is my authentic self an asshole?

The adventure of authenticity is well under way... and quite an adventure it has been!

Here's some information about me:  I have a very reactive brain.  If I have been triggered enough without enough release of activation my sympathetic nervous system goes haywire; that's the part of you (me) that's responsible for the "fight, flight, or freeze" response when it encounters what it perceives to be danger.

In a healthy nervous system some kind of trigger arouses or activates the sympathetic nervous system alerting other parts of the body (like the adrenal glands, for example) that they are needed... then the nervous system (once the threat has passed) settles back into a relaxed state until the next stimulus occurs.

the goal: pretty, healthy little brain wave action.
I've been there... a lot.  Especially over the the last year or two.  Pretty, healthy little brain wave land is mostly where I live.  I've had a lot of therapy (somatic experiencing, brainspotting, cbt, etc.) and I do a lot of self care work (daily morning pages/journaling, meditation, sunshine/walk breaks, this goddamn blog...) and I've been hanging pretty steadily in this range.

I used to live here (see below):  Stuck on "on."  My reactions were extreme and I stayed activated long after threats had passed until I couldn't manage anymore and I crashed and got Stuck on "off."  Not fun

the past reality: yowza.  crazy town.
This week I'm somewhere in between.  This whole kindergarten transition thing is pushing my buttons in a big way and:

  • I haven't been to therapy in at least a month (longer?)
  • I didn't do any morning pages last week
  • and I didn't blog (dammit) either
and so I'm finding myself in the beginning of that jagged red line in the diagram above.  I am (internally) reacting in a HUGE way to stuff that isn't (always) a HUGE deal... and it's growing tiresome.  I'm aware of it now and have calls in to several hundred (slight exaggeration) therapists to help me come back to pretty little wave land, but before awareness I had started to wonder if my authentic self was an asshole.

I've been adversarial and snotty, whiney and dramatic, loud and insistent, inflexible and erratic...  all within a day or two of committing to this adventure of authenticity.  Usually when I commit to something here it starts happening (seemingly on its own...) and so I found myself wondering this morning if my authentic self was an asshole.  If I commit to authenticity and this is what comes out does that mean that this is who I really am?

I was prepared to come to terms with "yes" as an answer and call it "shadow" self (and it is to an extent) or something and write a how-to guide on: What to do you when you realize your authentic self is an asshole.  And I'm still going to (with a twist)... here goes.

What to do when you realize your authentic self is an asshole (in three steps)
  1. Realize it's not
  2. Breathe
Yes, what's coming out of me in this raw and vulnerable space seems automatic... it's certainly instinctual, I'm not having to work at it--it just flies out of me (at the most inopportue moments), but that still doesn't make it who I am.  This is a very authentic version of a version of myself... but not the true/best/authentic self I am committed to adventuring with.  Nope, not at all.

This is the version of myself who thinks there is something she can "do" to make things right and assumes that when things aren't going well it's because she hasn't "done" that thing or those things well enough yet...  She's hurt and scared and is looking for ways to feel better (now) and she isn't particularly helpful.  She's definitely real (I know, I lived with her for a loooooooong time), but she doesn't get to stay if I don't let her.

So, that's the last step: 
    3. Kick out the imposter