In honor of John

don  1

Two years ago I walked in to a physical therapist’s office not knowing at all what I was facing. I think back to that time in my life and it is hard to remember the fear and pain I was in all the time. It was so pervasive that I was unable to even sense how deep it was. I just lived with it. I did not know what flight, fight or freeze was and how the limbic system worked. I did not understand much of anything that was going to be presented to me in the following years. I had expectations of walking into his office and he would look at me, give me ten exercises and tell me to be on my way. “See ya next week.” I was so wrong.

Every week I would show up and like a terrified animal, I would wrap myself up as tight as I could get and almost cringe as I walked into the office or into his treatment room. I hated that yellow room. It scared me. But the daemons were all of my own making. It took months before he could even touch me to help me. Looking back it is hard to remember what it felt to be that scared all the time. It is hard to remember how hypervigilant I was all the time. I was a terrified human being whose bruises were apparent to everyone. I felt disconnected to everyone and everything. No one knows how really bad it was except John, who stood at the edge of the rabbit hole and extended his hand. It was his pulling me up to the next level that allowed me to fight for myself and ask for more help. His investment in me gave me strength and hope, something no one else had ever done for me.

Something amazing happened. I began to trust him. It was his faith in me and the courage he gave me that allowed this healing to occur. I asked to heal and I made a commitment to work on healing. My wounds were very big, some so deep that I did not even know all the pieces. Together we would eradicate the fear as they surfaced and together we would face them. I spent hours writing and sending him my thoughts; pages and pages of it. He patiently would respond with encouragement and hope. It was his hope, his light that gave me the strength to continue.

And I did continue. I found other guides who joined my crusade to aide me. I would crash and burn continually. I literally fell on my face once, but I spent hours doing face plants in a metaphorical sense. I think back and I wonder why would anyone go through something like this? Well, like the chicken, I wanted to get to the other side. We even would fight as I thought I wanted something I felt he was not providing. He was wise and knew in time I would get what I needed. Like a young child, he nurtured me and showed me that my impatience was not a bad thing but I needed to learn to trust. I still struggle with this but I am so much better.

My wheel has turned and I continue to grow. I have been blessed with a new teacher who I connected with a year ago. She has taken me places I never would have dreamed of before I walked into that small office two years ago. I write this in an effort to encourage others who are as afraid as I was to seek help and support. I am hoping someday I will pay back all that I have received by helping others find the strength to heal. I will never have the words to express the extent of my gratitude for all those who have helped me.

Tomorrow is my last scheduled visit with John. It is bittersweet because he has been such a huge part of my life. But because of his work with me, I know it is time to move on. I am hoping he will let me see him periodically.

Mr. Borden, know this: I will love you eternally. My gratitude will be demonstrated by continuing to work and grow and not falter on this quest. I know I was a challenging windmill, sir. Never doubt your power and magic as you do possess these things. My light burns bright because of your light. It will be with me always. Thank you.

 

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Stand up against threats

Fear of Man - 101 Blog.

This world we live in is threatening and difficult. I do not understand why it has to be so. I do not understand the joy people derive from belittling and insulting each other. I do not understand why or how people can be violent and kill for pleasure. I avoid TV now completely because it upsets me too much. I occasionally catch something from the paper or internet and react terribly to the insanity of actions that is occurring in the world. It is not because I avoid this news because I am trying not to be involved. I can look at a picture and I feel deeply the anguish and pain as if it was my own. Some would say I am too sensitive. So be it, I am.

I have studied the workforce for a long time. I find it fascinating as new generations evolve the work traditions to fit their lifestyle. We all benefit to some extent as I think the working conditions are improving because of the freedom the new generations are requiring. They want the job to fit their life, not their life to fit their job. But along with this conscious attitude of getting what they want comes a sense of entitlement. To say they are egocentric is maybe a bit strong, but they definitely want a reciprocal arrangement when it comes to their jobs. There is a sense of distrust in others. What is in it for me, or what is it you REALLY want?

My generation is feeling the “isn’t time to retire?” push while the younger force does not feel safe either. They saw their parents and grandparents lose everything to the firms they trusted and devoted their lives to. Their kids are not safe in school. What will happen to this generation when they come up? They have been threatened their whole lives. Why is it an amazing thing when we hear about a company that treats its employees so good that people flock to work there? Should that not be the norm?

I know I am standing up on a soapbox, but that is what my generation did. We protested. I feel like we need to do this more. I think we need to stand up to the bullies and threats in this world. I would like to know that when I leave this plane of existence, that it is a safer and better place. I hope I will have the ability to do so.

