Tag Archives: therapy

Nice things

Working on yourself can really suck. It’s so hard…like sweaty, dirty, hot kind of work. Like gardening. I fucking hate gardening. I love to have pretty flowers and fresh vegetables, but the work it requires to get those things? Forget it! Much easier just to buy them and let someone else do the dirty work. But working on yourself doesn’t roll that way. In this line of work, you are the only gardener in town. Only you can create the harvest. Sure, you can consult some experts in different areas… maybe someone who specializes in weed control, or another who can teach you how to water your soil properly…but in the end, it’s really up to you to do the work. Every. Damn. Day. Seriously, it doesn’t stop. You get into your groove, sweating away, pulling up weed after weed, nurturing your garden with water, sun…building fences to keep pesky animals out, you know…the ones who want to steal your flowers, or even just stomp on them for no good reason. You get into that groove of sweaty work, even though it sucks. Weeks go by and nothing grows, but you keep toiling away, because that lady at the garden center promised you things would grow if you stayed the course. And just when you start thinking about quitting and going back to the grocery store, you spy a little flower. It’s tiny, and the average person might just walk right on by and not even notice it, buy you notice it. It looks so fragile to you, so you do whatever you can to protect it. You become a fierce guardian of this little bloom. You become badass. Next thing you know, the pesky animals know about this badass guardian, and they don’t come around anymore, so more flowers start to bloom. Before you know it, you’ve got yourself a damn garden! You feel empowered. Hard work really does pay off!

The problem is, you get kind of distracted after a while. The flowers are thriving now, and there’s no threat in sight, so you decide to sit on the deck for a bit and relax… you know, because you’re so badass. You start spending your weekends socializing instead of digging, because really…a garden this successful doesn’t need constant attention, right? After a few weeks, you notice a couple of weeds. You realize it’s because you’ve been slacking off, so you get right back into your work routine. At this point, it’s pretty easy to get rid of them. It’s hardly even work anymore. Before you know it, you’re right back to sitting on the deck with your friends, going out and living life…taking chances on things you’d never had the nerve to before. That’s what empowerment does to you…it makes you brave. And maybe sometimes, a little cocky. It doesn’t take much time at all before you find yourself in a situation you think you deserve, because hey...you earned it after doing all this work, right? And maybe you do deserve it, but here’s the thing…maybe you don’t. Or maybe you let your expectations get a little too high. Or maybe you think you’re ready for something big, but really… you’re just not ready. You want to be ready, but there’s just too much gardening to do. You took some time off from the hard work and got yourself into a really distracting situation…and you got yourself this really nice thing…and now the weeds are everywhere. They’re so overgrown, they engulf whatever it is that was distracting you from them. Like they are getting revenge or something. And this is why you can’t have nice things….

Or maybe it’s because all the work in the world is not enough to fix what is wrong with you…

 

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Raining outside my bubble

I’ve been living in a comfy bubble for the past 8 months. It was soft and sweet and comforted me. I crafted this bubble out of people and activities that nourish my soul. It’s worked pretty well for me. I’ve been happy. I’ve grown from a compact seed to a blooming flower in there. It’s like a perfect greenhouse…plenty of sunlight and water and full-time gardeners to tend to my flowers and pull my weeds with me. I’ve become empowered and bold inside this nifty garden bubble of mine. I healed inside this bubble.

The thing is, bubbles are fragile. Everyone knows that. As soon as it comes in contact with something sharp, it pops. So, what on Earth made me think I could get away with living in one? My cozy little bubble popped this week. Just like that. It came in contact with something very jagged that I had tried to keep way out in the periphery.  You think I would’ve seen this jagged thing coming, seeing how bubbles are transparent. Was I too busy having a good time with my gardeners? I wonder if maybe I did know it was coming, but just looked the other way…wishing it away.  Pretending it wouldn’t find its way in…

So, my bubble popped and the sunshine went away. Easy as that. And, the sun was replaced with a dark cloud, right over my head. A cloud that rained down on me. All of a sudden, there were weeds growing everywhere. My gardeners tried to keep up with them, but I shooed them away. I hated those weeds and knew no one really wanted to be around them.  I found myself standing there alone, in a pile of weeds, in the rain…missing my garden.

