Start Over

fabio

Muscled and gorgeous, he came in, like dessert, main course, and appetizer. Some people just carry themselves that way. It doesn’t work if they dress low, chest hair accentuated by opened buttons and glimmering chains. It doesn’t work if it’s their agenda, checking to see if you noticed, a finger hovering over the acoustic applause button. No. Attire must be intact, normal, not baptized in cologne. In fact, attire must be worn as if it is completely a non-issue. Attitude of a jack-rabbit, who never thought about his muscled legs. Those legs just hop because that’s what they do. That is the kind of attitude-ingredient to this kind of presence-recipe.

How would a mother name such a son? How could she know he would turn out this way? Greg is an essential name for this elixir to work, as essential as “Fabio” is to its destruction. Everything else may have been in place, developed over years, like a bonsai tree groomed under the tender ministration of Father Time, and caboom! “Fabio.” The bonsai becomes a paint-can-frosted Christmas tree. Greg’s mother named him ‘Greg’, in fact, because it was the dullest name she could think of, not wanting him to grow up to be anything like the sort of philandering infidel his good-for-nothing pig father “Fabio” was. Greg told me this. I didn’t come up with it. He knew it because his once beautiful mother, who worked seventy hour weeks, told him whenever he messed up, “I named you Greg! This is not supposed to happen!”

In came Greg, after three years of absentia. And it was like I had just seen him yesterday. His mother couldn’t believe that the name Greg would hold such a man, an addict. Yep. Greg hadn’t seen me for three years for a reason. There I was. Chirpy as ever.

Greg! Where you been?

Whenever a patient comes to see me, I believe in him or her. I believe. In part, because I believe in Me. I believe in my value. Wink. But I also believe in them because I believe in Love, and because I’m simply wired to. There are more reasons why we behave and feel the way we do, more than colors in your crayon box. It’s not just a moral issue, biology, or an adjustment to our human condition. Heck. His name may have even had something to do with it. “Greg,” is quite a name. But I did believe, more than I disbelieved, that he hadn’t been in to see me for reasons other than relapse. Maybe his primary doctor was filling his meds, and he was so stable he didn’t need psychiatry anymore! Yah! That’s it!

(This is inside information folks. You can’t tell anyone. My patients can’t know this about me. It could ruin my career! I don’t want them to be any more afraid of disappointing me than they already are. It’s hard enough to be honest in these places, and I do my darndest not to project my Pollyanna-agenda’s on them. They don’t deserve that. They deserve the hard-earned poker-face I screw into place when my heart gets broken. I purchased it with ten-years of my life from some magic spiders I quested in a cliff off distant shores. Bargain.)

Greg! (I said,) It’s great to see you!

Every patient wants to please their doctor. And every doctor wants to please their patient. And we all get our hearts broken at some point.

I was really glad to see Greg, after all. And he was looking good. But then I noticed he had more weather in his face, some clouds, lines, and gutters. And I noticed he wasn’t as glad. He had an aura of melancholy and self-loathing rolling off of him.

His little boy was with him, too, (Fabio. …J/K! Gotcha! Good ‘ol “cycle.”)

Greg sat there, thunder in his sorrow shaking his frame, and we reviewed his story. You may know Greg’s story. Greg may be your friend too. Or brother, husband, dad, or You. And you know the high from this addiction feels better than everything, until it doesn’t.

The best line ever spoken in this context is, “Relapse is part of Recovery.” That is from the God of Hope. That is what makes sense in every illness, like Charles Dickens is to literature, timeless and universal content, man. When Bob reaches for that doughnut, when Harriet rolls the dice at Pechenga, when Fabio uses porn rather than intimacy in a meaningful relationship, when Myrtle has to pull over on the freeway in a panic attack, this is when we ask, “Why am I alive?” and demand to start over for that answer.

I’ve asked that question fifty-plus times a week for fourteen-some years, and every time I ask it, I listen for an answer. I’m curious too. We all are, right?! It’s a marvelous question. Every time I ask, I wonder about the magic that keeps this beautiful creation in our community. I listen, because every answer is something that crescendos into the room, the words explosive, the best part of the atom.

I have a daughter. She needs me.

My dogs. Nobody loves me more than my dogs.

I want to know what it is to live without this.

I’m too scared to die.

God.

I just don’t know why.

Oops! Wait. “I just don’t know why,” isn’t good enough. Figure it. Finger it. Cradle it, and answer. What do you want to stay alive for? Because this thing! This thing is part of your recovery. Another day will come.

Greg left our appointment with options for treatment and a commitment to treatment. I’ll see him again and he’s one of the reasons I love life. Can’t wait.

Questions: Why are you alive? Please give us your answer. It will explode into the universe and someone out there needs to hear it.

Self-care Tip: Answer the question and start over. 

