Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jen, you're healing!

Today was a session with Paul. He has been in Europe for two weeks, and it amazed me how much I missed him. A LOT!

So, I got into session and I just started talking, really fast, and I got frustrated when he would interject anything. My personal favorite of the day, I was telling him about Relief Society on Sunday.
Relief Society has been very difficult for a very long time. Part of the problem being that these women start talking about their "trials", and these trials are well... umm... for example. Sunday, one sister talked about how the hardest thing she has ever gone through was when her husband left to go to work out of town for three weeks. I understand that is not easy, however, I just know I spent six months living at CFC, and then when I got out, the next week Dann left for California for three months, and then he got back and I went to live at the Johnson's house for five months, and then I got an apartment of my own. So, being away from Dann is hard, and I wish it was different... that is the least of my worries right now.

Going back to Relief Society. On Sunday, I went through that yucky place where everyone talks about how we shouldn't feel angry or upset when we go through trials, we should be grateful. I agree with the principle of gratitude - I do not agree with anything they said.

In the middle of the lesson though, I was struck with the feeling that I wanted to share with these women the amazing miracles I have experienced, the things that have happened in my life that have changed me forever because of these trials. And then I realized, I couldn't. No matter how much I wanted them to know, they wouldn't be able to understand. They can't understand the depth of the miraculous, because they can't understand the depths of the sorrow.

And then, I felt sorry for them. Sorry that they can't know the Savior like I know Him. They are missing the amazing miracles that happen everyday, because they have not had to face... hell.
I told that to Paul, and his comment, "Wow Jen, you are healing! That is an amazing step you just made... and you don't even see it!"

Its true. I don't even see it. I didn't think it was amazing at all... it was just... what I felt. I didn't have to work for THAT particular degree of progress. I have just been working my ass off for a long time, and now things are flowing and changing while I just sit here.

(That particular moment was fleeting, because then someone else started talking, and I was angry again. Angry that she didn't understand how much it hurt to have the scriptures used against you, to feel so selfish for wanting to not be hurt, and I wished people could understand... And I started to shake and cry, and I was so frustrated with myself. The nice thing about telling it to Paul - he could see that moment as amazing progress, and it didn't matter to him that I immediately was angry and upset again. He thinks that is a good thing too... silly Paul!)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

CFC Phone Survey - I am better than the last one!

I just got the call from Colin at CFC... the "You have been out for a year. How are you doing?"

I tried to answer all of the questions honestly, and this is what I saw. I am still no where close to where I want to be. However, my behavior is still hanging in there pretty good... not great, and my thoughts and thinking are still WAY off... but mostly pretty good.

The coolest part... the last survey I took was six months ago. The questions, "How much depression have you experienced in the past month?" and "How much anxiety have you experienced?" stuck out to me.

Every time I have taken this survey, I have said "Very much," and that didn't seem strong enough to express what was happening. I remember wanting to say, "It's all the freaking time! Never a moment of relief from those things!!!" Today, I said, "Much," which is less than "very much," and it is way less than, "Never a moment of relief."

Its progress. And actually, its A LOT of progress. Its slow, and I am so frustrated that it is still so hard... but... I am so grateful for the progress. There are a lot of moments of relief... a lot of moments that I don't think about all of the crap... which only gives me hope that one day, Colin will call, and I will tell her, "In the past month, I don't know, I don't think I have experienced any depression or major anxiety."

THAT will be a great day!

I'm a hypocrite

I started reading Stephanie's blog tonight... I had so many feelings and thoughts coursing through me. She amazes me!!! I love her so much, and I am so grateful she offered to let me read her blog, and asked to read mine...

Then I came here... The last entry here was about hiding.

I feel like such a hypocrite. I talked about refusing to hide, but that is exactly what I am doing. I have a blog that serves as my journal, and I don't share it with anyone (well, except occasionally reading it to BJ or Paul). I think that is okay - I am allowed some privacy... However, even this blog, the "sugar-coated" one... I only allow four people to read. I am still in hiding - after all this time, after all this work, and I am still several different people depending on who I am with at the moment.

I suppose that is okay, for now... however, I hate it! I don't want to be a hypocrite. I want to be real and genuine and ME all the time... how does one do that? How do I do that??

My start, I let Stephanie in to read this. I know I chose these entries, because I thought they could help someone else. I will trust that feeling. AND following Stephanie's amazing example, I will invite others to read here as well. Thank you, Stephanie, for helping me see what I can do differently.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Always Looking Up - Hiding

In 2006, Michael J. Fox did campaign ads for several pro-stem cell research candidates. Rush Limbaugh came back saying that he faked his symptoms. Mike went through a struggle where he considered faking his symptoms to prove that he wasn't faking his symptoms. He came to the conclusion that it wouldn't help anything and he didn't do it. I understand the struggle.

