Getting Back on My Feet

Friday, April 17th, 2020

Well girls – I shared in the last blog post about my not so ideal reaction to this COVID-19 situation.  It took me three weeks to fully crawl back onto my feet  (and when I wrote the last blog post, I was on my knees) – you can read briefly about that in my latest newsletter.  (And if you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter – you can do that here.)

What I was reminded of, once again, is that I am a very slooooooow processor.  It takes me quite a while to fully work through changes, especially stressful ones.

I realized three different things that played into my wipe out and I want to share them with you in hopes that it might help you get back on your feet if you are still on your back. (And can I just say – for those of you that might be on your back or on your knees – be there.  I was there again yesterday – this is truly one-day-at-a-time-kind-of-work.)

1 – Acknowledging loss.

I don’t know what you might have lost during this quarantine.  But we have all lost something.  Part of me shifting from stunned, barely breathing on my back to a place of grounded, firmly planted and aware was to acknowledge the losses.

Here is a partial list of what I lost:

1 – time to be creative (I love developing content, writing, working on the boundaries course, shooting videos; not to mention decorating my house and dreaming up how to make it more comfortable and more of a home).

2 – three coaching courses that I was scheduled to take in April and May – cancelled.

3 – a May retreat that I had signed up for in Lake Tahoe (part of my quest to not accept crumbs anymore and to love myself well) – rescheduled.

4 – quiet time in my home to actually think.

5 – I feel like I lost 11 critical weeks of planning for the summer (’cause summer causes me some major stress).

Now I realize that my losses might look differently than yours, and that’s okay – it’s so important to name the losses, whatever they might be.

Once I was able to acknowledge and grieve the losses – I was able to give myself space to reflect on the benefits and celebrate them – but I wasn’t able to do that until I had acknowledged the losses.

2 – Old coping mechanisms and behavioral patterns.

It’s like the flip of a switch, it’s so automatic in me.  Stress and danger cause me to go back to the old patterns and old ways of doing things.  For those of you that are familiar with this book – I’m an Avoider.  What that means is – my default setting is to restrict my emotions and needs and to be independent.

To be clear – this old way of coping isn’t effective; it might have been growing up (at least in some ways it worked back then) – but it isn’t anymore.  The key is to be aware of the old coping mechanism cropping back up and to course-correct as soon as possible.

Think about what your old coping mechanisms look like.  It could be isolation, eating your feelings, procrastination, making sure everyone else is okay and forgetting about yourself, numbing out by watching too much media, etc.

It wasn’t until I cried it out in vulnerability and asked for what I needed that Jason reminded me – we are a team.  And he can help.  He can give me the much needed quiet that I was so desperately wanting (and he did just that by taking the boys on a 4 hour car ride to nowhere the very next day).  Game changer.

Some of you, I realize can’t cry out to your husband.  It would do no good.  It’s still important to cry out to someone – to God, to a trusted friend, to a therapist or coach.  Take that step.

3 – When stressed – the trigger threshold is lower.

About six years ago, I started getting migraines after I would exercise.  It was pretty dreadful.  I was desperate to get rid of them and I came across a book that helped me conceptualize migraines in a different way.  What the authors postulated was that we are all susceptible to migraines.  For some of us – our threshold for getting a migraine is lower (as in, it’s easier to get them) and for some of us our threshold is higher (as in, it’s harder to get a migraine).

The key is to do whatever we can to increase that threshold level so that we stay further away from activating a migraine.  (So I had to stop eating tomatoes and peanut butter and almonds.  It was sad.)

Back to triggers – know that the exact same principle applies.  Remember, triggers find us – we don’t have to find them.  And – when we are stressed (think: worldwide pandemic) – our threshold for getting triggered is going to be lower (as in – we are going to be more apt to get triggered).

Simply put: more stress = more triggers.

So during those first three weeks of quarantine – I was more hypervigilant.  I was watching Jason – and found myself being super sensitive to certain things he did or didn’t do.  My trigger threshold was lower and even small things were sending me into a state of panic and distress.

Again, awareness is key.  I needed to do what I could to decrease the stress I was experiencing in order to increase the threshold for getting triggered.  I also needed to communicate to Jason what was going on.  I needed him to partner with me in navigating the triggers.

I shot an off-the-cuff quick little vid for you to watch just to make sure I explained this properly. I have to be honest – it’s hard for me to post it – why couldn’t I have at least put on some lip balm and nose powder?!  Nope, not even. #keepingitreal

I will post the video soon – stay tuned!

