Tag Archives: ACOA

How Your #Rage Can Harm Your #Body; How Awareness Can Cure You

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“The subject is pain. But we’re not talking about pain that’s due to some sort of structural abnormality; but rather the pain that is generated in us when we put ourselves under pressure to be perfect and good.” –Dr. John Sarno, M.D.; Rehabilitative Medicine, New York University Medical Center

“I have never met Dr. Sarno. I have seen miraculous results of people I’ve sent to him. Results from people who just read his books.” –Dr. Andrew Weil, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine

There’s a film documentary coming out that might change your life, spare you surgery, save the country millions of dollars, get people off drugs and change the way we think about pain. The pain we’re talking about here includes:

  • TMJ
  • Migraine
  • Back ache (me!)
  • Plantar fasciitis (me!)
  • Tendonitis (me!)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (me?), and more

I say this with a ton of confidence because the movie is based on the proven work of John Sarno, M.D., whose many books have changed lives.

Whose lives? Senator Tom Harkin, John Stossel, Howard Stern, Larry David, mine, friends I won’t mention because that’s their personal business.

I’ve been in contact with one of the staffers on the film’s promotions crew and we’ve been emailing back and forth. She was so interested in my story that she asked me to share it with you on my blog and mention the movie in hopes to get more people to support it or at least spread the word.

Here’s the public pitch for “All the Rage” (of which I am a proud Kickstarter backer):

“All The Rage” is a film that can save America from untold suffering and economic collapse. This isn’t hyperbole. The cost of pain has risen from $56 billion per year in 1986 to $636 billion in 2012. Dr. Sarno knows the reason. The pain is caused by stress related to the repression of our emotions. Sounds crazy, but it makes sense. In the 70’s he predicted this epidemic. The cure is knowledge and this film can deliver it.

Here’s the trailer for it (my favorite place at 2:22 is when Senator Tom Harkin is speaking at a formal hearing about his successful experiences due to Sarno and the man on the other side of the table can’t seem to answer him):

I have written here and here about my own journey with mindbody and chronic pain. I have written here candidly and humorously about my eye-opening journey regarding PreMenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD — the opposite of “euphoria” is “dysphoria”) and it wasn’t until last week when I was corresponding with a member of the promotions team for “All the Rage” that I made the connection about my personal Sarno-related issue (which I’ve yet to really talk about because I suppressed so much of it), that it revolves around my anger; my deep rage that I have relative to my own personal story; and the fact that my PMDD is quite likely related keenly to mindbody medicine.

I want to include a clip from the film. It’s an interview with Dr. Sarno’s wife, Martha, who was a revolutionary speech pathologist. In her work she made the connection between the indescribable (no pun intended) trauma in her patients’ personal lives and their inability to speak. I can’t share it with you because you need to be a Kickstarter “backer” to see it. But I’ll quote her:

…They were so focused on the disability; ‘fix the speech,’ ‘fix the language,’ forgetting that these poor people were going through horrors in their lives. They couldn’t express themselves. Their families were desperate. And nobody ever talked about how they felt…

Martha Sarno changed all that. She made that connection and now because of her work and incorporating the psychological aspect into her healing regimen, she radically changed treatment of speech pathology issues. In the clip, she continues to speak about how her husband’s work is a threat to established orthopedists and rehabilitative specialists and surgeons everywhere…  What Dr. Sarno has uncovered will end a lot of country club memberships for a lot of fancy doctors and health insurance people…

All of a sudden the pain was gone, it was the closest thing I’ve ever had in my life to a religious experience, and I wept. –Larry David

I’ve tinkered for years with the concept of writing a memoir. I even wrote a fictionalized one about three years ago. At the time, my mother was still alive and I never felt “correct” about what I wrote or shared. I felt as though I owed her some sort of coverage or protection despite the years of emotional trauma and neglect. I still, at 47, am reluctant and almost fearful about writing anything really personal on my blog or in a book because it would offend my father, who is still living. Regardless: I suffered in my childhood and adolescence due to my mother’s addictions and mental illnesses. I also believe there was a great deal that could have helped her and it wasn’t done. She endured a tremendous loss: her second son was born and died three days later and she never met or held him. In those days, 1965, you didn’t talk about your problems. You bucked up. I can’t imagine her grief. She self-medicated for that and enormous anxiety. She told me a little about her grief from losing John a few months before she died, but it was masking her rage. She said that too.

