Saturday, May 30, 2009

I will Get There - Boyz II Men

I have been pulling out music books - trying to find songs to play and sing, trying to find something to make me feel better, more complete, alive, or something... I have had this song in a book for years, but have never heard it before. I played it, just because I liked the title.

I've been wanderin' 'round in the dark
Been lost somewhere where no light could shine on my heart
I have known a pain so deep
But I know my faith will free me
And I'll get through this
I'll find my way again
So don't tell me that it's over
'Cause each step just gets me closer
I will get there
I will get there somehow
Cross that river
Nothing's stoppin' me now
I will get through the night (Oh, yes, I will)
And make it through to the other side
I got to the second verse, and sang the words about chains and I couldn't continue singing. I was too choked up. I ached inside with the hope that one day I will be free from all of these chains.
I've been in these chains for so long
I'll break free and I'll be there where I belong
Hold my head up high, I'll stand tall
And I swear this time I won't fall
I will do this
No matter what it takes
'Cause I know no limitations
And I'll reach my destination, I will get there

I will get there somehow
Cross that river
Nothing's stoppin' me now
I will get through the night
And make it through to the other side
Get there

Well, the night is cold and dark
But somewhere the sun is shining
And I'll feel it shine on me
I'll keep on tryin', I'll keep on tryin'
I will get there
I will get there somehow
Nothing's stoppin' me now
I will get through the night
And make it through to the other side
Get there, get there
I will get there
I will get there somehow
Cross that river (I'll cross that river for you)
Nothing's stoppin' me now
I will get through the night
And make it through to the other side
(Get there) Get there

I'll get there
I will get there! I will get there! I will get there!

Friday, May 29, 2009

I just thought it was normal

Today, talking to Bishop Campbell, he told me that he has never felt an answer to prayers like he felt when he walked into my new apartment. Bishop Johnson has said the same thing many times, and so has Paul.

This is the way most of my life has been. (There were times where I felt nothing, but even then, amazing things were happening, I just was too numb to notice.) I just thought everyone felt this way. I thought everyone got answers to prayers and saw amazing miracles like I see.

I thought everyone felt led perfectly in their lives, and just knew what they needed to do. I thought everyone knew what to say to people at certain times, and felt the influence of the spirit over them.

I have had a lot of crap in my life that I thought was normal. It came as a shock when I realized others didn't have to go through all of the stuff I went through. Today, it came as a little bit of a shock when I realized how amazingly blessed I am. Others don't have the same amazing experiences I have. Others don't get to feel this close to their Heavenly Father. Others don't know Him and His ways like I do. (That sounds a little arrogant, but I mean it as an amazing blessing.)

I guess the Lord knew I would need extra special care, and He has given it. I am truly blessed in ways that aren't normal - I am incredibly grateful. I guess I don't want to be normal after all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

* Richard G. Scott, “Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov 1995


Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Prov. 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain.

When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father.

Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love.

I testify that when the Lord closes one important door in your life, He shows His continuing love and compassion by opening many other compensating doors through your exercise of faith. He will place in your path packets of spiritual sunlight to brighten your way. They often come after the trial has been the greatest, as evidence of the compassion and love of an all-knowing Father. They point the way to greater happiness, more understanding, and strengthen your determination to accept and be obedient to His will.

True enduring happiness with the accompanying strength, courage, and capacity to overcome the most challenging difficulties comes from a life centered in Jesus Christ. Obedience to His teachings provides a sure foundation upon which to build. That takes effort. There is no guarantee of overnight results, but there is absolute assurance that, in the Lord’s time, solutions will come, peace will prevail, and emptiness will be filled.

The Lord’s plan is to exalt you to live with Him and be greatly blessed. The rate at which you qualify is generally set by your capacity to mature, to grow, to love, and to give of yourself. He is preparing you to be a god. You cannot understand fully what that means, yet, He knows. As you trust Him, seek and follow His will, you will receive blessings that your finite mind cannot understand here on earth. Your Father in Heaven and His Holy Son know better than you what brings happiness. They have given you the plan of happiness. As you understand and follow it, happiness will be your blessing. As you willingly obey, receive, and honor the ordinances and covenants of that holy plan, you can have the greatest measure of satisfaction in this life. Yes, even times of overpowering happiness. You will prepare yourself for an eternity of glorious life with your loved ones who qualify for that kingdom

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tao of Equus - the story of Rocky

