Category Archives: DBT

my spa day at the psych hospital

imagesIt’s been over a month since I made the pilgrimage to the psych hospital for an evaluation.  My emotions have settled down a bit and I’ve had contact with all the practitioners in my life who require a visit after such an incident.  I’m also able to write about it with a caustic and a wise ass dark humor that I lacked in previous weeks.  I suppose on this matter too, I’ve found my voice.  I should know by now that given enough time and perspective, I usually do find my voice.

The prompting incident was another perfect storm containing all the ingredients for me to “drop my basket”.  In Rebecca WellsDivine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Vivian Abbott Walker has a breakdown and is hospitalized in some asylum for months.  She won’t discuss the issue for a long time but eventually coins a phrase to describe her mental collapse where she hallucinated, beat her children all the while forgetting how to chew food and pee in the toilet.  Months later, she finally confides and describes to her Ya-Ya’s how she “dropped her basket”.  In the absence of a better term, I’m going to borrow hers.

In a 6-day rampage of unmanageable BPD symptoms, gross lack of familial support and triggers out the whazoo, I finally consent to let a friend drive me to one of several major hospitals in St. Louis for an evaluation.  I had nothing to lose.  I had been crying for days, couldn’t remember when I’d eaten last, only slept because of the inordinate amount of anxiety medication combined with several other chasers of alcohol, Vicodin and Benedryl.  It was a sure-fire combination to collapse into something resembling sleep but a losing combination in terms of maintaining equilibrium and optimal functioning of the body.  Unconsciousness is the desired state for me when I’m so grossly triggered finding my reality irretrievable. No matter how many DBT skills, prayers, affirmations, walks in the woods, music and every other distraction skill I applied, nothing was working.  I was scared shitless and needed a person.  A real, live, breathing person to sit with me while I piggybacked off of their energy and found my center once again.  And to make matters worse, I had been left alone for 5 days, scorned for the burdensome person that I was which was the tipping point to my basket drop.

This is the truly horrible part about Borderline Personality Disorder, which I probably have as a result of early onset trauma.  It forever changes how our brains work and makes us a scary group of people to be around causing this paradoxical conundrum where even though your loved ones don’t want to hold onto your psyche at this particular moment, its about the only thing that actually works for me.  The DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric Association classifies BPD with a list of symptoms that the candidate will have at least 5 of the 9 listed.  And even though, there were many symptoms, BPD related or not, swirling around in this muck of 6 days, it was one in particular that probably defines most of my issue of that time.  #1 on the list is “frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment”.  Yes, my efforts were frantic.  I called pretty much everyone I knew in person as well as sought out online friends and even a guy standing outside the convenience store smoking in an effort to make some physical, face to face contact with someone.  Pretty pitiful, huh?  And yes, my abandonment was real AND imagined, I had both to contend with.  And damn, I didn’t do well and definitely “dropped my basket”.

Enter Cindy and Kathy, my two saviors of the weekend.  They sat with me one night until I felt well enough to be in my house alone.  They brought food and conversation and did a fabulous job of distracting me, giving me some solid ground to stand on.  That lasted one day before I was back in the muck; crying, not eating, mixing meds and smoking cigarettes, a habit given up over a decade ago.  When, in 3 more days, I still hadn’t emerged whole, it was Cindy who declared it time to go for an evaluation.  I didn’t argue, just packed a bag and grabbed my insurance card and off we went to the psych unit of her choice.  Now, it sounds like I’m gonna start doggin’ on the state of psychiatric options and hospitals in general, which I’m not.  For at this particular moment, I was damn grateful that I lived in a city where I had an actual choice of which one to go to and that I had insurance to get in the door.  There were certainly patients in the waiting room who didn’t possess the golden ticket of primo insurance that I had, which made me cry even harder.

