Monthly Archives: January 2014

Friday Nights and Deep Thoughts

I think I like having J on Friday nights.  She is more spontaneous and will joke with us for most of the hour.  She seems more relaxed and less therapist-ish.  It has its drawbacks (we don’t necessarily accomplish much on the serious side during sessions, but that’s ok for the moment).  We laugh a LOT, and time seems to go by faster.  We still cover some important topics, but a lot of the heaviness is left off.

Tonight, after starting really late then laughing our butts off for the first 20 minutes, we continued to joke and be inappropriate randomly throughout session.  We accomplished some stuff though.  L showed J that she had actually made progress on her resume.  J gave us some more resume pointers, then we talked about jobs/volunteer positions L and I would like to apply for.  We talked about taking personal risks and about some fears. We discussed goals, and came to the conclusion that L and I will be in this state for maybe another year.  She will go for the Office Manager job, and it will either be a means to an end, or it will be our ticket back North.  We were able to address the fears associated with trying something so drastically different.  J even let us in on some of the other jobs she had done in her previous life (prior to becoming a therapist).  Turns out, she had done a job similar to what L is hoping to apply for and thinks L will really enjoy it.

Yesterday, the office manager at the clinic had asked L if she and I would like to volunteer.  I guess since we have been clients for at least a year (L for longer) and it was ok with both L’s individual therapist and with J, they offered us the opportunity to volunteer.  Both L and I really like the organization, so we filled out the apps before we even went into session.  Then during session, J talked about other positions opening up within the company and planted the seed for me to apply.  We were able to talk through some of my fears about jumping back into the full-time working world and into mental health.  I settled on simply volunteering for the time being while leaving the possibility of a paid position open for later exploration.  I have no doubt I could eventually kick ass at the job, I’m just not sure I am at a place to step back into full-time.  I’m quite a bit gun-shy about any major commitments when I only have a few weeks of stability under my belt.  For the past 3 years or so, I seem to be able to hold it together for 6-8 months, then things tend to go south.  I don’t want to ruin my relationship with this organization in case we do end up staying here and I do end up needing a full-time job down the line. And like I said, we both really like the organization and the services they provide.  J pointed out that they have not only the outpatient office, but also the youth center and senior centers that need both employees and volunteers.  She suggested that we start with the centers and see if we can incorporate our art-party ideas there maybe once a month.  It would still be on a volunteer basis, but it would give us a chance to try things out and to build up a portfolio.  De had also mentioned something along those lines with offering our services to the state with Kids In Distress and their family support programs.  It seems once again, J and De are on the same page without necessarily talking to each other (they have releases but neither has had to make use of them. That’s totally weird for me, as my providers up north have always had open and active communications. I find that is not common practice in this state, nor is helping a client hook up with additional services when needed).  I think doing more art stuff with “in need” populations could be fun.  As much as I try to break out of the helping professions for any length of time, I always find myself drawn back eventually.  I know at this time I do not want an 8-hour work day doing direct care.  I know that would be too taxing.  I would not mind doing some part-time group work or rec therapy. I miss the work I did as a Recreational Therapy Assistant (couldn’t officially call me a Recreational Therapist since I was not certified).  I enjoyed making my residents smile and giving them something different to do during the daily grind.  I’m sure I could find something like that here.  I’m just not sure how secure I am in committing to an actual job.

I read a quote the other day; “If something happens once, it may never happen again, but if something happens a second time, there will also be a third time” I wish I could look at this in terms of the positive, but the negative associations creep in.  I had 2 serious bouts of hospitalizations since 2007.  Both consisting of over a year of revolving hospital doors.  The second time was worse than the first.  I crashed again after our move, but it wasn’t as bad (only 2 hospitalizations total).  I find myself holding my breath for the next round of hospitalizations.  I don’t want it to occur, but I fear it might.  Triggers are rampant here.  I don;t always know how to handle them.  We had a great time on vacation, but I can feel little things seeping back in.  I want to cry for no discernible reason.  I’m sad more often than I had been in the past 2 months.  I want to drink and smoke because I like the feelings they bring when done in moderation.  I want to lose myself in my art and my music.  That all often means I start shutting out others.  I had told De last week that I felt as if I were running from something.  This week the feeling is a bit more desperate.  The self-harm urges returned with an earnestness yesterday.  I journaled to De that I felt like something had been left unsaid in session, but that it was because I was censoring.  My problem is that I don;t quite know what I’m censoring.  I’m not in touch with the content, just the emotions of feeling unfinished.  It makes me want to shatter myself (funny that the drawing I am working so hard on is entitled “Shattered”).  I think things are coming out in my art and my music choices before they reach conscious awareness.  I find myself collaging things without a real grasp as to why I am choosing those words or images.  It tend to all make sense later (like the drawing).  I have something in mind going into the piece but then it changes direction and meaning by the time it’s finished.  I think my dissatisfaction with my drawing is a measure of dissatisfaction with its ability to accurately convey what I need it to.

Twice this week I came close to “coming out” as a survivor of sexual assault in a more blatant way.  I can speak about the concept with De, however I have not admitted it outright to anyone else in so many words.  L knows and mom has a vague idea, but none of my friends or other family have any clue.  It had taken me over a decade to admit the impact of DuckBoy to myself, let alone admit to friends that it ever happened.  There are still some friends that will never know.  It’s not something I necessarily want to shout from the rooftops.  I do want to be able to share my experiences though.  I want to be able to help or inspire or at least make someone else feel less alone.  This blog is helping a lot, but I think there’s something to be said for a more personal connection.  Being assaulted is a deeply personal event.  It can make you feel alienated and alone.  It can make you question the events.  Acquaintance rape can find you defending the person (They didn’t mean it, not any of the times.  He just can’t control himself. I must want this.  It isn’t really sexual, just my imagination.  I should be flattered.  I should like this… He can’t be that bad because he’s my [boy]friend).  It can have you questioning yourself.  It can trap you (abuse has a way of doing that, especially if there’s already a history).  I don;t want to remain trapped in any of this.  I want to break free. I want to know my life will be different and better.  I wat to make it better.  And I want to help others make theirs better also.  So I toy with the idea of “coming out” to those around me.  I think they would do a double-take if they found out.  I think they would question my “defenses” of offenders.  I am famous for pointing out that offenders need compassion and help, not necessarily punishment.  One thing I have learned not only from having been assaulted, but from working in mental health: everyone has a reason for their actions or behaviors.  Many offenders were also abused as kids.  They have incredible baggage they carry around with them.  People who end up killing or harming someone else likely was taught, either directly or indirectly, that power and safety comes from domination. When I see a story about a child molester, I wonder if that adult also has a history of being molested. Abuse is generally performed in cyclic, generational patterns. An abuser was likely abused as a child.  We need to provide treatment and support to help break the cycle.  Yes, punishment is also a factor, but if their head is anything like mine, they are punished enough internally.