So, I did what any other recently healed woman would do in this situation. I cried. A lot. And I sat under that storm cloud all week and just let it rain all over me. It got to the point where I couldn’t figure out where the rain ended and my tears started. They just blended into one giant flood of emotions… anger, sadness, worthlessness, blame, shame, insecurity…I waded around in that flood and then just floated in it, letting it soak in to my core. This wasn’t my first rodeo in this kind of emotional flood. I think back to my good friend, Mary, telling me last summer, as I was bitter about this same exact subject…”Sometimes, you’ve just got to sit in your shit”. I didn’t really understand what she meant at the time, but I figured it out. Sometimes, life just sucks. Period. You can do all the motivational, inspiring speaking you want on the subject, but it still sucks. And sometimes, you just need to honor your emotions, without blaming or judging yourself for having them. Just sit in your shit for a while. Let the rain soak you to the bone.  Feel your feelings. Eventually, the sun starts shining again, even if just a peek…and you slowly start to dry off…

So now, I just have to figure out life outside the bubble…

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS June 24/17

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness Saturday

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The idea of a man

Almost my entire life, I’ve had a skewed perception regarding men. Though, I didn’t realize it was skewed until this past year. I’m glad I finally found out. Some women take those thoughts to the grave without ever knowing.

I suppose the confusion started when I was 13. I won’t go into details, other than to say I did not get to choose who to lose my virginity to, nor at what age I was to lose it.  The misconception grew, over the next few years, as similar scenarios played out with 3 different boys. By the time I was 16, it was painfully obvious what my purpose was with the opposite sex. Other than my body, I had no value.

As I got older, I was able to choose who I wanted to do these things with. The problem was, by that point, I didn’t know anything different from what I had experienced, so ended up putting myself in situations that left me feeling the same way I did at 13. It’s funny (not funny) how the brain talks you into recreating trauma scenarios, just because it’s all you know. You grow up accepting that “other people get those things…you only get this”. Having no value rings true, even towards yourself.

Long story short, I went to therapy. It’s been over a year now since I started. I learned that the heavy feelings of worthlessness and shame were not because of things I’d done…they were because of things done to me. I never knew that. Can you believe it? I honestly never knew that. Well, once I figured that out, I became angry. I was angry at every man who ever made me feel “less than”. Angry at myself for letting it happen. Angry at my husband for being just like them, even though I now know that’s the whole reason I chose him. I started to take my power back. I got divorced…and realized I did not want another man. One friend jokingly called me a “man-hater”. It wasn’t correct. I didn’t hate men. I just hated what a lot of men did. I started to speak up about injustice towards women…and spoke up loudly. I became a feminist. It was empowering! Lifting that heavy weight was liberating to my soul. It was like nothing could stop me…unless I talked about being with another man. Those thoughts caused a sinking feeling deep inside me. When I felt them, I felt defective and ashamed.  I guess I wasn’t completely healed…

So, I continued with my feminism. I continued with accomplishing new things and using my voice to keep that empowered feeling. I continued with therapy and yoga and mediation and writing…all the things I learned to do to nurture my soul…to heal. I started to lose a lot of that anger. I softened. I hollowed out my soul. Honestly, I’m not sure what I want the end result to be. Maybe I’m already at the end result. Maybe I’ll never get there. How will I know?  Do I need to be OK with having a man in my life to prove to myself that I’m totally healed?  I’m not sure I do.  What I do know is, after continuing my work, after nurturing myself the way I’ve always craved it, instead of fearing men… I’m now comfortable with the idea of a man in my life.  I’m comfortable with the possibility of meeting a man who empowers me, who lifts me up, who adores me…a man who values me.  And if that doesn’t pan out, I think I’ll be just fine…because I empower me, I lift myself up, I adore me and …I value me. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted. I firmly believe that the challenge is to love yourself. Once you are able to do that, everything else falls into place. What that “place” is, I have no idea…I’m leaving that up to the universe.

 

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness Saturday…free-flowing, organic writing with no edits!

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Mar. 18/17

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Admitting I have a project

For the first time in years, I have down time. My divorce is moving along, I’ve finished up most of the work that’s left after selling my company (doing dreaded taxes next week, ugh) and my new job allows me to be all done by the afternoon. It feels weird to not have tons of work looming over me, to not be connected to my cell phone 24/7 in case of a work emergency…to just go to work and come home and be done. It also feels weird to not have the need to write, every spare moment. I filled up a good dozen journals over the past year, processing my childhood and my current life problems. I had no control over it, like smoking cigarettes. Now, I pretty much just write in this blog, maybe once a week. I don’t have the need to go to therapy that much anymore, so when the kids are at their dad’s…I’ve got down time. I’d heard it existed, but wasn’t sure if it was a rumor or not. It’s true. There really can be time in the day when I don’t HAVE to do something! So, this week, I’ve finally started tackling a project that I’ve been thinking about for a year…. I started writing my book.

