Tenuous Connections – Where is Our Rock?

Skógafoss waterfall

Skógafoss waterfall (Photo credit: big-ashb)

So thinking more about Alena and her alien psychiatrist-poser

Why is Alena known, or recognized, by Alien?

Where Alien came from, brain illness isn’t sustained by the stress of living on her planet.  Those with brain illness either adapt to the primitive resources they live in or they, (pause,) “don’t.”  The community doesn’t know this is happening consciously.  They just know that some people are able to do what earthlings consider magic.  Those with brain illness evolved to survive.  Alien was one such benefactors of time and stress on biology.  She was not there for the process, but for the product

Earth was alarming.  It was the first time she’d ever seen someone with a broken mind.  Knowing where she came from gave her mixed feelings….

I’m getting my hands into this Time-play playtime!  Woohoo!  I have been rumbling over the beauty of all the beloved connections I enjoy, the cherished anchors and reflectors that I’ve used so long to stabilize my identity with.  My heritage, my profession, my employments, my interpersonal relationships, family, my body, currencies, and so much more gives me a sense of security.  A sense, however, in truth and not Time-less.  As so many of us know what the other side of that water-fall looks like – divorced parents, physical/sexual/emotional abuse, illicit drugs, loneliness, poverty, a bone spur or arthritis.

If Time is an arrow, what gives the increasingly obvious wispiness of our securities power?  What is our strength from?

I remember back when we discussed our Essence, the bit of Me that isn’t lost to death, suffering or brain illness.  According to, From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time, by Sean Carroll, he’d say this can only exist if this Essence in Me is connected to space and Time.

Question:  Where does your connection come from?

Self-Care Tip:  Discover where you security comes from.

Want Life despite the freakishly terrible. It’s really That Good.

Hope

Hope (Photo credit: bitzcelt)

So many of us don’t get much to speak of as a chance at life until we are older.  Raped with penetration by age five and following, traded for favors, fear and more fear, isolated, escaping from one to other places of objectification.  We don’t like closets.  We avoid reminders but since there is no place we don’t remember our traumas, we are, we know, not hidden well enough.

And then one day, Hope gets through the diseased surface of our primitive defense and delivers her message.  The message comes again, as Hope is unchangingly drawn to us.  Hope has been here before, but this time for what ever reason, it might be our age, finally seventeen or twenty-eight or fifty-four, it might be a nosey teacher or a fatal car crash involving one of our victimizers or our home is moved, but this time that Hope comes, we have the fortune of being pierced through.

When there are holes, Light can enter.  When Light enters, Light takes chase to darkness and then, served on a moment-gilded-platter, we have it.

This may not be your story, but is for enough.  Even one, right?  Even one matters.  Things really are that sick in more “homes,” represented by the normally garbed, disguised at school, work, church, stores and behind their computer screens.  We are all invariably fooled.  All of us respond to these disguises with what is available from our biopsychosocial-selves.  We respond by naming them consciously and unconsciously with a name that serves the needs of our biopsychosocial-self.  We could say that the disguises are designed both by them and us.  It is what it is.  We are all fools, this way by different degrees.

But back to those pierced by Hope.  Being a friend to yourself may not occur to us for what seems forever along the line that Time determinably follows in our dimension.  Being a friend to Me finds us now where light enters.  Hope and Light can have their way on our damaged selves.

Hope ports to all new beginnings.  The judgment of what makes living, through such distances, worth it is not for anyone but the individual and God.  However our opinion, served from our biopsychosocial selves is that life is worth living even in the distance before Hope pierces us through.   See Post, Your Pain is Not Special. It Is Normal., to read more on this.

We who have gotten friendly with Me, want Life despite the freakishly terrible.  Either we are masochistic to continue through such horrors, to continue living, or it is true.  What comes with hope, with being a Friend to Yourself, with Love, when experienced cannot be qualified or quantified other than to say, that Love wins.

Questions:  Do you believe Love wins?  If not, why?  What do you say about being a friend to yourself to those who are in the midst of being victimized?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip:  Want Life despite the freakishly terrible.  It’s true.  It’s that worth it.  Be a friend to yourself.

Be Friendly Enough With Yourself To Acknowledge the Gift In Your Suffering

Strange Lady

Image by bending light via Flickr

Pain. There are so many of us suffering from pain that sometimes it is as if nobody escapes. Even so, in the contorting agony that pain brings, we have a very hard time thinking outside of ourselves at all. We are preoccupied with ourselves. We do not think about the others hurting or others in general at all. Pain does that – emotional and/or physical.

Penelope was preoccupied too. She had suffered and was suffering still. Peeling her thoughts away from survival during those times when, with teeth and muscles clenched, her body felt like a universe unto itself. Everyone outside of her were aliens she was able to visit occasionally. Watching her and hearing her describe how it molded her current person, I remembered the book by Paul Brand, Pain: the Gift Nobody Wants. (We mentioned this book before in our blog-post, “Emotions: The Physical Gift We Can Name.”)

