Friday, July 31, 2009

Take 5 to see what Jill and Kevin did with their "instant fame" to support ending DV >>-----here>>>>

This is the best “feel good” video I have seen since the Susan Boyle phenomenon – take 5 and check this out and what J&K did with their “instant fame”.

This is the wedding

This is the “divorce”

This is the “cause”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

this is love.

this is love.
Originally uploaded by polkadotandplaid
I was just outside with my dog, Brindle. A neighbor came running up with her baby - just 10 months old, happy, clean, well taken care of and loved. Pink cheeks and wide eyes. No signs of neglect. No fear in her face. Wide eyes and curious about the world.

In the past I would get jealous of situations like this. I would hum and haw, then make an excuse to get away. This was a trigger for me. I couldnt stand to see others happiness because I was so angry about what I had when I was growing up. Then the "movie" would start in my head. Eventually, I found myself just doing whatever I had to do to not be around babies or children. My focus was on the past and everything outside of me. I saw only what I didn't have.

One of the first things I remember was my father telling me in his gruff voice "you cried all the time. Ma and me, we'd throw you in the back seat of the car and take you for a drive and let you cry till you were all cried and out and fell asleep". Keep in mind - this was the "old days"; no car seats no seat belts. A baby in the back seat of a car - alone. No wonder I never felt safe. Even as an infant I was left to fend for myself. I just remember a constant feeling of uncertainty and dread. And of being alone.

So today I was able to smile as this young mom ran up to me, eager to show me her baby and how she had grown. I watched this infant in wonder. I finally understood what others mean when they say children are a beautiful miracle.

This little girl with a wisp of blonde hair caught up in a tiny barrette reminded me of that Gerber baby of so long ago that I would see on the baby food jars and advertisements. Back then I thought happy babies were just in pictures but today I can let go of the anger of the past. I accept my past for what it was and in doing so I am free.

I still feel that twinge of jealousy now and then but today it wasnt nearly has strong. I didnt have to run away to stop the thoughts and feelings from coming. Instead I can acknowledge them and let them go on by as though they are in a boat floating on the gentle currents of the nearby river and be at peace.

"Me" is good enough

So. Another day has past with no postings from me. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing here on the blogosphere, what is the purpose of this place I've created in the land of seemingly infinite - and sometimes scary space - THE WEB.

Some day's I feel like I have ton's to share. As though I could write a book if I could just sit down fast enough at my computer to get it all out. To spit it out, get it out of my head. But as soon as I sit down to write, my mind freezes up.

I've come a long way in a short time in this journey of healing, of self discovery. I know and realize this. Yet I'm still dogged by this issue that I cant "do it right". I'm still struggling with that deep inner doubt that no matter what I do or say, it is never enough, it is never right.

I understand where this comes from. It is the result of being raised by parents who doubted their own selves and passed this to me. It is from the belief that I had no real value since it was ok for adult men to use me - and then toss me aside. It is from being called names, neglected, get the picture. It is from the years of trying to "do it right" and yet it was never right enough.

Self doubt has followed me my entire life. But now I get to win. And today my effort at taking back the control that was taken from me as a child is to say that I know where this self doubt is coming from and today I do not accept it.

So while my post today may not be eloquent or snappy - it is of me and "me" is just good enough.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It is the struggle that gives value to life...Jawaharlal Nehru

"The distant mountains seem easy of access and climbing, the top beckons, but, as one approaches, difficulties appear, and the higher one goes the more laborious becomes the journey and the summit recedes into the clouds. Yet the climbing is worth the effort and has its own joy and satisfaction. Perhaps it is the struggle that gives value to life. . . ." from "It Is the Struggle that Qives Value to Life" JAWAHARLAL NEHRU

In recent days I have again been reminded that "the only way out is thru" when it comes to dealing with the residual effects of trauma. Odd enough I stumbled across this true story - history - of a man Nawaharlal Nehru - who lived in a time of great turmoil; you can read the text of this story here.

