Fear fighter

Spring on Lake Ontario

Spring on Lake Ontario

When my parents were growing up, there whole world was tenuous at best. They came into the world at the end of World War I and by the time they were young adults, they were facing World War II. In between there was the depression. My mother’s parents separated and my grandmother moved back to the farm in West Virginia to have help with her two girls. My father’s brother and father died tragically in a car accident on a rail road track at the hands of a fast train when my father was 3. I watched my father’s business dissolve and he lost sequent employment until he finally was forced to retire without any pension and live on social security. I was with my mother as I witnessed the ravages of cancer take her at 59. I was bedside when my father crossed over 11 years later. I lived through the time as he adjusted to only having one leg. He had an amputation when he was 54. Their life was based on fear.

They lived in a time when how things look was more important than how things were. They were taught propriety and keeping up appearances at all cost. My parents were extremely judgmental. My father felt it was his duty to evoke his opinion on every difference in a person including the color of their skin. My mother was appalled by any person whose appearance was less than perfect especially weight. She never had an issue and was blessed with the ability to eat like a horse and remain tiny.

Their marriage started out with all the trappings of being very wealthy and successful. My father was excused from the war because he was a sole heir. My mother began her family with the comfort of domestic help and doting grandmothers. All of this was lost by the time I was five and by the time I was 14, they were living in an apartment and my mother was employed for the first time since she was married.

They lived in fear and they were angry. Both of them drank every night. Their ritual of cocktails, as they called it, was their escape of their world. It began as a habit of glamour and social acceptance and became their island of peace. Unfortunately, the results of their self-medicating turn ugly and their anger was often leashed upon me. I was the last at home as my other four siblings had moved on with their lives. My mother and father instilled fear in me and they taught me to be judgmental as it was necessary for survival at the time.

I am writing about this because I am working very hard on letting go of fear. It is extremely hard for me and I have to work on it every day and every minute. I have learned techniques to establish a sense of safety when I recognize that fear is creeping in. I hear my parents’ voices with their exaggerated warnings. I hear their voices also in judgment. This is the hardest thing to cut out as I replay their criticism willing. And while I am getting better at not uttering out loud comments about people, I struggle mightily with silencing the critical and nasty voice in my head. It is because I believed them.

I had to focus on why the two people in this world who had the power to influence my being more than anyone would be so cruel. It is because they lived in such abject fear. It is their fear, not mine. It was their world, not mine. I can forgive them as I understand and I can release their grip. I would not have been any better in their circumstances and I think few would. But it is not my truth.

So every day I am allowing the cleaning out of their thoughts. Sometimes it is painful but with the understanding that I am no longer buying into it, I can release it. This is a slow process as it is very deep. I had thought I had gotten past the need to do this, but then I realize that it is a step process. And this is what I want to share more than anything.

When I started the work I am doing on myself, it was overwhelming all that I had to deal with. I am not one for going slow. As I peeled layers back, new raw sores would appear. There were times when I would think I was never going to get through and eventually I did. I am sitting here in the realization it was and is all perfect in its manifestation. There were some huge hurdles that needed to be jumped and then removed. And with every jump and successful landing, I became stronger and mightier. I am quite confident that the path is peppered with more and will be through the rest of my life. It is called being human. But every time my feet hit the ground again, I am fortified for the next. I realize, actually as I am writing this, that I am not as afraid. There is movement forward when you work at releasing the things that weigh you down. Ah, the pun of what I just wrote. We will save that for another time.

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Thanking Raphael

raphael

I was newly divorce living on my own for the first time in my life, ever. I had noticed that my middle finger on my left hand would get very cold and numb. I smoked. I figured it was Raynaud’s or poor circulation. Sometimes it was fine. I also drank a lot and I mean a lot. One night during a pretty heavy binge, I fell on the stairs. I remember thinking I had not spilled my drink that I was carrying and was actually proud of it. The next morning, I had a very funny feeling. I was off to pick up some kitties to come live with me. I got to the destination, and felt completely awful. I was dizzy, sweating and I could not feel much. There was a loud buzzing and when I walked, I walked with a lean to the left like I was walking in a circle. Someone took my pulse and said they could not find it. I feigned I was fine and actually drove home. I remember literally crawling up the stairs and passing out in bed. I woke sometime much later and my side of my face was numb and buzzy. I tried to eat, was not too successful and went back to bed. The next day, I was better but I was scared. I called my doctor and she said go to the hospital immediately. I have never shared this with anyone except the doctor.

My friend drove me. I told her there was something wrong with my finger. The put oximeter on my finger and I remember they said they thought the meter was broken. They put it on another finger, and it was a strong reading. Back on the bad finger, and it was ridiculously low. They told my friend to go home and pack me a bag. Little did I know it was going to be 11 days later before I just left.

They put me in an observation room and I was left there over night. I do not remember anyone coming in to check on me. I thought one thought; I was as alone as anyone could possibly be. I was not scared, I was alone. I remember thinking in the dark, as the room had no light, which on reflection was very strange, that I could just let go. No one would care and so I did. The next day is a blur, but I ended up having my left arm sliced open and they pulled an inch long clot out of my left wrist. Somewhere in the next day, they scoped me and found five more clots. One was in the subclavian artery close to the heart and was the size of a jelly bean.

