Tag Archive | mindfulness

Love and Obligation and Duty

Why did the Hero flush the toilet? …. Because it was his duty.

Sorry.

Blame my kids and Wreck it Ralph for that one. I can’t even think the word duty without an inappropriate smile any more. I was already immature. You would think having kids would help that. Nope. Made it worse.

I have been thinking seriously though about why I do what I do. Examining some tough thoughts, like what is love, is love real? Or is it only obligation? Do I need love?

So I think we lump many things under the love umbrella that are human needs.

I think love is actually acceptance, validation and respect. I don’t think it means feeling happy, feelings come and go. Except maybe peace. Does peace go with love? (probably more to it than this – but that’s what I am talking about today)

I think we do need acceptance – in some form. We need validation. We need acknowledgement of our existence and our journey. I struggle to give and receive that in real life, but the internet has provided many platforms that makes it possible. Love is not exactly involved with this. I care about the people I interact with but I am not sure love is the right word.

How do you know you love someone? And is it a different type of love defined by the different types of obligations?

This is probably confusing and not making much sense. I will try to give some examples. I loved my parents. I thought this was a love without end, a love that should exist, that had great meaning and defined me and them, bound us in loving obligation to each other. But –  they always had the right to withdraw love and I did not. I had to earn it. I constantly tried to prove myself worthy. I did not have acceptance or validation. And I know now, that love I was seeking, never existed at all, a fabricated universe concocted to control me. Love should not include control. Parents guide, not control.

Okay…

So what about Hubby? Is this love? This dance of power, control, seduction, confusion, manipulation, irritation, fear, dissocation, isolation, secrecy, and lies? There has not been acceptance and validation here either – on either side.

Love also means respect.

And that has been missing here too.

I am not saying we don’t care about each other, help each other, try to do things right. We have a deep sense of obligation, honor, and duty. We are good people and care about and help many people. But it isn’t enough for a marriage. It isn’t right.

When I think about my kids, it is entirely different. I think that is love. I feel acceptance, validation, respect – in both directions. I hope that is what they feel. We listen and support each other. We encourage each other. We accept our faults and oddities and work our days around them – we are accommodating. I don’t feel like a frustrating freak with them. I feel like me.

I guess that is why this blog is so important to me. Yes I want to get my story  out there, talk things through, reach those who are silent. But I think this is me. This is my voice and I want it out there. I want it to exist.

Because generally I don’t ummm exist. I plod along in a vacuum, or alternate reality. Even when I am present, not dissociated, I often don’t feel fully here. A spacey surreal feeling that keeps me cut off from everyone, unable to feel love even if offered. And so I examine thoughts like this. Am I loved? Do I love? Is it a real thing anyway? Do I need it? Will I always feel like this? Do my kids feel loved? Is this my attachment disorder talking? Do others feel like this? Should I give up trying to fix this and accept this is how I am?

I am reaching acceptance of myself, that I am different. That I may slowly change, but that I don’t want to count on this change to happen. I would rather accept myself the way I am, and surround myself with people that accept me the way I am – or be alone.

The acceptance I receive online and from my children feels like enough. I don’t feel lonely, even though by most people’s standards, I suppose I am alone. I feel better alone, with emotional distance from the people in my life that do not accept me.

forest-63275_960_720

I took a three hour walk (yes 3 hours!! I can walk for 3 hours now! My back and leg are getting so strong!) in the forest last week, taking photos of the fall colors. I was alone on this walk, but I felt fuller and more alive than I have in weeks. Everything in the forest was so alive, I could feel the energy, hear the wind in the tree branches, hear the birds, the squirrels scurrying. I saw fungus and vines thriving on decay. I saw dead trees full of woodpecker holes. I saw and felt the life, the survival, of the creatures there.

Why do I feel more loved, safer, content – at peace – alone in a forest? Should I keep fighting this feeling or just go with it? Accept this, do what feels right, enjoy my peace without guilt, stop trying to make friends that I don’t want, stop trying to feel love I don’t feel. Just stop. And just be.

