************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Dream Last Night

On this Christmas Eve, I am happy to be able to share a very profound dream with all of my blogger friends:

There were packages falling from the sky. They were dropping very slowly, drifting down all over the place. There were more packages than anyone could count.

There were people all around, but no one was paying any attention to the packages falling from the sky. They were going through the motions of their lives, oblivious to the gifts.

I was with some friends (although I have no idea who they were). One of them commented on the packages, but no one else seemed very interested in them. Finally, I saw that they were significant.

I selected on and opened it. Inside were all kinds of food and drinks and other "supplies". I pulled out a standing rib roast and a case of beer (of all things - haha) and looked around the rest of the stuff before moving on to another package.

I continued to open more packages, with a sense of amazement. The things inside were beyond belief. I was shouting to people "Look at these packages! There's more here than anyone could eat and beautiful clothes and money!"

Other people began to open packages, too. Everyone was thrilled with all the stuff. We all took what we could carry.

Then, as I was walking home with all my gifts, I started to wonder. Why were we the ones to receive these packages? Shouldn't they have been dropped in places where people had no food? There were a lot of people who needed more help than we did.

Suddenly I knew that people I've thought of as "worst off" already understood things I did not. The things in these packages were actually not what I wanted most, and I began to wonder, where are the packages I really want?

So, I woke with a new understanding of gratitude. I can be grateful for the things that have hurt me the most because in moving through those things I learn what is most important.

Without those things,
I would not be the person I am,
I might never have sought out the connection with God that I am finding now, and
I could have gone through life like all the people in my dream - not even noticing the "packages" that were dropping from the sky.

So, today, I hope you notice it all! As you open the packages, be grateful for all of your life because it is YOUR life, YOUR journey, and it has brought you to the place you are at this moment. No other path would have led here....

Merry Christmas to All!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Moving Back to the (Expensive) Name-brand Drug

Thanks to all for the comments, emails, hugs and encouragement. I am still here. Lots of racing thoughts and disconnects are making it hard to write coherently.

I was on name brand drug (from the previous post) for five years. Two years ago they switched me to a generic which still worked. Then, ten days ago the pharmacy switched to a different generic, and it does not work.  which did not work at all. I took it for five days, and each one was worse than the last.

Now I am back on the name brand. I believe it's already better than it was, but I'm just really pissed off that my life is so easily thrown in the toilet by a corporate decision  to switch to a cheaper generic - a decision over which I have no control.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stupid Generic Drugs

I've been feeling very anxious for a few days. I set up my medications for a week at a time, in a dispenser. When I was taking my handful of pills this morning, I remembered the pharmacy had changed my Welbutrin - the antidepressent - from one generic to another.

I'm sure that the new manufacturer is cheaper for Walgreens, and that's why they switched. Since they can charge me the same thing, regardless, they make more money on it if they can get it cheaper.

And, it seems like one generic should be the same as another, but I was worried when I first saw them because they look entirely different. They are half as big, for one thing. They are also a chalkier consistency.

This is a slow release medicine, so I am concerned that it might not "release" the same way if they've used different fillers. I had an issue with this medication once before when I was in the hospital for one of my surgeries, a few years ago. The hospital gave me a different version of Welbutrin and I became extremely agitated and then, later, very depressed. It was hard to pinpoint that exact cause for my distress with all the other meds they gave me, but once I switched back to the name brand Welbutrin - my husband brought me some from home - it got better.

A couple years ago, the pharmacy started giving me the generic, and I was worried about it. The pills looked exactly like the name brand, so I gave them a shot. After a few weeks I decided that they worked just as well. The ones I picked up last weekend look very different and now I'm wondering if taking this different brand for three days (today is day four) is contributing to my anxiety level.

I keep a chart by my bathroom mirror. I fill in a number from 1 to 10 in these categories: How I've slept (recorded only in the morning); how I've eaten (recorded only at night); and my morning and evening levels of "connectedness", anxiety, sadness and irritability. At the end of the day I have 10 numbers filled in and I add them up. The total - a number from one to one hundred - gives me an idea of how the day was on the whole.

I write a little note next to each day as a reminder of what went on that day (meeting with C, CoDA meeting, writer's group meeting, daughter home, etc.)

On Sunday, the last time I took the old generic, my total for the day was 80. It dropped to 68 and 60 on Monday and Tuesday and to 47 yesterday.

Trying to get the name brand is going to be difficult and expensive, but I don't know what else to do. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reading Between the Lines

(written january 26th 2009)

ALONE
When
LOST
They
BROKEN
Find
ANGRY
Out
EMPTY
What
NEEDY
You’re
STRUGGLING
Really
HOPEFUL
Like
WISHFUL
They
DON’T CRY DON’T CRY
Will
RUSHES
Turn
SAD
Against
AFRAID
You.
WANTING TO REMEMBER
When
AFRAID TO REMEMBER
They
WANTING TO FALL INTO IT
See
WANTING TO FIGHT IT
Who
DESPERATION
You
WAITING
Really
WANTING IT TO BE OVER
Are
GET AWAY
They
RAGE
Won’t
DESPAIR
Like
NO CONTROL
You.
HAVING IT ALL AND IT ISN’T ENOUGH
Never
UNDESERVING
Let
IT’S WRITTEN ALL OVER ME AND EVERYONE CAN SEE
Them
PAIN
See
ANGUISH
Who
SHAKING
You
DON’T CRY DON’T CRY
Really
WHY DO I FIGHT IT
Are.
WASTED TIME
Keep
UNBEARABLE
It
NOT WORTH IT
All
SHAME AND GUILT
Locked
KNOWING WHAT I MISSED
Away
ANGER
Deep
ANGER
Down
ANGER
Inside
HOPELESS HOPEFUL HOPELESS HOPEFUL
Where
RUN AWAY
Nobody
RAPID CYCLING THOUGHTS
Will
RAPID CYCLING EMOTIONS
See.
CIRCLES WITHIN CIRCLES
If
RUSHES
You
TINGLING
Let
BUTTERFLIES INSIDE
Them
SOMETHING ALMOST REMEMBERED
See
FUCKING PISSED
What
BURNING BURNING BURNING
I’ve
EVERYTHING BURNING
Made
HOT COALS AND HOT IRONS
You
BURNING RAGE
Into
RED HOT ANGER
They
HANDS ON MY FACE
Will
STROKING HANDS
Know
HURTING HANDS
What
CAN’T BREATHE
I
FEAR
Know.
ANYTHING TO SURVIVE
If
RUN AWAY
You
GET AWAY
Let
MY BODY CAN’T MOVE BUT HE CAN’T MAKE ME STAY
Them
GONE GONE GONE
In
PAIN
They
FAR AWAY PAIN
Will
MORNING LIGHT
Hurt
ALL A DREAM ALL A DREAM ALL A DREAM
You
NEVER HAPPENED
Like
DON’TCRYDON’TCRYDON’TCRYDON’TCRYDON’TCRY
I
NEVER TELL IT
Do.
NEVER SEE IT
Never
NEVER KNOW IT
Let
NEVER FEEL IT
Them
NEVER EVER FEEL IT
See
RUN
Who
HIDE
You
SMILE
Really
LOOK AWAY
Are.
AND NEVER FEEL ANYTHING AT ALL


Email to my therapist:

Does it ever really go away?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Climbing

There is no over the hill... there is no top of the mountain. In reality, we are all climbing all the time. I have come a long way, but I still run into obstacles, find things I can't get over and have to take the long way around. Sometimes people are ahead of me, and sometimes those same people are behind me. We all have set-backs. We all have triumphs.