This is not about the surgery. This is about what happened the night before the surgery. The doctor had told me to get “my affairs in order.” My dear friend came and signed the health proxy and all the other crap that makes the doctor feel better if he messes up. The prognosis was grim, but they were going to perform open heart surgery and hoped they would not move the clot the wrong way or any other ones.

That night, I had the room to myself. The patient who was in there with me had crossed over. Not a good sign. But I was totally numb to the whole thing. I was not panicking which would be my normal reaction. Around midnight, a thunder storm blew in. There was a huge window and it faced Lake Ontario which was off in the distance. I had a beautiful view. I heard someone approach and sit next to me on the arm of the huge chair I was in. Now I think of it, he perched as there really was no place for him to sit. He was a young male nurse. I was instantly struck by his presence and we did not say much. He just asked if he could sit with me. As I am writing this, eleven years almost to the day, he said hardly anything. But he stayed with me. I was in awe of the lightening which was fierce and fabulous. We did not talk about the surgery or anything. But I felt comforted and calm with him there. I can barely describe him visually: young, male, dark short hair and a square but very pleasant face. He wore blue scrubs. But I can remember distinctly the calm and assurance he provided me. I think I asked him if he had other patients to see and he said he was assigned to me or something similar. I was fine with that. He stayed the whole storm. When he went to leave, he leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. I thought absolutely nothing about it until years later. Nurses do not kiss people.

I just spent the past weekend in a spiritual retreat to continue my lessons on Spiritual Healing Touch. I never got the whole angel thing and struggled mightily with the concept of spirit guides and guardian angels. I had connected with one guide this past year and I have learned to rely on her subtle messages when I quiet my mind. The past month, I have also felt the presence of others who I joking refer to as my posse. They are still nebulous but I am often aware of the sense of support of others coming from behind me. Believe what you will, as I had a lot of doubts about this myself. This weekend, a couple of the techniques required calling on angels to support the healing. At one point, before we started a treatment, you call a specific angel to help. I called on Raphael, who is an Archangel of Healing. (I did not know that when I called him. That was just the name I used. I just google it) I felt someone behind me and then become part of me. It was so overwhelmed I was crying during the whole treatment. My partner thought there was something wrong but they were tears of joy. I actually felt the same thing a couple of more times last weekend. It was amazing, but I would not have believed it two years ago or even six months ago.

So back to the night of April of 2003. I now know this nurse was not a nurse. He never came back. No one had a clue who he was at the hospital. I just let it go and did not think about it much until the other night during a guided meditation. I am not going to go into that. What I will share is what happened the next morning after his visit. I was prepped for surgery, and there is a funny story about the walk to the OR, but I wrote about it once before. The short end of the story is I woke up in the ICU. I patted my chest and realized they did not cut me open at all. They had knocked me very deeply out and re-scoped me. They found nothing. There was not a clot to be found. I stayed in ICU until I was thrown out for being such a wise ass with my friends. I stayed in the hospital for nine more days because they were sure I was going to pop a clot somewhere. I made friends everywhere and I actually was allowed to walk around the hospital as there was nothing wrong with me. I never found that nurse from that night  and I was on the same floor.

I had no one to take care of me and my dogs and if I had had the surgery, the chances were not good that I would have been ok afterwards. They diagnosed is a hereditary disease called Factor 5 Leiden. Since then, I have been able to help my family become aware as my brother has it and one nephew. My father died from it and his mother had it.

To my midnight visitor: I just want you to know how grateful I am for your love for me and your miracle healing. I never said thank you. I was blessed as anyone could be. Thank you.

(I went looking for an image to use for this blog and found the one I posted…. It took my breath away when I found it in a Google search for Raphael which I did after I wrote this blog….wow)

New Year’s Wish

I do not subscribe to the falderal of the New Year celebrations any more. I did in the past. I used to either host an event or go to one of the swank celebrations with friends where we got dressed up and had a full fancy dinner and drank all night. My body could not with stand that now. Being absolutely boiled is not the way I ever want to be now.  I have some funny moments from then though. The best or worse, depending on your point of view, was from almost 35 years ago. We were at one of those galas at a hotel when my then husband had downed a bottle of Jack Daniels pretty much by himself. He was a big man and it had been a long evening. The effect was that he lost all inhibitions and was extremely social. He also liked to go nude. So with the effects of the Jack encouraging him on, he decided to wander the halls of the hotel we were in, naked, somewhere around 4 am. It was a different era and he was not alone, I soon discovered, as I went to get him. Now-a-days, he would have probably gotten arrested. There was no harm in what he did other than to be in public with a blunt instrument….. Sorry, I had to…. HA! But as I said, it was a different time in the history of the world. I miss the freedom of that period and I miss some of the grass root efforts that I participated in an endeavor to save the world. I really thought it was possible back then. My young adult life was spent consciously being involved. Somewhere the air was let out of my balloon and heavy weights were added. I have spent over a year trying to free myself from the muck.

