Monthly Archives: July 2013

You don’t have to be battle ready: A conversation

LittleGirlSkippingI’m a huge proponent of counseling.  I’ve been in therapy most of my life and wished that my family had been too.  But I was the lone ranger who left the fold, got college educated and beyond and who dove into therapy, resurfacing periodically but always diving back for more.

I’ve had many therapists through the years, as my needs have changed, moving on when the time was right when I had learned as much as I could with a particular practitioner.  I’ve had some rotten ones too. Except now, they only get a session or two before I know its a bad fit. I’m sufficiently couch broken.

Right now, I’m in that sweet spot of a great fit.  A woman who is intuitive, approachable, caring and funny.  I have a great time in our sessions, laughing as much as I cry through my profound revelations.  She understands my extreme sensitivity to the world and has taught me skills to survive and thrive in that world based fully on who I am.  DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, is what I’m learning, with amazing results I might add.  

During this weeks session, we discuss mindfulness and the state of being present to which I tell her I’m doing just okay with the concept.  Not great but OK.  I’m not unique in possessing a brain that goes at warp speed.  My mind is whirring constantly; topics I want to write on, chores that need completion, causes that need my attention, a world that needs me to save it. And worst of all, I’m a ruminator.  I have to chew and chew on something, regurgitate it back up, poke at it and begin chewing on it some more.  And let me tell you, that is exhausting.  The tugging tendencies are so strong and constant even though my therapist has been teaching me to cultivate mindfulness and stillness for over a year now.  Understanding these concepts, I’m slowly gaining some control over my mind which is a really good thing.  I continue to practice it day by day, hour by hour.  

I’m explaining to Cathy that I need to make a plan for the rest of my summer.  I feel better with an agenda having given time and thought to my future needs.  I tell her how much more in control of my life I feel when I’ve explored my options, weighed them out and know what lies ahead.  She listens but quickly replies,  “You don’t have to be battle ready”.  

I pause for a moment, thinking I know what she’s said and go back to my diatribe of explaining my need for a plan.  She repeats herself, “You don’t have to be battle ready”.  Ok, now I need to stop and see what this “battle ready” thing is that she’s repeated to me twice.  I tell her to please explain that to me because I don’t see that an absence of a plan is good for me.  How could I function without it?

I tear up immediately and she gently explains that traumatized children learned survival by knowing their surroundings at all times.  Attempting to detect threats to their safety, they take their cues from the moods of others, the time of day, seasons of the year (fill in the blank here with your own).  These children don’t get to relax and trust how a safe world evolves, they must be hyper vigilant constantly to survive.

We have visited this topic often, its a big one for me.  My tendencies are still so strong to be alert to my surroundings and feel the need to exert that compulsion toward creating a predictably safe future agenda.  I’m a contantly-looking-over-your-shoulder ,waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop kind of person.  

I love that she is helping me deprogram.  She notices my behavior even when I’m arguing that I’m not exhibiting the behavior.  She is helping me notice and understand the neurological wiring that was changed long ago when I experienced long-term trauma.  The survival reflex learned in childhood is still alive and operating.  But as she continues, I don’t need it now.  I don’t have to be battle ready all the time.  I can relax and let my body relax.  

I love these words and this concept.  They feel soft and fuzzy.  It isn’t new to me but bears repeating often.  A new pattern must be developed in my thinking that relieves me of the knee jerk reaction to grab my sword from my sheath and be prepared for battle.  I’m so ready for a reprieve.  I think its why I started crying when she explained it again.  It’s like music to my ears to hear that I actually, finally, once and for all can put down my weapon and still feel safe.  

Suggested Reading: An Emotional Hair Trigger, Often Misread


the puddle of self love…

magicThere are so many wonderful concepts in Terri St. Cloud’s recent blog post, “real feel“.  I would strongly encourage you to take the time to visit her site, Bone Sigh Arts, and read the post on her reflections on self love.  Near the end of the blog post is one of my favorite parts where she says she wants to swim in the sea of love, but then realizes that she may in fact be more in the pond of love.  Ha, I loved that!

Its so easy to be vulnerable and open after reading Terri’s writing and art.  She’s a master at self reflection and being vulnerable.  Seriously, Brene Brown should be studying her!

Figuring that I have to start somewhere in the monumental task of unlearning unloving behaviors and learning to practice self love, I find myself more in the puddle of self love.  Not swimming in the sea of love, or being in Terri’s pond of love but a big puddle of love. Its an okay place to be and I’m happy here.  I’m splashing around, discovering what works and what doesn’t, clearing out the muck to see the treasures hidden deep in my puddle.

Following Terri’s lead of vulnerability and self disclosure, I will admit that I don’t take as good of care of myself as I could and certainly not as well as I care for my daughter, husband, pets, garden, friends, community, job etc.  And the answer to the why don’t I take better care of myself question is that I haven’t fully learned how to yet.

There is great comfort in seeing that I’ve taught my daughter how to love and accept herself.  I’ve been a consistent reminder to her (actually she sometimes compares me to an annoying gnat buzzing around) that she is a beautiful creature with extraordinary and unique gifts.  I see how she cares for herself and I feel great pride in that. But still it gets me wondering why I don’t practice it more with myself.

Actually, over the last 5-10 years but self care has increased exponentially. And like Terri, I’ve had so many, many moments where I didn’t know who I was, what kind of life I wanted, what sorts of books I enjoyed reading.  For myself, it comes from not only, lack of a role model but actual negative reinforcement to the concept of caring for one’s self.  Coming from a family that was bred on stoicism and weaned on martyrdom, I was taught and shown that life was a chore and one didn’t complain about it.  It was nose to the grindstone, don’t look up until you’re done, giving yourself a break was a sign of weakness kind of attitude.  Any peeks to the inside of ourselves could reveal our true selves which in my family, was the sworn enemy.  There was no telling where that kind of selfishness might lead you.

Geesh, so here I am.  Solo from my family, learning to splash in my puddle with my friends and acquaintances who believe in vulnerability, authenticity and the power of whole hearted love.  I like it here even though it still feels foreign.  Making major life changes do feel foreign for a while, until you reach a crossing over point where you look back and can’t believe that you ever lived as you did.  As I’m playing in my puddle, learning how I might swim in the pond of self love, I watch and model others who are practicing the same thing.  Some are in front of me, while some are behind me.  We are all learning at our own rates, blossoming in our own time.

I continue to thank everyone I’ve met along the journey who has challenged my old patterns of thinking and inspired me to adopt a more loving approach to myself.  I’m an eager student willing to learn.  I send gratitude to the universe for placing the perfect people and events in front of me.

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Tampons don’t kill people. Republicans do.

ComeandTakeIt-350x233Margaret and Helen impart so many smiles, laughs and wisdom that I felt it necessary to reblog their most recent post. Thank you ladies!

Margaret and Helen

Margaret, last night there was a rally at the Texas State Capitol to let Rick Perry and the Republican controlled House and Senate know that Texas women have had enough of this backward ass war on women. And do you know what those crazy asshats did? They confiscated everyone’s feminine hygiene napkins at the door. Now there is some good bullshit if you ask me.

As God as my witness, you could legally carry a concealed weapon into the Texas Capitol but you had to surrender your tampons. I can only assume the Texas legislators… I guess Rick Perry decided… The State Troopers.. You know what, Margaret? For the first time in my life I’m speechless. What in God’s name has gotten into these yahoos?

If Rick Perry, a C minus college student, can be trusted with making his own healthcare decisions, why the hell can’t my A+ college graduate…

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