It's okay to feel like crap sometimes. It doesn't mean there is something wrong... it's just life.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And the Award Goes To...

I received another award for my blog:
The Honest Blogger Award!
Thank you Mountanmama!  I appreciate it.
This award is for women who:

* Speak our truth from the heart and tell it like it is.

* Share openly and honestly our true feelings without fear of judgement, blame or shame.

* We write to share our achievements so others can also share our joy.

* We write about our bad times too, knowing that the love and support of others is around us and perhaps heal another’s pain in the process.

*We are human beings with real feelings and emotions and REFUSE to hide behind a mask.

* We dare to be different

* We are Free Spirits

* We realize that by spilling out, we lighten our load.

* We acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses and don't see them in terms of success or failure.

* We laugh together and cry together

* We are all following our own journey in our own unique way

* Above all else, we may lie on the floor, screaming and kicking, or feel like life is collapsing around us once in a while….but at the end of the day, we drag ourselves up, dust ourselves off and rise to fight another day. For we are Warrior Women and we write not to please others, stroke our own egos or be judged, we blog because we care! Our blogs are our therapy, and through sharing SHIfT HAPPENS! This award was created in particular for the following Honest Blogger for she has opened her hearts in public and gained many friends in return....
Honesty is definately something that is up front and center in my life right now. Honesty with my therapist, honesty at my meetings, honesty with my sponsor... and most of all honesty with myself. A couple years ago, I would not have know what that meant. To me, now, honestly with myself means admitting and accepting my past, taking a conscious look at my goals, and understanding my motivation as I move forward towards those goals.

I notice that the award says "the sisterhood of shift happens". That is very clever! I think I will remember that everytime someone says the more common version of that saying.


I am giving the award to:
Grace at Good Enough

Congratulations Grace! If you would like to accept the award, right click on the picture (its on my side bar) and save it on your computer, then upload and accept the award in your blog. Be sure to copy the text that tells what the blog is about, and pass it on to another woman whose blog is honest!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stages of Grief: Shock

An article at this website talks about the seven stages of grief. This is a common theory, but I liked this particular explanation. The author, Tess Thompson, has this to say about stage one:

1.The initial reaction is usually a state of shock and disbelief on hearing news of a loss or death. Somehow, the gravity of the situation does not register. People in this stage tend to disbelieve the information and try and disregard the facts. They may also try and prove that the harbinger of the news is not a reliable source of information.

Email to my therapist, Wednesday, January 14th, 2008 - one day after remembering "the worst of it":

I so want to cry and yell and get it all out of my system but I just can't do anything. I sit and wait and nothing happens. I feel numb. No reaction at all. Just this undercurrent of tension but even that feels far away. On top are fragmented thoughts that scream at me like a waking nightmare, blocking out my emotions.

I want to be done with it. It's so frustrating to be unable to make it happen.
I can't feel any of it and I can't seem to do anything else either.
I'm just frozen here.

Yesterday there was a sort of counterbalance of feeling that at least I've reached the worst of it. I could see the light on the path clearly ahead, and it felt hopeful.
I wanted to put that hope down on paper and not forget it.
Writing helped some. While I was writing I could focus on that hope for a while.
When the story was done, I didn't feel better. I felt alone with this emptiness.

I can't even climb inside it like I usually do. Usually when I face something big, it threatens to consume me, and I feel it surround me until nothing else exists.
But I’m just numb.
I tried to just sit and think about all the loss and hurt and sadess, but I felt nothing.
I tried to physically destroy the monster with an effigy and my hammer, but I still didn't feel anything. I just cleaned up the mess and walked away.
.
Wouldn't you think that it would be easy to be angry, to cry?
I can't make it happen.
I don't know how.
I can't make myself feel and I can't seem to move on without feeling, either.
It's just too awful to comprehend. It's as stifling as grief when someone has died.
It's too real and yet feels so removed from me.
Its as if the someone who died is me.

I sent two more emails that afternoon, both saying about the same thing. The apathy, the complete lack of emotion was not what I expected. I'd always been such an emotional person – at least on the inside. It scared me to actually look inside and feel absolutely nothing.

Email to my therapist, that night:

I went to the online [CoDA] meeting tonight. That was good. It was a safe place to talk. It's hard around here because I can't talk about it. I don’t want to tell anyone. I didn’t really say what I remembered but I feel like everyone knows. I feel like it’s written on my face, in my words, on my being.

I keep thinking this can't be right, just feeling nothing. I'm so out of it, my thoughts are so disorganized and unrelated. I wanted to try to make some kind of promise to myself for tomorrow, that I would make it a little better, at least shower, dress, make some food, eat something...
I just don't know that I can keep that promise right now.

I still have this feeling that it can't be true. I don't want to believe this little girl inside who is telling me this. How reliable can she be, really? I feel like I'm going to wake up from this and it will go away. It doesn't feel real today.
But then I hardly feel real today.

I'm going to bed.
I want to be done with this day.

Response from my therapist:

I see the grief process in what you are experiencing today. Shock, denial, bargaining are the first steps through. Anger and crying will come. Honor the process. You have not yet voiced (you have only written) the painful trauma. That also will come in its time. You may voice it to me, or you could join a local group for those who have been sexually abused. Again, in its time.
Let me know if you want to talk, by phone or in person. This is an important time for you and I am here to help you through it.



Shock.  It made sense. In a very removed way, I looked at myself and realized I was in shock.
I stopped worrying about my lack of emotion...s and started worrying about what it would be like when everything turned on again.

Email to my therapist, thursday morning (two days after acknowledging "the worst of it"):

It's so hard around here because I don't feel like I can tell anyone what's wrong. I try not to let on how bad I feel, how out of it I am and just - lost. I can't explain it to [my husband] or the kids. How could I?
I can't imagine ever saying the words out loud,. If that's what it takes I may not get through it. I just don't think I can do that.
I know they see that something is up. I know I've been weird this week. Last night I went outside in my pajamas for a few minutes just to feel the cold - just to feel something. January in Chicago – not exactly the time and place to go for a stroll in my pajamas. I knew it, in a very detached way, even then. I just wanted to feel something.
[My husband] was angry. I snubbed him completely, telling him to leave me alone.
Like everything else, we didn't talk about it further. this morning it was like nothing happened.
I feel very alone with this. Very alone and I don't see any way that will change. The numbness is still there, but I'm aware of a strong undercurrent of turmoil that threatens to overwhelm me. It's terrifying. How can I do this alone, and how can I ever tell anyone.

This is a miserable way to live.

You talked about a blanket. I feel a little less silly about something that I've done that last two nights, because you said that. I sort of invited this little child that I saw so clearly in your office to sleep by me. I put a heavy feather pillow up against me and held it and it seemed like it was that child. Safe, protected...
I felt funny about it in the morning, like I was seriously losing my mind - like those women you see in movie-asylums walking around carrying a doll...
I feel a little more than yesterday. In my head I see myself just running out the door screaming over and over. I have to keep promising myself that I will stay warm, eat something, etc. to keep that away. It's as if I can make it all go away if I just do what I'm supposed to do.
But I know, somewhere inside, that it isn't going to work.
It's a long weekend for the kids.
I wish I could leave, go somewhere by myself.
The idea of taking all the ativan and ending up in some hospital for a few days didn't' sound too bad last night. I know that's bad. I know. But I feel so trapped here. I know that it's harder to reach you on the weekends, too.
I just don't know that I can do this.

Another email, that night:


Hey
we all went out for dinner and then to a movie, since the kids don't have school tomorrow. We saw "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". I liked the movie a lot and it was good to take me away from everything else for a few hours.