Entitled to Understand – NOT

Please do not state the obvious, thanks :)

Please do not state the obvious, thanks ūüôā (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We, many, share the not so friendly distorted belief that we are entitled to understand everything.  Bull bullhorn in hand, supported by the scaffolding round our personal renovations, we trumpet our oppression per the noncommunicating swine we once called our relations.

“Isn’t it our job to try to understand?” you ask. ¬† Well, no. ¬†The duty to understand starts with Me and ends with Me. ¬†(I think I just felt a poison blow dart¬†pierce¬†my flesh! ¬†Stop that! ¬†Is this being received well!? ¬†Hello? ¬†Anyone?! ¬†Ouch! ¬†Not another dart!)

Motives too easily change to build a case against each other rather than reconcile or to account for our Me. ¬†What does someone owe us, if not to let us understand them? ¬†Nothing. ¬†Sounds harsh? ¬†Or maybe, not so harsh. ¬†Not as harsh as being victimized. ¬†Not as harsh as spending one’s bank on illusive control of what isn’t ours to control. ¬†Not as harsh as the crescendo anger swells into when a child watches her parents behave poorly. ¬†Not as harsh as watching your beloved friend “un-choose” you. ¬†No. ¬†Claiming title to the thoughts and behaviors of others is generally and commonly done with little insight, but it can only be policed by the individual on either end. ¬†After all, everything starts and ends with Me. ¬†(Plink! ¬†Hear the pennies dropping?)

We deserve as much as the value of our own self.  Understanding others will come perhaps or perhaps not.  But it is as deserved as any other gift.  That is to say, not.

Question: ¬†How do you stay in your space, when you are grieving the behaviors of those you love? ¬†How do you keep your entitlement to, “Me,” where you have title? ¬†Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip: ¬†Something as easy as remembering, “They don’t owe Me anything; even understanding,” can be friendly. ¬†Keep on.

A short story starter

20120702-093516.jpgLeslie tugged on her shirt. Mussing with it didn’t give it or her the laundering they needing. Leslie stank of what you or I would, if we had at fifteen, ran toward a twenty-five year old, running toward something more so than what others might call, running away. He was what she wanted and she had simply responded. But now just one week later, she was for the first time, truly running away. He had been a lot different from she imagined. He had been, brief, let us say. And almost immediately unfaithful.

Leslie pulled on her shirt again. She was running away. But what was she running toward? Her eyes blinked and stung and her anxiety was so high, she couldn’t process. What was she doing again? Running away; not toward anything. Where could she go? Another tug on the stained cotton-T. Her long hair stuck to her damp neck.

No matter how many times she checked, yes, her shirt was down. She had to check again. It was something she might never stop doing. Now where could she go? The car on the corner honked at her and she jumped.

Nice! I like what I see! a voice delivered.

Why some cultures think it’s rude not to ogle women would always be a mystery to her.

Could she go to a friend’s? No. CPS might get called, maybe the police or worse, her parents. Some part of her split off then and asked the other,

Would going home be the worst?

The thought of facing her mom and dad after a week of not telling them, talking to them; after a week of subjecting them to that, she was so ashamed. Shame loomed over her, filled her and all she could think of again was what Jared had done. Leslie’s shirt had stretched out. An uneven hem hung the stains from her dirty hands. She gave it another firm two-handed pull down. No. Jared wasn’t with her now. Pull.

On the bus ride home, Leslie let the static and crackling sounds of her frantic thoughts turn into white snow and obscure and hypnotize her. She finally slept and would have missed her stop at the Stop-and-Go if the bus driver hadn’t used his mic to announce it three times. There was a crust of saliva on her cheek. Why was she doing this? The closer Leslie got to home, the surer she was that they hated her. How did she have the stupidity to even try? What was she doing?

Before she knew it, she was on the front porch. She knew the folks would be home because it was Sunday and Dad was ritualistic about Sunday yard work.

A flat of Freesia beside bags of gardening fro-frou lay around. What was she doing here? Tugging, she felt the threads pull apart in front. Her shirt! Leslie let out an involuntary sound, that was something like a growl. There. That was better. Anger came and stood with her. Some of the fear went away.

But this was suddenly awkward. What in the world does girl-gone-bad do when she comes home? Knock? Walk in? Leslie pulled her shirt down. There was another rip and she tried the door. In that moment, icy panic brought the memory of reading Peter Pan with her mom.

“Long ago,” (Peter) said, “I thought like you that my mother would always keep the window open for me, so I stayed away for moons and moons and moons, and then flew back; but the window was barred…”

Q: What can Louise do to be a friend to herself?

….I heard this hymn and thought I’d share it as an aside,

If you should feel sad and dejected,
When no answer comes to your prayers,
And when it seems you are neglected,
Remember, God knows and He cares.

