Category Archives: dogs

an unexpected moment of peace…..

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Photo credit: An’ Marie at callmeanmarie.com

Peace and joy are elusive to survivors.

We have to learn and re-learn these types of experiences, cultivating the beautiful aspects of life as if we were students in school grasping a new skill.  I’ve usually been able to be kind of a joy parasite (not to be confused with a joy sucker) who gravitates toward frollicking animals, playful children or any group or individual who is just laughing unabashedly.  I watched and learned what this beautiful emotion was and then set out to mimic it.  These situations always felt right and kind to my heart although in direct conflict with my upbringing.  Kindness and love weren’t taught or shown but pathology and self destruction was handed out freely and often.

Survivors as a general rule haven’t learned how to play well or experience peace.  If we did learn to play, what we were probably experiencing was destruction in action disguised as play;  i.e. out of control drinking/drug/food/anger (fill in your favorite addiction or crazy shit here), driving recklessly, giving ourselves hearts and bodies to men that were undeserving of that sacred gift.  So many behaviors were masked as “a good time” that it took decades for me to truly figure it out.

During my high school years, I usually found myself gravitating toward healthier families.  I certainly can’t take credit for this action for it wasn’t conscious.  But I’ve come to believe that living things; plants, animals, people will gravitate toward health and love and I base that belief on some serious reflection upon my past behaviors.  I wanted a better life and in many ways, set out to get one even as a child.

One family I attached to had two parents, 6 children who were blissfully crowded into a tiny house with a tiny kitchen.  Many families grew up in this fashion in my day, no one owned a McMansion or rarely had a bedroom to themselves.  It was customary to share a room and even a bed with a sibling.  And this was the way it was at C. J.’s  house.  She, myself and several other friends grew up in that tiny house; from junior high girls, into high school girls, to brides, then mothers and now grandmothers.  We’ve buried parents, sent sons to war, survived cheating husbands and celebrated our re-marriages. We’ve lost touch and reconnected many times, rarely without missing a beat.  They are my ya-ya’s, my sisters.

I had the good fortune to spend a weekend with C.J.  It’s always an easy kind of experience to spend time with friend from long ago, who knows your stories and your quirks.  We’ve transcended needing to explain things as we just know each other that well.

It was the usual agenda; yard sales, thrift stores, food, playing with the dogs and cats, naps, late night talks with the girls.  Yeah, girls….56 year old girls. All the good things in life.  My last afternoon was marked by C. J. hosting a dinner (and she’s a fabulous cook by the way) for me before I left for home. Her modest farm home was full just as her childhood home was and served as a playground to many activities that day. After an afternoon of swimming with the grandkids, I plopped myself (temporarily of course) on the living room couch where I soon found myself snuggled in and stretched out.

I can’t exactly describe what happened but whatever “it” was, I’ve managed to hold onto “it” for weeks, even sharing the feeling with other friends. Sitting on the over stuffed couch, I found myself sinking in deeply, letting my tension float away and began to absorb the energy of this household. The sheer comfort of the environment gave way to me lying down putting a throw pillow over my face.  I became so relaxed and peaceful that I couldn’t resist  the temptation to surrender.  During the most blissful two hour nap I’ve had in a long time,  I floated in and out of the commotion of the grandkids playing and eventually crying, the miffed off weiner dog’s continuous bark to get back into the house, doors slamming, the phone ringing, the parental and grand-parental units shushing the kids to be quiet as to not wake me and the most delicious smells of garlic and anchovy coming from the kitchen.  It was a sensory delight.  And it was heaven.

The more that the everyday, normal family life noise increased the more peaceful I became.  A thought came to me as I grinned under my throw pillow; this must be what its like to be a part of a family.  It was okay for me to relax, to feel peace, that loved ones surrounded me, even cooked food to nourish me after my nap.  I recalled a long forgotten dream as a child to belong to a nice family.  And that simple gesture on C. J. ‘s part became a truly, magical afternoon for me.

