Vulnerability: Part 2

Well, you know shit’s going down when I write two posts in a week…

My last post was about the power and beauty of being vulnerable. I talked about how that’s the only way to truly connect with people…to be real, open and honest about who you are and how you feel. I talked about how it’s so hard to do, because it’s risky. You risk having your heart stepped on if you hold it out to someone in wide open vulnerability. But, if you want someone to hold your heart and nurture it, then you gotta pull it out and cross your fingers.  It’s the only way to feel love…by being vulnerable and putting it out there.

Yeah, it’s risky for sure. It takes courage, no doubt about it. You actually have to be pretty damn brave to be vulnerable. Well, to consciously be vulnerable.  You don’t see weak sissies holding their hearts out there, all exposed, all vulnerable and shit. Nah, they wall off their hearts like a fortress. No one’s getting anywhere NEAR that tender spot.  And if they do become vulnerable, it wasn’t on purpose. Someone snuck up on them. It’s easy to protect yourself by not holding out hope to avoid disappointment. Who wants to feel the pain of a broken heart? Well, apparently…I do. Over and over and over again.

Jesus, then that must mean I’m a fucking warrior.

I don’t feel like a warrior right now. I feel like a baby deer that got hit in the middle of a dark road, and the driver stopped, but didn’t take it to the vet. He just looked at that broken, damaged deer…feeling sorry for it, but at the same time, blaming it for running in front of his car like that. I mean, why would someone take a deer to the vet? It’s just a deer. There’s millions of deer out there, and they get hurt and die slow deaths every day. Why go out of your way to save this one? Sure, the driver might start to feel a little guilty, but he pushes it out of his mind fairly easily. Come one now, all he was doing was driving along. It’s not his fault the deer got in the way.  Deer are stupid…

OK, that analogy got a bit off track, but you get the gist…

So, I’m walking that oh so thin tightrope right now, where one side is me falling into the pit of despair. You know, the place of shame and self-doubt, the place where I realize it’s not all these other people who have the problem…it’s me. I’m the damaged one.  The place where I feel pretty damn comfortable admitting that I’m not good enough. That I’m too needy. That if I just say it a different way, or if I just act a different way, then the person I just handed my heart to will pick it up and love it. And the other side of the tightrope is where I feel empowered and worthy of someone taking me to the damn vet after they accidentally run me over. Or maybe I’ll just take myself to the damn vet. Maybe I don’t need a driver at all! My problem is that I can’t consistently stay on either side. I just keep swinging back and forth between the two, and if you don’t pay close enough attention to what I’m doing, you might think I’m bat-shit crazy. So pay attention.

Tonight, I had a revelation. I thought about how I work so hard to heal people. How I have these amazing experiences where I make people feel like they matter, where I don’t judge, where I accept things for what they are.  People tell me all the time how compassionate and loving I am when they hear these stories, or get to experience them first hand. They tell me I am special, loved and worthy. But I’m wondering tonight…am I only doing those amazing things with people to overcompensate for what’s wrong with me? If I create these experiences with my patients, with strangers on the street, with my friends…experiences that result in people accepting my love and giving it back in return…does that make up for the other people in my life who don’t want my love, the people who can’t seem  love me? Is that why I’m doing it all? Am I trying to create love in places it wouldn’t normally exist, in order to ease the pain of it not existing where it should? Do I think this will make me feel less “less than”? Does it even matter? I think it might. Or maybe not. Lately, I’ve been asking what it is about me that keeps love just out of reach. It must be something about me, as I end up repeating the same scenario over and over and over. Sure, these people like me. They actually think I’m kind of great, in certain scenarios. But, as soon as I ask for too much, I’m not so great anymore. Maybe I want that kind of connection so badly, people just can’t handle the amount of love I have to give. I really do have a lot of love to give. Maybe too much. Maybe I’m too intense, and that type of connection I’m craving really doesn’t exist anywhere, so I’m setting myself up for failure by even wishing for it. Maybe I really am too demanding. Maybe I should tone it down a bit. All of it. My expectations. My passion. My needs. My wants. My desires. My love. If I did that, then maybe I could get something, and maybe getting something is better than getting nothing. Does anyone ever really get more than something? Does that really exist?

