A journal of healing

Posts tagged ‘abuse’

Suffering and compassion

reaaching

I have been reading some posts that stuck with me for the past few days so it is time to write my thoughts. The Good Doc wrote one that took my breath. It was about suffering. It was about hopelessness. See the post here. https://doctorly.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/fly-fly-away/

No one knows truly what another is suffering with. The word suffer conjures up images of intense poverty and starvation for most. But everyone suffers with something. I am at loss for why. Many religious fanatics would say it is the will of God. But does that make sense when in the same breath they preach goodness and benevolence coming from this same entity. Why would a higher power want its “subjects” to suffer? I never have nor will I ever understand this.

Do we all have some form of suffering that challenges us? And who are we to judge the level and which is more wretched? Why is it we accept the level of suffering in some and not others?  I could list the things in this world that outrage me and yet, that is about the extent of what I do about it, much like most folks.

And that is because I have to deal with my suffering and getting through life. And truly, that is about what it sums up to be. Getting through it all and making it to the next day. Believe me, my suffering is nothing in comparison to others, but that’s not the point. We all have a level of strife and frustration that is our suffering to deal with.

What makes suffering so miserable is that even though we all have it, none of us feel or deal with it the same. And you cannot truly understand or appreciate what another person is dealing with because being human comes with multiple variables. What you may be able to deal with, I cannot and vice versa.

When I read the post about the girl dying from Lupus, I felt a connection of suffering with her. I too know what it feels like to live with pain.  I too know the frustration of losing the control of the body to something that will kill me eventually. However, my death is not imminent like hers.

I am not wheelchair ridden and I do respond to medication. However, the pharmacy still has not shipped it. Friday I was on the phone for two hours. I was put on hold and just left the phone on speaker. I must have out waited her because when she came back on she said they were shipping my drug and went through the whole procedure to set up the delivery. It was all a lie. She was just getting rid of me. This is my form of suffering because I spent a weekend of not being able to sleep more than a couple hours at a time because of the pain. Is it the same as the girl in the chair? Hell no, but it is my level of suffering.

So what is the point of this post? Although I do not understand suffering and I certainly do not tolerate people who lie to me, I have to live with both. And although it really rankles me, I have to move on.

When I read the post replies to the Doc’s story, I saw different levels of compassion. The Doctor herself has an extraordinary amount of compassion and empathy which is truly amazing. Other posts were not so empathetic. I think unless you have felt the constant and profound pain similar to what this woman in the chair feels, it is hard to imagine wanting to be released from it even if it means death.

So the answer to suffering is compassion. But not only compassion to others, but also to ourselves. I know many of my friends who silently suffer because that is what we do, especially women. We wear our suffering like a badge. “OH, I have so much to do, I am so fat, I have to take care of this person or that child” and so on. They are all valid levels of suffering.

What would happen if business were built on integrity and compassion? What would this world be like if we taught kids from the get-go what compassion is and why it is necessary? What if bullying was not a trend but treated like a plague. What if the government was really concerned about its population it serves and not about self-serving? The list is endless. And none of it is in our total control.

But self-compassion is. So for today, take care of yourself. I think if we did this more, that the compassion would naturally extend out to others. And if you know someone who is suffering, take a moment to just be present for them. That’s all it takes sometimes. Just be there. Listen, care and be compassionate.

 

What if we had a Fattie Ghetto?

I read something earlier today in the paper which has stuck in my craw all day, festering and making me more and more angry. This was an editorial in the A section. I believe in the right to speak your mind. But when something gets published in the local paper, you better have your facts. This woman clearly did not and was out to make her stand no matter what. I got to tell you, if she was in front of me, I would have hit her. (Not really, I do not hit people) but she would have made the running for the first.

Seems she is proposing legislation to sanction overweight people. She wanted to propose a bill or mandate that people who were morbidity obese HAVE to do something about it. I am sure she is proposing surgery. Maybe she would like people to sew their mouths shut, which is pretty close to having your stomach stitched off. She said anyone who is obese would be sanctioned as well, but she did not reiterate how. She had no statistics, but spouted off like she was an authority on the cost of medical expenses incurred by fatties. (my word…because I am really getting cranked up now) She then went on to liken this legislation to be imposed and regulated the same way that cigarette smokers were sanctioned.

Here is how I see her thinking this would work: Every time a fat person wanted to buy food, they would have to step on a scale. And according to whatever weight they were, they would pay a higher percentage for their purchase. Chicken taco for a skinny mini: $3.59. For a fattie, 35.49. with taxes. Seems fair right? I mean, why should we pay for the extra health cost because this person wants to eat? Right? I mean after all, they are so fat they don’t need to eat.

GRRRRRRR….this is akin to a Nazi state. All the fatties will have to reside in a fat ghetto where they only get water and low fat Weight Watcher’s bread.

When my husband and I first met, I weighed less. We were so poor. We were going to college, working two shit jobs each and trying to keep the mortgage. That was my primary bill. That and the ten year old cars we had. When I went grocery shopping, I spent what I could. We were also feeding his 14 year old daughter who could pack it away. What do you think I bought? I bought the cheapest thing that went the farthest; pasta and sauce with cheap meat. We ate it all the time. I have discovered now for me it is the worse trigger food I have. That and white breads, which was another staple. The result of course was we put on weight.