 

 

Advertisements

What color is Panic

IOP-T

Intensive Outpatient – Trauma

This program I am attending now is specifically designed for someone like me – supposedly. Someone who has been traumatized and needs to learn skills to feel safe, calm, connected, and make healthier choices. The counselor said it would be a safe place to learn the skills I need to feel safe and connect to others who understand.

After 2 days I’m ready to call Penn and Teller to yell Bullshit!

I don’t feel safe here! In a room of 12 strangers, are you freaking kidding me? I’m supposed to close my eyes and relax into the breathing exercises? I can barely relax at home alone with these exercises. Ok, I’ll play along and go through the motions, keeping my eyes open and promising to practice for real at home. I try not to be angry they are wasting so much time on breathing and mindfulness. I get it. I drove an hour to get here. I don’t want to deep breathe and listen to birdy fluty music for 1 out of the 3 hours. As much as I don’t want to talk to anyone, I do want to learn, and I feel this is wasting my time. I try not to get angry and at least can practice regulating that emotion by picturing shooting the annoying flute player in the CD with my laser eyes and add awesome ‘pew pewww’ sound effects that make my time much more soothing. The flute player looked kinda goaty, like Pan, with a long beard and he was dodging my lasers. Really quite soothing.

Then we have a 10 minute break in between each hour. The others fill it with easy chitchat, and I instantly know that they are not damaged like me. I refill my water, walk around the room silently stretching, listening to their chatter about kids and dogs and all the usual crap and I am stunned that it is the same crap I hear anywhere else. I thought this group, the trauma group would have people like me that wanted to have meaningful discussions, people that are quiet, introverts, private, careful about sharing information. Seriously, why would I go up to a stranger and show them pictures of my house, kids, dogs, etc? I don’t understand. I also don’t want to see their pictures, at all.

So far we have covered topics from DBT, Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavioral Therapy workbook from Phase 1. Mindfulness, Progressive relaxation, dysfunctional family roles, social skills on how to approach a group of people, wise mind vs emotional/rational mind. If this seems like too many topics for a few hours, I agree. All we do is get a handout, do a skimming overview and move on. I hate it. I want to process, analyze, figure out how it applies to me, how to use it, what it means, get some examples, and while I am thinking, she hands out something new and asks us to fill it out. I start to read it and start thinking, and she hands out something else before I even get a chance to start writing. I am aware everyone else was already writing, so I don’t think her pacing is that off, just that I need that much processing time. It was a goals sheet, write 3 goals for fun things to accomplish over the weekend, 3 things for responsibilities to accomplish over the weekend, and then it says how did you feel as you wrote each goal? Then the bottom of the page has another 3 blanks and says weekly goals…

I was starting to lose it. I felt my temperature rising, the familiar choking sensation, my head was spinning and swirling. I didn’t have the answers. I didn’t know. I heard everyone else writing and felt so stupid. And angry. There wasn’t supposed to be pressure like this. I started deep breathing and counting and got myself calmer. Maybe I could ask for help since I am new.

But she kept talking and talking and I couldn’t think, just shut up and let me think! She says now to look at this other paper, a diary card to update daily with our DBT skills we are practicing. This was the biggest rubric I’ve ever seen and so many lines and boxes, I couldn’t barely focus on which day was today. And then she hands out ANOTHER paper and is STILL talking. I have not yet absorbed any of this. But the final handout was like a punch in the face.

It says “Emotional Check-in” and she explains that she will be going around the room and asking each of us to share our answers out loud to the 3 questions. I quickly scan the page and I see these questions and I nearly pass out. For real, literally, not figuratively. The room went black, I nearly vomited, I was ice cold, and then had an urge to RUN. Count, breathe, in, out, count, breathe, in, out. Panic hit me full force.

1 – What emotion are you feeling right now?

