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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ode to Great-Grandparents and Not Visiting the Asylum

I've expressed this to counselors before: any sense of sanity of have is owed to the unconditional love I received growing up with my great-grandparents. This thought has popped into my head a few times this week and I'm wondering why.

It could be that I'm reading Beautiful Fools: The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald by R. Clifton Spargo. I have a growing interest in the Lost Generation and have been reading a lot of non-fiction and historical fiction about this time period and the "stars" of the age. In my readings, I learned that Zelda went insane, having mental breaks, arguable schizophrenia with eczema creeping up her neck with every breakdown. It may sound far-fetched and book snob-ish of me, but I feel a connection with Zelda and her struggles with mental illness. Depression, anxiety and the likes have lasted generations and will continue to infiltrate the lives of those inflicted. It sounds so bleak and hopeless, but I'm finding hope where it seemingly doesn't exist.

While my great-grant parents couldn't "save" me from mental illness, they did save me from myself. I certainly had horrible episodes of depression, drug use, alcohol-induced rage, and a revolving door of relationships, but deep inside my soul, past my flesh and earthly organs, I always held inside a sense of security and acceptance because they provided that to me during my most impressionable years.

Despite changing schools and apartments every year and verbal and mental chaos injected into my veins by my mother, I always had them. I had the cookie jar super glued back together after I broke it, I had my great-grandma's house heels I'd clink clink around in, their big backyard with a tire swing and vegetable garden, with a workshop I would use to "build" things and a hothouse where I would tend to the plants. Memories of putting every pot and pan and bucket in the driveway when it rained, weekends at their modest lake house. These memories are planted so deep inside of me, deeper than depression and drunkenness can invade.

They are both gone now, my great-grandma for 9 years and my great-grandpa for 15 years. I miss them. I wish I could tell them thank you and hug them infinitely for their saving graces. But, I can thank them and honor them in the present by living my best life, not succumbing to mental illness, reading and writing -- two things they always praised me for doing.

I realize that I repeat my past, the negative parts of my past, the failing, the feelings of sadness and inadequacy, excessive sleeping to escape. Instead, I'm going to work on repeating the positive parts of my past, the excitement of catching fireflies and having fun watching my great-grandpa grilling the minnows I caught at the lake. And while I won't be putting pots and pans in my driveway during a rainstorm, I will find hobbies and parts of life that take me to happy places, where I am loved and accepted and good enough just the way I am.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Revisiting the Past for a Better Future

Wow. How much personal work I have done! I am reading my hand-written journaling from 2011, and I did much writing during that year. And understandable so.

I had moved in with my now fiance and the plan was for me to be a "house-girlfriend." That was until we added up my debt and realized I need to go straight to work. But, during my non-working days, I delved into to Engel's Healing Your Emotional Self and journaled like crazy.

Has that writing healed painful places I hold inside? It feels like the answer is "no" when I think of how I sometimes go to bed immediately after work because I don't want to be awake anymore; when I have screaming fits with my fiance and threaten to end our relationship; when I feel judged upon walking into a room; when I feel so far from God. Have parts of me healed?

There are noticeable parts of pain I hold, and it is showing on the outside. I need to lose weight. I've gained roughly 40 pounds since college (2008) and I'm unhappy with how I look. I need to lose about 33 pounds. I feel like I am dragging around anger and regret and sadness that is weighing me down, literally. 33 pounds for 33 years - I just realized the relation. I ask again, have parts of me healed?

The answer is yes. I'm revisiting journal entries and feeling inspired by the wisdom and insight I was having during some of my most difficult times. What will I think of myself and my writing in 4 years? I'm stronger than I was in 2011, and I'll be stronger than I am today in 2019. This is all really defining the meaning of "journey."

Now I'm going to pick back up Engel's Healing Your Emotional Self and reread the chapter I was last on a few weeks ago. Prior to this, I hadn't picked this book up for about 3 years, so I need to refresh where I last left off. The chapter I will be reading is chapter 11 titled If You Were Neglected, Rejected or Abandoned: Healing the "I am unlovable" and "I am worthless" mirrors. And while I do feel led to complete this book, I can honestly say that I don't feel "worthless" today as I have in years past. But, I also don't feel "full of worth", so I know this chapter will strike chord today as it did in 2011.

Read some of my 2011/2012 entries after reading Engel's Healing Your Emotional Self by clicking here and here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Painful Thread

My favorite form of poetry is the terzanelle.