I remember Ginger making the comment, "If she is in so much pain, how can she be laughing?"

I didn't understand what she meant by that. Am I supposed to walk around looking like I'm in pain all the time? If I only laugh when I am not in pain, I am afraid I will never laugh again! Laughing and smiling make things bearable, but they don't take away from the fact that it hurts. It sucks!

In the book, Always Looking Up, he talks about the image of people with disabilities. He is specifically talking about people with physical disabilities, but I believe it is the same for those of us with other disabilities. He asked the question, "Why is this segment of the populations responsible not only for how they feel, but how YOU feel about how they feel?"

And there it is. The reason I have felt I was selfish all my life. I am responsible for my feelings, and for the way others feel about my feelings.

He then goes on to quote an article from Times, an amputee was approached by a mother at a neighborhood pool who told the woman to put her prosthetic leg back on because it was "upsetting my child."
"The only explanation, if not excuse, for the thoughtlessness of this mother is fear. Unwilling or unable to explain disabilities to her daughter, she reacts to Ms. Haddad as though she were the transgressor. Yet it seems ridiculous
to imagine a mother approaching an able-bodied woman at a pool and asked her to drape a towel over one of her legs because it's upsetting her amputee daughter."
I have encountered that fear a few times in my life. I will encounter it a lot more, because I won't be silent like I have been. I won't hide the things I have been through, or the way it effects my life. There will be many people who are afraid, and I hope that I will be compassionate enough to help them understand... rather than telling them my latest favorite line,
"If you are going to heaven, I'd rather go to hell..."
In the book, he used Rush Limbaugh's insensitive remarks as a push.
"Let's face it, the whole episode, unpleasant though it may have been, was a gift in the same way that I have described Parkinson's as a gift. You suffer the blow, but you capitalize on the opportunity left in its wake.
The notion of hiding--this is what struck a nerve. Feeling the need to hide symptoms is so key to what patients of all kinds of conditions have to face. We have to hide--don't let anybody else see, don't let them think you're drunk, don't let them think you're incapable, don't let them think you're unstable, your unsteady, you're flawed, you're devalued. Mask it. Hide it. Cover it up..."
(p. 150)
Why should I hide what I have been through? What I am going through? Why should I pretend that everything is okay, when it is most certainly NOT? Why should I protect people who have been protected for 47 years? Or 34 years? Or 99 years?

I would rather live in a world where we are real... about the good and the bad and everything in between. I would rather live in a world where it is okay to hurt and it is okay to feel joy, and its even okay to feel both at the same time. I can't hide anymore... and I still feel like I should apologize for that.

I want to be free to be me... that means laughing when I want to. That means crying when I need to. That means asking for help, or doing it on my own, following others, or finding my own way.
"Before a catastrophe, we can't imagine coping with the burdens that might confront us in a dire moment. Then when the moment arrives, we suddenly find that we have resources inside us that we knew nothing about."
Christopher Reeve

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lessons on Charity

The lesson in Relief Society was on charity. I was worried, because most people say stupid things when they try to talk about charity. The teacher was really nervous, but I could tell she was trying.

I listened and tried to really understand what charity is. Charity is the love of Christ. When we are filled with charity we feel the way Christ feels about people. We understand them. We love them completely. I have felt that feeling a few times in my life, and I loved it. It was amazing, and unfortunately it was fleeting.

Charity is seeing things and understanding things the way Christ would. Christ loves us. He KNOWS us, and completely understands us. He understands and has compassion for our faults and weaknesses, and he wants us to change them.

I think true charity, or pure love lifts up everyone involved. The moment I felt it for Paul... I was lifted up, I hope he was lifted up, and we both grew in a way that we couldn't have without that love. BJ has had amazing love for me, and that has made all the difference in the world. If he had only been trying to be my bishop, or just serve me without an open mind... Neither one of us would have been this blessed.

If everyone had charity, the world would be a better place, but how do I take care of me? If Christ is the ultimate example of charity... He let people mistreat him and eventually murder him. Is that charity? Is that how I should be?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Waking the Tiger – Acknowledging the Need to Heal