 

Dealing with Weight….. part one

I am embarking on a new layer or spiral as part of my healing journey. It is probably the hardest piece of my life I have yet to face. It is dealing with shame and guilt and the result of that which has manifested in being overweight. And I hate that term, overweight. I am going to use large. Every day, we are bombarded with messages that say horribly things that only help carry the message of guilt and shame for people about their size; some who are not carrying an ounce of non-required weight. It has created an epidemic of anorexia and other eating disorders. In an attempt to be helpful, I am sure, the medical field has continued to propagate methods for quick weight loss that also create permanent health issues including death. Our society is so wrapped up tight on the perfect image that people in droves are allowing themselves to carved open and subjected to radical procedures such as stapling and banding their stomachs. The results often are newly induced problems like blood clots, the inability to process nutrients and food which then cause severe iron deficiencies, hair loss, diarrhea and more. And often, in time, the person ends up putting the weight back on. And why?

The issue is not in the fat cells. The issue is not the person’s consumption. If this was true, why is it possible for many people to eat the food they do and not gain weight? And do NOT tell me it is because they exercise. Yes that helps, but I know many people who eat whatever and whenever and do not work out and remain thin. My whole family was thin. I am the only one who is large and I ate the same foods they did growing up. I was not allowed to sit and watch TV and it was a rare day I could even sit and read. I rode my bike for miles, swam like a fish, worked in gardens and on friends farms, and when home; chores and yard work. I was not idle. At a certain point in my early teen years, my food was regulated by my mother as she harped on my size constantly. There was no running off to a fast food place to stuff something down. Everyone knew you when you lived in a small town.

And before anyone jumps on their high and mighty, yes of course, there ARE people who eat too much. But that is their choice. We radically are quick to judge a large person. People feel absolutely righteous in proclaiming their opinion on a person’s size. I cannot get with a group of women that without fail and within a short period time, the topic of weight will come up. Often, some zealous person will tell me about their success with weight loss, and leave the conversation with the question unspoken yet there, “what is wrong with you that you can’t….have you ever tried….?”

This does need an answer. But first, I want to address the feeling this produces so that other who walk this walk know they are not alone. And I am making a vow that I am going to reply from now on with, “What makes you think I haven’t tried? I have spent my whole life trying.” And that is the truth. I measure with strong self judgment everything I put into my mouth. I was just about to go into a litany of what I do to as if I need to justify myself. That is stopping also. It is no one’s business what I eat, when I eat and what I do with my body. But I am going to give some examples of how living large has affected me when it comes to the general public.

I stopped ever ordering milkshakes. When fast-food joints started offering them, I tried them and of course loved them. What 15 year old would not? I stopped when someone in line said, “should you really order that honey?” I have never had a milkshake since. I love peanut M and M’s. It was my favorite treat once a month when chocolate is the primary medicinal resolve for discomfort. I remember purchasing a bag and as I turned away from the counter some total stranger had the balls to come up and pat my stomach. I did not eat candy much because I had issues with the lack of strong enamel on my teeth and my hatred of the dentist. Even now writing this, I feel the shame this produced and continues even today when I go out. I am better about it, but not much. I apologize when I order desserts. I used to explain my purchases when I was at the grocery store. Who does that? I would feel the need to explain chips or a dessert and such to the checkout person even if was for a party. Really, who does that? Only someone who has felt the guilt and shame produced from being of size. I have never heard anyone say “oh I am purchasing this 24 pack of beer because I am having a party”, even if they are a raging alcoholic and this purchase was truly going to be consumed that night alone.

And do not tell me that this is self-inflicted. No sir, it is not. Next time you check out of a grocery store, look at the magazines staring at you as you wait. “Lose ten pounds by farting…. You CAN be thin, if you sew your mouth shut…” Ok, I am exaggerating the article titles but not by much. The media pumps this information everywhere. The diet industry is one of the biggest in the nation. I think it is great that there are things out there that do help people, don’t get me wrong. Changing your eating habits to eating healthy is critical. And the older you get, the more important that is. But trust me; people think automatically that if you are large, you do not eat healthy. That is such a lie.

Again, the general public is predisposed to speak their minds about what large people eat. I am not saying all large people eat great, but there are many of us who do. We also are experts on diets because we have probably tried everyone out there. I eat at my desk at work and we do not have doors on our offices. I do not like to take my lunch break because I like to stay focused and keep working. When I do take a break it is to go for a walk… ( ha, shocked huh?) I have done this for as long as I can remember. But it seems my coworkers have no problem to comment on my food. I used to eat salad every day with low fat dressings I make. It was rare day when I ate something different for probably fifteen years. I cannot eat salad that much anymore, so now it is a piece of chicken and egg or a piece of cheese and some prepared veggie or cukes. Without fail, it does not waver much. It is not important to me what I eat as long as it is easy, but it seems many people comment on it. “Oh, you eat so healthy”, they will proclaim in shock. I have had people stand in my doorway and go on and on about their diet and eating habits, like I give a shit. I have one woman who works near me who periodically stops in to see what I am having as if it is a test.

