Gratitude week 12

1. And more compliments on my hair. This time I received them at the grocery store.

2. We haven’t killed each other yet, nor has the virus killed us. Seriously though, I am grateful for the health of family and friends. I hope you are in good health and good enough spirits under the circumstances we find ourselves in.

3. We finished one puzzle and still have 11 left to go before I run out. What a great time to renew an interest in old hobbies. I haven’t done a puzzle in years.

4. I am reading a good book and have 2 more left before I run out.

5. I’m grateful that my husband is willing to do a lot of the cooking since he is a better cook than I am.

6. We have enough food to eat.

7. I am thankful to be an introvert in this time of isolation and solitude. I am not alone since my family is home more.

8. I am grateful for the start of spring. Although it is pretty cold outside, it is not as cold as it would be in the dead of winter. It is a little easier to run outside than it would be in January.

9. After struggling with insomnia nearly every night for the past couple months, I am thankful I was able to sleep well twice this past week.

10. I am thankful for a cat that snuggles at my feet every morning while I drink my coffee. Time to get in touch with the simpler things.

Gratitude week 10

  1. Tomorrow my daughter will be home for the week for spring break. It will be the most time I’ve spent with her since last summer.
  2.  I’ve felt more relaxed and at peace this week than I’ve had in months after my therapy session. For a few days I felt like a normal person.
  3.  I got my hair cut.
  4.  I went out Thursday night with a new friend I think may end up being a good friend.
  5.  I am grateful for the warmer weather and sunny days.
  6.  In less than two weeks we will be on our way to Florida.
  7.  Last night I slept a full five hours. I have been dealing with insomnia for the past month and want to see if I change things up a bit I could sleep. My goal is to sleep 8 hours without waking maybe once or twice this week.
  8.  I am thankful that my husband is making his homemade pizza for me tonight. I’m grateful to have a partner willing to share life’s responsibilities.
  9.  I am grateful for time to spend reading this week. I finished Childhood Disrupted and The Orphan’s Tale. I’ve finally started making a dent in the books sitting on my to read pile for a year.
  10.  I’m grateful my mom found a new group of friends at the new church she is going to.

Losing my reality

I felt good for about a half a day this week. I told my husband to enjoy it while it lasts.

It’s been a rough last couple of weeks. It’s that time of year again where I am reminded of the anniversaries of the deaths of three loved ones. I especially remember my grandma who seems so far removed from me now that it is hard to believe she even existed.

In this past week I’ve heard about the deaths of the wife of a friend and the daughter of an acquaintance. Both died unexpectedly, tragically. They were both young, upper 20’s and lower 30’s. They both left behind families, very young children.

Then there was an acquaintance this week who told everyone via Facebook he was going to stop kidney dialysis. He is in his 30’s, had a failed transplant, has no family, and can barely make ends meet because of this. I have to question, is it suicide? I want him to want to live, but would I make a different choice in his circumstances?

Death is in the air and the sorrow of it is making me sad. So I gladly breathed in a reprieve from the anxiety I was feeling if but for a few hours. I thought just maybe I would sleep for the night but to no avail. It’s been almost 3 weeks now since I slept a full night. The exhaustion of it is almost relaxing to me.

I can’t relax. Depression is the closest thing to relaxing I do. My body resists all attempts to relax me. I sometimes wonder if local anesthesia doesn’t work for me because my body literally fights off all attempts of relaxation. Maybe it is just a crazy thought.

I was in hypervigilant mode for two weeks. It was awful. One day my daughter came up behind me unaware to hug me. I freaked out and screamed at her to get away from me. Later I talked to her in a general way about the trauma I experienced as a child and explained to her how startled I was by her unexpected touch. Even my husband tried to comfort me by touch and I told him not to touch me.

I tried to explain to my daughter why I had a hard time with touch and she got mad at me. She told me I was overexagerating and that her life is just as hard as my life was. I tried to give her the kind of life I wanted as a child and it is painful to hear her say that. It’s hard to have compassion for the trivial things.

Sometimes my autistic brother would attack us while we were sleeping. Is it any wonder that I cannot find sleep? My brother beat me on the daily and I was not protected or comforted.