A woman at The Ranch adopted a formerly abused Arabian gelding who everyone insisted was hopeless. The sixteen-year-old horse was distrustful of people, head shy, extremely difficult to catch, halter, and lead. He was commonly described as stupid, psychotic, and more colorfully as loco. Nancy, however, felt a strong connection to Rocky, whose large soulful eyes held so much promise on minute and so much fear the next.
(That is how I would describe my own eyes. Sometimes, I feel so clear, and I know there is life in my eyes. Sometimes, I feel so afraid, and there is nothing but fear in them. And sometimes, my eyes are completely lifeless as I dissociate.)
One evening, Nancy's twenty-year-old daughter, Becky, asked me to take a look at the horse.
"The vet thinks we should put Rocky down," she said. "He went ballistic yesterday during his checkup. My mom and the vet were just trying to get the halter on him, and he freaked out. He actually tried to jump the fence and cut his leg real bad in the process. He was so keyed up that the vet shot him full of tranquilizers and still had trouble wrapping the wound. Everyone says Rocky is dangerous. My mom feels terrible, but I don't want her to get hurt."
I have thought many times that my emotions were so out of control, it would be doing me and everyone else a favor if they just, "put me down."
Walking toward Rocky's stall, I knew I had the final say as to whether this horse lived or died. the little gelding stood in the corner, obviously wary of my presence. I took a deep breath and slowly approached him as Nancy stood just inside the gate. A number of conflicting sense images filled my body.
"Has something particularly disturbing happened to you?" I asked Nancy. "Other than what happened with Rocky, are you upset about something in your life?"
"Well..." she said, "I lost my job last week."
"Have you been trying to act happy around Rocky when you're actually feeling sad, angry... trapped?"
"Yeah," she replied tentatively, not quite understanding why I was asking such personal questions about her when rocky was the one whose life was on the line.
Rocky lowered his head and licked his lips, a sign I had come to read in my own horses as indicating the release of some previously unacknowledged emotion. In this case, Rocky's comfort level seemed directly tied to Nancy's hidden feelings. I walked toward him. He backed away. More images, more sensations seemed to arise from his wounded leg and his aching heart. I silently conveyed to Rocky that Nancy was his last chance, that I would try to explain his perspective to her, but if he couldn't bring himself to trust this woman, his worst fears would indeed come true. I told him I would convince her to give him one more month, the rest was up to him. After a good fifteen minutes of subtle interactions with the horse, he allowed me to briefly touch his shoulder.
That is what it felt like the first time I met with BJ. I remember feeling like this was my last chance, I had to bring myself to trust him. It was up to me. He was willing, but I had to meet him at least half way. I am grateful that somewhere, I found the ability that I had never had before.
"Imagine this," I finally said to Nancy, who now stood quietly, hopefully, next to the feeder about five feet away from Rocky. "Imagine that you were raped as a teenager. A few years later, you marry a man who seems very gentle and understanding. Yet once you have that wedding ring on your finger, he thinks you should just get over your conflicting feelings about sex. He suddenly treats you like he owns you. You know he loves you, but he's impatient with you. It doesn't make any sense, but you feel trapped, like you want to run away from this person, who you also realize is your only real hope for connection. rocky feels like that. He knows you care for him, but just because you officially own him now, just because you pay his feed and board doesn't mean he can automatically let go of all those years of abuse and mistrust. He can't become intimate so easily. Do you know what I mean?"
I have felt that with many people in my life. With Larry... With Dann... with BJ... with my parents. I wanted to let go of the mistrust, the pain, the hurt, and I knew they cared, but I couldn't do it. Until now...
Nancy stared at me in silence for a moment.
"I do," she finally said, diverting her eyes as if suddenly embarrassed. She slowly looked up at me, shaking her head in disbelief. "Basically, you just told my life's story."
I was taken aback by this admission. The example I used had popped into my mind while interacting with Rocky. I had no idea it related to Nancy's life. Unprepared for a full-blown equine-facilitated psychotherapy session, especially one based on a sudden intuition, I nonetheless gathered my wits and proceeded to explain the concept of emotions congruency. I told Nancy she wasn't doing Rocky any favors by trying to suppress her negative feelings in his presence. This was not the way to calm him down and gain his trust. As I discussed Rocky's situations form a therapeutic perspective, it became obvious that Nancy's attraction toe the horse stemmed from I've come to call emotional resonance. People and horses who've experienced similar difficulties, betrayals, and abuses are like two strings tuned to the same note. Whenever Nancy was in a heightened state of turmoil, I explained, Rocky couldn't help but resonate with her. And the intensity would increase if she tried to hide those feelings. In such a state of incongruity, her emotions were fighting her intellect, begging to be expressed/ this actually turned the volume up on the sympathetic vibrations exciting Rocky's own unresolved fears and frustrations, causing him to act these feelings out for both of them. I asked her to consider the possibility that even though Rocky was afraid of the vet, his reactions were accentuated in the presence of Nancy, who it turned out was only experiencing feelings related to the loss of her job, but a series of frustrations with her her husband, who was having an affair with another woman in part because of his inability to deal with Nancy's childhood sexual trauma.
"Tell Rocky what you're feeling," I said. "Get it out in the open so he doesn't have to mirror it for you. He won't necessarily understand what you're saying, but by expressing your true feelings, you'll become congruent, and you'll release the tension behind those emotions."
For he next ten minutes, Nancy spoke candidly about the violence, shame, and betrayal she experienced. She promised rocky that she wouldn't push him, that she would treat him as she would have wanted to be treated by the men in her life. My eyes began to sting in response to her story. the moment I let go of my professional distance and allowed the tears to flow down my cheeks, Rocky stepped toward me and rested his face in the center of my chest. Just a few minutes earlier I had told Nancy that, unlike human beings, horses don't judge or reject us for what we're feeling; it's the act of trying to suppress our emotions that drives them insane. Rocky took that notion one step further. He showed us that even a horse written of as loco, a horse considered too cray to live, could feel safe enough to approach us the moment we let down our guard and began to speak from the heart.
Rocky did indeed take us up on our offer. The first month came and went without incident as the horses accepted the halter, and began to lead and longe without objection. Six months later, he is a gregarious even joyful member of Nancy and Becky's herd, and they've made arrangements to start him under saddle with me in the spring.
As I finished this story, there was a huge lump in my chest. I am not even sure what emotions were there. They were all clumped up together, and were too big to come out. I just know that I resonated with this story, and I am hopeful I become gregarious and even joyful...