I must also comment on the diet industry, especially Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem. First WW: I have tried WW at least four times. Two were face to face meetings. The last time, I did lose some weight, but I was so put off from the experience I said I would never go back. The woman would weigh everyone in then make a big deal with stickers and hoopla about anyone who had lost five or more pounds. I can remember watching a fellow dieter fight tears and then leave the room because she was so humiliated and frustrated. The WW woman would then spend the rest of her time either talking about her children or selling the WW foods she brought. I have done the on-line twice, with little success. They last time I tried this was when WW decided to not count fruits and vegetables in the points systems. You could eat as much as you wanted “free.” I gained weight. I do not eat meat. I am not a big bean eater either. I took my diet to three nutritionists, who could not figure out why the pounds were not melting off. I spent six months on the strict consumption only to gain three pounds. Screw that! Other diets such as the ones that provide the food for you will make you lose weight, but they do not teach you to eat for life. Chances are you will put it all back on then some only in hopes you will buy their products again and again.

This post is long enough for now. I will continue with a series of posts about this topic as I travel through a new portal. I will explain this all later on.

For those of you who may completely get where I am coming from and may have your own personal history of weight issues, I encourage you to refocus. We are NEVER going to change the world’s opinion on this topic. But you can surely change your own opinion about yourself.

YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. The failure is the judgment and lack of compassion of others. Hear me.

I am putting a link here to some very serious medical studies and I will be talking about this in the near future. But, take a look. Take the small assessment. For some, it may open a new door to healing.

http://acestudy.org/yahoo_site_admin/

test:

http://acestudy.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/ACE_Calculator-English.127143712.pdf

I am with you all on this journey.

 

 

 

Letting go 2014

falls TSP

Yesterday was a beautiful day in upstate New York. I put all the laundry and shopping off my to-do list and my husband and I took a ride in the Finger Lakes. The trees on the outset were not showing any promise but by the end of the day, they had sprouted and lawns were greening up. We headed to an Amish store where I buy my oatmeal. We then proceeded to a state park I had not visited since 1986. I did not tell my husband about the memory attached to the park because I wanted to see what would come up for me there.
Back in 1986, I was married to someone else. And that someone else betrayed me by having an affair. I found out in the worse way and it destroyed me. I knew he was unfaithful, but I never had to really face it. There was no escaping it as he had to tell me he had the possibility of passing a STD on to me. The humiliation of it all was so great. At that particular time, I wanted to save the marriage and so we headed off to a park to walk and talk. This place has a falls that is magnificent. The idea of being in a neutral ground was mine. What happened out of this was to be with me forever.
We got to a place where there was an overlook. In those days, they did not protect everything from the stupidity of humans. You could walk to the very edge of the rim and look down. It was very high and dangerous. I am not one for heights. I walked to the very edge where a tree was growing and wrapped my arms around the tree. I lost all awareness of him or anything else except this one thought: If I let go and fall, all the pain will be gone forever. I was so hurt I seriously contemplated letting go. I have never shared that.
I did not let go, not of the tree and not of the pain. We walked the hiking trail (those were the days when I could hike for miles) and he continued to share his tale of lies. I asked too many questions and he fed me crap for answers. He continued to lie about the situation by declaring it was a one shot deal and it was over. I of course found out it was nine months in the making and he never ended it. In a last ditch effort to hurt me during our divorce, he sent me something in an envelope with her return address on it.
I worked very hard on saving the marriage. We remained married for another 16 years. They were not good years and he continued to lie. He became violent and very angry. He pinned all his errors on me saying I caused him to be that way. I should have sought help sooner, but I was too afraid and ashamed. It is this knowledge of helplessness and shame that I want to help others learn to survive by offering counseling. One day he pushed too far and I realized I was at the lowest point possible. He requested to bring his girlfriends into the home for overnights. I had moved out of our big bedroom into the guest room at that point. He left for a hunting trip and I went to a lawyer. He was served at work in front of all his asshole buddies who were also doing similar feats of crap to their wives. It was the beginning of learning to be a warrior for me.
But yesterday, with my gentle and kind husband, I could no longer walk to that spot as it was fenced. There was also no hiking to be done. I was just grateful we could walk even a very short trek to the current viewing area. The falls were there and not much else had changed except me. I was so glad I did not let go back then.
As we continued on with our day, we went to several other falls so I could take pictures. As we were driving I realized that I had let go. I let go of the pain and I let go of the shame. Being honest, I have not completely let go of the anger but it is truly a tiny part of me. I think it remains so I will continue in the fight to help others. My ex and I parted legally in 2002 and that was the last I ever saw or heard from him. We had spent almost thirty years together. It took over twenty-eight years for me to realize I had finally let go of that tree. But I did not fall, I learned to fly.

cu falls

Pharmacy nightmare

pharmacy       “And how can I screw up your order today?”