Wow. I haven’t really admitted that to anyone, yet. It feels weird to say it… to read it. I started writing my book. I’ve told my friends “I’m transcribing my journals”.  That’s my way of tricking them/me into thinking I’m just writing them out on word docs for the sake of having them in one place. I don’t think any of us really believed me, though. They all have been telling me I should write a book, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to actually admit that this is what I’m doing. I think maybe I’m afraid. It feels kind of grandiose to announce, “I’m writing a book about myself“. What if people say, “Who gives a shit?” Hell, I say that to myself all the time. But then, I follow it up with, “I don’t give a shit if people don’t give a shit” and let it go. That’s the glory of spending a year diving head-first into intense therapy, yoga, meditation and writing…you learn to not give a shit and to let things go. It’s freeing. If something hurts me, I let myself cry and feel whatever emotions it brings up, without shaming myself for having those emotions and most of the time, without shaming the person who hurt me. Then, I just let it go….most of the time. Hey, I’m not perfect…

I finished transcribing my first journal into a word doc last night. Over 30,000 words. I’m using Dragon dictation software (something I highly recommend, if you have a lot of writing to do). It doesn’t really like swears, though. I keep trying to train it to understand I’m not saying “ship” or “flock”, but I guess it’s more pure than me.

It was interesting to read where I was exactly one year ago. Amazing how much a soul can grow in that amount of time. Who knew souls could even grow? I sure didn’t. I was full of despair and was so sure I’d end up a failure. I felt so broken and damaged beyond repair, like a seed cracked wide open. Little did I know, that’s what it takes to blossom.

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Mar. 4/17

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness. It’s organic, free-flowing writing in response to a prompt. I like participating because it makes me write! I’m lazy!

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A feather in the woods

Early last summer, I was neck-deep in the therapeutic process of dealing with my childhood trauma. I was also in the process of dealing with the real-time trauma of my imminently ending marriage. It was during those darkest times that my “awakening” began. As I started to wake up, I realized there was a much bigger picture I was a part of. I began to feel in tune with nature, understand spirituality and realized the universe was more intertwined with everything in my life than I thought it was. I started to see “signs” almost daily. The synchronicities were too many to ignore. The most fascinating ones were the ones with animals. Deer and hawks, to be exact.  I get that I live in an area where deer and hawks live, and understand there’s a chance I’ll see them from time to time, but this was something completely different…especially the hawks. They started appearing right in front of me. They would swoop right in front of my car as I was driving, several times a week. It was scary at first, but as I realized what was happening, I began to feel the peace in it all. Even though I wasn’t sure what everything meant, just knowing it meant something was enough for me.

My soon to be ex-husband thought I was crazy. He would make fun of me and my “signs”.  He even got the kids in on it.  It was hurtful to me. It wouldn’t be now, but back then…I was fragile. I would try to explain the significance of what I had seen, and he would often come back with, “oh, I see that all the time”, dismissing my enthusiasm. I would end up retreating to my room, feeling small and embarrassed.  It got to the point where I no longer shared my “sign” sightings with him. Seeing them made me feel excited and hopeful, and those feelings were so easily ripped away with his off-handed comments. I don’t think he intentionally wanted to make me feel that way, but that’s just how he is. My feelings have never been a priority in this relationship.

One day, I went for a hike in the conservation land on our road with my youngest son. He had gotten in trouble at school and was not allowed to watch TV or video games for the weekend, so I used that as an opportunity to get him to walk with me. Boredom made him eager to get out and do something, even if it was walking with his mom. He’s 13… you know how that goes. Anyway, we had a GREAT time! We took paths we’d never gone down before…got a little lost along the way, and he enjoyed deciding which path would take us back out again.  We came across no other people…just us and the woods. We enjoyed small talk about all kinds of things…school, relationships, careers…we created a heartwarming memory together on that simple walk. As we neared the end, I was really appreciating this one on one time with him…time with no distractions, no electronics….just me, my son and nature. On the final path out, something caught my eye on the ground. It was a feather. Off-white with brown stripes. I picked it up and called out to my son, “Look! A hawk feather!” I was amazed, yet not totally surprised, as the hawks had been making themselves known to me all spring. My son asked, “How do you know it’s a sign, mom?” He said it half sincere and half mocking. Almost like his automatic response was to make fun of me, like his dad did…but part of him was truly curious. I replied, “I don’t know it’s a sign for sure, but it feels like a sign. I know that when I look at this feather, I’m going to remember this kick-ass, quality time I spent with you. This day wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t get in trouble. It’s almost like the universe had you get in trouble so we could spend some quality time together. Every time I look at this feather, I’m going to smile, because I’m going to think of you, and I love spending time with you”. He paused for a second, smiled, and said “oh, I get it”, and led us out of the woods. I was glowing.