I haven't been reading from this book as much, but today I picked it up again.
“Cultures that use ritual and shamans to heal trauma may seem primitive and superstitious, but they have one important advantage – they address the problem directly. These cultures openly acknowledge the need to heal when someone (JUST ONE!) in their community has been overwhelmed. Most modern cultures, including, ours, fall victim to the prevailing attitude that strength means endurance; that it is somehow heroic to be able to carry on regardless of the severity of our symptoms. A majority of us accept this social custom with no question. Using our neo-cortex, our ability to rationalize, it is possible to give the impression that one has come through a severely threatening event, even a way, with “nary a scratch”; and that’s exactly what many of us do. We carry on, much to the admiration of others – heroes, as if nothing happened at all.
By encouraging us to be superhuman, these social mores do great injustice to the individual AND THE SOCIETY. If we attempt to move ahead with our lives, without first yielding to the gentler urges that will guide us back through these harrowing experiences, then our show of strength becomes little more than illusion. In the meantime, the traumatic effects will grow steadily more severe, firmly entrenched, and chronic.
Real heroism comes from having the courage to openly acknowledge one’s experiences, not from suppressing or denying them.” (p. 62)
It is interesting reading "an expert" saying something I have felt inside for a long time. It is hard for me to not "be strong" and "carry on as if nothing happened at all." It feels like that is what I SHOULD do, but I am not able to do... I came to the conclusion a long time ago that the reason I am not able, is because I am destined for great things. I will not be able to do the work I am supposed to do if I am shut off from myself (and in turn the Spirit).

So many people have told me how awesome it is that I am so happy and so positive even though I was going through tough times. (You are so amazing, I never would have guessed... Wow, you are doing so much, you have so much energy, blah, blah blah...)

Real heroism comes from having the courage to openly acknowledge my experiences, and then move through them to become the person I am meant to become.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tao of Equus - emotions

p. 232 "The Western mind is conditioned to expect unconditional obedience from the body and the emotions, yet this perspective keeps people fromlearning to process feeling in its subtle , more manageable forms. Once the pressure of anger reaches the critical mass of rage, for instance, the emotional brain hijacks theneocortex , which is then left to deal with the damage -- toe oneself, one's family, or one's property -- after the storm blows over. Imagining that people can control strong emotions by simply willing it into submission is as foolish as trying to control an unruly horse."
I hate this system!
"You'd think after a few close calls with errant emotion most people would look for another approach, one that involved working with nature rather than against it. Many, however, choose the seemingly more convenient option of medicating their emotions into submission. If someone feels anxious or troubled, it's easier to reach for a Valium than suddenly muster up the level of self-awareness it takes to get to the root of the problem. This this person is tired, she may drink an entire pot of coffee. If she's really depressed and unable to function, she might try a more powerful stimulant."
This is the world we live in. These are the people I have to communicate with and deal with everyday.
"Depression is the stop sign of the soul. This debilitating yet ingenious stagnation follows a period in which a person refuses to listen to the messages behind sadness, fear, anger, or grief. In a world where we're taught to ignore our emotions, dreams, and true passions, where we enter blindly into thewrong relationships and wrong jobs, depression is our emergency break. Depression takes over when what we were doing and where we were going didn't match up with our inner desires."
So, if that is true, why am I so depressed right now? Because I am. Is this just leftovers of the trauma?Or is there more that I should be paying attention to?
"Mind over matter simply doesn't work if the emotions refuse to cooperate. It's simply not enough for a woman to think happy thoughts about a new relationship when the amygdala keeps comparing minor disagreements with her boyfriend to instances of physical abuse she experienced in her first marriage. She needs to develop new coping strategies for dealing with fear and anger, in part by being honest with the man in her life and asking for his cooperation, while getting the professional help she needs to work through the unresolved trauma.
Suppressed emotions don't go away; they putrefy into toxic thoughts and habits, eventually evolving into mutant forms that relieve the pressure in less conscious ways, undermining health, happiness, and usually a few innocent bystanders."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Who am I to say no?

Who am I to say no?
He is strong.
He is gentle.
He is adult.
I am weak.
I am sad.
I am child.

Who am I to say no?
He is angry.
He is big.
He is dad.
I am small.
I am selfish.
I am untaught.

Who am I to say no?
He is righteous.
He is caring.
He is authority.
I am sinner.
I am bad.
I am girl.

Who am I to say no?
He is normal.
He is loving.
He is husband.
I am crazy.
I am wife.
I am bitch.

Who am I to say no?
He is leader.
He is right.
He is bishop.
I am delusional.
I am wrong.
I am woman.

Who am I to say no?
He is smart.
I am strong.
He is husband.
I am wife.
We are partners.
I am confused.

Who am I to say no?
He is therapist.
I am intelligent.
I am connected.
He understands!
We work together.
We are blessed.

Who am I to say no?
I am inspired.
He is bishop.
I am weak.
He is kind.
We are friends.
We are inspired.

Who am I to say no?
I am trying.
He is Heavenly Father.
He has a plan.
I am His daughter.
I understand.
I am loved.

Who am I to say no?
I am a Queen.
I have choices.
I understand.
I am compassionate.
I am strong.
I am balanced.

Who am I to say no?
I am me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Always Looking Up

I started reading a new book. Michael J. Fox wrote a narrative on his life with Parkinson's titled, Always Looking Up.

