The Girl and the Sea

Once there was a girl who had been holding on too tightly. This was a girl who had always been afraid of losing; losing what, she never quite knew. Her mind, her heart, her self, her future, her favorite doll.. There was just always this nagging feeling that the world was not safe and so she needed to hold on tightly to make it through.

What this girl did not understand is that not everything can be held so tight. Holding too tightly can  make what looks like love feel like suffication. Holding too tightly can leave you white knuckled and arthritic, a body cannot withstand the constant pressure to hold on so tight.

This went on for a long time and for all her efforts she still experienced devastating losses. She never loosened her grip on the things she cared about or needed to hold on to but it did not keep her safe from losing like she had hoped. Still the girl held on too tightly because she knew no other way.

One day the girl went to the ocean and was invited to step out into the crashing waves. With trepidation she followed the leader and felt overwhelmed by the power. She could not hold on out in the current, she had no control. She grasped at the sand on the ocean floor but it slipped from her fingers.  She reached out for her leader and together they were tossed by the incoming tide. She realized there was nothing else she could do so finally she let go.

For a moment she let go of everything she had been holding too tightly and watched as the ocean washed it away; in it’s place she opened her hand and found an acorn. The symbolism she did not understand at the time.

That day the girl learned that when she let go of the things she was holding too tightly her hands were then open to receive what she was truly meant to hold.

the girl and the sea

Wild Geese

One of my soul friends sent me something that instantly brought tears to me eyes. I feel compelled to share it so others can feel whatever it brings up for them and so I will always know where to find it.

wild geese

The very first line spoken aloud caught like a hook in my throat.

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees.

Let those healing waves crash over you.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air are heading home again.

Home. A tear falls from my eye.

The world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like wild geese..

I see those geese flying in my minds eye. I see the blue sky, I feel the breeze. I read these sacred words and know I am okay. We are all okay.

Thank you for this my kindred soul. It meant more than you know.

Badge of Honor

Processed with MOLDIV

I went to the dentist today to have some work done. It was to be a 2 hour procedure, the kind of thing most people dread. I was indifferent.I was indifferent because the dentist doesn’t bother me much. I definitely do not enjoy going to the dentist but I don’t dread it or get anxious either. It is just something I have to do sometimes to be healthy.

So I get in the chair, they numb me up, I put on my headphones and lay back for the next two hours while they do their thing. Some poking here, prodding there, “bite down on this for 5 five minutes”, “open wider”, “bite down”, “open wider”.. and so on.. 2 hours late she asked me to rinse and spit and I informed her that she still had cotton lodged up in my cheek. Suddenly she was flummoxed. Wait, you can feel that? You should still be numb..

Then after talking for a minute about what else I had been able to feel we realized they had not given me enough numbing agent at the beginning. Oops.

She commented on how I must have a high threshold for pain and I confirmed that I do and that was that.

When I was driving home I was thinking about it a bit more though and what that actually means.. People wear that truth like a badge of honor, I have a high threshold for pain, but what does that actually say about us?

Does a high threshold/tolerance for pain = I am really good at numbing. Or shutting down. Are we essentially just saying I am highly skilled at not feeling.

And why is it different for different people? Do some men have a high tolerance because of what it means to be a man in our patriarchal society? Do not show emotion. Do not cry. Do not allow yourself be vulnerable. Don’t be a pussy.

Do some of us have a high tolerance because of the other pain we have bore? Either no pain could ever be as severe as these initial painful experiences we have had or maybe it is that the initial experiences were so painful that we learned how to detach/numb in painful situations as a way of protection/self-preservation..

Either way it suddenly struck me as really odd that having a high tolerance for pain would be seen as a positive thing. Well, actually that is not true. I do think it is a positive thing, I still see it as a protective factor. I think what I mean is, yes maybe it is positive AND it is maybe kind of sad.

Good for you that you are able to take care of yourself this way AND I am sorry that whatever happened to you that made you develop this skill happened.

I do think in our society we try to cover pain up and put pretty details on it to make it more bearable when the truth is there is room for both the light and the dark when it comes to pain.

You can be a strong, resilient, survivor AND being completely shattered by the experience.

You can see a silver lining as a result of a painful situation AND feel engulfed by the storm cloud that created it.

There is room in this world for all of it. I do have a high tolerance for pain. This is true because of the pain my body has endured. I am quite skilled at detaching when I feel the need to protect myself. I have also become a skilled number. I have neither pride nor judgement towards these truths, they just are, and they are mine.

I guess what I am wondering is, will this will always be my truth? As work on rebuilding my relationship with my body and I go back to those places of pain and allow myself to finally feel it will my ability or want/need to numb still exist? Is it possible that I could get to place where I see pain as just a part of life and not longer fear it?

I don’t have answers for this right now but it was an interesting realization to wake up to.

numb

 

Did You Hear That?

ptsd

One last post tonight to put myself at ease and to experience my own unburdening with the hopes of then falling into a restful sleep.