When I first started college, I was introduced via a family friend to a psychologist who worked exclusively with sex offenders.  At the time, I couldn’t picture working with that population (I probably couldn’t do it even now, but I have a better understanding of where they are coming from).  I was amazed that this man was able to work with these boys and young men day in and day out.  I wasn’t able to talk long enough to find out why he did what he did, but I think 18 years later I can hazard a guess.  Many damaged people damage others.  It’s not that they necessarily mean to, it’s just that it is all that they know.  There are some exceptions, but they are rare.  Even the most hardened criminal has a small, terrified child hiding somewhere underneath.  Violence and anger are fear turned outward.  An animal will strike out in fear and defense.  People will do the same.  If you don’t know that what you are doing is wrong (not by societal standards, but by your own moral compass), you see no problem with your actions.  An offender who came to a clinic at which I worked turned out to be jus a really hurt little boy inside. He had experienced some horrific abuse growing up, and he perpetuated that to a lesser degree.  He wasn’t a violent offender, but he did enough to be labeled and mandated to treatment.  Only the intern was willing to see him.  Once his story was known, every other clinician’s opinion of working with him changed.  They suddenly saw the human being behind the disordered behaviors.  Even the cops started treating him differently (repeat offender).  I only heard short updates in team meetings, but I know he got off to a start on his healing.  The instincts motivating his actions were finally understood by those in his life trying to help. I hope he eventually made it through that dark time… but I digress.

I think we all need to look at others with a different lens.  We need to look at ourselves with a different lens… Understanding and love is the key to improving both society and ourselves.  I wish I could remember this at times when I perpetuate the negatives I internalized growing up.  I seem to have nearly unending patience and compassion for most others but I cannot seem to muster it for myself.

Oh, I also wanted to add a pic of the collage I did yesterday after session… I’m still trying to figure it all out myself, but I think I may like it.  wpid-20140131_130957.jpg

It was a nice vacation

It was so nice to get a change of pace.  I was actually able to ignore my phone for the most part.  We enjoyed the company of good friends. L got to see some of the stuff I really enjoyed about the island. It was a nice break. I kinda wish we had done more, but there’s only so much you can do in less than 48 hours… lots of cool pictures happened, and fun times catching up. Next time we focus less on the commercial areas and more on doing fun stuff.  I almost managed to get L to go parasailing, but fear took over.  She said she’d be more open to trying things next time. I’m holding her to that 😉

Yesterday was a day to get back into the groove of being home. I saw De for our usual weekly session, and I left again feeling like I did not say everything I had needed to say. It’s not that she didn’t give me the opportunity, it’s just that my censor was set to high.  There were also things that didn’t fully surface till later. So when we got home,  I decided to try more art. I ruined the re-do of the picture I was going to give her for the display. I will have to try it a third time… I also did a collage-type-thing that I’m sorta ok with. There’s other stuff I have in my head that I want to put down, but I have to figure out how to do it. Maybe that will be today’s project.

Oh, before I forget, the dog is doing better. She is passing the sand slowly, and nothing other than the iv fluids was needed. Huge sigh of relief!

going to an island for 2 days

L and I are so excited!  We are going on our first vacation in years tomorrow. It’s only 2 days, but it is a welcome change.  Not only are we getting out of the daily routing, but we are meeting up with our best couple friend from up north (we have not seen them in over a year).  It has taken someone’s visit to allow us to break free from our rut.  I’m not complaining though.  If it was not for them being down, we would likely have backed out due to lack of funds.  Anyway, that’s my round-about way of saying I probably wont post for a few days.  I hope to not pay too much attention to my phone while there.  We leave at 4am tomorrow, and hope to be down there by 8am.  Cross your fingers that we don’t hit much traffic along the way.  Island life here we come! 🙂

other stressors

One of the dogs decided to ingest a rather large amount of sand the other day.  It has caused at least a partial blockage for her, and she had spent the better part of yesterday at the vet getting fluids.  She is back there today.  We are all hoping that the fluids help her enough to not need any other care as we are way too broke for that.  Yesterday’s estimate landed at $700 just for tests and fluids.  We could only afford the IV (even that was $150 with the office charge).  I’m not sure what we can do if just getting rehydrated does not help her pass the sand.  X-rays to pinpoint the blockage would be $300, and blood work another $300.  Then if they find something that needs to be surgically removed, I’m sure we would be looking at a few thousand. We would not be able to afford even the fluids if it were not for my brother loaning us the use of his credit card.

I remember looking up some places to help with the financial cost of vet care when we found the puppy.  I think I remember seeing some place that had grants to help pay for emergency situations.  I will have to look that up again…  I know the dog is old, but she still has pep in her step.  I hate that tight finances can mean the end of a life.  :/

Aside: I think I know another component to why I can’t seem to listen anymore

Reading through my “reader” (or trying to), I was struck with the thought “I can’t read all this. There’s just too much going on inside my head to allow any of this to sink in!”  So I backed out of the reader.  I want to read other people’s blogs when I can devote enough brain-power to absorb what they are saying… I don’t like skimming just to pick out the main points (what I see as the main points).  I like to know that I can actually devote attention to soaking up all that is contained in the words (and between them).