At first, I was caught by the title of this piece, "It is the struggle that gives value to life" - then I took a few minutes to read the 17 pages. In the context of not giving up the battle to find and make meaning in this journey of healing I found some very touching comparisons in this story to that of this hellashish path that I have been on. I am once again reminded that 1. the only way out is through and 2. I am the only one who can place value on and make meaning of this journey and 3. attitude is everything.

Like I have mentioned in a previous post, it would be wonderful if there was someone who could "rescue" or "fix" me; to take away the pain, the feelings of inadequacy and badness that I got from my (not healthy) family as I was growing up. But there is no "magic pill", no doctor, hospital or therapist that can "fix" me. In order for me to be better, I have to do the hard work. That means that I learn to be aware of my avoidence and coping techniques that at one time protected me and kept me alive but now interfere with my ability to live a full life. That means I have to let down my defenses, be vulnerable to myself and others. To finally, abeit gingerly at times, feel the feelings.

Part of this healing process is being able to move past the grief, anger and rage at the abuses I survived and allowing myself to move into that place where I can begin to thrive and find wholeness. Refusing to live life as a "victim" puts me back in the drivers seat and allows me to move beyond simply surviving and trying to get through each day. Here I am able to say "I have value". I can create meaning and purpose where before was none.

As Michele talk about in her interview with Dr. Alex Pattakos, attitude is everything. If I believe I am destined to live a life ensnared by the thoughts that I will never get better, then my chances of getting better are slim. On the other hand, for the past almost 20+years I hung onto the belief that giving up was not an option, there is always a solution; and while not every day is a rose garden, I sure do appreciate the ones that are close and try to learn from the ones that arent.

So while I am not thrilled that this is the path of my life - to deal with the afteraffects of surviving a lifetime of abuse , I am determined that my life have meaning and value - and I am the only one who can put the price tag on it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

USA today...excercise improves mood for 12 hours

In USA Today it was reported that "people are in a better mood for up to 12 hours after they work out". Check out the full story here

Monday, July 6, 2009

I can dance!

Over at Healmyptsd, LLC Michele Rosenthal shares her story about how dancing helped to free her from her PTSD symtpoms....and creating that "new me" through movement and joy...

While I havent gone out to a dance studio, I have found the same freedom in movement in my own living room, it isnt anything fancy - I dont get dressed up and in fact kind of just start moving with the music on the radio. Pretty soon I find that I'm dancing at the dishwasher (while my pup Brindle stares in me in doggy wide eyed wonder like "mom???)

As I free myself to follow the beat of the music, I become a famous singer as I sing along to Beyonce and "halo"....or Rod Stewart....R kelly and his song "I can fly"....and in my mind I am standing at that place where the mountains wrap their expansive arms around me in safety and the sound of the ocean waves licking the edges of the beach I stand on....before I know it as I slowly begin to sway, or feel the beat and my body spins around my living room - I begin to feel free of all that that has imprisoned me for years.....

The body and mind are amazing and dont seem capable of holding the pain of the past AND the joy of movement at the same time (lucky me!) If I'm noticing that the horror movie is playing again in my head and the "fog" is starting to roll in - I can change my mood - my "state of mind" by turning on some tunes and just letting go....before long, my attitude is better, my outlook is better .... and....I might be acting silly and having fun! Listen up to this guy and his dilema........;) Susan

"Running is to dogs what dancing is to people. It is their way to get into the rhythm of the universe." ~Stanley Coren~

Sunday, July 5, 2009

When you come to the edge of all the light you have...

I believe I can fly...!
Originally uploaded by rAmmoRRison
When you come to the edge of all the light

that you have

And must take a step into the darkness

of the unknown,

Believe that one of two things will happen to you:

Either there will be something to stand on, or,

You will be taught how to fly.

-Patrick Overton

For me, this is what healing from the effects of childhood abuses and neglect look like - I believed.