Friday, May 15, 2009

There are no shoulds - only wants and needs

This morning (and lets face it most mornings) I am being bombarded by shoulds.

I should go to Courage Reins and volunteer. I should go walk Bo and Sunny - give them some gentle exercise. I should read in my Tao of Equus book. I should get my therapy book, and read in that. I should do the exercises from the 12-step book. I should clean the office. I should go walking. I should write on my blog. I should eat snack now. I should eat lunch. I should go home. I should do dishes and laundry. I should call Katie, Amanda and Lauren to see how they are doing. I should call Dann. I should be thinking of fun things to do with him this weekend. I should be thinking about the tie website. I should...

Some of my shoulds are things that I wanted to do before... but now I have zero desire. All I want to do is go back to bed and cry.

Really, there are no shoulds. Really there are only needs and wants.
Do I want to go to courage reins today? No, not really. Maybe another day. Do I need to go to Courage Reins? Nope.
Do I want to go spend time with Bo and Sunny? Maybe. Do I need to? Nope, although they might really appreciate some exercise after yesterday's ride.
Do I want to read in my Tao of Equus book? Yes. I enjoy reading about that, but I also don't want to do it right now. Do I need to? Nope
Do I want to get my theraoy book, and read in that? No... Do I need to? It would be helpful, yes, but I don't need to do it right now.
Do I want to do the exercises from the 12-step book? No, not really. Do I need to? Again, it would be helpful, but I don't need to do it right now.
Do I want to clean the office? no - who would want to do that, but I do want the office clean. Do I need to clean? Not really...
Do I want to go walking? Yes. It would feel good to get my blood pumping, to be outside, and walking helps me think clearer. Do I need to go walking? Nope
Do I want to write on my blog? I want to have what I am thinking about written down, but no I don't really want to right now. Do I need to write on my blog? Yes. I think I do. It makes a big difference in my day if I write down my thoughts. Its like I can let go of them once I write them down.
Do I want to eat snack now? No. do I need to eat snack now? Yes.
Do I want to eat lunch? Not right now. I just ate snack. Do I need to eat lunch? Yes. I will need to eat, and I probably need to think about it right now, so I don't get myself stuck in a situation where I don't have anything.
Do I want to go home? No, although I do want to want to go home... Do I need to go home? I will need to eventually, but not right now.
Do I want to do dishes and laundry? of course not. Do I need to do dishes and laundry? Eventually, yes.
Do I want to call my friends to see how they are doing? No. Not right now. I don't feel like I could handle anyone else's crap right now. I am barely hanging on with my own... Do I need to call them? No. They are friends, and I care for them. If I don't call them, it will be ok.
Do I want to call Dann? I want to talk to him, but I don't know what I would say... I miss him. Do I need to call him? Yes... I probably do, to help reassure him. and to show me that I don't need to worry about what to talk about. We can just chat about nothing for a few minutes and it will help us both feel more connected.
Do I want to be thinking of fun things to do with him this weekend? If I wasn't feeling so stuck and overwhelmed, yes I would want to. Do I need to? No... Although it would help. When we have fun plans, we stay together longer and its easier for me to enjoy our time together. When we don't have anything planned, I don't want to do anything or be with him...
Do I want to be thinking about the tie website? Not right now. Do I need to? Eventually...