This is a tale of debauchery and exploitation of the highest kind. I put this out there for my fellow bloggers so that the word can spread. The crime is health care and in this case, the pharmaceutical branch. Here is the plot. They make it impossible for humans to get the medicine they manufacture to the point of desperation. That way the suffering idiots will pay anything for it.

I am on a specialty drug called Enbrel. Enbrel runs about $1760.00 a shot. It may be more now. I would do just about anything I could to get off this. My reasons have only been amplified after this week. Enbrel suppresses the over active immune system I have which causes the inflammation every time I move. It also slows down the production of extra cells that create the psoriasis on my skin and in my organs.  I am lucky because it works. I was on originally taking it every week and I have reduced the dosage significantly. It also has some nasty side effects like making me incredibly susceptible to infections that could kill me because I would not be able to fight them off and can produce cancer cells.  No problem.

I called in my prescription into Accredo last November when I had to switch insurances. It took two months to get the first order. I had to go through so many hoops but I did get it. Then for my next shipment, they decided not to send it because the weather was bad. Really? It is not like they hand carry it. Well, that was just the beginning of a long process of lies. Every time I called them, I had to start with a new person and they had to hear the story and then read the notes. The outcome in the last six calls was they had it figured out. Every time, it was something else wrong. But it was also an hour every night on the phone. The last time I called, the woman was so pleasant and assured me she had it figured out. This call was an hour and half. She wanted me to call the next day to her supervisor who she sat near and she would then get on the phone. She did not have a direct number. The next day I called at the specific time and the number went right to voice mail. I did it five times…which give me some satisfaction because she has five annoying voice mails that say nothing. Then I called the main number and supposedly got someone else who said it was her supervisor too and she was at her desk and that she would go get tell her to take this call. And the other lady who was supposed to be at her desk was at lunch. Who would imagine that? So I waited as she transferred me and she said she would stay on the line until the supervisor picked up. I was so excited….and then, click….. nothing.

That did it. I had our benefit person call the insurance company directly and they called through and supposedly they are getting it fixed. Then I called the rheumatology office and they are on it and supposedly it is being shipped out on Monday. We will see. I hope I get a ton of it as it lasts for two years. Do not use Accredo if you can or Express Scripts which is the same.

On top of this, I get a B12 shot monthly. I went to the doctor on Thursday to get it and they are out. They do not have any and they cannot get it. I was absolutely disgusted with all this. This is like being held hostage.

The good news is I did some research and found something better than the B12 shot which was not working. In four months of shots I only raised my level 87 points. I am not even close to the normal range.  In my research, I also discovered that my ridiculously low B12 is also a contributing factor to the Psoriatic Arthritis and some of the other symptoms I have like poor metabolism. There is something interwoven in the inability for me to absorb B12 and what the impact the lack of this crucial vitamin causes in symptoms. I am now trying with the doctor’s suggestion  sublingual methylcobalamin 5000 MCG and folate 800mcg. This is over the counter and not uncommon in better pharmacies. It seems like there are so many things that this simple remedy will cure…not mask but alleviate. I had to do the work and the research. It really makes me upset but this is truly the path western medicine is headed. And customer service is a dying skill.

Dinosaur Brain….really?

IMG955468

Today was one of those days when subtle messages are being sent and I was able to perceive them. I have a tendency to be pretty empathic….ok, a lot empathic. It is not always good, believe me. I sense things people really do not want me to know that they are feeling. Sometimes I know what they are feeling and sometimes it is just a premonition of something coming. It is interesting how my sensory input has changed to be so much less about me and my reaction even though I still sense feelings coming off of others.  Now, I know it is their feelings and I do not have to take offense or take their feelings on. There is a lot of freedom in that. It makes being uber-sensitive a lot easier to live with.

But today something kept popping up. It is a banner I truly wave. It is about acceptance of image or body acceptance. And it extends to in-general acceptance. We have a campaign going on at work about better health. I am all for being optimal in your health, whatever that means to you. But this campaign is totally setting people up for failure. It started out by making participants answer whether they had good self-esteem. It went on to categorize things that you did or did not have “esteem” about. None of them were about things that really matter. It was about weight, physical ability and food. Did you walk 1000 steps today? Were you successful in your diet? I wrote back to the committee who was soliciting comments a retort about esteem being something set up and enforced by outside resources. Esteem is not really intrinsic and sets up the person for failure. Any time you measure yourself against a matrix, you will fail. There is always someone better. I went on to talk about self-compassion over self-esteem, which I know should shock a few of you. I will save what I said for a later post.

