Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Resolutions

This blog:

If I could have written it, I would have.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dear Body,

I understand you have been through a lot. I completely get your need to throw temper tantrums, but right now is a very bad time. You see... we are so worn out. We need to rest. We need sleep. We do not need any more body memories, night terrors, panic attacks, etc.

I am completely willing to go through the shit you insist on putting me through, but just not tonight. Please, will you chill out for just one night??

I am glad that we have worked this out. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Dear Sleep,

Why do you hate me so?
Every time I start to drift off... everything tenses... my muscles ache.
Head throbbing. Want to run away. Scream. Cry.
Can we come to some sort of agreement?
Meet me half way??

Oh well... never mind...
See you tomorrow??

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This moment what Joy feels like.

Horses... Mountains... Snow... Quiet... Friendship... Remembering the past... Its IN the past... Hope... Stillness... I'm different... Gratitude... The contrast... deep sorrows... healing... Peace...

There are no words. It just is.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Miraculous Shit!

I have felt stuck for a very long time... This past week, so much has happened, I no longer feel stuck, I feel... a lot of other things instead.

On Wednesday, I remembered.
I have experienced flashbacks of it,. Confusion surrounding it. I thought I was crazy. Paul kept digging. Suddenly, in the afternoon, crying in the corner of the office, I knew.

Emily and Calli... Calli's dad... the shower...

The next day, it was strangely VERY IMPORTANT to not let K take advantage of me anymore. At first, I thought I was just avoiding. Still... I just went with it...

I talked to K. I talked to Paul. She was angry. I didn't back down. I felt so much better... lighter... stronger...

Friday, I woke up HAPPY! In those few seconds between sleeping and waking, I suddenly gained so much insight into me.
Emily had manipulated me for years, "If you don't do what I want, I'll tell everyone how disgusting you are. No one will want to be your friend."

Eventually, I stopped doing what she wanted, and she DID tell people, and it worked. I was shunned. I switched schools. I found some really good friends, but in the back of my mind, "If they knew, they wouldn't be my friends. I don't deserve friends like them." They never had the intention of manipulating me, but I was still manipulated into doing and being what I thought they wanted.

As I grew older, made new friends, I found many who took advantage of my eagerness to please. I had forgotten WHY I had to do everything for everyone, but I remembered I was worthless, disgusting, and if anyone knew, they wouldn't be my friend.

The friendship with K FELT the same. I HAD to do what she wanted. I lied, I kept secrets, I did so much that I didn't want to do... Standing up to her, changed everything. I was no longer a slave to anyone. I was free!
All day, I walked around feeling light as air. No guilt. (WEIRD!) It felt so good to see a world of new possibilities...

As good as I knew all of this was, I couldn't bring myself to write about it at first, so BJ did.
"It was a miracle. Months and months of incredible effort and painful enduring. One miracle."
He's right. It was a miracle, but its the kind of miracle that sucks too. Answer to my prayers? Absolutely. A step in the right direction? No doubt. Finally knowing what I am dealing with? Good... And now I gotta deal with it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Its important to me

Facebook has been a place where I don't say or do anything that might suggest life is not perfect... Its not that I am trying to hide...its just that I am trying to hide...

I use the excuse that its not the place to discuss hard things (it might not be). I use the excuse that no one wants to read about sad things. I use the excuse that its a place where everyone shares only their best side. (We don't take pictures of our family when we are fighting... We take pictures when we are happy.) I use the excuse that I don't want to be attention seeking like some people I know.

I did something a little different tonight. I posted that I signed a petition asking a columnist to apologize for blaming a victim of rape. I honestly believe she WANTED to give good advice, but she didn't. The original letter (and her response) is here.

I couldn't figure out WHY what she said bothered me so much, but it did.
I thought about friends, who still won't use the word "Rape" to describe what happened to them. I wouldn't use it until after several others had used it first. And still, I have only said it out-loud a few times... Why? Because I feel silly using such a strong word to describe what happened to me. Because people will think of me as disgusting, or they'll question what I am saying, Because it is a very scary, nasty, ugly word used to describe a very scary, nasty, ugly, horrible act. Because I don't want people to blame me. Because I don't want to be laughed at. Because it could have been so much worse... I don't deserve to use that word to describe what happened to me.

The girl in the column wrote in asking, "I guess my question is, if I wasn't kicking and fighting him off, is it still rape? I feel like calling it that is a bit extreme, but I haven't felt the same since it happened." She needed help, support, someone to tell her she wasn't alone and...

Instead, Amy STARTS her response by saying, "First, you were a victim of your own awful judgment. Getting drunk at a frat house is a hazardous choice for anyone to make because of the risk (some might say a likelihood) that you will engage in unwise or unwanted sexual contact."

No, that is NOT first. The girl admitted to making poor choices. She did NOT need to hear that she was a victim of her own awful judgment. THAT IS RIDICULOUS. And wrong.
First, she was a victim of rape. She needs help. There may come a time where she will need to take responsibility for the choices that put her at risk, but that is very, very far down the road.

This girl wrote an advice columnist feeling helpless, scared, alone, shamed, hurt, and so much more... And the advice columnist entirely missed the point. And she perpetuated a lot of crap. I don't think she is the only one with a problem, but there a lot of people that need to change the way they think. If I were responding to the letter, I would have written it like this:
Dear Victim?:
First, if you don’t consent to sex, it is rape. There is no second.

Whether you were drunk or sober is irrelevant. Although being drunk and agreeing to go to someone's room could make you feel responsible, it doesn't make what happened to you any less of a violation.

All the risk reduction measures in the world could never amount to risk prevention. In the end, the person responsible for rape is the perpetrator; he is the ONLY one who can prevent it. What he did was WRONG!

The most important thing now is for you to get whatever help you need. You know what’s best for you. I would encourage you to speak to someone you trust. I assume you wrote to Amy, because you felt afraid, uncertain, scared, maybe a little crazy, doubting yourself, questioning everything you ever thought about yourself or the world around you. Amy is naive, blind, IGNORANT. She doesn't know. Talk to someone who does... a counselor, a doctor, a church leader... and keep looking until you find someone who can help you understand what happened and heal from it.

Were you violated? Yes. And then you were revictimized by Amy Dickinson who blamed you. There will be others like her. Remember, there are others who understand, and who know better.

You have a very hard journey ahead of you. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Many people wrote the Tribune blasting Amy. I wish the blasting weren't so... blasting... because what is important is getting lost in the arguing. She even wrote an apology (here), but she still very much missed the point.

Just because a girl is drunk... doesn't mean anything... A man can get drunk, and he is not in danger... But... I don't think getting drunk is okay... And... the girl getting drunk has nothing to do with anything. People who are completely sober also completely freeze when they are raped. It is a way to survive the moment... It feels very confusing afterwards... Why didn't I fight harder? How could it be rape, when I just let it happen? Its actually a completely normal response. It does not make what he did okay!!!! Ever!

So, I signed the petition. And then I posted it to facebook. I didn't say I was a victim, but...

It FEELS like I did. Suddenly, I feel vulnerable... everyone is going to know how disgusting I am... And they are going to hate me and despise me... and... they are not going to respond to the post, but will think lots of horrible things about me.

I am trying to pretend like I don't care what people think when they see that, but really, I care a lot. I want people to understand and to change. And I'm afraid most will not do either.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Look what I can do!

I went riding today. I started riding Sunny. I worked on getting him to trot, then walk, trot, walk, trot, walk. It went really well, but what I really wanted to do was run.

So, when BJ was leaving, I took Bo and he took Sunny back to the barn. Bo was not so happy about running. He really didn't want to. He wanted to go back to the barn with Sunny and BJ. Every time we started running, he'd pull off the rails and turn around. Recalling what I had learned in the book, "Horses Don't Lie," I just had him go in a circle, so we were right back to where we were before he turned around.

In the past, when he did that, I continually pulled on the reins trying to get him to stay next to the fence. He would end up stopping, I'd fight with him, and eventually we would start running again. Although we always ran again, we still stopped while we fought about it. I would feel frustrated. He probably felt frustrated. Riding wasn't fun, and nothing would change. He would keep doing it.

By running him in a circle: we never stopped running; I never had to fight with him; he never got the break that he was looking for; he figured out what I wanted; and eventually, he stopped trying to turn around. It was SO COOL!

