Get You Some Love

Cemetary

Cemetary (Photo credit: Vu Bui)

The ocean is like an untended cemetery, compared to my youth dives, with shoots of life breaking up the stone and dead coral.  A little family of forceps butterfly fish flutter around the tips of something brown.  I honk sounds through the water to my kids when I spy a trumpet fish, a big one, with some neon lighting up the gray long body.  My kids are so energized.

There are three turtles and I remember I have never swum with turtles before.  “Hey.  That’s cool,” I think.  I try to reconcile the turtles with the changes from when I snorkeled and dove reefs years ago, “Positive?  Negative?”  Something there in me wants to feed this info through my inner hope-machine to convince my other that when my kids swim another future day, the ocean will not be dead.  Foreboding.

I am starting to get disoriented by this and surface to get a grip. My husband pops up and I whisper to him, so our kids do not overhear and lose their energy to my negativity, “It’s like a tomb, Honey!  I can hardly stand it!”  And like a compass, he points to a better direction.  “It’s fine, Sana.  It is what it is.”  Interpretation can distort experience.

Thanks to husband and the reconnection of interpretation with presence, under water, I see this moment, this day, in the parrot fish, the coronets, and the puffers. And I, with more gravity, am able to enjoy what Love is giving now.  A solemn gift.  More informed, my appreciation is deeper and I can receive.

Receiving Love is not as easy as it sounds.  It is the work of a moment.  It is the work of a lifetime.  I am a spoiler, unable to love myself, unless I am able to receive Love from outside of myself and connect with it, in my pathway of Me-to-Me.

I am just starting to get this and am eager to understand and own more, because, this has been amazing.  This is something like how it goes so far; tense up, maybe angry Me, (reason or no reason,) pause, look, pray for it, pause, acknowledge, let it do its thing on Me. Start over. Again. Again.

In we who suffer brain illness, we who suffer cancer, we who are in the dying stage of life, in we who, we, we are in the right place to do this.  This is just where we need to be to receive Love.

Illness does not keep us from the ability to receive Love.  Poverty does not.  Dead coral and loss do not.  Nothing can.

Everything can be used by Love to communicate to us.  Illness can.  Poverty, dying, loss can.  Anything can be used to bring into our circle of Me-to-Me, Love.  Love is now.

I am glad, in age, that I am increasingly aware of the changeability inherent in everything, everything, positive, negative, everything.  This is one more way I am able to receive Love.  Age.

Being able to receive Love requires the process of changing.  It is not stagnant, stationary, unaging.  As far as we are able to understand, it is not.  We are creatures of dimension, creatures of space and time and until we are further created to receive otherwise, this is.

Question:  how do you increase your reception of Love?  How do you receive Love?  How does this affect your friendship with yourself.  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Increase your Love-reception.

CHANGING DIRECTION: How To Move Into the Future Despite Your Past

Michele Rosenthal 2013Guest Post by Michele Rosenthal, Author, Speaker, Post-Trauma Coach
Founder, www.healmyptsd.com 

Host, CHANGING DIRECTION, a weekly radio program

Author, BEFORE THE WORLD INTRUDED: Conquering the Past and Creating the Future

Have you ever felt like something that happened long ago still defines you today? Sometimes the smallest stress or the largest trauma moves you into situations that imprint so deeply they become a part of who you are. Sometimes, too, those events change who you are: Consequent beliefs, assumptions, interpretations and perceptions alter how you see yourself, others and the outside world.

I know how easily all of this can make you be not such a good friend to yourself! For over twenty-five years I was actually very unkind to myself as the negative events in my life shaped and distorted my inner self connection. Then, I went on a healing rampage. I knew that life was so much more than simply existing or struggling to exist and I wanted to feel better and be happier. It took years to find what process would set me free. Finally, I learned how to shed the past and now have dedicated my life to helping others find healing (much more quickly than I did!) after life’s big and small traumas.

What I’ve learned through education, training, countless conversations, direct interactions and coaching others is that simply finding a path to healing is not enough. As individuals we want to move in a direction that is positive, proactive, and productive. Figuring out how to do that can be challenging, which is why I’ve decided to expand (and retitle) my radio show to talk about how we go about “CHANGING DIRECTION.”