We went shopping this weekend as I wrote earlier. We filled ¾ of the shopping cart with fruits and vegetables. The rest was a 6 pound only white meat turkey breast for $18.00, low fat ground chicken, and low fat other products like broth and some low fat cheese. No crap at all in the cart. Our bill for two people was over $200.00. We can afford that now, but that was more than I spent in a month back in the day.

When I was teaching in an urban college, I remember the mothers telling me how much they hated shopping for food for the kids. It was cheaper to get a happy meal and be done with it than shop for good healthy products. And on top of that, they were going to school and working jobs. When were they supposed to fix these fancy healthy meals?

To that point, I spent the whole weekend cooking. I made Weigh Watcher’s 1 point vegetable soup. I made buckets of the stuff. I made the turkey breast. We had haddock on Friday. $13.99 a pound. One piece of fish spilt between the two of us was almost $15.00. We bought what fruit was available. All of it was ridiculously priced because it has to be shipped in. I just cut it up to have it finger ready. I made low fat burgers for dinner on Sat and the rest will be for the week. The ground chicken was $4.49 for the package. The package is only 12 ounces, so it cost more than $5.00 a pound. Tricky aren’t they? My weekend off was spent on this effort to eat healthy. In between was spent doing wash and cleaning. Such fun!

My point is this. Here I am working so hard at this healthy life style. This B* tch has the balls to throw out there that all fat people should be penalized for being fat because the impact on the cost of medical issues. I am not going to deny that there is a high prevalence of more disease with obesity. However, not all fat people sit on their ass all day watching TV and stuffing their faces with beer and tacos. Some do. I know this. But not all.

When we were driving around this weekend, I was paying special attention to what food joints we passed. I was shocked and thought no wonder this is an epidemic. Every corner had a fast food joint from burgers to fried chicken. There were tons of pizza palaces and taco stands. There were ice cream and yogurt shops, donuts and on one street, two bake shops and a chocolate store. I did not see one salad joint although I know they exist.

And as far as medical costs: here is something to think about. I worked in the system so I know of what I speak. All people diagnosed with mental retardation or developed disabled have the opportunity to have the State and Federal government pay for everything for them from their diagnosis at infancy to death. They can get housing, food, medical treatment and in some cases full ride to school. Most do not get a degree, but the State believes they have the right to a higher education. And they cost the school systems huge dollars because they need so many services and support. And part of their genetic makeup makes them very susceptible to illness. It was rare to have someone who was MRDD live past 30. We used to institutionalize them to keep society safe. We warehoused them in droves. Then Geraldo Rivera went to Willowbrook in 1987 (not that long ago) and the rest is history. My point is that this is a population that cost taxpayers millions and millions. Lots of dollars have been spent to understand their genetic makeup in order to help them have a better life. 28 years ago people who were MRDD were cast out and ridiculed for a genetic hiccup. Maybe we should have taxed the parents for having mentally challenged children and putting a burden on society. What do you think? (By the way, if you agree with this, stop reading, I cannot help you and you should be ashamed)

See, I am sure people do not see the connection. For some reason we cannot move past that not all overweight people have a terrible lifestyle. People cannot and for some reason will not accept that because their bodies fight them constantly either with metabolism and/or some form of mobility issue some people are prone to putting on weight. I believe there is a genetic connection. If it was all up to what goes in the mouth or how much movement people do, than why are not all people fat? Some people can eat a house of food and not gain weight. Add to this fact that everything slows down as we age including our ability to process sugar. That’s why everyone is getting diabetes for their 50th birthday. Want to guess the cost of diabetic medical costs? Maybe we should put them in the fat ghetto too as they probably overweight anyways or so they say. I hope my skinny super hyper active friend who was diagnosed at 55 with diabetes reads this. She will love it!

And we have such limited choices if you want to purchase prepared foods that are healthy. Much easier to pop a big Mac and call it good. If you scrape the secret sauce off, it will save you 400 calories….. I am joking. I have not eaten McDonald in 30 years.

I cannot and will not stop fighting for this awareness until I fall on my face and suffocate myself in my largeness. That last part, by the way….was sarcasm.

Why I only see the bad in me…..

On my last post, someone asked this question and I thought it is an excellent question. I knew the answer but I went and did some research anyways. Here’s the question:” Why is it I know all I did wrong and think of nothing right? or see mistakes, not successes?”

When humans first roamed the earth they were given a very basic nervous system called the limbic system to protect them. It is a genetic piece of work that still is within us. The system is our warning system that something is wrong and to do something about it. It is fear radar. I have written before how this all works. Through time, the brain became more evolved and we developed the capacity to override the limbic system by learning in reality what is harmful. For example, we know a hot stove can hurt us, but only if we do certain actions like touch the burner. We do not walk around and every time we face a stove, we go into a panic mood or better known as fight, flight or freeze. Unless you hate to cook.

But children who are raised in trauma based environments face a different learning sequence that changes how they react to things as adult. It is not a failure in the child, it is actually another mechanism put into place to protect the child. It appears that genetics predisposes us to develop in certain ways. But our experiences, including our interactions with other people, have a significant impact on how our predispositions are expressed. In fact, research now shows that many capacities thought to be fixed at birth are actually dependent on a sequence of experiences combined with heredity. Both factors are essential for optimum development of the human brain (Shonkoff and Phillips, 2000).