I left for home that evening, after my nap and dinner, accompanied by my yard sale treasures and fresh tomatoes from their garden.  My most treasured gift was the lightness and peace that I felt.

During the 2 hour drive home, I think my heart actually smiled.

An Marie 1ecc9394106646b69ed2a35e726cecc5

Photo credit: An’ Marie

To view other works by this artist, visit www.callmeanmarie.com

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love story in there….somewhere….

girl and dragon

There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.

I seem to have made it through the latest chapter of dark times.

Hopefully.

When I started this blog, I felt lost.  Then I found myself through writing and gave myself a voice that I’d never possessed before, at least for myself.  I’d been championing for others for decades; animal rights, women’s rights, diversity, environment.  It had become painful apparent to me that a great deal of time had been spent advocating for others and not myself.  That was a game changer.

Writing this blog has enabled me to find my voice through writing but look several issues squarely in the eye.  Honoring myself was one.  A simple bumper sticker noticed by the artist, Terri St. Cloud of Bone Sigh Arts.  Honor Yourself.  Simple words that were nearly impossible to integrate.

The next issue was that I couldn’t wrap my thinking around the fact that someone, anyone would want to read what I had to say.  In my mind, my words had to be profound, a literary masterpiece before putting them out for the world to see.  Shouldn’t I get a MFA in writing or something or some sort of artistic approval before being so bold as to put my words, my life, my history into words?  Well, that answer came soon too.  Survivors trickled in, slowly at first, some stumbling and fragmented, some already having honed their beautiful craft of expression.  All were worthy and I felt so blessed to be a part of a counterculture emerging for survivors, men and women, who were taking back their power.  I wanted to be a part of that.  For me, it was coming home.

My most recent absence is due to my utter confusion and re-entry into that dark place.  You see, I thought I’d been through it and had emerged complete, or at least complete enough.  I thought I was finally, finally in that safe cocoon where I could share my story of abuse and survival with the clarity of hindsight.  I was wrong, at least sort of.

This summer I separated from my husband.  My fairy tale crashed and I felt that I was a fraud.  How on earth could I write stories of hope and love when I had failed at my own love story?  Slowly, I moved through the hazy days of summer with my tool bag (purple of course) of rest, solitude, meditation, reading and dark chocolate.  I cried when I felt like it, wandered through the library, raged at Grandmother moon in the wee hours of the morning when sleep eluded me, slept any time I felt fatigued and tried, oh how I tried, to find joy anywhere I could.  I picked flowers and herbs from my beautiful garden and gave them to anyone I could think of; my church for Sunday morning service, the women at the convenient mart on the corner who are always so kind and make me laugh every time I’m there buying chocolate, my dear friend’s mother who was passing this summer, a friend who works long hours and commutes into the city each day.  I gave them just because.  Just because in the absence of my own joy, I needed to create that precious spark of joy for someone else and live vicariously off of that until I had my own.

Many, many people supported me though this passage, you will find them on my blogroll and Facebook page.  I simply couldn’t have weathered this without logging on to see their daily posts on love, writing, poetry, painting, nature, food.  I traveled with several as they made major changes in their lives too and hope that I provided them a wee bit of support also.

Slowly that spark began to burn again.  Now I have more words and more insight into myself.  I tip my hat to the dark side, purpose well served.

I still live a love story.  Really, there is a love story in here somewhere.  One that, once again, must begin with myself.  With or without a partner, my daughter, my dogs, my house.  I can write words of hope because now I’ve lived them again.  I’m not a fraud but an innocent person who stumbles and trips often, sometimes sitting in the mud puddle I fell in, squalling and crying.  But then there are times, when I laugh and dance around with a soggy tutu.

It’s all good.


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.


What a novel idea….Novel Writing Winter!

263601384409890714_o2Xloiyz_bThis incredible concept is one I stumbled upon accidently but fortuitously.

A blog post from Sarah Potter came through yesterday describing her concept of Novel Writing Winter.