My head is full and empty at the same time.  I know I have thoughts and ideas bouncing around in there, but they are going at a break-neck speed (or way too slow) and I cannot grasp them.  The more I try to focus on any one thing, the faster it escapes me.  We are going on a mini-vacation in a few days.  My head is working out the details because I want to make sure to show L all my favorite stops there. I know I need to re-do my drawing from the other day.  I have to shower and get ready for the day (I still smell like wood-smoke from the fire pit last night).  I want to listen to music and nap and… yeah.  too much, but at the same time too slow to actually do anything.  Part of me wants to talk to De more but I’m not sure why or about what.  I think it’s just that I had gotten into a groove of seeing her on Fridays.  I saw her yesterday though.

Anyway, my head is too full of things that spill over to really allow me to pay attention to any one thing at the moment.  I can manage to be still in De’s office.  I think I need to pull that out into the real world again.  I need to be able to be still within myself.  Don;t get me wrong, I’m not racing, but more of just overwhelmed with too much input (what’s the correct term for information coming from within? input doesn;t sound correct in this sense).

#11 – Shattered

So, De has been asking me if I have been thinking more about creating something for Sexual Assault Awareness Month coming up in April.  It’s been tough trying to find something I want to show off (even though my name will not be anywhere on the piece).  I’ve been throwing a few ideas around in my head, and none really “worked” until this one.  The execution of it is a bit off though, so I will be re-doing the piece.  It’s just the “practice” version of the image I will give to her to put up in their little display:

2014 100-Theme challenge #11) Shattered

11) Shattered (preliminary)

I had wanted to do the background in a red chalk, but the one I used was not covering correctly.  I tried to draw over it with the watercolor pencil, but it did not cover correctly over the chalk… There’s also some issues with the faces on both characters, so it’s just going to be a complete re-do.  I really need to work on my coloring technique too.  I wish I could figure it out better on  my own, but I suck at it.  I think my drawing skills are coming back with practice though.  Overall, I’m happy with this piece, it’s just little things that are not working correctly.  I think I will also stick to dry media for the coloring this time.  Any time I use water or something wet, it really warps the drawing.  If I had the correct paper for the watercolors things would look better.

Listening is a lost art

Globally, we have forgotten how to listen. On a smaller scale, my family has forgotten how to listen (did we ever even know?). Tonight was another night spent around the fire pit (with significantly less alcohol however). I watched and tried to listen as everyone attempted to out-compete everyone else (I admit I joined in a few times, desperately trying to find one thing I could be heard on). People were poised at the edge of their seats plotting the half millisecond of pause needed to throw out their next nugget before someone else snagged the spotlight. It went on for a few hours.  The more desperate the attempts to be heard, the louder the decibels. I know where I get my annoying habit of cutting people off.  It’s a culture here (globally and on a more micro scale). We are so bombarded with information and attempts at swaying our opinions (and wallets) that we lose the ability to listen, really listen, to what the other has to say.  We want to be heard (or at last be able to voice our thoughts and opinions) so we spend all our time thinking about what we will say next.  We comprehend only enough of the other’s message to speak a response.  We miss the totality of what they are saying. It’s more pronounced when there’s competition to have the “meatiest” nugget to which everyone clutches.  I know I participate in this more often since moving back in with my family.  My wife reminds me regularly how I keep cutting her off and not letting her finish her thought/story/anecdote. It’s not a bad thing though.  I want to be called out when I do it.  I hate when others do it to me, so I want to be made aware of when I do it to others. I want to remember how to listen. I want to remember how to participate fully in being there for another to hear them. I know I have a lot of issues around being heard. I think that is some of what drives this blog (and what makes therapy so rewarding and vital); I want my story heard.  I want my experience and my burden shared.  While De often says the healing does not come from the details and the telling, I’d like to counter that a huge amount of healing is tied in to being heard, especially if you spent your life being silenced (as most abuse survivors have). The experience of being heard is hugely powerful and affirming.  It reminds us that we are not, in fact, inconsequential. It tells us we are not alone…
Some of the worst days for me are ones in which I feel alone in my pain. I may be surrounded by bodies, but I carry what I do in solitude.  Part of that is learning/conditioning (“you can’t trust anyone else”, “people will always let you down”…) so I make every attempt to hide what’s happening.  But part of it is also the fact that people just don’t care to listen. Why bother wasting the little energy I have in trying to speak when it will only fall on deaf ears, ears that are too busy working-up a retort to really let sink-in the meaning of what I’m saying…
I need to learn how to listen. I used to know how to do that once, but I have since forgotten. Never underestimate the power of truly listening to another person. Stories need to be heard as much as they need to be told.

family fun times (no, seriously)

1604597_10152238872164892_2106478565_nWe don’t have visitors often here, so it’s really nice when someone comes to stay.  My brother and his wife are in town for the next 2 weeks, and he is staying with s for a few days while his wife visits her brother in another part of the state.  L and I are really happy that we get to see them.  We used to hang out when we lived up north, and it’s nice to hang out once again.  My brother is a really charismatic guy.  You would never guess at the level of social anxiety he faces when you see him laughing it up with friends.  People come out of the woodwork when he comes for a visit, and suddenly our house is the place to hang.  So last night we had an impromptu party.  Because my family pretty much revolves around alcohol, it ended up being a beer tasting party (one of my other guilty pleasures is writing a beer blog so I can keep track of the things we like and don’t like).  Needless to say, I had to take notes on everything we tried last night.  For me, that totaled about 10 beers tasted (and the equivalent of drinking a good 5-6 beers worth total).  To put that in perspective: I drink one, maybe two drinks at a time. Last night severely over-did it for me.  Today is being spent trying to re-hydrate and quell the monster head-ache threatening to blow up my brain.  It was fun though.  We had friends over that I have not seen in years, and it was a (mostly) chill night drinking, eating pizza, and watching the logs burn in the fire pit.  There were a few snags in the evening (3 of the 5 dogs managed to break leashes while hanging out with us – one a chain leash… and L had a bout of really cranky time for about 3 hours in the middle).  Overall however, it was a good time had by most.  I think we even inspired our neighbors to start a fire as they dragged out their pit and had a gathering also.