I often wondered why my reactions to things seemed so much over the top. I am very sensitive. I have learned to accept this part of me as a gift, along with the desire to learn to live in peace with it. I am definitely prone to hyper arousal. I would go off and very little would sooth me even if I knew cognitively that things were not as bad as I was making it out to be. When children are exposed to chronic, traumatic stress, their brains sensitize the pathways for the fear response and create memories that automatically trigger that response without conscious thought. These children have an altered baseline for arousal, and they tend to overreact to triggers that other children find nonthreatening (Child Trauma Academy, n.d.).

We all have voices in our heads. And those voices are the echoes of conversations we have heard before since infancy. Many can override negative voices through affirmations and other verbal training. They can change the imprints of negativity. However children who grow up in violent or chaotic homes are too busy trying to survive. Consumed with a need to monitor nonverbal cues for threats, their brains are less able to interpret and respond to verbal cues, even when they are in a supposedly nonthreatening environment.- if a child’s caretakers are indifferent or hostile—the child’s brain development may be impaired. Because the brain adapts to its environment, it will adapt to a negative environment just as readily as it will adapt to a positive one. But if a child’s caregivers are unresponsive or threatening, and the attachment process is disrupted, the child’s ability to form any healthy relationships during his or her life may be impaired (Perry, 2001a).

The question is why do some people only hear the “bad” in their lives? I do not take compliments well. I always am waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is my parents voices I hear which is totally unfair since they are both long gone. Why can I not move on? But if the early environment is abusive or neglectful, our brains will create memories of these experiences that may adversely color our view of the world throughout our life. Explicit memory, which develops around age 2, refers to conscious memories and is tied to language development. Explicit memory allows children to talk about themselves in the past and future or in different places or circumstances through the process of conscious recollection (Applegate & Shapiro, 2005).

This study goes into the effect of long term negative environment. It explains that the brain continues to grow and develop with whatever stimulus the child is exposed to. One way that early maltreatment experiences may alter a child’s ability to interact positively with others is by altering brain neurochemical balance. Research on children who suffered early emotional abuse or severe deprivation indicates that such maltreatment may permanently alter the brain’s ability to use serotonin, which helps produce feelings of well-being and emotional stability (Healy, 2004).

This was an excellent study to help understand the long term impact of childhood trauma and sexual abuse. More and more information is coming out on the long term effects which will help with acceptance. But the most important acceptance is self-acceptance. Based on this study and others, the situation is daunting. If you are chemically and physically wired for hyper-arousal, self-deprecation and negativity, how do you overcome it? Can you overcome it?

Yes, I believe so. All humans have neuroplasticity, which means our brains will create new neuropathways for life. The process slows down as we age. And it takes more than just verbal input. You have to train the body as well to not react to stimulus incorrectly. You have to learn your triggers. You have to learn what is safe. And by that I mean feel within your body, mind and soul what is your place of safe. And you have to forgive….forgive your predators because if you do not, you are still giving them power. And you have to forgive yourself when things set you off course or upset you. This process takes a lot of work and I honor any who keep on trying because I know it is hard. Just as the child who repeated falls when learning to walk, they get up and keep trying. So goes our lives. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

From:

Child Welfare Information Gateway ISSUE BRIEF. November 2009, Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development

 

2015 New years and dream

Goddess of the garden

Again I am amazed at the amount of stories and bloggers of people who have some form of PTSD and Trauma based issues. And the level of trauma ranges from violence and sexual abuse to anxiety and to incurring self-mutilation. When I first starting this new post, I thought I would focus more on the clinical aspects of trauma inflicted issues but then I thought “who was I to write about things like that?” After spending some time reading other posts I think I will continue to share my journey in the hopes that maybe others can relate. I find in the plethora of blogs out there on the topic there is also a difference in each one. And in my own pursuit I have come across information I did not have. I have felt compassion and understanding and I find this soothing. It is sort of a community. And since I do not see childhood abuse or sexual abuse or domestic abuse going away, I think it is important to talk about it and share.

So in that vein, I am going to share a dream I have had off and on for the last (I sat for about fifteen minutes while writing this and realized the amount of years and was shocked) over twenty-five years. But I must give a brief history for it to make sense. I met my first husband when I was 19. We got married a year and half later. There were signs then that he was violent and a liar and cheat but I did not pay attention. I want to get out of the even more abusive situation at home. I did love him, very much so. He was in a band, had long hair, was over 6 feet and large. He wrote poetry and sometime songs. He wanted to go to Canada with me and start a farm and not be in the military. He was pretty close to being drafted when Vietnam ended. I was a total hippie and the thought of raising plants and animals for a living has never gone away. I would never have raised animals to slaughter, but I love cows and sheep. I grew up on farms of my friends and was no stranger to the hard work that is farm living. But I was young and very healthy and strong back then.