For many years I accepted the opinions of the "experts" - that I was broken, damaged beyond repair. That my best prognosis was to live the rest of my life on potent psychiatric medications that dulled my mind, intellegence and stole my soul.

But then I had the good fortune to stumble across a doctor who believed that I was more than a diagnosis; I was a person traumatized and injured from a lifetime of abuse. He validated my existence.

For the first time since entering the social welfare system and the mental health system in 1993 a spark of hope and life began to flicker within my being again.

I found the strength, faith and hope to believe that I was more than a case number, more than a diagnosis.

With the help of a therapist trained in the Trauma Model developed by Dr. Colin Ross I was finally able to face my past and begin to let go of the pain. I began to heal.

In making the decision to forgo the labels and diagnosis and the mind numbing medications I was making a decision to learn how to live.

The hitch was that it was going to be a painful journey as I began to face the feelings and deep emotional pain that had been denied for so many, many years.

These moments of pain were the "hard work"; the times when I "stood at the edge of all I had known" and believed that "something would be there for me to stand on" or that I "would learn how to fly".

See my version of this poem by Patrick Overton here  I Believed


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Pizza, egg rolls and rest egg roll for a snack, a bit of a rest and now pizza with all the toppings. I do feel better and ready to get on with things. Isn't it something how when things get out of whack it is sometimes as easy as just taking care of, rest a bit of journaling, finding something positive to focus on

The dishes are done, the house is still in disaray but I have my mind back (for the most part!)

oh what a relief it is....

Taking back my life

Sometimes it's just good to settle in, grab that cup of coffee and get honest with myself. Thats kind of where I am today again and still. For a long, long time I used to hang on to that "childlike" desire for someone to "fix" me, to take care of me. Wouldn't it be wonderful if getting over the issues of our past was as simple as allowing someone else to kiss the booboo and make it all better?

Healing from a trauma experience is just not that easy though, is it? And to approach it like this I have found adds to my feelings of helplessness and hopelessness when I give control of my healing to someone else. The only way I can get better is to take responsibility for my own journey. Read up on this idea at Michele's new website where she discusses Self Empowered Therapy as a model of recovery.

I entered the mental health system back in the early 1990's searching for help as I exited a marraige and ten years of intermitant physical violence and daily mental and emotional abuse. Like Ellen talks about in her post "Why I dislike my (former) Psychiatrist" when I tried to bring up my life experiences with my doctors and therapists of this and the abuse and neglect I lived in as a child, I was dismissed and medicated. I spent the next fifteen years in a medicated stupor attempting to be that "good patient" - because I believed that if I just did what the doctors and therapists told me to do that I would get better. Wrong.

In reality what happened is that I gave away my power when I believed that "they" could "fix" me somehow. I accepted the many diagnosis' and medications (that changed numerous times over the years) and believed that something was inherently wrong with me, that I was "broken" for life; "damaged goods" as one professional put it.

What I have since learned is that my stess reactions to my past experiences have been completely normal; it was the ongoing and long term abuse that was abnormal. Read more about PTSD and COMPLEX PTSD here

I have also learned that if a chosen path is not working ie helping me to cope better that it is not necessarily "my fault" and that I can choose another path of work.

A few steps I have taken to take back my life - my own "theory" to my personal efforts of change

1. I am able and capable to manage my own life and recovery
2. I am no longer a vulnerable child and have the resources as an adult to cope
3. As an adult, I am responsible for my choices
4. I CAN learn to change. I was "taught" how to be a victim as a child - I can find and use resources to LEARN how to get over this stuff. Micheles website and blog is a great place to start.

Friday, July 3, 2009

I'd like you to meet my girl, Brindle

This is my girl, Brindle - she is a HUGE part of my journey.

I'm coming out...