As soon as we were home, it all just kind of hit me again. It seems like each time it hits me, I come a little closer to really - knowing.

I still can’t imagine telling anyone my thoughts, right now.
I suppose the first step is telling myself. I'm going to write down everything I remember. I don't know what, after that. I probably should stop thinking three steps ahead when I'm having trouble with step one.

Thank you for all your time this week. It really meant a lot.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Facing the Demon

A tiny child walks along a path. She rests when she needs to and walks when she wants to. She has a blanket to keep her warm. She smiles as she rubs its satin edge against her cheek. She takes in the vibrant colors that surround her. The smooth road is splashed with large patches of light that makes its way through the tall trees on either side of her. A cold darkness looms just beyond the uneven edges of her path, but she walks on, unknowing, unafraid, with her truth helping to light the way.

She wanders around a curve in the road. Something startles her. A racing pulse and a cold sweat replace her innocent calm. She has come face to face with a demon. She clutches a corner of her blanket, holding on for all she’s worth. Her inner light flickers as she steps backwards, and one foot comes down on a rocky patch, off the path, in the shadows.

Eyes wide, a frozen figure of fear, she screams. Fangs and claws and hot breath descend on her. She tries to suck in air, but there is none. She pulls harder, but it’s no use. The powerful monster controls the very air she is trying to breathe.

Thrashing panic follows. A restraining immensity covers her completely. One hand is pinned down. The other flails, throwing her blanket, her comfort, far into the shadows. She closes her eyes to the darkness, her mind to the fear, her heart to the world.

She silently pleas for breath. One breath. Please, just one breath.

A sound penetrates the cacophony of screaming silence. The creature coos a counterfeit incantation as he removes his foul hands from her. She pulls air into her tiny lungs and takes what comfort she can in the false offering.

Silence follows. Tentatively she opens her eyes. She can’t see the demon. She can’t see much of anything. She sits up in the darkness and strains to make sense of her surroundings, but it is too dim to see beyond her own outstretched hands.

Her heart pounds a new rhythm in her body, one of fear and confusion. Where is the road?

On hands and knees, she crawls through the darkness. She carefully places her hands in front of her, one at a time, feeling around on the ground, trying to find the smooth path she remembers. Instead, she finds painful chaos.

Thorns pierce her palms and legs as she moves through the shadows. She can hardly swallow around the panic as a longing begins inside her. She realizes that something she hadn’t even known she possessed had been taken from her in that one hideous moment. She picks her way through the brambles as best she can, and all the while one word resonates inside of her: home.

I will never find my way, crawling along the ground. Standing up, she moves forward, slowly, tripping often and turning when her way is blocked completely. She strains her eyes, searching for the light she is already starting to forget.

She finds no light.

In the darkness, a putrid stench announces the return of the demon. He has total control. She is such a tiny girl and he is such an enormous power. She shuts out her thoughts and her fear , her hope and her anger.

When the demon has gone again, she picks herself up and moves aimlessly through the prickly brush. She no longer searches for the smooth and colorful life-path she had once followed. She lives in constant dread. A tiny girl has little chance against a demon. Her only thought is to keep herself safe.

Again and again, the demon appears. He controls sensation and emotion and takes the air away.
Life is a dark walk through the woods. Fear is her ever-present companion. On a journey with no destination, she staggers, scurries and stumbles.

Gradually, the tiny girl grows a little bigger. As she struggles, she grows strong. She can make her way through the trees, and avoid the jagged cliffs and cold, murky lakes, even when it is completely dark. She is very good at surviving and forgets there was every anything more.

She finds a little cave. The cave is too small for a demon. She decides to stop moving forward and stay near the cave all the time, where she can feel safe. Now, when the demon comes to steals the air, she crawls inside and hides in the dark recesses until he is gone and she can breathe again.

She moves blindly through days and weeks and months and years. Buried deep inside her there is still a longing; a constant, unidentifiable yearning which makes her anxious and angry. I have everything I need. I am safe from the demon.

Occasionally, a flash of old memory startles her. It comes to her like a flicker of light. She closes her eyes and almost remembers something soft, something warm, something other than the emptiness of this God-forsaken place.

Time has passed. She is no longer a child. She hasn’t seen the demon for a while, but she remembers his immensity and power. She hears something in the distance. Her mind fills with dreadful visions of the massive monster she remembers.

She runs to the cave to hide, but she finds that she has grown too big to fit! She desperately searches for another place to conceal herself. She stumbles and falls on a patch of stones and pain shoots through her. Alone, cold and bleeding, she waits for the demon to come. She rocks and cries and nurses her wounds. She is certain that the demon is close. She decides to hold her breath so that he has no power over her when he takes the air away.

She closes her eyes to keep from seeing his terrible power. She waits . She waits. She waits until it feels that her lungs will explode.

I need to breathe!

She opens her eyes and gasps in cold, fresh air. Her racing heart and mind slow gradually as air fills her lungs. There is no putrid smell. She doesn’t see the demon.

Is he here?
Is he real?
Did I imagine it all?

She pushes herself up. Beneath her hand, there is something on the ground. It is not a stone or a branch. The softness feels out of place and somehow familiar. She closes her hand around it and untangles it from the brambles. Slowly, she lifts it close to her face where she can see it in the gloom.

It takes her mind a moment to recognize her blanket. It’s old and dirty but still holds a sense of something she has forgotten. She presses it to her face, breathing deeply, letting her mind slip to a safe and gentle place.

The monster in her memory has developed into something so immense that even the thought of it threatens to swallow her whole. Despite her fear, a calm comes over her. The longing she has always known expands until it fills her up. A word she has not thought of since she was a tiny girl begins to echo in her mind.

Home.

She knows that even death would be better than hiding in the darkness forever. With nothing to lose, she decides to face her demon and find her way back to the path where she belongs.

She is strong, but afraid. She is determined, but cautious.
Silent resolve spreads over her like a cold sweat.
She stands and listens to the voice inside that she has not heard since she was a tiny girl.
She knows which way to go.
She begins to walk.

Ahead, she sees light. As she moves forward, flashes of forgotten color brighten her view. A little further up, she steps onto a smooth, bright path. Light dances on the even surface. It feels easy, true, right. A half-remembered breeze gently pushes her hair from her face. She hears a stream nearby that she knows can quench the desperate thirst she’s had forever.

Even so, she can’t allow herself to enjoy any of it. She steels her heart, waiting for the monster to appear. Even in this place, she is empty and alone.

Her pace is slow, now. She wants to hurry, feeling like she has lost so much time, but she hesitates, expecting the worst at every step. She tells herself that maybe she imagined the monster. She forces herself forward with the false knowledge that the monster isn’t real at all.

It occurs to her that if that’s true, then she has brought all the darkness on herself. Did I really lose my way all on my own? She keeps a wall of steel around her tenderest emotions to numb herself from the self-accusations.

Just as she is beginning to accept that it was all her fault, she follows the path around a vaguely familiar curve. The demon waits in the distance. She stops, filled with the ancient fear, unable to breathe.

She closes her eyes tight, wishing the monster away.
No.
I have to know.
She forces air into her lungs.
She opens her eyes.

It waits for her.

She considers running back into the woods but sets her jaw with resolve and takes a step forward. It’s too hard to look at it, but she continues to walk towards it. She stares at the ground, willing herself to take another step, and then another. With each movement forward, she imagines how massive the creature will be when she stands before it. Her hands are slick with perspiration, her head is buzzing at the temples; blood pounds a steady rhythm in her ears. Slowly she approaches what she most dreads.

