awareness · challenge · resilient

Your Crazy’s Showing (part 2)

The search continued. It had to. Can’t ALL be so unaware, so aloof, disinterested, re-victimizing…could they? Even if you suck at what you do you STILL have experience. They said they had experience with childhood trauma. Hmmm. With limited awareness and clarity with your own process, how can we expect you to properly assist another person on their healing path? Having been exposed to these well meaners compounded my lack of faith in humanatee. A big fat sea-cow in an ocean of disdain. 

Confirming my, “I am irreparable” notion, all due to people not doing their “work”. My expression of graphic truth touching their darkness resulting in their shut down, perilalysis, or disASSociation. Say, for instance you’re in a restaurant. The person next to you clutches their chest in pain, maybe a heart attack. You want to help but as you rise from your chair YOUR chest also begins to hurt, you go into a full-blown panic attack, rendering you useless to the other person. -A simplistic depiction of countertransference. Trauma triggering trauma. Emotional entanglement/meshing/merging/fusing with the client, which negatively impacts a therapist’s ability to lead. 

Enter Paul, my next psychoterrorist. A charming Victorian third floor office. Beautifully decorated. He came highly recommended with much experience in the area of abuse and women’s issues. Finally! This would be IT.  Fingers and toes crossed. Paul, a bald, middle-aged and deeply baritone voiced gentleman, welcomed me, with open harms, to his practice. We began. Small talk. About where I’d been. And his experience with clients of my gripe. Lol. Nice enough.

Writing feverishly…enter the million dollar question.What brings you here… I got into it, hard. Haven’t I wasted enough time with the other do-gooders? He began smiling, like I was telling him a joke and he was anticipating the punchline. He added some “yes, go on” and “oh, really?” scripts every client expected from a paid listener. “Tell me more” and “Tell me again” with what sma-hack-ed of enjoyment and entertainment on his creased face. Like I had just delivered some juicy gossip. “That is fascinating” and “Are you sure this happened”? Actually escaped from his jagged smile. Any minute now, I expectorated him to pop up and put a bag of popcorn in the microwave. His affect clearly needed a tune up. 

Shifting in his comfy seat, I got a peak of his legal pad – he had drawn a CAT!! Silly me, I thought I was saying something worthy of recording. Thought he might be taking notes. I felt completely deflated, invisible and devalued. If THAT wasn’t rea-dick-a-less enough …nearing the end of the session, I offered some disgustingly graphic trauma piece as a last bitch effort to get some authentic reaction. (Which I am incredibly good at – thanks Mom). For what seemed like a minute, his mouth dropped down and gaped open, eyes wide. His body, except for his neck, froze. He slowly turned his mannequin head to the right and stared out the window for a very uncomfortable miNUT. So, remember the THIRD FLOOR thing? Nothing out there except sky, lots of sky guy. I actually got up and looked too, his stare was that intense. Dude, there’s nothing out the window, nothing. He sat, lifeless, no blinking, no swallowing. Nothing. And just like that, he returned from his long strange flip. T-why-light groan. Holy weirdness. Another disaster. 

So this tiny little blurb about a Sexual Abuse Support Group caught my I. Beyond excited. All women in the group. Perfect. Group of 5. Harold introduced me to the group and all of the women shared a blurb. Very lovely women. I was the youngest member. All very charmed by Harold, giggling when he spoke. A dandy guy. Harold offered his  background. He expressed his special brand of wisdumb, “After all, men are idiots. We should cut off all their penises and ship them to a deserted island”. God’s honest truth! His exact words. Later that night, Harold offered more creep… “Yeah, you know, I touched my sister and it wasn’t a big deal, so there’s nothing wrong with that” AYFKM? He looked around nervously to see how he was being received. Eyes bouncing from one participant to the hexed. Harold, poised on the edge of nervous laughter and arrested exhale. He excused himself, apparent worry broke out amongst the group mates. Come to think of it, Harold excused himself at least 5 times during the 2 hour group – just adding to an already bizarre situation. 