For some reason (could it be fear?) I am having a difficult time here on blogger letting my true self shine through the facade of intellectualization. In the back of my mind the thoughts run through my mind that I'm a "fake". In reality, could it just be that "coming out" would be making myself vulnerable again?

For such a long time I have lived in this world that I have created that has kept me alive and even somewhat sane. It's a place where no one can touch me, criticize me, judge me or yes...hurt me. To become vulnerable again is, I am finding, extrememly difficult. It opens up feelings and emotions that I have long avoided and shunned.

But - to be vulnerable is to heal.

So today I make an attempt to set aside the thinking part of me, the me that has to have all the answers to be ok and I give myself permission to slowly, gently let down the guard that has protected me and be vulnerable.

The truth is...I don't have all the answers. I have my experience, my intellegence, determiniation to "fight the good fight" and not give up. But I am today going to try on a new set of clothes, so to speak and allow myself to be vulnerable to the world. To say "I'm scared" and "it hurts" and "I don't like this feeling" and trust that no matter what the world might have to give back to me - I'll still be ok.

A tale of two boys...the value of compassion in healing from trauma; the danger of "labels"

Jack has always wanted to be a journalist and Karl, he told me that music has been his passion since as long as he could remember. Both had such high hopes, such big dreams. Only one dreamer remains. The other dreamer died with his dreams when he was labeled "mentally ill."

This is an excerpt from a story I found in my search for a better understanding of what others have experienced in the current model of our mental health system. The title of this moving piece is A tale of two boys. In this story we have two young men, completely unrelated yet with similar life experiences. Both had experienced a severe life threatening trauma in their past, both had high hopes and dreams for their future. Both travelled a path in young adulthood that many others may have by experimenting with drugs while in college that may have altered their sense of reality and ability to cope. Both returned home when their mental health became unstable. One came out a stronger person, living a full life. The other young man was not so fortunate.

I'm bringing this up today after reading in Jaylia's blog about a book Doctoring the mind . Jaylia brings up a wonderful point about recovering from trauma "Listening ... relation ... understanding. They're such obvious powers for good ... and so rarely applied in the psychiatric world."

In this tale of two boys, Jack found compassion, understanding and support in the safety of home that enabled him to recover his true "self"; his experience became a life lesson, fuel for his future. He regained his sense of self and took back his life. Karl on the other hand recieved "the best" psychiatric care, medications and a label.

Trauma experience does not have to be the end of a life, a diagnosis does not have to become "who" we are. In my own journey I too trusted the "professionals". For fifteen years I beleived that if I just did what they told me to do - take my "meds" and attend my therapy once a week that I would get "better". I felt defective, broken, different - I lived my label of "mentally ill". Like Karl, I became a lost soul until I was fortunate enough to have found a compassionate therapist trained in Trauma recovery and like Jack, my pain became part of my healing process. In past therapies, the trauma that I had lived through and survived was not a part of that process and in fact was dismissed as though it was unimportant.

The author of this story continues: Jack-well, Jack is back living at college. He started working out and volunteers in a home for mentally retarded adults. He told me several things since his breakthrough: "This is the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life and I would not wish it on anyone-but I would not change a thing. Better I deal with these issues now then wait until I'm forty or fifty. I feel stronger than I ever have. I've learned so much about myself, I still have fears but I control them-they no longer control me."

Karl called me after he walked home from his last day at the day treatment program. "I saw a sign on a restaurant window-they were looking for a dishwasher. Do you think I could handle that?" I cried.

I feel fortunate to have found a resource that allowed me to finally address the pain of my past that has freed me to find and create my own future. With that kindness, compassion and understanding I began to find my way out of the darkness. I left the land of the living dead and began to find "me".

For more information on healing from trauma check out Michele Rosenthals post on "Who am I?" or visit Jaylias blog about Doctoring the mind. The National Empowerment Center has terrific information on taking control of your recovery. has some great informaiton on What is Psychological Trauma. Here is a good post on providing that comfort and support to children who have experienced trauma at Trauma Blog