Anxiety, Vulnerability & Shame

The invisible bugbears that wreck havoc in the lives of…Far more people than I realized. It seems like the more I look the more people are talking about their own anxiety and shame issues. I’ve done a lot of work over the past 12 months and it really does feel like work. I started seeing Kent my therapist back in September after an extremely dark patch. I’ve started experimenting with nootropic supplements, trying to see what might tweak my brain chemistry in just the right way. I’ve tried Ashwagandha, various magnesium supplements, various multivitamins, Bacopa Monnieri, GABA, Dopa munca, black seed oil, vitamin B complexes, fish oil, CBD oil..I can’t say that any of it has been of much use but there’s so much positive feedback (or delusion or fake Amazon reviews) out there that I think it’s worth experimenting with still. I’m looking at a bottle of “Theanine Serene with Relora” by Source Naturals. Shits getting expensive. I mean, compared to getting a prescription for some benzos I’ve probably broken even but there would have been a 4-8 week wait for the hard meds and who knows what sort of side effects baked in.

I’ve got a firm hand on the mental processes that I do have control over to keep from exacerbating my inner triggers. And I’ve restructured my meditation practice towards one that’s healing for the body and has less mental efforting. Which is to say, just following the breath. No visualization, no Metta, no “I Am” self-inquiring, no efforting at all. Just breathing and being still.

So I have as many good inputs as I can control. I could eat a bit (a lot) less sugar and move a bit more often but I’m not going to get too critical because I’m definitely in a better place than I have been for many years. But what Kent and I have come to realize is that I have a bit of trauma baked into my nervous system and body. That various experiences in my past have wired me in such a way that there’s always just a bit of edge, a readiness towards fight or flight, an unwillingness to express my needs and no sense of belonging, of home, regardless of where I am. That last bit’s super important. So we’re looking into EMDR therapy as a way of accessing deep traumatic memories and energies that seem to be sitting just beneath the surface of my experience. Should be…Less than enjoyable.

I’ve been listening to BrenĂ© Brown lately and you should be as well. Brene is, in her own words, a shame researcher. She’s spent over a decade interviewing people and compiling data, trying to figure out how happy people lead wholehearted, joyful lives. And she came to realize that people who were in touch with their vulnerability, that were open and willing to engage Life, and who had coping strategies from recovering from disappointment, loss and failure, were measurably more successful and happy in their pursuits throughout their lives.

My therapist recommended I check her out; somehow we got into the topic of vulnerability. Her book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead” is a fantastic read. Well, listen, since I’m kind of into audio books right now. I’ve listened to it twice while driving between projects for VentureSum and it’s the culmination of nearly two decades of research.

What strikes me most about Brene’s work is how human she is. When you listen to her TED talks, she mentions just how resistant she was to putting her own findings into practice. How “vulnerability makes me feel naked. And I hate. Naked.” How she even had a mini-breakdown after realizing how far off the mark she was from wholehearted living. The scientist who realizes the formula for joy is to actually taste the formula; how very human!

Her book really inspires me to keep on trucking; that it’s well within the range of human experience to hate anxiety, vulnerability, feeling shame, taking chances, being rejected, and all of that mess. It makes me feel less insane, listening to her findings. As I told Kent “I feel like less of an alien. it sounds silly but I’ve realized that my reactions are well within human norms!” It’s also great to know that my dreams remain attainable and embracing our cracks can not only shore them up but make us stronger for it.

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