It’s Story Time! “The Deer in the Road” Once upon a time a deer wandered out of the forest and onto a flat, stone-like piece of ground. It was night. A few clouds passed across the moon and the wind rustled the tufts of grass along the edge of the gravely surface. All was quiet…
Category Archives: cellular memory
It is a brave woman that can sit with her pain. Sometimes it seems as if that’s all I do. But I will trust you on this and feel the hope again.
*If you are sick and tired of hearing people tell you to “put the past behind you” or “get over it” or “move on with your life already”, I want to ensure you that this is not the message of this post.
Today, I had a small epiphany. I was thinking about what life would be like if I wasn’t sad, if I no longer carried the pain with me. In that moment, I felt a twinge of sadness about not being sad. I felt grief about living life without pain. I felt fearful about living with the faith necessary to open up my life. It was as if I might be saying goodbye to a long-term relationship, a dysfunctional relationship, but a relationship nonetheless.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the pain. I push through it. I will my way through life with gusto despite it. I want…
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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.
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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Somewhere around the end of last year, right around the holidays, the bottom fell out of my world. Emotionally, spiritually, physically. Actually, it had been falling out for over a year but the accumulated stress hadn’t taken its final blow.
It wasn’t the first time or the second but what felt like the hundredth, thousandth, millionth time. All my coping skills had been used over the last year surviving several huge hurdles and I now found myself with what felt like an empty bag of tricks.
The number of times I’ve bottomed out or the trauma of my childhood isn’t the point of this blog post, its about what I did in that situation. What I did was succumb. Psychically unplugged from life. Flat. out. gave. up. It had won. I just couldn’t pull myself up one more freakin’ time to stare down the demons again and again and again. Wouldn’t do it for my daughter, my husband and or for my dogs, which if you knew me is saying a lot.
After limping through the holidays on about 25% of myself, the final layer peeled off in early January and took my physical health with it. For months I was gone. Lost in that circular, downward spiraling, free falling haze. The demons recognized its frazzled, stressed out host with parasitic vigor. They seized that opportunity to invade my body with long buried memories of abuse and violence. They haunted my dreams, robbing me of much needed rest to heal and recover. They invaded and eroded my skin, giving me huge welts across the backs of my legs reminiscent of beatings with the belt. My skin itched and burned at the slightest touch, wearing clothes or any contact with a piece of furniture was a challenge. I lost the ability to be comfortable in my own skin. I had no where to go.
But mostly, they intruded upon my feminine parts with a vengeance. The little girl parts that took the abuse, tried to adapt and scar over, the parts that became swollen almost beyond recognition, the parts that tried and tried to stretch but couldn’t….eventually giving way to rips and shreds. Those parts were the target again. What the little child couldn’t tolerate at that time, she buried deep and then systematically began to hand back to the adult woman in bits and pieces over the years. Somewhere in our collective unconscious, we must have bargained. I must have made a deal with her that if she survived the early trauma through whatever means she needed to, then I, the adult, would deal with the suppressed memories and physical sensations later.
And that is what happened. For weeks turned into months, I rode the edge of the razor’s split. Burning, stabbing, swelling, searing pain. Urinary, vaginal, rectal. My every orifice that was violated contained sensations that rose to the surface. Over and over and over and over. The cascade of symptoms was never ending. Urinary swelling turned into infection which spread to my bladder and kidneys. More crying and screaming than my husband could handle.
Eventually by late Feb, the symptoms began to subside a bit thanks to Marilyn and Betsy, two women energy healers who encouraged and tolerated appointments with me; half dressed in nightshirts due to my sensitive skin and sporting ice packs for my swollen parts. Week after week, they lovingly helped me on the table and began to spin their healing magic. We began to make progress that continues at this writing.
That’s the backstory, here’s the point.
What it takes to get writing…. again….is LOVE. Four women emerged as a cosmic lifeline who carrying me out of the physical and emotional pain. Four women who I’d come to know online but never met, shared many conversations with over the years, created a small online support group for me. Just for me. Each day and often several times a day, I’d come to the group page to see beautiful images, unfailing words of support and love as well as space just to let me be. It was beautiful. I nicknamed them the “Fabulous Four” because I’m not sure I would have emerged from those dark depths without having these angels to carry me. And I’m coming up short with words to describe how it feels to be loved and cared for with this level of compassion, especially when one isn’t familiar with that level of support. Again, it was just beautiful.
As I plunged to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, my writing and words died. It was impossible to write, think straight of have any type of creativity when coping with issues of basic survival such as pain. The bottom and largest portion of Maslow’s pyramid describes needs such as breathing, food, water, sleep. He suggests that one must be secure in the basic needs before being able to move up the hierarchy. Creativity is characteristic of the very tip-top of the pyramid and during this health crisis, far beyond my reach.
