The Sky

DSCN0425

The Sky

The place where I do yoga is amazingly beautiful.  It is perched on top of a hill, the driveway is steep and switches back on itself to accommodate the incline and distance.  The house is surrounded by loosely tidy gardens…and the looseness of them is relaxed and beautiful…It makes the gardens more real.  The yoga studio is attached to the far side of the house, overlooking the hill and across the valley to the mountain.  The studio wall facing this view is all windows which just invites you to fall into the stunning view.  To the side of the studio is a pond with a grassy bank on one side and tree covered ledge on the other side.  The far end of the pond has some large rocks with two bunches of white birch trees….Again…stunningly beautiful.  As I waited for the Yoga Teacher to be ready for our session, I was staring out at the pond and watching a dragonfly skimming the surface.  The pond was lively with insects.  On the far end of the pond, the water was still and the birch trees reflected, reaching towards me across the water.

When the Yoga Teacher came into the studio, she asked what I was seeing and I told her I was watching the dragonfly on the pond.  She then invited us to start our session by spending five minutes outside….To find something “exquisite” and to spend time in meditation on it.  I loved the idea!  So, I went outside ahead of her (she was getting her timer) and walked down to the far end of the pond.  I was barefoot…which is very atypical for me, but I had already removed my shoes for yoga…so was unshod and unsocked.

As I walked along the bank of the pond, I was aware of everything…but not in the tense, hypervigilant way that I usually am, but in a relaxed, “my body is here” way.  The grass under my feet was soft and cool and slightly damp, the grass changed to luscious dense moss…the dark kind that looks like tiny little pine trees, soft and springy under my feet.  (And it was the same exact moss from the Art Therapist/hill climbing dream and also was what I was looking for in last night’s dog dream as a soft place to lay down.)

Once at the end of the pond, I made my way onto a large flat rock…the kind that is slightly concave and makes a huge shallow bowl.  I surprised a frog that jumped into the pond with a “plurp” as he hit the water.  A squirrel briefly scolded my presence but then settled into the quiet.  I looked at the frays of peeling bark on the birch trees and the medallions of lichen on a rock that was just on the edge of the water. It had different kinds of lichen, with different colors and textures.  I became aware of the fact that as I was soaking all of this in…I was present. I was there. I was in the moment.  The world had stopped whirling around me…my inner tornado had stopped.  It was me, the rock, the tree….It just was.

The pond is on ledge, and the water has old leaves in the bottom….I know this kind of water, I have seen it in other places before…It is dark and brown…Not unclean, or yucky, but steeped, like tea, dark and brewed and dense.  And water like that…you can’t see into it very well…but it does reflect nicely.

As I looked at the lichen covered rock and around that dark end of the pond….I saw the sky.  Right in front of me, vibrant on the surface of the water was the blue of the sky and the soft flowing of the clouds.  I watched the clouds appear against the edge of the shadow of the trees, and slide their way across the water. And I felt very moved…tearful.  Something opened inside of me…softened for those few minutes and I felt it.  I don’t know what I felt…It was big…But not scary.  Nor did it have the menace of those kind of feelings that threaten to swallow me whole.  I don’t know the right word for it…but in that moment, I wasn’t feeling fragmented and broken…I just felt me.

And then it hit me.  The sky.  I was seeing the sky.  This sky, reflected in the pond…the right-here-right-now moment…This is what I have spent two weeks looking for.  Do you remember?  Two Thursdays ago, the Art Therapist charged me with looking at the sky…An assignment that I didn’t understand and haven’t actually even discussed again with him.  And I have spent the past two weeks dutifully looking up at the sky…and not seeing.  Sure, I saw the blue and some interesting clouds…but I was looking for something and just not finding it.  But when I saw the sky in the pond…I knew immediately, that this was the sky I had been looking for.  And I ended up having to look down to see it…Not up.  And I wasn’t even looking for it when I found it.  And it made me feel like crying…like something inside me got unstuck for those few minutes and I could feel it.