Finally, she knows she’s reached the monster. The presence of the creature is stifling. Its foul smell pollutes the air and she chokes and comes to a stop. She forces her eyes up to meet those of the ugly thing that has tortured her thoughts.

Incredibly, what she looks at now, is not the overwhelming monster of the past. It is as ugly and loathsome as she ever imagined, but it is so small she has to squat down to see it clearly. Her steady gaze alone seems to sap the strength and power from the ancient demon. It shrinks further as she watches.

She realizes she could crush the monster of her nightmares with the heel of her hand. In this moment, this revelation, she knows that she doesn’t need to destroy the monster. It is destroying itself. With no fear to feed it, it grows tiny and week. In the light, all its ugliness shows through. It is only a pitiful, twisted smudge of debris.

She stands up and brushes the ugly thing off her path with the side of her foot. For a long moment she reflects on all this encounter means. Something repulsive and nasty had once flared up and overwhelmed her. She shuddered at the feeble, silent cries she remembered and her soundless plea – Just one breath. The horror she recalls brings on a sadness and anger more real and more threatening than the monster itself.

She had been pushed from her path. She had not brought this on herself. This was done to her at a time when she was powerless and small, but somehow she has grown strong. Somehow she has found what she needs to face what she fears most. Somehow, she has faced the demon and that in itself is enough to melt it away.

She looks ahead at a path filled with light and peace. She realizes that soon, when she has pushed through all the murky sadness and anger, the last of the darkness would be gone with it.

Finally, she falls to the downy earth and sleeps. The monster isn’t part of her anymore. From now on, she will live on the sunlit path, where she belongs.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Just Up Ahead


As I was driving today, a song by Pink Floyd called “Comfortably Numb” came on the radio. It was a live version that I somehow hadn't heard before and I thought it might be even better than the original. I turned it up and let its colors enfold me. I got home and pulled into the garage, but stayed in the car and closed my eyes, taking in the whole song.

How long I have been comfortably numb. I found a way to keep from feeling anything and lived in that desolate place since I was toddler. I didn't feel hungry. I didn't notice the need to be touched or held or the need to cry. I didn't acknowledge pain. I scoffed at my need for sleep. Sexual feelings were often triggered by something ugly. This left me feeling disgusted by all of it, but I quickly buried those feelings as well. Even when I decided it was time to give up on highly addictive things like cigarettes and cocaine, I easily turned away from the longing because I knew how to ignore any urge that came to me.

This half-life looked okay from the outside. I knew how to pretend. I mimicked the emotions of others, laughing and yelling and shaking my head in indignation at the right times, faking what I couldn't feel. I kept my secrets. I kept myself locked away where no one could find me. I kept myself safe, but I kept thinking, knowing, that something was missing.

“Recovery” is a word that made me very uncomfortable at first. What did this mean? What were they recovering from? What would they get when they were recovered? “The only way out is through,” is a phrase I’ve heard thrown around often by people who are “recovering”. This idea was equally disturbing. How could you get on a path you couldn’t see to a place you didn’t know?

It didn't really matter, though, because going through was something I didn't want to attempt for most of my life. I couldn't see the point. I was doing okay. I was busy all the time. I was volunteering at school and keeping my house clean and making sure my body was trim and my clothes were in style and my hair and nails were perfect. I was raising amazing children and had a wonderful husband and friends and activities and, well, what more could anyone want?

I’m not sure exactly how the façade of this dream-life began to fade. One day I realized that I didn't care if I ever saw my “friends” again. I stopped volunteering; I stopped all my activities. I barely got dressed in time to pick my kids up from school. The house was no longer perfectly clean, I missed hair appointments and it was harder and harder to find clean clothes and have dinner on the table. I didn't know what was happening, but I knew that I felt empty and nothing had any meaning anymore.

With no connection to the side of life I was living on, going through began to make more sense. I still didn't know what was on the other side, but where I was wasn't working for me. Still, I was terrified of what I was going to find on the way through, and rightfully so. I've been passing through a scary place with pits as deep and dark as the bottom of the ocean- and there are monsters along the way.

What I didn't know, what I never could have guessed, what is only now beginning to become clear to me is, what’s on the other side. If people knew what was there, they would be breaking down doors to get on the rough path I've been on.

Beyond the darkness is the thing that’s been missing all along, but it isn't something you can understand until you begin to see it on the horizon. All I can tell you, if you are about to venture on your own path, is that what waits at the end is worth it. What I see ahead is reality. It's connection. Beyond the darkness are authentic sensations, valid ideas and genuine emotions.

What I see is so real, I can feel it wafting in and filling me up and carrying me the rest of the way.

What I see is life.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Ugly Little Girl

The Ugly Little Girl

Once upon a time there was an ugly little girl.

She was surrounded by dragons which breathed fire at her and made her feel very small. She was sad and hurt and scared, but most of all, she was angry. She was filled with red hot hate. She knew that this was what made her ugly.

Time passed, and she grew bigger and older, but she knew she was still an ugly little girl. She couldn't let anyone see the truth. She did her best to keep away from the dragons, but also hid from the rest of the world.

One day, as the dragons were being particularly evil, a handsome prince passed by. He turned his handsome face towards her and she knew he was there to save her.  She peered at him from behind her hands, hiding her face. He pulled out his sword and fought off the wickedest of the dragons.  He took her to his castle where he could keep her safe.

The ugly little girl continued to hide her face from the prince. She didn't want him to see that she was just an ugly little girl. As hard as she tried, there were times when she was sure he caught a glimpse of who she really was. Gradually she began to wonder about his eyesight. It seemed he only saw what he wanted to see.

She created a costume, spun of beautiful gold and silver and gems. When she put it on, she looked like the princess her prince deserved. She never wanted to take it off again. Sometimes even she forgot that she was not really a princess, but somewhere inside, she still knew that the ugly little girl was still there, just behind the mask.

The ugly little girl and the handsome prince had a baby. The baby was beautiful and perfect and the ugly little girl loved her very much. She looked at the baby through her princess mask, and the baby never saw that she was really an ugly little girl.

She gave the baby everything she could and taught her everything she knew. The baby learned how to love and be loved. Of course the ugly little girl didn’t know everything or have everything to give, but the perfect baby flourished anyway.

The prince worked very hard, wielding his sword whenever necessary. Slaying dragons kept the prince away a lot, but the ugly little girl was content with her baby. For twenty years she wore the costume day and night. She and the prince lived happily
for a while...

When the baby had been given enough love and wisdom and time, she became whole and ready to be on her own. She wanted to go out into the world.

The ugly little girl was happy that her baby had become whole and ready for the world. She was so proud of all her baby was and would be. She even looked proudly at the costume she had made. It had served her well. The baby had always loved her, and would never have to know that she was really just an ugly little girl.

But a deep sadness inside her was getting harder to ignore. The prince and the baby only knew the costume and the mask. That's what they loved. How could they love her if they had never even seen her? This made her feel very alone.

It had been a long time since she’d looked upon the face of the ugly little girl she knew was behind the mask. She'd always thought that if she just didn't think about her, the ugly little girl would go away. But the day her baby set out into the world, she looked at the mask and felt the sad little girl behind it. It wasn't her fault she was ugly. It was so unfair that she had to live her whole life hidden behind a mask.

That night, she dreamt of dragons and fire and loneliness. She woke up in a cold sweat. The ugly little girl seemed to be tearing at the seems of the costume; pushing hard on the mask. Thinking about her ugly little self, she began to feel anger and hurt and fear and a great sadness. It didn't show on the mask, but under the costume it felt like broken glass and hot coals. 