So, this is my debut….again. I have scaled the pyramid with the LOVE and support of four extraordinary women as well as my energy practitioners. My words are coming back as the crisis fades. I see hope again and crave being present on this blog and with my sojourners in healing. I’m confident that many more layers of the health crisis will be revealed when the time is right. As the accompanying image depicts, not only have I been lifted from the level of most basic needs, I’ve been infused with the energy of a Goddess-Priestess-Warrior vibe. The power of our hearts beating in unison, multiplied. I stand at the top of the pyramid with my arms wide open. I feel my power again.
Photo credit, used with permission from Sarah Durham Wilson, DOITGIRL .
this is where i sit tonight….eyes down, no one daring to look….
Shhh, don’t tell
don’t let on
that you’re in hell
Your lips are pursed
don’t tell the doctor
or the nurse
What lurks within
can’t be without
masked by a grin
and bear it
So well hidden
the mortal sin
guilt well ridden
(Angels don’t sing)
The mask of norm
slips on by
distorts the form
stiff upper lip
Word to the wise
of your eyes
no voice can call
© Eyes Down 07.03.2013
by Alexandra Carr-Malcolm
Broken Reflection (Photo credit: shinealight)
No graphic, triggering details. Just the facts.
Haven’t slept well in days, watched the clock go from 2 am to 3 am to 4 am….Tons of body sensations on my skin, in my brain. I’ve gnawed at my fingernails and took my anxiety meds. Practiced DBT and trauma release exercises. I’ve been through this enough now to know what is happening and how it will play itself out. I’ve identified it, named it and tackled it.
In other words, I’ve got this covered. I have tools and support. The memory still came in my sleep disguised as a writhing rattlesnake in my mouth. That’s what I woke up to was the feeling of it in my mouth and that’s what I’ve spent the day shaking off. Doesn’t take an expert in dream interpretation to figure out this awful phallic metaphor.
But you know what? Its okay. Today, I can hold onto my soul and refuse to let you have it. I’m gonna kick the demon in the ass today and let it know who is really the boss around here.
I’m the alpha bitch and that’s just the way it is.
Too often, I write with frustration and angst of not being able to do something. Either I can’t write an outline, function as a “normal” person, protect my ultra sensitive self from the world or in the case of today, I’m struggling with my writing voice.
It isn’t frustration that I feel today, its more raw. The tenderness that precedes healing. There’s a hint of cohesion and acceptance. I continue to look at the work that I’m doing with Warner Coaching and my first instinct is to beat my head against the same wall that I’ve beaten a rut into my entire life. I don’t want to do that now and I’m sure she doesn’t want me to either.
Here’s my question that I’m pondering and hopefully, re-outlining and writing upon. How do we access and write about memories so cellular that you experienced as a small pre-verbal child? They are there but yet they aren’t. How do we assign words and streams of sentences to an experience at a time when the child didn’t have words? There are fragments. Shattered, shards of splintering pictures that I, as an adult, must name and tell. The abused, disassociated child must come together enough to write her story. The process of sweeping those fragments out from under the rug, identifying and cataloging them is proving to be tougher than I ever imagined.
I’m painstakingly applying glue to delicate, tiny pieces of psyche. I keep telling myself not to rush it for I want to slap the glue on and hold up my prize proclaiming it as my finished art. But the glue isn’t dry yet and all the pieces aren’t in place.
My Novel Writing Winter may have evolved into more of a journey into my core viscera. “Remembering is not something we do alone….. negotiating an account of the past is a fraught, dangerous process. Memories can be weapons as well as instruments of persuasion. And memory has only a part-time interest in the truth. It deals in scenarios, real ones and imagined ones, making and remaking the self from the partial, damaged information available” from Creative Memories in Harold Pinter’s Old Times by Charles Fernyhough.
So its acceptance that I must practice. Radical acceptance. My story will happen and in its own time. I’m stretching myself in an unchartered direction. I’m learning and rebuilding from the ground floor up, setting a pace for myself that I’ve never reached for before. Marsha Linehan, DBT creator, defines radical acceptance, “As a practice, acceptance is highly important in working with impulsive, highly sensitive, and reactive clients. Validation is an active acknowledgement, often offered as an antithesis or synthesis to a distorted expectation or belief. It jumps the tracks of demand, soothing or defusing the emotional arousal associated with failure, feat, shame, unreasonably blocked goals, or a variety of other stimuli.”
I reach for the loving support of my family, friends, writing coach and virtual writing pals. These gifts combined with prayer will suffice for the day. Soon I will know what to do and how to proceed.