I’ve never disclosed a lot of what I grew up with. I’ve alluded to it and I know it doesn’t compare to some other peoples’ issues, but it’s my story so it’s real to me. I’m sure I’ll catch hell for saying this much; some form of silent treatment, but I’m an adult and I realize that if I continue that narrative, that everything was roses and carrot cake, that I will continue to have muscular pain, tendonitis, undiagnosable GI stuff (food sensitivities and reactions which make no sense) and sciatica.

How do I know they’re not real? Because they come and go. Because X-rays and MRIs (yes, lots of insurance billing going on) tell me that they see nothing. That there’s nothing wrong. But the pain and the symptoms are real. What do you do then? If you’re me, you learn to compensate. You build muscle anyway; go for a row anyway; run a few miles in pain anyway; do push-ups with elbow or shoulder pain and downward facing dogs with sciatica burning down your leg. Why? Because when the stress is gone, the pain is gone. I also choose the push through it because my mom didn’t.

When I shared a friendship with someone, I never connected the unbearable neck and shoulder pain I had during a conflict and then just as a matter of course as time wore on. Even now, I can feel it creeping back in. When we separated, the pain almost melted away. If I think of her, the pain comes back. Last week, I considered reaching out to her because I felt bad about how things have gone, but then two nights ago I had a dream that I was in her car and she took me on a wooden roller coaster in her car (I couldn’t buckle my seat belt) and I couldn’t get off the ride. It was as vivid as reality: my stomach swelled upon the rise to the crest of the first hill and then I felt the plunge and g-forces of the drop and my body ache on curves and my head hurt on the loop-de-loops. When I woke I was nauseated and exhausted and my back hurt. I know now that there’s no chance I can be well — I would be ignoring my very body’s signals! — if I ever resumed that relationship.

If you can allow yourself to allow the experience (yes, lots of allowing going on) that your throat gets a lump in it when you feel like you’re going to cry, then you can allow yourself to allow to understand how continually bracing yourself against a psychic and emotional tidal wave composed of unexpressed feelings ( disappointment, anger, fear, jealousy or other heavy emotions), can leave your body looking caving in to protect itself or … for a way to express it.

And that’s what this is about: your body’s expression, quite literally, of that emotional repression. In a yoga sense, a lot of this ties in so beautifully with the chakra systems and the sides of our body which experience “dis-ease.” In mindbody medicine, concept is that your psyche can’t deal with the emotional pain, so it “distracts” you by referring the pain to your back, jaw, brain, digestive system… it’s not that different from a panic attack. How does a panic attack get you to not think about the emotional stuff, what’s really bothering you? By telling your body you’re dying.

Dr. Sarno talks a lot in his books about “goodism” and “good-ists” — those people (all of us) who feel pressure to Do The Right Thing, Always, based on what is morally or socially correct and acceptable. For example: sometimes you just don’t want to go to a _____________ but everyone is going to be there and having a great time, so instead of honoring your needs, you go to ______________ and then you get a headache or your back goes out or your stomach hurts. It’s all related, trust me.

How to stop it? Well, in the meantime before the movie comes out, read any of the books Sarno has written and join thousands of other people who feel relief just from READING A BOOK. Why does that work? Because you realize you’re not crazy OR alone. There’s no placebo, no waiting room, no patronizing nods of sympathy from a jaded receptionist. No looking for a parking space.