She wasn't ready to give up her fairy princess illusion. She just wouldn't sleep anymore. No sleep, no dream. No dream, no ugly little girl.

She did everything she could think of to keep from thinking about the ugly little girl. She ran in circles and screamed out loud and hid under the covers but it got harder and harder to keep the mask on. She tried glue and tape and string. She cried and screamed and ran some more.

But that ugly little girl was persistent. She pushed and pulled and wouldn't give up.

She princess kept mending the seams that strained and split. She held the mask on with both hands, but it was no use. Finally the day came when she knew it would have to come off.

She stood in front of the mirror. Her hands trembled and sweated. The mask--the beautiful mask--showed a woman who knew how to love and be loved. It was beautiful and smiling but behind the mask she was crying so hard she could hardly see herself.

She took a deep breath.
She counted one... two... three... and then slowly let the mask fall from her face.

I don't know how it ends.... I'll let you know when I do.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Expreiencing more than music

Oh my God, It's got a name!

All my life I have experienced music in an unusual way. I tried to tell my mother, and later, a fellow piano student, but they just looked at me like I was crazy.
Soon I learned not to tell people, and at times I've hardly believed it myself.

But it's real, and it's called synaesthesia.

I see and feel music. It can get very intense. I experience the sounds, but it is so much more than that. Colors and shapes and textures, pounding and tingling and breath-stopping waves of sensations when the music is really good.

And there are other things, as well. There are things that happen with any vocalizations... including words. Oral speach is so hard for me to understand because I am so distracted by the way words look and feel. It's why I believe it's part of the reason I rarely use the phone. I get so much more from the sounds than just the words that are being said, and it's hard to determine which things I am intended to understand - which things the person is trying to convey.

I'm extremely excited. I had really given up on ever finding anyone who experienced music the way I do, but then, today, I got a clue from (of all things) watching an episode of "Heroes" with my kids. There was a new character on there tonight who could see music as shapes and colors. I caught my breath when this played out on my TV. I thought, could someone invent that who has never experienced it?

So I googled it. I found so many entries... and I found that it has a name. I'm not alone! Another secret - out there. I'm a synaesthete.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Revelation from a First CoDA Meeting


On August 22nd, 2008, I went to my first CoDA meeting. The next morning, I wrote this in my journal:
I didn’t sleep too well last night, but finally fell asleep around 1:00. I woke up at 5:30 with a phrase running through my head. A shrink would probably tell me it's mania  because it feels very profound and all-encompassing and it won't leave me alone. I don't know where it came from, but it feels like it was put in my head... here it is:

Give what you can but take what you need.

It's pretty simple but to me it says it all, at the moment. Maybe that's what CoDA is all about? 



Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Journal from today:

I have that feeling again. It's one I never could identify until quite recently. I always was aware of the anxiety, the tension building, but in the past I never could figure out what it was about. Now, i know, from years of therapy, that it is about some part of me, some "child part", that needs something. I am running around the internet like the proverbial headless chicken, looking for somehting that will fix it, but I can't fix it that way. In fact it's making it worse.

I tell myself I don't have time to deal with this right now, but apparently I had an hour to sit here and do all kinds of things that were not helpful at all, including going into a couple sites and posts that I have told myself I would not go into because I have become obsessive about them and I know they are not helping me.

A couple days ago, I identified a problem going back to when I was seven that seems to relate to some of what I've been reacting to. I need to do something with it, find some time to try out what C suggested in an email two nights ago. For some reason, I am afraid to do that, and I don't know why. It's a simple enough exercise, but it involves some meditation, in a way, and I've noticed I've been avoiding that for quite some time. I'm not sure why I would be avoiding meditation, but there is something to that....

A lot of questions this morning.

I have a house full of people, today. We have a family wedding to go to tomorrow, so everyone is in town and several are staying here. I'm going to be making dinner for 16 later, and just got back in town last night, so I have groceries to buy and I still haven't figured out what I'm wearing tomorrow....

It's overwhelming and stressful, and having this other stuff sitting on top is not helping at all and I want to ask God, how can this be the right timing? Why is this happening now?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Goodbyes


It's been difficult few days.
My son left today, to head back to college. I have been dreading it. In a way, it seems strange that it's worse this year than last, when his absence was new. In another way it makes perfect sense. I have opened up to so much more of my own emotions in the last year, that I seem to feel everything  intensely and I don't yet know what to do with it all. I never dealt with stuff like this before. I used to dissociate and leave and come back when it was over...

I don't know what to do when I feel like this. I hide, distract myself, and take way too much Ativan and Xanax for my liking. I had them lined up on my nightstand last night, took one, then the other, then the first again, until I finally fell asleep. I know it's too much, and I knew it then, but I just didn't care. I wanted to make this pain go away.

We bring children into the world, small and helpless and perfect. We work so hard to bring them to the point where they are strong and can take care of themselves, and to keep a little bit of that perfection there - even if we're the only ones who can still see it. Then - it's time for them to go out into the world, away, on their own and I selfishly want them back. I want my little ones back where I can hold them and play with them and tuck them in at night. I want one kiss to make it all better. I want to hear that laughter when I tickle them. I want to bundle them up in a towel after a bath and feel them relax against me.

and it seems as if I'm not even supposed to want it because what is happening is right and good and exactly what is supposed to happen.

I don't know how people do it and yet, here I am, doing it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Breach

Last year, after I incorporated the first set of lost memories from my childhood, I did not feel relief, nor did I have a sense of accomplishment. Instead, I had a strong sense that this was only the beginning.

This image came into my head, and to me it seemed to illustrate a feeling that I was just waiting to drown in all that was coming my way.



When my eleven-year-old daughter saw this drawing, she said, "The girl will float up to the top, and when it gets full, she'll swim out."

I do believe she's right.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What Integration Means to Me


Once again, I'm deleting the text that I will be using in my memoir. I've left the image and the comments
~Shen 2-21-12

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An Awareness of the Grace of God

One of my odd quirks is that I have a very hard time understanding metaphors or allegorical speech. I know it's odd. I create metaphors all the time in my writing and so some people find this surprising. 
Because of my concrete view of the world, I have a hard time knowing what is meant by simple "old sayings" like:

A rolling stone gathers no moss (well, it couldn't possibly while it was moving, but, it can't roll forever, and eventually, when it stops, moss might grow on it... right?)

Don't cry over spilled milk (it’s only milk, why would I cry, unless it was the only milk I had and I had a hungry child, and then we both might cry...?)

Don’t burn your bridges behind you (well, no, that would be stupid. What if I wanted to go back? But if the bridge was dangerous, maybe there's a way around…?)

You get the idea. For some reason it seems to me that people are purposely saying something other than what they are trying to say, and then everyone but me seems to get know what it's supposed to mean.


So, I have trouble with a lot of what I read, and it seems to be especially true when I read books on religion, philosophy, and spirituality. The language sounds pretty and deep and intriguing, but I don’t know what they are trying to say.

Recently, someone I admire gave me a book called “Practicing the Presence”, by Joel S. Goldsmith. She suggested that I read it one paragraph at a time, and meditate on each paragraph until I understood it.

Today I read the first two paragraphs (they were quite short). I read them both about a dozen times. I thought deeply about each word, phrase, and sentence for quite a while.

I pulled it out again, about an hour ago, hoping that some meaning would have seeped into my brain, but if it did, it was like water running through a sieve. (See, I can come up with a metaphor and likely you know what I mean. If I look at it too closely, I wonder how thoughts could be water, and where they would go if they ran through my mind and out again... but that's beside the point.)

