Tag Archives: DBT

Grieving out loud…

For those of you that can’t handle my extreme and unbridled rage right now, let this serve as a TRIGGER WARNING.  And here is a picture of a bunny to give you the opportunity to get the heck out of here.

Hey, I'm a hot mess, time to scramble...

Hey, I’m a hot mess, time to scramble…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the rant begin.  This moment, right now, I’m furious.  I’ve snapped with grief and I’m tired and exhausted and insulted and unwilling to hold it in any longer. The music is on full blast with Janis Joplin screaming I’ll say come on, come on, come on, come on and take it!
Take it!
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby.
Oh, oh, break it!
Break another little bit of my heart now

I’ve cleaned and cried and smoked cigarettes as I look at my home that I’ve finally decided has to be divided.  How the hell did I get here?  Did I not try hard enough?  Did I not bleed enough for this relationship?  When did my beloved home turn into a cold gilded cage?  Where are my plants going to live now?  The wisteria planted in the early days of love that is deeply intertwined among the trellis and surrounding trees, how do I tell it to unwind, that there is no place for it here now?

I’m full of rage as I look at the items deciding what’s mine and what’s his.  I hate his socks right now.  They are everywhere, haunting me from the place where they were discarded at the foot of the couch for an intimate moment.  His socks are mocking me.  I still love, he doesn’t.

I’m seething at any person, at any time, for any reason has questioned my sanity.  My brain, while different and reacting unlike normal people (whoever the fuck they are) is not crazy.  It was changed.  It was changed as a child when my father and my uncles for numerous years raped the children in my family.  They forever and permanently changed the way that I see the world and severely limited my ability to trust.  But they never stole my ability to love because that I do fiercely, deeply and with loyalty to a fault. But back to crazy, I’m not.  And I’m fucking tired of folks too ignorant and lazy to become informed before slicing me and other survivors open with insane stupid comments and blatant arrogance that you know better.  You don’t.

And by the way, disassociation is a thing. A real fucking thing.  It happens because its the wondrous coping mechanism of the human under attack.  When the pain becomes too traumatic, too difficult, too much for tiny little children’s minds to process, it splits.  Bam, just like that.  You go somewhere else, someplace safer than the place you are in where your uncle is raping you at gunpoint. And guess what, when you’re gone, you’re gone.  And to the major asshole who said that my disassociative episodes were a ploy for attention, well simply put, go fuck yourself.  You speak with ignorance and venom.  Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I try and try and then I fucking try some more to be the best, intact, whole person I can be given my history.  To say anything less than that of me is cruel and unforgivable.

No, I’m not done yet, there’s more. I’m enraged at any person, for any reason who turns a blind eye to pain.  This happens in so many ways; through denial of wanting to acknowledge a person’s pain, therefore maybe having to deal with it OR being frustrated that said person struggles a lot so you offer a platitude in order to get the hell away from this person you’ve judged as insane.  Again, look at the above bunny and leave me the hell alone.  You don’t have to hurt me just to get a safe distance away.  I get it, of all people I understand that this is tough fucking shit and not everyone has the stomach for it.  BUT…there’s always the option of offering love and leaving anyway.  Bottom line, I’m left here to deal with this confusing mess of neurons on a daily basis and it’s no walk in the park. It takes hourly awareness and diligent practice to stay centered and even heal from these traumas.  Don’t add to them.  And especially don’t pretend it’s in the name of love.  I’m calling bullshit on that one.

While I’m ranting, I may as well cuss the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture drugs to make lots of money that are prescribed by asshole doctors.  My anti-depressants are giving me such incredible suicide ideation that the ideation is now taking form and making a plan.  And getting off this shit is a bitch.  Again, another mind-bending bitch to contend with.  And yes, suicide ideation and self harm is a real thing too.  It’s not just words that we in a secret meeting of the I’ve-been-molested club got together and invented.  These are real psychological phenomena.  Google it, you’ll see.  We don’t just get up in the morning, feed the dogs, have a cup of coffee and say “I think I’ll go slice on myself today and maybe for fun, I’ll go sit in the garage with the car running and see how fast I’ll puff up from carbon monoxide”.   But seriously, people talk to us as if we do this self-loathing, self-harming shit for attention.  Really?  Do you really believe that I’d prefer that method of coping to say…. working at the dog rescue shelter or taking some flowers to the old ladies at the nursing home?  If you believe that, you need a quick reality check and a good therapist.

