Ferguson is on my mind…

be kindI’m not adding much to this post that I borrowed from my friend, Phyllis. She summarizes succintly what many of us in the Ferguson area are feeling these days.  Just the word “Ferguson” commands many images to mind as it’s become a constant loop of details and speculations, hatred and violence, grief and turmoil.  The subject has dominated most of my Thanksgiving gatherings, brief conversations in the hallway outside of a classroom, sermons at church, in line at the grocery store.  It has already divided friends and families, co-workers, teachers and students.

We are each processing the trauma in our own ways.  Some will protest. Some will pray. Some will stick to narrow minded views.  Some will deny the problem.  The evening before Thanksgiving, while shopping for last minute grocery items, I physically stood between an irate, shouting older man and a car full of teenagers who’d been vying for the same parking space.  What came out of my mouth straight from my heart was a simple series of NO’s….no, no, no, no…no more.  It was my moment of standing up to Michael Brown and saying NO, stop what you’re doing and go home.  It was me telling Officer Wilson NO, drive away from the boys and let it go.  It was my own sick worry about my own child coming out as NO, we can’t hurt people anymore…stop now…NO, please, NO. 

I pray often for the families involved in these conflicts. I send them as much love and healing energy as I can. I do what I can each day to walk through life with as much love in my heart.  We are all affected as we are all connected.

Please be kind.

Please be gentle.

Please be patient.

Please be compassionate.

 

***********

 

From Phyllis Stein, PhD., Associate Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine

Ferguson is on my mind. For those of you who do not live in Saint Louis, Ferguson is the name of part of the patchwork of communities that surround Saint Louis, literally part of a patchwork quilt, this one called North County, no real separation from one town to another even though they have separate police forces and local governments. I live in the village of Bel Nor (pop about 1500, area about 400 acres), another of the continuous towns in North County. The effect of the events Ferguson has been an abstraction for me, even though it is only 3.6 miles from here and even though I have had direct contact with people who are involved.

Yesterday the protesters shut down some local shopping malls, including the Galleria, a large indoor mall, good for walking. It had opened again for a couple of hours when a friend and I decided to go there to take a walk.

I have never felt anything like this at the Galleria. The energy of the mall was so “off” and people were both tense and exhausted. But the reason that I am sharing this was that I could feel the intense hostility and distrust coming from almost every African-American there. As we walked, I made eye contact with one young man, and saw hatred and rage coming back from his eyes. It was a shock, and I understood, viscerally, for the first time, the massive nervous system dysregulation and ongoing trauma that has been triggered by what happened and by all of the ways that these events got amplified and fed back by different people with their own agendas and their own trauma filters.

Maybe this is a long way to say that I really “got” how much it is going to take to come back to any sort of regulation for all the people who were so strongly affected and maybe how little the goals and actions of those who are involved are informed by a true desire to bring the world to a more healed place.

You can find Phyllis’s blog here.

 

 


My ‘Naked’ Truth by Robin Korth

Rescuing Little L:

Today I felt compelled to share this story. I share it as a 57 year old woman who wants to challenge the belief system of women, beauty, aging. Hats off to Robin for her naked and vulnerable story. Enjoy this article as I have and vow to continue to love ourselves fearlessly and to teach our daughters and future generations of women to do the same.

Originally posted on Kindness Blog:

My ‘Naked’ Truth by Robin Korth

Robin Korth

Naked, I stood at the closet doors with the lights on and made myself ready. I took a deep breath and positioned the mirrors so I could see all of me. I consciously worked to remove my self-believed inner image. I opened my eyes and looked very carefully at my body. And my heart lurched at the truth: I am not a young woman anymore. I am a woman well-lived. My body tells of all the years she has carried my spirit through life.

I am a 59-year-old woman in great health and in good physical shape. I stand five-feet, nine-inches tall and weigh 135 pounds. I wear a size six in both jeans and panties, and my breasts are nowhere near my navel. In fact, they still struggle to make it full-up in a B-cup bra. My thighs are no longer velvet and…

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Every survivor. Every voice. Every story.

NMSN14-ButtonThe above words are the tagline of an extremely noteworthy and valuable resource that I’d like to share.