Wow, that’s almost kind of easy to talk myself into. Of course it is…that’s how I’ve rolled my entire life. How’d that work out for me so far? Not so good. Yet, I’m finding myself leaning towards doing it again tonight…

Yeah….I think maybe I’ll hold out hope for a little bit longer. At least, that’s how I feel right this minute. Tomorrow, I might beat myself up again, but right now I think I want to hold on to the idea that I’m not craving something that’s just a fairy tale. Sure, I still feel like that baby deer, alone, bleeding and crying in the middle of a dark road. The driver has since moved on to wherever he was going. People feel bad when they hit a deer, but they tend to forget about it once they go back to their daily routine. Oh, and you know, there’s more than one driver in my life, by the way. One who just keeps circling me from time to time. “Oh, here he comes….oh, nope…he’s leaving again….” I’m just going to have to get used to the fact that he isn’t ever going to stop long enough for me. It sucks, but it is what it is. All I can do is feel the pain, for as long as I need to, and hopefully find myself dancing in the woods again. Ha ha…that’s so easy to SAY, isn’t it???  Just get used to it. Good one, Jami….

The good thing is, I’ve lied in this road before. I know I will stop bleeding. Eventually, I always do. How do you think I got all these scars? Warriors have scars, they say. So yes, I will try to hold out hope for a little bit longer. Faith is taking that first step, even when you can’t see the staircase. God has a bigger plan for me, and this, right now, bleeding in the road alone…is not it. There’s got to be someone out there who’s searching for an intensely loving, previously traumatized, tightrope walking deer, right?

 

 

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When vulnerability is good

When you have a year like I just had, you learn to pay attention. Like, when my old friend Kara, who is not someone I regularly talk to, happens to send me a text with a link to a podcast, I pay attention. Even though listening to a podcast is something I’d never imagine myself doing. I always thought they’d be boring, which really isn’t fair of me, considering there’s about a million different ones out there, but it is what it is. Let me backtrack a few steps… I hadn’t spoken to Kara in months, when she crossed my mind the other day as I was buying theater tickets. I thought it would be a nice way for us to catch up, seeing a show and spending the night in Boston. I bought the tickets without asking her, and next thing you know, she’s texting me, telling me she’s listening to one of Brene Brown’s podcasts and thinking of me. I ignore the Brene Brown part, because I have no idea what she’s talking about, and I tell her how weird it is that she’s texting me the same day I’m thinking of asking her to get together. She says yes, and we chat a bit and the conversation ends.

A few hours later, she shoots me another text, letting me know she’s coming into town (she lives a good hour away) and asked if I had a free hour or so. Totally last-minute, and her text came as I was in an appointment, so I didn’t answer right away. By the time I answer her, 20 minutes had gone by. I tell her which town I’m in (which is a good half hour away from the town I live in, the town she expects me to be in) and she just so happens to be coming upon that exit that very minute. Ten minutes later, we are sitting having an unexpected dinner together in a town neither of us are normally in. The stars aligned perfectly, so I paid attention.

She talked of these podcasts she was listening to. She commutes to work, so has plenty of time for them. As she’s talking about it, I’m thinking, “I never have down time for listening to someone talk”, but of course, I don’t say that out loud. I listen, and honestly, they do sound kind of interesting. Dr. Brene Brown has spent her career studying shame and guilt. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Anyway, she said one of them made her really think of me, because they spoke of how most people think that the worst part of sexual abuse/assault is the physical act itself, but really, the worst part is the shame that follows. People can get over the physical part, but the shame never leaves. I nodded my head, knowing all to well what she was talking about. I looked at my friend as she described how it affects people’s lives forever, especially relationships, because that shame doesn’t allow us to be vulnerable. And we don’t allow ourselves to become vulnerable by sort of walling ourselves off. It’s a protection type of thing. The gist of it, as I interpreted it, was that people who have relationships with me, platonic or romantic, don’t get the whole me, because I don’t allow that vulnerability. It’s too risky. Or I don’t deserve it. Or I know it’s never going to work out, so I don’t put myself in the position of being hurt. God, that was spot on. Not so much in regards to the me right now, but it sure as hell described me for most of my life. And honestly, it takes a lot of work even now to allow myself to be vulnerable, but I do. Of course, with vulnerability comes the risk of shame…

So, dinner ends and we hug and go our separate ways. She ends up sending me links to the ones she was talking about, where Brene Brown was on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey, and even though I would never normally listen to them, I knew I was supposed to…because the stars don’t align things up for no reason, right? And plus, she had me at Oprah…

