider it an invitation to stab you."

This isn't a week when I can hide under a rock, though, and I'm choosing to trust my readers and ask for help (which is the theme of the homily I wrote last night, so I'm trying to practice what I preach!).

Whatever your method is of sending positive, loving energy to people, please send me some until Saturday. And if you know of any techniques to reassure frightened, suspicious lizards, please send those, too!


  1. Anonymous5:00 PM

    You have all the positive, loving energy I can muster.


  2. Ever since you wrote that post about March (& discernment stuff) you have been in my prayers - I will be remembering you particularly this week. I hope you feel held up by God's grace. :)

  3. How to Reassure a Lizard:

    1) Distract it with some tasty flies. If you don't have any flies handy, leave a piece of meat out in the sun for a few hours.

    2) Get a nice digital reptile-skin texture from an online library and print up new slipcovers for all your furniture, so the lizard will think it's safely camouflaged.

    3) Put out a nice flat rock with a small heater or a warm cat under it. (NB: Make sure the cat can't see any part of the lizard, especially the tail. This will be counter-productive.)

    4) Refrain from making mammalo-centric remarks, such as referring disparagingly to "cold-blooded killers". (However, if you say such things in a complimentary fashion, you may help the lizard feel empowered by reappropriating the vocabulary. Cf. "queer".)

    It's funny how your body knows when a certain time of year comes around again. I didn't expect to be sandbagged by grief a year after my miscarriage, but that's what happened the first year and the second year. Third year, I felt it but I kind of toughed it out.

    Sending you hugs-- or as some of my blog friends say, {}

  4. Energy is flowing in your direction, Susan. As well as prayers for calm and a emotional state that lets things just slide off of it.

    Peace, my friend!

  5. And here I was hoping God would show me who I needed to dedicate prayers for tomorrow.

  6. Many prayers and thoughts for you. Especially as it's Holy Week and, everything aside, we could all use more prayers during this time.

  7. Thank you SO much, everybody! Gary and I were out for the evening, and I was really heartened to come home and find all these encouraging comments.

    Tiel: Great lizard list! And I'm very sorry to hear about your miscarriage; I hope the people around you were supportive, since miscarriage is so often a "disenfranchised" grief.

    Parodie: One of the songs I downloaded yesterday was Dar Williams' cover of "Better Things." (I mention this because she's on your favorite music list.) I want that to be the last song played at my funeral!

    And everybody else, thanks again! I'm not writing personalized comments to everybody just because I'm too tired, and I still have class prep to do before tomorrow's dreaded super-duper glaucoma test (which will probably, at least, produce an interesting post, as medical stuff usually does . . . this is the writer's mantra: "it's all material").

    Blessings to you all.

  8. am struggling with similar lizard tendencies.

    My therapist recommends lots and lots of self nurturing - nice things, just for you. Like bubbly baths and body lotion and all that.

    Havign said that it isn't doing the trick for me right now - but that could be as much because of all the other "STUFF" going on.

  9. Hi Susan -
    I know this is a tough time of year for you; you have my thoughts and prayers (and purrs from the four furrballs).
    As someone who also has some tough spring memories, I understand what you are going through. The lizard analogy is a good one. I think that writing about how you are feeling is a good way to process. Jacque also had me say out loud to myself, "I am having the feeling that I'm [fill in the blank]." The theory is to be able to put a little space between you and what you are feeling. I initially thought it was hokey, but it really works with a bit of practice. Instead of "I'm anxious," you say/think, "I'm having the feeling I'm anxious" or "I'm having the thought that the world is out to get me." When I was having really intense feelings she would have me do a couple exercises that helped:
    (1) Imagine you are in the room with the feeling you are having. Describe and/or draw what it looks like, describe what it is doing or saying.
    (2) Imagine that whatever emotions you're having are like passengers on a bus and that you are the driver of the bus. The passengers want to make you turn left, but you don't want to. They can seem very insistent and intimidating. but you have to remember that you are the driver of the bus. You can tell them to sit down and shut up. (I always imagined Buffy driving a school bus full of mischievous demons who were trying to derail her).
    I know these sound a little abstract and you probably already know them, but they helped me get through some pretty difficult incidents.

  10. Thanks, Danielle! Ascribing the feelings to an Inner Lizard is a similar technique, I think!

  11. Well I think you're brilliant.

    I seldom comment, but I always really enjoy reading your posts too.

    Good thoughts in your direction.

    (And I'm very fond of lizards too.)

  12. Thank you, Jo! That means a lot, coming from you!

  13. I'll be praying for you this week. Happy Easter!

  14. Anonymous2:53 PM

    palm trees, trade winds, ukeleles, hoku...

    palm trees, trade winds, ukeleles, hoku...

    palm trees, trade winds...



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