Mountains

At 4pm I have the Compass math test at Laney. In the morning I need to drop off all of my income documentation from the last 2 years, my divorce decree, and an exception petition form because FAFSA awards aid by 2015 taxes, as if nothing major ever changes in the span of one year. After that I hightail it into SF for an advice session about freelancing, and then home, test, Machine Tech open house.

I went in on Monday to schedule the test assuming the closest would be a week out, but no. So I spent Tuesday getting my head back in math and working through quizzes on Khan academy and unearthing a massive pile of worms in the process.

I was working through rounding and got really fight or flighty, and then got to writing out what the greatest common factor looks like if you distribute it and at that point somewhere a mine exploded. Suddenly the entire time I’m spending trying to work through math problems I am also fighting a hugely intense battle that sounds a lot like:

Why are you even doing this? It’s not worth it, you’re not worth it

And I know those are lies so I press through, but they get louder. I manage to practice math for several hours before it gets too noisy, and make enough progress that I start passing tests because I remember how the process works again. And then imposter syndrome hits some more.

I spent half of today studying and half of it coming out of trauma space from trying to study. I feel like I climbed a mountain and took on two bears….for passing some basic pre-algebra quizzes.

I’ve gotten faster at realizing when I’m in that space where I live in my trauma instead of…not inside it. It still took me about an hour to go from realizing I needed to take a shower and go for a walk to get my head out of this space and reorient myself to actually doing so, but it only took me 4 hours of depression instead of two days.

I can identify my own tells now:

  • I feel like my shackles are raised and everything is personal
  • I feel like I’m about to lash out at any point and like I need to isolate myself
  • I get quiet and distant
  • There is an undercurrent of rage when I start talking about what’s bothering me (which means I’m obviously on to whatever it is that’s being stepped on)

When I suddenly feel like fight or flight out of the blue, it’s generally because something close enough to be associated in my brain happened that stepped on a trigger and some explosions went off.

I recently watched this anime called Mind Game; there’s a portion that depicts my brain when it’s triggered so perfectly: endless loops of the situation that happened, loud and inescapable. It weirdly helped me identify that the repetition of just…..the B roll of every time I was ridiculed for trying to do math as a kid, was coming from that place, not my current reality.

So I went out for a walk and explored a park on top of a parking deck, sorted out some thoughts, and felt much more grounded. I still feel like I just took on an army and I’m trying not to feel…like that’s uncalled for, because “it was only math”. It’s just that math….has a history, but I think I’ll be okay. 

2 comments

  1. Thank you for writing about this. Educational trauma is valid and widespread, and institutions’ central role here is not properly addressed.

    I started as a tutor and try to contribute to educational discussion and guidance (or therapy) however I can. Thanks for sharing how you’re developing self-care and introspective skills.

Leave a Reply