In January 2014, best selling author, Rachel Thompson and therapist/author, Bobbi Parish, both survivors, began a Twitter chat #sexabusechat as a forum for support and healing for survivors of sexual abuse.  With that resource quickly becoming so popular, they teamed with success coach and mentor, Athena Moberg to offer a Google Hangout on the evening following the chat to further process the topic of the week.

From there, these women have formed the NoMoreShameProject offering support, coaching services, publication and more.  Within this project, there are many opportunities for a survivor to thrive, an opportunity which I find in short supply.

I’ve been fortunate enough to stumble upon these incredibly warm, inclusive, determined and very smart!! women.  I’d like to pass this resource on to anyone touched by the issue of sexual abuse, child abuse or family violence.  When we actually begin to find our voice and begin to hold each other’s hands, a miracle happens.  Shame is released giving us long desired acceptance and freedom.

Check them out, grab a hand of a survivor friend and let’s circle the world!

 


How we rationalize the privacies we invade

Rescuing Little L:

you know my name

I loved her perspective and reminds me of one of my favorite Anne Lamott quotes, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

Originally posted on Vanessa Martir's Blog:

I’ve been thinking a lot about privacy. Privacy from the perspective of a memoir and personal essay writer who is revealing family secrets, breaking silences that were intended to protect (or at least that’s what I’ve chosen to believe) but have done more damage than good.

I’m thinking about my aunt, my Titi who is very much a surrogate mom to me. When I told her I was writing a memoir, she said, “Be careful what you write.”

“I’m not being careful.”

“I know.” She looked at me with those loving eyes of hers, no judgment, but no understanding either. Then she walked out of her kitchen, a plate of food in her hand. The heaping plate she’d just served me sat on the table, heat rising off the rice in smoky tendrils.

Two years ago, I showed her the picture I found in Meryl Meisler’s exhibit, “Bushwick in the…

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Still-face paradigm

Henry Avignon image

Image by Henry Avignon-Used with permission

 

The subject of this post is one brought to my attention by my therapist Cathy.  We often work on issues related to connection or lack thereof. We’ve been discussing my deep seated longing for connection, the elusive feeling of absolute safety knowing that I above all, feel merged with myself, with my tribe, with the divine, with my soul.  

She tells me of Dr. Edward Tronick‘s work and gently describes to me how children of mothers who are absent, abusive, drug-addicted, depressed or afflicted with other mental illnesses, show marked negative coping, often developing long term affective disorders.  I’m taken back.  Partly because I’m touched deeply by how she validates my pain and partly because her validation makes this real, an issue that will have to be explored and conquered.  

What this means to children of trauma and sexual abuse, among many other situations, is that we have extreme difficulty with trust.  Because most probably, we haven’t had a consistent, cognitive connection with an available mother, caregiver, or parent and haven’t developed the attunement necessary to function well.  We don’t know who to trust, who is safe, what situations to avoid.  It delays, distorts, prohibits and skews our innate knowing.  

What are the implications and negative effects to a child with an absent, depressed or vacant mother?  What are the long term effects of a child’s cognitive development when subjected to a distressingly unavailable mother?

In 1975, Dr. Edward Tronick, Ph.D. at the Child Development Unit at Harvard University presented the still-face paradigm addressing exactly this issue.  It continues to be one of the most replicated findings in developmental psychology referencing affective disorders on infants and child development.  Dr. Tronick documents an infant who experiences his non-responsive expressionless mother after three short minutes of “interaction” View video here.  

The child...“rapidly sobers and grows wary. He makes repeated attempts to get the interaction into its usual reciprocal pattern. When these attempts fail, the infant withdraws [and] orients his face and body away from his mother with a withdrawn, hopeless facial expression.”

This video is disturbing for me to watch.  Because I get it.  Because I’m ultra sensitive and I want to shake that mother and tell her to respond to her child even though it’s a research experiment.  Because I know what that baby feels like, as a young child, as a young woman, as a full grown mid-fifties adult.  It haunts a survivor to witness an empty person, giving us no social cues to process and understand, reminding us of our initial failed connections to our own mother or caregiver.  It fills us with anxiety as we try to connect, doing all sorts of things as the child in the video did.  We smile, cajole, reach out.  When unreciprocated, we recoil, withdraw, feel rejection, depression, shame. 