I have been sitting alone in the living room for the last hour writing. Normally I enjoy this quiet time; just me and the house and my tea and my thoughts. Normally. Sometimes though when I sit alone at night in my living room my PTSD creeps up on me, an unwelcome guest crashing my party, here to terrify me until I can barely breathe.

It started with a noise.

Was that a knock at the door? It can’t be, what time is it? No it’s much too late.. Then what was that noise?

Get up, heart pounding, stomach has already dropped out, adrenaline pumping. Walk into the bedroom;

Babe? Was that you?..
Oh it wasn’t? Then did you hear that?..
Oh you didn’t?.. Well I am sure I heard a knocking..
No but you don’t understand, I am sure I heard a knocking..
Okay, you’re probably right..

Return to my nest on the couch. Continue writing, but not without first enlisting the company of my trusty guard dog.

It was nothing. It was nothing.

Check to make sure the doors are locked..

It was nothing. You are safe. You are alone. You are safe. It was nothing.

Sit back on the couch continue writing.

Hear a knocking. Look at the dog. She didn’t react.

It was nothing. She would have reacted. She would have barked. It was nothing. You are safe. You are alone. You are safe.

You are alone. You are alone. You are alone. It is dark. You are alone.

You are okay. You are okay.

Continue writing.

Feel a bump on the couch. All systems on red alert. Heightened sense of hearing and touch. Aware of every inch of your surroundings. Listen… Listen…. Listen… Nothing.
Look at the dog. She didn’t react.

What was that? I am sure I felt something. Is there a monster under the couch?

You are not a child. Monsters are not real.

How do you know?

Try to convince the dog to come sit on the couch by you.

Come here baby.. C’mon.. Come here honey.

Give up. She is not moving. Continue writing.

No more noises. Heart rate back to normal. Menacing thoughts silence. Ability to focus restored. Sense of safety restored.

Normally I enjoy this quiet time; just me and the house and my tea and my thoughts.

Normally.

 

 

Stepping into a Dream

oz2

Last night hubs and I went to see Wicked at the performing arts center downtown. He told me he got us good seats but I did not realize what he meant until we arrived and were being shown to them. We were just a few rows from the stage. I was in shock. I have never had such good seats for anything. It meant so much to me that he did that for us for this show of all shows. This story, Oz, it had such special meaning in my life.

We sat down and I was in awe as I took in the scenery and the time dragon that was ominously hanging over the stage.When the curtain went up and Glinda came floating down in her bubble I began to cry. It all came crashing over me, how much it all means to me. Oz has always been my safe space in a life that has not always felt safe. Suddenly I was there, this is the closest I will ever be to stepping inside this world, to crossing over the rainbow, to being in this place that has always made me feel so safe.

I am so glad that I saw the show now. At this time in my life. When I am finally with someone who makes me feel safe, when I am doing work on myself for myself to heal that hurts that made me want to escape to Oz in the first place.

As the scenery would change between Shiz and the poppy field and Munchkin Land I would cry, and then it happened.. The curtain came up and everything was green and glowing. We made it, we were in Oz. I cried throughout the entire show. It was so special.

For some this is purely entertainment, for me it is a validation. I made it. I am okay. I finally made it to Oz and I realized that I don’t even need it. I don’t need to escape anymore. My reality is finally safe and not just safe, it is good. Good in a way that I could have never dreamed of before. I don’t need to escape anymore, I am living my dreams. Being in Oz was proof of this. I am living my dream.

 

Preparing for Body Work

I don’t know what to call the phase of my therapy I am going into so I have been calling it body work because the focus is on how my body experienced the traumas of my past. I had my first session of the new year with my therapist and we discussed what I have been dealing with the last few weeks. She helped me realize where the feeling of panic is coming from and what I can be doing to help myself with it. What it comes down to is that I have to give myself permission. Permission to truly surrender to this part of my journey and fall apart.

Over break I have spent quite a bit of time thinking, processing, writing, and meditating over my next phase. This is dark work I am graduating into and it is hard to go from being in the depths of this to then pop back up quickly to go to the grocery store. We talked about how for the next few months I may be showing up differently in my life and in  my relationships and that in order to avoid my own suffering I need to give myself permission to let this happen. I will not be a bad friend if I have to take time off from socialization. I will not be a bad wife if that load of laundry is not done right this second. I will not be a bad family member if we do not see family every weekend for game night.

That last part was important for me to hear and mull over because there are absolutely expectations placed upon me by my family based on what has been tradition in the past. The thing is though, as we evolve in our lives traditions have to evolve right along with us. Every weekend no longer works, too much has changed. Too much has changed with me, too much has changed in my brother’s family.. We, as a family, are trying to force something that no longer wants to occur naturally. I know better than to do that. I do not believe in forcing things in life.

So the first conversation I had about my new boundaries while I am doing this work was with my mother, the head of the family for all intents and purposes. I explained that I am making myself a priority and that while I am doing this kind of work I know I will not have the capacity to show up the way they are accustomed. My decisions about how I show up and when will be based on how I am feeling at any given time, they will not be based on my love for them. I love them enough to be with them all the time, this is not a question of loving them, it is a question of loving me too and giving myself permission to come first right now.