2 – Where in your body are you feeling this emotion?

3 – What color is this emotion?

So why the panic? These are easy questions right? What’s the big deal? Some of you already know, but I’ll try to explain for those that don’t.

I’m not in touch with my emotions. As an abuse victim, my emotions are usually somewhere quite far away from me and not something I can access easily. When I first saw #1, I thought “I don’t know!” and to someone like me, a perfect over-achiever straight A student having to say I don’t know in front of the class is not something I’ve actually ever done before. So I thought about it and figured that panic might be an emotion and the correct answer at that point, so ok, I did have the answer. I was scared. I felt unsafe. So unsafe it turned into panic. Why?

Because I’m not supposed to feel. And good god I am not supposed to tell how I feel. I can’t tell. Anyone. Ever. It’s one thing to share a feeling one on one with someone, but being asked to share like this, I felt naked, and felt bad, naughty, like it was against every cell in my body to tell these people anything about me. And then I felt ashamed. But not until after the panic quieted down a bit.

But I could not even look at #2 without feeling nausea. connecting my body to an emotion?? Are you kidding? My body does not exist in these moments. I was on the ceiling, not in my body. I was trying to be invisible, hoping she wouldn’t call on me, listening to everyone else easily answer the questions, and wondering for each #3 (what the fuck? how can you feel green? I don’t understand, this makes no sense, where’s the color code chart, I need a map, I need a legend, I need a life preserver, I need out of here, I here that stupid clock ticking-ticking so loud, everything is so loud now, I can’t look up, doesn;t matter I can’t see anymore, so much adrenalin is in my poor body now, I am shaking so much I can’t hold the papers and can barely stay in my seat. I half stand several times, nearly run out of the room, but I think, then what? I know it felt like someone had a gun to my head, but no one did. No one did.

She called my name. Did she call my name? She asks me #1, I say “I don’t know, panic, overwhelmed, this is too much” She asks me #2, I say ” I don’t know” She says ‘you’re holding your head, are you feeling it in your head?’ I say, “I don’t know, Yes, maybe” (I’m holding my head so it doesn’t explode, giving pressure to my forehead to keep my brain inside my skull. Is that where I feel an emotion? I’m hoping this doesn’t turn into a migraine and trap me an hour away from home unable to drive myself, that’s why I’m holding my head) She asks me #3, and I let every bit of anger and disgust into my voice as I say, “I have no idea what that means” (I’m thinking panic is a system failure, I have too many emotions right now. This is not an angry red, a numb gray, a sad dull blue, an electric purple. This is every color – so is it white? But white seems so cold compared to this, cold like snow and ice, But maybe it explains the paralysis, I was frozen and struck dumb, and so completely traumatized in this so-called safe place that are experts on dealing with trauma victims. Shame on them)

I was the last to be called, so class was dismissed, and the counselor asked if I wanted to stay and talk to her. I looked up long enough to shoot her with my eye lasers that I chased around the Pan goaty flute player with earlier. I didn’t answer, the look was enough. I got out of that room, and with each step started to be able to breathe and see again. I could feel the adrenalin pumps stopping as I reached the elevator, and was ok, just really really shaky by the time I reached the parking lot. I had to wait about 20-30 minutes before I could drive safely, and then made it to a park to decompress further before going home.

I don’t want to go back. I’m not sure they should be doing this to me. I’m not sure I need DBT. I’m not sure Marsha Linehan isn’t possibly full of shit.

Mindfulness and depression, part 2

I want to expand on my comment in part 1, that being mindful is really about being bodyful.

The way I understand the methods in this book, “The Mindful Way Through Depression” by Williams, Teasdale, Segal, and Kabat-Zinn, is that when we suffer from chronic bouts of depression that we are used to living in our minds instead of in our bodies.

It seems that this book feels that most people, have difficulties remaining attached to physical sensations throughout the day, most days of our lives. That we run about ignoring our bodies and sensations and live instead with the running commentary of thoughts, worries, and plans.