Being physically abused wasn’t the worst. Even my dad’s verbal abuse wasn’t that bad. Being called stupid frequently didn’t end my world. What really hurt was the psychological terror. My dad seemed to have this innate ability to know what our deepest fears were. When we were little he would force us to do things we were afraid of. Then he would laugh at us when we showed fear.

My dad would torment us in the presence of our siblings. We weren’t allowed to be angry or cry, then we would get it worse. In fact, the more we laughed and taunted our frightened sibling, the better it would be for us. Compassion or kindness was punished.

We were terrified of my dad. My dad was especially abusive when our mom was not around. I don’t even think she knew about most of the abuse. At best, he would ignore us and watch TV. Sometimes my mom threatened to leave my dad. We were so terrified of being alone with my dad that it was my brother Mark’s job to beg her not to leave.

I built this wall of strength around myself. My dad robbed me of compassion, tears, and anything perceived as weakness. I can do anger, but I cannot cry. My mom cried and  was too weak to stand up to my dad or my violent brother.

But yet I am weak, yet I am vulnerable. In the whole healing process, I’ve lost a part of my knowledge of normal and real. Is this normal or is this normal to me? Am I not safe or do I just think I am not safe? Am I reading people right?

For example, I told you about the old man at the gym who complimented me on my running and looks. Perhaps it is creepy, perhaps he is just a lonely old man. He seems to know my patterns now. I saw him watch me when I was in my exercise class. When I am running, he gets on the treadmill next to me and starts talking to me.

I always wanted a dad who paid attention to me. I am starving for that. I am so hungry I might ingest things that aren’t safe for me to take in. Because of my hunger I reach for anything offered and I seem to no longer be able to distinguish if it is good for me.

I’ve seem to have lost some of my discernment.

That’s probably why I wasn’t prepared for what happened next…

 

 

PMSing during the full moon

Yeah, if the title doesn’t say it all…it’s been a rough week.

It all started earlier this week. My daughter Arabella and our foreign exchange student Estelle got into their first huge fight. I could tell they were angry, but my daughter wouldn’t say anything and Estelle simply muttered that my daughter has issues as she stomped off to her room to go to bed.

The next morning they didn’t talk to each other, but spewed their hatred towards each other onto me. What is going on?

Later that morning Estelle texted me, we need to talk. My stomach dropped. The worst case scenarios painted their way through my head. Bang, triggered! Maybe my daughter smacked her one. My daughter just applied to be a foreign exchange student at Estelle’s house. Maybe they no longer wanted her there. Maybe Estelle no longer wanted to be with us. How was I ever going to fix this?

The negative energy was so intense like a couple warring black cats hissing and sending their razor sharp claws down the chalkboard while howling at the moon.

My anxiety went through the roof. I just wanted my depression to come back. Please stop.

The insomnia and nightmares are back. I awake at every little noise. When I do sleep, I wake up crying from the nightmares. I feel like a super caffeinated zombie. Anxiety on steroids. Tired, but on high alert. Restless. Fidgety. Exhausted.

The ringing of my phone startles me. I turn my ringer off. I’m afraid that someone is at the door, but no one is there. My skin crawls. I feel like I am being watched, but no one is there. Sometimes I turn around fast just to make sure. My back is better against the wall where I can see the whole room in case of an attack.

I startle as my husband placed his hand in consolation on my back. I jump not sure whether to fight or scream. Don’t touch me. Is there danger? Is there someone there who shouldn’t be? I know it is not rational, but I can’t stop feeling anxious.

I have to take my mind off of things. Is that picture crooked on the wall? No, a half an inch too high on the left. Is it centered properly? Is that a fingerprint on the glass? Is that dust? Is that dirt?

Estelle comes home and wants to spend the evening at her friend’s house on a school night. She doesn’t want to be here anymore. Maybe she will leave us? The girls still fight. They hate each other. Maybe it was a bad idea to take two extra teenagers into our house.

The next morning I miss a call from the school. Oh my, maybe the girls fought it out in their one class together. Culinary arts. Pots and pans hitting each other over the head. A knife fight, perhaps? Suspended. Expelled. Sent home. I feel like I am going to throw up.