Anyway, it was nice to see people and nice to have a change of pace.  I don’t have much family that I see and enjoy hanging out with, but my brother and his wife are some.  It’s always nice when they come around.  🙂

giant, huge, enormous walls

I managed to sit for 5 minutes today (at L’s insistence and with the help of a timer).  I could not stop my mind from racing and jumping and just generally running amuck to escape trying to be still.  This lack of “stillness” is causing huge walls to barricade me from any progress in therapy.  When I try to sit and just “rest” without thinking of a million and one things, my head resists, and I don’t end up with much effort put forth in changing that.  I think I have grown lazy.  I just don’t put much effort into anything anymore.  I do what I want, when I want, and without much regard to anyone else.  It’s messing with me & L, and I’m sure it’s messing with me & mom.  I need to take a step back.  I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing with my life.  I need to step up and return to volunteering (at least it forced me to do something).   I need to stop being so selfish and self-absorbed.  And I need to stop running from myself.  The world will not come tumbling down if I stop running from whatever it is I’m afraid of facing.  I have supports, and I have resources (albeit not the best ones) for extra support if needed.  I just need to stop and breathe.  I need to not only remind myself of this, but also put it into practice.  I think I have inadvertently given myself permission to slack off way too much.  Time to kick things into gear again and start working.  I not only have a ton of work to do in therapy, I have a ton of other things to do as well (art, animal care, cleaning…).  Just because I don’t currently hold a paying job does not mean I can allow myself to continue to be this dead-beat wife.  Get off your fat, lazy ass and do something already.  Take the dogs for walks, clean the house, find the missing cat, work on training, work on art, try to find a part-time job.  Get over yourself and DO something! (just don’t crumble, coz then you are truly worthless).

oops… 5 minutes still hasn’t happened.

I have to admit, I didn’t try too hard last night to get in my 5 minutes of silence though I did think about trying it often.  Today I actually thought about it several times a day and tried it (though not for 5 minutes) while I was taking one fo the dogs out.  My world did not come crashing down on me, but I felt the cracks in the armor.  I feel as if giving myself that 5 minutes of silence will give the raging floods enough tenacity to break through my barricades.  I keep trying to remind myself that “just because it has happened in the past does not mean it has to happen again” (D used to say that to me all the time when I told him of my fears of relapse or crash).  De keeps trying to remind me that the worst is already over (the experience), but in my head, the experience is once again not the worst part.  The worst part is the re-living in flashbacks and intrusive memories.  Part of me knows that I can have more control over that if I make grounding and coping skills more “second nature” but the scared little kid in me believes otherwise.

1497646_10152234005319892_947075305_nAbout that scared little kid, I had written a kinda-story for De about him (her? in the story it was a boy).  I want to polish it up so I could share it here too, but I think I want to talk to her a bit about it first.  Also, the story is ever-evolving, as it is a reflection of my current journey with fear.  Even just writing this I am multi-tasking beyond belief.  I have one ear out for the story-line of Breaking Bad, I’m playing with the cat, I’m taking pictures of her, I’m thinking ahead to blog posts on my other blogs,I’m planning out stuff to do with my brother and his wife when they come to visit (they arrive in state tomorrow, and we will be hanging out on and off for the next 2 weeks.  I’m very excited), I’m planning a budget for our mini-vacation at the end of January… 1503227_10152234004194892_1347904778_nMy head just can’t focus on one thing at a time. I’m planning out art projects and re-writing the story about fear all at the same time.  I’m plotting how to nab one our out-door cats and bringing him inside (since he is now refusing to return home even every few days, forget about every night).  I cram my brain full of distractions just so I don’t have to think about (or risk thinking about) the things that make up my nightmares and tears… (oh, remind me to make a b-day card for our friend who we will be visiting while on the mini-vacation!)… I’m too scared of crashing.  De had pointed out that it’s quite a bit of all-or-nothing thinking: I’m either “ok” and totally distracted from my demons, or I’m falling apart with them.  My problem is that I have not yet experienced a middle-ground when it came to this stuff.  If I ever did sit with my demons for any length of time, I crumbled under their onslaught.  If I’m distracted, it’s just that: I’m distracted.  I need to learn that happy medium.  I know this “5 minutes of silence” is supposed to help that.  I just have to get past my initial fear to be able to truly give it a try. I’m going to make the effort though.  I’m going to work on taking time out from obsessing and cramming my brain full of distractions to just “be”.  I know I need it.

How do you motivate yourself to face your fears?  What do you  tell yourself that allows you to step up to them?  How do you stop running?1557529_10152233993189892_199519960_n

5 minutes

I’m supposed to take 5 minutes to just sit and “be”… today De and I talked about my desperate need to stay busy by obsessing over things.  She suggested I take some time to just sit  see what happens. I have yet to do that. She originally wanted me to take 5 minutes at least 3 times a day, but we agreed to start at just 5 minutes. If I can work up to 3 times a day by next session, great; but for now, it’s just one 5 minute session. Maybe before falling asleep I can squeeze it in. So here’s to 5 minutes of “silence” so I can try breaking past my walls…

The appropriateness of tears

I was journaling to De, and the topic of crying snuck its way in.  I don’t remember if I have talked about it here yet.  It’s not an easy thing for me (crying).  There has to be a really damn good reason to cry “legit” tears (not the ones that seem to spill uncontrollably from my eyes at random commercials or sappy stories, but tears that are backed by deeper emotion, tears that actually mean something or are connected to something).  It’s never appropriate in front of another human being.

Crying was not accepted growing up.  It was never soothed, only discouraged (and in some cases punished).  The only exception to this was when K died; then it was ok to legitimately cry (though only up until the funeral and burial in my recollection).  It wasn’t ok to cry for T though, “because he wasn’t real family” (G hated T and refused to consider him a relative because he “wasn’t blood”… I think love makes a family, not genetic material.  I will never consider Bitch family though she is my father’s biological sister).  T married K.  He was kind to her (mostly), and to us.  He will always be family to me and I have a right to cry when I miss him… But I digress. G never allowed crying.  Mom looks down on it also, though she was more consoling about it than G ever was.  Regardless, crying was like a sick day: hell froze over before it was allowed (or the school kicked us out because we were contagious).