So, I spent the last hour deciphering the words and rewriting what I think it means in a way that make sense to me.

Here are the original words from the book:

The secret of harmonious living is the development of spiritual consciousness. In that consciousness, fear and anxiety disappear, and life becomes meaningful with fulfillment as its keynote.
The degree of spiritual consciousness which we attain can be measured by the extent to which we relinquish our dependence on the external world of form, and place our faith and confidence in something greater than ourselves, in the Infinite Invisible, which can surmount any and every obstacle. It is an awareness of the grace of God.
Here is how I broke it down:

The secret of (What I am searching for/trying to understand)

harmonious living (feeling like I am living the life I want to live/knowing that I am exactly where I should be)

is the development of (develop/grow)

spiritual consciousness. (a connection to God.)

In that consciousness, (When I feel connected to God,)

fear and anxiety disappear, and life

becomes meaningful (feels worthwhile)

with fulfillment (I had to look this up because I didn’t have a clear idea of what was meant by fulfillment in this context)

Fulfillment: a feeling of satisfaction at having achieved your desires
• the act of consummating something (a desire or promise etc)

fulfilling - Which causes fulfillment; emotionally or artistically satisfying


with fulfillment (hope/contentment/satisfaction)

as its keynote. (at my center)

The degree of spiritual consciousness which we attain (My closeness to God)

can be measured by

the extent to which we relinquish our dependence (how much I can let go of)

on the external world of form, (the physical world)

and place our faith and confidence in (and trust)

something greater than ourselves, in the Infinite Invisible, (God)

which can surmount any and every obstacle. (to take me down the path I am meant to be on.)

It is an awareness of the grace of God. (Again, this phrase – the Grace of God – I had heard numerous times but still was not sure what it really meant.)

From wikipedia: The New Testament word that is usually translated "grace" is in Greek charis (χαρις). which literally means "that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness".
From a website about faith: When we speak of God's grace, we mean all the good gifts we enjoy freely in life. There are so many. We could spend a lifetime celebrating them: blackberries, buttercups, moonlight, salamanders, etc. A more summary approach is to affirm that life itself is the fundamental gift, with all its delights. For us, the gift of life includes the wondrous gift of being human, finding ourselves plopped down in the midst of the larger gift of creation. That is the bedrock of grace—creation, life, human being. As humans, we are given a unique place in the created order. The creation stories in Genesis are ways of celebrating this original grace. In the stories, God pronounces all creation, including humankind, very good, that is, full of grace.


It (my connection to God)

is an awareness (is knowing/trusting)

of the Grace of God (the gifts God has for me)

And this is my final interpretation of the passage:

The way to be who I am meant to be is to grow in my connection to God. When I feel connected to God, fear and anxiety disappear, and life feels worthwhile. When I feel connected to God, hope, contentment and satisfaction are at my center. My closeness to God can be measured by how much of the physical world I can turn over to God and how much I can trust God to take me down the path I am meant to be on. If I trust in God I will receive the gifts he has for me. I will find my true path and feel peace in knowing that I am exactly where I need to be.

I put this all here because I am hoping that some of you can tell me if this feels right? I still can’t seem to look at what was written in that book and read it to mean what I wrote… so did I embellish and invent what I wrote or is that what others would also find in these two paragraphs?

Friday, July 17, 2009

What is Failure?


Yesterday, someone asked me to think about the word "failure." She told me to notice how much I use it to refer to my own life, both out loud and in thoughts. I realize that I do, in fact, use that word quite often. I seem to dictate to myself that I am a failure every time I can't do something perfectly, no matter how many things I am doing well.

I subscribe to a daily online meditation called "Today's Gift." This morning, the meditation was fittingly about failure. Here it is:

What's the difference between success and failure? Ideal conditions? Half again as much effort? Twice the talent? Ten times "the breaks"? Or is it simply that some people have what it takes and some people don't?

Vince Lombardi, the football coach who brought the Green Bay Packers from fifteen losing seasons to successive world championships, thought success was a matter of inches. A bit more concentration, one extra push in practice, a consistent second effort for a tiny additional gain. He didn't ask his players to be something other than they were - he asked them to improve their best an inch at a time. He knew inches add up, in life as in sports.

In life as in football, it is often the little things that count: going to meetings when we feel like staying home, or speaking our minds, no matter how insignificant our opinion may seem. When we feel like simply hiding - inches make the difference.

Today, I will be aware that I am a champion in the making. I may not make a complete turnaround today, but I will make progress.


So, what are your thoughts? What constitutes success? How can one know when it is really failure, and when is it just self-abuse?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Update

I had a remarkable session with my therapist this afternoon. I needed it. Yesterday was a lost day. I was in and out of myself all day, and it felt like the world was closing in.

A lot of my anxiety was being triggered by my therapist leaving town. It isn't the first time she's left town since I've been seeing her. It isn't the first time I've totally freaked out about it, either, but I think she and I both thought that I was in good enough shape that I wouldn't havesuch a tremendous melt-down this time.

So along with the anxiety, I felt like a complete failure all day because I wasn't able to pull myself out of the downward spiral. Everyone I talked to was telling me I needed to be more self-sufficient, that I couldn't always be dependent on someone else. Every time I heard that I felt more anxious, more like a failure and steadily grew more angry.

Can't they see that I am more self sufficient?
Does anyone realize that it is really hard all the time and that ninety percent of the time I am doing it on my own??

I don't know what I wanted as I wandered from one source to another looking for comfort, yesterday. What can anyone else do to pull me out of that hole? I can say that the one thing that I found the most reassuring was when I talked to a friend on a support site and told her how I was feeling. I said I was doing it a lot, but I just couldn't do it all the time.

She said, "I understand that. Nobody can do it all the time."

I think my anxiety level dropped about fifty percent just to hear someone tell me that I really was not expected to do it on my own all the time.

Thanks to everyone who was around for me yesterday. It meant a lot.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Daddy's Girl


There are things that never were
Things I'll never see
How do I forgive the things
That can never be?



The Shadow of That Which Never Was

Gains in Therapy


After I sent the first Alternate Hand Writing I'd done to my therapist, I regretted it. It seemed too strange, too “crazy” and I was afraid she would judge me in some way. This has been a common fear throughout therapy. I was judged so relentlessly growing up, that it’s hard to remember that my therapist has never judged me at all.

As I fretted over what her response to my left/right writing would be, a memory popped into my head out of nowhere. It wasn't a new memory, but for some reason it seemed to have a lot of new emotion attached to it. Maybe it's because I didn't acknowledge my feelings much, as a child. I let them build to the breaking point and the, often, I dissociated from my life. Emotions were a pretty foreign thing to me. Mostly, I didn't acknowledge my feelings at all until I reached the breaking point, and then I often dissociated.

But in that moment so many years later, after doing the left/right writing, I felt anger, indignation, sadness, and resentment all pounding in my head, together. I had to keep reminding myself that this was progress. It sure wasn't fun and it would have been easier to just avoid them in one of the myriad of tried-and-true distractions I'd developed in my life.
But I didn't.




The image is of the Resources, the protective side of me, the nurturing side of me and my "Spiritual Core Self" as described in the DNMS process. The Resourses are holding the two dissociated parts that I felt inside, that day, They are (I am) keeping them (me) safe.

At the same time, it felt as if the Resourses were keeping "me" (the part of me that most often feels like me) safe from the dissociated parts. It was like setting a boundary with my own memories and feelings, so that I could put the work on hold until my next appointment with my therapist.