In his absence, I questioned the other women, asking how long they’d been a member. The responses were between 2 years and 7 years. What?  After that night, I never returned. But Harold wasn’t done tryin to work me into his gig, his magic act. He wouldn’t let go. He sent me a letter, “You need this group, this will help you. You really need to return for support”. THIS is straight up cray-cray. Of course, no response from me. Another month went by and he sent me another postcard, reminding me of the group ”you should be here” Now I was pissed. I wrote him back. “How dare you try and take advantage of the most tender, most vulnerable population by insinuating that I could not make it without you” “You call yourself a therapist? You are basically pushing your agenda onto me and scolding me for not complying” “That’s abusive” “I put a boundary and you are not honoring that”. I should have reported him but I would have been cast as just another crazy patient. 

The final crazy encounter, with a physician, occurred when I was seen for a panic attack visit in 2000. I was new to the panic world and, just like everyone else, was convinced that it was something else. Anxiety couldn’t possibly make me feel like I was gunna die…. So this well-meaning, lovely Indian Physician listened to me as I talked about my long history of anxiety stemming from a dark childhood. When I told her about my abusers, her “helpful advice” was the following. “Why didn’t you punch them? or tell them that you didn’t want that to happen to you? You have to tell them” 

Ok Dr., like it’s as easy as telling them to hold the onions on your burger at McDonald’s. Excuse me, yeah, no onions please, ok, thank-you. I so desperately wanted to live in her world where all you have to do is tell someone to stop and they do. Wow, whammo, why didn’t I think of that. Holy mind fuck. Blame the abused. Thanks a bunch. LOL

Kinda hard when your abuse began when you were pre-verbal. Maybe you were older and when you said no, it was the same as yes. I don’t really think a 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, 10-year-old girl is any strength match to male teens and adults, hmmm, you? What a bizarre suggestion (punch them). Most likely our first abusers are family members or friends of the family or someone entrusted with our care. We rely on them for safety, a roof, food in our bellies and love. When you are reared to believe your privates/body belongs to others – where does the protest fit in there? The trickery, convincing and games fuck a child’s mind. 

Is it the responsibility of a child to keep her/him self safe? That’s an awful lot of burden to shoulder. A tiny little girl. A Dr. offering “help” sprinkled with the nasty energy of blame– I  should have done something, I should have stopped it, I should have protected myself and ultimately, I could have done something but I didn’t ………………. Today I would tell her that she’s got a lot of clean up to do on herself. Her nasty is showing. And that my little girl knows I’ll protect her. 

Let’s do our inner work DO THE INNER WORK. So we all can be there for each other. Without our fear or anger or frustration or judgement coming at the person and overshadowing our HELP we intend to give. So we may hold each other/clients/patients in the way they truly deserve – in love, compassion and understanding. If nothing else, at the very least, validate how hard it must have been for that person to grow up in that atmosphere. So very powerful. Validate, listen. 

Maybe some of this…”Wow, I’m so sorry. That must have been really hard for you. You must be so sad. What can I do to help you? You are so strong. You are doing amazing seeing all you’ve been through. Do you have someone to talk to/confide in? Would you like me to refer you to someone who knows more about this? You must have been so scared. Do you feel safe now?”

human condition · resilient

Your Crazy’s Showing (part 1)

ALL Psychologists are NOT equipped to handle clients with childhood trauma. Period. It takes a wise, awakened individual with the cultivated ability to 1) bear witness to a client’s inner world and 2) gracefully navigate back out, leaving the client with more than they went in with. Skill, deep INNER excavation. But more importantly, the awareness of being in WAY over your head (beyond your supports) as a therapist/counselor. 

A variety of scenarios keep psychologists, counselors, social workers from doing the best they are able, for this vulnerable population. As a client, myself, I remember the early days of my healing. I was just happy to have someone listen. A human witness to my sadness and anger. All psychologists are created equal, right? LOL.

Are there specific sexual abuse training modules for professionals in the counseling gig? Even continuing education classes for veteran professionals? I’d like to teach…“How to build a self” “Making sense of body memories”, “Dealing with frozen”, “How  my darkness impacts my clients” – hey, just for starters – Anything I can do to assist them in wreckognizing their own process. 

No cleaning and your home will be really dirty for your guests. How bout a food/drink container? Would you serve them from a dirty vessel? No, you’d make sure it was washed and scrubbed, the lighting in the room was adequate, not too cool or hot and that they felt supported and safe on the furniture. When in the helping world, overlooking your own energetic invitation to healing is the issue. I don’t think any provider woke up this morning thinking – who can I fuck up today? Who’s trauma can I add too? Who can I re-victimize this afternoon? 