I was led down and around several corridors which I realize later put me way in the back of the ward in some sort of lockdown room.  I was asked to undress into paper scrubs which is a far cry from the old paper gowns that didn’t close in back.  My clothes were taken from me and within minutes a team of interns with a doctor arrived in a hysterical entourage of tall, rolling, podium like things with computers mounted on top.  When they were speaking to me, all I could see was the back of the screen, not their faces, which made them look like a team of rectangled shaped droids with lab coats and feet.  I found this really amusing and wondered if this would qualify as real or imagined abandonment.  Let’s just say, given the situation, a friendly pat on the arm or some eye contact would have gone a long way.  After giving them all their pertinent information, I was then left alone and I mean left alone.  I didn’t see anyone for hours until I peeked out and told the nurse that finally looked up from her desk computer screen (Is there a theme here?) that I had to go to the bathroom, could she point the way?  She promptly walked me back into the room and opened a low set of cabinet doors which popped out a toilet seat.  She assured me that it was much more convenient for me to pee in this little toilet in the wall than to have to go down the hall but I knew better.  This was the upscale version of a jail cell.  My bladder and I made peace with our given situation as I didn’t feel that as I was shoeless and in paper scrubs in a lockdown room, that it just wasn’t a good time to fuss.  I settled onto the exam table, curled in a semi-fetal position, pulled out my iPod from my purse (which by the way, still was in my possession and contained several prescribed controlled substances) and began to listen to my relaxation tapes.  More hours went by but again, I had my entertainment and a potty, so I was pretty good.  The nurse had given me a cup of water and a few graham crackers from her stash of snacks.  Plus I’d seen a few people who seemed relatively caring and I felt a sense of relief that if nothing else, I was among people.

Then, whack.  As I’m achieving a blissful state of relaxation and calm, thanks to the tools I brought instead of what was offered, the door slams open with the salty, seasoned veteran of the social work brigade.  Now again, you think I’m gonna complain about her but I rather liked her.  She took one look at my iPod declaring it a weapon of mass destruction and exclaiming how I could hurt myself with that.  She took it really well when I told her if I wanted to do that, I would have done it in the three hours prior.  Out she went to scold the graham cracker nurse then charged back in with her exasperated intern following behind.  “Are you suicidal?”, she asked.  “No, I’m Laurel”, I replied as I extended my hand to shake hers.  This didn’t faze her as she went on to rapid-fire questions faster than the intern could write them down.  The poor thing didn’t have a robotic scooting computer podium, so I slowed my answers down to accommodate her pace.  No, I didn’t harm or cut myself.  No, I haven’t harmed anyone else.  No, I don’t abuse alcohol or drugs.  She proclaimed me fit to go home unless I opted to stay for the accommodations of graham crackers,  tap water and the potty in the wall.  I declined and called another friend to please come get me.

Another hour later, I was given my iPod, my clothing including my bra which apparently posed a huge threat of strangulation to me here in the hospital.  I will have to draw some stern boundaries with that brassiere when I get home to never threaten me like that again.  The nurse presented me with my bill for the day and asked how I wanted to pay.  I told her that in my despair and turmoil, I hadn’t even considered that to which she replied that I could mail it back with payment.  A hundred dollar day that could have been spent at the day spa with seemingly better results.  I’m thinking a massage and a pedicure.

Again, I will practice gratitude that a clean, well staffed, teaching hospital was available to me.  If I was more chronic, the doctor explained, this might be the place for me.  Since I’m fairly functional with an acute crisis, under the care of a psychiatrist and therapist, there aren’t services there for me.  In other words, there isn’t a place for those of us in between.  One must be out of control, harming themselves or others and pose a huge threat to society before the psych hospital is the place to be.  OK, now I know that.  But I still wonder where then, does one like me go?  Where is the tribe of caring people who will help soothe the ravaged soul, bring tea and sing and rock me until my jangled self comes together.  Shouldn’t there be such a place?  I rely so heavily on myself for self nurturing and awareness but accepting my circumstances and limitations prompts me to always have a Plan B.  I’ll keep looking, it has to be out there somewhere.  At least, I know now where it isn’t.

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gonna kick the demon in the ass today….

4006206a3e604e4d8860122730daf432Unlike my usual self, this will be short and to the point.

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.


my shattered voice mends slowly….

21bb59a4c8d0d5e07fe1d9b2cfe2d516I’m keeping this short today.

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.

Suggested reading:

Cast Ashore http://throughthehealinglens.com/2013/01/24/cast-ashore/

 


More than 5 things to do if you’re gonna be a writer….