Nope. Estelle comes home, bad cramps.

I told the girls separately they need to work through the issues they were having together. Then I left to run errands. When I came back, the girls were laughing and hugging each other. Sisters. The love and the hate. Fighting over friends. One blocking the other on their socials. No big deal but fighting like it was the end of the world.

But me, triggered, stressed out for days not even sure why. The minute my therapist saw me yesterday she knew I was not myself. She said if she didn’t think I had PTSD before she can certainly say I have it now. The conflict between the girls triggered me. In my house growing up, all of that negative intense energy meant someone was going to get hurt. It’s almost as if it triggered the fear response before the violence occurred and I got stuck there.

I felt a lot better after my appointment. I had a nice chat with the girls about PMS. Their fighting, their moodiness, their ability to fly from tears to laughter yet back again within a few seconds. Guys, sorry but hormones suck!

My mind goes haywire this time of month. I feel things more. EVERYTHING hurts. My skin itches. It is easier to be triggered. Everything comes out of my mouth in anger with what to me sounds like normal words. Anxiety. Irritation. Anger. Depression. PTSD. Oh my gosh, stay away!! Warning. I am totally crazy! This month so much worse than others.

PMS? The full moon? Fighting. Screeching. Scratching. Screaming. Howling. It’s a good thing my words don’t speak.

Breathwork

Last week I started deep breathing therapy.

I have been a lifelong member of the insomnia and nightmare club. What I didn’t tell you, when I am really stressed out I also grind my teeth at night. Some mornings I awake with the insides of my cheeks all bit up and sometimes also have canker sores in my mouth. I hold my mouth tight and am somewhat surprised I haven’t yet developed TMJ.

My therapist was rather shocked with my insomnia that I don’t awake when I chew myself up. I guess I never thought about that before. How do I sleep through causing myself pain?

So we decided to try something new. With this therapy, I laid down on a massage type table without my shoes on. I also had on an eye mask and kept my eyes closed. I covered with a blanket. I was told to breathe deep in a circular pattern with my diaphragm. Every breath in caused my stomach to rise.

My therapist asked me to imagine my grandma standing at my feet holding a multi-colored ball. I needed to visualize the color moving up to the top of my head from my feet.

My therapist asked me what I was doing and how old I am. I told her that I am 3 or 4. I am looking at the books in the basket up north. I am coloring. I am coloring the book that has the pictures of the ladies with the long cigarettes from the Virginia Slims ad. The book is tall and narrow with glamorous women smoking cigarettes. I am getting crayons from the chocolate tin they are stored in. I am playing with dolls. I am filling up a bright turquoise container with lake water.

Do I feel tension in any part of my body? Yes, my shoulders. What do you want to do? I want to push it out, I want to fight. The therapist puts a pillow over my hands and I push as hard as I can against her. I am afraid to hurt her because I am very strong.

Where do you feel the tension now? I feel it everywhere. I feel trapped like I am being buried alive. Every year the weight is getting heavier and it pushes me down. The little girl trapped in the coffin is sinking deeper and deeper with each passing year. She can’t get out and feels sad.

What does the little girl want? She wants to color. She has been trapped in the dark for so long. She tells herself she likes it there. But she tells herself that because the darkness is all she can see and all she thinks she will ever see as she sinks further away from herself. She wants to see all the colors again.

That night she goes home and colors. Coloring is fun. She colors the house pink. The things she finds scary, she colors black so she can’t see it anymore. But everything else is in brilliant unusual shades, like the sky is green and the grass is blue. Pretending is fun.

For two nights afterward she is able to sleep deeply.

My logical mind tells me this is all hokey. But my inner child has been trapped in the dark for so long she just wanted to see if it was safe to come out and play.

The whole me

What does the whole healed version of me look like?