I tried to memorize everything about the moment so I could carry it with me like I do Pocket Peace.  I don’t know if I did…but I have a pretty good picture in my mind of the sky in the pond.

I just don’t know the last time I felt that present…Or if I have ever felt that present.  It was pretty amazing.

Self-Care and Dreams

DSCN0420

Self-Care

Yesterday wasn’t quite as relaxing as I hoped….I was irritable and it is hard to relax when you are irritable!  That said, dh and I went out for breakfast and shared raspberry oatmeal pancakes with lemon curd sauce (Yum!) while we chatted about this and that.  It was a nice treat as we don’t do a good job of having non-tasky couple time.  Then we went browsing for a car. (Which does count as self-care…A huge stressor in my life is that we only have one car.) Then we went to the grocery store and bought lots of healthy food and food for the menu plan the nutritionist created for me.  So…everything we did counted as taking care of myself, but I was crabby and tired.  Once we got home and unloaded groceries and had lunch, I went upstairs to just relax and chill with the kittens, but I fell asleep pretty much instantly and slept for an hour and a half.  And it wasn’t depression sleep…It was just plain I’ve-been-running-myself-ragged sleep.  Although honestly, I still felt irritable when I woke up. Oh well.

Today I have my yoga, which I am looking very forward to.  The last time I went was the beginning of the month and then she went away again.  The on-and-off schedule has been working okay, but I am starting to really like the yoga (and how I feel after) so I am hoping maybe now that summer is ending that we can have a more regular schedule.

Other than yoga, I plan on sticking around the house and really focusing on the self-care.  I still have that magazine to look through and that art project to finish. Probably no nap today since I slept in by 3 hours this morning. (I think the sleep disruption I’ve been experiencing since the kidnapper/sex dream finally caught up with me and my body is trying to make up for it.)

Dreams

Speaking of kidnapper dreams…I had another dream last night where I was kidnapped.  A quick summary:  I was with a friend and she was shopping for a small stove.  We went to a store and split up to look around.  I explained to a salesman what we were looking for and he told me that he had something in another part of the building and asked me to go with him.  We went through lots of weird parts of the building and ended up in a car.  Then he drove me to the next state and then to Scandinavia (not sure how we got there by car!). I was anxious to get back to my friend and feeling in danger so I kept trying to use my cell phone to call her, but my phone kept having issues…no battery, no service, the number wouldn’t dial right, etc.  Each time I tried to call her…I was not able to.  The salesman took me to some beautiful coastal place but the waves were menacing and the people there were dangerous.  I was trying to figure out how to get back to the store and my friend…I am not sure how the dream actually ended.  At least it wasn’t as disturbing as the kidnapper/sex dream, but I am left to wonder what the kidnapping theme is about.

Tomorrow, I have Art Therapy and as I’ve mentioned before, the Art Therapist loves dreams…I’ll have to ask him what kidnapping means.

Actually…come to think, I had another dream too…I was escaping from something and running down a road and I ran to a home with three dogs.  The dogs were kind of menacing and so I turned around and walked back along the edge of the road.  The dogs kept following me…but then they ended up being friendly and then were the three dogs and two tiny, tiny, young puppies.  I was taking them along with me and taking care of them…We were looking for a place to curl up and sleep for the night, I was looking for a thick grassy spot or a mossy spot or something that would be soft…but the landscape was mostly treed and sloped.  Eventually the road we were walking on met a busy interstate road and the land between ended suddenly in a point.  I knew I couldn’t keep the dogs there as the puppies would get hit by cars…but I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t get any resolution in that dream either.

Chagrin

DSCN0419

Chagrin

I am aware of and slightly embarrassed by the fact that I behaved badly on my blog yesterday.  I was really mad….And I don’t often get mad like that.  But honestly, it wasn’t all mad that I was feeling.  But mad makes a good cover up for feelings I don’t want to deal with.  And I do feel overwhelmed by Art Therapy. I think it is going too fast for me right now and I can’t quite keep up.  And I don’t want to be feeling the stuff that is stirring up, so I refuse to…which doesn’t always work so well.  Sometimes, feelings have a mind of their own and try to assert themselves even when I am trying to keep them under control.