When we are sick with Pain Syndrome, with symptoms seen in our emotions, behaviors and nerve language, it is hard to perceive what good can come out of bad. Saying, when we are in that ditch, that the sun is happily shining overhead is rude and boring. Especially when it is rhetoric. Change that rhetoric to insight, well that would then be worth friendly and interesting. That would be hope. There comes a degree of knowledge that hasn’t reached our sensory selves yet but sits in our intellect. We have a glimpse of the ark of the covenant, a promise, nearly prophesy in fact – we have a knowing that something good can come out of this.

This is why I thought of the work of Paul Brand, M.D. with the lepers. I thought that Penelope might want to know that there is something good that could come out of her bad if she were healthy in other ways, enough to receive it. If her senses could perceive it, her emotions, sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell could take in that information and deliver enough of it uninterrupted, what was promised to her would come true; past the pain that distracts and preoccupies.

It is as if this good that comes out of bad were like a runner in a war zone. Bombs are exploding. It is noisy even though hearing was taken out after the last gun fire. Dirt and sweat drip over eyes and into mouths and no one believes they will survive. And then the runner trips into our shelter and collapses still alive; still holding the message in his hand. Something good made it across a land in havoc and war and we know about it now.

I thought of Paul Brand, M.D., telling Penelope that her pain is her gift at that point of knowing, with that timing. Better than I could. She wouldn’t laugh angrily and give him a bad review on-line. She would hear him. “Something good is coming your way. You have hope.” In my imagination, Penelope would not hear Dr. Brand moralizing her experience – “You are good if you perceive your gift and you are bad if you don’t.” In my fantasy, Penelope would understand that this offering wasn’t intended to make her feel guilty for hurting. It was an offering of hope.

Not so easy to do, as it turns out, in real life. I am a very human psychiatrist without

much magic about me very often. But if I did…

Question: How do you give yourself hope when your senses don’t perceive it? How are you your own friend when you are preoccupied and distracted from that which is friendly? Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip – Be friendly enough with yourself to believe that there is something good that will come out of your bad. There is hope.

Demanding Freedom and Other Oxymorons That Empower Our Self-Care

Désirée Nick at "Oxymoron" in Berlin...

Désirée Nick at "Oxymoron" in Berlin, 1999

I read today on bipoblogger’s blog,

I am trying so hard to keep my head wrapped around keeping a hold on this broken heart/life balance/bipolar thing.  It’s been complicated by stupid migraine headaches.  It’s hard to make sense of things and to pay attention.

Today while I was waiting for my laundry to dry, I began writing some deep thoughts, deep like I didn’t want to deal with them. I basically wrote a page of self-help advice.  I appreciate my stubbornness.

My answer:

This sounds like a woman of courage doing it, taking accountability for where she is at, afraid maybe but pressing on to start over any time she chooses, demanding her freedom to self-care.   Demanding freedom seems like an oxymoron but this is what is called for when we feel trapped.

I will add to this “answer” that self-care often seems like an oxymoron.  Such as using the brain (the same organ that is diseased) to figure out what it’s behaviors and emotions mean or everything starts and ends with Me (when we know that there was a beginning before Me) – we see the weaknesses and the conflict and we say yes.  I am an oxymoron.  I am good and bad.  I am healthy and ill.  I am growing and dying.  I am flawed but perfect.  I’m sure you have more.

Demanding freedom is a basic tenet of self-care.  We say that despite the limitations in our lives, in our decision-making, in our suffering or pleasures – despite all, I am free to do self-care.

Questions:  How have you managed to demand your freedom to self-care?  What oxymorons in your life are empowering you in your self-care?  Please tell us your story.

Your Pain is Not Special. It Is Normal.

Self-Care Tip #243 – See yourself as special rather than your pain and know that you will find your normal again.

What is your normal?

When we were kids, we all had a perspective of what normal was.  Let’s say it was “here.”  Let’s imagine we were lovely then, nurtured and emotionally bonded.  We struggled through peer conflicts, social anxiety and rivalry.  We wanted a bike.

Two Sisters

Image via Wikipedia

Then we got a little older.  Maybe our parents divorced.  Maybe, a sibling died.  Maybe we were abused or in an accident and damaged.  Damage changes normal.  What we never would have thought would be acceptable in our lives became acceptable.  We suffered.  We lived.  Life was indiscriminate and ignored our status.  We think there must be a mistake.

What is our normal at one point, filtered through remaining hopes, grew into regenerating fantasies, through real potential and it moved again.  We are older now and more suffering comes.

Where is our normal?  We survive our child, our own dear perfect boy, hanging from a tree.  Normal?  No dear God!  No!  And we continue to live.

Two years.  Two years are what it takes for our biology to catch up to the shock.  Two years are what it takes for us to begin to accept and realize that in this new normal we care again.  We choose it in fact.