I serendipitously stumbled upon an artist who creates from one of the deepest places I’ve witnessed.  We’ve not met but have exchanged a few conversations.  I don’t know Henry’s background or childhood. But Henry knows something. He understands some place within that I’ve lived.  I don’t know how but he does.  This painting represents to me, the small child, fraught with fear, frozen in emotion, empty of connection.  It provides me with a place to be, a moment where the child can release, to be seen just as she is.  I can’t entirely change my neurological programming but I can choose to honor her in the place she was given to exist.

Here are the links to his work.  I bow in respect.

Henry Avignon Art

Margot Muto Contemporary Art

 


Robin Williams Lived

Rescuing Little L:

There by the grace of God go I….this could have been me, this is me. By posting this article, I reach out my hand to another person with mental illness, a brain disorder, trauma or depression. It’s time we make our families and neighbors talk to us. We won’t survive in silence.

Please take my hand and hold on,  stay with us. If you can, please stay.

We can share this together, the dark and the light, eventually circling the world with love and the new definition of who we are.

We will circle the world until we are whole and dancing again.

Originally posted on Sarah Griffith Lund:

Robin Williams lived a life that brought laughter and joy to millions through his comedy and acting.

He died at his home from suicide on Monday, August 11, 2014, at the age 63. He battled a brain disease that included severe depression. Even with treatment, support from loved ones, and a successful career, mental illness still can be a deadly disease, especially when paired with addiction to drugs and alcohol.

I remember when I first learned that Robin Williams had a mental illness and I was encouraged by his openness. I loved his work in Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam, and his role as Mork from Mork and Mindy. My favorite work of his was stand-up comedy.

He had a brilliant brain. And he had a brain with a disease. He richly blessed us with his life.

May all of us find ways today…

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As We Start Our Family Tree

Originally posted on Beating Trauma:

GivingHope

To my children as we start our family tree,

I cannot begin to describe the impact you have on my life. You are the blessings sent from the divine to wake me up. You are the little life tornadoes who never let me choose the easy way out of the pain. You are the epitome of forgiveness as I made mistake after mistake as a parent. You are the comic relief that comes just when I need it. And you are the reminder of how important the small, daily life events really are.

I have been hoping for a savior since I was born. I even found myself enmeshed with several people throughout the years who I thought might make things right. But of course, they didn’t. They didn’t make things right because the only person who could do that was me. And as I look back over the past…

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the drawback of being a “top feeder”

Underwater-Photography-by-Kurt-Arrigo

Underwater-Photography-by-Kurt-Arrigo

 

I’m trying to break this crazy habit.

Each morning, before I even open my eyes, during that time where you’ve just broken into consciousness, where you hear the birds outside, the air-conditioner kick on, the sticky feeling of humidity on your skin, I instinctively begin to think of what I need to do for everyone else.  The list goes something like this as my eyes scan the room, sizing up the day. Usually before I tend to any of my needs; food, water, time to wake up, I’m devising a list of what to do for my dogs, husband, friends, daughter.  Now while that doesn’t seem too extraordinary in itself, many parents do this, I can do it to a fault.

As a trauma survivor/mild BPD/ultra-sensitive person, my need for connection supersedes any worldy need such as food or rest.  My extreme neediness to connect is based on survival.  As a child, trauma and neglect can be so life threatening that the sooner we connect to someone who can help care for us the better.  And this is where it gets tricky.

By serving others, as in doing favors for them, being available to chat/pray/cook/etc. when they are having a rough day or one of my worst habits of over-mothering my animals, I get that much needed connection.  And as my therapist-extraordinare Cathy says, I become a “top feeder”.

A “top feeder” is her self-coined word to illustrate a person who is SO functional in receiving cues from other people’s needs, that their existence is the opposite of the less empathic, less motivated, parasitic by nature “bottom feeder”.  Uck, you know those nasty catfish that lay on the bottom of the river, who eat any garbage that sinks to the bottom, who don’t bother with trying to find a better food source?  Yep, that’s a bottom feeder.  And for the sake of this conversation, I’m grateful that my therapist feels that I’m on the other end of the spectrum here.