This quote was in the intro:
"For everything this disease has taken, something with greater value has been given--sometimes just a marker that points me in a new direction that I might not otherwise have traveled. So, sure, it may be one step forward and two steps back, but after a time with Parkinson's, I've learned that what is important is making that one step count."
I feel the same way about my dis ease. For everything that was taken, something with greater value has been given. The abuse has helped to make me into the person I am today. It has made me stronger, more valiant, more compassionate. I have been given the opportunity to get to know myself, my heart, my values, my Father in Heaven. I am more spiritual, more creative, more passionate than I could have been had I lived a life free from these pains.

So, although I don't believe that most people understand what they are saying when they say, "Look for the positive," or "Its all in your attitude," I do believe I am capable of being honest about the amazing good that has come (not from but) through horrifically bad.

Monday, July 6, 2009

To Sleep During Strong Winds - T.O. Paul Harper

Paul gave this poem to me when I left CFC. He wrote it as a present for all of his patients as they "graduated". I wanted it saved somewhere that I could look back on it... I figured this was the best place I have.
To Sleep During Strong Winds
by: T.O. Paul Harper

When the storms of life wash over you
and you feel you're about to go under,
and the fear clouding your judgment
is growing with each clap of thunder,

Find a quiet spot, take a deep breath,
close your eyes, and with imagination
see a small vessel tossed east and west
its crew certain of stormy devastation.

They called to the Master who lay asleep
wondering of His careless abandon
and watched Him with a word, calm the deep
no doubt or hesitation in standing.

"Who is this that even the seas obey?"
And with wonder they pondered the event.
They could not doubt the lesson taught
nor their faith in the message sent

Ths storm was one of many they saw
in the choppy course of their lives
but never again did they doubt or withdraw
patiently riding out stormy skies

They knew the power at their disposal
which calmed the storms in their mind
and learned to sleep during strong winds
which make ordinary men blind.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A strong woman isn't afraid of anything...but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear.

In the past, I have been a strong woman... I wasn't afraid of anything. I didn't let anything stop me from doing... whatever it was I thought I was supposed to do.

Today, I am a woman of strength. I feel afraid, and I don't let that stop me. I have courage to do the things I need to do, the things I want to do, but never the things other people think I should do.

I like this woman.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A prayer and an answer

Yesterday, we went horseback riding in the mountains. I wanted to want to go, but really I was feeling sad, discouraged, depressed, and I really just wanted to go back to bed. I prayed, because I could tell BJ was feeling the same sort of thing. Then I remembered in The Horse Boy, Rowan always feels better if he just runs on the horse. I remembered that I feel better after running on the horse. I told BJ we needed to go faster… as fast as we could safely go, we needed to go that fast. And we did. We took off running up the trail. Two miles flew by! It was awesome!

And once we stopped running, I felt so much better! It was like all of the sadness was just gone. I could now see the beauty of the mountains and appreciate that I was on a horse in the mountains. (And it seemed to also help BJ too. The rest of the ride was everything I could have wanted from a day of riding!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The freedom of trusting another being

BJ challenged me to take my feet out of the stirrups, close my eyes, and put my arms out straight. The idea was to feel the horse and to trust him. I tried it. We were on a flat road, so it was easy to trust that I wouldn’t get knocked off by a branch. With my arms out and my fee out of the stirrups, I could feel the horse move underneath me. I could feel his muscles moving. I have tried trust walks, but I have problem that when I am walking or standing if I close my eyes, I fall over… On the horse, I didn’t have to worry about that. I just trusted him.

And then, I was filled with joy that I still can’t describe or explain. My eyes filled with tears. My chest filled with… something… and I just felt so completely happy.

The feeling (and the experience) only lasted for a few minutes. I am grateful I had those few short minutes. I hope to recreate them again on the horse and maybe in my relationships with others.

Look at the horses!!!

Every time I go into the mountains to ride, I become a celebrity of sorts. All of the little kids point and love the horses. Most of the time I hate it. I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I was on the horse when the kids seemed to love them so much. I have actually thought about offering my horse to some little kid (who obviously deserve it more than I do).

Today was a little different. Today I thought about how lucky I was to be on the horse. I never thought I would ever be the one on the horse. All of the times Dave brought his horses for everyone to ride, and I never did. I let everyone else go, but not me. I WANTED to ride back then, but I thought I was supposed to let everyone else ride. I was supposed to help the little kids when they were on. I led a lot of horses back and forth while the littler kids rode, but I never did. Today I got to be the one on the horse. I felt grateful and happy…

And then, I felt the normal guilt. The difference is that the guilt came second to the happy feelings. Happy was first today. That is amazing to me!