As always – let me know if you have any questions, I love hearing from you!

xo – Shelley




18 thoughts on “Getting Back on My Feet

  1. Joy

    April 18, 2020  |  12:18 pm

    Oh goodness, it is so affirming and reassuring when our mentors (or friends on facebook!) acknowledge that they are NOT rocking the quarantine! I’m SO tired of hearing “Well, we should enjoy this time at home….” – !! OF COURSE WE SHOULD. But HELLO – it is HARD. We are all shell-shocked and grieving, this is NOT a vacation. {okay, rant over} So, thanks for being real.

    I’m curious about the How We Love book – it kind of sounds like the real psychology version of the Love Languages (of which I am not a fan) ….. Tell me that it’s different?

    • Shelley Martinkus

      April 19, 2020  |  04:18 pm

      Hi Joy – Yes, this is hard. Major ups and downs over here. Just trying to breathe through each one!!!

      So I didn’t find the 5 love languages and How We Love to be similar (that thought never crossed my mind that they are similar). Granted, it’s been years since I read the 5 Love Languages. If you have any specific questions about the book – let me know, I’d be happy to try to answer them. xo – Shelley

  2. DJ

    April 18, 2020  |  12:42 pm

    You hit the nail on the head, once again! I needed this TODAY, so thank you for taking the extra effort to put this out there and by the way, the video really helped.

    After reading your post, it dawned on me I’m come far since D-Day, but still need to be challenged to process the whole trigger. In other words, after today’s trigger, it was a HUGE step forward for me to acknowledge/own my feelings, express them to someone, and figure out my needs. Now, you have challenged me to acknowledge the loss and watch out for my old coping mechanisms as they may try to creep in. Did I ever tell you, I don’t like to sit in the pain and sometimes those old coping strategies really call my name?

    P.S. you’re still as adorable as ever, even without powder on your nose!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      April 19, 2020  |  04:20 pm

      Hi DJ – How did you see the video? I posted it on Friday night but then took it down because I wanted to post it for the next blog post and aesthetically I didn’t like the way it looked in the midst of the blog post (I worry about these things). Grateful the blog post and video were helpful and love hearing your heart here! xo – Shelley

  3. Julie Eade

    April 18, 2020  |  03:36 pm

    Can you share the name of the Migraine book? I suffer greatly!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      April 19, 2020  |  04:21 pm

      Yes – the name of the book is “Heal Your Headache” by David Buchholz. It was helpful to me just to understand migraines more – I ultimately ended up getting on an antidepressant that is also a migraine prophylactic. I can’t remember the name of it right now – but I wonder if that med plus the 2nd antidepressant I was put on did the trick more than the diet?! Let me know if you have any questions. xo – Shelley

  4. Anne Lussier

    April 18, 2020  |  07:14 pm

    Hi Shelly, that was so interesting to me and it honestly was not something I was really aware of. Food for thought! Being more aware of this will hopefully allow me to proactively put on the armor when I feel stress coming on. Satan loves to attack when we are weak, right?! Having a bible verse to remember definitely helps. I appreciate your communications and education concerning our ongoing recovery.
    Take good care of yourself!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      April 19, 2020  |  04:24 pm

      Yes – I agree having a Bible verse at the ready can be incredibly helpful as well. I’ve been writing on notecards take aways from the Bible Study I am working through and just seeing those on my desk has been super helpful. Looking at them now and here are a couple:

      I cannot but God is able – Genesis 41:16
      God will not waste a moment of our pain and suffering.
      We can’t always see what God is doing but like Joseph – we can choose to be faithful where we are and trust in Him.

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Anne, so good to hear from you!

      xo – Shelley

  5. Sheila

    April 20, 2020  |  03:30 am

    Okay so this was so refreshing and reassuring, especially the awareness of the triggers. So my husband and I are both “essential workers”. He works in a hospital and I work in emergency services. He also worked an side job. So the side job got cut, they are calling it a fur-low, his hospital hours are weird now and unpredictable. Since he is high-risk (Diabetic transplant pt) he had to be moved to a different area of the hospital. Full time (to collect benefits) is 32 hours per week. He was supplementing hours using paid time off, but starting this week it will just be 32 hours a week. I am trying to be thankful for having jobs, but money stress is a real concern.