This is something that has been a real struggle for me - trying to work on things when it is time to work and put them aside when it isn't. And this is a small bit of encouragement that I will not always have to wallow helplessly in every feeling that emerges.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Images and Tools



A Brief Reprieve


For more than a week after Father’s Day, 2008, I had the longest string of good days I had experienced in years. We got two puppies, that week, I spent a lot of time with my children, and I felt generally happy and full of energy. My journal entries were all positive and incredulous, with an underlying fear that the fall would come.



Back to Work


The big drop in mood did indeed come, and a rush of reactive, memory-induced anxiety came along with it. I say memory-induced not because I remembered something specific, but because I was aware that the feelings I was experiencing were not about anything that was currently happening in my life. I knew that they were driven by things from my past.

This understanding was, in itself, a big step in the right direction. In the past I had always viewed my moodswings as something beyond my control - something that happened to me sometimes, often out-of-the-blue, for no apparent reason. Understanding that these mood swings were caused by something felt like hope because it meant I might be able to find the cause and be in control of my life in a whole new way.




One tool I've used a number of times to help me figure out what part of my past is triggering my present anxiety is “Alternate Hand Writing”. Briefly, the idea is to talk to the part-of-self that is being triggered, whether it is a dissociated part or just a set of memories from the past.

With the dominant hand (for me this is my right hand), I ask questions. The questions are directed at the triggered part-of-self as if this was a separate person. With the non-dominant hand (my left hand) I answer the questions.

Every time I've tried this, I would have a nagging doubt in the back of my mind as to whether any answer to my questions would come. I needn't have worried. Almost always, the answer popped into my head soon after I switched the pen to my left hand. It felt almost mystical or magical, the answers almost seeming to write themselves.




This is a tool anyone can use, any time. It can help you identify what you're feeling and why. I've included examples in my memoir, "Through the Tiger's Door".

Friday, July 3, 2009

More Images



I constantly question whether or not I'm right about my past.
Maybe I'm the one who doesn't remember?  
Maybe I'm wrong?


These are reasons sent to me by my therapist as to why I should trust my own feelings about my parents:


Your children have trouble being around them.
Your husband sees their dysfunction.
Your siblings are not running to spend lots of time with them.......
And that is only as your parents are older and less capable of creating harm.




This drawing is meant to represent the boundary between me and my father. The little child is the wounded part of me that doesn't feel safe around him. In the center are my DNMS Resources - the adult parts of me. There is also a "me" watching from the side, to make sure everything is going okay. She is the one that will determine if something is not the way it should be and take action. The child can trust her to set a boundary when she begins to feel overwhelmed and reactive.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Opening the Door to Me


As my life becomes more my own, I find myself creating much more hopeful images. Here are a few I created during the Summer of 2008.









The comments below are about both the images here, and the text I've deleted (2-21-12) as I continue to write my memoir.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

And the Award Goes To...

As promised, I am passing on the award that I won yesterday.

In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite blogs, all of which I have recently discovered and all of which completely deserve the "One Lovely Blog" award!

http://www.thegirlwhowearsmyshoes.com/

http://justbereal77.blogspot.com/

http://hopeforward.blogspot.com/2009/06/dont-ask-dont-tell-yourself-or-honesty.html

http://tammycounsels.blogspot.com/

http://www.mindparts.org/


In accepting yesterday's award, I am also awarded the pleasure of passing it on to a few others. Also, use this link to visit Mountainmama's blog when you have the chance. 

Congratulations to all the recipients! I hope you have as much fun with it as I did.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An Award


Some brilliant blogger has taken the innitiative to create Blog Awards. These are awards that are passed from one blogger to another to give recognition to favorite blogs. I found this to be a lovely idea when I came across a blog with an award a few weeks ago. So, I was thrilled to find that one of my readers gave MY blog an award:




The "One Lovely Blog" Award

Thank you MountainMama! I love it.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Feeling

Once upon a time, I lived in a place where it hurt too much to feel. Now that I'm beginning to feel, it's like living inside a tornado. Emotions swarm  and I have to decide which ones are appropriate to express. Because I am so inept at this, I try to deal with my emotions when I'm alone, but recently something has been coming up that I can't keep to myself. It is an intensified love for my kids and my husband.

I was really still a child when I met my husband, although I wouldn't have said so then. I was seventeen and he was at the sage old age of nineteen. And, he saved me. I had one foot out the door and the other in the grave. With no will to live and no good reason to die, I was floundering and waiting until I couldn't tread water any longer and could just give up.

And, oh yes, I am aware of how codependent we were in our need to save and be saved. To me it seemed like the magical fairy tale really was coming true.

Regardless, I've kept sturdy walls up between my real self and any other living thing, now allowing myself to experience the full presence of love for anyone.

Lately, I hear this phrase in my head all the time:

I love you.
It isn't sexual or physical at all, and it is definitely not the casual love one might put at the end of a letter. It's strong and innocent and it fills me up. It's startling. It comes from inside me, but to whom is it directed?
Sometimes it seems to be coming from me and to me
Sometimes it feels like it's intended for a Universal Power, which some call God
Sometimes it feels as if it's coming from God and is intended for me.
And then I suddenly find this little child inside and I am stuck again. Is this phrase from her? Is it for her?
Finally I settle on, all of the above.

The more I feel this love inside me, the more I want to express it to those around me. I'm still learning how to express my feeling. I just don't know how people do it.

But I gave it a shot. I know my husband would be amazed a the trepidation I felt as I readied myself to say the words I've said a million times, but to say them with full knowledge of their meaning and full presence to my heart. I said the words, and he said them back. Was there a moment of acknowledgement in his eyes? Did he feel something... different?

I feel as if I'm building a skyscraper with all the work I'm doing, and it may come tumbling down around me at any moment... but I can tell you, right at this moment, the view is awesome.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Art Therapy

Yesterday I was talking to my daughter about the drawings I do after our sessions and she had an insight as to why they are so helpful to me.

It's kind of a family joke around here that I don't do very well with metaphors. Most people assume because I write and paint that I am good with non-concrete thought, but I really am not. All those expressions that you are supposed to just know what
they mean, like don't burn your bridges behind you or don't put all your eggs in one basket, I just don't get them. I see an image of someone burning a bridge or a lot of broken eggs and I can see how that wouldn't be good, but I don't just make the leap from that to whatever situation it is supposed to apply to.

It was something I first noticed in high school Honors English, probably about my sophomore year. Everyone would read a book and then come in saying the book MEANT all these other things that it never said. I just never saw it that way. Even so, when I write, I am able to create metaphors that make sense to me and to others.

When I get home from a particularly puzzling session with my therapist, the images are in my head before I put the first line on paper. I can see a direct connection between them and whatever concept I am trying to grasp. Even so, until I do the drawing (or sometimes several drawings) I can’t hold onto the concept.

I have since learned that there are people who practice “art therapy”. I don’t know much about this, but it seems to indicate that I am not the only one who has this problem with making the leap between what is said in therapy, and really knowing it.

Here are a few drawings I did after particularly stressful appointments. I would love to know how others interpret them.















Thursday, June 25, 2009

Looking Ahead

A friend of mine is turning in the last of her divorce papers today. She is walking away from a marriage filled with every kind of abuse imaginable. The entire journey to this day has been filled with anger and fear. Now that the day is upon her, the day of reckoning, she is overwhelmed with sadness.

It's hard to walk away from the promise of a relationship, one she counted on, hoped through and finally gave up on. All of the "should have beens" and "what ifs" were pouring from her, today, in a tsunami of broken promises.

