PTSD,”Breakthroughs”, and random musings (journal entry)

It’s difficult to know sometimes where we are on our healing journeys. I can only assume that it is still fairly early in mine. (“We’re just getting started” were the words my counselor recently used.) These are random musings and journal entries, so this may or may not be interesting. I don’t know how easy to relate to it is.

The details of abuse and misfortunes from my earliest years are (fortunately) not the content of this post. Therapy has been the first real experience that I have known of feeling on the receiving end of validation. I have no way to know what the future holds with my current partner, but he is definitely one of the blessings to count in this life. Feeling validated has allowed a softening of the edges around the isolation from misfortune. It’s becoming easier to see struggles, injustices, and plights as human universals.

There is a fine line between wanting to leave the past behind (make some kind of peace) in a healthy way and the alternatives to this. One alternative is to be cruel to ourselves when we “fail” to “just let it go”. Another way is the wounded mentality that we can use (consciously or unconsciously) as a means to control others . Using our wounds in this way is what Carolyn Myss calls “social currency”. Yet another alternative is complete resistance and thus complete denial. The healing process seems like a delicate art and a science. How do we move on in the healthiest way possible? I still don’t have this answer.

Sometimes I wonder if other survivors of hideous things are unfairly perceived as “negative”. The truth is that many survivors must have an unbelievable, unique optimism that hides behind the traumas.  One aspires towards positive thinking. Some of us just can’t seem to accomplish that as well as others. We then feel judged. We judge ourselves. Now, positive thinking has backfired as another “failure” that we didn’t do right. It is important to have self-compassion and to aspire towards positive thinking with a gentle attitude.

It is a strange feeling to feel hopeless for months or years on end. Fear, depression, shame (about mistakes made), fury (about injustices), anxiety, exhaustion, and feeling shattered become intimate companions. Sometimes one feels defective or worthless.

It is strange to start experiencing glimmers of hope after such a long, dark night of the soul. There is a cycle that a person can get entrapped in. It has to do with holding on to our wounds. It is the proverbial catch 22. “I wouldn’t keep looking at the painful things in the past if things were working out now or if the future looked hopeful.” Fear becomes paralysis. The constant remembrance of the painful past (which has created a painful present and a scary future) keeps one stuck. I have known this cycle for too long and sometimes it feels like one definition of insanity.

Things have started to shift. They are nowhere near perfect. A new hopeful feeling is quite a breath of fresh air. (This hopefulness is just a small dose but a little hope is better than no hope.)

Feeling validated is a foreign feeling. It is a foreign and refreshing feeling to have a true partner. It’s strange being with someone who is unconditionally loving and someone who isn’t just another “taker”.

So, there is a glimmer of hope for this life. It’s even possible that someday hope will grow bigger. Maybe I will get to see some amazing places in this world or have a dream or two come true sometime in this life. It’s becoming easier to focus on the present and future with hope and faith.  It’s starting to feel believable that I have the power to improve and heal so many things. I can be better in my relationships. I can feel less anxiety about the future. Maybe I could even complain less and count more blessings.

It is so strange to hold on to wounds and not know how to let them go. I start to think about the importance of self-compassion and self-love. It occurs to me that it is scary to let go of the inner critic. If I don’t catch all of the ways that I am horrible first, I will somehow become a worse person and be blindsided. I don’t really know what self love is. I don’t believe that it is completely absent. There just isn’t very much at all. I start to ponder love. I wonder if loving oneself unconditionally is like the decision we commit to when we choose to love another unconditionally. I start to wonder if we are supposed to figure out our own love language and then speak that language to ourselves by showing ourselves love. It only gets in on one track. I google “how to love yourself”. I wonder if it is even possible when you are almost 40 years old.

It occurs to me that this is one of the demons that might never be slayed. I realize that I can heal to a point. I can improve so many things. I can make a better life. So, there are things to be thankful for. There is hope. The reality is still that some things may be a lifelong battle. Some of these demons may be lifelong companions; they will stay until my last day. There is long-lost or newfound hope, but today there is no escaping being quite weepy..

 

 

Advertisements

(Child Abuse) To the evil, scary monster: I love you too

The scary, evil demon speaks,

“I love you” He says.

She knows and fears what will

happen

The memories.

“Everyone loves their parents.”

She must be a monster then.

Humiliated. Made Wrong. Put to shame.

Memories.

First memories ever in this life.

Being terrified. Physically unsafe. Hurt.

Belittled. Injured. Needing Compassion

and Safety.

Finding terror.

He hits her. Screams at her.

Gives her more reasons to cry.

Stories.

Even before earliest memories.

Told that he did things to her. These things which made  her cry for hours.

Such things happen every day in this world. To children. Toddlers, babies, infants.

“Parent”, “Protector” is the tyrant, the demon, the content of young nightmares.

Now. Early childhood.

