I mention the word “grounding” in my last post in regards to how I felt D grounded me, but I’ve found that word means to others something different than it does or did mean to me.
To me in the past at least, grounding referenced stability or something that produced extremely consistent results. I was told by so many people in my life that I was the imagination/the dreamer in D and my relationship and he was the “grounding.” People meant positive things by that. They seemed to think that if I did not have him there, I would just get so lost in imagining that I would float right off into space – into my fantasies – and never come back. I even remember having a conversation with my former teacher / continued friend about this – that he and I were dreamers and our spouses were the people who kept us level-headed and not running off and doing “crazy” things.
I realize now that D did ground me – in this illusion that there is such a thing as security. I was like a bird, ready to fly away to awesome places, and he was the string weighed down with the rock around my torso. As soon as he wasn’t there, I did float away, never to come back down to earth. And I’ve found a lot of amazing people up here in space or whatever you want to call it. I also found that having another dreamer/floater by my side is not so scary and unknown like people made it out to be – it’s actually hella fucking amazing and I would no longer have it any other way.
As a side note: Crazy things like living out of a van, being polyamorous, building a community house, and getting paid for cuddling become not so crazy over time; in fact, they feel a little normal. This doesn’t mean my therapist thinks I’m at all sane, mind you. (The other day, I told her that I got paid for cuddling and 15 minutes later, she apologized and said she was still processing this new information about me and had not paid attention to anything I’d said since.)
Now, there are other definitions of grounding too, of course. My therapist brought up another one the other day. She said when I am triggered with strong emotions and begin shutting down, that I need a way to ground me in the present. She put some smooth rocks in my hands and told me to talk about the differences I notice in them. I said a few and then continued playing with them in my hand for the remainder of the session. She said they were immediate reminders to come back to my body, to the present instead of getting lost in past memories.
I was reminded of a former partner’s way of bringing me back from dwelling in trauma during a sexual activity. He said “Where are you right now? Not where are you in your mind…Where is ‘here?'” As my therapist pointed out, he was forcing me to keep one “foot” in the present while the other was mired in the past. She said if I keep at least one part of my brain in the here and now, other tools are accessible to me to move out of the past or learn from it but if both “feet” are in the past, the tools to get back into the present and here and now are impossible to retrieve.
Learning about this felt like hope. She pointed out that all of my more recent tools I’ve been using to “ground” me are nothing I can do in the very moment things are happening and are usually ways of escaping the present even if they do bring me more into my body (aka hot baths, pain, hiking, yoga, meditating). How can I ever hope to confront the strong emotions I encounter if I’m too busy running away from them?
I am a little too sensitive about all of these suggestions being tools given to people with PTSD. I guess there is something about my situation that feels less serious than can be categorized with a PTSD label. It makes me uncomfortable. It reminds me of this therapist I had in high school who was convinced I had some childhood sexual abuse that I couldn’t remember. She thought I should do EMDR, but couldn’t recommend it without “real trauma” to work with. (Horrible therapist.)
And so, I guess I’ve struggled with feeling that all of this “grounding” stuff is all really entirely hogwash. Or at least isn’t applicable to me.
This was further reinforced by having tea with a friend who is “Buddhist-leaning,” as she says. When I talked about this idea of “grounding,” she said: “The ground you speak of in metaphors is not real! We’re all floating in constant limbo in the present and until we see that, we won’t be happy.” I said “But how about being grounded in the present? Do you think that could be a thing?” She paused and said “Well…I don’t know. Maybe. But the present is really all we have anyway. You either recognize it or you don’t.”
I wonder about wandering the world with rocks in my pockets (the tiny ones we as females get in our clothes), attempting to remind myself that the present is all we have *and* it’s also all an illusion – much like the shoeboxes or maybe even the rocks themselves. Some moments, it seems like a bunch of ridiculous therapist hogwash and other days, I go searching for the rocks I’ll keep at my fingertips as reminders. Maybe I’ll even add in a rubber band on my wrist for good measure.
Grounded or not, I’d prefer to spend my time with the dreamers in the here and now – no strings (or rocks) attached.