As to me being mad at the Art Therapist…well…that one was bound to happen anyway. Usually, just when I start to really trust people, I try to sabotage that relationship.  The trust is too much for me, so I try to find a way to tear it apart.  I have done it enough times, that I know that I do it and have been sort of waiting for it.  I just am so used to being disappointed and hurt and abandoned, it is easier for me to destroy a relationship on my own terms before the other person gets a chance to hurt me. That self-preservation technique doesn’t actually work really well with therapy.  It is kind of essential that I keep the trust going.

I don’t know…sometimes, I am just plain tired.  I am too complicated for myself!

BTW…I was asked a really good question in my comments yesterday.  It really gave me pause…She started by quoting from the blog, “And you know what else? It is my fault! . It seems that I have a knack for bringing bad things to myself…. because I am bad….bad begets bad. I know that there is something wrong with me…And that there always has been something wrong with me. . I am disgusted with myself….sooo stupid! ….I am a ruiner.”  And then she posed the following questions, “Where did these voices come from? Whose are they? They have become yours, but where did they originate. Even if not said out loud, someone’s else’s treatment, and/or body language said these things to you…”

I have never given much weight to the fact that the inner dialogue I keep running is not my own…that it did not originate from me….As a matter of fact, I think the first time I really touched on it was in the Baking Cake poem “I simply ceased being as I was before/So changed, that I didn’t remember it was not me/That turned away from my beams of light.”  I think I will have to chew on this one for a bit…the idea that my self-vitriol is a conditioned response, not innate, because it feels just like a part of me…But maybe I wasn’t actually born hating myself.

I don’t know….It all overwhelms me.  <sigh>

So, after yesterday’s tantrum blog. I decided that this weekend, I am going to slooow my world down and really work to take care of myself.  I turned down an opportunity to work this morning, I accepted a last minute offer for one of my yoga sessions tomorrow afternoon (and I am really looking forward to that!), I got my art magazine that I love (!) in the mail Thursday, so I am going to thumb through that, and I am going to finish an art project that I have been working on and enjoying, I might even sneak out to Lowe’s and pick up some fall bulbs and see about getting them in the ground for the spring.  And I am going to try really hard to cut myself some slack.  A lot of slack.  And to give myself a chance to heal a bit and time to recharge my batteries.

Art Therapy: Just Another Way to Fail

DSCN0413

The appointment my parents had last night was cancelled…so thankfully, I didn’t have to go…more on that another day.

Art Therapy: Just Another Way to Fail

I think the Art Therapist pushed me too far yesterday and now I am mad.  I don’t know exactly who I am mad at…Him? Me?  But I am peeved and I am done talking about my stupid “innocent child” self in therapy.  I don’t want anything more to do with it. I. AM. DONE.  He’d better come up with a new approach, because this one is not going to work.  I am not having any of it.

He asked to see my mandala book and then opened it to this page.

DSCN0400

Then he asked me to do some art about it.  Before I started, I asked him why that page…Why did he choose that particular picture?  And he said that it didn’t have any red Xes over the girl. (Me) I looked at it and realized that it doesn’t have any black or red in it…It is actually pretty atypical of what I draw.  So, he wanted me to draw based on the picture or the feeling of the picture…the why-it-isn’t-black-and-red-and-crossed-out feeling.

So, I settled in drawing a little girl holding balloons and a small bouquet and standing with some huge flowers in bloom on either side of her with a bright yellow sun in the sky.  And I was happy as I drew it and was sort of chatting at the AT…it felt pretty relaxed.  And my guard was down.  So, I finished the picture and slid it towards him and he looked at it and propped it up so we could both see it.  And then he wanted me to tell him about it.  Actually, he wanted me to tell him a story about the picture.

A story? Really?  Ummm…nope.  Not gonna happen.  There’s no reason to tell a story to go with the picture.  So, he asked what feeling the picture captured.  I gave two words, I forget what the first one was, but the second was content.  And then he wanted to sort of go with that concept.  Only, I wasn’t having any of it.