Sound harsh? I am VERY hard on this profession. Having had some shocking experiences as client, I hope for better for humanity. I know the desperate search for relief. Anxiety, terror, depression, eating disorder, strange body symptoms, etc.. just to be met with blame, bizarre ideas, dismissal, odd reactions, endless scripts of ridiculous meds, feeling minimized as you bear your soul… The healing road is not without its potholes, sunday drivers, construction sites and engine failure. For sure.

My first therapist was a sweet middle-aged woman. I was bursting at the seams with my new realization of my abuse and I know a bit unusual, but I wanted everyone to know. First meeting. She seemed like a good enough listener. My expectations were low as I was just looking for some validation. After the 4th session, she thought it might be a good idea to inform me about her speciality…counselor to the abusers, the rapists, torturers, sexual deviants. Nice. Wait, what? But my starved – for someone to listen – self rationalized that SHE was the professional, after all, I’m a basket case, why would my opinion count here?

She continued, adding that they didn’t mean it and were usually good people. AYFKM? Floored, I felt powerless to question or protest or talk about how offended I was by her lack of judgement. Defending the behavior that has ruined my childhood… What’s next? Maybe I should just pity my abusers because they probably didn’t MEAN IT? Ewe WTF   So the young me just smiled and felt lucky to have such a professional therapist. Next session  we met in her new office. Much nicer. Maybe a new start. We could start over and I could pretend. Pretend she was a good therapist. 

Seated next to the window next to hanging and tallish plants, the sun streamed through the window onto her. We began. I felt an incredible emotional pressure coming forth. A torrent mix of anger and sadness surfacing. Years of tears, streaming. She was nodding and smiling, which I barely noticed, given how distraught I was. With a lap full of tissues, I looked up to see her reaction to what I was sharing and she was asleep. Head sagged down towards her chest and all. Shot through the heart and you’re to blame, you give therapists a bad name.Purging deepest secrets, finding my voice, in front of a witness and the fucker is asleep. Bored, disinterested, great. Never returned. Even my vulnerable, unassuming, naive, young self knew that she was a couple of sandwiches shy of a picnic. Purposefully unconschushed? Checked out? No words. Good thing I wasn’t suicidal. 

This is serious business. Again, If. You. Do. Not. Know. What. You. Are. Doing – Please, please do not gear your services towards the childhood trauma crowd. This hurts, deeply. At this rate, I might as well pay my neighbor, or my son’s busdriver or the nice lady at the deli counter – to be my therapist. .

I wish this were the extent of my pho-therapist encounters…not so much. My second therapist was a male, young guy, very professional. Little bowtie. Precious. Came with great recommendation. Yes! Finally, he’ll help. Can’t wait. First session, nice office, spacious. PROMISING. We began discussing why I was there. I told him what my childhood was like. 15 minutes in, he interrupts me, “Why aren’t you crying?” “What you’re telling me is very sad, yet you do not cry” We talked a little more and then he asked again. This went on 2 more times.

Today I might say – Listen, PAL…if I was in touch with my f-ing emotions, I probably would not need to be sitting with your critical ass!  But like a good little soldier, again, I say nothing, he’s the professional. So bought and paid for – I am so abnormal and wrong, I can’t even cry when I’m supposed to. Hmmmmm, yes, where DID I put all that sadness anyway?…Great, add that to the list of my dysfunction. Also, how much of what I said was heard as he was super focused on my dry eyes.

Second session (cause I’m young, impressionable, an idiot, desperate, feel like I’m REALLY A LOSER cause I can’t even cry like everyone else can, nice). Here, on the plaid couch. Cold words swirly twirling, “Why don’t you cry” in my head, they are fighting. I reached down and pinched the shit out of my inner thigh, so very hard that it made me cry. A little bloody, bruised, Ahhhhh, success – now he will be satisfied and we can move on from that -less than- bullshit. No joke, I was crying and when I went in. He was pleased. Impressed. Good-night. Never returned. 

