Archives for the month of: January, 2017

Busy day tomorrow so posting early…

iris-apfel-1225701

Introduction

When I first started recovery, I did not want to be pretty or beautiful.  In fact, I went so far as to look as awful as possible on purpose.  Words like “pretty” and “beautiful” and “attractive” were my version of four-letter curses.  “Stylish”, “fashionable”, and “trendy” were included as I got older.

Growing up, all I received was contradictory information about physical appearances.

On one hand, it was a good thing.  I got lots of attention and compliments.  My parents got compliments and praise.  People gave me leeway when I got into trouble.

On the other hand, it was not so great.  People made assumptions.  They tried to take advantage of me.  And used my appearance as one excuse for abusing me.

Through the Years of Recovery

After a few years of therapy, I think it was with my second therapist, the anorexia and negative body image coping techniques started to resonate.  And I realized that my aversion to certain words was making recovery difficult to impossible.  I had to make peace with the curse words and what they meant to me.

  • That’s how I discovered three important phrases:
  • Body negative (me at the time)
  • Body neutral (what I strove for in that phase of recovery)
  • Body positive (my future goal)

This is where being an avid bookworm and English major in college helped a lot.  My love of words, meaning, and research provided the tools to redefine what “Beautiful”, “pretty”, “attractive” and similar words meant to me.  Took them from having negative and toxic connotations to positive and healthy ones.

The journey started with accepting that I was “plain” or “bland” instead of “ugly” or “gross” at the time.  Skinny, underweight, bad skin, pale, with acne and rashes, ill-fitting clothes worked.  The real goal was “healthy” and to discover what “healthy” meant to me.  If “healthy” meant bad skin, boniness, bloating, and weight gain, I was all for that.

Then came the time I had to accept that weight gain meant “curvy” and “pretty” and “attractive” because the “skin and bones” look was replaced with “slim and strong”.  The bad skin cleared up as my eating habits improved.  And I realized that I didn’t feel safe in my body anymore.  It, my body, was attracting way too much attention.

Time to Hide Again

I went back to wearing frumpy, over sized, ugly clothes mixed with more fitted items underneath.  Except for pants…because I hated wearing belts and wanted my pants to stay up.  But that was the ONLY criterion – that they stay up.  So of course there are many unflattering styles of pants available.  And I indulged in all of them to hide behind.

Only, there’s only so much a person can do to hide when her backside is not straight, flat, or hipless.  Same with her front when the girls are not small anymore and wearing the wrong size causes pain.  I think that was the turning point,  the beginning of moving from viewing myself as “plain” to “attractive” to “pretty” and my body as “unhealthy” and “skinny” to “slim” to “curvy” and “healthy”.

Time to Stop Hiding

Thus began my obsession with body shape, femininity, fashion vs. style, and clothes that fit/felt good/flattered/reflected me.   I discovered the world of blogging.  That was scary.  So much contradictory information.  So many choices.  And so much frustration because nothing ready-made fit me or my body shape without alterations.  And alterations were a trigger.

I went back to my invisibility cloak for a few years.  But then I realized I was in a good place.  I was safe.  I had friends and connections.  I had a job and was financially independent.  I was strong enough to face my body fears.  I was confident enough to be me.

Most important: I wanted people to see the real me;  to have my outsides match my insides.

Present

And that’s when I decided to discover my personal style.  What did that mean?

I wanted to be viewed as beautiful in a timeless, unique way that only people who are comfortable with themselves can be.

It was time to make my insides and outsides match.  That journey started with visiting fashion and style blogs.  Then it moved on to defining what personal style meant to me and how it fit my values, lifestyle, and goals.

2014 marked the beginning of my style journey.  While I look and feel a lot better about my choices, this one will be ongoing.  As I change, my personality changes, my style changes.

Conclusion

I hope this quote from Iris Apfel helps you the way it helped me.  Before watching her documentary on Netflix, I didn’t realize some of the most important words in my life came from a woman who considered “pretty” less than interesting.

Thanks for reading

Background

Last week I was very tired.  My muscles hurt.  My brain was fuzzy, i.e. I lacked mental clarity.  Wasn’t hungry or thirsty.  Coped with 1 birthday, 1 holiday, and over time at work.

The nightmares started Thursday.  Waking up frozen in fear and unable to breathe started late Friday/early Saturday.  Waking up in the middle of the night for no reason started late Wednesday/early Thursday.  The gas and abdominal pain decreased after acupuncture treatment on Tuesday, but flared up again on Friday.