Counts the days.

Counts the hours until the

evil scary monster goes on his next business trip.

She wonders,

How cold is she?

She can’t remember loving him.

Never.

The scary, evil demon speaks,

“I love you” He says.

She knows and fears what will

happen if she doesn’t lie.

She isn’t allowed to lie.

She isn’t allowed to speak the truth.

There is no safe place.

Frozen in petrified fear. There is nowhere to run or hide.

There is no escape.

She turns to the evil, scary monster.

“I love you too.”

Sorrow’s Birdsong (concise version 2)

by Winston and by Autumn
Can one fly far from the pain and the past?
Is sorrow too faithful and one thing that lasts?

by Winston and by Autumn

Sorrow’s Birdsong (Concise version 2)

Can one fly far from the pain and the past?

Is sorrow too faithful and one thing that lasts?

Only a sharp knife meant to cut deep

Is this the one promise that life does keep?

A broken wing; A shattered heart.

Beyond or within this life….

Where is the new start?

Musings on Mental Health Stigma,Projection,and Compassion

The stigma around mental health still has a long way to go even though it has definitely been improving. I am so thankful that the internet has been able to connect people who share similar struggles. (This extends further to all aspects of health, rare disorders, universal struggles that don’t feel universal, etc). I truly believe that it has helped people to feel less isolated and less alone. It has undoubtedly saved lives. It has also helped alleviate the stigma.

I feel like a  compassionate person. I don’t like to admit the next thing that I am going to say. I have disorders. I’d rather not come out and get specific. (I would like to return to nursing school someday or possibly go into counseling/social work). I don’t believe that any of my disorders are things that would inhibit my dreams. The next thing that I say with clearer words just might. I will qualify by adding, “technically, I have mental illness(es).”  The next admission still might be more vulnerable and embarrassing than the first. I have always felt a soft spot for people with mental/emotional illnesses (really for physical illnesses, vulnerabilities, challenges, and animals too). However, I  was intimidated (even a little scared) of interacting with people who had these kinds of illnesses. This was especially true if I didn’t understand their particular illness. I was a human being, just like them. I had my own issues, just like them. I was young and had a blend of self awareness and denial. I now realize that I was quite possibly participating in the stigma (hopefully to a lesser degree than some).

My journey in nursing school was not a positive one for the most part. The demands led to an experience of greatly reduced financial and mental health. I was afraid to participate in my mental health rotation because I realized that my own mental health wasn’t at its best. My mother helped me to re-frame this and view it as a deeper understanding, compassion, and connection.

In class, we learned many therapeutic techniques and learned about de-escalation. (I have since taught my boyfriend these techniques so that he can use them to de-escalate me). We were well prepared for the mental health rotation. This alleviated some of the apprehension.

I ended up dropping out of nursing school that semester. However, I felt great fulfillment in all of the mental health rotations. I absolutely loved my patients. There were moments of profound inspiration. (This was the one class which I was still excelling in). I was surprised that it was so easy to get on a level with patients on the mental health floor. (They were just people, just like all of us are). It wasn’t so difficult to connect or communicate with them. It actually felt great and I wondered why I had been so scared in the first place.

So, where does projection come into this picture? What can we learn about the importance of education related to mental health? Aren’t many of the skills that help all of us communicate and interact more therapeutically in relationships overlapped with the techniques that are learned when dealing with the “mentally ill”? Shouldn’t we be teaching our children (along with a foreign language) many of these things by elementary school?

I have a theory about projection. I believe that each human being has a tiny bit (in infinitely possible combinations) of every single thing that it means to be human.  I can  compare this to the individuality of snowflakes. No two are exactly the same, but they are all snowflakes. It’s really quite beautiful.

If we think about a person’s DNA, there are many tissue types that one could use to obtain genetic information. If we took epithelial cells, buccal cells, etc, the cells would be different. Yet, they contain the same genetic information. They are still a part of something larger.

We are like this also. We are all human beings. We are so different and yet there are so many things which are universal. We are also so similar to each other.

When we have parts of ourselves that we have rejected, we must somehow contain those parts and hide them from ourselves and others. (Or at least we try. They are often the very things that run us). We don’t want to look at these parts of ourselves, so we look to the external. We look at other people. We categorize. We basically create the “us” and “them” or even the “me” and “them”. A type of “othering” process occurs. The pattern occurs on a global level and on a micro level. We choose particular “others” to scapegoat and become all of the things that we don’t want to be.

I agree with Dr. Gabor Mate’s perspective that every single human being is somewhere on a continuum for every single DSM diagnosis. Each of us will be further away from diagnosable with certain diagnoses and closer to diagnosable with others. Some of us will become low enough on the spectrum that we have been “diagnosable” according to the DSM. Some of us who are diagnosed will be lower on the level of functioning scale and some of us will be higher functioning.