I pretty much floated home after that. I felt good. Moments of feeling good were fleeting back then, so I didn’t take it for granted. We walked in the house and my husband was in his usual position, in front of the TV. I was mindful of how I wasn’t sharing any of my synchronicity stories with him anymore. Actually, we had been barely talking to each other the past few days at all.  He had been trying to, but I had been giving him the cold shoulder. I was miserably depressed most days, and I’d had enough of feeling unworthy to him… and the rest of the world.  At that point, he was trying his hardest to not annoy me because he wasn’t ready to move out. Walking in that door, I felt so happy…so good…I figured I’d bite the bullet and tell him the story. Surely, with all that was going on, he would at least pretend to think it was cool. “We had a great time! Guess what we found on our walk? A hawk feather!” I was smiling from ear to ear. I showed it to him proudly. My son was smiling, too. That feather meant something to both of us now. My husband took a few seconds to change his gaze from the TV to me. With the slight condescending tone I’m used to, he says, “Are you sure that’s not a turkey feather?” My smile drops in an instant. “Don’t ruin this for me” I say back to him softly. He looks at me, shrugs his shoulders and says, “well, I can’t help it if it’s not a hawk feather” and turns back to the TV. I felt the tears stinging. My shoulders slumped. My son went up to his room, and I tossed the feather into the trash, went into the bathroom, and cried. He watched TV and didn’t think twice about it.

The next day, I went to a therapy appointment. I wasn’t sad anymore. I was angry. Not at him, but at me. I felt like such a baby for crying over a stupid feather. What the hell was wrong with me? There are worse things in life than finding out a hawk feather is a turkey feather, for Christ’s sake!  My therapist could tell by my scowl that something was bothering me. I didn’t want to tell her. “It’s so dumb. I have no idea why I’m so upset about something so stupid. I don’t even want to tell you, it’s so ridiculous”. I really had no intention of telling her how childish I was being about a stupid feather. “Tell me”, she said firmly, with a protective yet nurturing tone. Reluctantly, I did. I finished the story crying, saying “I don’t understand why I’m so upset about a damn feather!” I was so angry at myself for having those feelings. In her typical knowing way, she tells me “I know exactly why you felt that way. He crushed your spirit.” I looked at her through my tears and asked, “But he’s probably right. It probably is just a turkey feather. He’s probably right about all of my signs.”  My therapist is all about empowering women, and damn…she is good at it. “So what? All feathers are signs.” Really? I did not know that. “And who cares what he thinks? This is about you, not him”. She follows with, “Please tell me you kept the feather.” I told her I threw it away. She shook her head and sighed. As I said it, my head hung down and I felt a little ashamed. She was right. He crushed my spirit, but at that moment, I also realized…I let him crush my spirit. It was amazing how I could spend 2 days beating myself up for how my husband made me feel, and she can make me stop in 5 minutes, just by validating my feelings. I’m telling you….validating feelings just might be the answer to all the world’s problems. 

I went home and immediately dug through the trash. I found the poor feather, covered with wet coffee grounds and some other substances I wasn’t quite sure of. I delicately washed it like a baby in the sink and let it dry. I never told my husband, and he never brought it up. I’m sure the conversation went right out of his head as soon as it happened, while I dwelled on it for days. That’s how we rolled. I’m not sure if he even remembers it when he sees the feather. I’m finally at a place where I really don’t care what he thinks.  I have it in a small bud vase that I filled with sand from my favorite beach. It’s sitting right in my dining room, next to a picture of my son. I look at it every day and smile, thinking of that hike. That feather makes me think of how much I love spending time with my son, just like I said it would.

 

This post was written in response to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

 

 

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS and #JusJoJan Jan. 28/17

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It never goes away

I’m a nurse. A visiting nurse, to be exact. I travel around town, spending 30-60 minutes with ill people. They are mostly senior citizens, doing what they can to keep the clock ticking. I find the job to be quite rewarding.  My purpose is to help these fellow beings stay home…to keep them relatively healthy and out of the hospital. I’m a helper by nature. It doesn’t even seem like work, most of the time. It feels like helping out my neighbors…which is literally what I did one day last week.

I was assigned a new patient who lived around the corner from me. She’s about 80 years old and suffering from some fairly decent health issues. Two of her children live with her, in her 2 bedroom condo. They take turns throughout the day taking care of her…giving her medication, doing housework, managing her care. This was my first time meeting her, so I reviewed her chart as we began the visit. Her illness has a huge impact on her life, and it’s not something that can be fixed.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up on hospice by the end of the year. I noticed “depression” as one of her current diagnoses. I kept that in mind as I performed my assessment…listening to her lung sounds, her heart beat…assessing her medications. I talked to her, asking questions about how she was feeling, then about her family. I could tell she was worried, just by the tone of her voice. She told me about her children bickering about how to take care of her and how to juggle their jobs and lives while doing so, about how defeated she felt about her diagnosis, about how she doesn’t have the energy to do the things around the house she feels she should be doing. As soon as she opened up, she shut it down. She seemed as though she didn’t want to appear as if she was complaining. Old people don’t want to be a burden. Unfortunately, this situation is all too common with our senior population. It’s just not easy getting old.