From the day I met him, being unfaithful was going to be a part of my life with him and his friends. His best friend was cheating on his girlfriend and wanted to “date” my best friend, and was hitting on her. That was how he and I met. Once we became a couple, in short order, I realized we had a different meaning of being committed. I never caught him red-handed, so to speak, before we got married. But there were signs. I wanted to be married and on my own so I went onward. But there were a couple of situations where his temper flared, including taking a hammer to the windshield of his van and smashing it right where my face was. This was to be his method of attack in the future. He never hit me directly in the face, but would smash things very close to my face such as the wall or throw something. But, after the home I came out of, violence was nothing new.

What became more pervasive was the onslaught of girlfriends. I will not go into all the details of it right now. In the later years it got so bad that he would pick up women at bars in front of me and go off. Early on I knew something was up and would go through his wallet and find names and phone numbers. I had no shame about going through his wallet either. I knew what he got paid, I knew what he gave me, and I knew how much cash he blew on going out. Early in our marriage, he would explode when confronted on things, and I learned to let it go. But I did not let it go. I brought it all inward. It ate away at me all the time. What self-confidence and self-esteem I had was GONE by the time I was 25. GONE! I remember we both went on medication induced diets and I lost a ton of weight. I was gorgeous and had a body like Marilyn. I attracted a lot of attention. But my head image never changed and I had no realization of being anything but a fat, ugly, unwanted woman. The weight came back incredibly quickly and doubled. He had joined the police department, and the level of ostracization became intense. He quickly gravitated to a couple of women in his class and became too friendly with one in particular. This relation lasted for years. She made it very clear to me that he was involved with her. I was embarrassed and humiliated because everyone in our personal circle knew about it and accepted her and the relationship. She was not the only one, believe me, in the 27 years we were married. He had one affair that lasted nine months before he had to confess because she contracted a STD and he had to tell me. BUT…. I have to explain something that will make sense why I was subjected to this for so long and never got out.

After he became a cop, he changed. I believed in marriage being sacred. My mother instilled abject fear about divorce in me. She said it was the ultimate disgrace and failure on the woman. At the time, I did not know her mother was divorced. I did not find that out until several years after she died. I thought it was my duty to stay and put up with it. In hindsight, I know I was also terrified. And this is what he fed into, as most predators find the Achilles in their victims. He would also become the most violent after I confronted him. One time he got so mad he punched the wall and broke his hand. (served him right) He had to go to the hospital and get it cast.

But he also isolated me. He even admitted he did this when we were going through his divorce. He would do horribly embarrassing things when we were with my friends. And my friends could not stand him. So in short order, the only girlfriends I was allowed to be with were the wives of his friends. I was very blessed that my dearest friend forgave me for the period of time when I did not see her and we have become close again. Other friends did not hang in there. The women who I was in relationship with were very nice, but, I would not befriend them now. There were too many differences, especially with his closest guy friend and his wife. She was a simple woman whose whole world was her family. She had no children of her own, which was horrible for her. But without being condescending, she was also not the brightest woman I have ever met. I have not heard anything from them since the divorce either. The rest of the women were in the same predicament as I. One lady, Linda, had been with her man for ten years. He had another woman, Carol, who he saw every Sunday. He also spent time with her as he pleased leaving Linda crying in the house they shared. We were never sure who he would bring to a party. He cheated on Carol, when he met Linda. One gentleman died “in the saddle” of girlfriend #2. It was such a joke they called her Killer. I am sure his wife laughed all the way to the bank when none of the three girlfriends got anything and he was very rich. There was one guy who kept bringing this woman to our house and events and I made the faux pas of calling her his wife. Nope; girlfriend for over ten years and the wife knew all about it. She preferred to stay home with their children. This list goes on. They all were not cops, but many were. And this is not to say that all cops cheat, but in my permitted circle it was the norm. Most of the women were not highly educated and although some worked, none had management jobs. Some were secretaries, or hygienists or in medical offices. This sounds highly condescending, but they were not interested in anything else. None had outside activities except going to shooting matches with their men. I am serious. Some actually shot. Conversations were about house- hold cleaning products or television. I was even ostracized even within this circle because I believe in gay rights and was called a Feminazi because I was a feminist. It added to the depletion even more of my self-esteem. I had to get out of that circle to figure this out. Many of his circle of friends divorced when the cop husbands retired and they ended up with much younger wives. Very sad. But the real tragedy is what this constant degradation of the wife and the humiliation that goes with being treated that way does to the woman. It strips away every drop of self-esteem you have. Many did not leave because of children, but I found out later, many also were subject to mental and physical abuse. I joined a divorce support group and one of the members turned out to be the wife of a cop I knew only by name. What he did to her was criminal. Being married to a cop has many challenges as the Blue Code protects some and hurts many others.

Now back to my dream. I will preface this also with the facts I am married now to a man that fidelity is not an issue. My husband is the most faithful and loyal person I have ever met. The reoccurring dream is one where I am still married to the ex and he goes through a string of behaviors that flaunt his connection with another woman. The dreams started when I was still married to him. I would wake up crying and humiliated and also very angry. When we divorced, the dreams increased in frequency. I would wake up stressed and upset. Eventually, in the last two years, the dreams would change at the end to me beginning to fight back. There was a couple where I flayed on him. He was a big man so it was futile. It only added to the frustration. More recently, the dream resolves where I am starting to tell him to go f**k himself. Most times I don’t get it out as I become inarticulate and I wake up.