I was first introduced to the terzanelle my senior year of college when I took a poetry class. We were tasked to write one, and it took so much time and I was so meticulous; you have to be when forming the lines. What I created was amazing -- it spoke my soul's truth and hidden shame. I received an A in the class, and I believe it was because of the poem.

I recently began writing another terzanelle, but it can get frustrating making every line just right. So, I decided in the meantime, I'll repost the terzanelle I wrote in college.

Painful Thread
Finally, I scream for what should have been.
Acquired in my first breath, still seems I’m
tied like a puppet with your painful thread

woven in womb from the tightrope you walk.
Stranded and frayed from your needle-sharp voice
acquired in my first breath. Still seems I’m

knotted with sorrow, for no other choice
I rot with the moon’s fading strand of light,
stranded and frayed from your needle-sharp voice.

Delivered, then bounded to all that’s foul,
dripping with tears, Mom you strangle my soul.
I rot with the moon’s fading strand of light

that flickers once more before bowing its head.
Reaching the end of entangled delight
dripping with tears. Mom, you strangle my soul.

Wrapped within layers of unanswered plight,
finally I scream for what should have been.
Reaching the end of entangled delight,
tied like a puppet with your painful thread.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Learning to be Loved

Most of my life I have steered clear of my sisters' dad's family. When we would go and visit the aunts and uncles and cousins, I felt out of place and like I was wearing a sign that said "Not Related." I would excuse myself and go walk around by myself or go in another room, where I sometimes cried out of loneliness and not belonging.

It was through the help of one of my sisters that I realized, just a little bit, that this side of the family does accept me. This realization came very recently. What's interesting is that while I felt I didn't fit in, I wanted to invite all of them to the wedding. And I found myself worried that they wouldn't want to come.

Again, at my sister's urging, she told me, "Everyone loves you. They always ask how you're doing and they are always happy to see you." I started to believe her.

My healing journey has included, over the past few months, me attending some family gatherings. The comforting fact is that I no longer held that sign. I was in my own body among others and I felt a part of them.

Years and years of struggles and sadness and self-hate are slowly transforming into something better; I am transforming into something better. My "better" means accepting I am loved and I am wanted and I am okay.

Monday, June 8, 2015

When You Need A Little Help

During my last doctor's appointment, I talked to my doctor about my weight gain. I've been emotionally and "bored" eating and I must lose weight. It looks like I could stand to lose a few pounds, when in reality I need to lose about 30. Thankfully I carry my weight well, but I'm unhappy and need some help. So he provided it.

I'm on a medicine that causes loss of appetite. This will help with the amount I eat, but not what I eat. And it certainly doesn't replace the nees for exercise. It's just a little "boost" to help get me going.

The only noticeable change is that nothing sounds appetizing. I'm a little hungry, but can't decide what I want, and when I do eat, a lot of the times the food isn't satisfying. But I also feel guilty when I eat. Unless it's an apple, seriously an apple, the guilt surfaces and the voices start. "I shouldn't eat at all because I'm overweight." "Just lose weight by not eating." "You don't deserve, nor do you.need the calories."

I am thinking about my weight all the time. None of my clothes fit so the tightness in all of my work clothes is a constant reminder of my weight. I look in the mirror and feel gross. I want to stay indoors because I feel like people notice I'm pudgy. I need a little help, and my doctor prescribed me some.

To add to the stress is the fact that I have no choice whether or not I lose weight. I have a wedding dress to fit into, and at this point in time, it doesn't come close to fitting. I absolutely cannot and will not be this weight on my wedding day. I would feel unattractive and guilty for not having lost the weight.

Tomorrow is a new day and a new week. If I hit the gym hard and cut back on my calories, I think I can lose 4 pounds. You always lose a lot in the beginning. If I can lose 4 pounds, I'll be in the next lower weight class which will lift my spirits.

Hopefully in 7 days I'll be reporting this significant weight loss. Until then, I need some help from above. Help to stop beating myself up over how I look. My beauty lies within, no matter what the scale says. This I must remember.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Trust the Mess

"Trust the mess and the not knowing. This is the real part...the most interesting part."
I found an aceo art piece on Etsy, and as soon as I read those words, I knew this art was meant for me.

To think, when the artist was creating this piece, she had no idea about the story behind the person who would soon purchase it. Me, so gracefully broken and searching for healing, found stillness in her art. These words stopped my racing mind, my anxiety was calmed momentarily and love was beating from my chest.

...the real part...the most interesting part.

I have a counseling appointment today, and as difficult as these sessions can be, and even with the dreadful anxiety I experience in the hours leading up to our meeting, I now see this is the real part, and my journey is the most interesting part.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

ADHD Medication and Addiction

I still struggle with the question "am I addicted to my ADHD medication?" Maybe I am so dependent on it because it works well. It also gives me anxiety which often leads to my taking another pill. That's the part that worries me.