When I was younger, I believed we all mattered and we all were important. I took to my soapbox whenever I could. I protested unfairness and unethical behavior globally and locally. I escaped from my parental home very early as a method of survival. I spent the next part of my life as a young housewife entertaining and being creative in artistic endeavors such as theater and music and working mundane jobs. But I still was involved in local organizations that benefitted humanity. Slowly, my world turned dark and I turned inward. There were times that I would bravely climb upon my box to protest conversations within the constricting circle I had been allowed to participate in. I would take a stand on inequity and unfairness with a group of supremists whose narrow view was blinded by hatred and ignorance. After being kicked enough times, I crawled to the safety of silence. I allowed fear of being ostracized to mute me and I lost a big piece of myself.

I am acutely aware of the resurgence of the feelings of becoming involved again. See, I do believe we all do matter. Every single one of us including me. And injustice and inequity is rampant and will continue if we allow it. There are so many wrongs out there that I am afraid the world has turned a blind eye to it all. I think there is a broad spectrum of acceptance and tolerance of evil  today which for someone like myself is hard to look past. I am not sure where I am going with all this as it is hard to narrow down a direction of what to focus on to participate in. I have a few key areas of interest like domestic violence, gender discrimination and body acceptance, but there are so many things to get involved in. There are enough causes for everyone to find their niche.

So that is my New Year’s wish for everyone: Find something that is important to do that will heal the world and in doing so, you will heal yourself. And the circle will grow. Sending love to you all.

“Ms. Fixer, who do you think you are?”

I am a fixer. I feel like there should be a weekly group I can go to for salvation. “Hello, My name is Jane and I am a fixer.”  The addiction is just as bad as alcohol. I see something wrong and I have the overzealous need to repair. But like most addictions it is based on a falsehood and that something needs to be changed. But in my world I do see things that way and in reality it is to make me feel better. I realize the arrogance of that. Who am I to say something is broken?
The only control we have over things in this world is ourselves. What I am really doing in fixing is making things more comfortable for myself. If a situation was working for me, I would have no need to fix. But there is an irritant that needs to be eradicated for me to be comfortable, so I must fix. There are some conditions we do have the ability to change but a true Fixer like me does not stop there. We must fix people and attempt misdirected repair on the impossible and that is when we run into trouble.
All my life, I have been the one who wanted to fix people who are broken. Intuitively, I can find the waif who has a need in everyone I meet. Then there are those who see this trait in me and clamp on in hopes they can sit back and have their issues resolved by someone else. They are called predators. I also naturally attract them too.
I realize that there is a piece of the ego that finds satisfaction in the control of others. I realize that there is a “high” I get when things seem to be turned around in the favor of the solution I have presented. There is a need in me to be exalted as the savior of issues and wounds, even on the smallest of concerns. My ego is fed when someone sees my way as the best way. And my frustration mounts when they go on their own path in direct conflict of my resolution.
For example, yesterday there are three of us who are in charge of Pillar initiatives who met with the Administration Board. It is a big responsibility and we are the drivers of many work plans. I personally oversee four committees that respond directly to my initiative. It is a Fixer’s dream to have that much supremacy. The meeting was to set strategic initiatives for the next year. I am salivating at the power that all created. One item that was presented to me was absurd. I tried to explain the futility in the directive with clear data. It is impossible to move the matrix they wanted. But it became a point of ego with one of the Board members and I knew I was in trouble and needed to back down. But of course before I did, I turned bright red with the frustration. They have set up this initiative for failure before it even hits the paper. I cannot fix that and so I let it go….. in the meeting. But trust me, I stewed about it along with one other rational person who came to me afterwards. It is what it is and I cannot fix it. But it is frustrating because they will expect me to do just that. Move the numbers that reflect their expectation. NO one will be able to do that, and I wonder if that was the other person’s ego need to just do exactly that; set up an unrealistic expectation to move the spotlight off their own incompetency. Too bad no one in power will be able to see that.
In personal relationships, nothing brings me more satisfaction than to fix wounds and heal broken hearts. Like most addictions, it has become toxic and an intervention needed to be done. I have heard from people who I hold in high regard the concern my addiction has been taking on me. The toll has been great and includes health issues along with severing relationships. In some cases, I had to separate myself from toxic relationships from people who saw me as an easy target. In my attempts to fix things, their needs became greater than mine and they depleted my supplies leaving me angry and hurt. The ego said “I failed.But in truth, by moving out of the target zone, I healed myself and I guess in a way fixed things. The ego still needs to catch up with the concept that I matter as well.
As a teacher and a healer, I cannot truly abdicate from this type of work. I will always have a need to fix things. It will be my duty to learn how and when. I can present my thoughts and my solutions, but I then need to allow the other to take the first step and start their journey. I have to accept that their path will be as different as they are and that it is ok. It is more than ok, it is what has to happen. I also need to accept that my employment situation is not perfect and decide what I want to do about that too. I have the control to change that, but not the people I work with. The effort I need to do is to find peace within that I have done my best and be satisfied with that. There is a lot of work I need to do on my own being and that should be enough to feed the monkey so to speak. My ego finds it easier to look out than within.
I guess I need to fix that.

Acceptance

Acceptance is not something I do easily. I have experienced a lot of difficult hurdles as we all do and never thought about what part of acceptance is in the approach to moving on. I always lower my head and charge in. I see an issue, and I go for it not always assessing the environment, the climate, the people involved or thinking about the outcome in a clear manner. I try to never say, what if this happens? Because I know if I do, I may not do whatever it is I am hell bent on doing. I never thought about acceptance as being the ground work for success. It was very apparent last night when I was doing a guided meditation with MarDrag and where we were going is not where I ended up. What happened was truly disappointing to me but a sign of something I need to work on. MarDrag’s teachings and work is very profound and if you are looking for a great guide I highly recommend her.