Beginning the week of April 29th, CHANGING DIRECTION will air twice every week: Monday’s and Wednesday’s at 2pm EST/11am PST. The shows will be thirty minutes in length so that you get in-depth, concentrated content in a timeframe that adapts to your on-the-go lifestyle. In addition to the healing support and information we currently provide our dedicated audience, we will also begin providing expert insights on how to reclaim yourself and transform your life in the areas of personal growth, career, health and fitness, finances, relationships, fun and recreation, and family life. Interviewing experts in all of these areas CHANGING DIRECTION offers ideas for how you can change the direction of your life day after day.

In celebration of this shift, we’re offering all of our new listeners a complimentary ebook gift: “52 Ways To Transform Your Life After Trauma” gives you one idea per week to discover new ways to be a friend to yourself by deepening your internal connection and challenging you to explore what it really means to be you. To claim your gift, click here.

You have enormous healing potential; the goal is learning to access it. You can do this. Dig deep. I believe in you!

I thank Michele Rosenthal for her guest post today, her courage to invite us to team with her in this this and her transparent beauty of character.

Michele Rosenthal is a keynote speaker, award-nominated author, post-trauma coach, and radio show host. To learn more about how you can be a friend to yourself by healing your past visit, ChangeYouChoose.com

Follow Michele Rosenthal on Twitter @ChangeYouChoose. Connect with her on Facebook: Michele Rosenthal, plus the Heal My PTSD fan page

 

To Use Tension, Or Run From it…

English: Waterfall near Lepena, Slovenia Slove...

English: Waterfall near Lepena, Slovenia Slovenščina: Slap, Lepena, Slovenija (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days ago, we talked about tension being a tool for balance.  Col, in her comments, asked to expand on this.  Aside from feeling incredibly tense about it, I thought, “Ah!  All right.”

You’ve heard the term, “One’s man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”  Tension is like that.  It’s all kieshy now and pop! to meditate into oblivion, (I exaggerate,) and “medical” marijuana couldn’t be easier to get, but where do we get the opposition that provides so much of the pleasure in the calm?  Tension.

If you’ve never been quite calm yourself, imagine standing under a waterfall trying to dry off  when people say, “relax.”  (Got to love it when people say, “Calm down,” or, “Relax!”  …Ahem.)  Using tension as a tool for balance is learning to do something else in the downpour other than drying up, like take a shower or make a rainbow.

This is easier to say than do, for sure.  But just simply knowing that tension isn’t the enemy is a great boon.

Question:  When have you noticed that tension is a tool for balance in your life?  Do you use tension or run from it?  Please tell us your story.

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When we feel whispered about, undervalued and misunderstood

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The girl, with her thin lashes and small eyes, looked at her.  What was her name again?  Bee?  Bernice?  Benny?  Something with a B.

Angelica looked back and waited.  “Helloooo?!” she thought to herself, and wanted to knock back as if to say the punchline to a knock-knock joke.

Oh mercy!   This job was getting to her.  She was at the same level as her five-year-old nephew who made up what he thought were jokes, like,

“Knock-knock.

(Mommy say, Whose there?)

‘Whose there?’

Robby.

(Mommy say, Robby who?)

‘Robby who?’  Robby poopy face!”

The kid had a brilliant career in comedy coming.

Brianna was still looking at her and Angelica finally asked her how she could help her.

“It’s your note, Maom.”  Bernice, or was it Brenda, had this way of calling her mom and ma’am all at once, reminding her that she was too young to be either, but she may have well of been since she couldn’t remember the note or many other details about her colleagues.  She’d always been like that though.  It bothered her as she became more aware of how undervalued she thought she was.  All Angelica did notice were the criticisms that came to her from administration.  It made her feel like everyone was talking about her behind her back, but she knew she couldn’t be that special.

Angelica shifted in her chair.

The last boss-message was verbally delivered about when she took her lunches.  She had sat there and taken it.  Wondering, where had all the hard work gone, she gave what she thought was a polite smile.  Where was the appreciation?!  Angelica replied with thanks for the feedback and that she would continue to work on her timeliness.  Yes, she would like to revisit this in a month and how supportive that was, boss-man.