Despite new learning and a cognitive understanding of the benefits of crying, I still have a lot of trouble allowing myself to cry in front of anyone else. That rarely happens.  It has taken me over a decade to learn to talk myself into crying when I need it, not just when it falls under the “ok” column set by my early experiences.  I have to have a drawn-out conversation with myself to convince that gate-keeper to let the tears fall.  Sometimes I can’t convince her to let go, but a few times every few years, I can actually manage to cry as an emotional release.  Most of the time, blood had taken the place of tears… I haven’t cut in months, but I haven’t cried either (except maybe twice in the ER or the hospital).  Tears tumble forth at stupid sappy stories, or emotional moments in movies, but there’s nothing really behind them.  It’s not a full-fledged cry, but just leaking eyes.  I wish I could bring myself to release through crying more often.  I think it might do me some good, but the keys needed to open that gate are stashed away somewhere “safe” from my prying.

One of the few things I remember from my childhood is a recurring nightmare.  I would be crying, and Skeletor would yell at me to stop.  He would tell me that if I didn’t stop right then, he would kill me.  He would grab me and physically threaten until the dream me stopped crying… I think the dream me, conditioned by Skeletor, is the gate-keeper to allowing the adult me to cry.  She’s terrified though, and repeats Skeletor’s words over and over again even when I try to tell her it’s ok to cry.

The other fear of crying comes from the fear of being overwhelmed by it.  If I start to cry, will I ever be able to stop?  I’m reminded of one day in 2007 when I cried hysterically for about 8 hours straight.  I would stop only long enough to catch my breath for a few seconds, then the choking sobs would start again.  I remember calling 211 because I hoped talking to someone would help me stop.  They sent out an ambulance without telling me and I was hospitalized (I cried hysterically the whole time until they drugged me up enough to put me to sleep for a few hours before they admitted me upstairs)… Kinda shitty experience.  Similar in “turn-off” factor as the Skeletor dream.

Anyway, I’m not really sure what the purpose of this post is… We all learn different things growing up (many of us learn really warped stuff), and it tends to affect us into adulthood even when we try our best to shake the lessons.  I look forward to the day that I can cry “as needed” without having to go through a 30 minute back-and-forth with the old tapes.

my brain feels like cold oatmeal that’s still a bit soggy…

I spent the day running around doing errands. It was really only supposed to be one errand, but it led to others that eventually stole the day away.

Original mission: get silicone lubricant for the pins in the new calipers (mom’s rear brakes were changed by your’s truly and mom & L on Saturday).

I grab one of the dogs (because he has way too much energy and he’s driving everyone nuts) and head out.  I decide to also stop at the pet store (to which I have a free $5), so bringing the dog makes sense.  Ok, quick trip to the auto parts store and the pet store.  I should be home in an hour… or so I thought.  Just a few lights shy of the auto parts store, my car flashes a warning at me saying that my oil levels are dangerously low and I need to turn my car off NOW.  I pull into the parking lot of said parts store and pick up a quart of oil, then ask the lady behind the desk if they have the lubricant I’m looking for.  She shakes her head, and sells me something 5 times as expensive.  I cringe, but go back to the car.  I toss the lubricant into the passenger seat and proceed to add quart of oil to my engine.  I check my dip stick only to find I’m still not registering.  Great.  I need an oil change anyway, so I call my preferred mechanic (15 minutes away) to make sure they have time to fit me in.  Yes.  I pop in the pet store along the way to get what I need (forgetting that the same chain has a store less than a mile past my mechanic on the way home… oh well).  I get what I need and the puppy and I head off to get the oil changed.  It takes 20 minutes to get there, then the puppy and I wait an hour for them to finish (meanwhile puppy starts chewing the furniture in the waiting room, so I take him for a quick walk down the street).  We return in time to pay and leave.  While there however, I had asked the mechanic what they used for the lubricant.  He tells me that the woman at the parts store sold me something that is pretty useless anywhere on the car but the calipers.  He suggests I check out another store for the right stuff.  I stop there on the way home to return the horrendously expensive lube I originally purchased, and pick up the “complete brake kit” they happen to have on sale for less than half the cost of the lube (packet of lube included as well as brake fluid and brake cleaner).  I have brake fluid at home, but if it means buying all three things for $2 more than the lube alone, I bite.  The puppy and I head for home.

Once home, the puppy is occupied with telling the other dogs of his adventures in the last few hours.  Mom, L and I head outside to “bleed” the brake fluid from the car.  Tire one done without a hitch.  I move on to tire 2 only to find that the caliper is spewing brake fluid all over the place (it’s pretty corrosive stuff once it touches air).  It has stripped the coating off the inside of mom’s tire hub, started to melt the rubber on the shocks, and is in the process of eating away at the first layer of anti-corrosive on the axle and rest of the brake assembly.  I have L call our “car” friend for tips.  We try a bunch of things only to find that the re-manufactured caliper I installed is defective.  Great.  I also ask him how to clean up the brake fluid from the rest of the car to avoid damage.  He says all I need is to spray it with some brake cleaner (serendipitously picked up earlier today) to neutralize it, then wipe the excess off.  Yay! one thing I can fix immediately.

I leave mom babysitting the car and tools outside while L and I go to exchange the caliper at the closest store.  When I get there, I am told they do not have any more in stock.  I am given the address to another “local” store that has the part.  L and I drive off (my car had mentioned I was low on fuel earlier this afternoon, but I had forgotten to stop at the time.  now she’s blinking and throwing up the “low fuel” warning again.  We make it to the next store.  I exchange the faulty caliper.  I also want to buy new brake line bolts for both the rear brakes.  This store only has one, but I can buy 2 and pick the second one up at another of their stores. Ok… I make the purchase and L and I are off again.  We drive to the 3rd auto parts store of the trip (my 5th for the day) to pick up the bolts.  It just so happens that we are now on the perfect heading for picking up fries at Five Guys and getting gas at the cheaper station. Yay!  We do all that and get home in time to see the car bathed in total darkness.  Brakes will have to be finished tomorrow I guess.  I had started my “quick” errands at noon today, and am finally home by 7pm… So much for doing anything else.

This continued trouble-shooting with car repairs has my brain turned to mush.  While it was a fun challenge at the start, I kinda just want to pull all my hair out at this point.  I would hand it off to someone else to finish if I knew of any such person.  Alas, I have no cash for a professional, and know no one in the area that could finish the job.   It lands all back on me, mom & L. Fun. (not).  HOPEFULLY there will be no more snags in the process and mom’s car will once again be driveable by tomorrow afternoon… I’m really hoping.