Early in our conversation I was talking about the isolation which has been such a big part of my life. From early childhood, I have felt like I was not part of the group. With my family, it was and remains very obvious to those who have known the family as a group that I do not belong. This was a big issue for me. But by working on so many things, I realized I do not want to be part of that group. And although it is tough to admit, I do not want to commune with my siblings. I had to accept the fact that the relationship was toxic and unhealthy for me. I accept that this is a better way for me to continue in my life. I also had to accept that they have not changed, will not change and are who they are. I do not have to like it, but I also do not have the right to judge it or try to change them. I have to accept it and then decide what I am able to live with, which is they go their way, I go mine.

With my past marriage, I help on until my fingertips bled. I did not want to accept that it was a very unhealthy situation to be in and so I did not get out of it until I accepted that it was totally over. I knew actually for years that this was what I should have done, but I did not want to admit because I saw the failure as mine. This by the way is a common situation for people in abusive situations. They blame themselves for the failure or condition they are in and do not see the reality because acceptance is too hard. The acceptance is that the person who is being abusive is a monster and most often the abuser is someone who was supposed to be a strong nurturing factor in their life. So the person flips the situation around and says “why am I so bad that this person is doing this to me? I accept that I am the cause of this misery.”  The truth is the other person is the cause and the acceptance is much harder to get to. Then you also have to accept that you too have a part in the situation and that is all you can change. Often the only answer is to get out which brings up a whole cache of issues.

I am learning to accept a whole new paradigm for my life. It is a choice I made and I have no doubt that it is a good direction. But now I have a group of different things to accept.  One of the things I talked about last night is the isolation I feel. This concept was mentioned by fellow blogger Thougtsalone. I explained that I was hoping to find an acceptance and to feel like I was part of a community but instead, found this journey to being even more isolating. It was hard to explain. It is not a feeling of disconnection, which is what I had felt before, but more of a sense of being an outcast. That sounds so dramatic, but I could not think of a better word. And this feeling comes from being with people who are on their own path, have the tee shirt and are learning and participating in the exact same activities I am.

Then MarDrag explained something I had not thought of. Was it they who cast me out or was it the old me who expected this behavior and  put it out there? And that hit like a brick. Of course it is me. And how can I expect people to accept me for what I am if I do not? That was huge. There is a part of me who wears humility for skin. I have been taught to be humble and self-effacing and have been like that my whole life. It of course was reinforced by the perpetrators and predators of my life. I am so good at this that my self-talk totally supports the things I lack and not what I am or can be. And not to excuse my behavior, but I abhor huge egos and pompous people and I am afraid to be like that. So afraid I am the extreme opposite. When people say good things to me, I do not hear it or it does not register. I am not denying that I like to hear it. The issue is that somewhere deep, I do not accept it. It is like throwing a clump of  Jell-O at a wall. Not much sticks.

My plan is to work on the self-talk. I am so good at bashing myself that my close friends have commented on it. I do it all the time. I understand why. If I take myself down, I beat the next person out of doing it. Again, my expectation and so I fulfill it. Crazy! It is going to be hard work as I have perfected this practice over the past fifty plus years. I have to accept that it is ok to know who you are and not to dwell on failures, disappointments and lack. Mostly lack because in my heart, I know there is never really lack. I am such a paradox. I can work with people and do this type of work for them but I am blind to my own abilities.

I have to accept who I am now. I don’t always. I have moments where I have such powerful doubts. The big thing I have to accept and work on is taking things as they come and not charging in full blast. I am struggling right now to not say that I have failed in my quest because that is how I feel. Again, self-inflicted and I know it. The process I was working on last night did not come to fruition and it was very disappointing. I am deep in a pity party. I am focused on the failure, or the lack of success is a better way to say it. I sat last night in my chair and did a real tap dance on my head and beat myself up pretty good. And then I circled around and beat myself up for beating myself up. Sheeeshh. I was focused on the why not, and what was missing in me, instead of the truth which is it was not time. What made the situation worse for me was what manifested is something I have been working on for months and months. I sat last night thinking when was the ever going to stop being what it is? I do not truly want to accept this aberration as part of my inner circle. I had hoped to have put this dragon out. But the message was abundantly clear last night there was more to do.

The process we were working on was something I have wanted for a while. As I realized last night it was not time, I was (sorry MarDrag) very crestfallen. I was seeking something that seems so easy for others to obtain. I cannot lie and say this had not made me feel even more isolated and more of a failure. But then this morning I realize this is a test. This was brought to me to test my fortitude and my self- acceptance capabilities. It is a lesson for me to work on so that the groundwork for what comes next will be easier and successful. The lesson includes working on accepting the right things and stopping the hurtful and damaging input I create. I must learn to treat myself with respect and honor. This is a tall order.

I am grateful for the work I am doing and the support and guidance I have. However, I am looking forward to retreating for a while from everything. I think I need to regroup and reassess. I need to “just be.” Fortunately, I will have that opportunity in a week as we head to The River for ten days. I am going to dismount and lick a few wounds. I am going to work on all the lessons, absorb all the great wisdom I have been receiving and let it settle. I have to accept that I will be given what I need at the right time and there will be plenty of time to do this. I have to accept that this is just as it should be and I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

And with this, I let out my breath and head out for the rest of my day.