Beonca was holding her hand out and Angelica reflexively shook it.  Wait!  Was she crying?!  Hold on here.  And now she noticed that B was swiping her nose with her sleeve.  Oh hell.  Was she sick?  Great!  Now she’d get it.

“Your note was so sweet!  Thank you for giving that feedback on my job performance in to boss-man!”

Oh yah!  Now Angelica remembered.  After she’d last gotten the pearls thrown at her regarding lunch hour timeliness she had decided to put some words on paper that were good.  Since nobody was noticing her goodli-lishissness she’d notice theirs and start her own powerful paper trail.   Just cuz.

One of their customers who was giving Angelica a hard time was really happy with B and had told Angelica about it.  Instead of losing brain time on wondering what the customer did not like about her, Angelica had put in a note about how much the customer had liked B.

Since then, Angelica kept a stack of customer feedback slips handy to fill out any time she noticed a colleague and/or herself doing “it” right.  She was going to overwhelm boss-man with good stuff and just enjoy knowing that the stuff had been noticed and said.  No more would she be unappreciated.  Even if only by herself.

Angelica looked at the crumpled paper in B’s hand and read,

“Germaine is an excellent worker.  She found merchandise a customer wanted with speedy response today and the customer specifically told me about it.”

Germaine!?  Ah well.

Angelica leaned over and gave her own wet-eyed sticky hug back.

It is universal for all of us to feel whispered about, undervalued and misunderstood.  And then what?  Let us give it the elbow jab and be our own advocate.  Put it on paper.  Say it out loud.  Be grateful about it and ruminate the gratitude.

Personalizing what is not about us gets worse with brain illness.  It is almost pathognomonic for it in fact, when it gets to the point that it cannot be redirected by conscious decision, when it interrupts interpersonal relationships and when it takes away our ability to feel pleasure.  Taking medical treatment can change the way we feel and behave without beating ourselves up over it and moralizing what is not moral.  However, this kind of elbow jabbing Angelica decided to do is just plane friendly.  And if you want…?  Well?

Questions:  Have you felt whispered about, undervalued and misunderstood?  Have you been able to get friendly with it?  Or do you feel the victim?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Acknowledge yourself and others.

Be a Celebrating Hero

An Asian black bear, shot after charging the &...

An Asian black bear, shot after charging the “Old Shekarry”, as illustrated in Wild sports of the world: a boy’s book of natural history and adventure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Potty-stench made going to the bathroom awful. Phong would wait for days rather than use a public bathroom. Just going near one left him showering for hours under scalding water and layers and layers of soap. He would work through three bars of soap at a time before he could even think about stopping. Stopping before was too horrific. If he did, before he stopped feeling dirty, than something horrible would happen, or so his thoughts shouted at him. The devil would eat his little girl.

Phong knew that was not going to happen but the thoughts were tormenting and nothing made them better. Sometimes he would rather die than see the bloody gruesome scene in his thoughts another day.

Obsessive Convulsive Disease is a bear. Getting treatment is seriously scary. The treatment not working is petrifying. And just about anything in between is fear invoking. You get the picture. Who will go up against a bear like that?

I remember in the Disney*Pixar movie, Brave, when the dad, Fergus, yells:

Mor’du! Elinor, hide!
[Elinor and Merida run off, one of Fergus’ men passes a spear to him, Fergus charges towards Mor’du (in bear form) but he snaps off Fergus’ spear, then we see Elinor and Merida escape on horseback, then Fergus holds up his sword at Mor’du and shouts]

Fergus, like the beast he fights, growls a bellow:

Come on, you!
[suddenly Mor’du lunges forward and the screen goes blank]

Eventually we learn that Fergus won but suffered the casualty of his leg. The amount of adrenaline in that time and sympathetic hyperawareness Fergus experienced is just close to the amount that Phong has daily or multiple times daily sometimes in his Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy and medications. In ERP, he has to choose to expose himself to this nearly incomprehensibly horrible fear, respond to it and then wait until the fear lessons. This is a bad case of, “it must get worse before it gets better.” But Phong does it. Mostly. He just does not want this to go on and like a prisoner of war, he is eating the grass under the fence line to survive. The man has courage. Can you imagine going through that kind of cortisol crisis every day?

