Thursday, February 28, 2013

A fork in the road: Do I try to change the world? Or just go fishing?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a desire to start some kind of center for PTSD. BJ had a big vision: Something like the Huntsman Cancer Institute... Since I'm not a billionaire, that idea isn't a workable possibility. BUT. The vision sparked something in my dad.

Every time I have seen him or talked to him since then, he has brought up new ideas that ARE possible. Put together a training for doctors. Work with the local PTSD therapists and the local hospitals to educate medical professionals. Make a website with a list of all of the professionals who have been through the training. Put together a list of resources. (Therapists, doctors, dentists, groups, treatment centers, books, blogs, stories, etc.)

(Pause to recognize how much I LOVE that my dad is bringing this back up. I would have let it completely drop, but he's inspired me to keep thinking.)

I admit, I feel torn.
On the one hand, I feel super excited and passionate about this idea. I could start contacting people, help to create a training. Be the organizer. I used to do that for work, but that job wasn't nearly as personal as this would be.

On the other hand, at this point in my life PTSD and abuse are not part of my everyday existence. There was a time when my everything revolved around trauma and the effects of trauma. That isn't the case anymore, and I am glad. I don't want it to be. I want to walk away and never think about it again.

I work at a job that has NO connection to mental health, eating disorders, trauma or abuse. I love what I do. I think it's fun, and I'm excited for what the future holds.

I live with a wonderful friend and we have a great time together. We laugh and talk and play, and I'm excited for our future together.

I have a lot of hobbies and passions that make me feel happy and alive, and I am trying new things all the time.

If I start investing time and energy into this idea, will it trigger my own trauma? Will I be thrown back into my past, and the memories? I don't want my life to always have trauma and icky stuff in it. Will I be able to enjoy my life AND follow this idea? Will I be able to keep myself in a good place and help others?
I don't know. And if it will cause me to have nightmares or sleepless nights, would it still be worth it?

I think so.
And I just don't know.

(And when it all comes down to it, it's going to take a lot of work, and who knows what will even come of it? At this point, I'm just trying to decide if I want to pursue pursuing the idea.)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

It isn't hard if it's done right

A week or so ago, I got brave on Facebook and did a status about BJ.
"I never thought it was possible to enjoy being with another person this much. I always thought love was work. This love doesn't feel like work at all."
People who don't know me very well, and don't know Todd at all, and have no idea what I am really talking about said things like, "That's because it is new." or "I give it a month."

Our love and friendship aren't new. Me admitting I love him, and I like being with him, and letting myself be comfortable with the idea that he also loves me - those things are new. Other people defining us as a couple and not trying to convince them otherwise, that is VERY new.

But I've loved him for many years.
My relationship/friendship/whateverthehellyouwanttocallit with BJ doesn't feel like work.
Jeff wrote a blog post about his relationship with his wife, and why he believes marriage isn't work.

He said some things that I have felt, but haven't been able to find the words.

It isn't hard to spend time with BJ. It isn't hard to go fishing. It isn't hard to stay up late working. It isn't hard to listen to him share his thoughts. It isn't hard to hold him when he's crying. It isn't hard to let him hold me when I am sad. It isn't hard to share myself with him. It isn't hard to tell him when I disagree with him. It isn't hard when he disagrees with me.

A few days ago there was an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about what happens when one spouse loses faith (or gains it). There was a quote that really resonated with me.
 "More than likely you divorce because one or both of you couldn’t tell the difference between control and love."
I have been in relationships and friendships that felt like work... and do you know WHY they felt like work? I was trying to control them. I was trying to change them.

I thought it was my job to reform them. Get them to wear a white shirt and tie to church. To go to church. To treat me nice. To get a job. To exercise. To eat different. To go to therapy. To date the "right" person. To stop dating that person. To change their haircut. To stop telling certain jokes.

I had a list of things that I thought other people should do... and when I was trying to change the other person, our relationship FELT like work. It was hard. It was not fun.

In the past few years, I've learned more about me. I've learned about healthy relationships. I know the difference between love and control.

I can say I love BJ, because I have no desire to control or change him. I love who he is. I love the way he treats me. I love spending time with him. I love working, fishing, playing, laughing, crying, talking. I appreciate who he is. I also feel loved by him. He doesn't try to change me. He loves the way I treat him. He loves spending time with me. He appreciates me.