Thank youSeveral years ago, while in the shower I had the compelling epiphany to write a memoir.  A book based on my life’s story; the traumas, the journey, the healing.   I would lay out a quilt, steep some tea and write myself whole again.  Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it?

That epiphany took form slowly by becoming a few stories, then a blog, followed by a few timid submissions and a Facebook page.  I’ve lovingly cared and developed my craft by doing things like learning what the heck it means to increase your social media presence and tackling Twitter.

Well, today I just want to scream.  No beauty here!  What the hell was I thinking when I started a monumental project like writing a book?  Really, my life story?  What do I know about writing and publishing?  Actually, more than I think when I finally simmer down and let this pass.

Here’s my not so tidy list of things that have done to help move this project along…

  1.  Realize that any movement is good.  Taking a formless idea and transforming it into a tangible, readable book or story is a huge undertaking that needs to be done in small manageable steps.  The more support you have for this, the better.
  2. Read.  Especially authors whose stories resonate with your story and even more so, the authors whose framework and storylines appeal to you.
  3. Do something to identify yourself as a writer.  I made a Facebook page, joined the National Association of Memoir Writers and She Writes.  All of these actions add energy and identification to your role as a writer and author.
  4. If you don’t have any formal training in writing, that’s okay.  Teach yourself.  We live in the information age graced with the internet and libraries for information we need to hold in our hands.  Use both extensively.
  5. Make the time to write.  Find the time to write.  Tell your family to make dinner.  Leave your phone off.  Write seemingly meaningless stuff or post on other people’s blog but keep the flow going.   This is exactly what I’m doing at this particular moment because I can’t seem to write on my book so I’m thrusting my frustrations out on this blog post.
  6. Align yourself with virtual writing projects like NaNoWriMo and Novel Writing Winter.  These keep you in touch with others who are waging The War of Art.
  7. Give yourself permission to scream.  Its cathartic but make sure you don’t scare the children or the dogs.

These last weeks have really sucked.  I don’t feel my creative flow and my muse has headed for the hills. I lost several days to a sick dog and ultimately a dog that passed away.  Everyone should be given numerous sick days for when you lose a beloved animal friend.

My therapist lost her father so there’s no group this week.   I gave her my condolesences and hid my neediness for wishing I could be with my pals tonight.  A friend lost her father so there’s more casseroles to make and more stuff eating my time from my book.  My husband had to leave town for work and I needed to stay behind with the sick dog.

Things happen.  Schedules change.  People and animals die.  Support isn’t there like you had planned.

Big deal….go scream, get the chocolate then sit down and write.


pushing through

Heartbreak changes peopleAlthough I’m borrowing this phrase from a fellow blogger, I’m going to let her story speak for me today.  How long have I just been pushing through?  A day, a month, a year?

Over a year ago, I lost a situation that was pure joy for me.  I lost it due to my emotion regulation problems that are a result of abuse.  My lifeline of joy that fed and distracted me from the pain is gone.  I’ve not been successful at replacing it yet although I do try each day.  I push through.  Just like my friend  A Heart of One does in her blog post.  The particulars of her life are a bit different yet the result is the same.  Our hearts are broken and we just don’t know how to fix them.  That’s all there is everyday….heartbreak….

     All of my life, I’ve been pushing through…pain, grieve, exhaustion, lack of supports.  I’ve made it work, kept going.  Do or die.  If I felt myself getting sick, I’d will myself to not be sick, keep going, don’t have time to be sick, take a rest, stay home, do nothing.

     I tried to push through today, still want to on some level.  I tapped into a painful memory last night.  Curled into a ball, on my side, clenching my bottom, mouth shaped into a scream, eyes wide, head jerking back, shaking all over, then crying.  Me, but not me.  A past me.  In pain, terrified.   He did not care about pain he caused or the fear that I felt.  It was a moment of complete horror.  I lived it and lived through it again.

Full article at http://aheartofone.blogspot.com/2013/01/pushing-through.html


“In a gentle way, you can shake the world”

glowing heartThis evening I read Mahatma Ghandi’s quote shared by one of the groups that I follow online, Sacred Circle Retreats.  The quote is simply this, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world”.  Simple. Effective. True.