It is unfair and unkind to start assigning stigmas to people who fall into the diagnosed end of the continuum on one or more mental illnesses. Every last one of us are on a wellness/illness continuum for physical and mental illnesses. It is unfair to turn another human being into a one dimensional diagnosis. (This reminds of me the scene in an older movie, The Doctor. One of the residents refers to a patient in the dying process as “the terminal in room 1217”). Human beings are not labels. Each one of us are multi-dimensional.

Actually, turning people into one dimensional cutouts is a bad habit across the board. These are usually the very people we have “othered” and are quite possibly projecting onto. Another musing about projecting is the likelihood of it being another universality of what it means to be human. Everyone projects at one time or another.

I hope that we can become interested and curious enough about each other that we educate ourselves more about the various challenges that affect our loved ones and our fellow man. I hope that we can become increasingly compassionate with each other and ourselves regarding “imperfections” (aka being human). I hope that we can even have a bit of lightness and humor about everything. We are all a little crazy.

Summoning Sweet Death

by Autumn

Oh sweetest angel,

I’m ready for a last breath

How do I summon you,

Sweet Angel of Death

This life is not enough

And yet just too much

How do I find this angel?

I just need one kiss or one touch

I want to be far from this place

A bleeding out existence called life

Called life but its really death

Shattering, burning

Just one last breath

May I please leave this place?

What must I do to see an angel’s face?

Sweet Angel, with your mercy and grace

Angel of Death, please show your face

I am ready to breathe

Only one last breath

All I need is a kiss or one touch,

Sweetest Angel of Death

Sorrow’s Birdsong (concise version 1)

Can one fly from the pain and the past?
Is sorrow too faithful and one thing that lasts?

by Winston

Sorrow’s Birdsong (concise)

Can one fly from the pain and the past?
Is sorrow too faithful and one thing that lasts?
Only a sharp knife meant to cut deep
Is this the one promise that life does keep?

Sorrow’s Birdsong

Can one fly from the pain and the past?
Is sorrow too faithful and one thing that lasts?
Only a sharp knife meant to cut deep
Is this the one promise that life does keep?

Sorrow’s Birdsong  (unabridged)

by Winston and by Autumn

 

SORROW’S BIRDSONG

Trying to fly with a broken wing
Yeats called love a crooked thing
One could also say about life
So much wonder, so much love
But no escape from a deep cutting knife

The knife cuts so deep
Survival and the thirst
Are hard things to keep

How do you fly with a broken wing?
Do birds ever cry when they sing?
Love and life…..such crooked things
Will it be more sorrow?
Or some joy, respite, and peace?
Now what will this life bring?

With a broken wing, can one still fly?
Or just stay outside looking in
A bystander just existing
And watching life go by?
Partly wanting to sing a sweet song
Partly wanting to cry

Can a sorrowful bird find a way to sing?
How much hope for a mended wing?
Pondering and wondering on such silly things
Should one try to fly with a broken wing?

How does one get to feel free?
How does one rise above
To a place where less sorrow
A brighter day, a better tomorrow?
How does one rise above
Life’s mysteries of sorrow
To a higher place, where there’s more freedom and love?

Life….this deep cutting knife
Trying to fly with a broken wing
Should one fight for this life?
Will there be a new song to sing?

A broken wing; A shattered heart
Beyond or within this life….
Where is the new start?
Feeling so heavy. Needing to feel light
Is sorrow’s song the darkness before light?
Off in the distance, is there an ending in sight?

Can one fly from the pain and the past?
Is sorrow too faithful and one thing that lasts?
Only a sharp knife meant to cut deep
Is this the one promise that life does keep?

Was it only in dreams
That we were here to expand
The Book of Love?
To see beauty and wonder
To explore things high above
To see just a glimpse of the infinite expressions
of love

To practice it, to further define it
Unknowable in its vastness
Expressed in words like those from Shakespeare or Yeats
Love in all forms, to feel and relate

Love and life are wondrous, beautiful, crooked things
With broken wing and broken heart,
Is there only a song of sorrow to sing?
Will life show a new start?

Outside looking in at life
And watching it pass by
For this life should one even try?
Can there still be a thirst for life?
Or from this dark life should one flee
To a place where a broken wing
Is no obstacle to feel peaceful and free

In these shadowy netherlands, one is not meant to stay
Learn what it takes to fly with a broken wing,
And with hunger and thirst, plus a sweet song to sing?
Yes, here is not a place meant to stay
Decide.
From this life just fly away?

Or completely in life stay?
Even though
It will never feel like one does belong
No respite. No peace
Just sorrow’s birdsong

Should one try anyway?
Love every breath? Every song?
Sweetly sing every song one can sing
No matter what songs life does bring
To sweetly sing even sorrow’s birdsong?
And to fly with a broken wing?
Be fully in this life, for now to stay
Or from this life fly away?