The Challenges

I have to say that rubbing my tummy in a clockwise position really does help to get things moving in there and relieve some of the pain.  Hard to imagine, but gas really does hurt until the body lets it out.  So does everything else that gets stuck in there.  Cause pain I mean.

And abdominal pain causes pain in other places too.  For me, it causes low back pain and pain further up my chest.  Then breathing deep becomes a challenge.  Then breathing shallow becomes a challenge.  Finally, I have to consciously remember to breathe.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.

Waking up Saturday morning, I felt fine in bed.  Going down the ladder was slightly uncomfortable because I felt off balance.  Then I go to the floor.

My body rebelled.  Said: “Get me to the bathroom ASAP”

In I went.  And so started the panic attack with my body in pain as it tried to eliminate waste.

Normally, this is not a big deal.  Panic attacks like this have eased up a lot with coping strategies in place.

But this time was different.  We had a time limit.  By we, I mean all of us mental alters and our body (considers itself an alter too).  And the time limit caused even more  triggers.  Caused a regression back to those times when nothing but passing out into unconsciousness made the pain stop.  Without the time limit, maybe we could have made it to therapy.

But with less than an hour to work through the panic attack, everything quickly got worse instead of better.  Not until I texted the counselor to tell her that we couldn’t go because of a panic attack did the pain ease.  50 minutes later, the panic attack was over.

And I missed counseling.  Takes about 10 minutes to dress and leave.  Takes about 15 minutes to walk  there on a good day.  By  the time I arrived, the session would be mostly over.

Coping Strategies that worked:

  • Repeating the following mantra: “I love you.  You love you.  We love you.  I love us.  You love us.  We love us.  I trust you.  You trust you.  We trust you.  We trust our body.  I am safe.  You are safe.  We are safe.” to start.
  • Reminding ourselves: “We are safe at home.  This is our bathroom.  We can stay as long as we want.  We can leave and come back any time.”
  • Finally: “Pain is a warning system and reminder. Pain eases as our body does its job.  We trust our body to do what is necesssary to keep us safe.”
  • Belly rubs and back massage to help stuff on the inside move out.
  • Removing any layers that felt uncomfortable against the skin.
  • Breathing and changing position as needed to ease physical discomfort.
  • Cleaning up; putting on clothes or not; taking care of other needs like food and water; sleeping again.

Conclusion

Staying at home was  the best thing to do.  Following the panic attack, I had a light meal and slept for about 5 hours straight.  During that sleep, my mind and body waged war with whatever was causing the heightened anxiety and panic attack symptoms.

Woke up feeling refreshed and hungry for the first time all week.

Was it my grandmother’s birthday?  Was it Chinese New Year and my conscious choice not to celebrate?  Was it working over time?  Was it an email from my cousin?  Was it an email from the college admissions team requesting a call next week to inform me of their decision?

I honestly don’t know.  All I do know it that I’m tired and grumpy.  Today, for the first time in over a week, I actually woke up feeling rested and like myself.  I worked some more; did laundry; cooked a few meals.  And now I’m exhausted.

Also a little worried.  Missing appointments is a big deal and something I work hard not to do.

How do you handle missed appointments?

Thanks for reading.

 

 

I have one grandparent still alive.

She turns 101 today.

We spent 4 years apart because I had to walk away.  The year she turned 100, we reconnected again.

I saw her 2-3 times before I moved across the country.  She never doubted me, always believed in me, consistently loved me even if she couldn’t protect me.

Hard choices all around.  Choose one person or the whole family?  She chose the whole family, and I think I’m better for it.  After all: I got to be part of her, my aunts, my uncles, and my cousins lives then.  Still have them now.

So today, I’m feeling gratitude and love.  I’m celebrating life.  And I’m thanking the universe for both of us still being alive.

My grandmother survived marriage, war, immigration, births, deaths, children, grandchildren, and so much more.

Still, when I saw her today, she smiled and asked if I ate yet.  Then told me I’m wearing a pretty hat.

She’s 101 years old.  She still wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night.  She uses a walker and watches her favorite TV shows during the day.

I love you Grandma.  You inspire me to keep on going, living, enjoying life.