I take extra, then have to go a wretched week without it, wishing I hadn't taken extra and vowing to not do it again. Then I get my refill for the month and it starts all over again. To stay on track so I don't have to go to work without it, I need to hold on taking my medicines for two weekends. That should put me back on track.

I know ADHD meds can be difficult managing correctly, and I am currently on two - Vyvanse and Ritalin. I wish I could experience the first two hours of my Vyvanse all day, but the "high" productivity fades, and that's where the Ritalin comes in. I take one twice a day, four hours apart from each other. But those four hours are often cut in half, and sometimes I take double doses. This leaves me even more anxious with regret and shame sprinkled in.

I write about my medication struggles in hopes that it helps someone reading this know they are not alone in this daily battle. I realize I have not prayed for the strength to take my ADHD meds as prescribed. Prayer and faith may be just what the Doctor ordered.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Narcissist vs. Borderline

I began reading "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?" by Dr. Karyl McBride. This is actually my second time picking up the book. But since my first endeavor was so long ago, I decided to start at the beginning. I found almost immediately that I'm not quite sure my mother is a narcissist. The traits she does possess are similar to those found in Borderlines. And, I've been told by more than one therapist that (unofficially) she sounds like a Borderline.

The narcissistic traits my mother possesses are making everything about herself, rejecting my feelings and beliefs because they do not align with her own, and placing blame on others for her mistakes/feelings/thoughts rather than taking responsibility. Does this make her a narcissist? Only a doctor can diagnose her.

I find reading these books about neglectful mothers helps me on my journey. One thing that "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?" touches upon is how taboo it is to talk about mothers in a negative sense. Mothers are adored, placed on pedestals; Mother's Day is the most observed holiday. It is more common to speak about neglectful and abusive fathers. But this is my truth - withholding attention and love, shaming and blaming when I did something bad, when I wasn't "good enough" -- actions of my mother toward me.

McBride includes a questionnaire with 33 questions. The questions that I identified with are the following:

  • Have you consistently felt a lack of emotional closeness with your mother?
  • Have you consistently questioned whether or not your mother likes or loves you?
  • Does your mother deny her own feelings?
  • Does your mother blame things on you or others rather than own responsibility for her own feelings and actions?
  • Is your mother hurt easily and does she carry a grudge for a long time without resolving the problem?
  • Do you feel unaccepted by your mother?
  • Do you feel your mother is critical of you?
  • Are you shamed often by your mother?
  • Do you find it difficult to be a separate person from your mother?
  • Did you feel you had to take care of your mother's emotional needs as a child?
  • Is your mother controlling, acting like a victim or martyr?
So, 11 questions out of 33 - 1/3 I identify with. McBride says that more questions that apply to you and your mother, the further down the narcissistic spectrum your mother can be found. 

I'm at a crossroads -- do I continue reading this book, even though I don't fully believe my mother is a narcissist? Or, do I continue reading because I may find that she is? Regardless, the emotions and beliefs held by daughters of narcissist mothers are all too familiar to me, and McBride's words hit me like only truth can:
  • We flail around, we make mistakes, feel deep unworthiness, and sabotage ourselves and our lives (introduction).
  • We have been taught to repress and deny, but we have to face the truth of our experiences that our longing for a maternal warmth and mothering is not going to be fulfilled and our wishing and hoping that things will be different are not going to change things (introduction).
  • You hear familiar inner voices delivering negative messages that weaken your self-respect and confidence (pg. 17).
  • I beat myself up for what I think I've done poorly or should have done better (pg. 5).
  • These incessantly disapproving voices never gave me a moment's peace. They harangued, nagged, and demeaned me with the overall message that no matter how hard I tried, I could never succeed, could never be good enough. They created such an extreme sensitivity in me that I constantly assumed others were judging me as critically as I was judging myself (pg. 4).
The last one above really hits deep. It sums up so much of my life, so much of what has occupied my brain for as long as I can remember. And to think that there are people out there who do not identify with McBride's words -- how lucky they are! How they must feel about themselves and others!

After revisiting my reading of "Will I Ever Be Good Enough" I've decided to keep going. Feelings of sadness are flowing over me, not uncommon when confronting issues and emotions such as these. I'll pepper in these readings with my reading of "Mrs. Hemingway", my newest flapper-day-obsession book.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ready to Tackle 150

I created a spreadsheet of all of my books this morning (obviously, feeling organized). I am proud to say I have 150 books in my growing library. I found my "thing", not purses or shoes, but books.

