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.

Supercharge Your Life Purpose

SERVE

Image by elycefeliz via Flickr

Going back to basics is one of the best tours of life. It is exactly how to supercharge our life purpose.

Truth is, we’ve been in this polite exchange between serving others and serving ourselves for the past year. It’s been nice but we are smarter now.

We all agree that ‚Äúliving to serve Me‚ÄĚ sounds like a two year-old. We all agree that ‚Äúliving to serve others‚ÄĚ sounds like pleasuring a martyr‚Äôs stake. Perhaps, as wise Solomon said, there is a time for everything, but most of our time is best spent where we will get our highest yield. I think of that place like a sphere, whose constitution are our basics.

Our basics are all about the wonderland of our biopsychosocial selves and including temperament.

Just as with “all” extremes, the truth is a bit of both. None of us can abandon our need (Me) to self-serve. None of us can abandon our need (Me) to serve others. The commonality in both is Me. Everything starts and ends with Me and that is our sphere’s constitution.

To review some of this, I jotted down:

health

medical illnesses including brain
hungry
tired

things we are doing to ourselves

sleep hygiene
addictive and decadently enticing exercise
food journaling
daily weigh-in’s
victim role
accountability to Me, and including Higher Power
starting over, and over, and over
community

things being done to you

natural disasters
assault/abuse
stigma
environmental milieu
the biopsychosocial condition of those we choose to be connected with

Don’t let this get past basic. If the list bugs you, throw it out. If it’s too long, shorten it.

Self-Care Tip – Supercharge your life purpose by getting at your basic needs

Questions: What constitutes your sphere of “best self?” How did you come to that? How would you describe it to someone who doesn’t understand? Please tell us your story.

Become a Better Friend To Yourself In and With Your Culture

"Energy Crisis!" ...

Image by Toban Black via Flickr

A barrier to getting friendly with ourselves might be our culture. ¬†The inverse of course could also be true. ¬†‘Takes culture to design the flavor of our homes and habits, our communities and the energy between us and them. ¬†Think, TV in the bedroom, alcohol tasters offered to children, books or the¬†absence¬†of books on the floor and shelves. ¬†Think religion and diet, family meals or take-out. ¬†The way we deal with shame. ¬†Culture is a gate-keeper for many of us.

We could call our culture, the way we live together at home, the balance between each family member and the flavor of emotions there.  Culture might be layered, wrapping us from one balance of energy into another into another creating our own galaxy between each point of light.  In any room, if we look we can find culture.  In any space outside, there is a flavor telling us how to maintain the balance between me and thee.

I don’t know if sociologists look at culture this way yet, but I hope they will. ¬†With all that observing, data gathered and surmising, I hope they study how the individual can be a better friend to herself in “this” culture. ¬†And then I hope they tell us.

Becoming an active designer of your culture is not always easy.  But it is friendly.

Questions: ¬†How has your culture introduced you to your friend, “Me?” ¬†How have you been able to develop a more friendly culture for Me to live in and grow in? ¬†What’s still keeping you? ¬†Please tell me your story.

Emotions – One Part of The Multi-Paradigm Weave That Makes Us Who We Are

Immanuel Kant developed his own version of the...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday we spoke about the emotion, happiness, as it connects to and does not connect to spirituality.  Traditional western religions squirm  or  more, disagree when they hear this.  Everything is spiritual in their school of thought.  However, as our understanding of where emotions and behaviors come from, we have happily disentangled ourselves from the stigma and judgment that comes from the way many people have (mostly unwittingly and often without intended malice) abused us with mental illness.

I know that I have also been in this crowd of prejudiced. ¬†Coming out of that has been fun. ¬†There is still so much that I think I see clearly but don’t, as it is for us all. ¬†The growth we’re talking about is part of the high adventure that brings pleasure to life.

To say it plainly:

  1. Emotions come from the brain.
  2. Emotions are not always directly chosen as we can’t directly choose the way our brain works.
  3. Emotions are what we use to interpret the world around us.
  4. Emotions don’t have intrinsic moral value. ¬†Morality is bigger than the way we feel.
  5. Emotions are not constant between us.
  6. Emotions are a sense. ¬†We’ve called them the Sixth Sense. ¬†Senses are subjective and not objective.

How does this fit into your biopsychosocial model of how you see yourself?

Biology.  Psychology.  Socially.