I happened to be one of those writers who signed up NaNoWriMo after completing it last year and crossing the finish line with a completed 50,000 words.  It was awesome as was the afterglow of my accomplishments but for several reasons it just didn’t work out this year.  I got 6000 words in and that was it.  Sure, now its my responsibility to slay those inner critics as I read I should do but there’s a whisper in my ear about why I didn’t go further with the one month writing deadline.

Enter Sarah Potter with serendipitious timing.

I learn a lot from other writer’s reflections on their writing path and why it sometimes might take a different twists and turns.  Sarah offered an opportunity to commit to a gentler climb rather than dashing up the steep slope of NaNoWriMo.  Now this was an approach that I can wrap my head around.

I’d actually been envisioning a scenario similar to this after realizing that November had come and gone.  I hadn’t met my personal writing goals yet the long winter still loomed ahead.  Why not make the best of both situations?  So that’s what I shall do.  It would be even better  to have any of my writing pals who are contemplating a novel to join in as we tackle the dark season of winter together.

Then there is this other reason.

Once I heard this idea of NWW, I realized I could also use this as an absolute excuse for snuggling up with my beloved and aging friend Rose.  As she approaches her 14th year, I’m not sure how many more winters we’ll have together.  She is my best muse and constant companion.  There are no words to describe the depth of love I have for this dog.  She’s seen me through more tough times than I can describe and is as fine tuned to me as another being can get.  I’d love to mark this passage in our lives with a winter of quiet space where can just be.

We’ll do this together and it’ll be great.

In fact, I will do my best to make it extraordinary.

Look out….Rose and I are writing a book!


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?


that little dog Norm….

Even though Norm lost one leg, he is adapting well to having  3…

Suffering in any form is a huge trigger for me.  Animal suffering is a trigger so big that I almost instantly spill over the edge, very little warning, just simply gone.

I take huge precautions that the average person probably doesn’t in terms of limiting my exposure to any information. Current events, politics, visual images or stories retold by friends at a gathering are heavily censored items.  I do not watch the news. Ever.  The chosen stories are tragic and sensationalized for the purpose of gaining followers (translating into more money) and rarely report anything truly noteworthy or with purpose.  After all, how many house fires, bodies in the river, assaults can one really stomach without just losing their noodle?  These images most likely will pass right through the average Joe but its totally different for a trauma survivor with PTSD and huge anxiety issues.  Mostly, its like someone took a branding iron and seared the image into my brain.  It stays there and hurts for a very long time.

Thank goodness one can limit/pick/choose what they read on Facebook. And I really struggle with the agenda of  the animal and rescue organizations which often cite cases of abuse, not exclusively for gaining readership but in an effort to inform and rally support for a cause.  Somewhat different in my book.  Such is the case of Norm, a dog found near death, barely breathing, in a weeded area in St. Louis city during a record heat wave of temperatures over 100 degrees.  This dog was found so mangled that the rescuer angel and saint, Randy Grim of  Stray Rescue of St. Louis, recognized immediately that this dog was not only a victim of a dog fighting ring that operated in the area but it had been used as a bait dog. What? Did I hear that right? My brain winces and sizzles… At the mere mention of the word “bait”, I was gone….eyes glazed, mind numbing gone.

What kind of soul-less creature would purposely and maliciously use another for the purpose of entertainment of such a vicious nature?  What kind of person is so removed from their essence to set out to harm an animal in such a way?  Then it hit me.  I knew those people.  I knew those men.  It wasn’t a reach to remember that I not only knew them but experienced their cruel and selfish acts.  Acts perpetuated for the sole purpose of their depraved pathology and base pleasures.

This story is just ripe with metaphors for me.

One of the characteristics of a psychopath is having a lack of empathy for another, showing no remorse or guilt.  The people who participate in baiting dogs against each other and leaving them for dead, are psychopaths.  And here I am again, totally having to find a way to hold onto myself as the world starts spinning around, just because I read a story about a dog rescue.

