I became extremely conscious of this during the pandemic.
I am almost always clenching my jaw. No exaggeration. Like, I have to physically send a message to brain which then sometimes sends a message to my jaw and then it relaxes.
And it feels foreign, like my lower jaw is loose and unhinged. Not in a serious medical condition way or anything. It just feels wrong.
I am so used to having my jaw tightly clenched that when I don’t, I do not feel right. I don’t feel like “me”.
Is that because I’ve never been relaxed, ever? Probably.
That was something I had to learn in therapy. Hell, that is something I am still learning.
I remember bopping into one of my sessions with Madison and when she asked me what I wanted to talk about that day, I said, “I… don’t think I know how to relax”
And together we unpacked what that meant to me.
For me, a big part of relaxation has to do with a quieting of the brain. Like, I normally have between 8-99 streams of audio going on in my head at all time, including all external (Television, conversations, music, etc) and internal (thoughts, to do list, reactions to what is happening around me, music, old conversations, etc.) sources.
When I’m relaxing, I feel like it’s ideal to have that audio down to one or two streams tops. Otherwise, I’m just worried that I’m forgetting something from one of the other streams of consciousness and keep swirling through them until I eventually fall into a jittery sleep.
One of the few times I remember this happening as an adult was when I was taking dance classes, particularly tap. During those classes, my brain was the quietest I can remember it ever being.
Here is a random photo of some progress in my office at the Professor Haus. I have two lights like this one, completely programmable and they’re in opposite corners from each other. They will both have my bookshelves in front of them.
The hope is that with the shelves and books in place, it will look like they are glowing like the briefcase in “Pulp Fiction”.
And now… back to the normal blog!
You might be saying, Jacki – dance classes don’t sound very relaxing at all! In fact, that sounds pretty sweaty to me.
You would be right.
But also, y’all… I’m excellent at relaxing my body. Plop me in front of a screen and ya bitch ain’t moving. Well, I’m a bit jangly in the limb area cause I’m always shifting positions, but the body is still.
The brain’s always been the problem.
So it was like an escape to have a sweaty body and a quiet brain.
I wonder if I clenched my jaw when I danced? Hmm.
OK, so, yeah. Are you clenching your jaw right now?
Me too. Still.
Yeah, sometimes, I’ll do the jaw wiggle when my brain becomes aware of the clench. Then I let my jaw hang out on its own, no clenchin’.
But then I become hyperaware of everything happening in my mouth…
Is my tongue supposed to go there?
Or should I put it here?
Is there supposed to be this much spit?
Is that tooth feeling more jaggedy than normal?
Hmm, no, but maybe that one does.
Should my teeth be touching?
Both feel wrong.
Seriously, this feels like a LOT of saliva. This can’t be right.
And then my brain will eventually fixate on one of those mouth woes and my jaw will clench and then we’re back to where we were to start with.