As I wrapped up my visit, I sat next to her on the bed. I looked at her and said, “You know, it’s OK to feel depressed about your situation.” She stared at me, a little surprised. “Really?” she asked, softly. I took her hand in mine. “Yes, of course it is. You’ve got some serious health issues. Your kids are stressed. You’re stressed worrying about your kids. You have questions that aren’t being answered by your doctors.  It’s OK to allow yourself to feel sad about it. The feelings you have are real… and normal. Some bad things have happened to you “. Having spent the last year in fairly intense therapy, I knew all too well what it felt like to not have your feelings validated, and did not want this woman feeling that feeling. She broke eye contact and stared across the room, as if watching a movie, off in the distance. “You’re right, I have. And it never goes away… being molested.” Whoa! I could not believe she just said that. I was talking about her current medical condition and her stressful situation with her children, and she is remembering being molested. I just stared at her, wide-eyed, holding her hand. “Have you ever talked to anyone about this?” I asked. She slowly shook her head no. “No one talked about things like that, back then. No one wanted to hear it”. Damn. This woman has been carrying this heavy load around for roughly 70 years and hasn’t told a soul. What made her say it now? And to me? Was it having her feelings validated? Is it possible that this is the first time in this old woman’s life that anyone made her feel like her feelings mattered? Anything’s possible. Without thinking, I spoke from my heart… “I was molested, too. You’re right…it never goes away. But you know what? Talking about it with someone trained in these things makes it softer…easier to carry”. I gestured to my chest, and she nodded. She knew what I meant. That’s where your soul is. That’s where you carry it. The guilt. The shame. The fear. The insecurity. The pain. She knew. And I knew. “What if I arranged for a social worker to come see you? You could talk to her about it, and talk about what’s going on in your life. Maybe it would lighten the load a bit?” I saw a little spark in her eye. “Oh yes, that would be wonderful!” She sighed a sigh of relief, and looked around, like she was anxious for the next step. I gave her a hug and went on to my next patient. I didn’t want to. I wanted to sit with this woman for days, listening. I wanted to send her to my special therapist twice a week, just like I got to do. I wanted to teach her how to journal. I wanted to take her to meditation class. I wanted her to receive Reiki. I wanted to fix her, as I had fixed part of my own soul. I thought all these things as I waved goodbye.

I see sad situations every day. It’s just an unfortunate part of the job. This one, though…it’s sticking with me. It’s filling me with questions. What if I never said anything about her feelings? What if I was never assigned to be her nurse at all? What if she died never releasing any of that shame? No one would ever know. What if I never told my therapist? Would I be 80 years old and still bearing that cross, without realizing why? After the year I just had, I don’t think anything is by chance. This happened for a reason. Not just to help her release her pain, but maybe something bigger. I think maybe me going through the painful journey of processing my pain was so I could be a part of whatever this bigger thing is. Or maybe, this is the bigger thing? It is pretty big, to her… and to me. I suppose time will tell.  You can’t truly realize just how important validation is unless you’ve never had it, and then receive it. That’s how I know. It never really goes away, but it softens…

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Pretending and the process

 

Pretending. It’s amazing how much of your life is spent pretending, and you don’t even realize it. Once you do it enough, you become so good at it, even you think it’s real. If you’re lucky enough, you wake up. You catch a glimpse of reality and find a path to the truth. If you aren’t lucky, you stay asleep, pretending…blissfully unaware. That’s a funny choice of words. There’s nothing blissful about sleeping through your life, hiding from what’s real…pretending. You just don’t realize it until you stop.

The problem is this: living and speaking your truth…it’s painful to get there. You peel off the layers like onions. It burns. You cry. It feels raw. Then you start to heal, and realize it’s worth the pain, because getting past those layers is so freeing. You start to enjoy not having to pretend. You enjoy living and speaking your truth. You feel empowered. You begin your awakening. Then, out of nowhere…another damn layer appears. What the hell? I already DID that layer! I’m done…aren’t I? It doesn’t seem quite fair to have to go through challenge after challenge, after all the work you’ve done. Shouldn’t this be getting easier, instead of harder?  Several times, I’ve complained in despair to my therapist about feeling horrible for having yet another challenge in front of me. “I’ve been going to therapy for months now, I’ve processed everything…when will I be done?” I was feeling ashamed for not being able to “fix” my life correctly.  Each time, she would smile compassionately at me, saying “You’re trying to rush it. It’s God’s time, not your time. Trust the process”.  She’s right. She’s always right.

A friend of mine is studying to become certified in Reiki. She found this in her manual, just today…”You should also be aware that the higher you journey on the spiritual path, the harder the lessons get. Some think the lessons should get easier, but they do not; beginners get beginning lessons, advanced students get advanced lessons. That is how we grow”.  Yes, this is it, exactly.