I agree with that, but it is so entirely complicated.

But here’s my difficulty, and I have to play the ‘special card’. But this is not coming from my inner child right now, she is skipping along quite happily at the moment. These are simply unavoidable facts about my history that I am trying to integrate into the new knowledge I gleaned from this book.

I have a special relationship with my body –  full of extremes. Due to illness, pain, trauma and abuse- I have learned to filter or ignore some body signals, and have enhanced or tuned into other body signals to protect myself over the years. What does that mean?

I have learned to detach myself from many bodily signals for a few reasons, and each one is hugely significant.

First, I learned to tune out AF’s nightly sexual encounters and inappropriate touches – if I didn’t allow myself to feel it, he wasn’t really touching me, it wasn’t really happening – I couldn’t really feel it. It was how I survived. Enough said on that I think.

Second, Again my youth has tainted the simple act of breathing. I was taught to control my breathing due to extreme asthma. I knew about belly breathing and deep breathing exercises at age 4, as my allergist showed me how to control asthma symptoms and keep my airways open. My asthma was so bad when I was little that I would gasp every few words, not having enough air in me to get an entire sentence out. I was unable to make the wind instruments squeak no matter how hard I tried. I was weak and sickly and always aware of my breathing and the tightness in my lungs. Learning to pay attention to this saved me a few trips to the ER, as a precisely timed inhaler use could keep me breathing. (my inner child wants me to point out the ridicule I received about this, and how AF continued to smoke like a chimney and ignore my coughing fits, saying it was all in my head and cigarettes never hurt anyone – his emphysema has served as poetic justice to my inner child, as I would wish no harm on anyone, but inner child dances saying “I told you so”)

Second, I learned to tune out from the pain of my spinal injury and nerve damage. I still do this – how else do you get through a day? If I breathed into an awareness and fully felt the pain – would I be able to carry on? But on the flip side, I also learned to be acutely aware of certain body signals as my spine healed and I learned to feel hunger, control my bladder, and then to walk again. All of those body functions that should have happened without thought or control, required my intense thought and control – mindful awareness – except that it has always had a goal, which I learned that mindfulness cannot.

And so here I am today, trying to be mindful without exerting control, and I keep wondering if it is possible for me – am I truly too special? Even Cesar Milan had a few cases ‘too far gone’ to rehabilitate. Not that I’m suggesting I should be ‘put to sleep’ (of course I have wished for that in the past, so I shouldn’t joke about it, but then to deny this thought now would be lying – so what if I have dark humor, some of you will understand) but I do wonder what level of rehabilitation I may expect to achieve. Is peace and balance truly in my future?

A part of the book explaining mindful walking made me cringe, and then sigh out loud. Here is a bit of it from pages 91-93. I’ll explain my reactions to it down below. This passage was hugely triggering to me – but I trudged on through anyway.

” 1. Find a place where you can walk back and forth in a location that is protected enough so that you will not be preoccupied by a feeling that other people are watching you do something they (and even you at first) may perceive as strange

. . .

3. Bring the focus of your awareness to the bottoms of your feet, getting a direct sense of the physical sensations of the contact of the feet with the ground and of the weight of your body transmitted through your legs and feet to the ground.  . . .

4. Allow the left heel to rise slowly from the ground, noticing the sensations in the calf muscles as you do so, and continue, allowing the whole of the left foot to lift gently as the weight is shifted entirely to the right leg. Bring awareness to the sensations in the left foot and leg as you carefully move it forward and allow the left heel to come in contact with the ground. A small, natural step is best. Allow the rest of the left foot to make contact with the ground, experiencing the weight of the body shifting forward onto the left leg and foot as the right heel comes off the ground.

 . . .

8. Walk back and forth in this way, sustaining awareness as best you can of the full range of your experience of walking, moment by moment, including the sensations in the feet and legs, and of the contact with the ground. Keep your gaze directed softly ahead.

