I've been thinking s lot about this tangle of things that help a person get through life: self-soothing, centering, and processing. A lot of it is because these are themes in 12 Monkeys, which is currently eating up my life and my brain space this close to the season ender, but also its a lot because I keep being reminded to think about them. I went looking for my daily quote from Danielle Laporte for today's planner page* and saw a post she did about coming back to center when you're flying off. We moved the Aftershow to Tuesdays to allow everyone to process what they've seen and what they feel and come back with actual comments rarer than just random conversation--which is fun, but which doesn't make for a very organized show.
So all this is on my mind.
I realized that I don't remember the things I used to do to soothe uneasiness and bring myself back to center. It's been so long since I've felt balanced and in control and happy where I was--I don't like talking about it, because it's a bummer and it still feels raw and personal, but I move to North Carolina four years ago in a deep depression, and everything that's happened since then has been sort of...disconnected. It's like a gap in my life and I'm just starting to come out of it. Just starting to reclaim myself and what's mine and try to remember what having a life feels like.
I don't remember what I used to do to feel better when things went bad, but I know that now I eat high quality chocolate, take long showers a hot as I can stand them, take naps, listen to my favorite songs playlist, paint my nails or dye my hair (or in extreme cases cut my hair or get a new tattoo), pet the cat, stand bare foot in the garden and try to do something useful like planting seeds or pulling weeds. I make lists. I journal. I plan things--usually books, but sometimes my life. I talk to S or to J or to H and try to remember what being calm feels like.
I think it's important that I keep a list of these thing for when I don't know what to do to feel better--a lot of times, that's the start of a Slide: not knowing what to do. I can't believe it's taken me this long to think of a contingency list!
And processing. Processing takes time, takes effort, and goes in pieces and fits and starts until one day things come together as you just go "oh. That's what that means." Or "oh. That's over now, it can't hurt me anymore."
You have to have space to process--there has to be a break in whatever you're dealing with so you can move back and look at it, separate yourself from the events and start to put them into context, into boxes that make sense. Making space during the thing is hard--most of the time, for me, I don't even realize when I need to until after its done and suddenly there's this pile of junk on my mental doorstep, waiting to be sorted and getting in the way.
But I've developed ways to work trough some stuff, too, to ease the burden and the pressure a little. The best one is writing--writing lets me come at things sideways and make sense of them without it having to be me who's going through them. Next best is journaling, and guided journaling when I'm really upset. I think in words on paper, and a lot of the time I don't really know what I'm thinking until I write it down.
There's also long walks while talking to my sister. Going somewhere quiet and just sitting. Crying, sometimes, because sometimes that's all you can do. Days-long texts with my packleader who lives too far away but always answers the phone. And watching my favs on TV sort through their own shit so that I can sort of do the same by proxy, that old idea that drama cleanses the soul.**
What do you guys do? How do you find your center when things go sideways? How do you soothe? How do you process?
And how do you use all that to help your lives, your stories, your creativity?
*I try to always have some inspirational or thoughtful thing on each planner page; it makes the world make sense better.
**Which, incidentally, is why good drama needs to exist on tv, and why it needs to include as many kinds of people as possible--everyone deserves the chance to get that cleansing!