Sometimes, the solution is so much simpler than we know. Fighting with him... sucked... I didn't like it. I felt mean and domineering and I assume he didn't really like it either. I enjoyed riding him today and not fighting with him. It felt really good.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holy Guilt Batman!

I always assumed that when others talk about guilt, they feel... what I feel. It seems I was wrong.

When I talk about guilt, I mean CRUSHING, I'd rather die than feel this, I CAN'T MOVE, THINK, or FEEL anything else but GUILT, it rules my life, all consuming...

The thought I had tonight? No wonder I have tried to get rid of every possible "extra" ounce of body weight... I am carrying a ton of bricks around with me EVERYWHERE... and its exhausting. Shed a few? That will be just a little bit of weight that I won't have to carry...

Friday, December 4, 2009

I can't push the river

Someone wants me to know that I need to slow down a little...
"Sensations occur in infinite variety. It may be difficult at first to have patience to allow them to come into consciousness. their pace is much slower than the pace at which most of us live our lives. This is one of the reasons that trauma develops in the first place; we don't give our natural biological rhythms the time they need to reach completion.
A sensations will transform into something else (another sensation, image, or a feeling) as you notice all its characteristics and will do so at its own pace -- you can't push the river. Becoming attuned to them and honoring them is part of this process." (p. 83)
Sometimes, I feel like this whole recovery thing is taking so long. Sometimes, I feel like I am doing something wrong because it is taking so long. Maybe I am... Maybe I am pushing myself too damn hard. Maybe I need to slow down a little, and healing will happen faster...

Funny thing, then I picked up the book on training horses, and read about the same thing again.
"I guess sometimes we get so tangled up in trying to find ways to teach our horses to do things or in finding training techniques to help us solves our horse's problems, that we forget to take the most important factor into consideration -- the horse."
It talks about how if we just SLOW DOWN and pay attention to what the horse is trying to tell us, we'll make much faster progress than any specific technique can. I already know that's true. I have seen it with Sunny.

I also know its true with myself... When I stop trying to force healing, recovery, anything or everything, it just works. Hmmm... I guess I'll slow down a little...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Le Sigh

I had a session with Paul that didn't go so well... I suddenly understood how the idea of "false memories" could be a real thing. I was vulnerable, upset, and... well... his questions were not the helpful kind.

I met with him a few days later, and told him he couldn't ask questions like that... EVER... I told him to get the book, "Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma." I got stuck in the book a few months ago... some of the assignments freaked me out, however, the philosophy behind the book seems the truest of anything I have heard. It talks about how trauma is not caused by a triggering event, but by the residual energy left over. With that definition, ANYTHING could be trauma, and therefore could cause the bizarre symptoms I experience. The book talks about releasing that energy: physically and emotionally, and becoming aware of myself enough to know what I need to heal.

I haven't read it for a while, because it is HARD, and triggering, and... I wasn't ready yet. Now, I'm ready. This is what has stuck out to me today:
"If you want to learn to use the felt sense, and especially if you want to learn to use the felt sense to resolve trauma, you must learn how to recognize the physiological manifestations that underlie your emotional reactions. Sensations come from symptoms, and symptoms come from compressed energy; that energy is what we have to work with in this process. Through sensations and the felt sense, this vast energy can gradually be decompressed and harnessed for the purpose of transforming trauma.
Again, remember to be gentle, to take it slow and easy, and don't attach any kind of interpretation or judgment to what you experience. Just let whatever you experience move you through to the next experience." (p. 76)
The first paragraph described the process I am currently IN. I am trying to recognize the sensations and the emotions and learning how to decompress the energy... and... The second paragraph is the kind of reminder I need CONSTANTLY, because I seem to forget...
"If an image of a horrifying scene shows up in your mind's eye, ever so gently notice what sensations come with it. Sometimes, when sensations are intense, images come first. The sensation is ultimately what will help you move through the trauma -- whatever it is. You may end up knowing what it is and you may not. For now, just be reassured that as you move through your reactions, the need to know whether it was real or not will loosen its grip." (p. 78)
Sometimes, with Paul's need to know what HAPPENED, I get really confused. I don't need to know WHAT happened, I just want to heal and understand how to heal.
"Be aware that the energies of trauma can be bound up in beliefs about being raped or abused. By challenging these beliefs, especially if they aren't true, some of that energy may be released. If this is the case for you, rest and give yourself plenty of time to process this new information. Stay with the sensations you experience as much as possible, and don't be alarmed if you feel tremulous or weak. Both are evidence that normal discharge is happening. Don't force yourself to do more than you can handle. If you feel tired, take a nap or go to bed early. Part of the grace of the nervous system is that it is constantly self-regulating. What you can't process today will be available to be processed some other time when you are stronger, more resourceful, and better able to do it." (p. 79)
First, I DON'T NEED TO REST! I can handle it!!!
Second, what if my body won't let me go to bed early... I mean... it continues to freak out. Do you know how hard it is to sleep while all of that is going on? And Dann moves and I suddenly feel so afraid? And even while I am sleeping... the night terrors and nightmares? What do I do then??
Third, I KNOW things happen just when they are supposed to. I feel overwhelmed, but I have rarely been overwhelmed with too much to process at once. That's really cool.
"One mistake that is made all too often is that people interpret these visual communications as reality. A traumatized individual may end up believing that he or she was raped or tortured when the actual message the organism is trying to convey is that this sensation you are experiencing FEELS like rape or torture. The actual culprit could just as easily have been a terrifying medical procedure, an automobile accident, or even childhood neglect. It could literally be anything.
Of course, some images really are memories. People who have suffered from rape or torture will draw on those experiences in producing images. It is common for children who have had these experiences not to remember them until years later. Even if the images are "true" memories, we have to understand their role in healing.
The explanation, beliefs, and interpretations connected with memories can get in the way of completely entering and deepening the felt sense. The sensations that accompany these images are immensely valuable." (p. 81)
There are a few things I know... But there are a lot of things I don't know. I like that I don't have to know. I don't have to know if the images that come are memories or just my brain's way of trying to explain how it felt. I like it. It feels reassuring and calming and... I am not as afraid of what might come.
"For now, it is more important to focus on what you experience rather than on what you think about it." (p. 81)
It is such a relief reading all of this, and I feel strangely hopeful... like...
"I can do this!"

Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh the irony...

I was reading my DID book... Dann wanted to talk...
"Well... sometimes... you get so angry, and its like another person takes over. That person is just so CRUEL, and I know its not you, and I don't know how to handle that person."
I looked down at the book I was reading, looked back up at him, and I laughed. I couldn't help it. Apparently, this book is exactly what I need right now...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

so THAT'S why

In the DID book, the author is talking about somatic flashbacks (body memories). She explains that our conscious memory is termed explicit memory. It is the kind of memory we use for recalling facts and events or any information from the past that is consciously available.
Implicit memory, however, is the memory in which you know something but do not remember how you know.
"...behaviors and attitudes that have simply become "a part of you." Because implicit memory is thought to be involved in the processing of strong emotions, it is understandable why some traumatic memory might be experienced primarily as emotion or physical sensations rather than as concrete vocabulary."
That is what happens EVERYDAY. My body experiences a lot that I don't fully understand. I feel sensations and pain and... Then I feel emotions... fear, anger, panic, disgust at myself, homesick, etc.
"As we make sense of our lives, we fill in the blanks of our memories and create an ever-changing narrative of who we are in the midst of our life experiences. It appears, however, that traumatic memory does not change significantly over time, which is one reason flashbacks and unexplainable bodily sensations can create such a sense of panic as they begin to emerge."
Yep!!That's it. It so confusing to FEEL all that while I am in the present, but not... but...
I wish I could explain this better...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

If he says so...

On Paul's suggestion, I'm diving in to "The Dissociative Identity Sourcebook."


In the first chapter it talks about what DID really looks like as compared to what the media portrays it:
"The major indicators of DID generally include such characteristics as inner voices, nightmares, panic attacks, depression, eating disorders, body memories, loss of time, handwriting differences, differences in appearance, and severe headaches..."
Is there any one of those things that I don't have??
DID is about survival.
"It allows strong, and often conflicting, emotions to be kept in separate compartments in the mind."
I knew that. I think everyone does it to a small degree. Although it is possible to feel both happy and sad at the same time, many people don't. To most, its a matter of "focusing on the positive," and therefore only feeling the positive. Our society pushes people to DID...