Thanks for reading…

Introduction

During certain times of the year, the pain gets worse and the memories overwhelm my logical thinking abilities.  I start to feel vulnerable outside of my apartment.  Too vulnerable and my brain automatically starts sending out “not safe” signals to the rest of my parts.  So I stop leaving my apartment building.  And then I stop leaving my apartment except when absolutely necessary.

Description

And even the “absolutely necessary” going out causes a problem sometimes.  But then I go outside and feel confused.  Being out of my apartment feels good at first.  I enjoy the scents and sounds from trees, restaurants, people, and dogs.  But the further I get from my building, the more vulnerable I feel.  What if the pain escalates?  What if I can’t get home?  What if I embarrass myself by having a panic attack in front of these strangers?

The questions, the fears crowd my mind and stiffen my body.  My hips start to ache.  My spine curves.  And I focus one step at a time to the counselor’s office.  Potential treat: a hot chocolate (regular or peppermint) from Starbucks before the appointment.  Potential treat: brunch/lunch on the way home.

Since I love food and hardly ever eat breakfast before my morning appointments, the reward sometimes helps me get from A to B.  Hot chocolate that I don’t have to make also helps.  Other days, visiting some stores to window shop works better.

But sometimes not even a reward for going out or meeting needs like laundry or grocery shopping can get me out of the apartment.

Challenge

Eventually, the agoraphobia passes.

While I experience the agoraphobia, I also feel frustration and shame.  Frustration because I want to be outside.  Shame because my fear and vulnerability prevent me from doing what I want.  Triggers occur.  Panic takes over.  And the only safe place feels like home.

Nothing I’ve tried helps.  Nothing makes the agoraphobia go away.

The trigger causing agoraphobia hasn’t revealed itself.  The trigger to make it go away hasn’t revealed itself either.

Conclusion

I wait out the periods of agoraphobia and hope that this one ends sooner instead of later.  But I still hate it.  I still struggle.

I still persist.

Remembering and pain will not stop me anymore now than it has before.

Thanks for reading.

 

****Please remember this is from an ALTER POV, not a counselor or provider POV***

I am darkness, a male child alter.  I am dawn-to-dusk, a male child alter.  I am Bree, a female child alter.  I am Sienna, a female adolescent alter.  I am Silence, a hermaphrodite adolescent alter.  I am Willow, a tree alter.  I am Rowan, a tree alter.  I am Bamboo, a grass alter.  I am Angora, an adult alter and twin to the part who interacts most with the outside world.  We are the 5, 5 male alters all brothers with different names and age ranges.  I am Purple, a female child alter.  I am Blue, a female child alter.  I am Night, a male child alter.  I am Mist, a male child alter.

These are not our official names.  We don’t have names by choice, but these work for the purposes of this website/blog.  For every male child alter, there is also a female child alter, like twins.  Not all of us decided to share names today.  Many of us can’t speak or write even though we can communicate with each other.  So one of the adults is helping us with the writing.

DREAMS

Most of the time, we communicate with each other in dreams.  Sometimes we talk, but mostly we share daydreams and nighttime dreams.  Most of the voices we hear inside are trauma memories that are lost and need to go home where they belong.  Their home is someplace else with others who love and accept and respect them.  And the ONLY time we can all really connect with each other is when our body is asleep.

That’s when all of the barriers in the physical world go down, and we only have to worry about what happens inside the brain.  The brain is where we created our internal world and spend most of our time.  But now we’re learning that we have to include other parts of our body in the world too if we want to fully recover from the past.

Some of those voices can’t go home because they’re missing parts too.  Those parts are stored in different memory banks, i.e. our body parts, and need to be reunited with the scary voices and trauma memories in the brain so everyone can go home.  Before we moved to the new home state, none of us (not even the know-it-alls) understood why those voices were howling at us and making our body hurt so much.  They were moving deeper into our body.

And none of us could follow.  We were separated by a force field and couldn’t move past the base of the skull.  Everything below that was completely dark and empty-looking.  What would happen if we did make it through the darkness to the other side?  How would we survive the new place?  Why did that darkness hurt so much?  Where did it come from?  And why did the pain get worse the closer we got to the darkness?

It got so bad that none of us wanted to sleep or be alone.  That was hard on the adults and older adolescents.  They were busy making sure everything was in order for the move and working at the job.  So we started sharing our information during the sleep times and when no one was working.  And the dreams unfolded like stories and movies.  We always made sure to try to end them before work, but the trauma memories would sneak in and take over.  They didn’t want the dreams to stop.  And especially didn’t want anyone going to work.