Most of Sarno’s patients don’t require psychotherapy or other similar interventions (some may) and there’s no fear about changing your personality. You don’t even have to talk about it or consider a memoir like yours truly. You’re fine the way you are, but your pain can go away.

I read twenty pages [of Dr.Sarno’s book] and my pain almost cuts down by 75%.
–Jonathan Ames

What this movie and book and movement are giving to me is the confidence to move forward with writing my memoir because I feel like I have a relevant space to hook it into: health and personal advocacy. I’ve already decided that my first line would be, “I never knew how angry I was until I wasn’t anymore.” My well-being and health had been held hostage by my anger at my parents for the lies I witnessed and the confusion and pain I endured. Thanks to the emails I’d shared with the movie publicist, I connected that my food issues began in the spring of 1994 when I was planning my wedding. That was my first trip to the Gastroenterologist. All my “flare ups” happen in the spring when I was planning the wedding. I also saw a cardiologist then because of panic attacks (this just came back to me right now); my heart was all wonky but brought on by anxiety. I am convinced my PMDD was related to my rage from growing up with all that dysfunction as well.

You don’t have to hail from a dysfunctional family to benefit from Sarno and this film (even though about 80% of us are from dysfunctional families or are in families with some measure of dysfunction surrounding them). You could simply be disappointed that you never felt ______ in your life and are dealing with chronic pain and nothing you’ve done so far seems to help.

I don’t think I’ve ever asked you for help, but today I am. If nothing else, please spread the word to help support this cause. The Kickstarter campaign ends December 17, 2014.

Thank you.

 

Make Each Moment Yours

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I am so glad to be back here. Typing away. I have been very busy, of late, tending to several things that have either brought me great satisfaction or consternation; sometimes both.

The quote in yoga last week was along the lines of choosing a life for yourself. That no matter how laudable the pursuit, that if it’s not your idea or it doesn’t set your heart on fire, then it’s not for you, and pursuing it may very likely leave you feeling empty.

I have been faced with several situations which fit right up that alley, a few of them lately. Most of them were foisted on to me as a child and then I just learned that fighting someone else’s battle or managing someone else’s business was just the way the world worked, even though I was rarely the benefactor, nor did my life advance much because of my involvement.

When one parent is unavailable for one reason or another, the other parent will likely enlist a child to either manage the deficit or solve the problem, sometimes both. If that scenario rolls out enough times, the boundaries get blurred so much that it’s like wiping Crisco on a windshield. The only way to cut through and see what’s going on is to eliminate all the smears. If you’re in a situation where that simply didn’t ever really happen, then the wipers just glide over the haze and the boundaries are never really established or even imagined. You can’t see what isn’t clear.

That’s how a lot of my life went for many years. I took on way too much because I thought I was there to solve everyone’s problems. Adult responsibilities were abdicated on to me (I can’t speak for anyone else so I don’t) and slipped and slid through the Crisco.

The boundaries and responsibilities aren’t vetted and established until someone with a clear mission in mind and a strong sense of advocacy comes along and wipes down the glass with a really firm hand, soapy water and a brand-new squeegee. There it all is, laid out before you: what’s yours and what’s not yours.

Suddenly you are lost. The sun is too bright. The air is too cold, clear. The ground is too stable. The items are to large. The items are too small. The items look totally different than they used to. The items don’t fit anymore. The items aren’t familiar. You want your old items back: at least they were predictable in their unpredictability. You want the grime and the haze. You miss the instability it all assured: at least you could count on the crazy. You miss the confusion because now, you aren’t a fixer or the blame or the cause or the cure. You are just … you. Responsible only for your Self and the choices you make, and you’ve made all along for your life.

Yikes.

So you get used to that after a while. Sometimes you even enjoy it, this not having to apologize for the weather if it rains on a picnic day; or if the store is out of the requested ice cream; or if there are no close-enough parking spots outside the movie theater / restaurant / boutique / bookstore / psychiatrist…

I used to feel responsible for stuff like that. When you grow up with a parent who says you’re the reason s/he gets up every day, then the algebra would also dictate that you’re the reason s/he DOESN’T get up every day… It’s a double-edged sword.