I have had plenty to help me distract though.  I have not yet once thought about the things De has wanted me to tackle this week (oops!), and my defenses remain in place.  I’m not really interested in having the conversation with L about my fears.  It all leaves me wondering why I am in therapy at the moment.  I think I am trying to run away from it all.  It’s scary stuff that I do not want to face, but know I have to face.  Maybe this week can be spent talking to De about some of the fears.  While I don’t necessarily have to talk to L about it, I could set up my session to focus on that and get somewhere with De on it.  I don’t want to give in to the fear that has had me give up every time so far.  It has always ended in disaster in the long run.  I want to finally push through my defenses and actually make progress with it all. I don’t want to let this trip me up again…  Maybe if I can finally get the brakes done tomorrow, I will have some brain power left to do some meaningful (expressive) art.  It’s not that the rest of my art is not meaningful, it’s just that lately it’s all been coloring or scribbling or meaningless doodles.  I want to be able to get some of this trapped stuff out at least through my creative side.  I hate that it’s all trapped in the sponge of my brain… It’s only going to grow moldy there until it gets too big for itself and spills out again.  Most of the “spillage” happens in violent and (physically & emotionally) traumatizing ways.  We all deserve better than that…

till the next water-logged-sponge blog, hope you all have a great night and a wonderful day!

It’s the little (big) things

I’m feeling somewhat accomplished today.  I was able to fix my mom’s brakes on her car.  It took seven hours, several trips to the parts store, and lots of muscling loose rusted-together parts, but she now has a new rear braking system (calipers, high-performance rotors & pads). Tomorrow’s goal is to make sure the fluids are set before anyone drives it (I ran out of daylight and energy). I didn’t think it possible, but she ran her brakes top to the point where even the metal backing to the pads had worn away… hopefully these will last longer for her. I made her spring for the performance grade because she drives like she was practicing for NASCAR. Next month will be her front brakes (I hope they don’t get as bad as these ones because these were a pain in the butt to fix). To her credit, she helped quite a lot, as did L. I couldn’t have done it without them. ♥

I also found a few ways to cut down on the light intensity of the fish tank (huge help as I will not have to DIY a freshwater LED set-up for it). I also found some really neat fish at a local store: green neon tetras. They pretty much have the same blue stripe as the red neons, but their accent is a green stripe, not red. Neon and cardinal tetras are some of my favorite community fish and I’m so psyched to find such a variety locally (there was none up north). Among the various stores in driving distance, I can find green, red, black, and yellow neon tetras, as well as several other tetra species. I’m in heaven 🙂 I will have to choose wisely though. I can only get one species of tetra (max 2) for this tank. And if I get 2 species, I can’t get any bottom-dwellers… it’s an ok trade-off in my book.

I got to spend time with family (we also have friends coming over tomorrow), learned a new skill, sold some unused stuff (empty gecko tanks), and figured out the lighting so I can get the plants and fish I want for this tank. A few months ago I would not have been able to accomplish all this in 2 days, let alone feel good about it. I’m really liking the ability to appreciate the smaller things in life. I hope it keeps up. I wish I knew what was behind it (well, I have a theory but it isn’t pretty). I would work towards this more often if I could (well, not if it’s because I put up walls around everything and it’s all just waiting to break through when I crack). I like the distance and the sunshine. I hope I can keep it up even when tackling the cruddy stuff that is hidden right now…

your daily moment of zen

Well, after looking forward really badly to seeing De today, my defenses were up and we talked about a whole lot of nothing.  I told her how I had basically just shut down after my disclosure to her back before the holidays.  She tried to get me thinking, but my brain was like a little kid not wanting to leave the beach – he dug his heels in and refused to budge.  Pictures of planning for my “new to me” fish tank came flying through my brain.  I told her, so we talked more about the fear of re-hashing things.  She emphasized again that the worst is behind me.  Still, all I could picture between visions of planting ideas for the tank was this scrawny little boy with huge dark circles under his eyes, digging his heels into the wet sand, and screaming in protest.  (I think that will end up being an art project).  Every time I saw him, fear coursed through me and “his” thinking of not wanting to go back to that abuse flashed through my head.  I told her about the idea of a kid digging their heels in and not wanting to go (in my head, I was pulling his arm and shoving him forward).  De reminded me to try walking him gently along the sand, staying on the wetter sand so our feet don’t burn.  I still wanted to shove him forward, and no amount of rationalizing that it would probably make him feel safer if I was more gentle worked to change the picture in my brain.  Maybe next week I’ll have worked up to coaxing him along instead of forcing him.  De seems to be ok just doing the “process” piece of things (talking about the feelings and the concept of talking or thinking about things).  She said we can work towards more content down the line.  This week, she wants me to try to talk to L about the fears and what talking about all this stuff to De would be like.  She doesn’t want me to worry about the details of things, but the emotions behind it (sometimes that can be scarier but I guess she is hoping L is a safe-enough person for me to start opening up to).  She also wants me to work up to maybe telling her (or expressing in some way) the stuff I had on my list to talk about but that I tabled for the time being.  She thinks it may be a good place to start.  I’m not sure how well I will be able to talk about it, it’s not something I really like to bring up because it tends to be a taboo topic in most cultures.  I guess I will give it a try throughout the week and see what comes of it.

20140109_170149_zpsypjw6zmeAnyway, after leaving De, I dragged L out to the pet store to get some plants for the above-mentioned tank.  I found 2 that I liked and was able to purchase.  I’m still looking for moss with which to cover the back wall, but these will do for now.  I’m not sure what the bottle-brush looking thing is, but I know the one with the broader leaves is a java fern.  I also have a waterlily bulb in there, and a red mangrove seed.  The waterlily bulb is from the canal out back, and the red mangrove seed is from the beach.  I split the bunch of the mystery plant into individual stalks, and I separated the 2 java ferns.  I hope they take root well and grow in nicely.  I’m hoping to get some christmas tree moss for the driftwood, and some other type of blanketing moss for the back wall.  I’m also thinking of making a “river” out of the blue gravel from Mighty Mouse’s (the betta) old tank.  I’m just not sure how well it will stay in place when I vacuum. (since originally writing this, I was reminded that java fern needs to have the rhizome in the light, so one is now tied to the front branch of the driftwood, and one is tied to a lava rock).

