Things in Erin’s Head
Good morning dear Reader!
I have been on a whirlwind of podcast interviews over the past month. Some are out there now (you can check out my latest: Famous Interviews with Joe Dimino HERE) and more will be releasing next week and through Spring 2024. In each of them I have shared various caregiving stories – no two interviews are the same. Yesterday I recorded an episode with Caregiver Chronicles that primarily focused on intimacy (and you know the sex chapter of my book was the most challenging for me to write).
It’s my mission. To share my stories and hindsight reflections to help soften the caregiving journey for others.
In retelling these stories, I’ve relived many, many traumas.
Here’s a weird secret I’m going to share with you. I have not re-read my book cover to cover since I published it. Okay, that’s kind of not true – because I DID read it cover to cover when I recorded the audiobook (which is why the audiobook version has so much raw emotion – because I relived things again). But I haven’t sat down in a cozy chair on a rainy day and picked up the paperback and just read it. Is that weird? Many mental health professionals say no, because you end up re-living those experiences over and over and over again.
Yet, I’m willing to keep talking about all of my stories, regardless of what emotions pop up or how my body may react, because I think it’s that important.
Which brings me to an interesting thing happened yesterday. I went to the grocery store. I have been using Instacart for the past few weeks because of my foot injury, but since I had a light massage week this week I decided to brave the extra walking.
They rearranged the grocery store.
Like, the whole damn thing. As in, I had to look UP AT THE SIGNS to find stuff. And anything that did remain in the same aisle was in a different SPOT. Example: the spaghetti. The sauce used to be at the south end of the aisle and they moved it to the NORTH end. The bread is now in the middle of the store with the GREETING CARDS instead of the water (the water is now with the soda, which does seem more logical, but still).
It disoriented me.
I felt frustrated.
It took me three times as long to find shit.
In my angst I texted Jerry with a melting face emoji (he didn’t respond and PSA: if you ever need Jerry, don’t text him because he hates texts).
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been reliving so much of my deep, raw caregiving experiences, but this whole grocery thing kind of triggered me. I almost took it personally (and did stop to chuckle at how annoyed I was – the NERVE of them). I also couldn’t contain myself when the checkout clerk said, “Did you find everything okay?” and I was compelled to respond with “Well, it’s the first time I’ve been here since you guys rearranged stuff…” but I laughed out loud, because yes I DID find everything.
Any why would grocery shopping trigger caregiving trauma? Well… we moved the day before Jerry’s transplant (“As long as it’s the day after we move, I’ll be fine.”). And part of what makes moving such a stressor is that little things – like going to a new grocery store and having to find things – feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Jerry also went through a period of very serious quarantine after his treatments for Graft vs Host Disease. His immune system was slammed down to less than nothing, then slowly brought back up so that his DNA and the DNA of his new liver could co-exist in harmony. This made grocery shopping really scary for me. It was wayyyy before the pandemic so I was the only one in the grocery store who was hypersensitive to a sneeze or cough. I was using sanitary wipes on cart handles a long time ago. And because we had just moved – the store was completely unfamiliar to me and it took me forever to shop. Grocery shopping brought out my fight or flight (or more accurately, it enhanced it because I was living in a constant state of fight or flight).
I didn’t break down in tears yesterday. But I was definitely aware of my discomfort. I was able to tune into the emotion and feel it in my body. I was able to quickly ascertain what was happening, feel it all, and by the time I got home it was mostly gone. (I also paused in the car and did a little live for the socials because I know someone, somewhere was feeling the same way and needed to know they weren’t alone).
I wondered how many people yelled at cashiers or managers because rearranging the store felt somehow unsafe to them. I joked in my live that I wish they had sent me a warning, a notification, and a MAP of the new store layout. No, it’s not logical, but I probably would have found it soothing.
I’m curious: is there something in your life that’s annoying you and you’re truly wondering WHY? Have you pinpointed the feeling in your body? Is it in your gut? Throat? Chest? Can you breathe into it? Can you send it some love? I’m sending you love xoxo.
Because it’s all about love…
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