Its really quite amazing what asking these questions of myself has done. I feel no pressure to do any of them. I actually know things I can change so that I will want to do things, and I feel much better.

I'm going to the park. I am going to sit on a blanket in the warm sun. I am going to read. I am going to practice drawing the things I want to draw. I am going to watch little kids play. I am going to just sit with myself. And then I am going to go for a walk and get myself lunch at Rubio's. I am going to buy it, eat it and enjoy it myself. Because that is what I want and need to do to take care of me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bless you shit for coming into my life

In therapy, Paul read me this paragraph:
It was granted to me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts.... That is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me: “Bless you, prison!” I...have served enough time there. I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation: “Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!” (The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956, Vol. 2, 615-617)
As he read, I thought about all of the things I have learned over the past year. I felt grateful for the eating disorder and all that recovery is teaching me. I felt grateful for all of the wonderful people I met because of the eating disorder. I thought about Larry, and when Paul read the last line, in my mind, I actually said, "Bless you Larry for having been in my life."

I don't think he ever meant to hurt me. I believe he was doing the best he could. That doesn't mean that I think what he did was okay - it just means I have compassion for him. I also am grateful for all that I have learned, and I truly feel grateful for all of the experiences.

When he finished, Paul turned to me and said, "Maybe one day, you'll be able to say, 'Bless you..." And he stopped. Then he started again, "Bless you... shit... for coming into my life."

I am grateful for all of the shit. I am grateful for all that I've learned. And there is still no better way to say it. Tonight, in my prayers, I will thank God for the shit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tao of Equus - the story of Noche

Noche was an abused horse. When the author took him in - she watched him and thought he was a very aloof, distant, tired old horse. It wasn't until she started spending all day long just hanging out in the pasture, that he began to trust her. He came alive with his own personality.

Still, if he felt threatened and couldn't get away from people, he would dissociate. She would watch him recede back into his own head. She could tell he was getting as far away from the people as he could get while still being tied to his hitching post.

The author talks about how careful people have to be in working with an abused horse:
"If you're going to work with an abused horse, you have to recognize exactly what you're feeling at all times. Like a traumatized person, Noche is hypersensitive to the blood pressure, muscle tension, breathing rate, and unexpressed emotions of anyone approaching him."
"There is a purpose to his fear. Whether they have two or four legs, abused animals tend to become hyper vigilant. This means they turn the volume up on all their senses to gauge the arousal level of others. in this way, a distrustful horse like Noche can tell what state someone's in long before that person can get close enough to cause him harm. "
That is part of the reason I'm so good at empathizing with others. It's a powerful defense mechanism that has allowed me to stay safe, and has also allowed me to help others. It has given me abilities others don't seem to have, but it has also been blown way out of proportion. I am afraid when I don't need to be... I feel others' anger when it is merely a small frustration.
"YOU have to be calm to reassure Noche. He doesn't want you around if you're afraid or angry. These emotions plug him into his own unresolved issues and probably trigger memories of past abuse."
I know that is true for myself. I don't like to be around people who are afraid or angry. It makes me uncomfortable, panicked, afraid, angry, anxious, nervouse, and so much more. I feel silly that I get so worked up about it. Other people don't seem to have the same problems I do. I react to others' anger before I even know what I am doing.
"In order to work with Noche, you have to own your feelings. If you don't, he'll continue to react to the anxiety you're carrying around and be triggered by it unmercifully. Whether you're dealing with an abused horse, or an abused human, you have no hope of helping someones heal his own trauma if you're inadvertently setting him off with your unconscious emotions, then freaking out yourself, and falling into a state of dissociation."
Which is what I do all the time with Dann. He has his own healing to do. He has had his own traumas, and although they don't effect him in the same ways, we are still constantly triggering each other. We go through the same cycle that Noche goes through!
"Listen to the message behind the emotion and respond to it. If you're afraid, for instance, you need to locate the threat and move to safety. Anger usually arises when someone has violated your personal boundaries in some way. You need to determine who stepped over the line and reinstate a boundary that makes you feel comfortable."
This seems so simple, and yet I struggle to even begin to think about what this means. Logically, it makes perfect sense, but when I try to apply it... it feels like I am trying to fly. I feel rather... stuck!
"To work with Noche, you'll have to develop a certain level of emotional agility, and you won't be able to do that if you're always running away from your feelings, which in your case means deflecting your attention to the emotions of others."
She says things like this several times. I feel so selfish and a little crazy, but I feel like saying if you want to talk to me about the things that are important to me, you have to be emotionally agile enough. There are very few people who fit that.