Also, this particular evening, I’m sitting with feelings of guilt and remorse, which are unbelievably heavy by the way, about hurting someone very dear to me.  My daughter, my baby.  Its an old feeling that you don’t know existed until one develops a conscious and realizes that we have the capacity to harm as much as we do to heal.  I figure that around mid-childhood sounds about right, where we know that being unkind doesn’t feel good and we set out to be better next time.

I know as a parent I certainly strive for that goal of doing better next time.  And although this issue comes up in other relationships of wife, nurse, community person, its the role of mother that I find it the hardest to tolerate errors in my humanness.  Is it because we created this being and feel so damned responsible for everything that happens to them?  Every piece of food must be pure and organic, every morsel of information needs to be nurturing and informational, each experience should enhance their beings and bring them closer to enlightenment?  Sure, why not?

Except that for someone like me, that kind of thinking is a recipe for destruction.  I could take the concept of child rearing, among others,  to its absolute extreme and be off the charts in my desire to be not just good but perfect. With a capital P.  PERFECT.

Its an illustration and symptom of a person with emotion regulation issues that we don’t tend to do anything on middle ground.  We are out there at the fringes.  This obviously requires close monitoring and loving care especially during stressful times.  A time when I’ve hurt someone and have the tendency to lose myself in guilt.  Being sensitive sucks during times like this.

As I read the quote, knowing that Ghandi meant something entirely different, I stick on the words “gently” and realize for the millionth time that we must tread lightly on each other and the world.  Slowly, I reel myself in and promise an awareness to be gentle in any way that I impact her world.  I remind myself AGAIN how words and actions can wound and I charge myself guilty of being flawed and human.  Please let me use this blog post as my confessional tonight as I purge some emotion. I can’t get this off of me fast enough.

I find that its a perfect time to practice the DBT skills I’ve learned over the years to offer myself compassion as well as the person I’ve harmed.   Today this issue is manageable whereas it wouldn’t have been before.  So maybe I have learned something along the way and perhaps I really am honoring my notion of doing better the next time.

At least I know that self forgiveness instead of self flagellation feels a whole lot better….and gentler.


I’m the dissenter….

Recently I read a conversation on Facebook where a friend was crying out in pain due to her family shunning her.  Her pleas were confused, angry, sad. By her standards,  she’d been loyal and loving in her gestures toward her family over the years but they had chosen to ostracize her for reasons that they wouldn’t share with her. This challenged many feelings inside her.  She questioned her reasons for staying true to herself, thinking maybe she should have been softer with them, perhaps even more enabling.  Many times she’d reached out attempting to find a common ground with them, something to build a new foundation upon, to no avail. But the bottom line of her pain was that she missed them.  Terribly.  Her emotional loss visits her often.  And I felt her pain even from where I was sitting 1000 miles away.

If you change out the players and setting, you have my exact family situation.  Since my friend and I feel many of the same feelings towards ourselves and our families is probably why we’ve stayed close.   It’s also why this post struck so deeply.

As hard as I try to maintain contact with my family, they just aren’t motivated to return my gestures.  As I’ve grown and learned more about myself, I’ve been able to temper my anger toward our abusive upbringing that we all were subject to.  I, above anyone else, know the deep wounds etched in our young psyches.  I guess I always figured that this fact would make me safe to them.  I understood. I got it.  I was one of them.  Yet somehow, sitting in one of my many therapist’s offices over the years, I convinced myself that if I healed, worked hard, found the solutions for us and held up the light of illumination that they would somehow follow me along that hallowed and healing path.  My fractured reasoning combined with a dogged and desperate approach to enforce my fractured reasoning would result in many, many failed attempts and lots of heartache.

For a while, I was just plain pissed.  After all, I was one of them, how could they turn their backs on me?  I had gone through divorce from an abusive partner, poverty that left me selling my possessions including my car, a child to care for and a tender spirit that had given so much that she’d lost herself completely.  They turned their heads, they wanted nothing to do with me.  When the anger began to wain, the depression ensued, medications were taken, anxiety filled my days with my child.