Friday, November 27, 2009

The answer is... Slippers?

I'm not sure what prompted me, but I wore slippers to the horses. I brought my boots too, and I normally would have put them on before going to get Sunny. I just didn't feel like it.

As I walked up to his stall, I quickly realized that I could not walk in AT ALL to get him. There was too much crap (haha... literally) on the ground, and I wasn't going to go in with my slippers. Next thing I knew, Sunny had walked to the gate and put his head out of it by the time I had opened it. I didn't have to set a single foot in.

I didn't think much about it at the moment, but then...

Normally Sunny is slow to come to me, if he does at all. Often, I stand there feeling rejected, sad, and desperate. I NEED him to come to me. I don't understand why I can't just walk up to him. Why do I expect him to walk to me? I SHOULD go to him. But I can't, because that's not right, and I need to do it right, I need to be strong, and hold my boundaries, but why should I be so demanding... I feel so much doubt and confusion when I walk up to his stall.

Today, there was no confusion. I just wasn't going to walk up to him, and it was like he knew that, and he responded to it. And I wish I knew how to repeat it... without wearing slippers...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lesson learned... again...

I wanted to go riding on Saturday. Generally, I try to reserve Saturdays for Dann... so, I (very tentatively) asked him what he thought.
"That sounds fine to me. I am up for you going riding any time!I love how happy you get when you go and how much it helps you... so anytime... and I mean that!"
Thank you. Are you sure? I don't want you to feel upset, or unloved, or forgotten, or lonely, or... You are important to me, and I want you to feel that. I'm not home a lot, and when I am...
"No worries. I know all of that, and when you get home, you always make me feel special. I will let you know when I don't like it...remember I don't have that little voice in my head stopping me from sharing??"
Oh yeah... Just because I have a hard time asking for what I need, and I wait until I am about ready to explode before I say anything... Just because I am hurting and I keep it to myself... Just because I have a filter in my head that tells me I shouldn't say ANYTHING out loud... That doesn't mean other people do.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My definition has changed.

I've been thinking about the ten years in between "eating disorders". I used to tell myself and everyone else, I was recovered. I wasn't.

I was in Compliance. I did everything everyone wanted me to, because everyone wanted me to do it. I just stopped listening to everything inside of me, because everything inside of me was too crazy to listen to. I couldn't trust anything that came from me.

That wasn't good enough. I wasn't happy living like that, so one day, I did it differently. Unfortunately, the only thing I knew that was different was the eating disorder.

Fortunately, this time, I am in recovery. I am learning to trust me. I am learning to do what needs to be done because I want to. I am learning to love myself completely. I am learning to really listen... to others and to me. I am finding healing. And this time, its for reals.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Its complicated... and apparently... complex

I met with Espra. It was so good to see her again. She makes me smile. She is so... herself... which just feels good to be around. I also missed the way she makes me laugh at myself and at the crazy life I live. There are not many people in the world that can make me feel loved, show me the crap I have been through is really crappy, and have me laughing all at the same time. She did it.

As for EMDR, her training is for simple trauma only. Apparently, I have experienced complex trauma. My question to her, "What the hell does that MEAN?" Simple trauma is a single event. Complex trauma was ongoing for months or years, and/or several different events. Unfortunately, that describes my life.

She wasn't sure EMDR could be used to help complex trauma at all, but she gave me the name and number of a guy in Salt Lake. He has been using EMDR in treating trauma for the past eight years. I'm not sure I can do that kind of therapy with a dude, and especially one I have never met. I was excited at the prospect of working with someone I know and trust. Bummer...

My first reaction was, "I am too damn screwed up. No one can help me. There is no hope," but that didn't last long. Its still disappointing, but okay... I'm not sure what I'm going to try next. Call the dude? Stick with Paul? Try DBT again? Possibly EAP?? I need a minute to breath before I make any decisions.

The worst part of today? She reminded me that my life is abnormal... Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse as a child, sexual assault as a teenager, sexual, physical and emotional abuse as an adult... and all of that is very... complex.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The single most important thing

Visiting Katie. She went to snack. I sat on the couch on the unit. There was a dad of another patient there. We talked, he asked if I came to visit a lot (because all of the care techs and staff seemed to be so friendly with me). I told him I tried to come every week, but the real reason they knew me was because I was a patient there before.

He asked how I was doing. I told him it was still really hard sometimes, and I was doing pretty good. He then asked what was the most important thing I got from CFC.

The MOST important? The friends. The people I met. The amazing women who learned everything about me, and still loved me. The strong women that shared their secrets and their lives with me. Feeling completely accepted for the first time in my entire life. Knowing that I didn't hold anything back, even when it was impossibly hard to tell them about myself. And they loved me.

But really, there is so much that I am grateful for. All of the different therapies were helpful. Every single group, every single day, there was something amazing that I learned about myself or the world around me. I am grateful for every little part.

He then asked how I felt about Intuitive Eating. I laughed and told him it was life-changing. I didn't go into details about my eating disorder before, but I did tell him that I never thought I could trust myself to make my own food choices. It feels SO GOOD to know that I can.

It was strange sitting there and answering his questions. Probably because I was sitting on THAT couch in THAT place, I was completely open. I answered all of his questions without thinking through my answers... which might be really good, or might not be. It felt good to be completely open. I am not that way very often. It is a little strange that the most important thing in treatment, is the thing that is still the hardest for me in the "real world".


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Things Not to Say to a Survivor

There are things that will “trigger” or upset a survivor. Most people don’t have a clue what to say or do. I am still me. I am just hurt. These things are not hard to avoid, and yet I have heard many of them. Please...
  • Don't ask if I liked it. No one likes being physically overpowered.
  • Don't tell me how I could have avoided it. Believe me, if I could have prevented it, I would have. I made the best choices I could. It’s not my fault. Please help me learn to realize that.
  • Don’t blame me for what happened.
  • Don't tell me it would never happen to you and why. I didn’t think I would become a statistic either.
  • God isn’t punishing me for some misdeed by allowing this to happen.
  • Don’t tell me it was "God’s will" I was raped. It IS God’s will I survived!
  • Don’t tell me that survivors make up tales for attention. According to The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault, false rape reports only happen 2% of the time. That’s a 98% chance that no matter how strange it sounds to you, the rape isn’t being fabricated.
  • Don’t tell me not to talk about it. Yes, it upsets me to talk about it, but that is the only way I can sort through it.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to me when I'm upset. Knowing you are there is sometimes just what I need.
  • Don’t say “other people have it worse off than you”. I’m not “other people”. I’m me.
  • Don’t feel you need to retaliate against my attacker. I know he is capable of violence. Please don’t make me worry about you getting hurt. I’ll feel more secure knowing you’ll remain in one piece.
  • Don’t tell me to “get over it”. I would if I could. I am trying my best.
  • Don’t tell me to "put what happened out of my mind". It’s not that simple.
  • Don’t tell me “it’s no big deal”. Rape is an enormous challenge to heal from. It haunts me.
  • If we disagree about safety issues in the future, please realize that what may sound strange to you helps me feel safe.
  • Don’t tell me I am weak because it impacts my life. I am stronger than words can describe.
  • Don’t ask me what you're supposed to do to get past what happened to us. I'm not sure what I'm going to do.
  • Don’t ask me if I did this on purpose. I didn’t do anything except survive.
  • Don’t tell me that it’s not rape because I knew him. Numerous studies say that perpetrators are more likely to be known than unknown.
  • If you give me a hug and I pull away, please, know that I'm not rejecting you. Please don’t get mad. Tell me you care. Chances are you’ll get that hug after all!
  • If we’re together and I have a flashback, try not to be mad. I hate the darned things too! Flashbacks are always rough. It’s difficult to know what to do. It has to be difficult to watch. Anger should go to the one who caused the rape.
  • If I become suicidal, please don’t take that as a sign of weakness. Take that as a sign I'm overwhelmed, trying to cope, and need help.
  • Don’t get the idea rape just happens to “those” kinds of people. This crime happens to as many as 1 woman in 4 crossing ethnic, racial, economic and social boundaries.
(Taken from

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Serendipities of treatment

Last week, a friend came to visit me at work. I am often in the office alone, but on that day BJ was there. He says he was trying not to listen to our conversation, but... What he heard, he was amazed at how healthy our conversation was.