How does it influence the way you befriend yourself?

How might this influence stigma surrounding emotional illness?

Emotions are just one of the many things that make us who we are.  Many many things.  As we tease these bits of ourselves apart, it is not the same as denying the multi-paradigm weave that makes us who we are.

Self-Care Tip – Enjoy your emotions but don’t put your life on them.

Bullying That Includes Life-Threatening Behavior

Bullying:  Series Continued.

  • #144¬†Leave Space In Your Beliefs To Grow
  • #163¬†“He’s Never Hit Me.” Abuse.
  • #251¬†Just Ordinary Bullying – The Bully and The Bullied
  • #253¬†How to Be A Friend To Yourself When Thinking About Your Bully
  • #254¬†Free To Do Self-Care, Despite Our Bully

Bullying is a broad term. ¬†We could call it “dirty,” meaning non-specific. ¬†Here we’ve spent several days discussing it and stil trip on the dirt. ¬†What we want to do is tease life-threatening events included in the broad category of bullying apart from the…, I don’t know, can we call them lesser degrees of bullying? ¬†Anything that isn’t perceived as life-threatening can lay in that heap, let’s say.

Teddy bear - Rory

Image via Wikipedia

Each of us must figure out where we are in these two¬†categories. ¬†What type of bully did I or do I have? ¬†(I have to smile when I say “My bully.” ¬†Sounds like a teddy bear or blankie. ¬†And it sooo is not!) ¬†I think when we can do this, we can know even more about our self-care options.

There is a main category named, “Bullied.”

Event perceived as life-threatening -> you folks on the right.

Event perceived as non-life-threatening -> you folks on the left.

On the right, we have some who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and some who don’t. ¬†I’ve seen mothers get it after a traumatic birth and post-partum period when their baby might have died. ¬†I’ve seen people get it from watching terribly violent movies. ¬†Of course we’ve all seen or been survivors of abuse, war, or other near death experiences who become angry, irritable, nervous and suspicious of others. ¬†We’ve watched our once cuddly personality disappear. ¬†Everyone in this system is hurt and hurting – bully and bullied and those connected to either.

Not all survivors go on to develop PTSD after life-threatening events and we can’t clearly say why. ¬†These people on the right straddle the line with those on the left.

We also have current events and past events.  We can number there order of passing in our lives.  For example,  1.  saw our mother beat up for years by our father, 2. watched Silence of The Lambs, 3.  excluded and conspired against in high school by mean click, 4.  neighbor strong-arms you into getting rid of your dog and paying him money for perceived damages.

PTSD can set in at any point on that time line because of the conditioning/changes the life-threatening event did to the brain.

Those on the left didn’t get much attention today. ¬†I’m sorry about that. ¬†You guys are just as important but my agenda today was to clarify.

Questions:  How does this clarification help you, if at all?  How would you try to define bullying?

Self-Care Tip #255 – Know what type of bully you had or have to know how to approach yourself in friendship.

What Do You Say About Bullying?

Rally

Image via Wikipedia

Bullying:  Series Continued. 

  • #144¬†Leave Space In Your Beliefs To Grow
  • #163¬†‚ÄĚHe‚Äôs Never Hit Me.‚ÄĚ Abuse.
  • #251¬†Just Ordinary Bullying ‚Äď The Bully and The Bullied
  • #253¬†How to Be A Friend To Yourself When Thinking About Your Bully
  • #254¬†Free To Do Self-Care, Despite Our Bully

Being a friend to ourselves in the context of bullying has been one of the most difficult things to get positive about, to talk about with hope, to feel empowered and to claim our freedom to self-care.

Why is that?

How do we claim our freedom to self-care?

We talked a lot about kids, many of us hopeless to a degree about their vulnerability to bullies.  But what about adults?  What are some examples of empowered adults in the context of being bullied?

Our own Sarah McGaugh of birdinyourhand blog-site asked yesterday,

What should we do to keep from getting angry when we are forced to interact/negotiate with a bully? Say, in the line of work, when we have to sit in a meeting with them or something. Some people come into those situations with only fight in them. Usually in my previous position I was fairly good at diffusing them…but I would still feel the anger over it. How do we not let a bully get into our inner world, and still deal with them?

How can we respond?

I would love to hear from you.

When Things Get Heated, Remember to Ask Your Friend’s Opinion. You.