. . .

12. Remember to take small steps and you don’t need to look at your feet. You know where they are. You can feel them.”

OK, so my mind was racing as I read this. #1 – wow – triggering. Yes AF made sure I only walked in hidden areas, he told no one of my disability and made me do my rehab in secluded areas to hide my shame and disgusting broken body. Why should we start any exercise with the need to hide ourselves? If someone thinks you odd – sorry – but F*** them.

#2-11 – So similar to what I did relearning to walk with a weak leg after paralysis at age 12. My right leg was not strong enough yet to bear my whole weight. I had a clunky metal brace on it, hip to toe. I started with a wheelchair, then a walker, and then a cane. And then I limped on my own stubbornness, when I could no longer bear the shame of the brace – and fell often. Up until about 3 years, I was still unable to bear even half of my weight on my weak leg, so my gait was a slow drag-hop type of limp and I leaned heavily on the left, only using the right for a split second. I had to think and repeat “heel-toe, heel-toe” as I walked, sending the command for each step. Without my brace, I could not lift my foot at the ankle, so I learned to lift my leg at the hip to swing it out fully and have it land on my heel rather than drag my toes. I thought this made me look like a peg-legged pirate and my family ridiculed me – calling me someone from Hogan’s Heroes (Was it Klink’s friend?) and hop-along-Cassidy, who I never heard of and honestly forgot until I just googled him today – apparently I reminded them of a drunk cowboy with a bullet in my leg.

So here’s the interesting, no fascinating part to me. I was practicing mindfulness to get in tune with my body’s sensations, but since I was controlling it, and had a goal and a harsh judgment – it wasn’t really mindfulness at all.  And if I had tuned in to each sensation, and fully felt the crushing pain in each step, I’d likely still be in a wheelchair – or at least I was so afraid to face the enormity of the pain that I chose instead to block it. My ability to filter out the pain while focusing on the movements is the only way I got through it all. But according to this book, if I had been able to accept the pain, rather than block it, it would have been better for me?

In case you have no experience with nerve damage – Saying a leg is numb, means I can’t feel what happens to it externally. But the internal, constant pain during that time was excruciating. Like my leg was screaming, panicking, and trying to get my brain/spine to listen. It was like being on fire, zapped by lightning, and being crushed by elephants all at once. Pain meds did nothing for it. I still have some bouts of this nerve pain, if I twist and lift something the wrong way, or over exert myself, but I feel so lucky that it has mostly subsided. But I do fear it, and block it. Is pain an emotion? Or is it ok to mentally block physical pain and just not emotional pain? When I think it all amounts to neurochemicals and electrical impulses I just don’t know anything any more and feel my body is too much a complicated mess to fix. If I were a house, I would tear it down and rewire from scratch – too many shorts, too many bare wires and exposed damage, too many rotten areas from neglect, too many bad splices, and the old system is not supporting the new modern devices. I’m trying to run my life on my old ball and knob wires and getting surprised or upset when a fuse is blown or a fire starts.

#12 –  I HAD to look at my feet. I could not feel them. If I looked away for even a fraction of a second I would fall, the leg would simply crumple with no visual feedback. I practiced this slow methodical hell-toe walk, hoping to feel something, thinking how odd I could see it moving, see my foot making contact with the ground, but could not feel it. Again, about 3 years ago the nerve healed enough to start sending commands and feedback. I can now look up while walking, but I am still so fearful of uneven ground, cracks in the pavement, stumps protruding, roots to tangle me, or any other obstacles that I spend more time looking down than up.

It seems I was doomed to have all the usual involuntary body actions needing my observation and constant control from poor health. Add the abuse in to the picture, and it is no wonder that I don’t know if I’m coming or going – what to control, what to let happen, which thoughts are helpful, which feelings to block.