So, getting paid to make people feel bad/wrong, less than, insane. My pinch myself move was my FU. My I’ll show you – even if it means I have to show my crazy. Skills. Get some. And throw in some compassion too. For the human condition. My walking-mess self, why on earth would someone, a professional yet, highlight just my resistance to deep emotional expression, frozen-ness and disassociation without telling me that these ARE COMPLETELY NORMAL SIDE EFFECTS OF BEING TRAUMATIZED??? Skills sir, knowledge, the self-awareness, the scare-with-all to feel the terror rise in you (as therapist) rendering you useless and even retraumatizing your client. This was not a safe place for me. Sweet Jesus, if I cried too much would that have been a prob too? 

A mystery as to why I kept going, kept looking for a terrorist, I mean therapist. It didn’t seem as though anyone could actually help me. But I didn’t give up. I couldn’t give up on myself. I felt so hyper-aware, so fragile, emotional, angry, anxious and in dissociation most of the time. Try some medicine, I heard. My well meaning gyno, set me up with a Dr. Ruth Westheimer type of little Austrian Psychiatrist. Barely visible over her enormous desk and feet on a milk crate underneath. She sounded like a female Arnold Schwarzenegger. LOL  She proceeded to tell me I had a mood disorder. Be Careerful. Docs love to pin crazy diagnoses on the many faces of trauma. Like 24 years of pent up trauma aint gunna look cray cray when the cage is cracked open? Jesus, I think one would fit into at least 7 different psychological disorders. Better off pulling that shit out of a hat. Don’t believe the garbage, find someone who tells you how WELL you are – despite how they tried to ruin you. MMMMMMMM, feel better already. 

She added that I should take this drug – name escapes me, maybe topomax? … is used with epileptic patients to decrease the activity between the brain hemispheres – insert gasp – like a young, compliant, obedient woman, I took the shit.Enter – “Well, they’re the professionals” This vile substance stole my processing. No sustained attention, comprehension – shot. She switched me to something that kept me up for 4 nights straight (Celexa?) If i didn’t feel like dying before, well now that’s a consideration. I told her I wouldn’t be coming back to her again. Like she was my grandmother and I just told her that her cookies sucked. She retaliated with some mumbled comment about how hellish Menopause was going to be for me (completely unprompted since I was 32 at the time) and I might have a breakdown! God’s honest truth. 

Ok, so now I’m 53, no breakdown (I think haha) and no menopause yet… she’s prob not alive today, so damn I can’t go visit her and have a chat. LOL  Education people, education. Skills. Compassion. Self awareness. Self work. 

I had every reason to shut up and stop searching for validation, a better life and normalcy. I surely was not going to let my abusers “win” My spirit would not allow that to happen. A full life was waiting for me, I HAD to put in the work. Surprisingly, I still had hope, faith in humanity that kept me asking around for therapists and physicians who claimed to be “good with trauma survivors”… Little did I know, I was about to meet a brand new breed of CRAZies. The ill and triggered trying to therapize the ill and triggered – not a good scenario. To be continued…

resilient

The Invitation

Rain gifts us an invitation to heal through our senses. Our shoulders, held high with unresolved fears, may drop a little lower as we imagine the raindrops as a shower of peace and tranquility enveloping our physicality. The smell of rain conjures up feelings of a warm summer day. Time stands still as we soak in the sun’s presents. On our thirsty skin, rain tastes like fresh ideas. Rich with aliveness and hope. Breathing in, taking in all life has to provide, we are brand new.

We hear rain as a familiar tune, beckoning us to listen to its intoxicating message “all is well”. We may see the rain but do we really SEE the rain? Observing the watery veil that forms at our feet, may we accept or decline the invitation to be present. In the space between our thoughts. If only…..when it rains.

Uncategorized

Transcend

A 2$ word. Transcend. Love these Ads, “rise above”, “get rid of negative thoughts” “get over trauma”. We can just fly over this shit, landing in greener pastures. More like a Billboard for Heroin or Crack. Problem being, upon arrival, YOU’RE still there. Feeling bad should be inSINerated. I’m transcending transcendence – now that’s real. Inviting humiliation, guilt, jealousy, hate, doubt for tea. Nothing to rise/soar above. How do we rise above our true authentic selves? Would we want to?