This was a painful, painful time and the healing took the form of one minute after another, one hour, then one day.  My trust eventually extended to several women friends who gradually over time replaced my family of origin.  We created our own family gatherings, raised our children and moved on piece by piece.  But this was hard, hard work.  And dammit…I didn’t want a replacement for my sisters, nieces and cousins, I wanted THEM.  They were the ones that my heart stayed attached to, they were the ones whose blood my body recognized simply by standing close by or thinking of them.  What I realized is that there aren’t enough curse words, things to be broken or tears to be shed that will make another person return to you if they don’t want to or simply can’t.  And it was in this last phrase that I finally took another step toward healing.

My family can’t be around me.  They just can’t.  And they don’t.

I don’t exactly know why or do I have any explanations as to my conclusion but have had many possibilities given to me by loving friends, sponsors and therapists.  One thought is that I am the one person in the family that left.  I am the dissenter.  Like the little girl in the photograph, she’s the one who is standing up, preparing to separate herself from the circle.

In their eyes, I chose to honor myself, putting my individual needs over the group’s needs, get the hell out making sure that my life and my daughter’s life would never reflect that stagnant, cesspool upbringing that I had.  I had left the cult and the cult like thinking that defined us. Following this line of thinking, my family then shunned me as a religious community might shun those who no longer follow the thinking of the group.  So maybe, we were really just simply a sociological~philosophical~anthropological~spiritual textbook example? That’s the cunundrum, its all of these truths but  it. is. not. simple.  Have I overthought and personalized a situation that perhaps historically has happened throughout time?  Believing I was not unique actually made me feel a bit better.

I search for reasons behind the fact that they can’t be around me.  My friend and Inner Bonding facilitator, simply states that they are too wounded.  Their inner child feels too wounded to be able to give any love back to me at this point and maybe never.  But what does that mean for me?  That I never know them again?  That years go by and people die and new babies are born and the children get married and I’m never, ever a part of this?  I was wounded too but found a way to free myself, why can’t they step up and do the same?  We could lift each other up instead of giving up and staying so stuck, perpetuating the same cycles over and over.  They have the same ability that I did to throw off the blinders and go out into the world and experience other ways of life outside the cult commune.  Wow, look who just showed up!  The angry cheerleader strikes again!  I want to inspire them with my chosen set of values, yet when they don’t respond, I’m pissed.  Hmmm…..

Actually, I’m hurt and sad.  I miss them and I want them whole and happy.  I want to see their children and have them know my daughter.  Then, I’d like to throw in a family reunion where we all have T-shirts printed the same, with a rainbow overhead, while we frolic the day away proclaiming our undying familial love for each other.  Insert my family as interesting, well read, politically moderate and non-racist individuals who love themselves and perform altruistic work for a living preferably with an environmental flair.  And you can see where this goes….off into fantasy land. But since this is reality and the previous scenario is not going to happen, I learn there is absolutely nothing to do about it.  Except to pray for their peace.  And well, there is that acceptance part.

Using my best  DBT (Dialectal Behavior Therapy) skills, I stay as centered as I can and allow the feelings to wash over me.  My mantra being that I must accept myself and my family for who they are and what they can give.  Just accept….with compassion….the place where we are at this given moment.  Send them love.  Send me love.  Breathe.

My niece responds via text  “damn, I miss you”.  She has read the quarterly upbeat newsletter type thing that I do.  Actually she confesses that she received it a week before but looked at it with dread for days before opening and reading it.  That puzzles me but I let it go.  My newsletter is similar to what families send out around the holidays, updating family and friends that they don’t see in person throughout the year.  I’ve chosen this method of communication by default.  Since we don’t have family reunions or holidays together or even Facebook connections, it is my safest, best and most creative way to stay in touch.  The subjects are benign and safe.  This issue was about the dogs in our lives.

Here’s the other thoughts that I try to release from my heart….How can you miss someone and let that be the overriding feeling?  As in, I miss you so much but will do absolutely nothing about it.  I will simply choose to sit here and miss you and deny myself the experience of trying to work things out or even let myself think that I deserve a chance at happiness?  I’m going to tell you just enough to let you know I still think of you,  making the move to reach out and give you a quick, elusive, snippet of love and then yank it back so fast that you won’t even really know it was there.  An illusion, a wisp, a fantasy that can be denied.