Then tonight, I was glancing at Facebook, and there was a post about a reporter who got a nasty email from a viewer about her weight. I have watched it a 100 times. She was elegant, brilliant and righteous. It is about time we stop the abuse and prejudice against people of size…. Or of anything physically descriptive of a person when used in a derogatory comment. “She is so fat”… for example. You would not say anymore, “she is so black”. Or “she is so hair-lipped”, or “retarded” (you better not say that in front of me)….or “deformed”. But we are perfectly comfortable labeling someone of size as being fat and meaning it derogatorily. I am fat, but I am also blond, freckled and actually quite beautiful.

Then tonight I was listening to a podcast by The National Institute for the Clinical
Application of Behavioral Medicine
.
This was a dialogue with Daniel Amen, MD. I admit I did not know who he was and I do not want to anymore. The topic was supposed to be the difference between the male and female brain, and it was science based. I am very interested in neuroscience. I find it fascinating what the grey matter can do. This podcast started off talking about the differences in brain structure and function. He proceeded to discuss hormones and their influence on thinking and somewhere he digressed into weight. He was talking about the different impact foods have on the brains ability to process. He proclaims a high fat – high protein diet is the way to go. No carbs. But then I was beginning to realize he sells his products. (I went and Googled him. You do the same if you wish.) He then went on to say that fat people….yes FAT people have an 8% brain cell deficit……….. ohhhhhhhhhhh can you imagine how that sat with me. I am sorry DOCTOR….people lose more than that on one drink. (In truth alcohol does not kill brain cells, it damages the connections of the dendrites used for communication, but for my point I will say this.)  But I kept listening and he proclaims he is the creator of the “Dinosaur Brain Theory”.  He is proud of this…. He says that FAT people are like dinosaurs, big bodies, small brains. I ripped the head set off my head and wanted to go through the computer at him. Are you freaking kidding me? He is proud of this statement and “theory”. I am so sorry Doctor to tell you that being Fat and Lazy is not new, just insidiously cruel and only a reflection on how stupid you are. But this jerk is running around telling people to pop hormones and eat fat and have high cholesterol, which is all fine and dandy if you are not fat. Oh and make sure you have enough testosterone too.  Yikes… I think he is a testosterone brain or more commonly known as a dick head!

There is a lot of movement being created to educate women and girls about body acceptance. I am all for it. But, I think an important piece has to start with education of everyone. It is not ok to derogatorily refer to anyone by their shape or size or physical appearance. It is ok to be who you are no matter what it is. It is not ok to make people feel bad about themselves, whatever the situation is. I would hope you would not comment on someone for example who stutters. Some would say that is different, a stutterer cannot control their stutter, a fat person can control being fat. THAT debate is for another time. AND I will welcome anyone who wants to debate it. And being fat does not automatically mean the person is lazy or over eats. I plan on returning to this topic and often. But for now, I am getting off my soapbox. Take care folks in what you say. Or even think as some people can sense the things you do not express. 

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.

All I want for Christmas….

boxing

There is something I am wishing for the New Year for me. Actually it is the removal of something not an addition. It cannot be gift wrapped. No one can actually give it to me. But I know this will be the thing that will change my life completely. I have been working all around this for the past year. It affects everything I do and I am not aware that it is even happening. But my body does. I am learning to be more aware of it. I want it put in a place that I can handle on a consistent basis. See, I have to have some of this as it would be very dangerous not to. But unfortunately for me, I got an abundance of it. I learned to get sunk in it, without even being conscious of it. My body reacts even when my brain say all is well. The thing I want control over is my fear. I am not sure how I got as bad as I did. And even saying that, I know I have come a long way from where I was. But I still have way too much and I need to lose some.

There was a time when things happened as a child that I had no control over. I was raised in a cacophonous household that veered to violence too often for a sensitive child to understand or embrace. What some would have gotten through left a mark on me. As I reflect on my siblings, they all have marks, albeit each one is different.  One brother shut down his emotions; one became a dreamer with no sense of financial caution, one abandoned a safe family for a fast life, and my sister is just a train wreck. Somewhere in the mix I developed a sense of escape and caution that got me through. But as I get nearer to “old age”, I think….. what if I could have….. but I did not because something stopped me. And this is what I want to get rid of for the New Year; this imaginary boundary that I created and I allow to shackle me.

I have been working on finding the root causes for my fear. It helps to understand but it does not always eliminate it. I have worked very hard with wonderful guides to help me train my body not to react to fear, especially when the fear is not in the present moment. But I still have a reaction to cues  triggered by  old memories that I think I have gotten rid of. My mind can handle it, but not my body. I have a cellular reaction which causes pain and other physical reactions.  I am frustrated with this process not being as successful as I think it should be even thought I understand that it took a long time to get like this.  But it adds to my burden because I feel like I have failed the process. I cannot shout loud enough…. “I GET IT.” But still my body cramps up, seizes up and freezes. Even when I do everything I am supposed to do. And the thing that sucks the most about it is that it happens and I am not even aware of it until it is too late. Because in my mind I am not afraid, I am not mentally reacting…but my physical being certainly is. It is not until I am total wound or bound up that I realize I am in that state, and then it is too late. It is very hard to undo. My goal is to stop the reaction before it takes over.