Doesn’t he get that there was no happy and content? And that it is totally pointless to talk about it?  All it does is reinforce that everything about me is ruined and sucks.  I hate that stupid picture.  I hope he loses it and I don’t have to look at it again.  I shouldn’t even have drawn it in the first place…Stupid, stupid, stupid.  Everything in that picture represents everything I never had and I hate it.

The picture stirs up all those stupid feelings of hurt and disappointment and betrayal.  And I am not going there.  There is no point to digging all that up.  I already know that my childhood sucked…I don’t need to be reminded and I certainly don’t need to feel about it.  I am done with that stupid child-self. She’s nothing but a liability.

And I am done letting my guard down. And I am done being open and trustful. And I am done with feelings.  Done. Done. DONE.

And you know what else? It is my fault!  The Art Therapist thought maybe we would have a grounding kind of day, but I wanted a work day.  Well…I guess I got it and so now I have to figure out how to deal with it.  It seems that I have a knack for bringing bad things to myself…. because I am bad….bad begets bad.  I don’t know why I let him start to convince me otherwise.  I should not have listened. And I know better…that’s the thing that kills me.  I know that there is something wrong with me…And that there always has been something wrong with me.  Why did I let him start to sway me to believe otherwise?  Because I liked what he was saying?  Ugh.  I am disgusted with myself….sooo stupid!  And now everything about therapy is wrong.  It is all ruined too, just like me and because of me.  That’s one of my specialties….I am a ruiner.

So, I guess I am mad at us both.  I am mad that the Art Therapist made me start to feel better about myself and I am mad at myself for being stupid enough to believe it.

High Anxiety Already Today

DSCN0407

High Anxiety Already Today

Today is an insanely busy day.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but I have booked myself three health appointments (AT, doctor and nutritionist).  I am sort of dreading the doctor’s appointment.  I bet she is going to give me another one of those mood screens (PHQ-9) and then she’ll want to talk about it, and then she’ll ask me those probing questions about suicidal ideation and self-harm.  Ugh.  I don’t have that kind of relationship with my doctor. I like her. I trust her about stuff…but my personal psych stuff?  That belongs with the Art Therapist and my PNP. I just don’t have that same kind of relationship with my doctor.  And actually, I saw my PNP yesterday…and guess what she spent a lot of time asking me about?  Yup, suicidal ideation and self-harm.  I know why everyone wants to talk about it…but sometimes I get tired of being honest about my feelings all the time.  Sometimes, it would just be easier to lie.  (Luckily, I have to too much integrity to lie, and I also know it would not be helpful to me in the long-run.)

I don’t know…sometimes I just get tired of feeling exposed and vulnerable.

Speaking of tired…I feel like that kidnapper/sex dream is still giving me angst.  I don’t feel like I am sleeping well and I know I don’t feel as secure at night anymore.  And I have had to sleep with my stuffed rabbit this week…and I haven’t had to sleep with her in months and months.

And speaking of triggers….I have to spend hours with my parents tonight and I am soooo dreading it already.  I have done a fantastic job of minimally interacting with them this month…It has been very good for me.  However, tonight I have to assist them with an evening medical appointment in the City. Which means I will probably have to spend about….4-5 hours with them.  (Travel time, hospital registration, two+ hours at the hospital.)  I hate being the “good” daughter.  I am not up to doing this tonight….And I soo do not need to be triggered right now.  (Especially before the weekend.)  This has high potential for being a lorazepam evening…Not that it will help with the triggering, but it will help with the anxiety, which is already ramped up.

Now, I feel grumpy.  I think today is going to suck.

Maybe I Am Normal???

DSCN0405

Maybe I am normal???

So, the Art Therapist has this pesky habit of chipping away at my alleged flawed beliefs.  My immediate response to this is to discount his comments because I know he is wrong.  Well…I am pretty sure he is wrong.  And then sometime later, I sort of humor his ideas and think about them.

