Morning has broken

•October 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Mornings can be refreshing and they can be rough.  When you’ve had a night of dreams that took you back to traumatic events in your life; nightmares that woke-you with your fists clenched or blasted you into an adrenaline soaked, sweat drenched bed in the early darkness; when you weren’t sure where you were, or pain shattered your thoughts to fragments; when any or all of that happens it’s a rough way to start the day.  “Morning Has Broken” takes on a whole new meaning.  That was my morning today.  Broken.  Waking up from a bad dream my unconscious chose from thousands available in the catalogue of my mind, reaching for my husband (and, yes, I am thankful beyond words for my husband) and not being able to figure out what body part I was touching, trying for his hand, but finding bones under flesh that in my half-awake state made no sense.  Finally, I realized it was his elbow and upper arm but had to get up, get kids to school.  Everything on edge, every nerve poking a foot out from my periphery, and all to easy to set-off into panic, anger, aggression.  There were times when a drink would have helped, and I would have had one, to protect my kids from myself, to tame the Medusa’s head of snakes that my nerve endings felt like, not hanging, but whipping around me, looking for the next threat, anticipating the next hit.  I’ve sworn off it though, taking a drink that early, because it was too easy to keep doing it all day.   It’s a way out of taking on your fears rather than meditating, getting counseling or prescribed medications from a psychiatrist.  I still empathize with those of us who do take that drink, toke, or poison of your choice and am writing this in a shout out to each of you that there are people who can help, people who care.  There are groups where you can share your experiences and not feel like a freak, or worse, a loser.

Each step felt like a desperate, bleeding body was holding on to my ankles today.  Broken mornings can do that.  With the day finally coming to a close, the temptation to numb out after the kids were in bed was irresistible.  Except that I know there are other people like me who need to hear that life hasn’t just gone on since their trauma.  That you aren’t the only person who has to fight every minute some days just to get through.  I feel it, mind and yours, take it on willingly, even if all it does is honor your service, or acknowledge the hell you and your family have been through, whether through war, natural disaster, man’s cruelty to man, the list is endless.  You are not alone.  You are more than any single act of your life, whether it was one you took or one that took from you.  Hold on, and know you are held in my heart, always.  Tomorrow is another day, and it may be broken again, but it may not.  As Pema Chodron has so often quoted from Rilke, “no feeling is final.”  Peace to you, brothers and sisters.  May the night, tonight, be your friend, may it gather you in its arms and comfort you.  May  your soul find solace and rest.  Namaste’.

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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

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’.

 
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