This morning I slept in and the dream came again. Just as I was about to have to face this woman picking up my ex-husband and I to go to some event, yes all three of us in her car carrier truck,…it’s a dream but the other woman always is more macho in activity or had children (we could spent a whole month of that) and I go WHOA…..”you’re an asshole”….and I am about to rip into him and tell him how I feel about this and my current hubby opened the bedroom door to allow our little peanut doggies to wake me up. I was so close.

I have been divorced for 13 years. I have not spoken to him since then. I wrote a letter once but of course never sent it. It helped with some of the anger. The anger I have now is not at him. He was a pathetic jerk and so were his friends. None of them deserve anymore of me. But I am angry and frustrated at myself for not being able to resolve all this in my dream world. It gets to the part where I pull up my big girl panties and I am about to invalidate him and I fail. I am sure there is a whole mess of psychoanalysts who can tell me what this all means. What is very weird is that I have not really talked about much of this period of my life to anyone except in my writing. I think I am still grappling with the humiliation and the fear of retaliation that was so pervasive for almost thirty years of my relationship with this man. He began his isolation and exclusion of me from his life almost from the moment I met him. There is consolation that I am getting closer to speaking up in the dream. In the real world, my self-esteem and self-worth is still pretty fractured. If you couple my childhood years with this period it is 47 years of pure hell. I guess I need to give myself a lot more credit for being able to even have some peace now.

Although I celebrate the New Year on October 31st, I am sending everyone a blessing for the upcoming year of 2015 to be one of great healing and recovery. I hope we all get a bit stronger and fight for help for all the people who are impacted in some manner of trauma to become the Spiritual Warrior they are meant to be. I cannot help but believe there is a reason we all are here. And those who have had some huge battle with the evil of the world, whether it is on a battlefield or in our own homes, we are here to stop it from happening in the future. I really see and feel in my deepest regions of my soul there is goodness and light in everyone and we are not meant to hurt each other. I struggle every day with the whys and what ifs. But the future is where the change can occur, so I wish for it to be a better world for us all.

The Anger Within

I decided again to change this site to be a place of open discussion about other things than just domestic violence and childhood trauma. I realized that just staying so focused on these issues was keeping me in a place I want to move on from. Although understanding the science of trauma is always going to be in my forethought, I want to not dwell on the cause but more on the remedy to PTSD.

For example, I am writing about something today that has been haunting me for a while. What was I like before? So let me explain what this means. I have come to a place where I am so much more tuned into what is happening to my body. I know now when a trigger happens. I feel the changes in my chemistry in my body and mind. I sense my muscles tightening. I feel my shoulders go up, my breath change. I am aware of it probably 75% of the time now.

Now this does not mean I always can control it. It does not mean I don’t go off like a rocket. That’s the thing that I am even more aware of. My reactions often seem to be so disproportional to the situation. But it does not stop me. I am just aware of it. I seem to sit back within and just watch the show.

The other day I went to return a pair of shoes. I had my lightweight purse from going out on Christmas and did not transfer all my credit cards for safety. So I went to return the shoes without the card I purchased them on. I knew before she said anything I had did not have the card. I felt my face flush, my chest tighten, my shoulders raised up and I sensed the cortisol releasing and inflaming me. It was not the end of the world by any means and the reaction pissed me off more than the lack of the card. We could come back tomorrow. I worked at not getting too upset as I slammed out of the door to the car and by the time I sat down, I was calm. My thoughts faced the reality of the lack of the card with a realistic view, but the body reacted totally out of context.

This is not the first time for this either. I am more and more aware of my system going off on “its own” if that is possible. The other week I faced a conflict with an employee. I sat there and listened to her rant, and I mean RANT at me. I have no clue what she was saying either after the first finger pointed comment. I was totally focused on me and what was going on in my body. I felt my face flush and turn bright red. I felt my gut tighten into a spasm and ever muscle in my legs and hands clenched. It was so powerful. My thoughts shut down and I was unable to process her flaying comments about her frustrations. Finally she took a breath and I got up and just left her. I went and calmed myself down as best as I could because I had to continue to the meeting with my boss with her about her issues. I knew I was in a safe place then because my boss and I had talked prior. So I just sat during the meeting and let the employee talk. I was in control, but I will admit, I had to stay completely focused on my body and not letting her get to me. She was not so accusatory and was pretty much shut down by my boss anyways. She also did not have the balls to say the same things to her she said to me.

There are many more times in the past months that I have noticed this physical reaction, which often does not match the mental reaction. I do not like it as I feel I am out of control. But actually, maybe this is the early steps in being able to control things. If I do not know I am having a reaction, I cannot stop it. So I guess I will look at it from this perspective.

It makes me wonder about my father who would explode like a volcano at the most weird things. Sometimes, whatever was the trigger was for him, it was not apparent for us. But then, I was a kid. I think back and he seem to be always on a low simmer that could be fired up at any moment. When I was younger, it was often the alcohol that fired him up, but he had cut back in his later years. And yet, the embers of anger always seem right under his skin, easily accessible and ready to go off. And they did.

For me it seems like I am two different people housed in one body. I am going to keep working on expelling the angry one; the one who loses the ability to be stable and focused. I am a work in progress.