That got me thinking about the friends I have. We are not the most healthy people, but when we talk to each other... We are good at validating each other without enabling each other. We talk about anything and everything - abuse, crazy thoughts, silly things, funny stories... life. I don't have any secrets from them. (That doesn't mean I share EVERYTHING with them at EVERY MOMENT, but there is nothing I am intentionally hiding.) That feels good.

I don't feel like I have to take care of them or protect them, and I care deeply about them. I would do almost anything for them, and if at any moment it feels harmful to me to talk to them, I don't. And I know they'll understand. I hope they feel the same about me.

We are watching out for each other in a way I have never experienced before... I don't feel judged, but when I do, I talk to them about it. We can laugh. We can cry (sort of... lol). I can be ME - whoever that is - when I am with them.

Do you know how cool that is?? How many people have one friend like that? I have many.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Even on our bad days, we're still amazing.

A collection of quotes:
Sur-vi-vor: a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardships, or setbacks.

I am worth whatever it costs to heal my life.

I felt pain. I was afraid. I spoke. I cried. I smile. I laugh. Against all odds. I survived.

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself. - Harvey Fierstein

We appreciate light because we have been in darkness. By the same token, we can experience joy because we have known sorrow.

Never fear the shadows. They simply mean there's a light shining nearby. -Ruth E. Renkel- SURVIVOR

Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That's what {SURVIVORS} little girls are made of.

"Courage does not always Roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying 'I will try again tomorrow!'" ~ Mary Anne Radmacher

"Being able to survive it, doesn't mean it was ever okay!"

I was victimized.
I was in a fight that was not fair.
I did not ask for the fight.
I lost.
There is no shame in losing such fights.
I may never forget,
but I need not constantly remember.
I was a victim

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I have spent several days this week visiting the wild horses. These horses have been caught by the Bureau of Land Management, because they determined that the herds are too large for the land to support. There are horses of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors. It was amazing to see!

I thought it would be very tense and upsetting to be around wild horses in captivity. (Similar to the yucky feeling I get at zoos.) It was not that way. Instead, it was... peaceful.

There is one horse that has come up to me and nuzzled me every time I have gone to see him. There are a few others who have been curious, but only the little black two year old has come back every time. I named him Seguro, which means safe haven. He felt safe to me.

All horses give me a sense of safety and healing. It is one of the reasons I love them so much!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Here goes nothing...

I did it. Well, actually, Paul did it.

I told him I wanted to do EMDR therapy... his first response was to tell me he could do that with me if I would trust him. I gave him a look. He said Espra would be good to work with, and if I trust her, that is the direction I need to go. And he set up the appointment.

A week from Monday... Gracious... What have I gotten myself into??

Take that...

Generally speaking, all eating disorders come with weird food rituals. CFC called them food games. The funny thing about "food games" is that its not what I am DOING that matters most, but what's going on in my head. For instance, Pop Tarts... I enjoy eating them, but I really don't like the edges. No fruit filling, dry edges, and no frosting (yes, I like the frosted ones. I spent a long time trying to convince myself I liked the "healthier" non-frosted ones, but I don't. I hate those...)

A few months ago, I decided I didn't have to eat the edges if I didn't like them... So I started breaking them off. Today, I realized, it has changed. Now, it is, "I am not allowed to eat the edges." Something about cutting back on calories, eating less is better, or something else EQUALLY RIDICULOUS.

Today, I am eating the stupid edges, which I still don't like, just to show myself that the eating disorder is WRONG!

...I hate eating disorders!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The wrong way!

The flashbacks and nightmares have been increasing in frequency. I, personally, think this sucks! So000 not cool!!!

Why? I don't know. Could be the time of year. Could be there is more "trying to come up" (as Paul likes to say.) Could be... so many things... I don't really care WHY, except that I would like the frequency to be moving in the OTHER direction...

Here's the plan:
First, I plan on throwing a temper tantrum. Laying on the ground, kicking, screaming, maybe even throwing things... I don't want to go through this...
Then, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) with Espra at CFC, possibly EAP (Equine Assisted Psychotherapy) with Rachael at Courage Reins, and continued efforts at understanding the blasted flashbacks, body memories, etc.
And probably more tantrums... because... seriously... this sucks!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The invasion of Me

I get to go visit K at CFC Sunday... A 4 hour visit...

I was stressing about how to get snack in. I was trying to think it through. I was trying to plan it out. It was one of those absurd moments, because I knew it was not that big of a deal, but it was really stressing to me. I was telling BJ about it. And I told him that I wasn't really stressed about snack, but...

Over the next five minutes, we went back and forth about what it will be like to be back on the unit. I went through incredibly intense experiences there. They are now pretty distant in my mind, but spending time ON THE UNIT. Memories will not be so distant.

Also, I will be ON THE UNIT, but not a patient... Yet, I will still feel like a patient. (The fact that he understood all of this even though he has never been through it is amazing to me. I am SO grateful!!!!) He reminded me that at any time, I can ask them to buzz me out, and THEY WILL! I think I really needed that reminder, because it is very possible I will forget...

Now I am aware of at least some of the things that will be hard:
  • It will be hard to see K... I really want to see her, and it will be fun, but still hard.
  • She's not following rules, and she is telling me some of her sneakiness... I don't want to be a part of that. I plan on talking to her about it, and letting her know its not okay with me. (Meaning, I expect her to talk to Kim about it. If she doesn't, I will... OH GEEZ!!! That scares the living daylights out of me!!!! But I can't watch her be sneaky when I know what that does to HER. I won't be a part of it!)
  • It will be hard to be back on the unit where I went through so much, and I will remember all that I went through.
  • It will be hard to be back on the unit, but not a patient, and now I get to figure out who to be while I'm visiting.
  • I will want to put on the face of "perfectly recovered" for the staff and other girls. I'm not. Things are still really hard, and still pretty good at the same time... I don't know what to share if people ask how I am doing. I will feel judged, even if no one is judging me but me.
  • I am very sensitive to other people's emotions... and CFC is an incredibly emotionally intense place. I don't know how to be around that and NOT feel it all... I will need a lot of time (after I leave) to figure out what feelings were mine and what belonged to others.
  • And snack...
Lest my brain abandons me, BJ and I came up with a plan (at least for the snack part... the rest is too complicated to come up with a plan):
I will leave my phone and food in the car. When K goes for snack, I will go to the car for my snack and text him. (He reminded me that no one at CFC is going to tell me to eat while Katie is... if I don't be assertive and ASK, it won't happen. Asking for help is still something I struggle with sometimes, but I won't want to let him down if I know he is waiting for my text...And once I am out to the car, eating the dang thing will be the easy part. I feel a little ridiculous that I needed this plan and also very grateful to have it!)

Once I get home... I'll probably cry a lot... need some time to think... I might need a friend to talk to... I might really want to be alone... So, I give myself permission to do what I need (whatever that is) to take care of me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Looking at the positive

I was telling a friend how discouraged I have been feeling...

He had the perfect reply, "Don't be discouraged Jen. Cheer up! You're only up to your neck in shit... Sure you're smelling it, and you're surrounded by it... But its not like its in your mouth or you're tasting it."

Oh.... so that's where the phrase, "Keep your chin up," comes from. I get it!

And strangely, I feel a little less discouraged...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thanks, Damn You!

I had one of THOSE kind of sessions with Paul... the kind where I take him through a specific flashback, and he says, "You've never talked about this before."

And I say, "I know."

One of those kinds of sessions that I know need to be done, but after, I feel ill.


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Invasion

She came. We rode horses. I felt sad, because I couldn't really talk to my friend... she was incapable of talking about anything besides food and weight and CFC and... she tried. She wanted to be a good friend, but... She finally told me, "I vaguely remember all of those emotions and feelings, but really... They just don't seem to matter anymore." And then I felt a little bit jealous, because there was a part of me that wished those feelings and emotions didn't matter to me either.

We went horseback riding. I love the horses and the mountains and having Katie there was fun and sad all at the same time. It was strange. A few months ago we went horseback riding and we talked about horses and family and we laughed. This time, we didn't. (Which I understand... she was going into treatment, which is stressful even when you really WANT to go, and she really didn't.)

Thursday morning, I took her to CFC. I wasn't quite sure how it was going to work, but she asked me to stay with her through the whole admitting process. I helped her carry her bags onto the unit.