The word “rescue” has huge meaning for me.  The obvious points to my blog title but the concept of a rescuer has always been incredibly alluring to me.  When one is a child who is being molested/abused/violated/shamed, it is the only thing you can imagine.  That child’s ultimate hope isn’t for great toys for Christmas, ice cream for dinner or a vacation to Disneyworld.  That child wants to be heard and rescued. Plain and simple, they want relief.  And I’m speaking for myself and probably other surivors when I say that the concept of having a figurehead in your life so strong and emotionally together, that they come to rescue you from a horrid situation, is so far fetched that it borders on fantasy.  From my experiences, its far more likely that a superhero will swoop down and intervene than for an actual rescuer to manifest in an abused child’s life.  Cynical yes, but sadly, fairly close to the truth.

So the actual manifestation of a person who rescues is so enamoring to me, that although Norm’s story is gruesome, I can’t get enough of the giddy feeling of liberation that I feel when this dog is carried to safety and ultimately to a well equipped facility who will give it round the clock emergency care.  I’m absolutely mesmerized and am carried back in time to many childhood moments of near breakdown, pleading with the divine for help, for a rescuer.

Norm hovered for days near death.  Hundreds of people prayed for him and left messages on Facebook wanting continual updates.  I couldn’t get him off my mind.  During this time, with the image of Norm branded on my brain I ultimately emerged with the final thought of this post.  Could a soul, animal or human, stripped of dignity and depersonalized so savagely, come out of the experience anything less than a monster?  Would this animal ever be able to trust or lead any kind of life resembling normal or worthwhile?  And the obvious parallel is how do I?

I’m going to let the photo below speak for itself to answer that question.  Hope is renewed.

After days of growling and biting his caregivers, he licks the face of Randy Grim, the man who rescued him.


changing love…

Like running water, changing love finds its way past obstacles. Freezing it in place makes it fragile, rigid, and all too likely to shatter.

 –Martha Beck, How to Know It’s Real Love

I’m gonna keep this simple today.

I like to think  that being grateful for the vast array of coping tools has created a fortuitous space for another tool to come my way.  I’ve subscribed to Martha Beck‘s daily quotes for a while now, but have just in the last month taken the time to read her books.  I’m barely 50 pages in to the first one and I can already tell I’ve found a new friend.  Her books will be on my bookshelf and her tools will be in my purple tool bag in addition to the many fabulous people, animals, resources, books and music that have so serendipitously plopped in my lap.

My own emotions are tough enough to manage but when I smack against someone else’s confused and erratic energy, that is the ultimate challenge.  Especially if its someone I dearly love.

The complexity of my past and present propel me into an instant state of frozen terror. I’d barely read her quote, as in minutes before, when my daughter arrived, confused and frustrated. So keeping the focus on myself, the DBT  kicked in and immediately sensing the tension in my body, the frozen stance, I frantically begin to observe, describe and participate….3 biggies from the DBT world.  It worked or at least its working.  I’m not frozen, perhaps a bit off center but not too far gone that I won’t recover soon.

I sit in awe of the masters that surround me and say a quick prayer with gratitude in my heart.  It feels so good to know that love can find its way past obstacles.  We aren’t static, we aren’t frozen, we aren’t shackled to the patterns of the past.

Relief washes over me as I realize for a brief and fleeting moment what true hope feels like.



a month of letters….

I fell in love with this idea the moment that I saw it on Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog and knew I had to participate in this forgotten, time-honored method of communication.  A month of letters challenge. I can’t even remember when I sat down and wrote an actual letter, probably 30 years, maybe more.  Even though its appeal has many layers, I jumped on an exercise of mindfulness combined with the ultimate slowing down.

I also immediately knew who the recipient of my letters would be. Seeing that it is close to Valentines Day, this all fit together perfectly demonstrating the message of  love and caring that I needed to convey to my friend Becky.  You see, her mother has recently been placed on hospice and as the days pass by, it requires more creativity in finding ways to help her family while going through this type of experience.  Heartfelt gestures seem to be the winners.