I have done a lot of thinking on this. I know that we can retrain our body to do a lot of things. I know I have come a long way from feeling like a trapped animal with unbridled fear. There are times I still feel that hopeless and ensnared. But I can work myself out easier and faster now.  But this is tricky because I do not realize the source of the input. So I walk around like a magnet attracting and reacting to the smallest of threat. I am fearful….period.  I think in my head, I can prove to myself to some extent that fear is only something that is manifested out of falsely conceived bad expectations. And that they only come to fruition because we expect them to. I have learned to expect the worse and my body prepares by putting myself into a state of fight, flight and, for me, freeze. It is automatic because it is what I know or I have learned to react as such. I need to learn to not always fear the outcome. If I can embrace that, I can learn to have less fear of whatever is setting me off. I know that there are certain things that trigger me that I can get better at. There are things I need to do to help the physical become retrained. I have had great help so far in that process but I am not done with that work at all. But it goes beyond simple training.

It is accepting challenges and participating in life as a rich array of experiences that are to be enjoyed and not feared. That is all I am going to say about it for now. I learned to become afraid because of the physical and mental ramifications of things that were bad in my childhood and earlier life. I used to joke that I was born afraid, but I wasn’t. I learned to become fearful. And if I learned to be afraid, I can learn to not. I have not figured out how I am going to achieve this, but it is “All I want for Christmas.” Maybe by this time next year, I will achieve  victory over this.

Squirrel writing: “who am I?”

I just had a very interesting conversation which follows a series of thoughts and other conversations I have been having for a while. “Who am I?” This simple question is not one that really is so easily answered. So I am writing because that is one thing I do know that I am; a writer. I put thoughts into words and then through my fingers on to keys which translate the thoughts into concepts which I share. This to me is what I do as a writer. By putting my thoughts on paper, I am trying to figure out my dilemma because in a face to face situation, I was totally inarticulate. I needed time to digest what was being said and then a realization hit me which I will share in a moment.
Some of you will start right now shaking your head because you know where I am going with this….”just be.” My old nemesis. But this is more than “just be” being…. It is trying to figure out my comfort zone with myself and what that looks like. In trying to figure out the person who is me and that I am comfortable with, I realized I am not sure of what me really is. But then on further thought, maybe I do know who I am and it is not fitting what everyone else thinks it should be. For someone to say to me “just be”, I have no clue how to define what that represents. My past precludes one simple answer to that. My body and mind have been in a protective war for so long, that my natural state of being was hyper vigilant and afraid. I have worked hard to knock down many walls and peal back many layers only to discover ….what? I have been so barricaded and so wrapped up in protecting this being from being hurt that to remove the battle is very unsettling. The adjustment has made me extremely vulnerable and even more susceptible to critique. No wonder I struggle with just be. I am almost 60 years old and I have no clue who I am. Or do I? And am I still requiring some form of validation because I have no reservoir of internal knowledge that I am truly ok? My mirror is so clouded with the transgressions of past relationships that to reflect with approval on myself is foreign and that the concept is making me uncomfortable. The old way of either being put down or putting myself down was how I have rolled for most of my life.
Here is where I struggle to articulate any cohesive response. Because I still have fear of exposure, I hesitate in any action of self-proclamation. And truly, why wouldn’t I? So the simple response and about all I can give is: “I am”. That’s it, “I am.” So when someone says I am not being me, who are they to say so? Isn’t this a fun riddle? There are lists of things that I know I am. We all have them. So why isn’t the person who has a list of things not being themselves when they are doing something on the list? How is saying that not being judgmental? How are the things that I do not being me?
I have been called an actress. So how is that not also a part of me? I like to entertain and I like to be funny. Making people laugh brings me joy. I do play roles; we all do as life demands. Mothers are mothers when their kids need it. Teachers are actors who portray educational concept so their students can learn. Who gets to say that is not me being me? I do keep a lot of stuff to myself and I do put up walls but it is as life demands. It is also because I am so vulnerable and uncomfortable with opening myself to being criticized. Funny thing is does not stop anyone from making comments as they see fit. I know I still hear and react to negative comments and why wouldn’t I? It is what I have always done. I am learning the skills necessary not to react but it is going to take time and a lot of acceptance of myself. See what I said about not having a reservoir of knowledge on knowing what that feels like. Hence my struggle. But this is me for now.
There are stories that make up who I am. There is history that I cannot do anything about at this point other than let them be. I do need to keep working on the release of the pain it caused and the other manifestations but the story is still there. However, I do not want to be known as a victim who survived. The details are not important anymore. I am learning that it is not necessary to relive all the crap we have walked in our lives. It really does not do any good unless there are pieces of the puzzle that we need to fit together. Sometimes the finished puzzle is horrible. But we learn from these things and so when I am with others who have lived a similar situation I understand. I have turned some things around in my life that could have brought me to a standstill and incorporated the lessons to help others. This is being me. Yes the “bad stuff” is part of my life, but it is not all that makes Jane- Jane. “I am”
But there are things that some people will never understand because they have not gone through similar things. I am so glad for them. Truly, glad. And I cannot explain to people what it feels to be me, either. And you cannot explain to me what it feels like to be you. What I think I am coming to figure out that the only reality we do have is acceptance. It is very easy for me to accept other people. I have always loved the “underdog” and advocated for others in need. But I do not do it easily in myself……because I did not know I was so broken. That is what just popped in my head.
This is taking me somewhere, which is why I like writing… keep coming along if you want. So “I did not know I was broken” was very interesting when it popped in my head. This journey I have been on has not been easy at all. But I will not argue with the fact that there was much need for healing. Broken is not the right word, but in need of healing is better. (When I reread this statement after eight hours of writing it, it offended me which is good. I am not broken.) This comes back around to acceptance. I can easily accept that I needed to heal. But to say I was broken makes my life a mistake, and error or travesty. And it soundly was not. “I am” for a reason. Granted I do not have the answer why, but I am ok with that. I am on the route and every day is another step to that answer.
But there are many things that are not going to change overnight. Being me is also not being patient by the way. I know that very well about myself. So there are things that will not become apparent to outsiders because the insider (me) is still learning to accept new feelings and be comfortable with that. I will share an example.
A year ago, no one could touch me without getting a reaction which was usually a withdrawal or flinch. I still flinch to a degree but now as much. But there is still trepidation of physical contact and I still have trouble with it. I am much like a beloved dog who was abused by others and reacts by lowering the head even when their loving owner pats their head. And as much as I do not like to be touched, I struggle more with touching others. I am uncomfortable and at first I thought it was because I am embarrassed. I realized something today when I had time to think about it. It is much more that I am afraid the touch will be rejected. Also, there is still a huge fear that by reaching out to touch someone, I offer myself to have my arm grabbed and twisted or that I am leaving my body unprotected. I keep my arms very close to myself. I never paid attention to it until now. That is conditioning and it will take a long time to heal from.
And for those of you who know me outside of the blog world, you may be wondering how I can do Spiritual Healing Touch if I cannot touch people. That is very easy to answer: because it is not me who is doing the healing. I am only a tool or conduit. I take myself right out of the equation. I am perfect for this work because I can only do it if I take myself out of it. I accept this and I am fine with it.
This post is a fine example of what I call squirrel writing. It is when I just let my mind wander and change my thought path much like my dog would do if he saw a squirrel. This is how I work stuff out. Going back to the question of who am I? I do not know if I can define that. I know there are things I want to change. My focus is on learning to hear the good. I need to work on building a bank of self-resilient and non- deprecating thoughts to pull from. Unfortunately there is a lot of mud to get rid of first to uncover any pool within. I need to stop worrying about that. Today is now and this is what I have to work with. Nothing is permanent. I think my work is only beginning on the discovery of just being me. And yet, every day “I am.”