I mailed out 12 of my newsletters to my family a month ago and to date, I’ve received one text of  “damn, i miss you”.

Breathe.  Breathe.  Give yourself love and compassion and then extend it to them.

Related articles:

6 Steps of Inner Bonding

Dr. Margaret Paul,  Do you chase when someone withdraws?


the shadows behind my eyes….

these types of posts are the most demanding of any type of healing writing that i do.

these posts take me often to a place i don’t wish to go but am compelled by my body and unconscious to please visit, please get to know me, don’t be so afraid.  i’m trying to understand and dissect a part of myself that i barely know exists.  its existence revealed in the last 5-8 years in a hellish, tsunami wave that engulfed me, holding me under, no matter how hard i fought until i could barely breathe.  i was let up for a frantic gulp of air then plunged back under, over and over and over.

as much as i fight it, as much as i wish it wasn’t true, it is.  there is a part of me that lurks in shadows behind my eyes.  i feel it now although i didn’t feel it earlier in life.  it was there but i was: busy, in denial, ignorant, driven to keep going in order to outrun the demon.  back there somewhere it lives in the dark, giving a sensation occasionally so i don’t forget it.

to understand it, i must first sit with it.

we take the absolute and almost exhaustive measures for safety before i will begin to take a look at the shadows.  the doors of the house are locked, drapes drawn.  i’m sequestered to my bedroom atop several comforters, propped by pillows in strategic places to give the feeling of support and presence.  all facets must be respected.  earplugs in place and all people and dogs are on another floor of the house.  finally i feel able to look.  finally i feel safe enough to look.

there are facts by the millions stored in my unconscious.  there in those shadows are factual accounts of all the incidents that were put upon me as a child.  every man who molested me.  every man who lied to me and said we were playing a game.  every screaming instinct i had that something was very, very wrong. every adult who looked the other way.  its all there; stored, sealed, double wrapped, sunk to the bottom of the sea.  turned into shadows with a protective coating as thick as the July humidity.

but with any old wound, aged with gummy tape cracked and barely holding it together, one must remove the layers so very gently.  if one rips too fast, you will lose the integrity of the item, a scab getting ripped off too soon.

my eyes send me messages constantly.  there are tears that live behind them, ready to flow at the slightest provocation.  tender eyes that feel everything.  every injustice and societal hurt causes screaming pain.  the images of life too strong to be uncensored, they must be limited to those that nourish, ones that will heal the wounds.  my eyes spoke to me this week by dilating one pupil more than the other.  i feel it coming on, vision goes blurry on one side, the heaviness creeps in cause it to droop, tears flow in that eye only.

the AMA calls it Horner’s Syndrome because they like to study and describe situations.  they feel relief once its labeled but i don’t.  a name doesn’t provide relief.  it is neurological in nature and there are no actions to take to manage it.  i don’t go for their opinion after the first time it happened, now i just sit with it, because they can only help with the physical attributes of what these shadows manifest.  but its the emotional component is the key.  and that i figured out myself.

other messages come in a flip of a switch.  the light could stream across my field of vision in just the right way to access a memory.  a harsh tone or aggressive move by a person can send me sailing.  the oppressiveness of the summer heat can wrap itself around me so tight i fight for a breath….

i can best access the feelings from the shadows when the other senses are dulled.  sitting in silence with my ears plugged and my skin covered and unavailable,  my typing fingers will speak for me if i keep my eyes closed.  all outside stimuli must be stopped, the layers of protection increased to the maximum.  i remind myself to breathe and stop tensing my shoulders, its okay, its okay, breathe.  my eyes fly open at even the slightest muffled sound and i jerk to attention.  hyper vigilance doesn’t even touch the acuteness of this feeling.  its ingrained to every cell of my being, it has its own pull, a mind of its own.  it does what it wants and it wants to be crazy, OCD, and alert all the time.

but here’s the interesting thing….once i obtain the quiet and tune into the vibration of what is back in those shadows, it usually is fine.  in fact, i can’t think of a time when it wasn’t.  so i don’t know why i don’t go there more often because the actual act of ignoring this vital, motherboard of traumatic information causes so much distress.  my hope is that the more i sit with this, the more the shadows and i will integrate.