Work and outside of the home base was too scary.  Our body was vulnerable, and they wanted to keep attacking the force field.  Eventually, the adults figured out what was happening.  And ALL of us worked together with the trauma memories to make the pain stop until everyone was safe again.

After the move, the memories started attacking the force field again.  And we child alters got curious.  Feeling adventurous, we started checking out the force field too.  And the black darkness made our bodies hurt.  Made everyone tired.  We started experiencing feelings that had been locked away for a long time.  Remembering people who died or disappeared.  Dreaming of past experiences without the holes.

Each time we fall asleep, that force field weakens.  The darkness lightens up, becoming a lighter and lighter gray color.  We feel scared and excited about what’s behind the force field.  Already memories are leaking through on both sides.  Good memories, bad memories, neutral memories.  Feelings are leaking through too.

Maybe that’s why reconnecting with family is easier and less scary right now.  Either way, something inside is changing.  And feeling that force field separating our mind and body slowly erode inspires hope.

Thanks for reading.

Body Memories

The traumatic experiences (aka memories) of past abuse held in one’s physical body.  Can cause feelings of physical pain, illness, muscle tension, digestive problems, and other issues related to the body.

Coping Techniques – a short analysis

 

I (we mostly think of ourselves as a single unit these days so “I” is appropriate) have been searching for coping strategies that help with body memories for quite a few years now.  In past posts, I’ve mentioned trying some strategies that were partially effective or not effective at that point in my recovery.  Part of the lack of success had to do with my place in recovery.  Part had to do with environmental triggers.  And part had to do with shame.

  • Sensori-motor psychotherapy – I was ready to try something new.  My alters were ready to try something new.  None of us really  trusted the individual recommended to us.  And the scheduling became an issue.  Then, something happened in a session (only the alters involved remember exact details), but suddenly this person and this treatment didn’t feel safe anymore.
  • Trauma-sensitive yoga – My mind was ready.  My body wasn’t.  I didn’t know how much physical pain I carried until after trying different types of yoga at different studios and with different instructors.  With recurring nightmares, triggers, dealing with so many people around me, not always feeling emotionally safe, and instructors sometimes being rude, stopping for a while seemed to be the right thing to do.
  • Acupuncture part 1 – in my old home state, I tried acupuncture.  It helped a little.  But then I stopped feeling comfortable with the person who treated me.  And I started feeling anxiety about the long commute.  The treatments stopped working.  And the nightmares started up again.  So I decided to wait on continuing this.
  • Acupuncture part 2 – in my new home state, acupuncture is combined with other parts of Traditional Chinese medicine like body work and massage.  I feel very safe at this clinic and trust both the intern practitioner and the supervisors there.  My body memories are starting to lessen and cause fewer incidences of moderate/severe symptoms.  The physical pain is also lessening.  My body is changing and getting healthier on the inside where the worst damage is.
  • Chiropractic part 1 – Chiropractic helped a lot when I went to a practitioner I trusted.  My spinal health and back muscles improved a lot.  I started to be mobile again.  Optimism and hope propelled me forward in the first phase of recovery.  Then I moved away from that practice and started with a recommended group closer to my new place and job.  But I didn’t feel as safe or comfortable there.  And I didn’t trust those people as much.  After 1 year or so without progress (I think I actually regressed), the main chiropractor talked to me about next steps in a private meeting.  We agreed that I could stop for now since the spinal manipulation wasn’t working.
  • Chiropractic part 2 – Part of the reasons the second round of treatments didn’t work was because my parents stepped up the pressure with more emotional and verbal abuse.  I was making a lot of progress; had a well-paying job; lived on my own; and started making plans for my future.  Plans that were opposed to what they wanted of me.  Between their manipulations and the stress of being “independent” for the first time, my trauma memories and nightmares trumped any progress the chiropractor might have made.  I learned, then, that trust between myself and the practitioner was a key element to progress and recovery.
  • Chiropractic part 3 – In the new home state, I am ready to look for a chiropractor and start treatments again.  My counselor says that a multi-pronged approach to physical healing will help a lot.  Since chiropractors focus on spinal health and spinal manipulation, I feel hopeful that my next round of treatments will help.
  • Massage Therapy – Yesterday I had my first massage in a long time.  It felt amazing.  And I trusted this massage therapist a lot.  We had a long conversation before my first visit and also discussed the approach and boundaries before starting the session.  I felt safe in the massage therapist’s care.  And my muscles felt so much better afterwards.  By better I mean less painful and tense.  Physically, my head, neck, shoulders, and back felt lighter too.  Yesterday evening, I slept better than I had in a long time.  So I am hopeful this will help too.