Walking into that place where I lived (and NEVER LEFT!) for so many weeks, I thought it would be really hard. Instead, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I had been there. CFC taught me so much and helped me so much and gave me some of the best friends anyone could ever imagine having. I am so grateful!!! And at the same time, felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I was not going back.

It had been a very safe place for me, and I am sure if I needed it, it would be again, but for now, it just felt so different. I was grateful that I went, and I don't want to go back. It was a good feeling and gave me an amazing sense of closure.

I stayed with her while she filled out all of the crazy paperwork, and then Pam said it was time to say good-bye. That was hard. I want so much for her! I want my friend back! And I feel so sad, because I know she didn't really want to be there. She was stressing about FNS, and weight gain, and... I understood that was not the point, and it didn't really matter, but I also understood it mattered to her - A LOT! And it made me so sad to leave her there. I am also so glad that she is safe and I know they will love her and take good care of her.

Immediately after I dropped her off, I went to the barn to get Sunny so we could go ride in the mountains. I went into his stall, and he wouldn't come to me. I called for him, I kissed at him, I asked him... His eyes told me he was far away, and was not coming back until I changed something.

I had been laughing and smiling, talking excitedly about how good it was to get Katie to CFC and how much I didn't want to go back... all of the POSITIVE feelings, but none of the negative. I know I could have forced Sunny to let me put the halter on him, but I also know I don't have to force him if I just acknowledge what is going on inside of me.

So, I sat down in a pile of shit and cried. I was angry. I was angry at her for leaving me. It wasn't that long ago that we could talk about and share experiences related to abuse. She really doesn't care anymore. She really thinks she's fine, and I was angry at her for it. Only that confused me, because its not like I want her to be angry at Jeff forever. I want her to forgive him and move on and not have this crap be a part of her life... but I felt abandoned and lonely and I wondered if she had the better idea. Just get over it. Just force yourself to hang out with him until it doesn't hurt anymore. Just pretend like everything is okay until it feels like it is.

I cried, and I told Sunny all about it. As I cried, Sunny came out of his dissociation. There was light in his eyes again, and then he walked over to me and just stood by me. He never touched me, just stood there and waited. As I finished crying, he walked out of the stall. I put the halter on him, brushed him, and trailered him.

The ride... awesome! AWESOME! The sun was out, the fall colors were amazing, and Sunny loves to run as much as I do. AWESOME!

All day Friday, I found myself living the inpatient schedule inside my head. I haven't thought about that schedule in a long time, and in fact a few weeks ago, couldn't remember it at all. That day, I remembered what group Katie was in, I remembered what time everything was, and it was like I was re-experiencing my stay at CFC all over again. It was like rapid-fire in my brain... it made it pretty hard to concentrate on anything, but I didn't try to stop it. I didn't want to focus on it either... I just let it happen.

I miss her. I miss getting the random texts about her life. More, I miss the friendship we had that has gone away over the last few months... I wonder what it will be like in the next few months.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just pet the tiger

A while ago, I was talking to a friend who is an alcoholic. I don't know if I posted these analogies or not... But they have been on my mind again. She was telling me how she just decided to stop drinking, and she hasn't touched a drink since. It was hard, but she just had to decide to leave, "That tiger in the cage."

That is a common analogy used in addictions. However, eating disorders are somewhat more complicated than that. I can't just decide to never eat again... or never exercise again... it just won't work. I have to go get the tiger out of its cage, play with it, pet it, and then put it back... at least SIX TIMES A DAY. (I agreed to eating at least three meals and three snacks every day. Add any time spent doing physical activity or extra snacks to that six.)

If I were an alcoholic, I would choose not to go in a bar... ever. I would avoid the alcohol isle at the store. That would be hard, and there would be times that would be sad... but completely doable.

Another analogy that I really like is comparing recovery from an eating disorder to recovery from alcoholism like this. What if I told you (as an alcoholic) that abstaining from alcohol was not an option? Instead, you have to drink EVERYDAY, and you have to drink just the right amount. You can't drink too much or too little. No one knows exactly what the right amount for you is... only you know... but you have to figure out that right amount while dealing with thoughts, cravings, and painful addictive patterns at the same time.

Recovery for alcoholics would be far more complicated if that were the case. I know, some people are going to tell me that alcohol causes a chemical addiction... have you seen what is in food? Food is made up of all sorts of chemicals that cause all sorts of chemical reactions. A person can become just anesthetized by food (or lack of it) as they can by alcohol. I have seen it happen.

None of this is meant to say that recovery is not possible. IT IS! I am saying it is complicated, difficult, and sometimes just plain overwhelming. And somehow, we are doing it. There are so many of us finding our way and overcoming.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Marketing Genius... that kills!

I don't write about this stuff often... But, this morning, I caught a glimpse of a TV show. They were interviewing a 44-year old lawyer who was on the quest to have the "perfect body." She recently had plastic surgery - an amazing new procedure where they remove the fat from your butt and stomach and put it in your breasts.

They showed her before and after pictures, and were commenting on how she now looks like she is 24... No, not really. She looks like she is 10... with big boobs. I can't believe THIS is what we think is beautiful! I felt sad and disgusted. I thought of my friends - some that are STILL willing to die to have that "perfect" body...

The show was on as background noise, but I couldn't ignore it. I commented about it. My friend... "I know, I wish I could look like that." (Followed by the, Jen, how do YOU do it? You look so great. I wish I could be thin like you. Do you have to work out lots? What do you eat? GAH! Stop!!! I tried to share with her about intuitive eating and that I love my body, and size is not important. She didn't believe me... and I don't know if I would have believed me from looking at me either.)

There are so many women that have this strange ideal of beauty. Where did that come from? Greed.

I keep hearing about studies done that talk about the early Americans. They were more fit, because they ate less fat, or they ate more protein, or they exercised more, or there was less processed food, or...

My theory? They ate when they were hungry. They took care of their bodies with a better balance of rest and work. Mostly, they were not constantly bombarded with advertising telling them what to eat and what not to eat... Even the government decided to get in on it and created a pyramid. Where did that come from? How does the government know what is best for for every individual? They don't. They can't!

Now, we are constantly bombarded by advertising: diets, food, gyms, plastic surgeons, the government, clothing and fashion, health care, every where we turn. Even my cereal this morning... It informed that 95% of Americans don't get enough fiber... Why are they telling me that? Because its a high-fiber cereal and they want me to buy it!

The woman with the fat removed from her butt... She is a victim of genius marketing. She has to look like that, because she works in Hollywood, and in order to be successful... Its all lies!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday on steroids, but better...

Amanda called this morning... she saw (from facebook) that General Conference was this weekend, and got worried about a "Sunday on steroids,"

Do you know how lucky I am to have the friends I have? I am amazingly blessed!!!

As we talked, it was obvious I was not okay. President Monson's talk was playing with my mind.

She told me not to listen to the last session of conference... instead, find a friend or a horse to spend time with.

She gave an analogy that hit me as absolute truth. Others have been trying to say the same thing to me, but it just didn't stick... And today, she was truly inspired!

She is giving a presentation on eating disorders to 70 RA's tomorrow. Knowing that she is talking to people who like to help others, and are college students, there will be about five people in the audience with disordered eating. She was worried about giving certain suggestions or saying certain things, because she didn't want to say something that would hurt those five. She came to the conclusion that the sixty-five needed to hear what she had to say, and she had to hope that the five would be okay.

Just because they are saying it in conference, does not mean the message was to me personally.

She said, "If I told you I was falling apart, and I really needed you here," and I finished her thought, "I would be there tomorrow... In fact, I have thought about getting on a plane when you were sick, even when you didn't ask, because I love you and I wanted you to have a friend."

Most people (apparently) would not think that way, and would not do that.

At the end of President Monson's talk, I also got a text from BJ:
"He was not talking to you. I listened to the entire talk. Not once did he say, 'Hey Jen, listen up!' or 'Now I am want to talk to victims of abuse that can't say no to people yet,' He didn't say anything close to that."

The combination of Amanda's words, and BJ's text felt like lightning going off in my brain! So, I did what Amanda suggested. Sunny and I had a special meeting. I sat with him and watched him run and felt so much better after just BEING there with him.

After, I came back and we had dinner with the parents. After dinner, Justin asked me to play the piano for him to practice his audition piece. Gladly, I played. Then he left, and my dad asked me to massage his hands, so I did. We were talking about surface things... the kinds of things we always talk about, but in my head I was praying. I WANTED to tell my mom about why I chose to go spend time with the horses, and I wanted her to understand why that was a good choice. I didn't know how to bring it up, so I was praying for her to ask me.