I think I have always known who I can share things with - probably because I was hurt when I was young. I figured out how to protect myself, and I don't just mean physically. I figured out how to keep people from hurting me emotionally. When others are in a good place, I easily share with him. When he's not, there is nothing inside me to share. It is the same with new people, sometimes I feel like sharing quite a bit of myself. Sometimes, I feel like I have nothing to share. Its just not there.

Tao of Equus - The Story of Joy continued

"This morning, I happened upon the most extreme case of abuse and neglect I 've seen in a long time. Can you believe it? The poor creature was in an absolute panic as her owner continued to drag her into a situation she objected to with every fiber of her being, a situation I know she barely escaped once before. Her whole body was shaking with fear and with the anger of having her basic needs so grossly neglected and ignored that I was tempted to call the humane society. But then again the humane society has no jurisdiction over the human soul.
I'm talking about you, Joy. Your conscious identity's treatment of the graceful, sensitive and gifted being inside is absolutely no different than the Noche's abusive former owner treated him. Imagine someone bullying that wonderful, intelligent creature who just taught you more about yourself than any counselor could. Imagine someone bashing him over the head with a two-by-four and calling him stupid.
You beat yourself up in the same way all the time, and you let others join in. Do you really think I should tolerate this kind of violence and neglect from you when I would never stand by and watch someone torturing a horse. The anger and panic coming from your body were so powerful I felt like I was being suffocated and beaten from the inside out. Emotions this strong can't be revolved through suppression or expression. The behavior that generates them must change.
You have to capacity to become an empathic healer, whether or not you choose to use it in any formal way. But you can't help other people by feeling sorry for them and indulging them at your own expense. You will only kill the gifted part of yourself through the neglect and abuse you constantly inflict on yourself. Please, listen to your body, your emotions, and your soul - and not the twisted conditioning that's become your conscious mind. Your very survival depends on you actually making an effort to change, not just talk about it while you ignore or wallow in strong emotions you aren't truly listening to.
Like most aggressive people, you were taught to be that way. You just deflected it onto yourself to avoid hurting others. Your heart is already in the right place. A shift in perception is what you need. When you find yourself in a volatile situation, become the horse. Scan the landscape around you without judging or idealizing others. Feel the rivers of physical, emotional and intuitive knowledge rise up to the surface. Let the wild, sensitive, strong yet gentle force of your soul lead the way now and then.
The woman who respects and listens to the wisdom of the prey, cannot possibly abuse herself or anyone else, and it will become a lot more difficult for others to victimize her as well."
There was so much wisdom in all of that - I felt like she was talking to me rather than to Joy.

I have forced myself to do so many things that my heart, body, soul did not want to do. There was so much inside of me that disagreed, but I did it anyways because I was supposed to. I wish I had thought of it this way before.

I have abused myself horribly. I have denied myself love, compassion, food, rest, everything that a person needs to just survive. I have beat myself both emotionally and physically. I am far more abusive than anyone I have ever known. I would not sit by and let someone treat a horse, or any other animal, the way I treat myself. It would anger and sicken me to see someone abusing another the way I abuse myself.

The final lines about listening to the wisdom of the prey really got to me though. In my mind, I thought that if I listened to that voice inside trying to protect me, I was a victim. I was being silly. I wasn't fitting in with what society would want me to do. I am showing emotions that aren't okay to show, and definitely aren't okay to give in to.

I know I am growing stronger and gaining more clarity everyday. I can be trusted more and more. That is exciting.

Scary, hard night

Last night, I was feeling a little anxious about trying to sleep.

Eventually, I went through the grounding exercises and laid down. It was hard for my body to relax. Even while I was still awake, it kept tensing up all over. It was a little miserable. I put on holosync, and that just seemed to make it worse.