  •  Sleeps restfully without insomnia or nightmares.
  •  Does not let the bad choices of others affect me!!!!!!!!
  •  Energetic without anxiety.
  •  Quieted inner critic.
  •  Healthy, no more gut issues.
  •  Does not excessively worry.
  •  Relaxed, not always on alert for danger.
  •  Peaceful. Serenity. Tranquility.
  •  Wisdom to help self and others.
  •  Joyful despite circumstances.
  •  Able to feel and express feelings.
  •  Sets boundaries.
  •  Less black and white/all or nothing thinking.
  •  Able to admit faults, tolerant of imperfection in self and others.
  •  No longer tries to fix/control others.
  •  Unconditional positive regard.
  •  Works on relationships/trust issues.
  •  Funloving.
  •  Gratitude for what I have.
  •  Be able to see the best in others.
  •  Trusting, but not gullible.
  •  Takes better care of myself.
  •  No suicidal thoughts.
  •  Able to depart from a routine without stressing out.
  •  Able to enjoy accomplishments.
  •  Not let the past dictate my future.
  •  Not be triggered so easily by everyday things.
  •  No delayed processing of feelings.
  •  Work less, play more.
  •  Decisiveness.
  •  Saying ‘no’ more to things I don’t want and ‘yes’ more to what I want.
  •  Not being afraid to speak my mind or stick up for myself.
  •  Be honest.
  •  Embrace both my strengths and weaknesses.
  •  Appreciate everything I’ve been through and allow it to be an inspiration for the      healing of others.
  •  Deeper meaningful relationships.
  •  Being willing to listen even if I have to set aside my to-do list.
  •  Be patient with myself during the healing process even if progress is slower than I’d like.
  •  Get out of survival mode.
  •  Let go of things not worth holding onto.

Well, I think this is a good start…..

Trust in healing

Last week I had a follow up appointment with my wellness nurse. Since my last appointment, my acid re-flux went away. I’m attributing it to avoiding the foods I am allergic to. However, other symptoms did not go away which the nurse thinks are stress related.

I went into the wellness appointment thinking I was going to start a 30 day detox diet. Incidentally, our church is starting the new year off with a short period of prayer and fasting. I decided not to participate because with the detox diet I was already going to have to give up a lot more foods in addition to coffee and alcohol. I already gave up my favorite foods last year. What more was there to give up? It would be like giving up meat for Lent if I was a vegetarian. What’s the point?

At my appointment, the nurse decided I was not ready for the detox diet. I decided not to participate in fasting anyway, which is unlike me. You see, I am really good at denying myself things. In fact, I excel at it. I could probably go a week without eating, whip myself, and finish the week off with a marathon.

Self-discipline and pain come easy for me. What is really hard for me is trusting, allowing myself joy, and accepting love. For most people it is the other way around. But I did what I had to do to survive and I got used to living there.

I’ve never really felt God’s love. I don’t feel his joy and peace in my life. Everyone says that I need to pray more, read my Bible more, and forgive. I do all of those things and feel nothing. I have to believe more and have more faith. Guess what? Still nothing. So I am asking God for a specific sign to see if he really loves me.

If God loves me why didn’t he protect me from the things that happened to me? It’s hard to trust God. It’s easier to trust me. I was the only one I could rely on.

In the meantime, the wellness nurse put me on St. John’s Wort and CBD oil among other things. If my body can be calmed in the next couple of months, I can start the detox diet. Then after that, I can have my allergies retested after I wipe the slate clean.

I can’t stress enough the importance of seeking therapy and a wellness program especially if you experienced childhood trauma. Myself, I fought this for a long time. I figured if I survived without anyone’s help, then certainly I don’t need help now when my life is going good. I justified having insomnia more than restful nights and nightmares more than dreams was normal for me. None of my symptoms were normal, yet nothing was ever wrong with me.

If you have lived through childhood trauma, it can be very frustrating if you are trying to heal. There are not going to be a lot of people who can relate. Well meaning people may at times make you feel worse. Perhaps you have trust issues that people say you should somehow just get over. That happened years ago, let go of it and get on with your life. I wish I could. Every time I try to outrun it, it haunts me more.

Some people have told me I should be happy for all the blessings in my life. This only makes me feel worse. I see my blessings but something prevents me from feeling the joy. Then I feel guilty because the outer things don’t make the inner me happy.

Is this all there is for me? Am I only going to be able to see my blessings by pressing my face against the smeared glass window of this zoo I am caged in? Or will I be able to somehow some day touch it? Feel it?