The relevance any of this has to my current life is that I’ve recently attended to some things and made a few choices that have not always been “mine.” I have not always chosen them with My Interest in Mind. I chose them because it felt socially appropriate, or I wanted to Be Someone to someone else, or because the void existed and I didn’t have enough guts to say “no.” PTA vice president, PTA president, Sports Club President, rowing partner.

Always a recipe for disaster: following through on someone else’s plan because you don’t want to let them down. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I DONE THAT?!

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That’s me on the left.

You learn who you are real quick when you’re in a tiny boat with another person in the middle of a river committed to a six-mile row, three miles of which are dedicated to competition. The good news is that we came in second. The could-be-better news is that I likely lost my patience and sacrificed an otherwise amiable friendship because I wanted to stick to my commitment and see my way through the race because I was not going to let any static take me under: either I was jumping out or we were going on.

My therapist would tell me that blending personalities in a confining space (be it a racing shell, a marriage, a dorm room or an airline cabin) is a tricky endeavor no matter the context. That blending is ok as long as respect is shared and the work is doled out fairly. In a rowing shell, it’s possible to not do your share of the work, but it’s unlikely if you make good time (and we made good time, we could’ve gone a little faster, but seeing as how we’d only been together six times previous, I’m pleased with how things turned out). It’s also possible to confuse your perception of the work due to stress or in my case a conscious effort to counter the stress load borne and expressed by the other person in the boat.

I wanted to row in a race this fall. I didn’t get to last year because Mom died and I was overwhelmed with grief. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to this year because I didn’t get on the water very often, so when the chance popped up to row a double with someone as equally interested and dubious of her own performance, I was nervous, but grateful for the chance. Her enthusiasm was contagious.

Ruh-roh…

The thing is (and here’s where we get back to the yoga quote and the lessons I had to unlearn earlier in life by not taking one someone else’s program): just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.

When things get crazy in my world now, I tend to go quiet. I used to jump in and lose my mind and amplify the craze (i.e., act like an idiot) because it was easier and way more fun than rationality, but those bells can’t be unrung. So now, after years of couch time and a ton of mat time, I just breathe deeply, sit on my hands and do my best to wait.

The first day we sculled in the double I chalked up the chatter to jitters and newness. I thought a few things about some of the drills we did right after warming up and I wondered about the near-constant outflow of commands at me. It had been a while since I’d been coached, and about four years since I’d had a coxswain, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t supposed to always be about drills and racing starts and other things so early in our pairing — after all: this was casual; we’d not even discussed a race yet. (We’d discussed plenty else.)

The second day, the chatter continued and I have to tell you: as a yoga person and someone who’s used to being alone a lot in a shell, the talking became unnerving. I didn’t mind talking while we stopped for breathers and breaks, but it wasn’t like that. I decided I could do a race, hopeful that things would ease down.

I also started to fall into a creepy and familiar place, the Crisco. The boundaries were getting blurry and I started to feel responsible for this person’s ease and I also wanted to be liked, be trusted and be considered a help. (Bad move.)

So I talked to my husband. I described the scenarios and conversations. He told me he was getting antsy just hearing about it. He noticed I started ramping up too, taking on the anxiety / jitters I was steeped in in the boat. “You have to get to a place where you’re comfortable, Mol, or this is going to be a disaster.” I noted internally that I felt like I was with my mother when I was in the shell with this partner. She expressed so many verbal observations, too many issues with the rigging, the oar locks, the slides, the water (it was too dark), the position she was rowing, the footstretchers, the boat itself… Ordinarily, I’d consider what I could to make it all better — make it stop, just make it stop! — solve the problem. Be the fixer. But not anymore. Something switched in me and I knew the difference between what was mine and what wasn’t.