This is a message for all

I am reblogging this actually from another person who reblogged it. It is quite the message The organization who is supported by this blog is amazing and I want to spend some more time reading and learning. There is so much pain out there and one of the ways to help heal is to learn and show compassion.  So thank you Samantha Jane for sharing on your blog. https://bothsidesofthewall.wordpress.com/2014/12/25/because-most-people-need-to-hear-this-more-than-once/

 

Christmas Reflections

manger

This time of year is one of deep reflection for me. It has been that way since I was twelve or eleven. That was a painful time for me. My family dysfunction was rampant and I was old enough to be exposed to it, instead of being sequestered because I was too young. One of my first memories of having insomnia for a prolong period was also at this time of year and began at that age. It has repeated for most of my life and it is not always such a bad thing. I feel we need time to step back and reflect.

I remember sitting by the fireplace with dying embers from the fire my parents had shared all evening. Of course there were the overflowing ashtray and glasses along with the martini mixer still present. My mother would decorate the mantel with a spectacular arrangement of greens and topiary designs. My mother had begun to teach me her art of working with natural materials and flowers and so I appreciated the beauty of her work. It was about this time my mother also allowed me to assist with the unpacking of the small detailed figurines that comprised the manger or crèche. I would sit and gaze at the splendid arrangement and placement of greenery, flowers and candles with the figurines strategically nestled within. When my mother passed away, I insisted on getting the figurines and to this day, still spend time placing and decorating my mantle in her tradition. I do not come close to her abundant talent in creating masterpieces. I still find comfort in sitting and just looking at the lights and decorations, much like I did way back as a young teen.

This time of year, with the long nights and quiet streets, there is a haunting appeal that makes me dig deep into my thoughts. I love the illumination of the houses, windows and varied lighting displays. There is something very cozy and comforting about the soft illuminations.

My reflection this year is different than the past in its intensity. I know I am at a crossroads of some sort. I am been facing my mortality with a little more awareness. I feel time is slipping by me. If you want to kill a conversation that is a topic no one wants to talk about. I feel like I need to do something extraordinary but do not have a clue what it is. My insomnia has started, but because of the drug I am on, it is not as bad as in the past fifty years. I actually do not mind because I know that this time will pass and there is a reason for it.

This is my time to take stock of what is, what I did this past year, and what I did not. And because I am who I am, I grieve a bit for what I did not do. I acknowledge with gratitude the best and not so best of times as they all are learning moments. I plan for things I want to do in the next months and year. And with a mindful approach I focus on the moment that I am in and feel the safety of it. This is a new effort for me and it takes concentration.

I know that this time of year is more than twinkling lights and glitter. But as a young child, there were moments of bonding with my mother that occurred naturally. I wish I could say there was a hiatus from the violent eruptions of my father, but that would not be true. I have some real strong memories of him through tantrums and being destructive. But this time allowed for dreaming and hope. It was a time for singing which was very much a part of my life. It was a time to be caring and giving and no one thought it was cheesy to be insipid with cheer. I could be me which was very vulnerable but there seemed to be a truce amongst my siblings. My fondest Christmas memories were at midnight on Christmas Eve when we my mother would read the Christ story from the Bible and someone had the honor of reading the Night before Christmas. Each child had a candle that was theirs and each child would light it at the beginning of the gathering. The candles were pine trees. There were green pine candles for the boys and a red one for my sister. I was the last one born, and for some reason I did not have a pine tree. I had a white angle with blue wings. That was a special honor to me and to this day I have collected small angels. When I wrote this post was the first time I remembered the little angel candle in a long time and realized the connection to the other angels I have in the house. Wonder-ful!

 

Trauma induced Obesity…. Really? No Sh*t!

rain clouds'

I actually wrote a whole different blog last night. I decided to sit on and not publish. In the morning, I reread and tweaked it and thought I would send it out anyways later. But in going over my emails, I found this email from a friend and therapist who sent me a blog article. I did not get to read it until later in the day. I had taken a break from work and decided to read through. I sat there at my desk crying.  Fortunately no one was around much. I have a heater fan running so hopefully no one heard me sniffling. I stopped and mopped my face up and decided when I got home to reread the blog and then write. Oh…. I was going to write.

I spent time tonight working on house stuff, laundry and the sorts and just sat down a little while ago to read the blog again. I was actually not thrilled about facing it again. I then went to the site and looked at some of the older posts. It took my breath away. It is so overwhelming to the point it knocked me out of writing what I wanted to. I am just ….and I am not sure the right word is that I am. I am mad because there is so much statistical information out there on trauma induced illness and yet it is so unknown by practicing clinicians. I had written about the ACE study before in my blog. If you have not done an ACE study, do so. And then read the implications. It is enlightening.

http://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/

But now as the night has progressed and I spent it reading instead of writing, I am going to let the blog speak for itself. It is quite a collection of information. I am going to share the one line that made me cry. And it is terrible. The author is sharing the story of how the doctor who was working in creating an obesity clinic was upset because he was not successful. He went on to dig into many of the (obese) patients’ history and found a resounding amount of them had some form of childhood trauma. That is not what made me cry….it made me slap my head and say out loud, “Really? No shit!” This is right from the Dr.’s story after he had given his results to a body of educated physicians and clinicians.