I listened to them. Twice. And then next thing you know, I’m asking her if she has the link to Brene’s TED talk podcast, which started it all…and my life shifted. Just like that. You see, I have been struggling with feelings of rejection, insecurity, shame and guilt…well, pretty much my entire life. But more recently, it’s been a struggle due to a few specific relationships in my life. The struggle has sort of come to a head in recent weeks and left me in one of my funks that’s pretty hard to shake. It’s the result of me allowing myself to become vulnerable, and the risks did not pay off, and I easily slipped back into the swamp of shame. It’s crazy how it’s not even a conscious effort to go back to shame. It just happens. You wake up and there it is. Like it never left. I am unworthy.  It took me a bit to claw my way out of that dark area… in a sort of “fake it till you make it” kind of way. I still felt the feelings, but I made some decisions based on the knowledge I’d gained in my practice of therapy and mediation…my journey… and prayed I’d eventually get my heart to match up to this intellectual knowledge and decision. You know… when you know what you need to do, in your brain, but your heart yearns for something else. It’s tough, but the pain of it never working out for me was enough to make these decisions. And once I made them, I found myself wanting to wall off my heart so it wouldn’t be hurt again. Nope, I’m not ever going to put myself in that position again!  But, listening to these podcasts, well, damn… I felt the shift that day! I don’t know if it’s because it’s coming from an analytical researcher or what, but Jesus…was it validating! And it opened my mind to a new perspective. Creativity, growth and joy breed from vulnerability. I think I just found the key to opening my heart without regret. Without shame. Without guilt. Yes, I think someday I just might put myself in that position again! I know I will not ever be able to do this subject justice, so please, if any of you have even a hint of wonder or recognition about this, just click here . 

Because, if any of this resonates with you, then the stars are aligning right now by having you stumble across this post. Watch the podcast. You won’t be disappointed.

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Aug. 26/17

 

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Childhood memories

Isn’t it funny what the brain decides to hold on to from the past? As you get older, the memories become more faded, sometimes disappearing altogether.

I do have a few childhood memories locked in the vault. For some random reason, these ones aren’t going anywhere. And they pop up in my mind, off and on, with no rhyme or reason.  And for the most part, they all suck. Like the time someone ran over a yellow lab in front of my bus stop. We arrived in the morning to see its guts all over the side of the road, and no one cleaned it up for days, I think. I remember waiting for the owners to tearfully come, but it never happened. Or maybe it did happen, and my brain doesn’t feel like remembering that part. That’s the thing about these old memories…I think the brain fills in the blanks when it can’t remember something, even if the filling in part isn’t true. Then, you end up second guessing yourself. “Am I remembering this right?”

Another memory that’s been locked in the vault comes from around 1st grade. Let me tell you, I might have well been invisible in 1st grade. I did not say a peep. I had no friends. I sat by myself at recess, leaning against the wall with my head in my lap, hoping no one would approach me, while simultaneously hoping someone would approach me. And this was years before any of my childhood trauma! God, it’s not easy being a painfully shy child. Anyway, this memory had nothing to do with me. This one girl brought something in for show and tell. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t even show and tell day. I think she just found something cool and wanted to share it with us. Her name was Catherine Wilson. She held this magical mystery item cupped in her hands, carefully walking to the front of the class. I can remember the teacher telling us to be careful when we looked. It seemed like a BIG deal, whatever it was. I could not wait to see it! Everyone was buzzing with anticipation and crowded around her like paparazzi. I was last in line, of course. The kids were pointing and commenting and even though I was standing like a statue in the back of the room, I was filled with anticipation, too. I was dying to see what was in there. Finally, after everyone had gotten their fill of seeing “it”…  “it” was right in front of me. I hesitantly peered over the little Dixie cup she was holding, and nestled gently on top of some Kleenex was a tiny, delicate, sky blue Robin’s egg. I’d never seen anything like it. So fragile looking. So amazing. The only eggs I’d ever seen were the ones in my refrigerator.  Gosh, Catherine Wilson was so lucky. Nothing this magical ever happens to me…

The teacher had us settle down and we went about whatever it was that 1st graders did back in the early 70’s. Catherine put the cup on the corner of her desk as she did her work. At some point, we all got up from our seats for something. Maybe lunch, or to get books, or recess or something that doesn’t really matter to this story. What matters is what happened when we returned to our seats. Or more correctly, when Catherine returned to her seat. Someone broke her Robin’s egg. I think time stood still for a minute. We all took turns looking in the paper cup. The pastel blue shell was crushed. No one was saying anything. She started crying. I can remember her face like it was yesterday. It wasn’t a typical six-year-old kid’s whiny cry. I don’t remember any sound coming from her at all, actually. But her face, and the sorrow it conveyed….well, that’s stayed with me for almost forty years.