I am in the process of discovering lots of amazing things...
And I just think that when love is done right, it isn't hard, and it doesn't feel like work.
Like Jeff said,
"If you met a painter who truly loves to paint, and you see a magnificent painting they have created.  Do you think they will talk about how hard it was to paint?

Will a car enthusiast talk about how hard it was to restore that classic vehicle?

Will someone who loves photography talk about how hard it was to take that amazing picture?

I don't think so.  If you truly love something, you give it your all.  And you never think it was that hard, because you would have spent the time anyway."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Her urethra inspires me

(Subtitle: I don't want to make light of a shitty thing, but my hope is that at least one person will find it funny... and if you don't, let me know, and I will change it immediately.)

WARNING: I'm about to get graphic about sexual abuse. Stop reading here if you don't feel up to reading about it.

In the past few weeks, I have watched one of my favorite people face shit and fears and SHIT and she's pretty much my hero. Some things, like her situation, have to be faced because it's life or death. Some of my fears don't HAVE to be faced, but watching her courage made me want to be brave.

I know that most people don't understand my fears. They seem silly (even to me). And to compare them AT ALL to what S is facing... but if she can do what she is doing, then of course, I can get over my little fears.

I used to have a half-tooth in my head. It broke off more than a year ago. I figured with it broken that bad, there was no way they could save it, so there was no rush... Except what I REALLY thought was:


The last time I went to the dentist was in 2006. I didn't have them do an exam. It was for a molar on the other side of my mouth. It had broken in half, and I just had them pull it. And before that, I'm not sure when the last time was.

I hate the dentist. I am aware that very few people like going there. It's painful. It sucks to have someone shoving things in your mouth. It's miserable. I get that I am not alone in my general hatred for dentists.

My fear and hatred is similar... and different.
I don't mind the pain. To be clear, I don't LIKE pain, but I can handle pain. I don't like people shoving things in my mouth, but I can handle that discomfort... sort of.

I can't handle them laying the chair back, getting in my space, and trying to keep myself in the present moment while feeling pain and having someone shove things in my mouth.

WARNING: The next paragraph is graphic. Stop reading here if you don't feel up to reading about it.

Laying on my back will probably always be problematic for me. Beyond being just a vulnerable position in general, it is the position I took over and over and over. Sometimes that position resulted in the painful shoving of his genitalia into my own. Sometimes it was the painful and disgusting shoving of his genitalia into other places. While sitting on my chest. And holding my head.

As the dentist puts back the chair, I fight EVERY time to remind myself I am at the dentist and not somewhere else. I fight to remind myself I am safe. No one is going to hurt me, except in the way that will help my teeth... but it is SO familiar and so close to that feeling... that horrible voiceless, powerful, painful, disgusting feeling.

I watched my friend go to the doctor, and I watched her face a long list of things that would trigger her. I came to the conclusion I had been a coward long enough. So I set up the appointment.

It turns out dentists are used to people having anxieties. My dentist had a questionnaire that asked about anxieties... and how he could help... and he and all of his assistants actually read my answers.

They asked what they could do to lessen my anxiety.
I told them to leave me sitting up as much and for as long as possible. Which they did.

Partway through the checkup and cleaning, I could feel myself slipping away.

(For those who have never dissociated, I'll try to explain what it feels like to me. It feels similar to passing out, except I don't actually pass out most of the time. Instead, my consciousness goes way back into the back of my head. Sometimes, I just stay there and I can observe what is happening to my body in the present, but I can't do anything to control my body. Sometimes, my consciousness goes so far away, I am unaware of my surroundings. Sometimes, I experience flashbacks. As far as my consciousness is concerned I am reliving past experiences. It FEELS like I am being raped, or molested, or I'm fighting for my life, and it FEELS almost impossible to tell the difference between the past and the present. I've learned a few tricks to bring myself back... almost none of which can be done in a dentist's chair.)

I started to shake. The hygienist immediately stopped and asked if there was anything she could do to make it better. I told her to just talk. Tell stories. She noticed my sweatshirt with horses on it and started telling me about training her horses. It was a topic I get pretty excited about. I focused on her stories, and that kept me present. (The fact that I could focus on stories will tell anyone who has ever dealt with flashbacks or dissociation how far I have come. Just listening to someone else talk would never have been enough a few years ago.)