So I am trying to learn more about myself, and simply accept me as I am, before jumpy into a hasty remodeling. Learn how to BE without DOING, have no goals to achieve, and be an observer . . . how odd that sounds. Is this really something helpful? Sometimes you have to judge and DO something, right? How will I know when?

I have had luck with breathing exercises and biofeedback, I have been able to keep my heart rate from soaring by using mindful breathing throughout the day. I have noticed I don’t accelerate into anxiety and panic as I used to. Bringing myself into my body instead of my panicked thoughts has helped 100% – when I can remember to do it, and even that is getting easier, and becoming habit.

Can I use this same mindfulness and breathing into the uncomfortable emotions to survive the upcoming holiday gatherings? I’m already pre-stressing and pre-planning to block the negatives to survive these ordeals, and maybe this is the wrong approach.

More on my ideas for this in part 3

Mindfulness and depression, part 1

So I have apparently come back up out of a mild depressive episode. Having suffered recurrent bouts of depression most of my life – how did this one sneak up on me and disguise itself?

I think the key word here is ‘mild’. I did not plummet to the depths of despair and suicidal thoughts as I usually do, and so it was quite unfamiliar to me. I didn’t feel terrible, like the slime at the bottom of the bog that will never have hope of seeing sunlight.

Instead, I felt oddly blank. I felt I was spinning my wheels. I had some searching for meaning, like asking “What is the point”? I was overeating. I stopped exercising and felt more body pain. I hyperfocused on tasks to make each day speed by. I had terrible migraines – the kind where you have to check that your skull had not yet actually split open because this level of pain without any physical signs should not be possible.

I started hating my new therapist, feeling annoyed by her futile attempts to help me, and had grandiose thoughts that she was using textbook techniques to help someone that has never been in any textbook. I like to be ‘special’ when depressed because it means I have a reason to feel hopeless – no one understands me – I’ve been hurt too badly – none of these books will help – I am wasting my time

New therapist recommended a book to me, “The Mindful Way Through Depression, Freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness” by Willams, Teasdale, Segal, and Kabat-Zinn.

My initial reaction? How dare she!! How can she be so thick as to think I am depressed? How could she think this simple book could have any value for me? Doesn’t she understand my complex PTSD, my chronic pain, my disability, so many years of abuse, emotional torture, that I’m special? I was angry with her. Like my children when I suggest they wear a sweater. I recognized my reaction came from my emotional inner child, not a 38 yr old. And I thought hmmm, but didn’t go any further than that for 2 whole weeks. I was feeling stubborn and not going to let her win. Even though I recognized that was irrational, I wasn’t ready to let go yet. My foot was down and my arms were crossed. I may have even stuck out my tongue, that will show her.

She copied a chapter of the book and gave me homework to read it. Well, even though my inner child is dreadfully stubborn, she is also a perfectionist in need of praise and would never slough off on homework, and so I read it – begrudgingly – with my arms crossed and lips pouting. Seriously. Yes I did that. And I hated every word. I poked fun at the examples, at how simple they were, and found a trigger word ‘dwelling’ in there and had to stop reading. I have this reaction often when reading something meant for anyone to read, it feels watered down to me when compared to medical journals. And then I chided myself for being so snobby, just because I understand scientific journals doesn’t mean this is stupid and poorly written. Surely the PhD touting authors were not idiots. Could it be my current state of mind? Aren’t I always telling everyone to be open-minded? My inner child hates to admit when I’m right.

Oh great, here we go. My inner parent showed up to scold my inner child. “You might like the brussel sprouts if you just give it a fair chance . . .”, “It is really good for you if you can learn to like it . . .”

Fine! I’ll read it but you can’t make me like it.

I read it again a few days later, and it didn’t seem stupid. It seemed like experience I have had with my own inner doubts, fears, and spiral into darkness. Hmmm

Here it is a full 5 weeks after my therapist made the recommendation, and I finally went to the library to get the entire book. I read it all yesterday instead of having a Netflix marathon. Actually I did both simultaneously, because well, my inner child does not give up that easily and would only do it if the TV was on.