I’ve reminisced about this egg tragedy off and on ever since. No rhyme or reason to why I thought about it. I never had any emotional feelings when I thought of it. I mean sure, it was a sad story, but forty years later, it just kind of became the  “Oh, that was the time Catherine Wilson brought the Robin’s egg to school and some kid crushed it”.  Not that I told that to anyone. I guess that’s just the conversation I have in my head, with myself, when I remember random things. Yes, I have conversations with myself in my head…don’t judge.

OK, now fast forward to a few weeks ago. I’m scrolling through Facebook and see a photo of someone I know with someone else I don’t know and I click on something and next thing you know, I’m on someone elses page, who I don’t know,  knee-deep in their photos. Like I said earlier, don’t judge…you know you do it, too. Anyway, it’s the page of a local radio personality and I happen to come across a photo of her 7th grade yearbook. I look at the names on the page and realize it’s my grade. At my school. Puzzled, I thought “Wow, I didn’t know I went to school with Cat Wilson”. It took my 45-year-old brain a few moments to process that “Cat” is short for “Catherine”… duh… and the next thing you know, I can see that little blue Robin’s egg, clear as day. I stared at her 7th grade photo. Yup, even 6 years later, I’m sure that’s the face I’d been remembering all these years. Or had I? What if it was never Catherine Wilson at all? What if it was some other random classmate. I honestly couldn’t remember any of the other girls in that class. It very well could have been one of them, and my brain filled in the blanks for me. Or, maybe it wasn’t a memory at all and just a crappy dream. I had to find out.

I send a text to our mutual friend, telling of the sad, sad day at Hyannis West Elementary school in the early 70s. He relays the story and sure enough, it’s her. She hadn’t thought of that story in a long, long time. I think maybe she forgot. Or put it away someplace where she didn’t have to look at it. Can you blame her? That story sucks. Luckily, we just randomly crossed paths and I was able to bring that shit right back up to the surface! We end up connecting on Facebook (legitimately, this time) and go back and forth a few times, reminiscing about it.

Turns out, she’s a blogger, too. She wrote about this same story today, which you can read here.

So, at this point, we all know this is a tragic, sad story about the brutal demise of an already dead Robin’s egg. A tragic story that sort of became “just” a story, as the years passed. Until I read her blog. You see, now it’s not just a story about some rambunctious  6-year-old poking his thumb into some other kid’s pastel egg. It’s about bullying. It’s about not liking part of your childhood. It’s about kids making other kids feel bad for not fitting in to whatever is considered “normal”.  God, this little girl got picked on for loving butterflies…

As soon as I read about her tormentors, my heart went into my throat for a second….“Oh God, please don’t tell me I bullied her”. Yeah, I had my spurts of being one of those asshole kids. At the time, I never knew why I acted that way. The behavior just sort of oozed out of me. All I knew was I felt terribly ashamed afterwards. Which, at the time, was confusing…because I hated that feeling, yet I bullied more than once. Of course, as an adult, I can now see why I acted that way. Trauma creates trauma.  Luckily, I was fairly confident I only ruined a few kids lives back then, and was pretty sure she wasn’t on the list. But it doesn’t matter. I might as well have bullied her. I made other girls feel the way she did, so what difference does it make?

I’ve spent the past few days thinking about this. Of course, I’m now a completely different person than that damaged kid I used to be. I think I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to make up for being that kid. Not just to the girls I picked on during those few difficult years, but also to the girl I treated the worst…me. I’ve been thinking how when a child grows up knowing inherently that they are bad, they eventually end up acting out that role. I can’t speak for the other bullies out there, but for me it was almost like a way to have some sort of control over at least something in my life. No, I wasn’t consciously aware of that at the time I was being a jerk, but I’m pretty aware of it now. I had no control over anything back then. Not the feelings of abandonment, not the emotional neglect, not the sexual and physical abuse…nothing. I just absorbed it all, like a sponge. Total acceptance. This is just how my life is. This is all I get.