They gave me the list of what work needed to be done. Wisdom teeth out (why?), a root canal, two crowns, and four fillings. Not bad considering how long it has been. Then it came time to set the appointment to come back. My chest got tight. I wanted to cry. The dentist was good and asked again, "How can we help you with your anxiety?" He told me the work they were going to do would require that they lay the chair all the way back, and probably have to keep me back for a while. We talked about "laughing gas". It's purpose is to relax people, but not only does it not relax me, it has made things worse in the past. He offered Valium, or something like it, which meant I had to have a driver. I was somewhat relieved, because that gave me an excuse to ask someone to come with me.

So, I got my Diazepam. I took it an hour before my appointment like they told me to. It didn't do anything until about two hours into the appointment... About the time they were all done, I suddenly just wanted to go to sleep.

As I was leaving, I saw my little "grounding guy". BJ's granddaughter gave it to me when she was only two or three. She told me to hold it when I was sad and it would make me smile. It is small enough that it went with me everywhere for a long time. I decided to take him with me to the dentist.

"Grounding guy"

BJ drove.
I was impressed with the staff. They tried hard to be accommodating and empathetic.
I still freaked out.

Causing myself pain sometimes keeps me grounded. Therapists and professionals don't usually like this technique...

I didn't know I'd twisted myself into a pretzel.

I pulled out grounding guy. BJ talked to me. The dentist and his assistants tried to make me laugh, which was helpful.

I survived.They will seat the crowns in a few days.
There really isn't a "happy ending" to this story... but I decided to write about this... and to actually post the pictures that BJ took... because although life is good, and I am happy, I'd be lying if I said I never had to deal with trauma-shit. I do. I have had nightmares and bad nights since the appointment. Flashbacks, where I relive the worst moments. It sucks.

I want to tell this story, because I think it's important to talk about the effects of abuse. I think it's important to help increase understanding. I feel a huge desire to educate people about what it's like to live with PTSD.

No one would have known how freaked out I felt. No one would have known how icky it felt to be in that dentist chair if I didn't tell this story... I wear a good mask on my face. I pretend pretty good when I want to... but I'd like to create a world where people like me don't have to wear a mask. They don't have to pretend that they are okay when they feel like the world is crashing in around them.

Maybe if I talk about one stupid little visit to the dentist, I can make a difference.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Chocolate Covered Strawberries Day!

A few days ago, BJ asked me if he was supposed to do something for me for Valentine's Day.

Although I know how much he doesn't like the holiday, and I am also aware of how silly I think the holiday is... I still wasn't quite sure how to respond. So I said the only thing that came to my head.

Oh. Please. Don't!

Sigh of relief from both of us.

I know this is a strange reason to enjoy being with someone... but I appreciate that he can tell me the history of the holiday. I appreciate that he doesn't feel the need to celebrate or have a desire to do so. He doesn't buy chocolates or roses in February. Actually, he would never buy me chocolates or roses, because he knows me well enough to know I wouldn't be a fan. He especially wouldn't buy them this time of year, because they are blasted expensive.

He would bring home a few chocolate covered strawberries, because we both like them. A lot. And they seem to only be available at this time of year. He doesn't expect me to make a big deal of this day, and in fact would not find that amusing... unless I did it sarcastically... then he'd get a kick out of it.

He would plan a wonderful day for me the day after Valentine's Day. (My birthday)
We went to the State Capitol for a rally. (We were on the local news, but you can't really tell it is us... unless you know that I was wearing a bright green hoodie and a black ski cap... and he was wearing his felt brim fishing hat.

We went to Cabela's. We looked at fishing stuff and decorations for the house.

We ate fish tacos at Rubio's.

We went snowshoeing.

We went to dinner at a local cantina. Live music. Salsa Bar. And he invited some of my favorite friends. We all talked and laughed and were silly... AWESOME time together.

I'm feeling loved and happy and grateful for my life.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Vday!

So... I actually signed up to go to a rising event. There were two of us there... but two of us in a small town like this one? I met a new friend, and she cares about some of the same stuff I care about.

She is an amazing dancer. I... just appreciate the cause...

We didn't do any dancing. We just talked and got to know each other.
Even so, it felt empowering.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

This Time

Justin sometimes sends me new music he thinks I'll like. He hasn't been wrong yet.
Here is the one he shared today. Also. I think I just found a musical I need to see...

Now, I'm standing here the sunlight is soft and warm.
Is this a gentle paradise or only the eye of the storm?

This time will I just give in when the rain starts to pour down?
This time will I start to swim or will I start to drown?

Now, I'm walking alone as the wind circles all around.
Waiting for the slightest move or the first unexpected sound.
This time will I raise my shield when the hunters spot their pray?
This time will I stay in the field or will I run away?

