Beginning again

•October 18, 2011 • 3 Comments

I temporarily shut down this blog because it wasn’t  doing anyone much good, and I couldn’t post as much as I wanted.  This is what I’m passionate about though; forgiveness and the undeniable grace it brings.  Picking up the sometimes shattered pieces of our lives, and finding a way to reintegrate our wholeness is a primary aspect of my life, and I want to try to share that with others.  Maybe I’ll still be the only one reading it, but I’m going to find ways to reach out to others in need of healing.  I say this knowing I have surgery coming up on October 24th that will have me laid up for a while, but I’ll to my best to keep posting.  Blessings and peace,

Janet

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End of a good idea.

•October 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’m not planning to continue this blog.  It was an idea I had hoped could be a way to help others and myself at the same time.  Unfortunately, between family crises and changing priorities, it has not been consistent.  Peace to all who are on the journey to wholeness.  May you find all the help you need.

Healing through safe contact

•May 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The idea behind this blog was to make a journey with others on the path to reintegrating our selves and becoming whole again.  That idea has not been realized, but the writing has been helpful to me which is worth something.  Recently I’ve had the privilege of working with dogs.  I started as a volunteer with a rescue organization and am currently working with our first foster dog.  He hasn’t been much work in many ways, and the characteristics of Weimaraners make them excellent therapy dogs for disintegrated, traumatized individuals like me.  The breed characteristics include a need for regular exercise, and being “family” dogs.  Weimaraners want to be near their people, and for trauma survivors this is an endearing trait.  Each of my siblings and I exhibit evidence of trauma and unsafe contact.  In my case, it’s a tendency to automatically flinch when people touch me when I’m not expecting it, even people I love and trust.  Working with our three dogs has helped me to start healing in that area of my life.  Some of the happiest moments I’ve had during a very stressful period in my life have been when I’m walking with, playing with, or laying in a snuggley pile with our dogs.  Weimaraners lay their heads on your lap, or your feet, seek out the touch of your hand, and in general provide unconditional love that is difficult to describe but unmistakable.  It may be that a different breed of dog, or a different animal altogether, will work better for someone else, so it’s worth checking out some dog shows, or visiting a shelter to see what animal feels safest to you.  Physical contact, safe physical contact, has started to heal some of the nervous system damage that has plagued me most of my life.  As is often the case, they give so much in return for so little.  Something to think about, perhaps a tool that can work for others besides just myself.  Safe contact is healing, and it reinforces multiple positive coping skills.  May each of us be at peace, may we be filled with loving presence, may the wounds of our trauma(s) be healed.  Namaste’.

Japanese Maple

•April 25, 2010 • 2 Comments

Walking with the dogs

fanned by their waving tails

my eyes were drawn

to a Japanese Maple.

Now the breeze tossed my purple leaves

delicate beauty, sturdy roots, a strong trunk

became the truth of my being,

I saw without eyes

sister tree, who pulled me in,

embraced a cloud of  tattered pieces

and made us one.

The body speaks the mind?

•March 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I haven’t been blogging again.  Not a big deal, since this isn’t a followed blog but just the exercise of making myself write is important.  The past month or so I’ve been having major headaches again, which I had previously associated with perimenopause.  I’ll feel a vague depression, then the pressure starts building in my head, and pretty soon I’m out of commission, unable to do much of anything but lay in the dark and quiet.  My meditation practice is on and off, partly because I never know which method is really the “best” to help my traumatized mind and body.  It sounds overly dramatic, self-centered, but sometimes I think that’s what happens to people who have experienced trauma.  Your mind and body get centered around self-preservation because you’re primed by thousands of years of evolution to respond that way to threats.  When the threat is additionally your source of survival (food, housing, clothing, etc.) it’s mind shattering trying to sort it all out.  There’s an endless circling that takes place as you go around and around events trying to make them make sense, as if knowing the reason “why” things happened the way they did will solve the dilemma, ease the pain, erase the doubts.  That’s not the way it works though.  The grooves in the brain are deep though, pathways of madness and agony that lead nowhere, only back to where you began.  As always, I would love to hear from others who are coping with issues similar or different.  Tips about what has worked and not worked for you.  I still believe in community even though I don’t pursue it.  Peace, to any and all who read this.

Overwhelmed

•December 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Trauma survivors, you are familiar with where I am today.  Overwhelm.  I put it that way because it is a physical state of being when it comes over me.  As Tara Brach puts it, it is a “felt sense in the body” which in my case keeps me paralyzed and unable to move, make decisions, accomplish the tasks of the day.  The depths it can take me to are extremely debilitating.  Voices creep into my mind, and even with years of therapy and meditation training, trying to keep them from taking over becomes an effort of truly epic proportions.  Countless hours in my life have been lost to this state of mind.  I imagine this must be where all the memories are that I can’t access, lost in the space of fight, flight, or freeze, with the latter having been my most available strategy for coping with assault.