Check the Meaning

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #237 – When things get heated, get a second opinion with your friend.

What would my friend say?

When in question, ask. ¬†And who is the friend we are referred to here? ¬†The “Me.”

This is a great check point to give ourselves.  Things get heated between her and him, she gets a second opinion.

Barbara had read this blog and tucked something of its fabric away in her blended space between¬†conscious¬†and sub. ¬†Then one day, while zoning out listening to her husband yell and criticize her, she saw herself. ¬†It was as if she split into the participating Barbara and the observing Barbara. ¬†The participating Barbara suddenly didn’t feel so alone. ¬†The word, or more the concept of “friend” came to mind and she put it together.

Now generally when she is in a situation that hurts and bewilders her, she is remembering to ask her friend what she should do.  Asking used to take longer, but now it comes to mind as quickly as the thought of consulting an intimate partner would.

What would my friend say?

Things weren’t peaceful yet in her life, but just asking her friend what she would do has helped Barbara a lot. ¬†Barbara explained to me that if she were with a girlfriend, say Sally, and Sally gets worked over by her husband, Barbara wouldn’t have any problem thinking of what Sally should do about taking care of herself. ¬†Barbara says that being her own friend is almost the same.

And then for me, it clicked.  I can ask my friend.

What should I do?

Question:  When getting hurt by someone, how can you get friendly with yourself in the moment?  Please tell me your story.

Love – Take What is Already Yours. You Have Been Given Love.

Stef's Present with Handmade Wrapping

Image by ex.libris via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #194 РTake what is already yours.  Be a friend to yourself.

Parenting, we hold the power in the relationship between us and our child/ren.  If we are emotionally maltreated by our child/ren, we parents are still the ones with the power.  What are we giving to her if we teach her that we will take the terrible words and dark emotions?  When we take the projected anger when we have the power to choose not to, what message are we giving to ourselves about ourselves?  What is the message if we say by our actions that Love demands from us to accept, to take and to be a victim to the emotional abuse?  Is that what love tells us?

It is difficult to receive maltreatment from anyone. ¬†And because of the suffering involved, we can misinterpret the message, “This is the sacrifice that Love demands” – the sacrifice is doing what other people want before taking care of yourself.

It is difficult not to receive maltreatment as well. ¬†Which choice is more consistent with our understanding of Love? ¬†The words in the message might be the same, “This is the sacrifice that Love demands.” ¬†However, the interpretation of the message, of what the sacrifice is – that meaning is different. ¬†The sacrifice is, rather, taking care of yourself first so that you have the best of you to offer to others.

To read more on this topic, please see posts, Criticize if You Love Me, Listen to The Intention in What People Say and Stop! Before Hurting Yourself or Others.

Because we as parents hold the power in the relationship, we can feel trapped by our own power.  What a confusion for many of us.  Holding power but feeling helpless.  Holding a stick in both hands, so to speak, not seeing that we can still use our occupied hands for anything else in the mean time.

This kind of choice takes Love.  This is the kind of choice that is a work of a life-time or of a moment, but is life.  See, Let It Go and Keep Going.

We can’t teach others that we are valuable and how to treat us with Love if we don’t do it ourselves for ourselves. ¬†When we act on Love, self-care means that we don’t accept treatment that is inconsistent with Love. ¬†If we accept bad treatment, we are saying that self-care is accepting our lack of choices versus making the choices that are still available despite the¬†circumstance.

FriendShip... A gift of God.

Image by ~FreeBirD¬ģ~ via Flickr

This of course applies to any relationship. ¬†It applies to any connection, whether it is in the work-place, marriage, if you are the child in the parent-child role, friendships – take your pick. ¬†You can choose Love. ¬†You can choose. ¬†Self-care starts and ends with “Me.”

Freedom is a gift. ¬†No matter how many times it is wrapped up and placed in our hands, if we don’t open it, use it, own it, we will never have it. ¬†Freedom to choose has been given to us before we were born, just like our salvation. ¬†The salvation will never be taken away. ¬†Nor the freedom. ¬†Both are elemental and constant. ¬†But if we don’t pull on the ribbon, lift the lid and take – we can’t expect anything but living without what was inside. ¬†Does the title “victim” even hold if it was our choice not to take what was already ours?

Question:  How do you claim your freedom to choose when all you perceive at the time is what has been taken away?  Please tell me your story.