For years I’ve shared my flowers from my very abundant garden from early spring jonquils through to the end of the year mums and sunflowers with Becky’s mom. Her mother Grace, was always that, graceful and elegant.  She loved each of my amateur arrangements and would care for them until they were finally spent, then she would wash the vase and have her daughter return it to me for more.  And there always were more until now, middle of winter, I have no flowers or foliage to offer them in her true hour of need.

So they will receive letters.  An entire month of letters, maybe more.  I’m not sure how I could simply stop in 30 days, this must be a project that continues through Grace’s decline and passing as well as the mourning period and beyond.

Each day Becky comes home from her day job, exhausted but determined to continue the care for her ailing mother,  it is a devotion that is pure and patient.  She changes clothes, feeds her dogs, gets her mail and heads over to her mother’s home to feed and bathe her, play cards or sit in the surreal horror of watching her mother trying to breathe.  This takes an amount of focus mixed with acceptance to dance through this minefield of emotions.  And so far they managed to dance with Grace.  

I mailed the first card today after discovering Mary’s blog.  At the very least, my friend will come home to a daily card from me in the mail.  It will probably contain a photo of a dog nose to nose with a cat or an equally funny expression.  These are her favorite types of images to share with her mom, those of animals, babies or flowers.  Before she leaves for the evening with her mother, I hope to give her a small break in her day.   I don’t know that it will be enough to turn away sadness or grief but I’m hoping a glimmer of hope or a smile.  

I will also mail a card a day to Grace, knowing that Becky will faithfully retrieve it from her mailbox and share it with her also.  Hers will contain photos of flowers, its all I know to do for them now.



the letters in my life….

Recently my life has been a world salad.

My family and I have recently been throwing around letters of treatment modalities combined with prospective and already assigned diagnosis.  In an effort to be an well informed consumer as well as keeping our minds and hearts open to whatever ensures that our family and I are getting the most help, we’ve tried many therapies.  Some more interesting and helpful than others, we’ve journeyed down the road full of letters and abbreviations designed to add brevity to a complex and confusing situation.

These recent conversations in our home were very timely accented by a thread on Facebook where Terri, owner at Bone Sigh Arts, asked  her audience what therapies helped the women survivors….I feel compelled as always, to help my fellow woman survivor and this is a partial list from that thread with some of my own thrown in…

  • EFT ~ Emotional Freedom Technique ~ Gary Craig
  • NAET ~ Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique ~ created by Dr. Devi Nambudripad
  • DBT ~ Dialectic Behavior Therapy ~ created by Marsha Linehan
  • Energy Medicine ~  created by Donna Eden
  • Herbal remedies for physical and emotional conditions
  • EMDR ~ Eye Movement Desensitivation Response
  • IB ~ Inner Bonding ~ created by Margaret Paul 
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Cranial-Sacral Therapy ~ John Upledger

Homeopathy, acupuncture, massage therapy and the list goes on of top notch healing modalities….

Now here are some of the letters attached to me….SA (sexual abuse) survivor, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), DID (disassociative identity disorder) , CFIDS (chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome), LD (Lyme disease), EBV (Epstein-Barr) and the recently suggested but not confirmed BPD (borderline personality disorder).

I prefer to think that these letters will set me free instead of inducing more confusion although the process of maneuvering through them can be confusing.  I am putting this post mostly for reference, there aren’t any conclusions here.  I have found that the technique is as almost as good as the practitioner.  For example, my NAET practitioner is excellent.  She is kind, intuitive and skilled out the whazoo.   The woman who did EMDR for me was just okay and I didn’t pursue working with her.  One has to follow their instincts strongly here and find a practitioner that you can trust implicitly when doing this type of work.