She didn't, however, she said something about the afternoon session of conference. So I threw out a hook. "Amanda called and told me I couldn't listen to the afternoon session - I needed to go play with the horses." In my head, I was pleading, "Please. Ask me. Please! Take the bait."

My dad, said, "huh?"

So I explained why President Monson's talk was hard for me... Not that what he said was wrong, but I used Amanda's example. My dad teared up. It seemed to really touch him.

And then we talked about conference, and the things we liked, and using the spirit rather then the letter of the law, and the horses and some of the amazing things I have learned from them, and my mom said that she was so grateful I found Sunny, and as I described things about him - she said it was no wonder to her why I felt a connection to him, and my dad told me I needed to research more about horses and socio-sensitive people. And... I felt like they listened to me, and they heard me, and it was amazing!

I am SO grateful for Amanda's phone call today. I can't believe how much happened. I don't know what will happen next. And mostly, it doesn't matter. I am enjoying this moment.

Safe Harbors - Michael Mclean

The words to this song came to me last night. I was very angry at some very insensitive people. I kept thinking about Elizabeth Smart... Her case is getting a lot of publicity, but then I thought about all of the others who are not getting that. I think about all of the people who are going through hell, but hide it and carry on.
I think this song is so powerful... and I wish more people would really listen...
Safe Harbors
There are refugees among us who are not from foreign shores.
The battles they've been waging are from very private wars.
There are no correspondents documenting all their grief.
But these refugees among us are all yearning for relief.

There are refugees among us.
They don't carry flags or signs.
They are standing right beside us in the market check out lines.
And the war that they've been fighting - it will not be televised.
But the story of their need for love is written in their eyes.

Can you see through their disguises?
Can you hear what words won't tell?
Some are losing faith in heaven, cause their lives a living hell.
Is there anyone else to help those who have no one else to plea?
For the only arms protecting them belong to you and me.

This is a call to arms
To reach out and to hold. the evacuees from the dark.
This is a call to arms.
To lead anguished souls to safe harbors of the heart.
Can you feel the pleas of the refugees for safe harbors of the heart?
I am grateful for friends who saw through my disguises. I am grateful for friends who listened beyond my words and my smile. I am grateful for those who have showed me heaven... I am grateful for those who have blessed my life and given me someplace safe.

(To hear the song, go to:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I wish it were that easy!

I am frustrated. My friend's facebook status is:
So I know why scum-bag guys exist!!! Do you??? Its because of the pathetic girls they date that LET them be SCUM-BAGS!! Come on girls, have some guts and speak your mind and don't get walked on!!! the end.
Do you think its really that easy?? Some of us were raised to believe we were worthless. Some of us were raised to believe a good woman DOESN'T stand up for herself. Some of us haven't had parents that taught us we COULD. Some of us were beat down every time we tried to stand up for anything. Some have never known what it was like to be treated "right." And some of us just don't like confrontation... telling us to just have some guts and speak your mind... is like telling YOU to never speak your mind again, to be quiet, meek and humble NO MATTER WHAT. You couldn't do it... Or at least it would be really, REALLY hard.

Who are you to judge me? As if its not hard enough to be treated like crap... and now you are going to tell me its my fault? I understand what you are trying to say, and I agree with the idea. but, have some compassion... I think of Brianne, or BJ, or Janyssa, or Elizabeth, or... and I wish people would stop saying such stupid things.

Yom Kippur

I was reading in Laurie's blog tonight. Laurie is a woman I don't know well, but I feel incredibly grateful for. Especially tonight, because she answered my prayers. I wanted to remember what she wrote, because I believe she has found the truth. For weeks, I have felt constant anger... and somehow, at this moment... it is gone. I am not angry. I am not upset. I feel grateful.

[Here is the excerpt from her blog. The bold are the phrases that stuck out to me most.]
"I usually forget about the High Holidays until they are here and then I almost always feel a longing--a pull--to get involved. This time, I completely forgot about Yom Kippur until it arrived. But, now that it is here, I am disappointed I did not plan better. I usually spend some time during the 25 hour period being aware and respectful of all of the people in my religion who are fasting and atoning for their sins. I love the Jewish religion and so many of the traditions that I grew up with. I usually do not fast on Yom Kippur and I almost always feel guilty for not doing it. I also feel guilty for anything I do that is not "following the rules", even though I am not completely sure what those rules are. I probably am not supposed to be writing a blog on Yom Kippur (even though they didn't have blogs when they created the holiday).

I have often wondered if God would consider it a sin that I have not fasted on Yom Kippur. I don't think so. I have decided this holiday to let go of any guilt about not doing it "right" and just following my heart and align myself with God as best I can.

Sin or "het" in Hebrew means "to go astray" or to wander from God. As I interpret it, the Jewish religion is not big on punishment for sins or going to hell. Moreover, the feeling I have always gotten is that if you stray from your alignment with God, you just need to go back and get aligned again. No fire or brimstone--just a realization that things need to change. It makes so much sense to me to have that time for prayer and turning inward where you are shut off from the world.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
And when I am for myself, what am 'I'?
And if not now, [then] when?

This quote is by Hillel--a famous Jewish religious leader. In my mind, he is talking about taking time for yourself and getting a sense of who you are. What a great idea to create time to do that once a year to take time out from your "life".

What happens to me when I stray from God? I get angry,frustrated, hopeless.... and many other unpleasant emotions. What happens when I am aligned with God? I feel peace, joy and a deep connectedness to life.

I believe very strongly that God is not some man with a beard who sits in heaven in judgment of us. God is within each and every one of us and we can access that energy at any time."

I feel so much relief... Its hard to explain. I don't really care if the LDS church is true. Or the Jewish church... or the Buddhist church... or... I want to be aligned with God. Whatever that means. Whoever I need to be. I want to be with Him.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Let me be myself - 3 Doors Down

I can't sleep. My brain seems to be moving at the speed of light. So, now instead of trying to sleep, I am trying to pay attention to the thoughts racing through. The one that seems to be the strongest is a song:
Let me be myself - 3 doors down
I guess I just got lost being someone else,
I tried to kill the pain, But nothing ever helped
I left myself behind, Somewhere along the way
Hoping to come back around, and find myself some day

Lately I'm so tired of waiting for you
To say that it's OK, tell me please
Would you one time, Let Me Be Myself
So I can shine, with my own light
Let Me Be Myself

Would you Let Me Be Myself
Cause I'll never find my heart, Behind someone else
I'll never see the light of day, Living in this cell
It's time to make my way, Into the world I knew
And take back all of those times, That I gave in to you

That's all i ever wanted from this world
Was to let me be me..
Please, would you one time, Let Me Be Myself
So I can shine, with my own light
Let Me Be Myself
And that song, makes me so sad! I don't know why... I don't know who I would be saying it to if I was saying those things...

My first thought was Dann, but Dann WANTS me to be me. He wants us to be completely open with each other. He wants to connect with me as much or more than I want to connect with him.

My family? I don't know... I don't have the energy to think about or care about them right now.

Me? Yes. That's it. I keep holding myself back, pushing myself down, beating myself up, and I don't know why or how to stop, but I hate it. I want something different.

Please, would you one time, Let me be Myself? No guilt, no pain, no heartache, no name-calling, no punishment, just let me shine with My own light. I'm so tired of waiting for you to say that it's OK. I don't need to hear it from Dann, my parents, or Paul or anyone else. Only you. Tell me its okay to be Me. So I can make a difference in my life and others'. Tell me its okay to be strong. Its okay to Be. Please, just let me be Myself! Whoever that is... whatever that means...

(Gah! This is so hoaky! but it was enough to keep me awake when I feel completely exhausted... so I'm going to go with maybe this is important, and post it anyways...)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A year ago

I love horseback riding. It was almost exactly a year ago that I rode for the first time...
On September 13, 2008 I wrote:
"Bishop Johnson took me out on his horse. I didn't know that was the plan, and at first, I really struggled because I felt guilty not hiking. At the same time, I loved it! I loved being in the mountains - moving and exploring without feeling the exhaustion of hiking. It was so awesome!"
I remember that first time riding... I remember how hard it was to let myself even get up on the horse, and then to admit how much I loved it. I was trying to figure life out... I spent a lot of time writing in the crap journal (a wonderful therapy assignment from Paul... I hear he likes to give that assignment to all of his patients now... poor souls!)