The following week, I asked my coach to observe us in a launch, it was great. She was super helpful and really got us to work on some of our stroke habits and errors. She said, “No talking in the boat. When you talk in the boat, you screw everything up; you lose place of your hands, where your breath is, where your blades are, where you are on the slide… just be quiet. Eyes ahead and no talking.”

‘No Talking!’

I WAS SOOOO HAPPY!!!

A funny moment occurred between my partner and me after a row later that week. She expressed her awareness of her chatter and said kindly but without apology that when she gets nervous she talks a lot. “I understand,” I said, because I did understand. “I used to be like that,” I said.

She asked, “Oh? What do you do when you get nervous?” I laughed a little and paused. I said, “I just get nervous. But I don’t talk anymore. I get quiet and try to focus. My nervous chatter is wasted energy,” and I finished to myself, “I still seek a moment to learn to be OK with the silence.” There was no comment.

A couple more days of practice and she made a few more asides about seats we rowed and inquiries about the shell. I took on one request which made sense for safety and fitting concerns and that was taken care of. I also took on another request, despite my better instinct to let it go. I paid for that one. After that, I was out. I realized they weren’t mine. (There was that old Crisco lurking again: solve someone else’s problem.)

I decided ahead of time that regardless of how the event was going to end up, that I was going to hold fast to whatever fraction that belonged to me: that I would make it mine and I would make it good.

The night before the race we had a disagreement because of a late-night email she sent me which I considered an unnecessary distraction / spill over from her continued apprehension about the class in which she registered us and boat we’d rigged and were promised. I was done. I offered to drop out and let her go in a single. I was determined, even at this late juncture that I was still going to brand for me whatever I could of the training and of the moment: the choice was going to be hers because the problem was hers. I had to leave her with her stuff.

This was a big moment for me. I’ve been faced with many of them before and I know this won’t be the last. The more experienced I become with familiar personalities and Crisco moments, the faster I’ll be looking for the squeegee to cut through the muck and show me what’s mine.

We spoke by phone the next morning and agreed to race. We smoothed over what we could. There’s a song “Loving a Person” by Sara Groves which starts out, “Loving a person the way they are isn’t just a small thing, it’s the whole thing …” and it goes on to say “it’s the beauty of seeing things through…” and that was the message for me in this situation. I was going to accept how she was and how things were, but I didn’t have to own what wasn’t mine and I was going to see it all the way through — we’d worked hard to get here in a short amount of time and if parlayed properly, we were both going to be each others’ teachers.

When we pushed off to row the 2.5 miles to the starting line, my further (Crisco) attempts at smoothing things over were received but brushed aside; she made it clear, there would be no group hug. That’s the part about being in a small boat in the middle of a river that teaches you about yourself: just get it done (seeing it through). Sometimes you gel, but not then. It felt pointy and perfunctory for the most part, but I can’t own that. It was never mine. What’s great for me is that I realized it and we had no choice but to work together to get it done. To me, it was a success!

It was a “head race” which is a longer distance and thus is usually following the curves of a river. You’re also racing a clock. The starts are staggered to allow for room on the water. We came in second of three boats. Although we were the first to start, we had our asses handed to us by the boat which started immediately after us. It passed us in the first two minutes but we kept the boat which started after that one where it belonged. I knew we wouldn’t likely win, but I didn’t want to finish last. That was my intention.

And I’ve decided that it has to be this way for all of my life. That if I grew up with dysfunction, that I have to find a way to make it worthy and valuable: mine. That if I have a crappy time at a party or event, that I find something about the occasion that makes it mine, so that it doesn’t belong to anyone else: I wore my favorite shoes or scarf or the weather was gorgeous that night or I heard an old favorite song I’d long forgotten.

So it was with the race: I made mine what I could. The weather was perfect, the water fair and I had a great workout. Are you wondering? The chatter in the boat continued but I just did what I could to listen for “need to know” content and I want to say we kept our spirits up even though we were both pretty raw from the previous night’s discourse.