The rant winds down here.  Be kind, everyone is struggling.  If you don’t know how to help and you want to, ask.  It’s that simple.  Is there anything I can do to help?  If you don’t care or are just socially awkward, flash a peace sign, say Kumbaya my Lord or offer a hug.  If you don’t have more, that’s fine but if you think you can fake concern, use condescension or just toss a crappy cliche’ toward me, you’re wrong.  Because here’s the other thing that develops in survivors as we are fending off our nasty fathers and uncles, we became ultra-sensitive.  I’m talking over-the-top, can practically read-your-feelings-without-you-knowing-it, living and floating in an emotional bizarre dimension that few know anything about.  We know when you’re lying and we know when you’re trying to be cruel.

End of rant.  For those who stuck around to the end, well, thanks.  You’re tougher than most.  For those who didn’t stay, block me on FB and have a good life. Kumbaya.

Unknown-1

 

 

 

 

 

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Identity Disturbance…

Identity Disturbance is a relatively and equally fascinating new term to me and since I haven’t researched it to my satisfaction to be able to write about it, I thought I would begin here by re-blogging this article from The Bernard Bert-A Borderline Adventure.  This author did a great job of streamlining and breaking down the components of this condition.  Hoping this continues to shed some light on the many shades of mental illness and reduce the stigma attached.~~Thanks!  Little L~~

broken heart

 

Identity Disturbance, November14, 2013

Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self image or sense of self.

“Identity disturbance has many different aspects/features making it a very complexed issue even if it is a lone problem, but with the added factor of other BPD symptoms, it can be an overwhelming and complicated thing to understand and deal with!

In a 2000 study of patients with identity disturbances, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan, and Drew Westen identified four types of identity disturbance:

Role absorption (in which patients tend to define themselves in terms of a single role or cause),

Painful incoherence (a subjective sense of lack of coherence),

Inconsistency (in thought, feeling, and behavior),

Lack of commitment (e.g., to jobs or values).

A stable sense of identity means being able to see yourself as the same person in the past, present, and future.Identity is quite broad, and includes many aspects of the self and is probably made up of your beliefs, attitudes, abilities, history, ways of behaving, personality, temperament, knowledge, opinions, and roles.

A healthy identity includes the ability to choose an appropriate avenue for industry, achieve intimacy with another, and find a place in the larger society by having developed a sense of continuity over time; emotional commitment to a set of self-defining representations of self, role relationships,and core values and ideal self-standards;development or acceptance of a world view that gives life meaning; and some recognition of one’s place in the world by significant others.

“Who are you?”  – If asked this question, many people with BPD would be unable to answer and will only be able to reply with – “I don’t know”, “I’m not sure” or “It depends on who I’m with.”  This uncertinaty makes them feel empty and lost, confused and lonely.

Considering that identity is comprised of stability, continuity, understanding and acceptance of ones self over time, it is painfully obvious to see why this doesn’t happen in the self identity of someone with BPD.Nothing is stable, everything is changing and totally reactive; all that is left is a fragmented self left with a chronic feeling of inner emptiness caused by the inability to integrate into a coherent sense of self identity.

These unanticipated changes can range from relatively minor things, such as changes in appearance, to aspects central to the life of the individual, such as gender, sexuality and life goals.

People with Identity disturbance may experience:

Experiencing frequent changes in sense of self-worth.

Difficulty committing to roles and occupational choices.

Feeling conflicted or unsure about own gender or sexuality.

Feels as though he or she is a different person depending on who they are with.

Does not know who own self is.

Tends to feel empty inside – hollow, something ‘missing’ and a desire to fill the void.

Who they would like to be are unstable and ever changing.

Views & feelings of self change rapidly or unpredictably .

Has memories only available under certain states sometimes feels unreal.

Tends to feel like a “false self” whose social persona does not match inner experience.