Forty years and tons of therapy later, I’m slowly learning that this is not just how my life is. I do have control over things (well, some things) And I am compassionate. I am not a bully, and frequently bend over backwards to prove otherwise. Well, not really to prove otherwise. I sincerely find joy in bringing peace to others. It helps me on my own journey to peace. You just never know what people are going throughwho spent part their lives being tormented, whether it was by a school bully or a sibling or a husband or a stranger. You never know who has a voice in the back of their head, telling them “this is all I get”. Sometimes, all it takes is a small act of compassion, or more commonly…a small act of validation…to quiet that voice, or to change the words to “I am worth more”.  And that’s something we all should be saying.

 

 

 

 

 

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I guess I’m still healing myself

Something bigger than me happened at work the other day.

I was visiting the home of an elderly man who had fallen.  I was there to monitor a healing infection and tend to his wounds. He was a frail, gentle man who told me he was ready for his life to be over. Not suicidal…the guy is in his mid 90s and not feeling well at all. It’s just time. His doting wife is quite a bit younger and not ready for him to give up just yet. This happens all the time. It’s not easy to face this season of life, even though we all know it’s coming for each and every one of us.

So, I’m at his house for the second time this week. His infection has gotten worse. I tell them he will probably  need to go back to the hospital. He shakes his head. His wife tells me it will kill him to go back, that he just wants to stay home. So, I start the conversation of hospice. Never an easy conversation to have. I keep in mind my mother, who just traveled this journey with her husband, as I look into this woman’s eyes. As much as she’s not ready for him to go, she knows this is what he needs. She can see it’s time. I put my hand on her shoulder as we speak, hoping to channel some peace into her aching soul.

I assist the man to his bed. He’s sitting on the side so I can change his bandages. He asks me, “So I don’t have to go back to the hospital?”No”, I reply. “You can stay home from here on out and we will send in a team of nurses who specialize in keeping you comfortable. They will help take care of you so your wife doesn’t have to work so hard and you can stay home“. He smiles and lets out the biggest sigh of relief.  He says, “My pastor is coming today. I’m going to ask him to talk to God for me.” I’m on my knees as I speak to him, as I’m changing a bandage on his leg. It’s a draining wound, and some traveled down to his feet. I took a gauze sponge and wiped his feet clean. I look up at him and say, “I’m sure he’ll talk to God for you. But you can talk to God yourself. And I can, too. I’ll talk to God for you and ask him to ease your suffering… and hers”, as I gesture to his wife.  He smiled down at me, as I tended to his wounds. “You’re an angel. I can see the wings growing out of there” and he gestures to behind my shoulder. He’s looking at it like he can actually see them there. He’s adorable. I’m such a sucker for these 90 year olds. “You’re an angel, just like she is“, and he looks over at his wife, who is leaning against the wall, looking away in her grief. She would move mountains for this man. But, mountains weren’t meant to be moved, I guess. He puts his hands on my shoulders, then cups my face in them, leans down and softly presses his forehead on mine. Almost like he was blessing me. As I washed his feet. Can you see it now? Can you see how this is something bigger than me?

I finish my work and tuck him into bed. I arranged for hospice to take over, so I knew this would probably be our last interaction. His wife walked me to the door. I tried to give her some comforting words, but I don’t think there really is such a thing, not during a time like this. She thanked me for my compassion and I went on my way. As sad as that scenario is, I felt good about it. I felt I healed them. Not physically, of course. There is no physical healing left in the world for that man. But spiritually, I think I did a decent job. I wondered why it was so easy for me to heal other people’s souls, and so difficult to heal my own. I haven’t felt like I’ve been healing at all, lately.  I thought of him calling me an angel. It reminded me of my angels, the one’s I pray to, the one’s I meditate to, the one’s I think of when I’m feeling broken. One thought led to another, and I thought of all the internal struggles I’ve been enduring recently, and I realized they are easing. I’ve been putting in my work, my gardening.  I’ve noticed the difficulty in healing myself and realized I had been slacking off on my work. The work I do on my own soul to put the pieces back together. So, I put some work in, and soon realized I’m bouncing back from emotional heartache a lot quicker than I used to. Pieces are starting to be put together again. So, I guess I’m still healing myself, after all…

Two houses later, I happen upon a patient with a cute little dog. He said it was a miniature toy schnauzer. This dog was SO in to me! She was standing on her hind legs, reaching up to me, begging for affection. I spent a few minutes stroking her head, her eyes steadily gazing into mine. She reminded me of this therapy dog I used to know, Frank. I had an emotionally intimate relationship with Frank. I swear, I think I can feel love from dogs easier than I can feel love from people. So, I felt an instant connection to this dog. I ask the patient what her name is, as I continue gazing into her eyes, feeling peaceful. He smiles at me and replies, “Angel”.