We made good time, about 25 minutes and docked well “That was very professional!” the dock master said and he was right, she’s a terrific bow seat even though she is convinced she’s terrible at it. I disagreed once and moved on.

So I guess this is a long-winded way of inspiring you to know the difference between what’s yours and what isn’t yours. What’s yours feels good and it fits. What isn’t yours feels forced and might cause you some struggle — but you can always make it yours when you find the beauty in it.

Thank you.

Cutting Off Is Never That Simple

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I have never “enjoyed” the process of letting people go, of making the decision that cuts them out of my life.

It is incredibly hard. Depending on the depth of the relationship, it can be emotionally devastating. But so can staying with that energy, allowing it to cloud your judgement and color your thoughts.

I was once told that I seem to do it with such ease, that nary a thought occurs to me when I execute such a decision, that I seem cold, heartless and missing the bigger picture: that having sandpaper people in our lives can yield in us a softer and kinder person. That the parable of the pearl, created through agitation, can apply to us humans as well.

I get that. In fact, the phenomenon of a pearl’s creation is one of my most favorite analogies in dealing with life and its moments of intense difficulty.

I also think about bridges and how they snap under too much pressure; I think about how load-bearing walls are there for a reason; I think about how hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes and mudslides show us how when enough is enough, it’s often too much.

I have been a jerk to people and they’ve summarily cut me out. I get mad, defensive and feel like they’re insensitive to MY needs, that for some reason, I should be tolerated for epochs and should be able to just chip away at people because hey, “I’m flawed. Love me anyway, ok? Love me for me….”

Why? Why should people love me for me? Are they Jesus? Are they the Dalai Lama? Are they Mother Theresa? No. They are not limitless in their compassion (which means “to co-suffer,” by the way), and often it’s their compassion that needs to kick me to the curb. They need to get out of my way so that I can look at myself in all my idiocy, with all my raw data and no filter to see myself, as I can be: an asshole at times.

Enter nine years of therapy. Being raised by a brilliant, distant, narcissistic, elegant-on-the-outside, tortured-on-the-inside, terrified, caustic parent has prepared me for others like her all my life. I get it now: Mom prepared me all my life to be on the lookout for more people just like her.

Exploiting Kindness

Even Mom said to me when I simply couldn’t handle any further duplicity or hurt, “You have nooooooooooo problem just cutting people out of your life…. you just cut them off because you can’t handle what they show you about yourself… You’re not strong…. you’re weak….” and I used to believe that.

I used to think, “Holy shit. She’s right: I am unable to cope with this, I must be stronger and show myself that I can take it….After all, ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,’ right?” which from my now very-cheap seats, that kind of self-talk sounds a lot like masochism, and self-abuse. It looks a lot like enabling too: if we keep letting it happen, if we keep exposing ourselves to the same people who hurt us or that make us uncomfortable, then we are tacitly endorsing it, we are allowing it. All of this, and many more forms I’ve likely not mentioned looks a lot like putting ourselves last.

When we take a stand, we hear the appeals and the apologies and the boo-hooing and before you know it, you’re shoving your intuition down the tubes and taking care of the offender, by putting them first. You’re suddenly responsible for their feelings. You’re suddenly telling them it’ll be ok and thrust into feeling bad for making them see the truth. (More below.) It’s verrrrrry sneeeeeeaky.

I’m not talking about the discomfort that arises when you do something uncool and someone calls you out on it. I’m talking about witnessing an uncool act and then saying nothing about it. The former is an opportunity for change; the latter is fertile soil for codependency and continued ugliness.

Over time, the bridge can only handle so much load. Over time, the walls cave in. Over time, the bough breaks and down will come baby, cradle and all.