Expenses and Scheduling

All of these treatments cost money and time.  I am lucky to live in a place that has a lot of options within walking distance and others that are accessible by Uber or public transportation.  Medical insurance helps with more traditional therapeutic modalities like psychotherapy,  medicine, and medical doctors.  If you are lucky, sometimes your insurance also provides discounts for alternative medicine providers in their network.  Other times, it’s a matter of deciding what is necessary and then figuring out how to find affordable, reliable, professional care.

For example:

  • psychotherapy with a trauma specialist is #1 on my priority list, so I found someone in-network with my medical insurance.  This means I pay a monthly premium for medical insurance and a reasonable co-pay at every session instead of the full fee; my insurance covers the rest.  Luckily, I found a practitioner within walking distance of my apartment, so transportation doesn’t cost anything unless I have to pay for Uber during bad weather.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (the acupuncture and body work parts) helps a lot, but the treatments are expensive without insurance.  And finding a practitioner in my neighborhood and with evening/weekend scheduling options can be difficult.  So I go to the student clinic at a teaching college for treatments.  The price per treatment is reasonable; the interns and supervisors provide quality care; but transportation can get expensive since I have to either use public transit or a Uber ride.  Still, the combined costs are less expensive than if I went with a private practice for weekly treatments.
  • Massage Therapy is new to me.  I could find someone in-network so that a discount is applied to pricing, but I prefer referrals from people I trust for this sort of hands-on experience.  Finding someone closer would lower the transportation cost.  But since I won’t have to go for massage treatments as often as the other kinds of therapy, I think I’ll be sticking with this massage therapist team for a while.  Besides, they have evening appointments (big plus).
  • Chiropractic is one treatment that I will use my medical discounts for.  Also I will hope to find someone within walking distance of my apartment.  From what I remember, chiropractic treatments are sometimes a lot harder on my body than the other kinds.  Being local means I can take my time walking home and not have to stress out about transportation or anxiety attacks on the commute.  There are many safe places I can stop in for a break if necessary.
  • Routine medical treatment is something I plan on using my medical insurance for also.  But finding a practitioner who is also trauma sensitive has been difficult.  I definitely will have to build in transportation costs, extra travel time, and time spent looking for a provider on this.  Patience will get me what I want though.  Last time I rushed into making this kind of decision, I ended up really sick and with an upswing in PTSD symptoms.  Lesson learned.  And hopefully the small co-pay will even out the transportation cost.

Conclusion

I am lucky to have a full time job with flexibility in my work schedule.  The money I make allows me to cover the cost of medical care and still be able to make ends meet.  Living in my new city helps too.  Except for food, the cost of living here is a lot lower than where I used to live.  And my work/travel expenses are lower since I work from home.

But even when I lived in the other place, recovery treatment and managing my money properly were high on my priority list.  Sometimes I worked a lot of over time and had crazy hours.  Sometimes I couldn’t save a lot of money or zeroed out my accounts to pay all of  the bills.  Sometimes, I had to go into a little bit of debt to make myself safe.  But having a plan and understanding my finances (i.e. how much I made and where my money went) helped me make good choices of where to live and how to make the most out of what I had with limited resources and lack of a support network.

And since two of my favorite distraction/grounding/meditation coping strategies are reading and researching information, I used the quest to learn about personal finance and financial planning to help with many sleepless nights.  Maybe it’s too much for you to think about now, but understanding how and where your money goes can provide a sense of emotional safety, self-confidence, and independence.  The best part, though, is that anyone can manage his or her own finances.

It doesn’t matter how bad you are or think you are with math…

It doesn’t matter how much math or thinking about math scares you…

Maybe if math is a trigger, that could cause problems in the beginning…

Personal finance is less about numbers and more about knowing yourself, understanding your spending and saving patterns, and being able to make your own choices about where your money goes.  

Math is the tool that helps you understand these concepts through numbers.

Thanks for reading.

Not much to write at this time.  My head aches too much.  But I do recognize a connection between Oriental medicine treatment helping my body feel better and increased feelings of shame or distress in the form of scalp/forehead pain.