A week later, we went riding again. This time, we got lost... well... not lost, we just kept going in the wrong direction. That day changed me forever! I was dealing with all kinds of crap back then, and I didn't know where it was all coming from. I had just come home from CFC and was a mess... I was eating better, but not really where I needed to be. I wasn't sleeping, and I was barely BARELY surviving. I was dealing with flashbacks, nightmares, night terrors, body memories, and I didn't know which was was up.

When we got lost, it meant riding a lot longer than I had planned. I wasn't prepared with dinner or snacks. By the end of the ride, I passed out and fell off the horse. I realized that if I did my part, maybe I could really enjoy riding. I could be present in the mountains and I wanted that. I wanted it enough to get myself back on track. I wanted it enough to speak up about how much I loved it.

Since then, a lot has happened... I have been riding almost every week, and sometimes more than that. I have become a pretty good rider, and I love it even more now than I did then. BJ bought Sunny, and I love that horse! I have been all over the mountains on some AWESOME rides! I have learned a ton about myself through the horses and riding. I have had healing through riding that I don't think could have come any other way.

I am a new person because of that ride a year ago.

On the ride yesterday, we went back to that same place. It was awesome to be there and to think of all that has happened in a year. There has been so much change, and yet... I still have so far to go. look forward to sitting on the top of the mountain next year and look back... Where will I be? What will it be like then? Who will I be?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sorting it out...

A couple weeks ago... Dann and I had a pretty ugly fight - the worst since I have been home from CFC. He said some things that are still hanging around in my brain. They're pretty close to things I have heard from people all my life... stuff about what I deserve (or don't deserve), how selfish I am, and the list goes on.

He apologized. He promised he would be different. He has been working REALLY hard for a long time. I want to let it go (in a healthy way). I don't like that I keep repeating what he said - only I take it a step further than he did. In my mind, its not as if he was saying those things... more as if I accept them as truth, which is how I used to be. Its really screwing with me... bad...

Now that we're back from vacation, I'm trying to step back and think a little better. My opinion: Everything he said fits into one of three categories. There might be more, but this is what I have come up with:
  • What he said was accurate, and I need to change.
  • What he said was not accurate, but he still believes it.
  • What he said was not accurate, and he knows that, but he said it because he was angry and/or wanted to hurt me.
The next step will be figuring out which things fit where... And then sorting out the differences together. To be completely honest, this scares me. A LOT! It would be much easier to just pretend like I am ok now... only... I am not... At least not yet.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cleanliness is next to craziness

This not sleeping thing is slowly driving me insane. Last night, I came to the office... and went a little OCD. I cleaned a lot. It is almost unrecognizable as the same place I have worked in these last few months. Today, I'm sitting here... And for some reason, the completely clean office is making me crazy. I can't handle it. What the...?

I am so weird.

Most people feel better when things are clean. I feel antsy, nuts, and I am reminded of the days that I would do this to my own room. ALL night, I would clean and clean. I would hang up my clothes on matching hangers, perfectly spaced from each other. Everything would be perfect. Not a speck of dust or anything out of place.

It would make my mom so happy. And then I couldn't touch anything in the room. I would just sit there and look at its perfect cleanness. At the worst times, I wouldn't sleep on the bed for fear of ruining it.

I learned to back off a lot while at CFC the first time... It hasn't been a part of my life for the last twelve years, and today?!? I can't handle that I had to put trash in the trash can. It needs to be taken out... right now! If there is trash, its not perfect, and then... we all might die! (I recognize this is not a rational thought... which is one reason I am writing this - getting it out there, or something - and I am NOT taking the trash out, even though I really, REALLY want to.)

It turns out I am crazier than I ever thought...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Take a rest, then move on when you're ready

While at CFC, I got to go on one outdoor activity. We were supposed to go repelling. I am not sure how, but I convinced Kortney to let me go. As we started hiking up, I was tired, I was dizzy, I had to rest.

I asked Clair, "I know its good to rest when I need to rest, but isn't it also good to push yourself? I mean, if I just let my body rest when it wanted to, I would never go anywhere or do anything..."

Her reply has stuck with me for a year now. She said, "If you are hiking and you start telling yourself, just a little farther, and you have to give yourself major pep-talks to keep your feet moving, and you aren't enjoying the hike anymore, take a rest, then move on when you're ready."

We did that. We rested a lot. We moved a lot slower than I had ever moved on a hike before. And, I had a great time! (We also got lost, and ended up hiking much farther than we needed. By the time we caught up to the group, I had missed repelling... It was worth it though. I found I could hike a lot if I just took it slow.)

Since then, I have found that idea works in life. I am really good at convincing myself to endure things I don't HAVE to endure. I can keep going when it seems impossible. However, I don't enjoy life. I miss out on things, and it usually isn't helpful.

Seeing her tonight, reminded me, and it was a good reminder. It is actually okay to rest... as often as I need, and I'll make it much farther than if I try to run up the mountain.

Center for Change alumni

Today was the Center for Change alumni event. It was supposed to be all day... I was overwhelmed at the idea of spending all day there, and I had work to do. My plan was to go at 1-2 ish... I got there at 5.

I got to hug several friends. I got to look in their eyes, and see how hard they are fighting. I got to be with people who understand me, and I don't really have to say anything.

Dr. B. came and sat next to me during dinner, gave me a hug, and then another hug (from Randy Hardman). I love that man! I love how gentle he is. I love how kind he is. I love how... himself... he is. He spoke on spirituality and recovery.

The two things that stuck out to me the most were, Listen to your heart (and the research that supports that the heart actually has its own neuro-activity). He's been telling people to listen to their hearts for at least the last twelve years, and probably longer. The second thing was to develop the language of spirituality, so you can understand how it speaks to you.

I thought of all of the quotes, the little promptings, the phone calls from friends, the music lyrics, and just the amazing miracles that I have experienced that have kept me moving along.

Jenni Shaefer spoke and sang her new song. She did awesome! She talked about how she had stopped playing the guitar ten years ago, because she wasn't good enough, blah, blah, blah. Then, this year, she started taking lessons. It was a good story. She was reminding us to pursue our passions, and I thought about how different I am... I am pursuing all kinds of new things: I wrote a song (and am writing more), I am drawing, I am horseback riding, I am singing, I auditioned for a play (and plan to audition again), I am designing ties, I am reading a ton of different books on different subjects (when I can concentrate long enough to read), I am playing with poetry, and I am sure I will add more new things to my repertoire as time goes on. Two years ago, I was working, and that's it.

There was a sharing session, but I ditched out again - I chose to sit next to a friend, who I love tons, and I just wanted to hear everything from. (Yes, you! I want to hear all that you have to say, and I can't get enough of your words, your wisdom, your heart! Sorry, I am not so good at subtlety, especially when I am writing...)

I was challenged to sit in the big cushy chair - the one I never sat in the whole time I was at CFC... at least not when there were other people who needed the chair more than I did. I took the challenge, and it didn't kill me. No one else seemed to be TOO uncomfortable. (I expect someone else to sit in that chair next time though!) We sang the new CFC choir song... I might be a little biased, but I do believe ours was much better!

We finished the night with a drumming circle. Beating things was nice.

And as is tradition, we finished the night with the song,
"Listen, Listen, Listen to my heartsong.
Listen, Listen, Listen to my heartsong.
I will never forget you, I will never forsake you.
I will never forget you, I will never forsake you."
It took me a while. Then, all of a sudden, I heard myself singing. I heard Lauren singing. I heard the women around me, and my heart started jumping, screaming, and making all kinds of noise inside me.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted all of that "stuff" inside to get out and stop plaguing me... I couldn't believe there was still so much stuck... after all this time, after all this work. I'm glad I was there, and I'm frustrated.

I told Rita I wanted to help plan next year's alumni event... so I expect all of my friends to be there if at all humanly possible. Be aware, I will probably stoop to such horrible things as guilt trips, holding things ransom, and idle threats. I decided we should do a "talent show" of sorts - let everyone share their talents and passions. Again, beware... no one is safe.

Only someone from CFC...