Secrets in the burbs…what is domestic violence

She stares at the wall and wondered how did I get to this place? She thinks to herself, “I am a good wife. I did all that I should and more. I must have done something so wrong to deserve the rising welt on my arm.”  The tips of his fingers were tattooed in purple.

The phone rings and she rushes to pick it up. The voice on the other end in slurred tones explains how he will not be home until much later. She has spent the day in preparation of his homecoming. She hoped that her sacrifice of scrubbing and cleaning all day would help to clear the air from the previous night’s battle. She still was reeling from the accusations of inadequacy on her behalf. She thought to herself she had no right to provoke his anger. It was her fault he was coming home drunk and in the middle of the night. It was her fault he had kicked a hole in the wall. She had already cleverly patched and fixed it so no one would see. She would be a better housekeeper.

She sat and looked at the pile of bills. She just was wondering why there never seemed to be enough money, even though he was making more now than ever. She only knew that because he had to declare his income when they did their taxes. Fortunately, she too had a better income, but there never seemed enough. In a lack of trust, she had done something she felt terrible about and gone through his pockets. It then became a game she would perform every weekend. On Friday, after he cashed his check, he would have a bundle of cash in his pocket. On Sunday, the wad had dwindled. He spent his weekend days and nights in the company of others, leaving her alone and isolated. She felt little remorse as he was passed out in bed while she searched his pockets. Often there were other clues as to where the money had gone and who he had spent it with. Her own thoughts of other people being recipients of his income angered her as she had worked so hard to make the home a place he could be proud of.  She thought to herself how awful she must truly be if he could be generous to others, but not to her. When she had questioned him about it, his fury was so great that she had cowered in her chair and just cried. She received no answers and only shrank in fear while he spewed accusations of her treachery as he towered over her in anger.

She sat at the bottom of the stairs crying. However, there was great relief. It had only been the wall. She turned to look at the gaping hole where he had forced his fist. She had been so close to having that fist connect with her face as she had been standing right there when he delivered it. She felt the brush of his arm. She had warned him early in their relationship she would not tolerate being hit. This was twenty-two years later. She had spent years of being on the receiving end of her father’s anger and felt stoic in saying she would not accept that in her marriage. He had never hit her…but this was pretty close. She had just finished wallpapering and the hole was right in a place she could not cover. The paper was so pretty and very expensive, but she had bought just enough to do this one small wall. She would have to find something to cover it very quickly so no one would see the hole.

They were so young and barely scraping by. But the world was bright as they had just gotten married. She sat inside while he helplessly looked at the engine of their precious van. They had bought it for a song, but it had already taken them to wondrous places. He was no mechanic and had no clue as to what was wrong. He played with a few things, used a hammer to tap on some parts and then told her to get into his seat and start the engine. She dutifully did as he commanded. She somehow managed to break his expensive mirrored sunglasses. She does not remember anything other than the hammer hitting the glass windshield right in front of her face. She deserved it for breaking his glasses.

Silent tears fell as she bent to pick up the rubble from his fury. He was off to the emergency room as he had done something to his hand. She picked up pieces of broken china and glassware, thinking to herself how horrible she was to have made him stop watching his program and come to the table to eat the dinner she spent hours fixing. They spent so little time together since he had gotten on the force. His hours were late at night and he arrived home as she would be leaving for her job. She felt horrible for not understanding the pressures he was under and for making him so angry that he had destroyed so many things that she treasured. She wondered what story he would have to concoct to cover his injury. She knew it was bad as the thing he hit was not forgiving.

She sat in silence as her dear friend cried as she explained the bruises on her face. They had been friends for years and when their husbands both became law officers, their bond grew. She had remembered the tale of earlier in their marriage when he had picked her up and tossed her across the room and into a wall. She had asked then if there was any medical doctor she could recommend to help him with his chemical imbalance. She was sure that was what was wrong. This time, she had corrected him in front of their children. Her eyes, full of pain, looked for no sympathy as she was sure she deserved the lesson he had given her. They both knew they would reap more if the husbands even knew they were sharing their pain.

I could go on with these scenarios. This is what domestic violence looks and sounds like in the suburbs. It is common. It is prevalent more than people know. It is silent as the shame seems greater when it is happening in a culture where such behavior is crass and unacceptable. It takes place in the big houses. It takes place by well-educated and successful people. It is a dirty secret. The humiliation of one who is on the receiving end is so profound, seeking help would destroy any last vestiges of self-esteem. The fear of people knowing immobilizes the victim to total acceptance of their fate until the injuries become too great. Often, the perpetrator is clever enough not to leave visible marks, but the damage is there. The home is a prison. The environment is toxic and the individual suffers a life of shame.   

These scenarios are some of my story. It is my past and is now something I am able to use as a teaching tool to help others recover or become brave enough to walk away from their own situation. I did not have such strength and suffered in an abusive relationship for 27 years. It began before I was married. My friend also remained in her marriage for 26 years. In an act of irony, both of our spouses left us. We both are in a much better place for it.   