There’s a single betta and 10 ghost shrimp (oh, and the tiny snail that hitched a ride on the bottle-brush looking plant)

ugh! forgot to put an f-ing title

I don’t know… I’m cranky.  I got cranky all of a sudden, and for no reason.

Yesterday, I wanted to cry, but had no idea why.  Today I am cranky on top of wanting to cry over the stupidest things. Again, no insight as to why.  I could guess at a whole host of reasons, but I won’t.   I just feel like drinking.  Only problem is, if I drink, I have to drink one fo the big beers we bought to review for the blog.  That means that I then have to write out a thoughtful synopsis of my opinion.  I have no desire to do that right now (damn my “d” key keeps not registering that I strike it as I write. GRRR!).

I don’t know.  I have all this stuff built up inside, and I managed to ignore it for a few short weeks.  Now I see De again tomorrow and it’s all tumbling back at me.  I have financial obligations I just cannot meet (my account is already in the negatives 4 days after I got paid… and the next pay check is not until Feb…  I am trying to sell off some unused reptile tanks in hopes of gaining some money for our trip at the end of this month, but everyone seems to change their mind at the last-minute.  So now I went through all that work of emptying the tanks only to have them consume valuable garage space (at least in the reptile room, they had their space and it wasn’t so awkward).  The body memories are coming back for no discernible reason.  They make me want to demolish myself to get rid of them.  It’s all just way too uncomfortable.  L made dinner tonight, but there was no meat-less sauce left, and I just wanted to cry.  Then I got all excited about a dessert my mom made only to find out she made it differently than she normally does.  I wanted to cry even more.  WTF?!  I’m not supposed to be so moody right now.

This just all sucks.  I have no access to that happier state right now where I can rationalize everything and make myself feel better… maybe I should try some art.

quick and effective breathing exercise

I found this on a forum last night (or maybe it was this morning? I’m not 100% sure) and liked it a lot.

I learned this in a hospital so it is based on science and has to do with the vagal nerve which has a connection to the sympathetic nervous system, that fight or flight anxiety feeling.

So best to do this standing. Only 3 breaths so take your time. Open your mouth slightly and breathe deeply in through your nose. Pull the breath so the diaphragm goes as far down as possible. Visualize pulling it all the way into the pelvic floor and at the end when you can’t hold it any more, squeeze the pelvic muscles like a keegle.

Then slowly blow the air out through your mouth until you are almost not breathing. Then start a new in breath. Repeat 2 more times. Careful not to get dizzy. I don’t but some do. It is important to focus on the pelvic region and pull the breath down as deeply as possible. The vagal nerve ends at the pelvic floor and the muscles contracting help stop the panicky reaction.

I know breathing exercises are really helpful, but I tend to get frustrated with ones that are too long, or don’t work immediately.  From what others were saying on the forum, this one works really well and really quickly (seeing as you only have to do it 3 times).  I have not yet tried it myself, but I have not needed to as of yet.  I wanted to share it here not only for easy reference for later, but in case anyone else was looking for a quick and effective breathing exercise.

Grounding objects

A long time ago, I realized that certain objects helped me ground or de-stress.  As long as I can remember, I have always had a squishy toy, a small bean bag, a beanie baby (they are good for something other than collecting dust!!), a lavender eye pillow (the sound of the insides swooshing as I rotate it around my hands is incredibly calming, as is the lavender scent), spinning rings, things to meticulously shred, Tangle toys, objects of various different textures (I tend to prefer smooth & soft, but sometimes I go for rougher things), things to peel, etc.  Throughout college, I was known to hoard stress toys in my bag, at work, and in my dorm room.  I still carry at least 1, if not 5, stress objects with me daily.  Heck, even our wedding rings serve as stress objects (they are 3 interconnected rings that I can either take off to play with, or easily roll up and down my finger if I need my other hand for something like driving or writing).  I try to keep most things unobtrusive, as I’m supposed to be an adult now, and carrying around a beanie baby just gets me a whole bunch of weird looks (I rarely carry anything I cannot fit in my pockets, and lately they happen to be “girly jean” pockets, so space is at a premium).

I realized I have a piece of jewelry that I use quite a bit, but had no concept of it until I wound up at The Center (a dedicated Trauma Psych unit in DC).  They did a lot with creative expression and making tools to help ground.  One of the things I made while there was a “grounding bracelet”.  It’s pretty much a single enclosed loop of beads with an additional length of beads – long enough to wrap again around my wrist a second time.  When I have it on, it looks like a double-stand beaded bracelet.  If I need something to fidget with however, I can unwrap the long strand and play with it.  It’s really easy to make, and has come in handy when I need a way to ground or calm myself.  Some of the girls I had worked with in the past really liked the concept (though I never disclosed it’s purpose to them) of having something they could wear that they could also play with.  I remember one night sitting down with a handful of them and everyone making a bracelet.



To make a grounding bracelet you will need: (see also here)

  • thicker stretchy jewelry string
  • beads of your choice (I used glass beads but you can use any beads you like)
  1. cut a length of jewelry string long enough to wrap around your wrist twice, plus about 3 inches (to allow for knots and a length to tuck under the loop when not in use)
  2. tie a temporary knot at one end and string your beads (can also loop the string back through the bead so it stays in place while you add the others). Make sure you do not string them too tight because it will make the next step difficult. I used a larger bead at the loose end help keep it in place when not in use (doesn’t slide out as easily.  It is also a nice “focal bead” to fiddle with – slightly bumpy in texture for when I want to feel something a little more rough).  I used a variety of shapes and colors, but kept to colors I find soothing.  Some of the beads used to have a sand-blasted texture, but that has since worn off from too much fiddling.
  3. tie one end (without the large “end bead”) back onto the string so that you have the closed loop portion of the bracelet (once around your wrist). Make sure you tie a solid knot at both ends, but especially the loose end. Voila! You have a grounding bracelet!