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Aug. 12/17

 

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Removing triggers

A year ago this month, I was filling in my family on my childhood trauma. A story I’d held inside for over 30 years. A story that shaped every aspect of my being, without me even knowing it. A story I turned around in my brain all those years to make it more bearable, without even knowing it.  A story that guided my actions, my choices, my partners…without me even knowing it. A story that I was terrified to tell, ashamed to tell…yet knew I had to tell, all at the same time.  A story that, once told, left me in pieces. Broken, jagged, seemingly irreparable pieces. It’s funny to read that, because I was obviously broken and jagged well before telling. I just didn’t notice. Well, no, that’s not true, either. I always noticed I was broken, I guess I just didn’t know why. I never knew how to connect the dots.  Now I know.

I grew up inherently knowing I was damaged. I knew I was not like other kids. I knew that joy, popularity, adoration, attention, love and the like went to other kids and didn’t come to me. I think it’s a little strange now, but I never wondered why it didn’t come to me. I just knew it wasn’t in the cards. It wasn’t my lot in life and I sort of accepted it as “It is what it is”.  Wow, writing this now, and knowing a child felt this way is actually quite sad. I still have a hard time connecting that child to me. I wonder why I wasn’t sad about it?  Maybe I was and I don’t remember. It’s easy to block things out that don’t feel good, especially being a kid like I was. I can remember trying to be invisible… a lot. Whether it was around kids I knew I didn’t belong with, or at family gatherings, or even when I was by myself…I tried to be invisible. Maybe it’s because if I became invisible on my own, it wouldn’t be as sad as the reality of being invisible to others? I know I always felt like a burden, and being invisible is probably the best way to not be a burden, right? I can’t say I’ll ever find the answer to that one…

I carried that inherent knowledge of being damaged right up to adulthood. And when you know you’re damaged, you are ashamed of it. Not sure why, but they seem to go hand in hand. Not fair, but what is?  By then, I had learned how to character play. From the outside, it looked like I had it going on! Friends, outgoing, social…complete opposite of that invisible girl.  Just on the outside, though. Hell, I carried that shit right up until last year. I dropped the charade and was honest about who I was for the first time in my life. It wasn’t pretty. But it was real. God, it was downright ugly. I can vividly remember people’s look of disgust when I got to the juicy part. Not so much my friends, because they didn’t personally know the players, but definitely for my family. It was like a “shock and awe” campaign.  Most of them looked down and away, with what looked like a slight wave of nausea across their faces. Geez, no wonder I felt ashamed. They only had to hear the story…I had to live it. Makes sense, doesn’t it?  I can remember waiting, terrified, to hear what they would say. Waiting for them to judge me. No one did. At least, no out loud. I’ll never know for sure what they think inside. The looks on their faces, though…

Everyone seemed pretty supportive, which helped ease that heavy load of shame. How one can spend their entire life carrying that shit around and not know it, I have no idea. But you sure as hell notice when it’s gone! The more I told the story, the more it became just that… a story. I was eventually able to tell it without crying, without trembling, without fearing being judged, without feeling nausea. I removed thoughts, scenarios and people from my life that triggered me and things started falling into place. The shame and doubt slowly became replaced with feelings of worth and confidence. I became empowered. I accepted things for what they were. No one was ever going to make me feel used or unworthy again! It suddenly seemed easy. And there, my friends, lies the mistake….

The problem with my technique is, you can’t remove thoughts, scenarios and people who trigger you. Sure, you can temporarily avoid them, but you can’t remove them. And when your triggers involve family, forget about it. And when your triggers involve family, you might as well forget about it. They find their way back, in one form or another. Some are more camouflaged than others, but they all find their way back in, eventually. Sometimes, they hide in people you would never guess. Removing the triggers is not what’s easy at all. It’s them sneaking back to you, that’s what’s easy. I didn’t even realize that’s what was happening. How could I not realize it? These feelings of angst, shame, rejection, fear… they are supposed to be gone. Empowered people don’t feel those things, right? For me, emotions almost seem like a trigger. When people or scenarios result in me feeling a certain way (typically unworthy or unimportant), I start to spiral. Weird, isn’t it?