Stop! Before Hurting Yourself or Others

scream and shout

Image by mdanys via Flickr

Self-Care Tip #192 – Before hurting yourself or others, stop.

Sometimes all we can do is leave.

Not being created as a limp noodle, that’s what Brenda said.

In the moment of conflict with her daughter, she had used up the coping skills she thought of and in the end, her purse had no more gum, lip-gloss, candy-money or crayons. ¬†She couldn’t stop the acidic emotions from taking their turn to burn. ¬†Brenda yelled (yes she knew it wasn’t right) and then she yelled again, this time to her husband that he was on kid-duty. ¬†She left. ¬†The mom-van keys were the last thing left in her purse of things to do to stop the burning she was giving and receiving.

Emotional abuse is equal to or more damaging than physical or sexual abuse. ¬†This made Brenda gulp, who could still hear her own mother screaming with bulging bubble-packing veins and eyes. ¬†Brenda didn’t know she could say,

Let’s stop. ¬†It hurts Mommy.

When she first had her babies, tiny with soft bones, fluffy warm sweet cakes just out of the oven, Brenda was scared.  Her pediatrician gave her baby care directives that said things like,

If you are angry and feel like you’re going to shake your baby, stop! ¬†Call for help.

And there was a number.  Now that her kids were older, her pediatrician never gave her helpful sheets of instructions and rescue phone numbers.  Brenda drove away to stop, hoping to come back with more available to offer.

Not bad, huh?

Question: ¬†When you can’t think of any more coping skills during a crisis, how do you stop? ¬†In what feels like an emotional emergency, what have you seen others do that you think is useful? ¬†Please tell me your story.

Get Out Of The Company Of Comparisons. Forget About Fairness.

Tail lights, lights, rain on my windshield, co...

Image by Wonderlane via Flickr

Self-Care #186 – Forget about fairness.

It’s raining here; herding us. ¬†I don’t like driving at night, but driving in the rain at night is worse. ¬†Driving in the rain at night, with a rabid sheepdog tailgating me is still worse. ¬†However, I do love slowing way down when I’m tailgated. ¬†That was nice. ¬†And seeing some family, including my folks, made it all worth it.

My kids were in on it too. ¬†They were doling out banana smoothie and repeating a favorite theme called, “Make it fair!” ¬†In Parenting, the frequent reminder that life will never be fair for my kids, and wondering if they’ll ever get it, gives me almost as much pleasure as being tailgated at night in the rain.

“Make it fair,” isn’t far from any of our hearts desires. ¬†It’s easy for me to forget humility and judge my kids, but when people aren’t looking, I’m also checking to see how much I got.

I met a girl in clinic, Britt, who was also working this out for herself.  She was holding it in her hands and turning it over; a foreign object.  Britt said,

It doesn’t matter what has happened to me, I’m still responsible for taking care of myself…

She said it many ways, and the tail of her pauses kept flipping up into question marks without actually asking,

With my abuse…? ¬†No one else will…?

I could see her with all the rest of us suffering folk, checking the fluid line in our glasses, saying

With all the hurt I’ve received…

I was poor my whole life…

I just can’t seem to get a break!

For Britt, coming to a point of owning her self-care felt like losing social support.  She had for so long sipped on her succor as a victim in the company of her received wrongs, that she felt awkward.  Britt needed to find a new group of friends.  She stood there toeing the floor,

I have to take care of myself.

Britt will be alright. ¬†She will be emotionally healthier and in better company very soon. ¬†She will move past where so many of us are still gripping our goblets asking about why we didn’t get more. ¬†She will say, without that question, self-care begins and ends with “Me.”

Britt hasn’t been able to do this without medical help. ¬†For her, part of seeing herself as a victim to what life gave her was symptomatic of her major depressive disorder. ¬†She was personalizing what wasn’t personal. ¬†Not everyone will need medication. ¬†Some of us will do well just recognizing that, “Life is not fair,” and will be able to move on.

Question:  How have you gotten out of the company of comparisons?  How has putting fairness aside been a form of self-care for you?  Please tell me your story.

When You Are Pushed Down, Push Back

A Push and a Shove

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Self-Care Tip #185 РWhen you are pushed down, deliberately push back with The Force in  you.  Be a friend to yourself.