But no one should live in an abusive relationship. You won't find me writing a lot of absolutes like that, but I can't see any way around that one.

Here's what I wrote to her this morning:

I know how hard you worked to get to this goal, and how sad and scary it is.You did what needed to be done. Now you know the dominoes have all been placed and soon they will begin to fall and you feel like you will just be helplessly watching them drop, one by one.
In reality, you're not "just helplessly watching." Instead, I believe the fear and sadness are exactly what you're walking away from. And, whenever we walk away from something, we are also walking towards something.  
When my daughter left for college, she was so sure of herself, so confident, so ready... until the minute before we were actually about to drive away and leave her there. Suddenly, my incredibly confident and dynamic daughter started vomiting, which was followed by tears of embarrassment and finally complete, exposed fear and grief. Her true feelings were finally out. She was scared to death!
Of course this shouldn't have been surprising. She was barely seventeen. But she has always been very independent, and I just took her self-assurance in stride as part of who she was. 
In the minutes after she started crying, I held her as I had when she was very small. She said, "I don't have any friends here. I'm going to be all alone."
My reply might sound kind of hoaky in the light of a new day, but she has remembered it and brought it up more than once. I said, "Sweetheart, you have friends right yere. You just haven't met them yet."
Corny? Yes. But also exactly what she needed to hear.
So that's what I want to say to you. You are not just walking away from something, you are walking into your new peaceful life, and heading towards relationships that you haven't even imagined yet.

I don't know, yet, how my friend will react to my note, but I hope she will find some comfort there, and carry that into the days ahead. There is still the court proceedings ahead, and there will be custody issues and more hassles even after the moment when she is officially divorced. But in time, I'm hoping she will look to the horizon and walk towards what's waiting there for her, and will never look back.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Resource Energy


When I act from my adult – when I connect to that part of me inside that knows how to nurture and protect me, the part that feels connected to God and the universe - then I really can handle anything.

 One day I will live in that place all the time



Nurturer, Protector, and Divine

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sunflower Dreams

February 21, 2012

I'm deleting the text of this post as I write it into my memoir. I decided to leave the two images I included in the post, and not delete it altogether. The reason for this is that I value the comments from my readers very much. The comments are still visible, at the bottom of the post.








Saturday, June 6, 2009

Memory in a Bubble

Memory in a Bubble
by Shen

Memory in a bubble
Kept harmless ever long
If I burst it's fragile film
Can it right all wrongs
if I sing the valid song?


Buried deep there is a verse
A spirit chord and tone
But day by hour we lose the words
And trembling to our bones
We wander all alone.


Snow covered now and frozen
This fragile, tiny globe
Can it still hold the world I sense
With my remaining hope--
This tiny ball of soap?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Was a Child

.
I feel bad that I felt so alone, when I was a child, that my adolescent years were so confused and that my first sexual experiences were so far from they should have been. I feel angry. I'm working hard not to turn that anger on myself, and to remember I was a child.

At two and six and twelve and even seventeen, I was a child.

There were a lot of reasons why I continually put myself in danger, and why I assumed that everything that happened TO me was my fault. These reasons are still unfolding for me now. But right now, I am seeing that I was a child, and like all children, I passed through lessons to learn, not to be punished.

I can forgive myself.




Sunday, May 31, 2009

Looking at Codependency

The more I beat myself up, the more uncomfortable I am.
The more uncomfortable I am, the less I am able to connect with others.
The less I connect with others, the more isolated I feel.
The more isolated I feel, the more I beat myself up.

I thought I was the only one who lived within that cycle. Because of my codependency, I would assess what people around me expected me to be, and become that person. This was not too difficult to achieve if I was with one other person, or even in a group of people that I usually saw together. However, when two of these people or groups came together, it was impossible to be what I perceived was expected of me by both parties. This brought on anxiety that was overwhelming, and so I avoided situations that might put me in the midst of other people.

Yet it never occurred to me that how I behaved should not be determined by what others expected or wanted.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Identifying a Disociative Part that Reacts to Men.

I've found Alternate handwriting (or left/right writing) very helpful in identifying parts-of-self when I'm working on my own. The DNMS is still my favorite way to find my way through the past, but this is a close second.

Here's one from last year when I was trying to understand my distrust of men.


Right hand: Hey, I know you’re there. What’s going on?

Left Hand: I hate him. He doesn’t care about me.

Right hand: Who?

Left hand: It doesn’t matter. They’re all the same.

Right hand: Who?

(Nothing)

Right hand: Where are you?

Left hand: I’m at home. I’m always at home.

Right hand: What are you doing?

Left hand: Nothing. I should be doing my chores, but I don’t want to.

Right hand: What do you want to do?

Left hand: Go outside. I want to get away. Go anywhere. Get out of here.

Right hand: How old are you?

Left hand: Almost 12.

Right hand: Why are you so sad?

Left hand: I’m ANGRY!

Right hand: Why? Who are you angry with?

Left hand: Everyone. I just want to run away.

Right hand: What made you angry?

Left hand: My father was being an asshole. I hate him. I don’t need him. I
don’t need to talk to anyone.

Right hand: What was he doing?

Left hand: Oh God, the usual stuff. He says things and I have to listen. He never listens to me. I don’t tell him anything anymore, anyway. I can get by on my own.

Right hand: I know. I remember. It’s ok. You don’t have to tell him. You can tell me. I’ll
listen.

Left hand: I’m stuck here. You can’t help me.

Right hand: Maybe I can. I want to help. Come out where I can see you.

Left hand: I cut myself. I scratched letters in my arm. 

Right hand: It’s ok. I remember. Those letters are the initials of a  man you've never even met. You don’t even know him, you know that, right?

Left hand: Shut up. You don’t know. Nobody knows. He talks to me on the phone. I hate being alone here.

Right hand: I do know. I remember. I hate being alone, too.

(nothing)

Right hand: I know it feels good to talk.

(nothing)

Right hand: I’m here. What do you want to talk about?

(nothing)
Journal Entry after the left/right writing:

I had nearly forgotten about that whole thing. I was in 6th grade, and I used to call this guy every day when I got home. It had been just a random number, I used to do that a lot, call random numbers and try to get people to talk to me. Usually people just hung up when they realized they didn’t know me, but he talked to me.

I haven’t thought about that in years It went on for several weeks. I thought about him all day in school and called him as soon as I got home.

I never even met him, but he knew me well because I was not afraid to tell him things. The phone was safe.

I scratched his initials in my arm.

Then, I said -- something… what? Something that made him angry. I remember being surprised that he was so angry. He said I couldn‘t call him anymore.

The marks on my arm were there for a long time.

What did I say? I told him about my arm!

That’s what it was. I told him that I had scratched his initials in my arm and he
freaked out and told me not to call him anymore. He hung up when I called after that.

Wow, I went overboard and then when I told him about it, I felt completely cut off and rejected.

But, it wasn’t real, not a real relationship, just like this. This attachment to Dr. M is no more real than the silly attachment I had to that guy on the phone in 6th grade.

But it’s still really painful. I feel like I lost something important.
That’s all I wanted. For someone to really know me and think I was ok.
I guess it’s all I ever wanted but I am too afraid to let anyone in. But somehow I always take it too far, I always screw it up.

Damn it. I made a mess of everything again.

Maybe it is really not safe to know me.
Maybe my father was right.
When people get to know me, they will find out how bad I really am.
  
At my next session, we began the DNMS process with the new part I had identified through the left/ right writing -- the angry twelve-year-old.
I no longer felt alone.

Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.
~Shen