Most of this book was not news to me, rather it was an affirmation of coping skills I have been using for many years now. Actually I think I may be the most ‘mindful’ girl on the planet for a variety of reasons I’ll get into later. But some things did stand out to me – loud and clear.

First off – being mindful is really being bodyful. Aware of physical sensations that accompany a mood. You are not being mindful if you have a goal for your mood. Examples – you begin a yoga session with the goal of relaxation. You go to a movie with the goal of laughing. You go out to perform on stage with the goal of feeling joy. Emotions can’t be a part of the goal – they need to just happen. Oh dear.

I have been an emotion junkie. I have felt joy, ecstasy, jubilance, loved, only recently in the past few years, and I have been seeking to recreate those feelings and avoid the negative ones. Understandable I guess, after so many years of only negatives, but this is not the balance I thought I was establishing. I can’t command my emotions, I need to experience them as they come and go.

This hit me hard. My dance performances were not as fun this year because I was expecting it to recreate the level of joy I felt the first time –  instead of appreciating the feelings I had at the moment no matter what they were. I had fun – but it did not seem like ‘enough fun’ this time. I blamed myself and I blamed my friends for doing something differently this time – maybe they were tired or not so into it, so the atmosphere had been changed? My emotions were also flattened due to this depressive episode, and the cycle had started. I expected too much, tried to control it and craft my emotions, and found them disappointing or lacking, started wondering what is wrong with me, assigning blame, asking what is the point, and all kinds of other useless monologues in my head.

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you
don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not
doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or
less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have
problems with our friends or family, we blame the other
person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will
grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive
effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason
and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no
reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you
understand, and you show that you understand, you can
love, and the situation will change”
Thích Nhất Hạnh

I’m still controlling my emotions. But here’s the thing. When so many of them are irrational, or born of triggers and flashbacks that I’m SUPPOSED to control, how do I let go and experience the true ones? I have all these checks in place now to analyze the self-talk, check for cognitive distortions, and revise my feelings to prevent panic attacks or depression being borne of the flashbacks. I’m afraid that these stop-checks are preventing me from fully experiencing the good times – I am always on guard and asking “Is this how I SHOULD feel”, Is this real, am I truly annoyed or am I recalling a time when I felt annoyed in the past, am I truly sad or does this remind me of . . .

So I feel like me again, fairly rational (as rational as emotional humans can be anyway) and no longer stuck in between pouty inner child and scolding inner parent. But I must admit I’m feeling a bit lost and unsure of how to proceed. If the very coping skills I have been taught to stop the panic and depression are preventing any extremes of emotion, then I have to rethink this. How do I let my body run the show, and accept each emotion as it temporarily resides as a guest in my being? No guest wants to be smothered with attention, so no wonder the joy has been hiding from me, fearful it will be tackled and shackled. In fact all of the emotions ran away, refusing to be controlled.

Emotions need to be honored guests, valued, appreciated and allowed to be kept wild and free. Forcing happiness to stick around is like plucking a wildflower – it will soon wilt and wither.

Part 2 I will explain the body component of what I learned from this book, or if not learned, what I am churning about in my confused and exhausted noodle.

 

Another way to View Mindfulness and Meditation

Another great post from Responsive Universe:

http://responsiveuniverse.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/walking-meditation/

Visualizing mindfulness (366/194 July 12, 2012)

This could be a wonderful tool to get better at mindfulness, reduce stress, anxiety and worries. By focusing on each moment in the present, the past and future melt away from your consciousness and you are left feeling only what is happening now – and more peaceful all around. I have never been successful at sitting-eyes-closed meditation. My mind gets so busy and random and crowded like that. The times I am most at peace is when walking alone in nature, listening to the wind, the birds,  and the sound of my feet in leaves, gravel, dirt. Focusing on the uneven ground so I don’t lose my footing and fall, looking for wildflowers and toads, feeling my heart beat and breath deepen. I especially love walking right before sunset, to see the light glowing in the treetops as the sun’s angle changes. And I love the solitary, yet unified feeling in a forest. Being the only human, surrounded by majestic trees and life exploding out of every spot makes me happy to be a part of this magical world.