When I was going through my divorced, I joined an organization that helped people deal with their dissolving marriage. I did not speak of the abuse at that time, but I remember hearing other tales from the other participants. It makes one wonder how many do not get away. I now am involved in a group that specializes in dealing with survivors of domestic violence but live in the suburbs. Domestic violence has a different acceptance out there. The women who I have met are all highly successful professionals whose reputation could be destroyed with scandal. It is not that this groups hides, but the focus is different. The focus is on education. For the victim, it is recovery of a broken soul. But the driving force of this organization is to educate, and primarily men, on how to deal with their anger. It is education on respect, for themselves, their families and their spouse.   

If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, encourage them to find someone or some group to support them in surviving. If you know someone who feels justify in inflicting their anger on others help them too. The way to break the circle of abuse is to educated and provide resources for change.

 

Missing the iceberg

I do not usually write twice in one day on my blog, but I felt it was necessary to circle back after my pitiful post this morning. I hate feeling so lost, I truly do. So I wanted to thank everyone who sent me such lovely thoughts and prayers and tell you what happened.

I drove to work in a dank fog, both in my head and in the air. The rain splattered my windshield and provided enough of a cover so that no one could see I was crying. No one should drive to work crying and this was the third time this week. I said my prayers again for some peace and unity and that I would be strong enough to handle anything coming my way during the day.

I opened my email as I do every morning and found a meeting request from the person who I was having such horrible difficulties with. I thought she was going to back down from the semi-agreement we put together in our last meeting but I accepted in hopes I would be wrong. I went off to facilitate my Core team as we had a guest speaker, the other person who was in the earlier meeting this week. She greeted me with such warmth and it was like all issues never happened and we were back to a smooth working unit. I relaxed and the 15 participants in the group had a wonderful productive meeting. I forgot the angst and felt that calm in my gut that had vacated earlier.

I attended the next meeting with the other person, and it was again, non-confrontational. After that meeting we walked back to her office for a private conversation where we both spit out all our concerns and calmly regained the cohesive prior working relationship we had established. I do not care to have intense friendships with co-workers but I also do not want adversaries. I realized the grip I had placed unconsciously on myself and let it go. I was so tired. This is what I hate about being in a hostile work environment. The toll it takes on my body. Even though I know better, I am still struggling with connecting my physical reaction with the mental one and letting the mental one be in control. A quick nap resolved my energy and I am back to me. And that is just fine.

Do not think me stupid enough to trust this situation to be all roses and light. I do have  enough business acumen to know better. I just did not want to spend my eight hours plus in a high school environment with petty bickering. I think we have resolved that this will not be the situation. I felt comfortable enough to tell her I would not tolerate it. She also admitted what I knew going in. She needs me more than I need her. And that is also just fine.

I thought on the way home that some might think my worries are childish and I need to put value on something more grand. I guess to some extent, my passion is not comprehended by some as necessary. I decided, it is the way I roll. I was born this way. Ha! But as I drove home, I asked myself the same thing I used to ask my students at the end of a project. “What did you learn?” I learned to accept there are times that I will be passionate and there are times that passion will change something. But there are times it might not. This fortunately was one of those times the investment was worth it. This was not about me. It was about making a huge change process not become a monster. It was about retaining employees and connecting crucial staff to the project. As I said to the person in charge, I do not want the responsibility of overseeing this, I just want it to work and without casualties. I learned I overreact. I could hang my head in shame, but I am not going to. I accept this about myself and will continue to work on making it something I can contain. I also accept my passion and in fact in the early conversation with everyone, this fact was brought up several times as a positive attribute. I learned that my body’s physical reaction is more evident than I think as I looked in the mirror this morning and saw two dark circles ringing my eyes. I learned that my normally controlled eating habits go down the tubes and I am not even aware of it. Yesterday, I sat at my desk and consumed five cookies I brought into share and as I went to reach for the sixth, the reality of my consumption hit me. I smirk because I excuse myself as I think six cookies are better than six glasses of vodka, my old pain killer.

But the biggest thing I learned is how powerful prayer is and how amazing it works. My friend sent me a scripture (Ephesians) and it brought great comfort to me to know I was not alone in this battle. For ages, people have struggled in similar battles, dealing with demons and what I would refer to in current vernacular as a**holes.  The responses in my blog were like virtual hugs to say; “keep on the path, you’re doing fine.”  Every time I go through something lately, I learn so much. I keep thinking where the hell was I when these lessons were being taught? It does not matter. I am an avid student now.

So thank you everyone. With abundant gratitude to The Creator and all the spirits who guide us on our way; I am humbled by your work.

 

Fearless

Once you step free from the limiting, linear straight jacket that narrowed the understanding of the vastness of your consciousness, everything seems to fall into place, (because it was always exactly as it was intended to be anyway, you just didn’t see it that way). There will be nothing to worry about, and no sadness to embrace; at the very least, you will be much less inclined to engage in that sort of thinking. – Rising Hawk

http://risinghawkspeaks.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/from-path-to-forest/comment-page-1/#comment-744

These words written by my friend are the key to living longer and happier. It is not the first time I have read or heard similar messages, but sometimes you can look at something and feel nothing. Other times it pulls you by the collar and slaps you soundly. This is how this hit me.

