Hamster wheel 

I described my weeks previously to my therapist as feeling like a hamster on a wheel. An endless monotony of going, but seemingly without purpose and meaning. Just the knowledge that in not moving, I’m probably going to stay stagnant. Lying in bed, with no motivation to wash, eat or live an in anyway ‘decent’ life.

Occasionally over the last week I’ve found a meaning. Like, enjoying my lectures, finding out that I really am coping, enjoying time spent with the kids, really enjoying learning sign language. Although each time out into the public realm with strangers I feel tense and anxious. I’ve actually realised that because I feel so grotesque I anticipate people literally recoiling from me, as I exude this green, revolting terrifying image to people. So I’ve discovered that when people smile at me or talk with a friendly style, I’m actually surprised. I hadn’t realised I’d been doing that. I’d been intentionally avoiding people, fearful of their reactions, my only interaction being minimal and necessary. 

Last night I ‘babysat’ my children! I know I shouldn’t refer to looking after my own children that way but it feels like it when I’m covering for S as we no longer go out together and I head up to the house for a few hours. I was surprised by the overwhelming sense of grief. I thought I’d processed most of it. It stayed with me all night and this morning. I lay in bed and considered the sadness and sense of being alone. I listened to the aches and pains in my body. My neck and shoulders from tension. I really felt and listened to my body and mind.

A big learning curve for me has been my inability to stay present in the moment. Often I ruminate over the past and the symptoms of PTSD take me sharply to the past. I can’t really see much beyond a week ahead, but I’m only thinking about the next hour, or next day. Next ‘thing.’ Next experience. I worry, stress, analyse events, how people will react to me, how I will feel. But rarely I’m in the moment. Rarely do I feel injuries as they occur, rarely I notice the bubble of a migraine, rarely I notice tiredness until I’m overrun with exhaustion. Rarely I feel peace, rarely I hear in the moment, only in reflection do I consider what I heard retrospectively. I don’t consider the moment, the feeling of happiness, the feeling of discontentment. It’s always in a snowball occurrence. Picking through things to make sense.

On the weekend my son was playing, I was reading my book and drinking my coffee. Periodically we would chat, or he would lean to me and we’d rub cheeks. It’s a beautiful transaction of love and affection that we do spontaneously. Although I’ve never really considered it before. But I realised in that moment I was relaxed, I was happy. I was enjoying my coffee, my book was great and my son was a wonderful companion, full of love and warmth. Everything was perfect in that moment. People often refer to taking a moment to ‘stop and smell the roses,’ but that’s not me. I would wonder if I’d passed a better rose, maybe another rose was coming up, maybe I’d get stung by a bee, I probably wouldn’t even notice the rose for the overwhelming intoxicating stimuli that surrounded me blurring my senses and the planning, analysing, self depreciating monologue going on in my head.

I think that’s a large reason my marriage failed. I was never in the moment. Always ready for a move, ready to be let down, ready to be hurt, caught up in my own goings ons. Rarely did I take the time to consider my relationship, the feeling of love and comfort. Instead like a child, distracted by a shiny new toy. My life events became too absorbing to consider another person.

Although something has shifted in me, it’s hard to articulate that. I notice at the moment I’m just tired, my head is pounding and my week is long. Long days at uni, evening courses, therapy, group therapy on Sunday and spending time with my kids. Plus assignments and housework. 

I feel alone in everything that I’m doing. No one to discuss these feelings with, sometimes not speaking for so long I barely recognise my own voice.

So the hamster wheel turns, and tiredly I begin to wonder if there is more to this than I realise. I need to listen to myself and hear my body and be prepared to feel and live from moment to moment. No one cares if I fall off the wheel, no one hears the squeaking of the wheel turn. But perhaps it’s time I should be my own cheerleader. And perhaps I will smell the next rose – with no intruding thoughts.

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3 thoughts on “Hamster wheel 

  1. I believe we all need to be our own advocate. We need to listen to what our minds and body are telling us, It is a learned behavior, though. It’s not something that can be done overnight (at least not for me.) As you work towards that goal, try and be as easy on yourself as possible.(Another learned behavior)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The hamster wheel feeling really is an awful one. 🙁 On the plus side, you are really doing so much– school, therapy, dealing with life everyday, the divorce. I know things aren’t super great, but it does sound like you’ve come really far. I think the hamster wheel feeling lessens when we do learn to be grounded in the moment, more present in our bodies. It’s not easy. But it’s worth it. You can do this! Xx

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