Next week, I begin working with a woman (who was a fabulous fit by the way) who will be teaching me DBT.  It’s high success rate makes it not only a perfect technique for those with BPD but for many less labeled individuals.  We begin our work even without the controversial label of BPD which actually is one reason I agreed to see her.  She isn’t interested in the diagnosis just the outcome.  That sealed the deal for me.

Just to cover all the bases and to shut some people in my life up, I saw my MD/psychiatrist who yawned and scratched his face when I told him of my plans to start DBT and did he think I had BPD.  He didn’t really answer me but asked me if I had a firm, concrete plan for my suicide to which I replied no.  He handed me some anti-depressant samples and told me to come back in a month.  My answers hadn’t compelled him to jump to any conclusions nor hospitalize me.  I can’t say that I was disappointed by his lack of conclusion because it was pretty much the way I saw it too.  His apathy may have done me a favor.

That doesn’t mean I don’t know that things are amiss with me sometimes.  One can’t go through this type of trauma and not come out with swiss cheese for a brain on occasion. My family and I have been through times of hell that forced growth and compassion on us whether we liked it or not.  DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) has as one of its cornerstones the concept of radical acceptance which I immediately latched on to.  It feels really kind to learn to accept myself for exactly as I am and because of what I have been through.  What a beautiful thought to understand the strengths and limitations brought to me by this situation, accept it and go on to be the best person I can be.  And of course, my hope that my family and friends also learn the concept of radical acceptance but its not required for my success.

And by the way, this work takes time.  One of the mantras that I hear over and over from sensitive practitioners and support people is that it took a lifetime for us to get this way so be patient with the recovery.  Its so true for me that being gentle with myself has been one of the most important approaches to these life changing therapies that I would place very near the top.  That and a good dog.

This post touches on many, many topics.  Digest them slowly, stay informed and be gentle with yourself.  Otherwise you may find yourself drowning in word salad.


but you will be better soon….

“But you will be better soon.”

“But you are getting better.”

I’m so weary of this phrase chirped over and over to me, friends and relatives refusing to see me, to really look at me, skimming along the surface like water bugs.

So what if I eat slower than I used to or sometimes lose my thoughts easily….they will eventually come back or they won’t. What’s the rush?  Where does everyone need to be?  Does me getting better mean that I join you in a world of injured souls eating bad food and ignoring the pain in their neighbor’s eyes just because you are in a hurry and have a million things to do?  No thanks.  Instead I will accept this illness with grace as the gift that it was given to me that I can know the world in a way that most folks can’t or won’t.

I know Emma’s favorite cracker to make bread crumbs; she reminds me often when i see her at the market and I thank her each time.  She tells me with such a gleam in her eye that her husband loved her cooking when he was alive.  I know that Barney the dog prefers the green treats to brown ones and that he will sit up on his hind legs when he sees me coming around the corner while walking Rosie in the evening.  I know that the pierced kid who has shown up for drama every day this semester, who doesn’t speak much, looks so surprised when I compliment his artwork that he wears on his skin.  What’s the equivalent of that knowledge mean to you in your world?  Masters or PhD?

Your efforts to entice me back into your crazy empty world do not go unnoticed, its just that your currency holds no value. Conversations on your latest purchase/home remodel/trip abroad/over entitled children’s latest example of lack of gratitude sour my stomach.  Who decided that your way was better?  You don’t seem that peaceful to me.

My dogs will wait patiently, accepting, sniffing, while my erratic gait interrupts our walking pace.  They don’t ask or care about my creditials or bank account balance.  I prefer their company these days as I tune into their frequency instead of the skimming water bug people.

I know I’m tough to look at these days.  Illness has that effect on people, I get it.  So I scare you a bit and you have to glimpse at yourself and your own mortality and yes, it will freak you out.  Seeing your reflection always does when your psyche is mirrored back to you for the first time.  Especially so when you don’t want to look.

But you will be better soon, you are getting better they chirp.  I say “what’s wrong with me the way I am?”  

“What’s wrong with me now?”


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