Here’s what we do.  We are so naturally tuned into our worlds and all its nuances that we essentially “know” what family/animals/friends/plants need.  That makes us a kick-ass person to be around.  We’ve developed this finely tuned, sensitive radar built on extreme hypervigilence that we often can’t turn off.  We are masters at intuiting information and messages.  It’s like stuck on being the eternal and forever cheerleader.  Still rooting everyone on, celebrating all their accomplishments, looking for ways to promote and lift up EVERYONE else in our lives.  To a fault. Until it makes us sick.  Until we crash really, really hard.

And that brings me back to my opening statement.  I’m trying to break this crazy habit now that I’m aware of it.  Thank you Cathy for nailing me on this.

Again, it comes back to balance.  Be that cool intuitive friend but feed yourself breakfast first.  Yes, mother that poor rescue dog but remember to shower.  Cook a healthy meal for your family and friends but remember to make yourself a plate, sit down and eat it.  Understand and help people in your world with…. their health problems/oppressive bosses/poverty/animal cruelty issues/the environment/addictions/homelessness/social injustices but make sure you’re rested first.  And ultimately and most importantly, come to grips with this fact as soon as you possibly can: others WILL NOT necessarily respond as well as we do.  You will probably be the best friend or partner that you know unless you are friends with other sensitive people.  It’s a very bleak and discouraging fact that often results in an intense feeling of loneliness and isolation.  BUT knowing and ultimately accepting this truth can bring a lot of peace to a situation that can be repeatedly heart wrenching.  

Most likely, we won’t receive the kind of nurturing that we give out unless we give it to ourselves.  It doesn’t mean we can’t have it, it just means we need to look to ourselves for the biggest part of our care and recognize with compassion the limitations of others.  While it isn’t ideal, Cathy states, acceptance will ultimately bring more peace. And I believe she is spot on.

I’m creating the persona of a more balanced, “middle feeder” kind of gal.  Rested, zen, creative.  One that takes naps on most days. One that enjoys taking the much deserved time to write.  After all, I can’t imagine being an old, worn out cheerleader at 57 years of age.  What a hysterical image. Besides looking really funny in my faded skirt, the image doesn’t fit me anymore.  I’ve long since given up gyrations where I put myself last and others first. 

I’m laying these pom-pons down.

 

 


Why Too Many Flashbacks Might Be a Warning of Deeper Story Problems

Rescuing Little L:

I just enjoyed the heck out of this post.

It’s part stand-up comedy, enough vulnerability to make Brene Brown proud and teeming with great points about flashbacks.

Survivors live in the world of flashbacks. We experience them often in our day-to-day, hour-to-hour lives until our heads hit the pillow and then they often dominate our unconscious dream time.

What appeals to me here is that it gives us an element of control to our otherwise uncontrollable lives. Many of us owe our past a debt of gratitude for making us a fierce, strong warriors of the present. We’ve endured some major shit and can often yawn in the face of adversity as adults. But this gives us the tools to pull the meat of those experiences off the bone and finally end that pointless blabbering of our flashbacks.

Kudos to Kristen Lamb for this gem.
http://authorkristenlamb.com

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Image vis Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Yuya Sekiguchi.

Image vis Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Yuya Sekiguchi.

This week we have been discussing flashbacks. What are they? Why do readers, agents, editors generally want to stab them in the face? Is it truly a flashback or is the writer employing an unorthodox plotting structure (The Green Mile or The English Patient)? Shifting time IS a legitimate literary device, but like ALL literary devices, it has strengths and weaknesses.

Theme is wonderful. But if we lay it on too thick, we can turn off readers because our story comes across as preachy or lecturing. Symbolism? Love it! But overdo this and readers can get irritated. Can the drapes JUST BE BLUE? Deus ex machina IS a legitimate literary device. Feel free to use it. I wouldn’t recommend it, but knock yourself out.

As I like to say, Have fun storming the castle! *waves and grins*

Deus…

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Best Visual Description of What I Do

Originally posted on Ingrid Oliphant's UnCommon Touch:

This is the best graphic of what my world is like!  This is how my body feels almost all the time.  Especially my head, heart and hands.

That ‘connection’ outside the ball? That’s what happens when I work with people.

Pretty cool, eh?

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