Some of the noticeable changes for those who know the person with the identity issue are:

Lack of consistently invested goals, values, ideals, and relationships.

Their personality changes dramatically periodically.

They are “chameleon-like” depending on who they are with.

Values tend to change frequently / does not seem to have a constant set of core values.

Difficulty choosing and committing to an occupation.

Beliefs,actions and behaviors often seem contradictory.

Has trouble committing to long-term goals or aspirations.

As a way to ‘fit in’ they may:

Identity seems to revolve around a “cause” or shifting causes.Defines self in terms of a label that provides a sense of identity.Depend on relationship to a charismatic other. Tends to be in the orbit of a strong personality.People with BPD can be very “chameleon-like” in an effort to integrate.

The tendency to confuse one’s own attributes, feelings,and desires with those of another person, especially in intimate relationships, means that when a breakdown in a relationship occurs it can lead the person with BPD to fear a loss of personal identity.

The large inconsistencies in behavior,over time and across situations, lead to difficulty integrating multiple representations of self, a lack of a coherent life narrative or sense of continuity over time;and a lack of continuity of relationships that leaves significant parts of the BPD’s past “deposited” with people who are no longer part of the individuals life , and hence the loss of shared memories that help define the self over time.

One contributing factor to borderline identity disturbance is dissociation.  When we compartmentalize our experiences rather than integrating them into one meaningful whole, our sense of self fragments causing  us to feel lost, empty, and confused.

As this empty feeling and loss of inner self becomes more problematic and chronic (in some cases) a refuge world or fantasy self can at times take the stage by means of dissociation from the painful reality the BPD is forced to live in if they remain in their current state consciousness/awareness – making it similar but not the same as DID  – Key points of difference are that those who suffer DID (dissociative identity disorder) usually remain unaware of their other fragmented selves (referred to as alters) which are more concrete, unique individuals, accompanied by blacked out memories/loss of time, whereas BPD’s remain more coherent through their changes in persona.

Identity disturbances in individuals with BPD usually reflect efforts to preserve a sense of self-worth in the presence of interpersonal turmoil.

Because of the inconsistencies in what the person with BPD is doing and saying, non BPD’s may accuse them of “faking it” “Lying” or “putting it on” but this really isn’t the case, they just may not be aware of it and by saying these things to them may actually hinder their progress in changing thier behaviour by making them doubt themselves,their worth and their relationship with you and others.

Other issues that may arise are eating disorders, substance misuse or reckless/impulsive behaviours, (these may also a seperate issue for people with BPD regardless of whether or not the have identity disturbance); all which may feel like a form of control over their lives that they are lacking in other areas.

If you have the associated,emotional instability,impulsive behaviour and black and white thinking of BPD you may have difficulty forming a coherent sense of self because your internal experiences and outward actions are not consistent. In addition, many people with BPD come from chaotic or abusive backgrounds which may contribute to unstable sense of self. If you determine who you are based on others’ reactions to you, and those reactions have been unpredictable and/or scary, you have no framework for developing a strong sense of identity.

However, it’s not all bad, on the positive side of things not knowing who you are allows you to start from scratch, experiment, explore and to build yourself up into the person you want to be!

So how do we tackle this issue and find out who we are?

Treatment/therapy with a trained professional is the most highly recommended way to deal with these issues as they can help to guide you through the process of self discovery; but there are also things you can do yourself too.

One way is by observing your own emotions, thoughts, and feelings, in addition to others’ reactions to you.

Questions and reflection on things like:

How do I want to be seen by others?

What are the things most imporant to me?

Who do I admire and what positive traits do they possess that I respect and could incorperate into my own life?

What am I passionate about?

What talents/attributes do I have?

Another way is to try and work out which areas you would like/need to focus on by writing a list which includes:

Intimate

Relationships

Parenting

Family

Friendships/Socializing

Education/Personal

GrowthCareer

Recreation

Spirituality/Religion

Physical Health

Helping Others

Goals

Values

How would you like to act/react to each section? What can you do to make this possible?

These are the things that help to give us identity and allow us to form a more stable sense of self. Due to the complexity of the issue, the road to ‘finding yourself’ is a life long journey of discovery and one which may take you to some upexpected, intense and even pleasurable places emotionally!

