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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reading Between the Lines

(written january 26th 2009)


Email to my therapist:

Does it ever really go away?

Friday, October 16, 2009


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:

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.


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.
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 fa├žade 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.

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.