My body started tensing - the all over extremely painful, seizure-like flashbacks. I started crying. I thought about how I just wanted to text BJ to come in right then. I decided that I would wait, let myself go through it, and eventually I would calm down on my own.

I tried. I may have even gone to sleep, but the terror and fear were still completely overwhelming. I felt like I was paralyzed in the bed, and there was nothing I could do to stop what was happening to me. It was terrifying. For about three hours, I went through this agonizing pain. I was exhausted. I didn't know what I wanted BJ to do, but I sent him a text at 3:44 am.

I thought I sent, "Help?" Apparently, I was way more out of it than I thought. He got the message, "Hes".

He came in and just sat with me. My body continued to seize up, I don't know for how long. He gave me a priesthood blessing. I don't remember what it said, except that he blessed me that I would remember the words of that blessing and other blessings. He promised that all of the blessings I have received would come true. He also blessed me with the ability to rest.

After he left, I turned on a different holosync track. I relaxed and went to sleep before that one was over. After that, I woke up a few times filled with terror, but I was able to calm down and just go right back to sleep.

I remember a time when my nights were like that every night. It hasn't been like that for a while. Although it sucks to have them at all - I am grateful that I don't have them all of the time now. I am grateful I was here, and I didn't have to go through that pain alone

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The purpose of the pain...

Yesterday, Dr West (of Zero Disease) talked about the dangers of using the healing knowledge he was teaching us. He used the example of a weightlifter. They have worked on weightlifters who had fatigued their muscles to the point, that they COULDN'T lift another ounce. After they worked on them, they could go back and lift just as much as they had at the beginning.

His question, just because they COULD lift that much again, SHOULD they?

Then he went on and talked about the wise person will not wait for the pain to return to take care of themselves. They will do the healing work he was teaching regularly enough that the pain won't return. They will let their body and muscles rest even if they seem healthy enough to go on.

This morning, it hit me, that I will continue to have pain until I learn how to take care of myself. As long as I continue to try to take care of everyone else first, as long as I push myself way past what I know is right for me and my body, as long as I keep ignoring all of the subtle signals that something is wrong - I will continue to feel this pain. No matter how much healing work I do. No matter how hard I try, if I don't learn to take care of myself, it will continue to hurt.

I have learned this lesson before. It came from a wheelchair at CFC. I kept passing out, because I was waiting for someone else to tell me I should be in the chair, or I didn't deserve to sit down, or I had to do what everyone else expected of me, or... Finally, one day, I just accepted the dang thing, and then learned how to sit down when I was feeling dizzy, and now I do pretty good taking care of me that way.

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound with mine, let us work together

~ aboriginal woman
I saw this quote, and it echoes something I feel. Its hard to describe what it is like when people come to help and think they are better than me. It sucks! I would rather do it on my own than have someone look down on me for having hard times.

It is true that we are all connected. My freedom from this pain effects many people. Most of those people will never know about this journey I have been on, but it will change their lives. I know that others' freedom from pain, heartache, etc. effects me.

We are all held captive by something, and together we can all be liberated.

Tao of Equus - Unlearning to ignore our feelings

This book has again surprised me as it has described me and my experiences.
"People who've been convinced to mistrust the simplest of feelings and perceptions can be counted upon to obey family, peer group, and government policies about more complicated matters, even if these policies are obviously destructive or immoral. This is an ongoing problem for women with a history of abuse. As little girls, they learned to be happy, helpful, brave, and polite when they really felt sad, frightened, rebellious and angry. No one ever taught them how to manage or learn from those "bad feelings." As a result, they later found they could not rely on their own internal warning system to avoid potentially dangerous situations. When these women finally seek therapy in the face of extreme adversity, the culturally conditioned split between mind and body actually keeps them from changing the pattern. It's simply not possible for a battered wife to talk herself out of nonverbal postures of submissions and conformity ingrained in her since early childhood. With her mind firmly focused on the ideals of freedom and a better life, she remains oblivious to the ways her body and personality were molded to support chauvinistic and authoritarian agendas, molds set in place without her conscious knowledge or consent. Women are ceaselessly preyed on in civilized society because, in order to conform, they relinquish the same somatic and emotional wisdom that allows horses, deer, and zebras to elude an attack in nature."
To please everyone else, I ignored my own fear and heartache. I kept pushing through, toughing it out, and submitting completely to first my parents, then my husband, and even to the church. This submission left me in the perfect mindset to be victimized first by Johnny, then by Larry. Really I am lucky it wasn't worse.

