Reflections on healing trauma, writing, and books by Tokyo-based memoirist
Nothing is a Magic Pill, but You Can Change Your Life

Nothing is a Magic Pill, but You Can Change Your Life

I’m feeling really excited and energized today. Last night, when I heard about the Georgia senate race, I cried. I don’t know if I’d call them tears of joy. More like tears of hope. Given the rest of the news (is anyone surprised?), things will be challenging going forward, but one of the best and worse things about the US is its short memory.

The US is like a relative with dementia. One day, you’ll have a heart-felt, soul-nourishing long talk with her, and you’ll think, “things are really getting better.” The next day, she’ll have a tantrum, throw chairs around the room and call you by the wrong name. Who knows what the third day will look like? The only thing we do know is that both the temper tantrum day and the soul-nourishing day will be totally forgotten. The adjustment to her meds is the only thing that might make a real difference, but only time will tell.

Tokyo is enacting another state of emergency, but it’s a pretty soft lockdown affecting only bars and restaurants. When I think back on how rough it has been this past year, first, I recognize that life in Japan has been rough, in general, for me. It’s been a tough handful of years. Second, I recognize that I’ve managed to stay fairly steady. I’m so grateful that I’ve done as much internal work as I have. It has allowed me to maintain perspective even when life gets dicey, for the most part.

My body and mind are still very reactive; I still have high-highs and low-lows. I always have, but those states are not so linked to the outside world. It’s sort of like jogging. At first, every hill I climbed was torture and every slope I descended was fantastic, but after a while, those things became less relevant. Hills and slopes come and go, and my mind-body has learned not to react so much.

I’ve done a lot of intense meditation, therapeutic journaling, energy work, somatic work, counseling, and a bunch of other stuff. I often feel like it’s unfair. “Why do I have to be the HSP with CPTSD?” I work so hard on myself and other people just skip through life, completely unaware, refusing to take responsibility for their own emotions, and forcing everyone else to deal with their shit. I watched Tim Ferriss interview Brene Brown, and I felt really vindicated because they actually talked about this. It’s long, but I highly recommend it.

In the short term, I’m never sure that any of the practices I do work. Nothing is a magic pill. When I look at my life from a distance, though, I see that it has improved a lot. I sleep better than I ever have. I have more true energy than I ever have (rather than anxious energy). I’m more content than ever. This isn’t to say that I don’t have sleepless nights or panic attacks, anymore, but they are less intense and farther apart. I lose fewer and fewer days to depression, anxiety, or exhaustion.

I’m doing more of what I enjoy and less of what I hate. I still absolutely hate doing laundry and washing dishes, but who doesn’t? Besides, it gives me more time to listen to audiobooks.

Anyway, it’s time to get on with my day. I’m going to do one last read-through of my short story and send it off to my writer’s group.

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