Sometimes I feel blamed for not being able to get over the things that happened to me. It’s incredibly hard to ask for help or trust others (even God) to guide me in this healing process. It’s hard not to feel frustration that the progress is very slow. I wish I didn’t have to fight so hard to be healthy.

I feel like an 80 year old wise woman and 5 year old little girl are living in my body simultaneously. Thankfully, the wise old woman is able to filter out comments that are hurtful and realize that people are only trying to help. But the 5 year old is scared and I can’t get her to stop crying.

I finished my book!!

Last night I finished my book, my life story. It stirred within me many mixed emotions. I felt like I was covered in a blanket of deep sorrow, yet at the same time I felt joy. It’s been a journey of remembering and releasing in words previously unexpressed.

Last night I sent my book to two test readers, a friend who is an author and a friend that is a child psychologist who works specifically with autistic children. I also sent a copy to my therapist. After I receive feedback, I will edit my book again. Then I want to send my book to my husband, my daughter Angel, my son Alex, and my brother Luke. After that, I am going to find a publisher. Then I will share it with you.

Perhaps this will start the healing process, perhaps not.

I figure if I can do some really difficult things (like running a 50k or writing a book revealing my trauma), then I probably can figure out a way to do something almost everyone can do. Relax. Heal. Let go.

I have been working with my therapist on brainspotting. I shared my first session with you and that was a very positive experience. After that session, things took a dark turn. I have been releasing all of the negative garbage I’ve been holding inside. It stinks! I’ve been working hard on trying to express my feelings. It has been painful, yet beneficial. Through this process, my lifelong struggle with insomnia and nightmares has gone away.

For a long time, I understood myself. I know what triggers my depression and anxiety. I understand the attacks of my trauma on my well being. But I’ve never known what to do about it. Visiting a therapist is taking the next step. Self-awareness is important, but it isn’t a catalyst for change.

I’m trying to give up control. It’s not like I had any in the first place. Just like being a clean freak never seems to make the dirt go away. Being a control freak doesn’t give peace and serenity to the voice that cries out for it. Worry is a waste of time. It doesn’t bring me peace.

I am trying to figure out who I really am. For most of my life I lived in survival mode. Now who am I? The person I needed to be to survive? Or who I really am? It’s hard to be myself if I don’t know who I really am. It’s a new time for self-discovery and growth. I want to fully experience my purpose in life.

I started meditating. Maybe I will try yoga. I always burned my anxiety off by hard workouts at the gym. This is how I process my anger. I am going to keep this, but add to it by including relaxation exercises.

I am going to read a Bible verse a day. This will incorporate inspiration for spiritual healing and growth. I want to trust God more. I also want to trust the people that care about me even if it means I might get hurt. I want to cultivate meaningful relationships. I want to cut off unhealthy relationships altogether, and if I can’t then I’ll set healthy boundaries.

I also started visiting a wellness clinic for physical healing of my body. My nervous system took a big hit from the long term stress. I suffered from stomach and GI issues my whole life. I’ve been working on avoiding the foods I am sensitive to and rebuilding my gut for optimal physical health.

If I can train my body for a 50k, I can train my body for growth and healing. My book is done, but I will never stop writing. The story hasn’t ended yet. The best is yet to come.

Update

It seems like I am blogging less and less. This is not what I want, but there are a lot of things that I don’t want happening right now.

Last week went by in a blur. It’s been a whole week since the salvage yard came by and picked up not one but two of my son’s cars. One has been dead for a long time, the other was at the mechanics half the summer and was deemed unfixable. The little bit of money we got for them was gone the same day because the dryer broke later that afternoon. Tuesday the dryer was repaired. Wednesday I dropped a weight on my foot at strength training class. Thursday I woke up to a flat tire on my car. The mechanic was throwing a customer appreciation party when I got there. I am suspicious that they were throwing it because my son’s car was towed out of there never to be seen again.

It’s a sad time here. The boats are coming out of the water this week for the winter. Last week was brutal. We got tons of rain and broke the record for the wettest year ever recorded in history. We still have 3 months of rainfall left on the year. It was a rough summer. A lot of people had to change plans because of all the flooding and rain. We only had around 6 weeks of warm weather. So we have to go into the dark days feeling like we didn’t have much of a summer this year.

