Functional Freeze

By Alison May 10, 2024 5 Min Read

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I do believe the world might have gone a little mad (the furore over Baby Reindeer and the sheer chutzpah of the real Martha being something of a case in point). People seem fraught and there is so very much sadness under any surface a person cares to scratch. And let it be known that I am woman never scared to dig my nails in and gently reveal whatever seems to be lurking beyond the smiles. Never quite having enough self-awareness to notice that some might be numb to whatever would have me crawling. That not every itch needs scratching, Alison!

Yes. Things aren’t what they were. And I am not myself. I am quite frankly in a dam buster of a muddle: at once curtailed by a kind of inertia that has got me bumbling around doing the bare minimum, (worrying my socks off about who knows what), while simultaneously vibrating with an energy unable to find release. I think it might make me difficult to be around. It’s very definitely making me feel like I might need to jump right out of my body and run away from myself. Which would be all manner of inconvenient, if the sensible part of me legs it to pastures unknown and the demented part of me remains to live in my skin, navigating all sorts of things she doesn’t understand and trying to fathom what will get her from A to B without the benefit of a satnav.

It has been a heck of a year so far, and the deeper I wandered through it, the heckier it seemed to be getting. Both in a heck this is wonderful and heckity pie this is utterly dreadful kind of way. And when there is too much heckery coming my way, something inside me freezes. I stare in to space a lot. Doom-scroll. Drown in dullness in the happy little space that is The Dull Men’s Club. Chase words around my head like a dog chases a rabbit. Forget to eat. Feel a bit urdy-gurdy. Worry myself awake. Gawp at sadness as if staring at it will be enough to reverse it. Lie around and smile at all the little chips of happiness I grasp like so many diamonds. This is a sort of processing I suppose. But wouldn’t it be downright wonderful if I was the kind of person who could both process calamity and euphoria AND remember to buy washing powder and turn on my laptop? If while managing grief and house guests, a relationship and a future, I could also string a sentence together long enough to remind myself that I have a business to keep afloat? And that merely making sure there is milk in the fridge will not keep the wolves from the door should they get a sniff of this gap in my usual proclivity.

I have come to realise though, that no amount of me trying to restore normal order helps. That merely trying to THINK my way to productivity all too often makes things much worse, for then she who hates me will come a calling. For we all have her, don’t we? The She Who Hates Us. She who crawls into bed with us on sleepless nights and points out all our wrongdoing, stupid thinking and a lifetime of misdemeanours in order to keep us doubting ourselves? To keep us a little scared that we will lose all that we love. That life will never be what we want it to be because creating our own chaos, internal wars, and malaise is simply who we are and the real us, She Who Wants to Live Out Loud, is but a figment of our imagination, never again to return and talk us back to possibility again.

But honestly, damn her. Damn She Who Hates Us to hell and back. I have decided that I am giving up trying to outwit her. That instead laying the groundwork for She Who Wants To Live Out Loud is probably the only way to coax her home and that means allowing myself to potter. To dwell. To walk. And to simply do whatever gets me through the night in the interim, for in this quiet, muddled fallowing, I am re-building myself ready to launch myself at life all over again. Making plans and unpicking them again, knowing that eventually I will have formed a sort of personal blueprint for all of my tomorrows and that all those emotions I have been oh so busy processing will eventually be neatly filed and ready to serve me whenever I need to call them up.

It’s ok to simply sit and wait. It really is. Especially if you find yourself waiting at the top of mountain looking down on a complex trail of trauma and undiagnosed neurodivergence like I am. It is ok to give yourself the grace of time when you need it. Space to process a muddle. Time to just drink banana milkshake and contemplate your navel for a while. To do what needs to be done, and grey rock She Who Hates You so you never find yourself feeding her ego by believing her lies.

Today I am putting the house back together after my (very messy) family have gone following the second of two terribly sad funerals in a month. I am flinging windows open and pausing to breathe in this hot, sunny day, changing the beds and spritzing the floor with the freshest of lemony cleaners to banish the parfum of Eau de Dog, after Dad brought his spaniel and said spaniel frightened the life out of poor Meep. I am giving myself permission to look like Mad Mary as I head out to sprinkle grass seed on grass finally mown, in bare-feet and the green camisole that had not been stolen at all, but was in fact lurking in the little lady version of my walnut wardrobes, along with all the other clothes I had been accusing all and sundry of pilfering. And I am going to remember to eat properly, because a person who last ate twenty-four hours ago is not a person in full possession of her faculties and she may as well be giving SHE WHO HATES HER free reign to continue ruining her day. Very little will get done, and even less tonight as I plan a platter of salty tomato bread and pesto chicken for a midnight feast, but this is a reparation of sorts and it doesn’t do to cast aspersions on the strictly restorative, for it is gentle by necessity and oh so very powerful if I can stay within a place of radical acceptance instead of trying to launch myself head first into that I am not wholly capable of managing again yet.

I am summoning She Who Wants To Live Out Loud. But the lady is, I think, not for hurrying.

So let’s be gentle with ourselves in the midst of a world blowing hither and thither, and remember always, that like Martha, in Baby Reindeer, SHE WHO HATES US, will only be discouraged if we are willing to give her very short shrift and refuse to indulge her perpetual self-indulgent drama.

*Sent From My iPhone.

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