People don’t remember his name or talk about him and we can’t remember his eyes.  We are ashamed and lose our breath from panic just trying to see them.  We want to bang our head because we know there is something wrong about feeling normal! Ever! Again! after that.  But we do.

Our normal mutates over financial ruin, abandonment and a growing healthy list of disfiguring illnesses.  We accept them and say yes please.  Live.  We want to live.  This is acceptable.  This is normal.  Our friends die.  Our memory.  We can’t find our teeth.  Our heart stops.  We die and the world finds normal.  The world chooses just like we did.

What we don’t think will ever be allowed to happen while we brush hair, clip our nails and microwave food, happens. We endure these changes.  We find normal again.

What is your normal?

My brother, Vance Johnson MD, is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist.  He said that during his residency, close to 100% of spinal cord injury paralysis survivors he worked with wanted to die after their injury.  Many of them would beg him to let them die.  They would cuss at him for keeping them alive.

I leaned very heavily on the studies and data during those times.  It was very hard.

Vance said that what kept him faithful to his task was knowing that close to 100% of them after two years would be glad they were kept alive.

Even the ones who were basically breathing through a straw and that’s all that moved on them; even they wanted to live.  These people found a new normal.

Where is our normal?  We will want it.  We will adapt.  Biology will catch up to our reality.

Remember that your pain is not special.  You are special.  Not your pain.  Pain is normal.

Question:  When this happened to you, how did normal find you despite the rubble?  How does this concept feel to you, that your pain is not special?  Does it make you angry or what?  Please tell me your story.

Go Towards Your Pain to Relieve It

A family mourns during a funeral at the Lion's...

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care #197 – Go where your pain is to prepare for what happens badly in life.

Yesterday we talked about the power of loss, grief and pain not being one that can take away the potential of life.

Carl appreciated the idea that “scripted cue cards” with platitudes on them to read off for ourselves or for others when something bad happens – “Good comes out of bad,” “I know what you feel like,” and so on – is nothing anyone wants.  His comment included, in true Carl-style, a great question:

But what else can we say to show respectful empathy?

Goodness.  For crying out loud, we aren’t a bunch of calloused puff heads who don’t care or who don’t have a clue when someone is suffering!  We’ve all asked this question and wanted to help.  We’ve wanted to connect, to serve, to answer Carl’s question when we are in or come into the presence of pain.

In self-care, we can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves first.  We can’t give what we don’t have.  Airplane crashing, put your oxygen on before your babies.  Can’t withdraw if the bank account is empty….  We take care of ourselves and find that we can serve others more as a result.  It’s the same way in grief.  If we don’t go where our own pain is in life, if we aren’t present with our life journey, if we don’t fight hard for who we are, it is very hard to know how to answer this question.

There’s something to say about doing the work before the trouble comes and then when it comes, use it to prepare for more.  I love Ecclesiastes 12 which tells us in Solomon’s depressed and yet feisty words,

Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—

Solomon was talking about self-care here.  Holding us responsible at the elemental level to use the time we have before trouble comes, so that when it comes, we have a way of answering.

Carl gave his own answer,

…live life on life’s terms like it or not.  If we allow Jesus to embrace us and comfort us it will fortify us through life’s unfortunate tragedies.

Question:  What is your answer to Carl’s question?  Please tell me your story.

Pain Doesn’t Define Life’s Potential

Close-jen-grieve

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip #196 – When you are hurting, remember the pain doesn’t define life’s potential.  Be a friend to yourself.

Yesterday we talked about giving and getting bad news without fear.  This was received in a spectrum of ways by you, ranging from – no way is bad news something not to be scared of, to, bad news might be something we could face knowing we might find something good in the end.  No one slammed the hammer down, dinging red at bad news equals good all around – except my dogs who don’t listen anyway and are pretty much always happy.

Jjen was brave, saying,

I would have to also agree that in some cases bad news can bring family members, or even friends together that have been estranged. This has personally happened to me. Kind of a bittersweet thing; good in result of something bad and mending a broken relationship.

“Good comes out of bad.”  Not everyone agrees and I don’t blame them.  Some bad things are better left alone to rot and stink out of our lives entirely.  It even sounds patronizing when someone is hurting to say this.  This kind of discovery should be made by the parties involved, without the rest of us holding scripted cue cards for them.

It is also something that is received easier from another who has been in, or is in their own catastrophe(s), losses, abuse or grief – say Jesus for starters.  I could hear this from Him without wanting to vomit all over the place.  He’s been there, hurt bad, and has been blessed through and by it in ways I will be learning about even after Time unhinges.

When my nine year-old adored niece suddenly died, I didn’t see that.  It’s taken almost six years to see anything good come “from” this unbelievable loss we grieve every moment.  The bad doesn’t disappear for me, but as Jjen said, it is not a qualifier for the rest of life’s potential.

Question:  What has come “from” the bad in your life – more bad or what?  Please tell us your story.