It took me some time…actually, I still sometimes don’t get it…to realize this journey has its own path and I can ride along with it or I can choose not to, but I can’t control or predict the work. Just when I think I’ve finished the challenge, another one appears. At first, I thought they were setbacks…but now I know better. A lifetime of work is better than a lifetime pretending. I think I’ve become an advanced student. Not an easy thing to accomplish, and something that causes both great discomfort, yet great enlightenment, both at the same time. Well, not at the same time. The discomfort comes first. Then the enlightenment…maybe. Or maybe the discomfort sticks around for a while. You don’t get to decide that part. You only get to decide whether or not to do the lesson work, not decide on the lesson. I know I’ve got quite an advanced lesson coming up with my dad. Right now, I’m choosing to not open that lesson book. Not just yet. I’m not sure when I will. Maybe someone else will open it for me and hold it right up to my face so I have to partake in it. I’m not really sure how it will go down. Either way, it’s painful. Choosing, not choosing, learning, not learning…it all hurts. The whole situation just plain hurts. Not fair, but it is what it is. It definitely can be discouraging… but you know what? I’m trusting the process.

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS and #JusJoJan Jan. 14/17

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Spirit animals

The hawks have returned to my life.  I haven’t seen them since this summer. They first came to me when I was in the deep hole of PTSD. They say hawks are messengers, that they arrive to remind you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I felt they came to me to support me in my decisions, as I had so much self-doubt. I think I saw at least 2-3 a week…swooping down right in front of my car. One time, as I was crying after bearing my deepest childhood secrets to a friend, a hawk barreled down the road right next to my car. It was flying in a perfectly straight line along the road, as if it was leading me home.  If it was someone else telling me this was happening, I wouldn’t believe them. It was just crazy how they were making their presence known to me. Once I cleared those major life hurdles, they were gone as quick as they came.

It’s been about 4 months now, and they are back.  A few weeks ago, my friend Paula was reading my post on here about my butterfly party. She attended the party, and felt as though something spiritual had happened that night.  She was hesitant to comment about it, though, as she wasn’t sure about my spiritual beliefs. She was speaking to my friend Tracy on the phone about it, and Tracy was telling her I was very spiritual, both with church and with the universe. Just as Tracy told her about my experiences with the hawks (and deer), a hawk startled her as it swooped in front of the window Paula was looking out of! She couldn’t believe it! It landed on the tree in her yard.  She took a picture of it and sent it to me (see below). She felt it was significant that the hawk was facing away from her, but she didn’t know why. I instantly knew what it was. I knew that hawk was for me. I knew it because the week before, someone I love in my family started to slowly turn their back on me about my childhood abuse. Not really about the abuse, but about me talking about it now. And by him starting to turn his back, it made me question if I was making a mistake about my decisions this year. I started to feel self-doubt again. So, the hawks are back.

Just yesterday, I was riding in the car of the nurse who is training me at my new job. It’s a bit overwhelming to be training 40 hours a week, while continuing to run my company until it sells, while having two boys on four different basketball teams, while getting ready for Christmas, while getting divorced. And during all of this stress, one of the toxic family members I removed from my life is not going quietly. And the one who is starting to turn his back on me is not stopping her. And even though I want her out of my life, I don’t want to make a big spectacle out of it, so I’m letting him not stop her. But it still hurts…that he’s not stopping her.  It still hurts that he’s not supporting me. But I get it. The adult me gets it. The adult me gets that people cope with whatever coping skills they have. The adult me gets that I have more coping skills than I used to because of all the therapy I went through this year, and I get that not everyone did that kind of work. I get it, but it still hurts. And when it hurts, I start to doubt myself again. Because I still have that inner child in me, the child who feels nothing but neglect. And as hard as I try to validate and nurture her, she’s still seeking it from the ones who could never give it to her.  I think it’s going to be a life long struggle, balancing her and me. Anyway, I’m riding in this car for work, on a busy road through town, when she says “What the heck is THAT?!” and points ahead of us. There, in the middle of the road, just in front of us, swoops the biggest red-tailed hawk I have ever seen. It was massive, and flying so low and so slow, right in front of us. It was a weird place for a hawk to be flying…with all the traffic there. I smile excitedly. “It’s a red-tailed hawk!” I tell her. She asks if that means something, and I say “yes”, but I don’t want to make her think I’m crazy my first week of work, so I don’t elaborate. We turn left at the next set of lights and travel about a mile, and another damn hawk flies over our car! Not nearly as big, nor close as the other one, but quite obvious. I had adrenaline running through my body…this was something special! I wished I was with someone who could understand the significance of it. I knew it meant something was going to happen in my life. I also knew that something was going to be a struggle.