Having just spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my parents, the chorus is especially loud today.  My father,  formerly tormentor-in-chief, used to be unable to stop an outpouring of verbal acid that left ragged patches of emptiness in both my brain and sense of self.  He no longer remembers me now, nor recognizes me, if indeed he ever did.  He wanders through days of not knowing, incapable of dressing himself, stepping into his sleeveless undershirts, one leg through each arm opening, puzzled that he can’t make the article of clothing stay up around his waist.  He makes tasks for himself, like carrying around a basket of winter hats and gloves for no reason he can name, perhaps recalling the days when his medical bag was his constant companion.  He asks my mother, in a stage whisper, “who are all these people?” as his children and grandchildren move about his house.

We take a walk together, my father and I, and he displays an alarming familiarity with people on the street he doesn’t know.  He has been forced to choose between making the assumption that everyone is known or accepting the reality that no one is known.  His comments are meant to be harmless, could easily be brushed off by the strangers he approaches, except for his too intimate touch or pat on their physical person.  They jerk protectively away from him, and one man looks like he’s going to haul off and punch him, save for my murmured apologies.  The look he gives us is withering in it’s judgment, the type commonly given to parents of unruly children, intimating “for god’s sake, control him or don’t come out in public!” (Dad was always lousy with boundaries, and this lack of awareness twinned with his dementia has become dangerous)   This is my father’s worst nightmare, what he always dreaded might come in his future, having watched his own father go through it.  Dark humor between my siblings and I of “karma” gives meager, if any comfort, and no satisfaction.  The gears of thought, of processing, are stuck in us both, his in forgetting and confusion, mine in a thick stew of unresolved emotions.  Walking through my hometown with him, a place where he was once a beloved caretaker of so many lives, I wish he could be happy.  The one whisper of movement in the muck of my mind right now is metta meditation.  There may not be much that I can do for him, and staying in the quagmire of my thoughts is of no help to either of us.  One tool, from the still emerging set of skills I’m trying to develop through meditation, is metta; a wish for all beings to feel safe, happy, healthy, and at peace.  Overwhelm, metta.  The trail is shimmering to life as I repeat the word, letting it silence the voices from all places, persons, times.

May I feel safe, may I feel happy, may I feel healthy, may I feel a sense of peace, of ease.

May my Father feel safe, may my Father feel happy, may my Father feel healthy, may my Father feel a sense of peace, of ease.

May all beings feel safe, may all beings feel happy, may all beings feel healthy, may all beings feel a sense of peace, of ease.

Namaste’.

Holiday?

•November 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I started this blog to grapple with trauma, my own as well as that of others.  Not to compare or trade “war stories” as tempting as that is, although there is a place for that in healing too.  I have mentioned in more than one post that deep desire to help others as a motivating factor in starting and maintaining this blog.  As my sense of self waxes and wanes, so too does my confidence in my ability to  be of any help to myself, let alone others.  Honesty was to be a key part of these posts, and so I will confide that this post is helping me process deep, ugly feelings as I wait for my antidepressant to take effect.

Synchronicity is a funny thing.  I’ve gotten to hate the “everything happens for a reason” recitation that is so common everywhere in our society, but the confluence of events is interesting.  We (my kids, husband, and I) are traveling to my “home” in Michigan for the Thanksgiving holiday.  In preparation to go there is a lot to do and it feels very lonely taking care of things “by myself.”  Since getting laid off, and finding a new job, my husband has been keeping very long hours.  He leaves early and gets home very late.  Yesterday was a typical example, but he said it would allow him to stay home today rather than going in to work.  All morning he’s been in his office working, so reminiscent for me of my Dad, who was always immersed in something “more important” in his basement office at home.  More important, of course, implying that we (his wife and children) couldn’t compete with the importance of his work.  It’s been the same way this morning, my husband buried in his work as I try to get all the domestic issues in order.  This is more a division of labor than any reflection on the relative value of what either of us are doing, but it’s a trigger to be aware of.

Every time I’ve talked with my Mom in the past month or more, she’s sounded increasingly depressed.  Trying to handle my mid-80 year old Dad with severe dementia alone, and blind, is not easy for her.  Each time we’ve talked though, she’s reminded me that “you saved my life” referring to my birth around the time my Dad was having an affair(s) and I suppose giving her a “purpose” beyond her own misery to focus on.  She’s now using this (using me?) again, building up who and what I’m representative of as the days get closer and closer until we are together.  She means no harm in this, but it is a huge amount of pressure to be seen as a life raft for a drowning person when you are treading water underneath them, trying to hold your breath until it’s all over.

The holidays have never been a time of joy for me.  Rather they have always been a time of extra stress and deep depression.  There is this deep, ugly emptiness eating away at the deepest part of me that I can’t find a way to embrace or find compassion for.  Even using Tara Brach’s technique of RAIN isn’t helping yet.  It’s like hitting a  brick wall when I try to figure out what is beneath the emptiness, why it’s so ugly to me, where it begins and I end.

I wish each person who might read this a joy-filled holiday.  May it be a time of peace, love and healing for you and those you love.  It is something that fills me with dread, so much so, that I’m struggling with all that I am to find a way to look forward to the days ahead.  I think there is a glimmer of hope somewhere in the darkness though.  It involves forgiveness, or perhaps it’s just the Prozac starting to work.  Either way, may it help me get through until next week when I am home again.

Peace be with you, may there be peace everywhere, and may all beings be free.

 
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