Refrain:
He knows and He cares,
Your burden He bears;
He drank the whole cup,
While we take but one sup,
Your suff’ring He shares.

And when you get weary with toiling,
When no one your sore burden shares,
When evils your efforts are foiling,
Remember, God knows and He cares.

When confidence has become shaken,
You give Satan place unawares,
The Lord will not leave you forsaken,
He sees you, He knows and He cares.

When feelings of joy have subsided,
When sickness your health so impairs,
Don’t fail in your trust, be decided;
God sees you and tests you, He cares.

See Christ in your furnace of trial,
‚ÄúI‚Äôm with you alway,‚ÄĚ He declares;
When suff’ring severe self-denial,
Remember, He knows and He cares.

Discover Your Sweetness – Value, That is To Say

English: Casimiroa edulis, White sapote fruit ...

Image via Wikipedia

My kids look at fruit as if they are inspecting a diamond for flaws.

Is this a good one Mommy? 

My daughter was pointing at a blemish that comes from fruit grown outside in dirt and not genetically engineered.

My huffing sounds are barred by something almost like maturity, just in time.  I pick up a different White Sapote with broken skin and beak marks where it is half eaten by whoever got there first.

After spitting out the seeds, I remembered bits of my filthy self as a daddy-chasing kid.  The words dusted off and important to me again, I heard Dad say,

Pick the fruit that the birds have pecked at. ¬†They know what’s good better than we do. ¬†Here Sana. ¬†Take this one. ¬†This is really sweet.

The fruit turning in my daughter’s hand, the cast-offs still in the basket, her anxiety about finding the best and my dad’s words came at me like the sounds between Broadway and 42nd Street. ¬†And out walked Jean.

Jean was a patient I had known, particular to me despite common problems.

Abuse since at least my daughter’s age or younger. ¬†Neglect. ¬†Disgusting trauma survived.

Jean who, after getting picked on for the first thirty years of her life, came to me, insisting on living.  She resisted being a White Sapote in a bowl on the counter, inspected by passerbys.  Her community had tried to declare her value, her second chances and hoped to cast her off.

Pick the fruit that the birds have pecked at. ¬†They know what’s good better than we do. ¬†Here Sana. ¬†

Jean’s face was in my memory. ¬†Her white scar on her black skin shocked me; a large keloid.

Take this one.  This is really sweet.

I gave my daughter a squeeze and told her what Papa had said. ¬†I’m so glad my daughter reminded me about this in we who have been hurt. ¬†(Okay. ¬†That’s all of us, see it or not.) ¬†The way Jean grew, looked for light, the courage she answered to, the newness that came out of used up and shabbiness – Jean was teaching me about value.

Even when we are not behaving well, when we don’t look good and when we drop the market price, we have value. ¬†Somehow, being chosen for life is more important than being chosen to suffer. ¬†I wish I could explain why and how better but it’s just something each of us will have to experience for ourselves. ¬†We will have to in humility and wisdom, like Jean’s or my dad’s wisdom, find the sweetness in Me.

Questions:  What is it about you that is particularly sweet?  Do you perceive your value?  Per what measure or qualifier? Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Discover your sweetness.  Be a friend to yourself

Related Articles:

Secure Connections Allow Us to Feel Safe When Proximate or When Distant From our Other

Your romantic partner just left on a distant work related job.  Inside, two days later, you feel a growing chill.

You are not alone in this type of response. Physical separation can challenge intimacy. (Save the snarky comments on the positive influence physical distance can also have Carl. ūüôā )20111013-114942.jpg

We want safe connections. What and how do we get those?

Secure interpersonal connections allow us when together or apart, in any place we find ourselves, we find that we are still connected.

In contrast, when you and I, he and she, her and she are doubting our own self and/or each other, in crisis and unpaired spirits, when together or apart, in any place we find ourselves, we find that we are not. We are not connected. Connection isn’t only about proximity of person to person.

This can be one of the healing forces in victims of abuse. In the discussion of our last post, Col said:

I have been trying to figure out how to connect back to a part of me kind of lost behind….

…Time to build some trust bonds.

Likewise, Antonia reminded me of this. ¬†Although she came in with “her eyes rolling in her head” – her words weren’t always entirely connected, Antonia’s courage in life was¬†undiminished. ¬†I learned a lot from this survivor who spoke with a Sevillian accent, (including the¬†theta sounds.)

I am so pleathed to meet you, Doctora!

Her teeth were stained and overlapped each other and the right side of her face and right arm I saw were in a ruin of tumbled scars. Story unfolded that she was molested as a child by her brother for years. Her mother had died young and her father had helped her understand that that was what girls were for. Escaping from Spain to France, she married in hopes to be given a “start-over.” Her husband was violent though and finally when he lit her on fire, she was hospitalized long enough to grow some scars; inside and out. She threw herself into another “start-over,” this time including God and three years later, landed in Temecula.