To wear, simply slide the loop over your wrist, wrap the long portion around a second time, then tuck a length of it underneath the closed-loop portion of the bracelet.  I found mine slips loose if I only tuck it under once, so I loop it back onto itself again and tuck under a second time.  It looks just like any other piece of jewelry, but can double as a therapeutic tool when needed without advertising what it actually is.

wpid-PicsArt_1388899069631.jpgI also made a keychain there with similar intent.  It is a “tassel” of different glass beads attached to a larger bead on a silver ring.  There are about 5 or 6 different strings, each with different colors, textures, and shapes of beads.  I do not use it quite as often as the bracelet (it’s a bit bulky), but I carry it with me when I need extra choices for stress toys.  If I have my backpack with me, my current selection offering of stress relief is: 3 different scented lotions, a squishy ball, a sandalwood scented travel candle, a squeezable ghost, a tangle toy, my stress keychain, my iPod, silly putty, and a glass heart given to me by my first ever therapist.  When I’m feeling particularly vulnerable, Beary, my stuffed bear, will make her way into the bag.  If I only have pocket-space, then I take my heart, the candle, and my iPod. I have taken to wearing the bracelet daily regardless of space for other things to bring.  It has come in very handy while shopping (holiday crowds can be crazy!), in therapy, and any other time I need help reducing anxiety.  I even find myself playing with it randomly when there’s no anxiety or stress present.  I’m really glad I was given the opportunity to make it.

Does anyone else have a “portable stress kit” they use?  What’s in it? Do you find it helpful?

Friday Night on Repeat

I was organizing our art stuff and started playing the music on my phone in shuffle.  I hit Miranda Lambert’s “Over You” and it has gotten stuck on infinite repeat.  There are just some songs that are worth the incessant playing.  I’m not 100% sure what I like about it.  I think it’s a combination of the lyrics and the way she sings parts of it. There’s a desperation and… “something” in her voice at times that just triggers something in my brain.  It latches on and holds it.

The last few days have been ok.  I don’t think I wrote much recently, but that may be because a lot of effort is being exerted on visual expression.  I wish I was better at it, but I need to practice again to get back to my drawing level from several years ago.  It’s definitely something you lose if you don’t use… I’m also playing a lot with mediums I’ve never worked with (or did so only a very few times).  I really want to work more with water colors.  They have a feel to them that other paints can’t quite achieve.  I just seriously need more practice.  I would like to take a class, but we don’t really have the extra cash.  I could try learning on my own through videos, but there’s something about being able to ask questions that makes it work better for me. One day…

In the mean time, I will be fooling around with other random stuff.  There’s a lot I want to be able to put on paper, but I’m not quite sure how.  I guess it will take a lot of trial and error.

Random “weird” thought of the moment: I was getting gas and checking a stack of lottery tickets from the last few weeks.  The guy asked if I had felt lucky.  I responded with “No, life hates me…”  The woman at the next register said that I was still alive and breathing, so life must not hate me that much.  My automatic response was “Exactly! Life hates me.”  I didn’t realize what I had said until I saw the look on his face (combination of pity and disgust I think).  It wasn’t even like I have been depressed all that much lately.  I think all those years of living in the dark makes dark things a habit.  I’m not suicidal right now.  I have no desire to die right now.  I might even go so far as to say I have been “happy” lately (ok, maybe that’s more of just “disconnected and slightly hypo-manic” but since I don’t really have bipolar, I will just call it happy and disconnected).  The words just tumbled out of my mouth without me realizing.  I said them laughingly and with a smile on my face that had been there when I walked into the store… It’s weird how “habits” can carry through even the good times.

More for the 2014 100 Theme Challenge

I was messing around with water colors today. I have a LOT of practice to do before I’m reasonable versed in the techniques, but I think these came out ok. The first is a “practice” piece that came out better than the one on the intended painting…
55) Comfort


The next is the painting I wanted to have the dog in… It’s still in the works, as it’s bottom-heavy.  I need to figure out what to put on the top portion to make it feel more balanced.

60) Superpowers – there’s comfort in the dog’s protection and the wings and the bear.  There’s comfort in the blackness also.  It’s a place to hide and blend in to avoid attention.  Sometimes kids need superpowers to get through the darkness, even the inner kids.


Meditation via Nature

The other day, we went back to the Japanese gardens.  I have yet to do any of the prescribed meditations for the program, but I really enjoy wandering and finding interesting things to draw or photograph.  I took a few that I really liked this time around, and one in particular that speaks to me, but I can’t figure out what it is saying.  There’s just something hopeful about it: striving and reaching and… persevering.  

b&w tree

2014 100-Theme Challenge – 6) Reaching Up (out)

blog anonymity issues with gravatar profile and multiple blogs…

I have a few other blogs that I created after this one. One of the blogs, I would like to make more public with my friends and family as it is a fun blog of our adventures in beer.  I don’t really want to connect it to this blog however.  I was looking around and found that my gravatar profile has this as the main blog, so if I ever comment on something that is related to the beer blog, this one will show up.  I also do not want that blog showing up when I comment on something related to this one… Do any of you know a way to keep them completely separate from each other while still being able to post all from one spot?  I do not want to have to port that blog to another account simply for ease-of-posting reasons.  This one is certainly not going anywhere though.  I really would prefer to keep this one anonymous… The more I think of it, the more it’s looking like I will have to ask WordPress to move that blog to another account (if they can even do that)… anyone have problems like this before?  I really enjoy the ease of posting all from one spot.  I do not have to sign out and back in all the time either on my phone or on the computer.  I just don’t necessarily want this blog to lose its anonymity.  I wish I would have paid more attention to all that before I put so much effort into that blog from this account.  oops!

Ok, well, I solved that by transferring the blog completely.  It’s a pain in the butt for posting purposes, but I want to keep these separate.  If anyone has better ideas for accomplishing quick & easy posting while maintaining anonymity, please speak up!  😉

almost forgot to show you the card I made for L!

I was glancing back at my entries from the last 2 weeks and noticed that I forgot to show you the card I had made for L (that was the top-secret one).  I’m actually really pretty proud of it, though I have issues with the way the mouth came out…  Either way, she liked it a lot too, so here it is:



Cute, no?  I could have done a better job with the mistletoe, but whatever.  I like the little guy.