I had a nightmare last night. The first one since last summer. I was home alone and I was getting robbed. Masked men were at each window. I can usually tell when I’m dreaming, but not with this one. Just like the ones I had last summer. Scary as shit and so freaking  real. In the dream, I knew they were going to kill me. I could see a scene of my father’s house, and all of my family was over there for a birthday party. I was trying to figure out how to get out of my house before the men got to me, and I could somehow hear my family talking at the party at the same time, about how dramatic I was being. Even though I was scared to death of these men about to attack me, I also questioned myself. “WAS I making too big of a deal about this?”  Jesus, I was embarrassed and ashamed, at the same time I was about to get killed. Sounds about right…

So, now I have to figure out how to get rid of this stuff….these feelings. I don’t want my head to be swirling anymore. I did enough of that last year. Intellectually, I understand all of this. I understand that I need to reduce my expectations and learn to accept things for what they are. I need to learn I can’t make people act or feel the way I need them to. That sounds easy enough. I actually have been able to do that for most of the past year. Suddenly, though, I’m finding that talent to be missing. I DO have expectations. I DO need people to treat me the way I need to be treated. It DOES affect me when they don’t. Shit. How do I get back to where those things don’t happen? I don’t want those needs. I had acceptance, and it’s gone.  I felt lovable and now it’s gone. And it hurts. And it’s confusing. And it’s scary. And it’s sad…

And the most ironic part of all this? If I heard this story coming from someone else, I would have the answers. Why is it so much easier to heal others and not myself?

 

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Highlight of her day

Today was my first day back at work after a week’s vacation. That first day back always sucks, especially if it’s on a Saturday.  Good thing I enjoy my job, and it was not beach weather, so wasn’t as horrible as it could have been.

I actually had a great work day. One of my patient’s was new to me. She’d come home from the hospital a few days ago and was doing well. As I powered up my computer and got things settled, she pointed out a sparrow on her deck railing. It looked as though it lifted her spirits to see it. I told her, “Birds are messengers, you know”. She looked at me wide-eyed. “Really?” She looked like her eyes were tearing up a bit. I never really know who I should say stuff like that to, but it seems to be working out lately.  She said, “I feel like there’s something Native Americans make out of feathers and hang on their walls”. I told her they were dream catchers. I explained the story of the web catching the bad thoughts before they can get inside your soul, while the feathers allow the good thoughts to travel down them into you. I told her I was Native American and had actually just made a dream catcher a few days ago for a friend who was struggling with thoughts…(not something I normally do…only my second one ever). She went on to tell me of her daughter’s sudden passing a few years ago, and showed me the shrine in her living room for her. I asked if she had ever found any feathers outside on her deck and she said no. She lives in an assisted living building. We poked around on the deck for a few minutes, and I realized we hadn’t done any of our nursing tasks, so said, “OK, let’s get to work here. I can’t be talking to you about feathers all day”. She replied, “But it’s the highlight of my day”. She had a yearning, almost pleading look. I paused and smiled softly at her. Her daughter has been gone two years now, but I know she is still grieving. I can imagine you never stop grieving the loss of a child.

I went about taking care of my nursing tasks….listening to her heart and lungs, teaching her about her medications, answering questions, etc. I glanced around the room and happened to notice a vase with many feathers in it. I asked about them and she said she’d picked them up on the grounds of the facility she lives in. I told her, “So, you’ve been getting messages this whole time, and just haven’t noticed”. She smiled and cried at the same time. “I guess I have”. I could see her connecting with her daughter as she said that. She told me she feels her daughter around her frequently, especially at the door to her deck. I said, “Then that means she’s there.” She nodded. We looked at her feather collection together. They were mostly white and gray ones, but two from a Blue Jay. I’ve found 3 Blue Jay feathers over the past few weeks, and I’ve never found them before in my life. I thought that was kind of interesting.

I wrapped up the visit, and she again told me it was the highlight of her day. I could tell she wanted me to stay longer, and if I didn’t have a full day ahead of me, I probably would have.  I think it’s pretty cool that talking about feathers can make someone feel so good, especially after they were feeling so bad. I went about my day and visited 3 more people. Upon leaving the 3rd one, I found a Blue Jay feather in the grass, right in my path…and I smiled. I’m at the point where messages bring me joy, even when I don’t know what they mean. Just like with her, messages can make me feel so good, even after I’ve been feeling so bad.

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Aug. 5/17

 

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