I went home after work that day, and found out the family member I removed from my life (not really removed, as she doesn’t see us but once a year) had called my soon to be ex husband to invite him and my boys over for Christmas. That caused an uncomfortable conversation that confused my boys and ended up making me feel horrible for them even being involved. Once again, I started doubting my decisions. I went and got the mail, and found a thank you card. It was from a friend I had mailed a Christmas present to a week earlier. I had sent her a hawk ornament, as she has a relationship with them, too. In the card, she said I had touched her heart. I stood there for a few minutes, piecing it all together. My entire process this  year….speaking my truth, doing the work, making tough decisions, validating myself…I’m doing this all because I can’t connect to anyone, not even myself. Do you know how painful it is to not be able to connect to anything because of trauma? Very. So, the hawks are here because I’m doubting myself, doubting my decisions. They are telling me to take a step back…a step back from the family drama, and look at the big picture. I touched someone’s heart. And she touched mine. That’s why I sent it to her. The people who don’t touch my heart don’t have a place in my life. At least not right now. Not while I’m healing. The hawk in my friend’s back yard was telling me that I’m on the right path, even if it seems people are turning their backs on me. Speaking my truth does not make me a bad person, and them turning their backs on me does not make them bad people. I am doing the best I can with what I have…and so are they.

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I was a bully #SOCS

Somewhere between the ages of 12-14 or so, I was a bully. I was one of those kids who made a few other kid’s lives miserable in school. Not a lot of kids, just a few. They were actually friends of mine, that I “sprung” being a bully on.  They never saw it coming. Neither did I.

I hated that part of me. I never knew why I was doing it. It made no sense that I could be walking out to gym class with a friend and just punch her for no reason. I actually did that…we were walking and talking and I punched her in the cheek. I instantly said “I’m sorry” and acted like it was no big deal. What the hell? And she stayed my friend. She was a quiet, meek sort of girl. Just like me. Except I hated that part of me, so I guess I hated it in her. And because she was quiet and meek and didn’t have a lot of friends (like me), I knew  I could get away with it. I didn’t understand why I needed to do that, it’s just something that erupted from me. I felt guilty afterwards. Shame.

I did it to a few other girls. I can remember starting a fight with a friend of mine in 9th grade. I made up a lie that I had heard her talking about me, and I punched her. We had been friends for 3 years, and I spring this crazy shit on her. Just awful.   There was another girl who was new and befriended me. She would come over my house sometimes. No one really did that, so you think I would have valued the crap out of her. Nope. This one day, I decided to become really angry at her and chase her out of my home with a big kitchen knife in my hand.  How scary must that have been for her? I can remember thinking to myself “why am I doing this?” as I chased her, scaring her… like it wasn’t even a really me. Like I was harboring a wild animal inside me and it would just break free on it’s own. I really had no control over it….or at least, that’s how it felt. It was sort of like watching a movie of it happening. When it came out, I think I felt a little powerful, or maybe in control…both things I never had in my life.

Over the years, I felt terribly guilty for how I treated them. Still, I never knew why. I just chalked it up to me being a bad person. I had always inherently known I was “bad”. I was never really sure why this was so…it’s just how it was.  I think I must have thought I was bad since my mom decided she didn’t want to live with me anymore. And I must have thought I was bad because my dad would keep reminding me that he offered me to her and she didn’t want me. He must have offered me to her because I was bad? Is that what I thought? I’m not sure I consciously thought those things, but looking back, I can see that I felt them. You don’t always have to put words or labels to feelings, or even understand what they are. You still feel them, and they define you.

I continued to do “bad” things, because that’s what “bad” girls do. That’s how I made sense of it.  When I was molested at 13, that was me being “bad”.  I figured I had “let” that happen to me because that went right along with me being “bad”. So, it only made sense for me to have sex with other guys when I was 14, because I was already so “bad” for doing what I did at 13. Even though I told those boys no, and looking back now I can see that what really happened is they raped me…I thought I was just “bad”.  I had no control over it. It was just who I was. It was me. I was bad. Not even just bad…I was a whore. But hey, we all know whores are bad, so really, what’s the difference?

When Facebook came on the scene, I found a few of those girls and apologized. They had moved on, of course, but seemed genuinely happy to hear me say I was sorry. I apologized for ruining what should have been the best years of their lives. I couldn’t give them an excuse, because I didn’t have one. That was 7 years ago, and I hadn’t started therapy yet. I was still bad.