Almost like an invisible force is punishing me for remembering, feeling, letting those trapped body memories free.  And since I’m experiencing less fear/guilt/distress over body pain (i.e. I can cope and work through it more and more), the force is going back to basics and using something that scares all of us in the system to make us stop.

That something is head/neck pain.  Triggers all kinds of negative feelings and thoughts.  Triggers flashbacks.  Causes distractions and mistakes.  And makes all of us just want to lie down and sleep OR take a pain pill and sleep.

So work is finished for today.  I ate food.  Had something to drink.  Used the restroom.

Time for sleep or at least some better rest than the last few nights.

Thanks for reading.

Due to some technical difficulties, I am writing this post on my smart phone and cannot link to previous posts.  Feel free to use the search box at the bottom or the menu box at the top to explore related posts.

It’s been a while since I wrote a resource post.  Other than reading books, rediscovering a love of jazz music, and watching superhero movies/tv shows (Marvel and DC), I do not have much new info to share.

As I have written before, I am an avid reader and a bookworm.  These days I mostly read commercial fiction.  Science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, romance, or any book that offers character growth, challenges, strong female and male characters, and a happy ending that suits the typ of people these characters become.

If you ever wondered: how does she learn so much about people and how to use the tools in her toolbox?

The answer is: by reading books with complex characters whose journeys drive the plot.

so on to my list:

Movies:

  • Inside Out – have not seen this yet, but many people including my mental health providers have recommended it.  I am waiting for it to be available for rental through Amazon
  • Angry Birds the movie – I found this on Netflix and almost skipped it because of an unreasonable dislike of the game.  But this movie explores the problems with denying angry feelings; and the positive results from acknowledging, feeling, and expressing anger.  In this case, Red Bird and his friends used their anger and the energy from those feelings to save their community.
  • Marvels The Avenger series movies – the first one especially has a place in my heart because Dr. Bruce Banner shares the “secret” to living with the Hulk: always feeling – i.e. Not repressing or denying feelings.  But all of these movies have characters with pasts that could make or break them.  And yet they still find ways to laugh, enjoy company, love, and live with the consequences of their choices.

Fiction books last:

  • Anne Bishop’s Ephemera series – book two is about a young woman struggling with two distinct personalities and trying to find a balance that integrates both sides to become whole again.
  • Anne Bishop’s Ephemera series – Book 3 has a main character who is 3 people sharing one body and trying to survive in a world where her kind are hunted, killed, or shunned whenever they are discovered.
  • The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey – a coming of age story about a young woman who survives a mudslide as a baby and develops an alter personality in childhood.
  • The Coelura by Anne McCaffrey – not about alter personalities so much as coping with difficult family relationships
  • J. D. Robb’s In Death series – the main character is a survivor or childhood trauma who becomes a police officer.  Throughout the series, readers see an isolated, closed off young woman fall in love, open up to friendships, create a family, and start living a full life instead of being trapped by the nightmares of her past
  • Kim Harrison’s the Hollows series – family relationships, loss/grief, and growing up
  • Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series – I have already written about these books in different posts, so not repeating here.

These books helped me in my teens and twenties as I struggled to understand what was happening in my life.  They also gave me hope that I, too, could change my life around for the better like the characters did.  Maybe they can help you too.

Thanks for reading

 

Survival Mode

Since moving out-of-state, my alters and I have moved out of survival mode.  Most of the every day triggers are gone.  All of us feel emotionally and physically safe here.  We are integrating with each other to create an “I” on the inside and integrating with our new community on the outside.

The coping challenges are different.  The strategies that help are not quite the same either.  We all have more down time between panic attacks and other escalating symptoms now.  No one is worried about maintaining calm and sanity every moment of every day.

None of us feel crazy or insane or bad anymore.  We go for days without major dissociation and lost time.  We can focus better and be slightly more active.  We can cook and do some basic housekeeping with better self-care too.

Present Care Mode

Problem-solving and working on issues that cause problems every day:

  • physical pain from body memories
  • internal body injuries related to spine and muscles
  • digestion problems
  • dental care and rehabilitation
  • lack of energy
  • mild agoraphobia
  • hygiene

These issues focus on different kinds of strategies and self-care that have not yet been explored on this blog.

The other issues and mental coping strategies will not be ignored or abandoned.

If at any time someone wants me to re-visit a mental coping strategy or some other issue, please let me know in the comments.