my husband says i have such a Stephen King morose streak to me, that i love the dark side and should just embrace it.  i argue that folks don’t want to hear about the dark, that most want to hear perky shit.  i do know that i continue with one mission and that is to shed as much light on PTSD, sexual assault and child abuse, mental illness, BPD.  the victims of these conditions have to cope daily with the ugliness of the situation put upon them and probably don’t even know what is happening and why they feel so miserable and unhappy.  my hope is that someone, somewhere will see themselves in the descriptions and know that they aren’t alone, that there is hope and that life can still have meaning even with these conditions present.

this alone continues to drive me to look as lovingly as i can at the shadows and am determined to make friends with it.  its really just part of me, just speaking a different language from a different time.


awww shucks, another award…

I absolutely love the concept of supporting each other’s healing and creative journeys expressed through our writing, blogging, art, music.

And though I don’t know who originated the idea of giving blogger awards to each other, I think its brilliant.  We, as recipients, know that they are small albeit genuine affirmations created to spread the word of our blogs/art form and raise awareness of the issues close to our hearts.  In my little corner of the world and especially for those of us who are crawling out from under a rock of mental illness, anxiety disorders, depression and chronic illness, these awards make you feel like a rock star.

I’ve had the honor of being nominated for the Inspiring Blogger award from Fringewalk, a very intricately woven blog simply stated as ” A few stitches in the global human tapestry”.  She is as complex as the many issues that she addresses which she does so beautifully.  I always enjoy reading the words from her angle, from her perspective, from her corner of the world.  Thank you, I’m so honored.  Its so cool to feel that people crawling around on the internet have not only found me and my blog but find it inspiring.  Not sure it gets much better.

Rules of the award:
1.) Thank the person who gave you the award with a link to their blog.
2.) Tell them 7 things about yourself.
3.) Nominate 7 other blogs for the award.

Now that I’ve officially thanked Fringewalk for her love and support, I’m moving on to the 7 blogs that I want to nominate.  This is a a bit of a challenge for a bona fide blog-a-holic but here goes….These blogs are ones that I find myself drawn to over and over.  For one reason or another, they inspire me.  And if the recipients aren’t as geeked about these awards as I am or simply can’t find the room on their site to post them, that’s okay too.   I’m just flat out giving them, in no particular order….and letting each of you decide what to do with them based on your situation.

Bone Sigh Arts

Where do I start?  This awesome, woman owned business, produces the most beautiful cards, prints, books, daily quotes, and e-cards imaginable.  But its the sentiments layered on top of the colors that really cinch the deal.  And even more than that, its a forum for friendship, solace, comfort and humor.  And…yes, there’s more…. Terri’s diverse and inclusive nature will draw you in and steal your heart.  Truly a remarkable place.

Wholly Jean

This woman just oozes sweet Southern, honey dripping charm.  She’s a writer, artist, fellow blogger who has provided much needed words of comfort across my computer screen combined with a straight spoken fierceness of a woman who doesn’t compromise her beliefs. Log on to her site, it will be quite an adventure.

Walking in Beauty

Joss, AKA the Crowing Crone, simply radiates love.  When I visit her blog, it feels like coming home to an old friend who has a cup of tea waiting for you.  The beauty of the way she conducts her life and writes of her experiences has given me comfort at some very difficult times. But don’t let the pureness of her heart fool you….she’s a tough lady who has transcended some tough times.  Her book, What I Know About Fibro is a very good case in point of a woman who has turned her life around.

Healing from BPD

A very honest and informative site for survivors and others struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder.  Debbie’s blog is upbeat yet real when it comes to the challenges presented by BPD.  There have been many a day that her posts have been timely and comforting to know that someone out there really understands the issues surrounding this illness.  She promotes acceptance, understanding and coping tools and does a fabulous job of removing the stigma of BPD.  