Tonight was the alumni event at CFC. They served me dinner, however, two hours later, I was starving... not sure why. I normally can handle waiting in the evenings, but tonight, I was HUNGRY. I was to the lightheaded, dizzy, shaky, place... and there was no food! (At CFC of all places!)

I had a granola bar in my car. I ate that, but it was rather gross... At least it did the job, I felt a little better. When I got home, I ran to the fridge saying, "I had a granola bar for snack, but now I need some real food. I need... ice cream!"

Dann's reply, "Only someone from CFC would say a granola bar isn't real food, but ice cream is."

Probably true... and I really enjoyed my ice cream.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Go, go, go Joseph

I went to Justin's play tonight (Joseph and the Amazing Techinicolor Dreamcoat, he plays Simeon). I went expecting to laugh, to see Justin sing and dance, and to waste a few hours. I have never seen the play, but I knew it was pretty silly. I did not expect to be touched.

There is a scene when Joseph is in the prison cell... all of the kids and other prisoners start singing, "go, go, go, go," really softly... Then the narrators sing,
"Go, go, go Joseph, you know what they say
Hang on now Joseph, you'll make it some day
Don't give up Joseph, fight till you drop
We've read the book and you come out on top"
And suddenly, I felt encouraged... lifted up... strengthened... I can do this! I know who wins in the end, and its ME!

(As a side note, Justin did a great job! I had a blast watching him. He is getting really good, and it is so fun to see him progressing in something he loves as much as singing and acting.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Little Victories

I know I haven't been here for a while...

I have spent this week up at the LDS Booksellers Association Convention. I have enjoyed doing something different. I have loved watching people's reactions as I show them the pins I helped design. I have loved meeting people who's names I see all the time, and putting faces with the voices from the phone. It was just fun!

I would like to share a few other "little victories" from this week:

I hate spending money on myself, but there was a necklace that I LOVED! So, I bought it.

I went hiking with a friend. I wasn't feeling too hot, but I thought if we just started moving, I would get better... I didn't. I asked if we could stop hiking and go back. I have never "quit" early... but I think it was the best thing I could have done for me! My biggest concern is how she is handling it... and I hope she will go with me again.

I set boundaries with another friend. She has been taken over by an eating disorder, and talking to her is not easy. I told her that I wanted to see her, but that I couldn't spend the time we were planning on. I felt stronger (with a little help from Amanda) after talking to her. I love her, and I would do almost anything to help her, and I am also taking care of me...

I don't sleep much... being up all night makes me hungry. So, I am now regularly eating snacks at night too... Nothing scheduled, just eating when I feel hungry - no matter what time it is. WHOA! Actual - for reals - Intuitive Eating!

We went to a campout for our ward. Ward campouts have been huge, big, tremendous triggers for me... The people, the environment, everything about it brings on eating disorder craziness. This time, I ate dinner, and actually talked to a few people... meaningful conversations! (I actually talked about ME, which I don't do much, and it didn't even kill me.)

Tonight, I played RockBand with Justin for forever. No worries - just chillin' and hangin' with my little bro - like a normal person does.

And now, maybe I am going to sleep... like a normal person does.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lessons on selfishness

I wasn't going to go to Relief Society today...

But I did.

And guess what the lesson was on: Yep! Selfishness. We started by talking about how to lose all your friends: Frown, Be Grumpy and Cranky all the time, Never share, Whine about everything, Tattle, etc.

And immediately my brain was spinning with how much I suck... I don't smile all the time, in fact I cry and frown a lot. I am grumpy and cranky way more than any one person should be, I have so much, and I don't share it all (the thought that came to my mind was our cars, my job, and food...), and I whine... I talk about my problems, I tell people I am in pain, I suck! And finally, I have told people about abuse. I should have kept those things to myself. No one wants to listen to a tattle-tale... and I am just a 30 year old tattle-tale!

I prayed. I told the Lord how I wasn't sure this was where I needed to be, but I was there for Melissa. Help me to get something good out of the lesson, and if nothing else, help me survive it.

And then, I thought of all of the people I feel angry at. I am angry at them for being selfish. I feel angry at them for only thinking of themselves. I would really like some of those people to hear this lesson and to understand what they are doing. Maybe I shouldn't be angry that they are teaching this... there are truly people who need to hear this.

And then I felt guilty. SOOOO guilty. We are told to take the lessons and apply them to our own lives, not to think about how much I wish this person or that person was here to listen... I AM SO SELFISH AND EVIL! I HATE MYSELF!!!

At this point Rachael pulled out a quote by James E. Faust.
"Many years ago I was in a professional association with two older, more experienced men. We had been friends for many years and found it mutually beneficial to help one another. One day, one associate sought our help on a complex matter. As soon as the issue had been explained, the first thing the other associate said was, “What’s in it for me?” When his old friend responded so selfishly, I saw the look of pain and disappointment on the face of the one who had invited our help. The relationship between the two was never quite the same after that. Our self-serving friend did not prosper, as his selfishness soon eclipsed his considerable gifts, talents, and qualities. Unfortunately, one of the curses of the world today is encapsulated in this selfish response, “What’s in it for me?”
And then I knew the definition of selfishness: Selfishness is asking, "What's in it for me?" NOT, "That will hurt me, so I won't do it." It may result in the same final action, but selfishness is truly about our hearts, our motivation, and only I can know if I am being selfish or not.

A few weeks ago, I came up with my own definition:
Unselfish - putting what the Lord wants for us ahead of what we want for us, or what others want for us...

Rachael said something similar, but she breezed right over it. I wanted to point out to her what she had just said. By that definition, sometimes NOT giving other people what we want to give them is actually far more selfish than giving. I wish I would have said it, but I didn't... The lesson moved on.

The end of the lesson was harder on me... They talked about sharing everything we have, serving others, making sacrifices for others, and putting the needs of others first. All of which sent my head spinning, sent me back to times with Larry, and caused some minor freakouts.

Although this lesson was hard, and I am currently having some brain malfunctions... I can also tell I am different. If I would have heard this lesson six months ago... I can't even imagine how it would have worked out. I don't think I could have survived it.

Discussions on nutrition...

So this entry will be short... Because the discussion on nutrition was short. In Relief Society, I was sitting next to the handout, "Healthy snacks."

In my world, none of those things could even be considered a snack...

Celery with fat free dressing... NOPE! Not a snack... I am not sure that even counts as food...
Rice cakes... (Unless you're "binging" on them, haha...just kidding) Not a snack!
I can't remember the others... I know it talked about low-fat cheese, no fat whatever, and anyways...

Since I was sitting next to it,at the end of the lesson everyone came back and talked to me about it. Melissa picked one up, and I said that looks gross... would you really eat those? (I feel a little bad about that, because I hate it when people judge my food choices, but well... I was saying it for me. It had nothing to do with her.) She said she needed to eat healthier... I told her she ate fine, and she didn't need to worry about it. She folded it up and handed it to someone else, and said, "I decided I won't eat "healthy", so someone else can have this." I told her she was my hero, which got me the response, "Well, yeah you guys that are naturally skinny, shut up!"

I just wanted to teach them about Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is learning to listen to your body, understand yourself and your nutritional needs, and it is just so cool! So much better than rice cakes and celery! But they wouldn't understand... it goes against what so many people believe. And it is so frustrating!

And then Melissa said, "God made good food to be enjoyed, didn't He?" and walked away.

Really, she is my hero! At that moment, although I know she didn't understand what she was doing... I felt like I wasn't alone. I felt like I could be strong against my eating disorder. I felt like the silly handout was just that... silly. I am afraid if she wasn't there, I might have obsessed, or gotten caught up in a conversation with people about their exercise and diet habits, or something else equally destructive to me. Instead, I walked away too.

Don't Quit!

I love poems and quotes. I used to memorize them all of the time. I would practice writing them right-handed (I'm a lefty.) whenever I would get bored in church or at meetings. I have forgotten a lot of them, but like music, sometimes they come to me as answers to prayers at certain moments. I like this one, and it came to me today. I am feeling a little frustrated with life.
DON'T QUIT - Author unknown
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit -
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late
when the night came down
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint to the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar,
So stick to the light when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

I feel weary. The road seems all uphill (right now), and goodness gracious, I would love a rest. Today, it all seems so far... so much to do... and I feel so tired of doing it.

Fortunately (or unfortunately - it actually has worked both ways), I have a very hard time letting myself quit. Today is a day I am grateful for my ability to push on when things seem worst.

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.