So much in life pushes down on us.  I am amazed that we push back Рconsidering how awful some of it is.  After 7 years of private practice in psychiatry, I still get caught off guard by some of the particularly horrible stories I am told.  Blinking my own stinging eyes, I look in amazement at the person in front of me.  What I see is this pushing-back Force.

Last week after diagnosing PTSD in Margie, a mother of a murdered son, I could hardly believe that she still chooses life.¬† She takes care of herself despite.¬† That’s how amazing she is. ¬†And I’m her psychiatrist!¬† It‚Äôs such an honor.¬† And thinking about that straining towards life, that thread in us, all of us – I saw that it was the best description of the brilliance and power that is God.¬† True, sickness can mute our perception of this beautiful thing in us, whether it’s depression or liver disease.¬† But all of us have seen some of how hard the thrashing against that loss is.

In thinking on this amazing force, this thrashing about, this straining against the push of whatever is set at tipping us over, I named it God in us.¬† And I thought, for all the time I spend on the stuff pushing me around in bad ways, I’m going to more actively team up with the struggle to live.¬† I’m going to choose to strain and thrash about and move at that chink of space in the dark room as much as I can.¬† Hopefully I can be brave too, like that mother of a murdered son, Margie.

I can choose to ally myself, with what I want to live for.  I’m going to partner with that Force that keeps me thrashing against the push and be stronger, like you have readers.

After our post on suicide a couple days ago, many of you responded with your own stories about how you were pushed and pushed back.  Karal said,

Like all difficult experiences we face in life, there is the possibility of growth from the ashes. ¬†It requires strength and a willingness to walk through that fire. ¬†Unfortunately for survivors of suicide (i’m referring to those left behind) we’re often chastised into feeling that our grieving, our walking through the fire is both wrong, and ¬†unnecessary. ¬†I totally disagree. ¬†Like you said, caring for people is a choice, and being a friend to yourself means making sense of, or at least peace with, what may never make sense.

Karal is allying herself with that Force to make as much sense of what will always be jumbled. ¬†I’m not going to quote all the rest of the brilliant comments. ¬†Please read them. ¬†They were amazing demonstrations of pushing back in a collaborative way with The Force that makes their lives worth living. ¬†This is active in us at times, and not deliberate at others. ¬†Being better to ourselves, we could more deliberately choose when given the push. ¬†We are not thrashing alone. ¬†Push back.

Question:  How do you deliberately choose your alliances in your life for working against what pushed you down?  How do you define that Force in you that pushes back?  Please tell me your story.

“He’s Never Hit Me.” Abuse.

Self-Care Tip #163 РName abuse when it is there.  Be a friend to yourself.

Alexandria (Alex) was crying a lot. ¬†She was trying to divorce her husband but he wouldn’t leave. ¬†He wouldn’t speak. ¬†He only yelled. ¬†He yelled at her, alone, in front of their kids, in the morning, when he came home from work, he yelled. ¬†And he never spoke to her any more. ¬†It’s been weeks since they spoke. ¬†When I asked her if she thought she was abused, she said, “No. ¬†He’s never hit me.”

Mar de Emociones / Emotional Landscapes

What do I do? ¬†I can’t go on like this but everything I try, he won’t listen!

There are so many things many of us would tell Alex. ¬†But would any of it make sense if she didn’t know she had rights? ¬†If she didn’t know what was happening to her? ¬†If she didn’t know, this is abuse.

The “Do You?” questions, per Dr. Quijada, to ask yourself if you aren’t sure if you are abused:

Do you feel good about yourself when you are together?

Do you feel scared?

Do you feel like you have choices?

Do you have effective boundaries; observed boundaries?

Do you say, “No,” and are heard?

Do you have a balance of power?

From the outside looking in, we could answer these questions for Alex.  But anyone who is or has been abused in any way knows that from the inside, answering these questions is hard.  It was hard for Alex.

Alex missed a few beats. ¬†She didn’t want to see herself as abused.

Identifying abuse, naming it, is a start towards the other side of things.  It is reaching the peak of a hill or mountain of life-stuff, taking the view in after the fog lifts, and knowing that things are the way they are.  This is abuse.  A tangible thing.  Not the drifting mist of fights or arguments that once stalked you, leaving you bewildered and empty-handed.  Simply naming abuse is the start of empowerment.  Name it.  Name it out loud.

“I am abused.”

Alex said,

Wow. ¬†I didn’t know that what he is doing is abuse. ¬†I didn’t know.