I haven’t been feeling well. I think I am still anemic. I don’t have much endurance at all anymore. I’m still having insomnia and nightmares. Pretty much everything I eat goes right through me. I feel nausea and acid re-flux every day. I’ve been sticking to my diet too. I haven’t had dairy for 6 weeks and avoided all of foods I am sensitive to for 2 weeks.

It’s been killing me to watch my friends drink beer and eat pizza while I can only have the salad bar. A salad without cheese, eggs, tomatoes, and dressing. Plus I still feel sick. Some days I can barely eat I am so miserable. There is nothing I can eat that I want to eat anyway.

It’s been emotionally challenging being on a special diet too. I feel like an outsider looking in. I feel lonely and left out. I don’t want to go out to eat. I don’t know what to make for supper anymore. It kills me to make and serve dishes I can’t eat. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I actually felt better. It’s been dragging me down. I’ve been having a hard time with this. I feel so angry and impatient with myself for feeling sick. But it is important to keep to my regular routine whether I feel up to it or not. I haven’t cancelled any plans, although some days I don’t feel like getting out of bed. Friends and strangers alike have been coming up to me and ask me if I am alright. I hate feeling weak.

The good news is that tomorrow I have an appointment set up with a health and wellness doctor. Maybe I can get my body back on track again.

Other than that, I have been doing a lot of running around now that my son doesn’t have a car. I have 4 teenagers in the house. In the morning I drop the girls off at school then come back to take my son and his friend to work. He practically lives here too. Then this afternoon I dropped my daughter off at work, picked my son and his friend up from work, and picked our foreign exchange student up from after school sports. Plus I went grocery shopping, have to make supper, clean up afterwards, and then go pick my daughter up from work.

Every day is a variation of picking and dropping off kids. I feel very busy but like I don’t get anything important done. It’s been frustrating and I feel like blogging has been the last thing on the long list lately. I am going to try to blog more and be more positive. We’ll see what happens.

Finding the key

I had a visit with my counselor to try brainspotting as an attempt to heal from the trauma I’ve experienced in my life.

I wanted to tell you about it before I forgot. It was a strange, almost mystical experience. My counselor asked me to bring in an item that would remind me of something tragic. I talked about the experience and then she had me follow a pointer with my eyes until I felt the strongest amount of emotion. I also had to focus on a part of my body that I felt that emotion in. I picked my stomach, because when doesn’t it hurt?

I was asked to visualize the negative emotions leaving my body. I thought of my grandma, that she was with me although she has been gone over 10 years now. I imagined blue birds taking the negative emotions from the top of my head from my straw like hair. Later I imagined that all of the negative emotions and pain that I experienced were worms that spilled out of my mind to feed the birds.

There was a great outpouring that the birds carried away, then later balloons came to assist the birds. I told my counselor that it felt weird. I was very skeptical and thought it was rather stupid at first. I am a very logical person, structured and rigid. There is no room in my mind for fantasy, make believe, imagination, playfulness, and magic. My world is not sparkly, it is black and white. My counselor said that is how I dealt with the trauma in my life.

After the appointment, I felt a sense of peacefulness that I can’t remember experiencing before. I did feel some brief intense anxiety that the birds flew in and took away. I slept for threes nights in a row without insomnia or nightmares. I even slept through a storm. I can’t remember how long it has been that I slept for three nights in a row without insomnia or nightmares. It was amazing.

But then it went away. The sadness settled back into my mind. Every time the balloons wanted to carry it away, the birds popped the balloons with their sharp beaks. Then the insomnia and nightmares came back.

There were two other times after that when I felt like the birds were taking out the worms and decay, on my first run after the 50k and when I was getting a massage.

Now, several weeks later, I am on lock down. The rational and logical part of my brain took back control. It is all rules and structure. There aren’t any feelings, good nor bad. I am back home where I feel safe.

But now I know there is another world of childlike wonder locked away somewhere in my mind. There is hope that one day I will once again be able to find the key to peace and serenity.