And now, I am at the point that it is hard for me to even know what I want and what I feel. Everyone else's emotions and vulnerabilities are far more important to me than my own. I am trying to unlearn to ignore my own feelings. I have gotten much better over the past year. I don't "push through it" nearly as much, and it feels good albeit still strange.

It is very strange to think that my fear is actually there to serve me. It is actually okay to acknowledge it and sometimes listen to it.

Tao of Equus - the story of Joy

Joy had been sexually molested by a groom in the horse stables, physically abused by her grandmother, mother and father, and had been in many very destructive relationships.
"In Joy's estimation, the ex-boyfriends and husbands who proceeded to abuse her were basically good men who crave the right kind of nurturing and understanding. She hadn't been able to figure out exactly what they needed, but she was working on it."
Her first day at the stables, Joy picked a horse that was stubborn and aggressive. She felt she had an instant connection with him, and she felt safest with him. After watching him bite, kick and chase off the other horses from the food, she decided she did in fact know him. He was just like all of the abusive men she had ever known.
"Joy had mistakenly associated the feeling of familiarity with safety. She had misread Hawk's disrespect of boundaries as affection. "
For the last ten years of my life, I have been the opposite. If it felt familiar, it was dangerous. New was safe. New people didn't hurt you like family did. New was good. As soon as something even the slightest bit negative happened I ran... because of the relationship with Larry. I stayed with him long after I should have. I wanted to save him.

I would have picked Hawk, but only because I heard he was abused. I would want to save him, love him, show him that not all people are like that. I would let him hurt me in the name of saving him.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Look up!

Yesterday, horseback riding was hard. I was so tired, I was just forcing myself to go, because I didn't know what else to do. I didn't want to disappoint anyone. I didn't want to waste beautiful weather. I didn't want to be lazy. I didn't know where else I would go - nowhere offers peace or rest, so I might as well go be on a horse.

I found myself looking down - focusing hard just to stay on the horse and get up (and then back down) the mountain.

At one point, I heard a voice say, "Look up!"

I looked up and saw the sky, the beautiful rock faces, the trees, the leaves, the birds, even the horses are really quite magnificent.

I realized that so often I get caught up in the task at hand - pushing through to get to the end of the journey, I don't see the beauty around me. I miss everything while climbing, because all I can see is climbing. Sometimes, I just need to stop, "Look up!" and see all that there is to see.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Progress... its slow, but it is happening

This morning, I was thinking about progress, and more specifically the progress I have made. It was only a few weeks ago that I couldn't even sleep in the bed with blankets over me. Then, one day, I got sick of the sleeping bag and slept with a blanket. I have never even thought about going back to the sleeping bag. The blanket is better - its more comfortable, its not as noisy, I feel more normal.

Before that, I could have slept with a blanket, but it made me more anxious. It was harder to try to get to sleep. By not forcing myself to do what I thought I should do, the change just happened.

I know I am progressing and changing everyday. I just want it to be faster. It would be so much easier on everyone else if I could just get through this and over all of this crap already. And, come to think of it, it would be easier on me too.

The other thought that I keep having is from Richard G. Scott's talk, Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse.
Understand that healing can take considerable time. Recovery generally comes in steps. It is accelerated when gratitude is expressed to the Lord for every degree of improvement noted.
I am grateful for every improvement.
I am grateful that I no longer feel the need to sleep with a sleeping bag.
I am grateful that I sleep better when I am at the Johnson's home.
I am grateful the eating disorder urges are not as strong as they used to be.
I am grateful there are times I want to be at home with Dann.
I am grateful that I am sitting at my computer typing anything with Lee and Jordon behind me.
I am grateful that I sleep at all.
I am grateful that Thursday I went riding and for a while only thought about riding.
I am grateful I was able to just relax and feel peaceful for an hour on the mountain.
I am grateful that Bishop Johnson can hold my hands and it doesn't cause the sexual reaction as much, and I don't have to concentrate like I used to.
I am grateful for the moments I am able to think through the fears and pull myself back to reality.
I am grateful that I can cry now.
I am grateful that I can go to sacrament meeting with less anxiety.
I am grateful that I can meet with Bishop Campbell without freaking out like I did with Bishop Johnson at first.
I am grateful I have a better understanding than I ever have before.
I am grateful that flashbacks were different.
I am grateful I don't feel as panicked and like I have to run from the Johnson's home.
I am grateful I can see four or five days into the future now - it used to be that I couldn't think about two hours.
I am grateful that I can go all night without asking for help from Bishop Johnson or anyone else.
I am grateful that cutting and pills are not on my mind all of the time.
I am grateful that although I felt like purging this morning, I didn't.
I am grateful that even the worst eating disorder days (say Sat.) are nothing compared to what they used to be.
I am grateful that I am more honest than I have ever been in my life about my feelings, my frustrations, my thoughts, everything.
I am grateful that I know better what I want. I am grateful I can guide Paul in therapy, and that I think clearly enough to help him know how to help me. I am grateful that it hurts right now, because I used to be so numb I couldn't feel pain.
I am grateful that I am able to see the beauty of art and music (This is new.)
I am grateful I can sing, laugh out loud, use my voice without hating myself.
I am grateful I parked closer to my building than I used to, and it was ok.
I am grateful that I can feel frustrated and angry rather than just accepting what people say and do.
I am grateful that I have questions.
I am grateful that I have been able to share my struggles with my friends from CFC.
I am grateful that I woke up feeling rested yesterday.
I am grateful that I woke up and felt the sunshine this morning.

