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Pressure, Pressure Everywhere

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

What do you think of when you read the word "pressure "? What images does it conjure up? It makes me think of my parents and the pressure they applied in abusive ways to get the result they wanted. It reminds me of my former employer and his wife who scolded me for 3 hours when I was technically no longer their employee, leaving me feeling like I'd been trampled, trashed and kicked out the door, left with no idea what to believe anymore. It reminds me of sketches and photos of torture devices that I've seen over the years. It reminds me of all the threats from my parents.

What is the definition of pressure? The Merriam-Webster defines it as this:

1 a : the burden of physical or mental distress                                                       

b : the constraint of circumstance : the weight of social or economic imposition                                                       

2 : the application of force to something by something else in direct contact with it.

Pressure is good in lots of ways. Diamonds are created using intense heat and pressure. Apple cider is made with a cider press. Sausage is made with a sausage stuffer that squeezes the mixture into the desired form. Doing laundry the old-fashioned way consisted of using a wringer or hands to get the excess water out of the fabric. It takes pressure and heat to make mashed potatoes. Equipment with hydraulics like a backhoe needs pressure in its system to work. Pressure from a rolling pin is needed to make pies and other baked goods. Pressure is needed with a needle or sewing machine when sewing a garment. Pressure is needed with a mop or scrub brush when cleaning a dirty kitchen floor. Pressure is needed to turn the key in the ignition system to start a vehicle or tractor. Pressure with a chainsaw and ax or log splitter are needed to make firewood. Pressure is needed to apply paint to a new painting in the desired space to create a picture. Pressure is needed with a toothbrush and toothpaste to clean our teeth. We use pressure in so many good ways in our daily lives to accomplish chores and jobs.

There's also negative pressure all around us. Car accidents. Loss of jobs. Medical expenses. Living expenses. Gaslighting. Manipulation. Abuse. People who don't respect boundaries. People who don't keep their word. Disrespect. Greed. Lack of responsibility and accountability. Justice being neglected. Pressure to conform. Destructive weather. Lies. Cults. Neglect. And so much more...

I've been thinking the last several days about pressure because I'm feeling it from the inside and the outside and some days it makes me feel like I'm going to go crazy. I told my counselor one day that I need to force myself to rest because otherwise I won't till my body forces me to. She asked if there was a better way to rephrase that. I don't remember what I said as it was several months ago when the conversation took place. I was applying pressure to myself in a bad way.

I have discovered that I find it hard to rest and take care of what my body really needs when I am angry or in a stressful situation because the pressure forces me to keep going because I either am afraid to face the emotions or I literally don't know what to do with it and staying busy is something that I can do when I can't control my situation.

Right now I feel pressure from a lot of different angles. Watching the amount of money to my name rapidly disappear as I try to take care of myself and eat healthy and work towards my dreams. Someone saying that they strongly suggest that I get a job. Making me feel like somehow I should just get over this mess. Pressure from the outside to be "normal" and work a job regardless how I feel. Pressure to accept the gaslighting from my housemate and that it really is all my fault. Pressure to be busy. Pressure to become what others imply I should be. Pressure to push myself past my limits. Pressure that about drives me insane. It almost did the other week. Or so it felt.

Where does this pressure come from? From people's good intentions. Friends implying their opinions. My own internal dialogue from pressure I dealt with in the past. And succumbed to because I didn't know how to stand against it. From fear. From my situation. From things I was taught. From things implied in a conversation. The voices of my parents in the back of my head.

And it causes me to doubt myself and my ability to know what's best for my body. It causes me to doubt and deny what my body is asking for. It causes me to slip into survival mode. It causes me to busy myself with projects to try to dampen the emotions rising to the surface from the pressure of my situation. It causes me to stifle the sound of my weeping in shame. Shame that I can't seem to rise above my situation. Shame that its taking so long to heal. Shame that my body has given out. Shame that I can't seem to take care of myself financially without ending up in another bad place. Shame that I can't seem to see red flags and I keep losing friends I thought I had. Shame that I don't have any energy. Shame that I have to give my body what it needs instead of forcing it to do what I want it to do. Shame. So much shame.

Doubt and grief are part of it too. Doubting myself. Doubting my body. Doubting my own wisdom that has been acquired over the years from painful experiences. Doubt that I can actually do the things I'm talented for. Doubt that I can actually do things right. Doubt that I actually have any wisdom. Doubting my ability to find a job I like that won't stress me out. And I guess I must say that I really do feel betrayed by my body. I think also that my last therapy session stirred up a lot of doubt, simply due to the nature of memory that I was dealing with and all the confusion and doubt I was carrying at that time of my life. Somehow it seems to make me doubt myself even more right now.

Grief. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it. It makes a sunny day stormy. It causes tears to flow and sobs to be heard. Sometimes it shows up in the form of anger and makes you want to beat up a few certain people who have caused so much harm and pain to you as a person. It drains any energy you may have had and puts you flat on your back in tears or disassociation.

Pressure from every direction. Seemingly nonstop. At times I feel like I'm drowning and I just don't have the energy to stand against it anymore. I've fought all my life to survive and now I'm wore out. Drained. Exhausted. Almost penniless.

The doubt grows stronger. The fears becoming real. The violent darkness of grief and loss clenches me in its jaws. I can't fight anymore. I lay still, tears falling freely as I try to brush them away, stifling the sobs that rise to the surface, wondering if I will survive this life of survival, questioning where the strength will come from to walk forward into the dreams planted in my heart. When will I wake up? When will this be over? Will it ever end? Will I end up on the streets for real? It seems so imminent.

My therapist tells me I won't end up on the streets because I have friends who care. I want to believe her. But I doubt her words. How can I know what she says is true? I've had so many "friends" who betrayed me, including the individual that invited me to live with them where I am currently.

I hate being dependent on others. I hate asking for help. I hate making myself vulnerable because I don't know who I can trust. How do I know that I won't be blamed for things I didn't do? How do I know that people kind enough to take me in won't flip on me again? A place where I could feel safe I thought I had for the first time in my life only to have it become a place that no longer feels safe due to my "friend" flipping on me when I was only trying to set boundaries for myself. How do I know it won't happen again? How do I know? It makes me doubt anybody who has good intentions to help me in my time of need.

How does one not succumb to this negative pressure? I'm just trying to take one day at a time right now. I'm trying to not think about my fears of what's coming ahead of me. I'm trying to do what I can with what energy I have. I've been keeping my eyes open for things I could do from home to make some income. I've checked into some jobs. I'm trying to change my diet a bit in case that is what is affecting my exhaustion. I'm trying to be wise and proactive with my health. I'm trying to heal. I'm trying to allow myself to grieve. I'm trying to allow the pain to surface so it can be healed. I'm trying to not give in to doubt. I'm trying to believe that my body knows what it needs and trying to give it what its asking for. I'm trying to stick only to the bare necessities to make my finances last as long as possible.

What do you do in the face of negative pressure? Everyone is different and so are the ways to deal with pressure. Some people can handle more pressure than others. And that's ok. It doesn't make anyone better than the next person. Everyone has their limits. How do you honor your limits? Or perhaps you just push past them and deal with the negative consequences? Have you found something that helps you deal with negative pressure whether it comes from the inside or the outside? Please feel free to share in the comments and maybe one day down the road it may be an encouragement to someone else...

Thanks for taking time to read my writing!

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