To release control, to allow your life to happen…such basic concepts and yet, not easily done for people who are frightened. I paused as I wrote the word frightened because it is word that evokes pity or distain, but it is the word I choose but not my intent. I have to advocate for those who are in or come from surroundings that to the outsider seem safe or harmless. These souls present to the world a false bravado while under their skins pulses the sense of fear. It is the walk of many, including me.

I am one who struggles daily with fear of what might be construed as silly to some. But that is what this is all about. Fear is as individual as the person containing it. I fight mightily to allow the control of my life to flow without my choking grip on it. It was making me sick and my body was tired from holding on so tight. For those who may seek some comfort in my writing, it is possibly to let go even if it is an inch at a time. Each forward release allows for more room to breathe and the body to function as it should.

How does one get to be enclosed in a box? It comes from so many sources. It is life. For some people, much like me, it comes from a dysfunctional and abusive life. I was sitting in a car this weekend listening to a school psychologist talking to another friend about children she has helped whose parents were abusive alcoholics. I sat and listened while my friend was so amazed and horrified with the stories as if they were just that, fiction. I wanted to chime in and share my personal story, but instead sat back and just listened. It was difficult and I actually felt some anger as the two of them talked about the children as statistical information.  I also felt some relief to know that this is not WHAT I am as this person in the car, but only my story. I had a sense of relief if nothing else.

I see and hear every day the barrage of negativity thrust upon us daily to keep us reigned in. We see and hear all the things we need to buy or obtain in order to be something that sadly we are lacking. It takes a strong will to turn away and not succumb to the temptation to secure a better car, house, body, clothes, and on and on. We force this standardization on our children to make them fit in and behave in an approved manner. Why is that we allow this fear and perpetuate this environment of control? This is a question that has been around forever. See the Allegory of the Cave by Socrates. We have survived as pack animals.

“No sadness to embrace…” I held those words in my thoughts all night. Embrace; what a strange concept to think we enjoy sadness. But we do. We love drama. We pay to see actors portraying life struggles because we can empathize and feel  our own sadness as a bonding emotion. Pathos. It what drama is all about. I have friends whose whole life is based on a miniseries of dramas. It is food for their lives. I am not exempt from this either and that is why those words struck me. I work in an environment where the drama level is fed daily. Most is simple confusion of an unorganized work flow. But they have been this way forever and I realize it is a culture that is embraced. They live for the confusion because it is an opportunity to emote and wring hands. They bond with each other in their complaining and strife. I see the same culture in my in-laws. They are passionate about the anguish produced from the simplest situation. It produces a slew of emails and phone calls until the event is secured or past. Then it stirs up the discussion and critic of the players involved, which is often another go around of scorn.

But the sadness I am referring to is the self-inflicted kind which I am truly guilty of. I have seen pictures of me where the sadness is evident in my eyes. People have commented on it as I do not hide my feelings well. NO, in truth, they cloak me like a neon sign. I have become aware of the origin of my sadness and I know in my head, that I cannot change what has happened. This is where I have come to the fork in the road so to speak. I can choose to “not engage in that sort of thinking…”

Can it be that simple? This is one of the life lessons that does not come with great directions on how to do something. I read, listen, and participate in learning as much as any seeker does. Is this not what we all really want, to not be sad and to be free from control? I figured out that no, actually not everyone does want that and will take you with them down the hole if you allow. And then there are some who see a secure and happy person and will go to great lengths to sap the life out of them. They are like a mosquito sucking the life blood of other’s because it is easier than obtaining it on their own. It takes great strength to disallow these creatures their feast. Our own minds can be a foe and a little fear can spiral out to become a monster of our own making. Fear is a companion that has been with me a long time. I am not going to sever the relationship overnight, but to travel on I must begin. This will be a long climb but one I must make……. alone.

Dragon’s mouth

Becoming aware can be a mixed blessing. I want to share this morning an experience I had last night. True, I have had a roller coaster week, but in all in all, I think I was pretty good at handling it. There were some real highlights, personal comments made to me that just made anything and everything bad disappear. I am now able to focus on those things and let the other stuff fall away. Or so I thought.

I was having a quiet night to myself, sitting in the garden and until I was chased inside because of a thunderstorm. I love thunderstorms. I spent the evening writing to a couple of friends. The quiet allowed me to really concentrate on my thoughts and wind down from all that happened in the week. Writing now is my preferred method of discharging.

I had to work on something else and so I put on my music which I stream from Pandora. I have a station I developed of my favorite tunes. When I first started my practice of writing to my guide, I would put this music on. I would spend hours writing of my terror and emotions, usually not happy thoughts or experiences. It was work that was at times gut-wrenching and I spent hours crying over my words. I have no regrets that I did that because it was how I got to here. And I am forever in the debt of my guide who would respond with compassion and care. What a gift.

Last night the music brought back memories. It was a massive cue and I was totally aware of the sensations that were happening. I felt the pang in my center that used to be there all the time. It was funny that I had not realized that it was gone until I sensed it again. I felt like an empty hollow feeling and came from my disassociation with the Creator and love. I thought it was my heart chakra. But it actually is lower and is the third chakra: the solar plexus chakra. This is the chakra of self-worth and self- esteem. The love that was missing was self-love. It took me this long to understand why it was the area of most sensitivity in my life. Last night, the sensation was strong and even this morning, I still sense it. Of all the chakras that were open this was the one with the biggest issues. I find it interesting that this chakra also corresponds with digestion, which is something that has never worked well in my life.