It was a peek into my past as I came across "The Emotionally Absent Mother" by Beverly Engel and "Will I Ever Be Good Enough" by Dr. Karyl McBride Ph.D. And of course Henri Nouwen's "Turn My Mourning Into Dancing" and "The Inner Voice of Love" which has been an ongoing reading and writing journey.

I've decided to pick back up "Will I Ever Be Good Enough" by Dr. Karyl McBride. It called to me for a reason only the One up above knows, and I believe my break from reading pain-invoking rememberences is time to come to an end. "Will I Ever Be Good Enough", here I come.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Personal Beliefs - Small Self turned Authentic: Part One

I wanted to go back. Way back, when I was really diving in deep in my spiritual and healing journey. I grabbed an old journal and here is what I found:

October 27, 2010:  What do I believe? I'm not good enough. I'm damaged. I don't have discipline; discipline is hard for me. I have trouble keeping friends. I have problems with people. I can't do XYZ. I won't ever XYZ. I'm so in debt. All negative thoughts - negative beliefs - negative reality.
I feel so sad for the woman who wrote this, the woman who was feeling such defeat with no self-worth. I wrote that a little less than 5 years ago. Five years ago! I have come so far in my journey. I have truly victored over some of those beliefs. I struggle a little, but after reading this, I realize how much I have found my authentic self. My sadness for this woman is now filled with joy. Joy because she had no idea where her life was going. Well sweet girl, it ended up going to great places. Yes, bad decisions and acting out on these negative beliefs did happen. But without the rain, I wouldn't be the cute little leprechaun sitting with a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I am moved by my words, so go back even further.

August 5, 2010: Get Past Your Past - Thoughts on Joyce Meyer
The reason she [Joyce Meyer] is spreading this message [getting past your past] to millions is because millions have a past they want to get over. I'm NOT unique in this way. Find my uniqueness in the positive and present instead of the negative past. Be needy for the Lord. Beg, fall at His feet. Know that I am nothing without God. I am hungry, homeless without the Lord. Just because I wake up depressed doesn't mean I have to stay depressed. A worm transfers into a butterfly. What beauty can I transform into? Transformation requires renewal.
I love me some Joyce Meyer! The pain she endured, the pain she overcame is tremendous. Her father molested her for years growing up, and his life ended with her taking care of him because he was ill. Joyce Meyer - I'm left speechless. Talk about forgiveness. Talk about searching, digging her heels into manure to find grace. This girl who was experiencing such horrific things, in those moments she had no idea that she would change her life, create her own journey and lead millions to God and to living a better story.

A few days later, I wrote:

August 11, 2010:  Living without frustration. Don't fight darkness. Accept the light. If I don't change me, then this is how I'm staying. I change because I love Him and I want to glorify Him. Do what I can. He'll do what I can't.

September 28, 2010:  If love is a battlefield, I surrender happily. Happily? I surrender because it causes me so much pain. Casualties of the heart, the mind, and self-respect. And don't get me started on the other guy. Or, shall I say guys? Yes there's been many, and many have been viscous. Pirates and barbarians robbing me of my sails. Why did I think the next one would be different? Back to the question at hand. If love is....I surrender.

September 29, 2010:  Silence. I can appreciate it now. I never did before. I ran from it. Silence was when my mind started talking, revealing to me my greatest fears and inadequacies. My mother, my drinking, my promiscuity. NO - I cannot face these things. They just aren't so. I am okay. I am okay. Don't tell me I'm not okay.

I then instruct myself: FINISH OUT THIS THOUGHT.

I ran and I ran from this silence until I found myself collapsed in the dirt, bloodied and bruised from my unsuccessful escape. It was here that the Truth caught up with me. I was wounded and terrified, but oddly, that Truth extended her hand. Even more peculiar, I allowed her to help me to my feet. I was standing. Still as an insect hiding from its prey. It was while standing hand in hand with Truth, that I accepted all.

I'm a wise old bird, aren't I! I love the insight I was having at this time. Oh, man was I struggling. My soul was restless but set on finding grace. As I first journaled these words, I had no idea that I'd be sitting in my own home, building my own life with the most giving, selfless, forgiving man. In my library, yes we have a library, filled with Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nouwen, Beverly Engel. With my sweet fury companion at my side, I leave you with this: whoever you are, wherever you are, there is hope and forgiveness and self-worth in your future. Journal. Read. You must go through the pain, though. I know, it sucks. But go through it -- it's worth it. You are worth it.

...until Part Two.