So, if you were Vincent Felitti, whom would you pick as your first audience to reveal your stunning findings? A group relatively informed about obesity that would greet the new information with extreme interest, praise and applause? Natch. So, in 1990, Felitti flew to Atlanta to give a speech to the members – many of them psychologists and psychiatrists — of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. The audience listened quietly and politely. When he finished, one of the experts stood up and blasted him. “He told me I was naïve to believe my patients, that it was commonly understood by those more familiar with such matters that these patient statements were fabrications to provide a cover explanation for failed lives!”   http://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/

……..A fabrication to cover FAILED Lives?   Oh man did that stick in my craw. Truthfully it makes me furious. So again, because someone is obese (and I hate that word with a passion) the presumption is that (1) they lie and (2) their life is a failure. If you think this is an exaggeration, you are not in the world of being overweight. The reason I was crying is because it happens a lot. To read someone with such credibility admit this was overwhelming to me. It is pervasive in the medical field and I face it every day at my job. That is exactly what people, doctors and other clinicians have projected to me. I have heard other large people tell about me about their discrimination. A person I know just died because they refused to give her a liver transplant because she was overweight. Prime personal example: years ago, I had gone to have some work done up to find out why my a1c had spiked. I had the Chief of the Endocrinology department tell me I was a waste of time, that I would never be able to lose weight or exercise like HE did and so he was going to march me down to bariatric surgery immediately and get me fixed. (I have to breathe deeply every time I think of this) He never looked at my chart. If he had he would have seen my blood sugar had spiked in three months after a life time of low to normal readings. It took me having to read and discover that the prednisone and other drugs they slammed me on for the PsA all raised blood glucose. AND when I went off, it came back down. I went to see a nephrologist after one of my kidneys failed. Again, he never discussed anything but the fact that I was overweight and he wanted to bet me, BET me, that I would NOT be able to lose weight. I think he thought he was challenging me. Again, no one ever told me for a year my right kidney had failed…first concern…and that I had developed stones and they were a by-product of the PsA…it took me eight years to find that out and I should have been medicated then, eight years ago, to reduce the creation of more…which happened. No one can see past the weight. I am a non-person.

That last statement about being a non-person is very telling. I am going to stop tonight and let it just sit out there. I hope you will skim through the blog article: http://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/

 

 

 

 

Righteous indignation

I have been reading some new blogs. I am impressed with all the people who participate in writing as a form of expression of themselves. I actually started writing as part of my therapy. It has helped a lot. But I am disheartened by the content of so many blogs that I read. They are so many hurt people in this world. My vulnerability is showing and I do not care what people think of that. I have in my soul a place that feels deeply for so many. Maybe it is the Christmas music playing. Maybe it is because it is Charitable Tuesday. Something is weighing on me. This time of year brings out the good and wondrous, but also misery seems to increase. Maybe it is because we want the good at this time of year, the bad seems more heinous.

I like Christmas but I do not like all the commercialism. We have an event here called Roc the Day. It is when there is an all-out campaign to hit people up for money in the county. It is competitive by organization and it is very popular. Our organization had three entrees on the website for donations. I gave to one, but I also give at other times. The thing that bothered me was I overheard our foundation person talking to someone about how successful this is because of Christmas. People are more generous now and so they created this huge marketing plan in an attempt to get more donations. It works. But I do not like the idea of playing people.

And this led me down my path of righteous indignation tonight, especially after reading some blogs. What makes adults play on children, or should I say prey on them. What in the world creates lechery? Why would someone intentionally kill the spirit of a child for their own pleasure? I think part of why I struggle with this is because of my own experience. I will never understand why things occurred in my life; at least not while I am still in this plane of existence. I think it will be clear someday. I hold on to that as a concession. But tonight, it is overwhelming.

We accept that soldiers of war suffer from PTSD. But talking about childhood trauma and sexual abuse is still taboo. PTSD is not talked about or widely known as a medical condition for non-combat women. I think, and this is my personal theory, that it is because it is taken upon by the victim as a badge of shame. That they (we) feel they deserve what happened, or there is something so wrong or broken with them,(us), that they,(me), have a hard time sharing it or even talking about it. I know I do not speak of my childhood experiences with just anyone. And for the most part, I cannot articulate my experiences unless I write. I cannot speak about it. That is why I have such a feeling of companionship from the blogs.

Tonight I read about some pretty sad situations. This is not judgment, it is their story and to say it is anything but that it was sad would be not real. Even though the people have made a success out of their lives, at what cost? I think what potential was lost. I think of that often for myself. What could I have done with my life if I had not escaped by marrying the wrong person at such a young age? What could have become of my children if I had become a mother by marrying someone else? What-if? So many what-ifs? And the answer is “live for today.” Well, in reality, there is no other choice.

But back to my righteous indignation. Why is sexual abuse and child abuse not going way? I do not get this at all. I see parents walking kids to school for fear of them being abducted, yet they have no idea Uncle Ernie is playing “Hide the weenie” with their daughter. They turn a blind eye when their spouse crosses the line or a sibling playing house takes it too far. And why do we punish the victim and not the perpetrator? I know there are answers but why is this still an issue? It needs to stop.