No one can tell you who you are, they can discribe you but ultimatly it is up to you, you are the one who can make the changes, the one who can decide as to how you act and what you believe and stand for.  Who/whatever you decide to be/do, remember that you are worthy of love, to be treated with respect and to live a life that you want and deserve.

I hope that this helps explain a little of what and why we feel this way and, fingers crossed, we can start to finally build the jig-saw of ourselves that has been in so many pieces for so long! ~ Emma.”

The Bernard Bert

 


Make BPD Stigma-Free! words of poetry…..

There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness~Rumi~

 

 

This post is about highlighting the work of a woman who is making it her mission to dispel the myths surrounding Borderline Personality Disorder as well as mental health issues in general.  I find most everything she writes about spot on as far as the struggles the traumatized face in their journey to become whole.  Joyce maintains a blog, Make BPD Stigma-Free!  on WordPress as well as a Facebook page.  It is worth taking a look-see if you or someone you love fights the good fight against mental illness.

And I would encourage readers to take this one step further.  Look deep into these words.  Try to see past the fear you may feel when reading such powerful messages from a dark place within a person.  See if you can connect with their fears, desperation to express and be heard, deepest desires to be whole and worthy.  I believe we can begin to work past our fears of mental illness and all its implications by reading poetry such as Joyce’s.  Inside, there is a beautiful being speaking some tough but enlightening truths.  If you can get past those fears, see the traumatized person with love, the outcome can be the highest expression of divine compassion.

*****

Every morning, I put on my armour,

To protect me from their poisoned tongues,

Each arrow pierces my soul,

 

With each one I die a little more each day,

How much dying can one take till they are truly dead?

 

I am not full of life,

I am not dead,

I am numb and feel nothing.

I am past feeling the pain,

Eventually you don’t feel anymore.

 

How does one feel so hollow, so empty?

A shell of a person?

 

How do you get past pain to nothingness?

How do you feel less than nothing?

 

What a curse it is,

To take on the world’s pain upon your shoulders,

Their anger, their fear,

 

To feel the darkness of a million souls,

All screaming in your head,

And filling your heart.

 

To feel it as your own.

 

And you can never stop the floodgate of emotions that wash over you,

Consuming you,

Draining you.

 

Dragon flames licking at your heels,

As you try to climb out of the hell that’s your life,

Only to be pulled back by your demons to be tortured anew,

When will it end?


– By Joyce Savage.


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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested Reading: An Emotional Hair Trigger, Often Misread


So the woman who has danced out of control….

So the woman who has danced out of control, who has lost her footing and lost her feet...has a special and valuable wisdom

 

Thank you Jackie Robinson for coming to the rescue today.  This is the beauty of connection at its best.  One of us puts wise words out in the world, another friend finds them and passes them on.  And so it goes.

As I combed through my inbox, I found this jewel just waiting for me to find at the perfect moment.  From Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves

‘So the woman who has danced out of control, who has lost her footing and lost her feet and understands that bereft state at the end of the fairy tale, has a special and valuable wisdom.’

Wow.

I would consider it an honor and privilege to rise to this occasion that Dr. Estes illustrates.  It would be a personal challenge to take those life challenges where I’ve lost my footing and turn it into my own fairy tale. First, I have to fully grasp and accept the feelings that arise from losing one’s footing.  Each time I do, I believe it to be the last and final time that I’m faced with such challenge that completely knocks me off my feet.  Yet again and again, I’m plunged into that dark place where I must face once again the end of the fairy tale.  But now, I’m starting to understand that there is more than bleak, painful acceptance.  I can use the opportunity of the darkness to rest, spin a beautiful, silky cocoon around myself and re-invent myself, my soul and the fairy tale.

This really got me thinking hard again.  There is much dancing to be done.  Dancing with wild abandon.  Dancing out of control.

I would encourage you to visit Jackie’s site, A Heart’s Whisper and especially Sacred Circle Retreats.  These women, among others, in person and online have kept me afloat during those “bereft” times.

They dance with me out of control.

 


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.


“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.


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.


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