Heros in my head

There are voices that are in my head which today I want to pay homage to. When I started writing this last night, it was mostly to heal something that happened. When I reread it this morning, I saw great value in the application to help someone who is struggling with self-worth. Maybe by taking pieces of me in chunks, I can see their contribution to the whole and celebrate this value. It turned out to be a great exercise and I recommend it. Now to some of you, this may sound as wacky as the day and that’s OK. You are welcome to read on or not. This was really an exercise for me. Putting ideas down on paper is a tool I use to validate experiences I am going through. It is a process I have used for over a year now and it has done wonders for me. This journal piece is in regard to some special people who have been part of my life because they are my life. These women vocalized their pain and love for me as I went through the past year. It is time to honor and I want to thank them. I must ask for their forgiveness as well.

I am going to start with the youngest member of the group. She is a little red-haired, freckled faced sweetie who just wanted to love and snuggle with anyone and everyone. She would run around with her soft ringlets of crimson and gold and sparkling green eyes and offer kisses blown off her little hand. She had been born the last of five and had little fear. But something changed. The grown up me does not know what happened but something changed very early on to terrify this little one. She went from an outgoing cherub to a scared child who hid in closets and whose memories at some point included fear and loneliness. Many pictures of her pre-kindergarten show a grimace and a look of distrust in those green eyes. Her once baby pudgy body had grown to make her more round than she should have been for that age.  She only wanted to be protected and loved and somewhere, someone failed that. I cannot tell you now what happened, only that I am aware of something on my fringe of my grown up memory. It can stay there as I do not think knowing will help change anything in my current life. It was at this point my body printed the withdrawal reflex. It is this autonomic response that causes me pain as an adult. I still withdraw when frightened and I do not even need to be aware of what frightened me. My body pulls in and up and then freezes. Babies do this naturally when you tickle their feet or startle them. As an adult, it manifests in leg cramps and muscle pain especially in my feet and legs. When really bad, the cramps migrate. I stop digesting food properly and cannot take deep breaths.