    Also this past week was D-day week. It has been 6 years. My husband has not bee perfect in recovery, but he has been really good, very steady, made lots of changes, done tons of recovery work, but still has issue pushing himself to do some of the internal examination work. I want April 10 to be just another day (first d-day) and April 17th to be just another day and May 3 (final D-day when I finally got the WHOLE STORY). Add all this to a higher stress level at work, being restricted to the house for more hours a week than we are normally home together, some financial strain, and no social outlet, well it explains the bad and weird dreams starting back up, sleep disturbances, and just feeling on edge. My husband said he noticed me guarding in my sleep. I sound like a pity party. I was sexually abused as a child into my teen years. After D-day the trauma reopened a lot of old stuff. Anyway guarding is moving in your sleep to a “protective” position when hearing a noise or feeling movement in the bed. For example I will be asleep laying on my back and when the dog or my husband moves I roll over quickly into an almost fetal position. He noticed last week that I was back to doing that in my sleep.
    I just realized in while reading this just how hyperventilate I have been. I did not even think about it until now, honestly like RIGHT NOW….we have had life 360 for a really long time. A couple of years ago I turned off the notifications because most of the time I did not need it to tell me where my husband was. 2 weeks ago I turned it back on, justifying in my head, “this way I will know when he is leaving work to start dinner”. Guess the upheavel in his schedule and working with people I don’t know in an area I don’t know and the hospital being on “lock down”, like I can’t just POP in, not that I have even done that in 3 years, I think the just knowing I can’t has some way triggered something.
    Well I have blabbed enough. Thank you Shelley for this post because it has helped me realize some things that might make the coming days easier.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      April 30, 2020  |  10:15 am

      Thank you Sheila for sharing – what you have processed here on the blog matters and I believe that it will help others reading this post to connect dots and not feel so alone. This is a LOT – the anniversaries, the triggers, the quarantine and resulting stress. I know we will get through this – and hopefully we will be better for it. But some days it’s all I can do to just crawl through the day! Thanks for keeping it real! xo – Shelley

  6. Erin

    April 22, 2020  |  07:04 am

    Thank you, Shelley! I can relate to this on so many levels. I’m interested in that book about “how we love”. I’ll check it out. For me, grieving the loses has been a challenge, but one I’m finding a little easier the more I do it. I struggle with “comparison suffering” – meaning I say things to myself like, “I should be grateful. I shouldn’t feel XYZ b/c some other people have it so much harder”. But that really only causes me to stuff my true emotions and then…tick tick tick.., big nasty BOOM. Awareness IS key. Thank you for your voice and your vulnerability.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      April 30, 2020  |  09:50 am

      YES Erin – I love how you termed this – comparison suffering. It causes me to really disconnect from how I feel which doesn’t do anybody any good. I love, love, love hearing from you here. Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom! xo – Shelley

  7. Darlene

    April 22, 2020  |  08:08 am

    Just watched your video. I tried to leave a comment but Vimeo wanted me to sign up first, so if the comment didn’t post there, I thank you for the video. I never thought of triggers having a threshold prof the reasons behind them getting overwhelming. Also, just to know that they will always be there but don’t have to overwhelm is an interesting thing to ponder. Seeing the graph cleared it up for me and will help me going forward to redirect myself when things get stressful. Sometimes though, I wonder whether I’m going back into denial when I am staying on my side of the street

    • Shelley Martinkus

      April 30, 2020  |  09:46 am

      Darlene – I am grateful to hear the video helped. Hmmm… that is an interesting thought – going back into denial when going over to your side of the street. If your side of the street = detachment – then I think the difference is with detachment, you are still connected to yourself. With denial – I think we are (more or less) not connected to ourselves fully. I hope that helps! xo – Shelley

  8. DJ

    April 22, 2020  |  04:03 pm

    How strange, Shelley ,that I saw the video before it was officially released. I really don’t know how I possess these magical powers other than I received something in my email stating you released a new blog post.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      April 30, 2020  |  09:41 am

      I don’t know what is up either. I can’t quite figure it out but it’s all good. I am going to post the video today anyways. 🙂 xoxo

  9. Deb

    April 28, 2020  |  09:20 am

    Thanks so much for this post and for the video and graph; it explains so much. I have been triggered more every day since the lockdown. Little things I used to “sort of” deal with were becoming big again. I am withdrawing into myself; more on edge. I am exhausted and not sleeping well; like Sheila said above I am also finding myself in a fetal position often. I’m getting angry all over again and going back to the 6 months of slow disclosures. I am only 1.5 years out; not even to the place of forgiveness yet. Being stuck in place with the person I really don’t trust yet; knowing he’s home alone all day while I am at work brought on a whole slew of emotions and fear; what’s he doing, looking at, wishing he could be doing. Thanks Shelly for your words that help me realize what I’m feeling is normal, and I am not alone.

    • Shelley Martinkus

      April 30, 2020  |  09:41 am

      You are definitely not alone Deb. I feel like what you are sharing really brings to light how challenging this quarantine is for women walking the road of betrayal. Thank you for sharing here – I know your words will be affirming to others.

      xo – Shelley

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