From who I am,
And what I want,
And what I can find,
And who I will be.

Now, I'm moving along as the twilight begins to spread.
I take in this moment as the clouds gather overhead.
This time will I see what's true when the lightening streaks through the grey?
This time will it blind my view or will it light the way?

To who I am,
And what I want,
And what I can find,
And who I will be.
And all these questions in me, are fading away as I suddenly see;

I can embrace everything behind me. And find the place where I finally find me.
Now, I run with you as a new sun begins to rise.
 I can see forever through these endless big blue sky's.

Now is the only time.
Here is the only place.
This is all I want to be.
This time I can see the view.
This time the sun will shine through.

This time. This time. This time.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy Birthday to me!

It isn't my birthday yet... but yesterday was my family's birthday celebration for me.
I was excited all day. I felt really silly, so I tried to discount my own feelings.

It's just a dinner. With ice cream cake and presents. It's not THAT different from any other Sunday when we all get together.  BUT. It WAS different. We were getting together FOR me. Just to celebrate that I am alive, AND I'm excited about that.

I'm not sure how I felt about my birthdays when I was younger. I probably liked them, but at some point my own birthdays started to annoy me. I didn't want to celebrate me. I hated me. I didn't want to celebrate being alive. I wished I wasn't. I didn't want to celebrate living another year. Surviving felt like a silly reason to celebrate. I didn't want presents. Presents made me feel guilty. I don't like them singing to me and feeling like the center of attention. I didn't want to inconvenience my mom with a special dinner. I felt guilty when she did anything special for me.

My birthday felt like an inconvenience and nothing to celebrate at all.

This year. I WANT to celebrate. I feel giggly and silly and excited to celebrate.

It's great to be alive. It's great to be me. It IS totally worth celebrating that I lived another year, because this past year, I LIVED! I like presents. I LOVE eating dinner together. I didn't have any special requests for dinner... except "fruit stuff"*.

I love the goofy way my family sings happy birthday. There's nothing like it... and no two renditions are the same.

On my actual birthday, BJ and I are going to the state capital to lobby against a bill. (HB68 was written by Rep. Kay L. McIff as an attempt to protect the HB141, also known as the "Public Waters Access Act". This bill directly affects us as fisherman and could affect the public because it changes who owns public water.)

The rest of the day is a surprise. BJ asked me what I wanted to do, and the only thing I wanted was to do something. He took that as license to plan a surprise. I used to hate surprises, but I'm not hating this one. He knows me well enough, and I like doing enough different things... I'm excited to see what he comes up with.

Mostly... I'm excited to be excited to be alive.

*Recipe for "Fruit Stuff"
16 oz bag frozen strawberries
1 can peach pie filling
1 (small) box peach jello
1 can mandarin oranges
1 can pineapple chunks or tidbits
a bunch of bananas.

Mix it all together and let it chill.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Not because I'm bored, but because I'm not sleeping.

60 questions about me:

1. Put your iTunes on shuffle. Give me the first 6 songs that pop up.
  • Holy Now by Greg Tamblyn
  • Transcendence is by Lindsay Stirling
  • One Voice by The Wailin' Jennys
  • The Mermaid by Great Big Sea
  • Home by Phillip Phillips
  • Imagine by John Lennon
2. If you could meet anyone on this earth, who would it be?
On this earth? I don't know. Maybe Kate Zooties... We've talked on the phone many times, but have never met in person.

3. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 23, give me line 17.
"And then I saw the problem. Damn it! While the electric wires were brackets on the inside, the fence itself had been strung up on the outside of the poles." ~The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony

4. What do you think about most?
One thing? I think about a lot, a lot. I guess the thing I think about the most would be work, because that's where I spend most of my time... but when I'm just thinking to think, I think about people and ideas and books and beliefs...

5. What does your latest text message from someone else say?
"MAGIC needs to be at least a two day trip. I don't want to miss out on making business contacts. The jewelry should be here tomorrow. I'm liking you." -BJ

6. Do you sleep with __ or without __ on?
Pajamas? With.

7. What's your strangest talent?
I know the Item ID for every item my work sells. That's hundreds of items.

8. Ever had a poem or song written about you?
Probably. I don't know.

9. Do you have any strange phobias?
snails. I hate snails.

10. Ever stuck a foreign object up your nose?
Not that I know of. 

11. What's your religion?
I don't claim a religion...

12. If you are outside, what are you most likely doing?
horseback riding, fishing, hiking, taking pictures, sitting and reading, snowshoeing

13. Do you prefer to be behind the camera or in front of it?
I like both. I really enjoy taking pictures, but it's fun to see the pictures others take of me.