Deserving

Oh So Deserving

we are

deserving of all things amazing

bright and shiny

fabulous and joy filled

we are

deserving of the quiet still of the night sky

the woosh of the geese taking flight

skipping across the water

the buzz of the yellow fuzzy bees extracting pollen

the slow stutter of a monarch’s papery, powdered wings

we are

deserving of all that rides barely audible on the slowly released breath of a morning breeze

we are

deserving of the kind gesture of an elderly gentleman, who holds the door, in anticipation of our needs

we are

deserving of the rainbow patches of median wildflowers gone unnoticed, if not for the traffic jam

we are

deserving of the delicious space between our thoughts.

deserving…not because we have to work at it

or say the right thing

or smile, be pretty/handsome

or be smart or thin or fit

or be wealthy, productive 

or be responsible, organized, competitive, convincing or persuasive…

it’s simple.

it’s simply because we exist

no additional efforting required

we are

deserving 

old patterns · pain

My Legs

My legs. They know. They No. They ache, whine, and protest for days after heavy exercise – biking, kickboxing, hours of garden. I awaken the beast with stimulation. Reaching into the container of stifled protest, the well hidden events of a traumatic past. Weighed down by old held trauma. Wanting to run away. To fight off unwanted advances. Secretly wishing my legs would have defied my abusers and be unmovable, thwarting someone’s plan. All that protest energy still taking up residence. A protest that wasn’t allowed. A fuck-you condensed by sad-mess. Yes, old grief, that hopeless bastard. Bringing me to my aching knees. Festering, swirling – wishing relief.

The pain is constant. I don’t know where to put my legs so they won’t ache, won’t wake me. Muscular pain that is tired of waiting for the green light to release. Tired of holding. Aching at 2,3,4 a.m. Restless toss and burn. Heavy burdened walking sticks. Demanding attention for what was ignored before. This body does not forget. Tissues pregnant with issues. A high-risk pregnancy that must be watched, monitored. Until the delivery of release.

The threat of physical harm a long-ago-reality. All of my unconscious, protective holding is no longer needed – but my legs never got the memo. A loving gesture of exercise to keep my body fit and healthy has some underlying “gifts”. This physical pain I feel delivers me to the doorway of my emotional pain. Pain rents space, usually safe, undisturbed – until I call it out. Then pain has a voice. When my legs speak, they sound desperate. With ex-hurt-sion they plead with me. Their quiet whispers they tell me they’re exhausted. To please do the work. We’re sad, broken and depressed, needing deep-rest.

My relationship with my body is tight. Tight as the terror still residing in my legs, hips and pelvis. I talk with her. Sending love to my tender, lovely, strung-out legs. They need love. I purposefully bring the darkness forward, into consciousness. Visualizing the eviction of fear, disgust, shame, etc.. calling in Spirit Animals or Angels or Spirit Guides. Sitting with strong emotions. Standing with the reality of it all outside the cage of existence I used to know.

As my legs begin to thaw from their frozen “normal”, it hurts. I’ve disturbed a whole latta dark. The darkness wants out and that’s always painful. Painful going in, painful coming out. The trapped is wrapped in an old worn out container. My container is falling apart. As it should. As I relax, letting my guard down physically, the expression of what WAS is free to flow. These muscles and bones have known no safe place. No downtime.

I have a choice. We all do. I can do nothing. And invite in fibro-your-algia…cause NO, it will never be MINE. Never. I can wallow in vic-dumb-hood or I can stand on my own two legs and fight for my best life. I choose to evict the darkness. The thick, strangled webs of dysfunctional energy. They ooze sadness. A sadness so great I am compelled to ask them what they need. To actually have a conversation with my legs. The held trauma, wishing to take away my mobility, my health, my drive and flexibility. No thank-you.

I don’t blame my legs for the pain. Instead, I treat them like old friends. Dry brushing them to direct the fluid and energy to my lymphnodes for proper drainage. I Reiki them. I give them baths with Epsom salts for detox and relaxation of the strained muscles. I wrap them in warmth and allow emotion to flow unabstructed. I cry for the return of painless.

In a miraculous body way, a brilliant way, it handled it. By shutting down. By tensing up in protection. By stuffing all the ugly into my tissues and muscles because it was too much for a little girl to handle. The body never forgets.