But he’s kind of gotten to me about the concept of being “normal.”

I am frequently frustrated because I feel like I am not normal.  I have this idea of what I want to be; happy, carefree, easy going, social, friendly, confident, open, trusting, whole, etc.  And I am not any of these things right now.  And it bugs me…just irks me almost to the point of obsession.

But the Art Therapist keeps telling me that I am normal….and that the things that I consider not normal (depression, PTSD, insecurity, failure to trust, fear, anxiety, self-loathing, etc.) are actually perfectly normal things.  They are the normal responses of someone who has experienced the kind of trauma I have.

And he has said this to me several times and in different ways, and on Monday…I heard it.  I haven’t sucked it into the depths of my brain as an absolute, but I am considering his hypothesis.  (Which he would state is not a hypothesis, but a truth.)

So, I’ve been thinking…What if what I consider normal, is just one kind of normal? Sort of the normal of an undamaged person.  (And I know that life as an undamaged person would not always be sunshine and roses…but I do tend to idealize it.) And the Art Therapist’s idea of normal, which encompasses all the yucky things that I think and feel now, is another kind of normal?  The post-trauma symptoms are a normal response.  Normal. Normal. Normal.

As matter of fact, one could conclude that a normal response to trauma would be indicative of the person having the trauma response being normal underneath…Because you can’t have a normal response if you aren’t already normal.  And if you are already normal, then you don’t have to try to be normal because you are there…You are normal.

Of course, feeling normal is a whole other can of worms….Unless….Unless feeling not normal is also a normal response.  Or wanting to feel the idealized normal is normal….

Okay, then maybe the question is this….So, maybe what I feel is normal…but how do I stop feeling like crap all the time?  How do I stop hating myself and hurting inside and being afraid?  Especially when I have fed and reinforced those feelings for so long?  How do I dig down and find the other normal inside of me? Is there even any of the other normal still left in me?  Or was there any even to start with?

That’s one of my sticking points with his theory….Because I was damaged so young…I never really did get a chance to be normal.  So, how can I recapture what I never had?  I don’t know…It’s funny, it all seemed more clear when I started writing…now it is confusing.

The Bridge

DSCN0400

The Bridge

Yesterday afternoon, I was thinking about something I had written when I was working on the cloth dolls/ bridge project…a day when I happened to be in a more giving frame of mind…Or maybe a more forgiving frame of mind….I don’t know.  Anyway, I wrote it and then shoved it aside on my art desk and let it get buried so I wouldn’t have to feel about it.  But Sunday, I cleaned off my desk and there it was again…..Art Therapy yesterday morning made it feel more relevant.  Here it is:

I have to believe that inside me is a good and whole person simply waiting to be found so she can be radiant and flourish.

Right now, I don’t/can’t see her, maybe a wisp of a glimpse as she tucks herself deeper into her safe place.  She feels fragile and hurt and very afraid.  Life has been hard and overwhelming and she learned to close herself off to survive.  Only she is not surviving. She is drowning.  The very things she learned as survival skills are crushing her making it impossible for her to open up and blossom.

I think what she needs now is tenderness and compassion, so she can start to wake up and move and try the world—the “now” world, which is so different from the “then” world when she had to retreat.

I would like to tell her I won’t be so afraid or ashamed or angry at myself so that I can give her the love she deserves, but I don’t know how.  I can promise her though, that I am trying my best to learn how so that I can extend a hand and bring her into the light.

I know that finding her won’t be easy, and I may even lose sight of her or purposefully push her deeper into her safe space as I make the journey through my darkness.  I want her to know that losing sight of her or losing faith in her will only be temporary.  I am fragile too and it is going to take a lot of work for me to be brave enough to find her and bring her back to where I can feel her and be her again.

 For now, I carry her with me, but with an awareness that I didn’t have before.  I acknowledge her presence and I hope someday, I can celebrate it.

She and I? We are fragments of the same being.  And until I can reach her, I won’t be whole again.

DSCN0401