The music plays from speakers located on my left side. This is the side I am more sensitive and prone to taking in cues. As the music filled my ears, I actually felt some physiological changes in my systems. I felt my breathing become shorter. When I went to bed, I actually had to do some breathing exercises to get a deeper breath in me. I felt my heart speed up a bit and flutter. I have always had heart flutters since I was in kindergarten. I can remember being sent to the school nurse once because of it. I felt what I call flushes. My skin tingles and if I was in front of a mirror, I would have seen it actually change in appearance and color. It is not the same a blushing, but similar in sensation. The biggest change was in my personality. I became nasty. I felt it, knew it and yet, could not stop it. Out came the bitterness in my voice and the lack of patience which was something I lived with. I heard my father’s tone in my own voice and it caught me short. I turned off the music and went to bed.

This experience was a huge lesson for me. I am learning to be aware of cues. Good thing. I am aware of what and how my body is reacting. Great! But how do I now control it all? The thought of not being able to listen to my music makes me very sad and I do not think avoidance is the answer. I thought I would end up in pain and spend a night with Charlie….my nickname for charlie horses. But no, that did not happen and this morning there is not any new pain manifested. Wonderful! I did have bizarre dreams. I have a slight sensation residue of the third chakra, but that is ok.

To make this clear, because it seems the answer is simple. Stop reacting. It is not that simple. The reaction is often out of my control. This awareness is new for me and I am not a master of it. I was in the dragon’s mouth by the time I realized what was happening. My only ability to stop from being swallowed was to remove myself from the stimulus. For people who are like me, who react strongly from external cues, removing yourself from signals would be isolation. And even in that state you are not free.

I know the therapy, Associative Awareness Techniques, I am taking is the answer. I have been working towards this understanding for a long time. It is a big step for me to be aware. Huge step and I do not want to demean its importance. I am grateful for the knowledge.  Now I want to be in control. If not in total control, better control. And if that is not possible, then I need to work on acceptance.

 

 

Hi, My name is Jane and I am a….

I feel like an outsider, like I do not fit in anywhere. This is not new but a feeling I have had all of my life. I even felt like an outsider in my own family and marriage. I feel constantly on guard and protective of who I let into my world. I get into groups and I feel like I am watching instead of participating. I expect to be left and abandoned. The stronger the bond the more anticipation of being hurt clouds the relationship. I am used to being betrayed. I expect it. My self-imposed isolation is my bastion. I am struggling to find a place in the world where I can fit in as I want to be accepted by others as I learn to accept myself.
Recently I had a talk with an authority on the subject of abuse only to find out I am actually a member of an extremely large group. 1 out of 3 women are sexually abused and for men, the numbers are 1 in 4. Staggering information. This is not a membership where people where name tags and say “HI, my name is Jane and I was sexually abused.” “HI, Jane!” Matters of fact, many members do not have a clear recollection of the event or events that make them qualify for membership. No one runs around bragging they are the Exalted Elder of the Order of Molested Children. The deeper the wound, the deeper the shame. And only those who have had this happen can truly understand the depth of the humiliation and pain that permeates everything they do.
I have a persona I put on which is not authentic, but I wear it as a suit of armor to protect me from being exposed. I do this because I think everyone can see the real me who was hurt and I see it as something I did wrong. Shame is a garment I have worn for my whole life, as my mistreatment started when I was extremely young. I did not know anything else. I did not even know all the sorted details of the sexual abuse until very recently when I was strong enough to work thought it. I am not done working, but I think some people expect a quick fix. We give time for a surgical wound to heal and this is even deeper. There is the exhaustion of the release. It takes great strength to heal and understand. And even more strength to forgive. Awareness comes with a cost.
It is hard for some to understand that when I am authentically me, my emotions are very strong and I know they can be overwhelming to others. It is why I shut down. My emotions are not always bad though. Recently I found something hysterically funny at work and burst into a rapt session of giggles. I allowed it and the exposure was uncomfortable for some as they had never seen me giggle that hard and long. I have an authentic giggle and it felt wonderful. Some laughed along; others seemed almost upset by the innocence of my joy. I used to feel free enough to do that a lot when I was younger and my friends accepted it and loved me for it. But somewhere in the later years I only allowed a very few trusted and longtime friends to see me that exposed.
The other exposure is crying. My gut hurts from withholding spontaneous crying, which seems to be better but is still happening. I have my triggers. I still do not cry comfortably in front of anyone, so I hide and stifle the feelings so no one knows. I was trained well that it is a sign of weakness. I am blessed because I have one person who I allowed to hold me recently and only once, when I was so filled with anguish that I could not contain it. That is the most amazing gift a person can give someone, the safety to cry in their arms without judgment; just total acceptance and compassion. I never had anyone hold me like that as a child. To allow that need to be fulfilled was very scary for me and to even think about it is now is uncomfortable for me. I was taught that needs like that are failures. Hence I have walled up and I am pushing the person away because the shame came back. The exposure is so great and is so powerful that it is one of those triggers that make me cry.
Unfortunately, I still feel like an outsider as I am sure do many who are part of this group. My membership in this club is valid. The subscription has been paid in full. The dues are very high. But, I am not alone as I have thought.