But there will be more focus on strategies and techniques for physical coping and related issues as our recovery moves to different phases.

Some of the issues being discussed this year include:

  • Pain management without medicine
  • Chiropractic medicine
  • Massage therapy
  • Financial planning and strategies for repayment
  • Dental-related coping strategies
  • Working to find providers with and without insurance
  • Oral hygiene in spite of panic attack level triggers
  • And planning a timeline for all of this to happen before I go back to graduate school

Conclusion

I am grateful for my job, my co-workers and colleagues, my early lessons in financial planning and debt repayment, and medical/dental insurance.  I am grateful for a support network of mental health and physical health providers that will expand this year.  And I am grateful for you guests who visit this website and blog.

You are part of a different kind of support network and community that I never thought I could be part of.

And while many of you might wonder how advanced planning and being financially savvy are coping techniques for physical and body related issues, I do know how important knowledge in both areas are from personal experience.  Maybe these tips and experiences will help.  Maybe not.

All I ask is that you read with an open mind.  Use what helps, and ignore the rest.

Thanks for reading.

The Questions:

Quite a few people have asked me how I can love the people who hurt me so badly throughout the years.  Why don’t I hate them instead?  Don’t I feel resentment or hurt?  Don’t I feel angry?    And if I love them, why did I walk away?  Cut them out of my life?

The Answers:

Love, true love, is unconditional.  It is universal, all-encompassing, non-judgmental, compassionate, accepting, supportive, and freely given.  Love is inclusive instead of exclusive.

This kind of love is NOT the same as conditional love, romantic love, approval, or obligation.

Yes, I do feel anger, resentment, hurt, intense dislike, sometimes hate, guilt, and shame too.  But these emotions are pointed at words, thoughts, actions, reactions, choices, behaviors, and experiences; not the individual human beings.

Yes, those people made the choice to be abusive.  And maybe some of them enjoy being mean and hateful, etc., but I’m not responsible for their feelings.  All I can do is try to understand their perspectives and make choices to protect myself.

I’m learning to let go of the anger and resentment, the shame and guilt, because holding on to that negativity only hurts me in the end.

I can’t/won’t change anyone else; can’t/won’t make their choices for them; can’t/won’t be responsible for them or the consequences of those choices.

I can only make my own choices, live up to my own values, and be responsible for myself.

By doing that, I can open my heart enough to feel compassion, love, and acceptance for the people who hurt me.  And I can give them another chance to see if we can have a positive relationship as the people we are now.

The Why’s:

Every person has a story.  Every person has been through experiences (nurture/nature) that shaped who he was and who he is now.  Some of those experiences were her choices; others were not her choice.  Each experience, and how the person coped, influenced the person he or she is now and how that individual interacts with others.

The people who hurt me chose to treat me and talk to me that way.  I hold them responsible for their choices even as I can understand why.  That DOES NOT mean I have to spend time around people who chose to act and be abusive and hurtful to themselves and others.

So, as much as I love my family and feel a universal love toward the others, I still hold them responsible for what they said and did.  I forgive them without forgetting.  And I set my boundaries to protect myself even as I pray that someday they will stop hurting themselves and others.

Religious?  Spiritual?  Or something else?

I don’t know.  The religion I learned as a child taught me to fear and hate God, men, women, and life equally.  This life was advance payment for a glorious afterlife (if I was a man) or a lifetime of servitude without abuse (if I was a woman).  And maybe that’s not really what being a Mormon is about, but those are the lessons I learned.

These days, I choose to believe in a universal force/spirit/energy that works with nature to provide what’s needed.  Nature or nurture.  Science or religion or magic.  In my mind, all of these are different sides of the same coin.

Is saying “I love you” to people not family foolish?

No.  I’ve said those words to many people who are not family or close friends and meant them.  Those people may have brushed off the words or responded with condescension, thinking I’m naive and sappy, but I’d rather live in a world with love, compassion, empathy, resilience, and courage than one without those traits.

Conclusion

So I will keep on saying “thank you”, “I appreciate…”, “I love you”, “I apologize…”, “I’m sorry…”, “how can I help”, “no”, “not right now”, “I don’t know”, “Please respect my…” to people.  I will keep on treating them the way I want to be treated.  I will bounce back from the pain.  I will give second chances, but not third ones.  I will continue living life on my terms and cultivate friendships with like-minded people while accepting those with different mind-sets.

Thanks for reading