But in her honor, this is the little girl who still gives me the ability to believe in magic. She is the one who gets so excited at something new. She brings joy and laughter that is as honest and pure as a crystalline stream of water. She can sit and watch animals and they know they can trust her. But she is also the most vulnerable of all the people who I am. I did a terrible thing last month and subjected this little one to her tormentors. Even though I, the adult, thought I had it covered, she did not. And she pulled up and froze. I did not think about her and the muscle cramping and pain that I have been in the last two weeks is a manifestation of that withdrawal. I knew something was up, but had no clue because I thought it was all behind me. I am sorry I did not protect her, and it really was not a good thing because of the damage I did to my physical body. I am grateful for my therapist and guide who knew exactly what happened and worked on the muscle groups in order to release the freeze. The thing I did not connect was that the event was over a couple of weeks ago and I really thought I had it under control. This little one was hell bent on telling me she was pissed. I gain a ridiculous amount of weight in a very short time span and was in so much discomfort to the point again of suffering with nightly charlie horses. I also was starting to want to hide, which is a method she used when hurt.  As I listened to the explanation of what was going on, I really felt the wounded inner child in me. Tonight I am hugging her and saying I will not do that again. I am all she has and I put her in a place of great harm. Memories are more than thoughts and if anyone tells you that they are harmless, they are wrong. They imprint on every system and cell of your body. Many bring you joy, others….not so much

There is a young girl who is my next hero. She is the one who of all the women who suffered the most. I am not going to reiterate her trauma. But I honor her because she is the performer of my life. She is the artist and the songstress. She is the one whose creativity was so integral to who I am. It was her voice that brought me awards and accolades. I lost her for a long time and I am slowly bringing her back into focus. With the good, came a lot of bad. But I had a lot of support to deal with the trauma. She is once again playing music. She is the eye who looks through my camera. She is the one with all that happened to her, who still sees beauty in so many things and people. I honor her for teaching me forgiveness. I look forward to playing and creating together again.

The next hero in my life is the Warrior Princess. This is the young girl who at fifteen stood to her tormentor face to face and called him on his abusive behavior. She was very brave. She stood up for justice and fairness in many aspects of her life. She was an advocate for the underdog. She champion causes for a better tomorrow. She drove cars without a license and recklessly enjoyed mischief. She has the greatest sense of humor and saw the futility of worry. She was the one who befriended the outcasts in the school yet had many who called her friend. She was the center of the theater crowd and loved an audience. Although popular, she too hid. She was often more comfortable in isolation for that was when she did not have worry about who she was and what she was living in. She needed a release and escape from a domicile of explosive and violent behavior. It was at that age she learned to put up a facade. This was the young woman who started to explore without fear. She was an outlaw whose behavior often was dangerous and risky. She hitchhiked; she roamed the nights and often partook in dubious and nefarious activities. But she was brave and would try things without caution. She experimented solely on interest to learn new things. But I honor her because she is the voice who spurns me on when I am feeling timid. She is the one who says, “go on, you can do it.” She is the one who helps me get up every time I fall. And she is the first one to laugh at me when I am being a fool. But it is her freedom that teaches me to be brave in my current life and makes me want to go on and be what I am destined to be. I honor her for all the lessons I learned from her mistakes and the strength to overcome what she did. When I stand tall it is she who holds me up. At times, I still see the glint in her eyes and smirk on her lips when I look in the mirror.

The next hero is the mother in me. Granted I did not have my own children, but there is a nurturing being inside me who practices motherly skills. This is the soul who suffers the most from the loss of family. It was this one who wanted to reconnect and was most disappointed from the family reunion. But it was she who said it was what it was, forgave and moved on.  This woman brings Grace and love to me.  She is the one who looks at the soul of someone and offers a loving embrace. She is the teacher, who sees the potential of her charges and with guidance and support develops the student to reach their potential. She is the one who is at the center of my caring, the woman of my heart. She is a survivor and is the one who teaches me forgiveness. She is the being that is most connected with Mother Earth and breaths with the soul of plants and animals. This is the one who sees.  It is her voice that cried out to me to get help and heal. She is the one who fights to protect from harm the only being she really had the ability to take care of. She is the one who is teaching me patience.She mourns and grieves and loves and forgives.

I am not sure who will be next. I was thinking when I wrote this that the grandmother voice was learning to speak. But I think I have a lot more to learn and experience. So I honor all the players in this saga of life called me. “She is Jane and that is just fine with me.”