But the thing that is sticking in my craw more tonight is why can’t we fix the adult that has had things happen to them? Why is there no big campaign to raise funds to help women (and men) who suffer from PTSD from childhood abuse? Why is this so difficult to heal from? I read how the past inflictions have made a living hell for so many. They suffer from chronic illnesses, fear and many are unable to work or function in the world as it is. They had the where-for-all to create a little pill to make a man get a stiffy. Really? We can’t fix the thousands of zombie-like adults who traverse this world? We cannot find some way to heal them to live their full potential, with our fear and shame?

I do not find this acceptable. I am angry and want to do something beneficial to change this situation, to help people heal, and become whole. I am so full of regret tonight that I am sitting here crying. I want to have another chance at this. I want to be twenty and able to go to college and train as a psychologist or therapist of some kind. But I am forty years past that and so I must find another way. I really feel I am wasting my existence more now than when I was younger.

My husband and I were talking about Christmas presents tonight. He is upset because I truly have nothing I want as a gift. But there is something I want and that is to find the purpose to my life. I am not sure how this post tonight got to this point, but I let my fingers do the talking. So what started out to be a post to bolster acceptance and power has left me feeling useless and in tears. So I am stopping writing for tonight. That is the first step. I do not need to beat myself up anymore.

Altered States

painting 11-2014

It was nice to have some time off. I did have to work on Friday and the lack of personnel at work made for a quiet day but I got a lot done. From somewhere in my head, I got this idea that I needed to revisit a hobby I used to have. I stopped because my hands no longer worked well. But it came into my head to find my old stuff and haul it out and take a try.

I thought I knew where the fairly large box would be. I went into the garage and faced a  pile of boxes and stuff. I ended up spending about two hours cleaning up the boxes of things we kept to donate, and then never did. Unfortunately I did not find what I wanted but the garage is organized again.

I then called around to see if anyone carried the supplies and was told from one of our largest hobby shops that no one in the area carried them anymore. I was very disappointed but persevered and did find them at a big chain arts and crafts store nearby. We went and found them on sale so I bought a bunch.

I Love to pain little houses and things that you use to make a Christmas village. My friend RH showed us a picture of one he set up and it inspired me. I did a series before for a friend. I gave her a new house every Christmas for about ten or more years. She has quiet a nice village. I also did ornaments and other things. But I stopped doing the painting because it hurt my hand.

All this blog chatter is nice, but not very important. What I want to share is what I discovered. I spent about two or more hours painting yesterday. I had on Christmas music that was gorgeous and filled the house with harps and strings. It was lovely. I was totally occupied with my painting and I realized something and this is what is important.

My breathing was slow and steady; much like it is when I meditate. My brain was quiet. No chatter and what-if’s. That is very important. It takes a lot to really quiet my brain especially when I am stressed. I realized I was so deep into my concentration of tiny paint strokes that I had become totally calm. No wonder I enjoyed this hobby so much. It was an oasis of tranquility. It connected me with a place that I struggle to find in my life.

There was no guilt attached to just sitting there and paint these little houses because I had decided it was a worthwhile endeavor. I was being creative which is a great esteem builder. I am very good at this. I stopped after about an hour and just sat there and paid attention to my body. The ever present pain was very mild. I was hunched up a bit but it was ok. The calm was pervasive and totally encompassing me. I paid attention to it and “printed it.” I am working on a theory that I need to retrain my brain to know calm as the most desired state instead of the hyper arousal and stress normally coursing through me. But it is hard for me to do because it is not present naturally. My natural state is to be on guard all the time. This activity defocused my outward senses, deactivated the constant fear and created a presence of safety. It created an altered state.

My theory extends that the more I find these activities to create this calm presence the more it will become natural for me. People like me who go through life on guard all the time need to retrain the brain to let go. For years, people have told me this… “just be…let go…clam down”. I tried to explain once to someone “how can I feel safe when I do not know what that is?” It is hard to comprehend that natural for me is like being a mouse in a world of cats. I have lived like this for most of my life.

My theory extends that the more I get to a state of calm, the more the issues I face like pain and obesity will also abate. I believe my pain is created partially because I always have my muscles in a crunch. My normal state is with my shoulders up, my leg muscles clenched and my hands in a ball. My food processing stops or overreacts. Either way it is not normal. I have too many hormones that occur naturally when someone prepares for fight or flight. These chemicals create inflammation which creates pain. The pain stops me from moving and not moving creates stiffness which produces pain and on and on it goes. And when I do not move, I do not burn calories. It is a viscous circle which I want to stop. Just dieting does not help because my body reacts like someone who is being deprived (which is the basis for diets) and holds on to calories even more. I gained weight when I was on Weight Watchers. And that circle of shame just adds to the situation.

As I continued to paint, I thought back to the time when I did this before. There was a lot of nasty stuff in my life, but I had found things that kept balance in my life. Slowly, many of the things I did lost their zest as I tumbled down into the black hole that became my life for a while. After my divorced and I moved into this house, I now realized that I had removed myself from a very bad situation, and mentally there was great relief. But my body had become so used to being afraid that it had become engrained. I rebounded by becoming very sick. None of this is my fault. It took me ten years to understand this. It will be my work for the rest of my life to heal from all of this history and teach my body that is just that; history.