14. Simple but extremely complex. Favourite band?
I don't have one. Lately I really like the Wailin' Jennys.

15. Do you believe in karma?
Not really.

16. What does your URL mean?
?? stillme-thejourney? That came from the foundation Dann and I started to help people with PTSD and/or eating disorders. Nothing much came of it, except this blog.

17. Have you ever gone skinny dipping?
Nope. But I'd like to.

18. How do you vent your anger?
Writing. Swearing. Talking about it. Crying.

19. Do you have a collection of anything?
books. Does that count?

20. Do you prefer talking on the phone or video chatting online?
Never tried video chatting, so I guess on the phone.

21. Are you happy with the person you've become?

22. What's a sound you hate? A sound you love?
Hate? Fighting. Love? laughs, loving, music

23. Do you believe in ghosts? How about aliens?
I don't know. Sure.

24. Stick your right arm out; what do you touch first?
The scale.

25. Smell the air. What do you smell?

26. What's the worst place you've ever been to?
I don't know. I hate the dentist, but that doesn't seem like the WORST place.

27. Choose: East Coast or West Coast?

28. Most attractive singer/actor of your opposite gender?
Colin Farrell

29. To you, what is the meaning of life?
Living and loving

30. Do you believe in luck?
Sort of. Luck is how I would describe some things that just happen... Sometimes we like what happens, and we call that lucky. Sometimes we hate what happens, and we call that unlucky.

31. What's the weather like right now?
Snowing. Cold.

32. What time is it?
2:35 AM

33. Do you drive?

34. What was the last book you read?
The last one I finished? Wind in the Door. I'm currently reading Les Miserables.

35. Do you have any nicknames?
Ernie, but that was a long time ago. Recently, I got the name "Super Scuba" which I love only because I love the person who gave me the name.

36. What was the last movie you saw?
The Smell of Success, except that I fell asleep... the last complete movie I saw was Lincoln

37. What's the worst injury you've ever had?
Probably broken nose and bruised back when I fell off the horse.

38. Have you ever caught a butterfly?
Yes. But more, it just landed on me.

39. Do you have any obsessions right now?
not that I can think of.

40. What's your sexual orientation?

41. Ever had a rumour spread about you?
Yes. Lots of stories and rumors. Apparently I'm very scandalous.

42. Do you believe in magic?
Like Harry Potter magic? no. Like the amazing connection and the miracles that happen all around us that just can't be explained (yet)? Yes.

43. Do you tend to hold grudges against people who have done you wrong?
No. Sometimes I wish I could. It might make my life less complicated.

44. What is your astrological sign?

45. Do you save money or spend it?
I save it SO I can spend it. I used to really REALLY hate spending money, but then a couple years ago I used up all my savings to go to Germany. TOTALLY worth it. Now I let myself spend money to travel and do fun things.

46. What's the last thing you purchased?
boots. Fuzzy moccasins. Are they not adorable? (I cut off the pom poms though. They were a litlte too pom-pom-y for me.)

47. Love or lust?

48. In a relationship?

49. How many relationships have you had?
Every friendship, acquaintance, whatever is a relationship. We are all connected... Therefore I have had and will always have thousands of relationships.

50. Can you touch your nose with your tongue?
no. But I admit I just tried

51. Where were you yesterday?
Working. Tuesdays are order days.

52. Is there anything pink within 10 feet of you?

53. Are you wearing socks right now?

54. What's your favourite animal?
I love all animals. Horses have a special place with me, but I can't really say they are my favorite. I also love dogs, hedgehogs, cats, goats, lizards, some snakes, and bugs.

55. What is your secret weapon to get someone to like you?
Don't have one. I am me. If you like ME, then awesome. If you don't like ME, then it's better for everyone if we know that before we try to spend countless hours together. (I learned this the hard way.)

56. Where is your best friend?

57. What is your heritage?
Mostly European

58. What were you doing last night at 12am?

59. What do you think is Satan's last name?
That's a silly question.

60. What is the best thing about you?
THAT is a very subjective question. The thing I like best about myself is my desire to keep pushing and growing and learning. I like that I question a lot, because the more I question, the more I learn.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I won!

Checkout the Brodie Awards for 2012.

Living IS the point won
Heavenly Codependency tied for a win.

Thanks to all those who voted for me!!