Raising My Rainbow

I do not know this woman or her son, as in I have never really corresponded with her as I have the others I’ve listed above.  But I’m a regular lurker on this beautiful, creative “mommy blog” about the “adventures in raising a fabulously gender creative son”.  Her words, not mine.  One cannot read this blog without having CJ steal your heart with the credit going to his mother for portraying him in such an incredibly, fiercely loving way.  I suspect that she is nominated for many awards and so she should be.  She is addressing some really tough issues surrounding LGBT children with pure love and acceptance.  And besides that, she is flat out hysterical.

Canopy in the Sunlight

One of my first pals that I met through the Bone Sigh Arts forum, Illuminary is a bit of a willow-the-wisp.  She’s a self admitted kind of a hermit who seems to prefer the sanctity of her studio and musings.  I’ve found her to be witty, concerned and incredibly self reflective. While she may post only occasionally, they are well worth the wait as I always find her words comforting and thoughtful.  

A Heart’s Whisper

I have learned so much from Jackie over the last year.  I must look toward women like her who are consistently graceful and gentle especially during times where my emotions are all over the place.  She is grounding and constant and pure love.  I would encourage anyone wanting to journey farther into themselves to check out her writings.  This is an absolute safe place to be.

PS~~Julie Catherine….You already had this award but I wanted to sneak you in here anyway because I love your stuff too!

And finally….7 things about myself.   This was BY FAR the more challenging task.  Not sure what noteworthy tidbits you all would want to know but here goes….

  •         I feel incomplete without a really cool pair of earrings which is about the only jewelry that I wear.
  •         I prefer the company of animals to most people.
  •         Had my daughter at home with a midwife attending.  Celebrated with a few friends, champagne and ice cream and took a hour   long bath with my new baby.  Probably one of the grooviest experiences of my life.
  •        Got to fly to Washington DC with 30 magnificent women to participate in a march for reproductive freedom. 
  •        Almost got kicked out of the local beauty pageant during high school because I wouldn’t remove my POW bracelet.
  •        For a day and a half, sat with and sang my mother from this world as she passed to the other side.
  •        Consider myself an emotional empath as I’ve always felt emotions stronger than most.  This is a gift and a curse.


Thanks for hanging in during this very long post….but I wanted to play by the rules and give credit to these fabulous new friends that I’ve had the good fortune to meet.  I’m humbled by this award and am so glad to be here in such great company!


“the hole” revisited…

she wakes from a long and tormented sleep to the all too familiar darkness with the circle of light far above her

it takes minutes to transition and orient herself to “the hole” that she’s visited so many times before

the cavern is so quiet, silent, her thoughts racing are the only noise

the sensation of cruel dampness that once penetrated her clothing, her skin, has been replaced with comfort

she looks down, her eyes now adjusted to the darkness, she sits upon a soft, downy quilt and wonders how and when?

its then that she sees the faint glow in her periphery…she blinks to make sure she’s seeing right

there is no fear, no anxiety, safety and warmth surround her

an angel moves to her, summoned by a mere prayer from a friend, has been watching over, providing comfort, releasing the fear from her soul

she is luminous, breathtaking, the unblinking eyes of an innocent fawn

the girl beholds her in awe as she wraps her arms around her

nestled against the divine being, she relaxes for the first time in days as her breathing slows…they look at each other for a long time

her eyes no longer retain the trauma driven focus necessary for survival, her gaze extends to her surroundings, noticing the quiet beauty for the first time

fireflies dance, filling the darkness with their radiance

shimmering crystals glisten from the walls

a beautiful humming seems to come from everywhere around her but no place in particular

the animals have crept to her, encircling her while she slept, each bringing their gift to aid her during this troubling time, unafraid to penetrate “the hole” like the people were

the owl shows her how to adapt her vision and see through the darkness, easing her into the shadowy world: cool, feminine, moist

the girl glances over to see the regal stance of the wolf and knows her lessons immediately

the hawk circles overhead, dipping once before soaring out of the opening into the sunlight….piercing the air with her message to look at the entire situation, there is always a way out

she isn’t alone at all

they’ve all come to help her remember that she’s been here before, “the hole” has beauty and purpose often unrecognized and the girl weeps with joy at her connectedness

with reverence, they all move to the center, forming a sacred circle…animal, human and divine to begin their prayers of gratitude


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