After we talked about the name of what she was suffering, she talked about what she thought she could do about it, such as:

Call 911 if she feels unsafe.

Record him.

Say the words out loud, “I am valuable and should be treated well.”

Get a restraining order.

…And other things.

Alex didn’t have a lot of extended family support, so for her, that was out.

Alex said,

I feel more empowered. ¬†I didn’t know I could do that.

And there it was.  A dandelion growing out of the cracked cement.  Hope.  A redistribution of the unequal power.  Alex was growing a plan.

Question:  What would you tell Alex, yourself, or anyone else in her position?  How do you see words being a form of abuse or not?  Please tell me your story.

It’s Time To Grow Up

 

 

 

Fragile Annie writes a blog called, “It’s Time To Get Over How Fragile You Are.” ¬†Isn’t that a great name? ¬†She own’s her frailty, own’s that it has affected her life, and own’s what it’s time to do now. ¬†All in a name and a title.

When I was in psychotherapy, talking on about injustices suffered, my feelings, the rightness of my condition – my therapist said, “It’s time to grow up Sana.” ¬†I still feel the punch in my stomach and the quiet immediately following. ¬†I couldn’t breath for a bit. ¬†Just nodded my head. ¬†“Ok.” ¬†…I said, “Ok” a few times. ¬†I don’t remember much else of what he told me but I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. ¬†He’d be satisfied with his work with me if he knew.

After all, it’s not such a small thing to grow up, or “get over” our frailty. ¬†It’s not such a small thing to see our need. ¬†It’s not so little to act on it. ¬†These are things that champions do. ¬†These are things any coach, parent, therapist, teacher would be proud to be a part of. ¬†These are the things that make the difference between falling victim to your history, or claiming the rights to your now and to your future.

Think about what is upsetting you the most. ¬†What seems to keep at you and trip you and keep you back and keep you right where it left you last? ¬†It’s time to grow up.

Self-Care Tip #106 – In Fragile Annie’s own words,¬†“It’s time to get over how fragile you are.” ¬†Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  What has knocked your breath out in a good way, sending you off towards growth?  Please tell me your story.

Our Changing Reality

She had been gone for 3 months helping her mother transition from life to death. ¬†However, instead of it being a melancholic experience, she felt better than she had since a time she couldn’t calendar. ¬†Back when she had a respect for herself. ¬†Back when she had youth, she had hope, she believed in a generous future.

I had no way of knowing what it was like for me until I left the situation.

Reality is only as real as our¬†perspective. ¬†She came back to a new perspective and her reality changed. ¬†She saw an¬†impoverished¬†life. ¬†She saw need to stop waiting for the better of future’s promises. ¬†She saw disrespect when caring for her disabled daughter and emotionally abusive husband. ¬†She hated disrespecting herself. ¬†She felt this and she rebelled inside. ¬†Holding back her furry with the flimsy lid of guilt-glue. ¬†She cried. ¬†She had just let her mother go and feeling good about letting her daughter and husband go now embarrassed and shamed her. ¬†But there it was. ¬†The thought she hadn’t thought before. ¬†Reality had changed.

I’m told that it is bad for a counsellor to tell someone specifically what to do. ¬†Turns out that my job includes some counseling. ¬†I ran into a former patient today at a coffee shop. ¬†She saw me typing on my computer and learned about this blog.

But you do meds!

Apparently sometimes I’m not that great of a counselor. ¬†Or maybe I am if she didn’t realize I was, with her, all along.

I had to stop and say hello! ¬†I’ve missed you!

(Whew!)

Today, I kept thinking about the way reality changes when we let our perspective get some air.

This daughter/mother/wife will never be the same woman she was before she left for 3 months. ¬†She didn’t know. ¬†And now she did. ¬†She can’t stuff that knowledge. ¬†She can’t disappear it. ¬†She is left with a knowledge. ¬†Is it better? ¬†I think so.

We played with options as we talked.  A window opened in the room and a breeze came through called hope.  That was lovely to share with her and I am grateful.

Maybe when with determined labor we are trudging on in life, we might think of this.  With this memory, we could more willingly accept the urge to walk away just to see for a time.  Maybe a knowing, that we were missing, will come and change us.

Self Care Tip #67 РWe might be in a different reality if we walk away.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  What has your own experience been?  Please tell me your story.