Fast forward to now. I’ve been in therapy for a year now. And I don’t mean “just therapy”. I mean deep, painful, hard work therapy. I was going twice  a week for most of this spring and summer. Writing up to 10 times a day in my journal.  Peeling off those 30 year old layers resulted in PTSD…nightmares, flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, confusion, panic…really life changing stuff.  I describe the whole therapy process as a giant jigsaw puzzle. After I process a few layers, I’m usually able to put a few pieces together. Last week, the pieces that seemed like they just might fit was the piece of me being a bully and the piece of me being sexually abused. I wrote to one of my victims and asked her about the timeline. She remembered it vividly (which sucks, because I know she remembers it because that’s when her life was hell because of me). It was right around that time. I’m still not sure if it was right before the sexual abuse started or right after. If it was right before, it must be related to my mom leaving. If it’s right after, it must be related to the sexual abuse (or maybe the physical and emotional abuse of my stepmother?) Either way, in the big picture, the point is moot…. it’s not going to change what happened. I have my answers….I was a bully because I suffered trauma. Does it really matter which trauma caused it? No, it doesn’t.  Trauma is trauma. Which one is minor details. All I need to know is that my trauma caused someone else’s trauma, and that sucks. We are in our 40s now, and they have all moved on, and even consider us “friends” now, so I am grateful for that. And hopefully, by me making amends, maybe when they think back to those awful times, they might not be so awful now. I’d like to think their memories sting a little less now that I’ve reached out to them, but I’ll never really know.

One thing that does not make this whole question moot is… most bullies do what they do because something bad happened to them. Well, I can only speak for myself. Maybe some kids are just born bad, or just have bad role models… but I really don’t think that’s the answer for most of them. I love that schools and society are addressing bullying now. Back then, it was brushed under the carpet as “kids being kids”. That’s wrong. Kids kill themselves from bullying. It needs to be addressed. But I also wonder…if someone had dug a little deeper back then…if they had found out why I was acting that way…do you think I could have been saved? Saved from 30 years of carrying that heavy load of guilt and shame inside me? Saved from making lifelong bad decisions because that’s all I thought I was worthy of?  I’m not going to wonder too much…it’s a moot point. The past is the past. I can look back at it, but only for so long. I need to look forward, because I’m not going back. I’m moving on. All I can do now is try my best to add happiness to the world, including to myself. I hope by doing so, I might reduce the amount of bullies in the world…even if just by one.

 

This post is in response to the prompt “moot” in part of Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. It’s  neat way to stimulate writing. It’s organic…we can’t edit it. So, what you just read is raw…straight from my brain to yours….

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Dec. 17/16

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Baring my soul #SoCS

I bared my soul this year. I never planned on it. I spent my whole life hiding my soul. I was so good at hiding it, even I didn’t know it was hidden. I thought what was on display was all it was, and it took baring it to get me to realize what I really had inside me. How one can walk around for four decades not knowing what’s inside them, I just don’t know…but it happens.

Baring my soul resulted in “opening Pandora’s Box”. It was life changing.  Pandora’s Box doesn’t just close up again. Nope, that sucker stays WIDE open until you deal with what it is you just released. Hardest thing I’ve ever done. I did it, though. I’m on the other side now, and can appreciate just how damn heavy that box of secrets was. Baring it all made me lighter. It made me free. Well,  a little more free. I really had to bust my ass emptying that box…it burned and I cried and it was excruciatingly painful. I didn’t think I would ever get the job done. It’s like the box was going to swallow me up…drown me…because I had to dive head first right into the nasty soul part to understand how to empty it. But I did it. One day, it was just empty. It’s crazy how it just happens. Plugging away, feeling hopeless…then it’s done. Liberating. Empowering. Freedom feels good. Funny, though…how come during all those box emptying days, I never noticed that other box? That smaller box that was inside the big box. Damn. Nesting boxes of souls. That’s just mean! But, that’s how it goes, I guess. I don’t make these rules, I just live with them. So, I find myself now facing this second box, wondering how hard it’s going to be to empty. I’m scared. I don’t want to go through all that again. I’m tired. But I can’t just go walking around with another box inside me. Not after all that work I put in on the first damn box. So, I peek inside and get a glimpse of what’s in store. Yup, still some shitty soul ruining stuff, but this box seems a little lighter. Whew. That’s how nesting boxes work…big one with a smaller one inside, then a smaller one inside that one. I bet after I empty this one, there’s a good chance I’ll find yet another one. Weird thing: I’m not really that scared anymore. I get it now. I already survived baring my soul. I already survived emptying “the” box. All these other boxes are just part of that first package. I can handle it. I might not like it. It might make me sad. That’s OK. I know I can be sad and angry and scared and hurt…and survive. I can’t control how other people are going to respond. I can’t make people be who I expect them to be. I can try to open eyes and hearts, but if it doesn’t work, that’s not on me. In the end, all I can control is how I respond.  I bared my soul…the ugliest things inside me, and I’m still here. I survived. I did more than survive, I grew.

Moral of the story: When life seems like too much to bear….wait.

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This post is a part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. We were given the prompt “Bare/Bear” and then had to write organically…no edits, just let it flow!

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Dec. 10/16

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