Throughout the progress of her story I was sounding dismay at her suffering. However, I couldn’t for very long at any time before she’d offer me comfort to me!

No no! That was all before….

…I am thankful for my life!

I hab so much! God is really good to me. He sabed me!… ¬†Her scars were tight around her soft smile and eyes.

I know in my boots that Antonia is not all that she is today because of her medications, psychotherapy and life-saving skin grafts.  She is connected.  She is connected to her Me and to her Other.  She has security that is bigger to her than her insecurities.  (Remember yesterday when Suzicate described the friendliness of that?  Thank you Suzicate.)

This ties us in to one of our premises of what it takes to be our own friend Рaccountability to Me.  Although we are all victimized, being the victim is our choice and we have the power.

Questions: What has grown your sense of safety in your connections? How does your perception of abuse, victimization and maltreatment relate to this? Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  You have the power to have safe connections to self and others.

You Have the Power And You Are Not A Victim

Fire KnivesDo you every feel like a victim?

When someone is doing something to turn us into an emotional victim, sometimes it can look like a performance, don’t you think? ¬†Someone is yelling, arms swinging about, face animated – and there you are, breathless and emotional.

However, being victimized and being a victim are different things.  Being a participant of an interpersonal exchange is different from being an audience to it.

Imagine a stage and you and have been selected from the audience. ¬†You climb up and join the performer, let’s call him Ron. ¬†Ron is a professional fire and knife dancer. ¬†You are standing near Ron and flaming knives seem like they are everywhere. ¬†He is quite a dramatic dancer and part of you wants to dance with him. ¬†You know you would get hurt badly and yet you have the hardest time resisting the urge to participate. ¬†Your wisdom prevails and you remain uninjured. ¬†You applaud and walk away.

Later at home, you are still marveling that anyone could move that way and work that hard to evoke such strong emotion from their audience.  The emotions replay the dance in your mind almost as if you were still there with Ron.

Do you feel like a victim to Ron? ¬†You don’t have to.

When you don’t like what someone is doing or saying to you, imagine that it is a performance of sorts and don’t take it personally. ¬†You don’t have to be a victim. ¬†You have the power. ¬†Be a friend to yourself.

Now, if you can’t do this no matter what, if you feel powerless and unresponsive to your redirections, it may be medical. ¬†You might be suffering from any number of illnesses that cause personalization, guilt, fear, reliving experiences and so forth. ¬†You shouldn’t suffer like that. ¬†You were created to feel pleasure.

Self-Care Tip – Applaud and walk away when someone is victimizing you.

Questions:  How do you manage to use your power when you are being victimized?  How are you accountable for your feelings and behaviors when people are hurtful?  Please tell us your story.

Rotate Your Picture To Connect And Grow Presence In Your Life

Hello Dear Friends.

Seems I’m heading toward a different blog-site level of productivity. ¬†Wasn’t deliberately turning that way, but turn I have. ¬†I’m just saying this so you know that I acknowledge the change in flow and am thunking, thinking on it.

I will post a minimum of one to two times a week. ¬†In between, I hope to develop the material we have now, clean it up and share it again, integrated with your comments and what we’ve worked over this past year.

_______________________________________

That done, I can chat about other stuffy stuff.

20080726 - Melanie's Birthday party - DSCN1530...

Image by Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL) via Flickr

Today, I was thinking about our interpersonal connections we believe so strongly improve our ability to be our own friend. ¬†However, that is not the same as pairing with someone who is bad to us. ¬†We’ve talked about how abuse, any kind, disables us from connecting. ¬†“Get off of me!” is self-care when there is an unequal sense of power being used and we are trying to gain accountability for where we are at in life now.

In my mind’s eye, imagining that, I saw a figure lying on her side and someone heavy lying on top. ¬†“Get off of me!” could mean, “Get off and get away.” ¬†It could also mean, “Rotate the picture.”

See the picture turn 90-degrees? ¬†Now the two figures are standing beside each other rather than subjected. ¬†The two figures are connected, proximate and present to each other’s experiences. ¬†“Get off of me!” doesn’t have to mean, “Get out of my life.” ¬†It might be able to mean, “Rotate. ¬†Stand beside me. ¬†I choose connection in my life and not subjugation.”

Insight isn’t everything though. ¬†If saying, “Get off of me and stand beside me. ¬†Stay connected. ¬†Stop controlling.” doesn’t happen despite insight, we might be looking at behaviors and emotions that are symptoms of brain disease of Me or of the other person(s). ¬†Medical illness needs more than word play and adjusting picture frames.

Questions: ¬†Have you been able to rotate any pictures in your life in any ways that have helped you be a better friend to yourself? ¬†What? ¬†Has that improved your sense of connection with people you didn’t want to lose? ¬†Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip – Rotate your picture to connect and grow presence in your life.