So mindfulness is a wonderful way to find peace. Unless you are actually currently in a stressful situation, then I guess you need a coping mechanism and not to be so mindful? This sounds funny, but I’m seriously trying to figure this out. Mindfulness is only peaceful if you are in a peaceful environment. If your boss or spouse is yelling at you, if a tiger is attacking you, then I’m thinking it won’t be so peaceful, but the mindfulness may help to save your life if you are present and not thinking of the last time or how it may turn out.

Enough rambling of lovely thoughts and ideas, I need to get back to my neverending spreadsheet hell that pays the bills. I will remain mindful and present though as I work, not worrying about the response I may get from my director about what isn’t done or good enough yet, or what the next task assigned to me will be. Or maybe I can be mindful and epaceful and focus on the pretty lines, colors and patterns in Excel to generate a sense of peace and order? (Yeah I don’t think so either. Some things just suck no matter what, that’s why they pay me to do it) I have to admit though, I actually do get very happy, way too happy, when I create super duper long formulas with crazy combinations of vlookups and countifs and they actually work. So there is that at least. 🙂

Excel Pivot table ONE criteria

Excel Pivot tables are loads of fun too! (Photo credit: DrJohnBullas)

Less Anxious Mind, More Tense Body

I seem to be transferring my mental anxiety into my body lately. Although this is allowing me to function more, less foggy days, more productivity, it is causing me painful body aches.

I didn’t mean to do this. I didn’t mean to take the mental pain and put it into my muscles. But I have to say that physical pain is so much easier to handle, so maybe this was a good transition.

Instead of getting mentally stuck, my neck is stiff, my back is sore, my legs are cramped. I’m trying to work out the physical stress now through stretching, icing/heating, massage, and general activity. It feels better to move cramped up muscles than to sit still, so it gives me motivation to move my body in the form of pain relief.

I’ve also been falling into the trap of ignoring my body though through disassociating. I’ve always had this ability, learned from chronic abuse and pain, to survive. Ignoring pain may sound like a good idea or a great skill, but I seem to ignore everything – all or nothing. I’ve been ignoring hunger/full signals, sleepy/awake signals, touching/aroused signals, even needing to urinate signals. Now some of these are related to my spinal cord injury, I often have trouble with signals from the waist down. But they are completely gone lately, like my brain says “no more signals – I’m busy in here”.

So I have been forgetting to eat/overeating, sleeping in weird patterns and times, pushing away or not enjoying touching of any kind, and getting urinary tract infections from holding too long.

So today, my family has gone camping, without me and without guilt. I plan to get back in touch with my senses by tuning back in and

Levitating, Meditating, Flute-playing Gnu

Levitating, Meditating, Flute-playing Gnu. Looks like me, I even multi-task while meditating (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

being mindful. I’m going to turn on loud music and dance around the house. I’m going to watch the clock and take note of my bodily signals. I’m going to do some pilates and yoga and listen only to my breathing.

Then I’m going to paint a study piece with all the fantastic new paints that were delivered to my door yesterday in preparation for my upcoming art job. Today is all about me, putting me back together, so that when my family returns they can have all of me and I can genuinely enjoy those hugs they give so freely.

This Moment – poem 24/30

This moment

right here and now

will not be repeated.

Please don’t allow

your life to be cheated

out of actually feeling

the joy

or sadness, or quiet, or wonder

as life is revealing

the truth

or tragedy, or peace, or thunder.

 

This moment

right here and now

gone – in the blink of an eye.

Please don’t allow

your life to pass by

without you.