And as mentioned, on top of that, he takes his medications. Anyone who takes medications, knows that we don’t need courage once to do it, but every day, hand to pills to mouth, we need sinew. Phong is one of my heroes.

Question: Do you know you are a hero? Any ideas, why? How do you celebrate that? Or would you if you would celebrate this? Please tell us your story.

Self-care tip: Growl a bellow at what you fight! Be a celebrated/celebrating hero.

From a Fellow Commentor – Her Friend Suicided

Anxiety Always

Anxiety Always (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

i woke up this morning to find out that my friend shot herself last night. she texted me, said she hoped i had a good night and said goodbye. she then walked outside and shot herself in the head.  
there are so many emotions i can’t even sort them out.  i don’t know what to feel, i can’t even cry.  why haven’t I cried?  I didn’t hear her stupid text, I didn’t know… I knew she had her demons we all do, but they convinced her to end it.  it’s so finial, so F-ing stupid!!!!!
is this how it ends for us that are so f**ked up in the head?  she wasn’t on meds, would that have even helped?  I don’t know what to think sana. last month i got a phone call from my friend who lives in Fallbrook and she had been dealing with anxiety couldn’t take it anymore, said she didn’t want to feel the anxiety anymore and tried to kill herself.  she was admitted and stayed for 4 weeks.  she’s on so many meds that she’s speaks in a monotone voice.  it’s has really scared me.  
is this how it’s going to be for all of us that deal with fear, anxiety and panic? I need to go for a walk, i feel numb. i feel so pissed off and feel bad that I’m mad. 
i’m scared
didn’t know who else to share this with that would understand
Questions:  Do you?  What do you understand?  Is this how it’s going to be for all of us?  Please tell us your story.  We need to hear.

Paper Doll Syndrome – Changing Symptomotology Can Be an Opportunity to Remember and Celebrate

Paper Doll Photographer - 2/52

Paper Doll Photographer – 2/52 (Photo credit: Mark Hopkins Photography)

Fred didn’t remember his panic.  He thought his main problem was his sleep.  His
so-called “main problem” changed with his symptomatology.  Fortunately or unfortunately he didn’t know it was happening.

Fred reminded me of a paper doll.  Now I’m a veterinarian, now I’m a clerk.  Of course there are all the stories that accompany each outfit.  Our smithy imagination is fast.  Pull this off and press this in and now I’m a fire-fighter.  Now I’m a noble, now I’m a… patient.

The other day after the Hemet NAMI meeting, (they meet monthly on the first Wednesday at the Hemet Seventh-Day Adventist Church), a member told me that when they do outreach, they begin their stories with something like, “We are people who,” or “I am a person who,” deliberately avoiding the word, “patient(s.)”  Hoping to allow others to connect with their humanity, the specialness of their, “Me,” rather than the distortion that suffering is special they try to keep away from the paper doll experience.

Thinking of NAMI, thinking of Fred, I splayed the biopsychosocial-model tools I use.  What was here for Fred?  Fred’s biology was toward healing as he wasn’t having panic attacks any more and his thought processes were less circular.  That’s what we wanted and signified that his treatments, (including medications and psychotherapies,) were at least not harming him as far as we could tell, and might even be part of what influenced his healing process.  However, his ongoing symptomatology as seen in his poor insight, (paper-doll syndrome,) insomnia and persistent worrying thoughts demonstrated that his biology was only partially treated.

Fred, like you and I, and like women who labor babies into this world never remember their pain, by forgetting his panic, he lost his point of reference.  I said,

Fred!  This is significant!  Yay!  

Fred looked at me like I didn’t get it.  He wasn’t sleeping.  What was I thinking, “Yay?”  Well…  “Fred I was thinking you aren’t panicking on a gurney in the emergency-room today.  Yay.”

Remembering our suffering isn’t necessary but it can be a friendly reference point if we want.

Self-Care Tip:  Use previous suffering as a reference point to celebrate when you aren’t.  Be a friend to yourself.

Question:  Have previous sufferings lost their strength in your memory and diminished your celebrations?  How has suffering been used after they are gone to your advantage?  Please tell me your story.

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