I am grateful for every degree of progress. This list is not complete...I have been incredibly blessed on this journey.

I am safe

I am safe.
I am in this bed alone.
No one will hurt me.
It is ok to be afraid.
It is ok to cry.
I am stronger than these emotions, feelings, and thoughts.
If I need anything, BJ is in the next room.
This blanket keeps me warm and protects me.
I can feel that I am here, in this bed, in this home.
I am safe.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I admit I am powerless

I keep thinking about the first step of the 12-Steps.

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable

My life is definitely unmanageable. I am trying with everything I have to learn, to grow, to change, but it is not working. The harder I try, the farther I get from what I want.

I am powerless. I have always known that, because I have always felt His presence with me. I have known what to do next. I feel completely helpless.

I just want to be home with my husband. I want to be home protecting him from the dark. Knowing that he feels the same fear of the dark that I feel is breaking my heart. Knowing that fear has only developed over the past few months makes me feel horrible. I want to be home to protect him. I want him to know he is not alone. But he is. He is married to a woman that is not capable of being married.

I want to feel safe, and there is no where. My life has become only the pain I live in. I have tried to be positive. I have tried to focus on where I am going. I have tried to think about all of the things I am grateful for. In the end, there is nothing left but the pain, the anguish, the guilt, the shame, the heartache.

I believe there is a Power greater than me - I believe He can restore my sanity. He can help me overcome my shortcomings, but I am wondering if He will. I am wondering if I am supposed to suffer forever. I am wondering if He is trying, and I am too stupid to see, to understand and to do what is necessary to find the peace I so desperately want.

Please, Please, oh Please help me! Be with me! Guide me. Why am I so alone? Why can't I see my way in the dark. I don't know what to do next. I can't take much more of this.

I am trying. Do You see that? Do You know? Do You care? I don't want to rely on anyone but You. I don't want to put my faith anywhere but in You. Please, don't make me go through this anymore. What will it take for me to overcome? How much longer? How much more?

I want to say, Not my will, but Thine. I just don't know if I have it in me to offer anymore. My will has long been gone. I don't have anything left to keep me going. I want to serve You, but I just... feel... powerless.

Gratitude Journal

I used to keep a daily gratitude journal. I have not been doing that, although I have tried to see the good happening as well as the bad. I have tried to be honest about the amazing blessings I have experienced in my life. There have been so many miracles, and I know I am so blessed.

I woke up feeling rested this morning. (Just like the priesthood blessing said!)
Priesthood blessing, and the truth it spoke to my heart.
Playing the organ.
BJ's home - having a place I can go where I feel safe. I can get a break from some of my confusion.
Things are changing everyday.
Dann loves me.
He makes me laugh. (This got a woot woot from Dann.)
Music - playing the piano speaks to something deep within. It brings out all of the things inside: good, bad, ugly.
Good friends - I have been blessed with friendships that most people only dream of. I know some of the most amazing women on the planet!
The guy that thanked me for the organ music after church.
Bishop Campbell is still trying so hard to understand me and to help me.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I am ok...

I am tired. I feel nauseous. My head aches. I feel dizzy. I am not sure how much longer I can keep going. My body hurts. I can't shake the memories of what my abusers did. I feel desperate for something else, but I don't even know what.

But I don't want to make you worry. I want you to think I am strong. I don't want to hurt you. I am trying to be positive. I am trying to stop being a burden.

So, I say, "I am ok."