The first being that my body had to remember. It gave me the challenging gift of tangible form to my mental illness carried around for my entire 45 years. At the time I might have been very reluctant to admit that this was a good thing but in retrospect, it was the essential plunge that one has to take to rise up as someone different. These transitions have come to many of us played out in different ways but with the same theme of rebirth.
After weathering the body memories and night terrors where the stories began to unfurl, I began writing. It seemed high time to take this swirling mess from my psyche and put them into another tangible form…words. Decades of rage poured out of me in scratchy, erratic phrases. I cried and raged with my paper and pen, determined to purge myself of its hold on me. I found an image of what I thought this child looked like and began to make her real. Not that she wasn’t real all along, but she’d been buried and oppressed in an effort to go through life until she crashed so hard, taking my body with her and demanding that I finally pay attention and put her first.
So I did.
I began putting these writings into a blog that I secretly and lovingly created for her. It was a place that I could actually go to, turn on the computer and look at her words and manifestations. It became intoxicating. The freedom of releasing this pain is one that only a survivor of trauma of any form can understand. Being let out of prison. Feeling safety in one’s home and skin. The sweet joy of letting go, little by little, word by word.
Soon after this, I had the divine blessing of finding a forum set up by a woman artist, Terri at Bone Sigh Arts, who had the incredible perceptive foresight to provide a place for women, survivors and otherwise, to place their thoughts. An inclusive haven, without judgement for those of us who are the smallest and the most timid, to peek out and see if the world was really a place that we could trust. A place that wanted to see us as we really were: fragile, sensitive, creative, wounded. I lurked, I read their posts, I watched as they supported others in their healing. And when I finally came out, it was here that a group of incredible women gathered around me and loved me so unconditionally that I finally found the nerve to push the “publish” button on my blog. After praying, smudging and turning it over to God and a higher power, I screamed and hit the button. Frozen for several days, not going near the computer or the blog for fear that I might have made a horrible mistake, that I would be found out and ostracized from my newfound circle of friends for being…..me.
Well, we all know that didn’t happen.
Instead and of course, I was flooded with well wishes and support, praise for my courage and for my writing.
But that was enough for me to forge ahead.
So I’ve been happily blogging for a year now. I’ve met dozens upon dozens of incredible virtual friends who have lovingly supported me as I dip in and out of depression and mental illness. I can readily admit that now. Its who I am and have accepted and even revered myself for the warrioress that I am to have thrived in spite of horrendous circumstances. Some of these women share many of my characteristics and talents, others have very different gifts to offer, all are treasured friends. And yes, I do call them friends even though we’ve never met. We have, however, shared many challenges of joy and sorrow over the last year and what we lack in physical face to face contact, we make up with in genuine concern for each other, our families, our communities. Holding hands with each other, we watch the full moon together from all parts of the world, share our gardens and grieve the loss of our beloved ones.
Although quite content with this arrangement, I was given a unique opportunity to meet a fellow writer, survivor and hopefully, a new friend in real person. Several weeks ago, a trusted friend gave me a book written by a male survivor of horrific child abuse. She stated simply and knowingly that this book would be similar to the one that I would write. She’s always believed in me like that. I devoured his story, the pain and the triumph, in one afternoon and began the process of locating his website and facebook information. Within days, we were friends and this weekend, I attending his book signing. How incredible that this man brought to me actually lives in my neck of the woods.
Keith Hoerner, author of “Missing the Mark: A Target Child Speaks” signed my copy and became my first real live human writer~survivor friend. I’ve officially gotten to the next level of creating the person I want to be. We connected and recognized each other immediately like dogs to their pack. I hope that we have many sessions over coffee, discussing writing for healing, trauma recovery and all associated topics. I look forward to that. And I hope that his book makes its way into the hands of anyone that has experienced childhood abuse of any form.
I feel absolutely giddy….and am wondering what’s next?
so tiny and little the smallest of small barely a faint beat of a heart almost non existent, trying not to be too small to know how to stop her life mustn't make noise shhhh stay still, stay frozen don't need anything, anything at all she tries not to breathe or take up air barely tolerated when invisible loathed when seen she won't eat for fear of prolonging her life they tell her not to feel, cry, be she mustn't ask for anything kill her hearts desire for love she aches for comfort, people, laughter, relief but knows she isn't one of God's children deserving of these gifts she feels the tears but won't allow them to come they are not acceptable feelings show her humanness she despises her feelings they are wrong, always wrong shamed and beaten for them she hates herself more its better this way must remain frozen to keep the pain at bay her skin screams for sensation she won't give in cutting, slicing would allow her to feel thrusting her again to the place where she is hated turning to her refuge, she rolls into a ball and slips toward sleep her respite wanting the angels to visit her in the solitude of sleep praying the angels see her begging them to take her home