With my friends this will be easier because as of right now none of my close friends live in the same city as me, the pull for my time will not be as hard. Plus I know my close friends, my soul friends, will understand because they too are committed to their growth in life. I know they will be supportive and understanding.

I did talk with my hubs but that is a post for a different day. In truth my relationship with him is the  only one I ever try to protect, all my other relationships come second. I was worried about exposing him to anything that might spill over as I take this deep dive. My therapist helped me so much with that and the conversation I had with him helped ease my mind as well.

So now it begins. The word for the year is transformation, one of the first intentions: I will give myself permission.

permission

Unraveling a Scribble

All day I have been on the fence about writing. Now that it is closer to bed time I have decided to get this out for fear it will keep me up if I don’t. Day two of the New Year was met with all consuming anxiety. I almost had a panic attack while we were running an errand earlier and it took me quite sometime to release the energy once we were home.

I have been on the verge of a panic attack for over a month now, it pops up at random times but the current of anxiety has been constant for sometime.

I am pretty sure I have my finger on the cause, that does not mean I have control over how it is making me feel though.

Today while hubs was helping me through it I discussed the possibility of going back on the anxiety meds I was on 5 years ago. I have been reluctant because I am in therapy and literally learning therapeutic techniques in school on how to cope.. I keep telling myself I should be able to get by without the meds.

I have not seen my therapist in a few weeks because of the holiday so I have decided to wait and process everything with her before making a final decision.

My family is definitely part of the recent flare up. Even creating a physical boundary between myself and the drama is not enough if I am not better about my emotional boundaries. There are certain family members I do not have good emotional boundaries with and it is as if I can feel what they are feeling. It is exhausting. I am exhausted.

Another source of the recent panic I am sure has to do with my being sick for over a month. Illness is an anxiety trigger for me. A lot of my trauma centers around me not feeling in control over my body during different parts of my life and for different reasons. When I am sick I am not in control of my body, it is a major trigger for me. The last antibiotic I took for my ear infection did not take so I am still walking around feeling swimmy headed with clogged ears. I know to most it seems like just a simple inconvenience but for me it feels scary, like I am out of control.

This brings me to the last source that I have identified and that is the work I am committed to doing in therapy this year. I mentioned previously that this year I am going to start working on my relationship with my body. That  means a lot of things and they all scare me. I don’t think there is anyway to get around the fact that this is going to be painful and the probability of me seriously struggling is high.

When I was talking with hubs today about possibly getting back on the meds I told him it was primarily because I do not want to suffer. That is my fear, that is what I have been trying to numb and escape all these years, suffering. At the time of that conversation i was talking specifically about my fear of having panic attacks and that I do not want to suffer in that regard but honestly I think it was a deeper piece that was speaking up. I am afraid of what comes next in my work. I know it is an important part and will be so healing but I am afraid of how much it will hurt and I do not want to suffer. There are things I do not want to relive. My body is still holding things that I think it will only be able to release if I do this work but I am so scared.

It feels better to say some of this out loud and be honest about how scared I feel right now.. AND it hurts too. I can feel the tension my shoulders and neck as I write this, it is as if an elephant is sitting on my shoulders.

To make myself feel better today I put on some oils, I cleansed myself with sage and a bell (it may sound hippy woo woo but it works for me), I stretched, I played a game with hubs to help distract myself, I lit candles, I drank a balancing tea blend, I watched a movie from childhood that brings me joy, and when I was finally feeling a bit more like myself I put on music and danced. That last part is what really yanked me out of it. I put on my Sade station on Pandora and danced while making dinner. Hubs laughed as Lucy and I danced to Creep by TLC and then he spun me around the kitchen to Georgia by Ray Charles.

Something else I did that really helped was paint. I was sitting on the couch in the sun room with the Buddha board hubs got me for Christmas and I noticed the shadow I was casting on it. I started painting my shadow and there was something very symbolic about that to me. So I got a canvas, returned to the couch, and painted my very first self portrait..

self-potrait

I think it somehow very appropriate that my first self portrait would be of my shadow. I think it speaks to the work I have to do yet with my own shadow pieces.. I think it speaks to the dark place I was in today.. I think it speaks to my need to dig deeper within myself so I may know myself better.. It also speaks to deeper things that I do not discuss openly on this forum but that are very meaningful as well. It was symbolic to say the least. This was my first painting of 2017 and at first something about that made me sad, like I was starting the year off in darkness but then I read this..

transformation1

My mantra for this year is one of transformation, that will not take place just in light and love.. I have to be willing to go back to places of darkness and pain and bring light and love to the pieces of me that are still residing there. I have to take light and love to the parts of my body I am afraid to look at because of the trauma they experienced. This will be scary, and I have always been afraid of the dark, but there will be light and it is up to me to shine it.  My hope is that by years end I will have the courage to paint another self-portrait and from this darkness my deep hope is to find the butterfly.

Tomorrow is my first day of therapy, I am excited and scared. I just keep telling myself You are safe and it is going to be okay.

You are safe. And it is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. You are going to be okay.