If you’re like me: you were conditioned to doubt what you saw and what you felt and rationalize everything that hurt. You were conditioned to try harder, longer and put up with more, to essentially stand in the lightning storm under a tree, then the guts and the gumption to begin to decide to cut people out often comes at a price: we are bruised, we are broken, we have suffered and we have poured out our spleen on the table — only to have to defend it. It’s madness.

But we still try. We try to keep the broken wagon rolling because we have been conditioned to do ALL WE CAN to abate the pain of the offender. We don’t want the other to feel bad for our exposure of their treatment …

Then there’s the actual decision: incredible self-doubt to make the decision to sit up, to stand up, to leave, to walk and to not look back. NONE OF THIS IS EASY.

Then there’s the weight of the decision, the appeals and the blame and the “but you’re not perfect either and I love you anyway!” music from the person who can’t sit with your decision, who can’t sit with the hurt they’ve inflicted on you, who can’t look themselves in the mirror and dig deep inside themselves to shine a light and look at why they do what they do — and not just to you, but to lots of people. Why they stir pots, why they fight so much, why they pick and tear at people and their psychic fabrics. They have to keep flapping because that keeps the dust flying. If they were to stop flapping and let the dust settle, they’d see the wash of destruction and hurt they’ve inflicted on people.

Another point, and it’s very subtly played out: When person A starts out with an apology, but it morphs into “you’re no prize either, I’ve seen you do some crazy shit…” You, person B, have naively slipped into the defending-yourself-for-no-apparent-reason-when-this-was-supposed-to-be-an-apology-from-the-other-person zone. It’s a slick slope.

I don’t like this feeling when I cut people out: the supposition that I’m intolerant, that I’m hard, that I have no flexibility, that I’m the one who is unkind, that I don’t forgive and forget, that I’m super-sensitive and that I have no compassion.

But is that me? Am I projecting that opinion on to myself and placing it on society? When I’ve heard similar stories from other people about treatment they’ve endured up until a point or whilst in the midst of it, I’m certain I’ve said, “That sucks. You need to cut bait and leave…” So why should I, why should you, why should anyone stick around?

Is there some great grand lesson? Heck yes! The lesson is this: IF IT HURTS, STOP DOING IT OR IT WILL CONTINUE.

This is what we say in yoga, “Take the pose to your edge, no pain. If you feel pain, back off. You are not supposed to feel pain.”

I can’t believe for ONE second that we are put on this earth to suffer; that God or whatever you want to call it is so spiteful that we are supposed to ENDURE needless emotional pain, for that’s what lasts the most.

But I Love You Anyway…

Those people who try to pull this on you, say “I love you for you” and “You’re messed up just like I am…” are again placing their crap on you. It’s subtle and sneaky and I like to believe it’s even unconscious, but they are again saying, “Take me for how I am with all my shit [because I’m unlikely to change] because I take you with all your shit [which is equally screwed up; but even if it’s not*, my misery loves company and I can’t bear to be left alone with myself] and you and I will get along fine… [Just don’t remind me of what I do…]”

Don’t be fooled by it! They are trying to lump you in with their bad behavior; they are trying to point the finger at you; they are trying to play the upper hand, and BELIEVE ME: THEY ARE JUDGING YOU! Right there! They are judging you! It’s very very very subtle, but you’ve just been judged. They’re keeping score, they’ve been watching you screw up all along so that when the freaking hammer falls, they’ve got an ace to throw on the table. *if you’re drawing a line, if you’ve hit your limit, chances are you’re no longer as equally screwed up…

The last time I checked: if I didn’t give birth to you or marry you, I don’t have to take this. I can be nice, I can be civil, but there’s nothing else I need to give to you. Speaking of children, what are we modeling for them if we just keep taking it? To teach them resilience AND self-care, we must model strength in all its forms.

People who are close to self-actualized play fair and  this recent bullying experience has shown me all I need to know: if an adult is an actual adult, and possibly your friend, s/he doesn’t go after your kid to attack or argue with. They go after you. They don’t rationalize what they’ve done as “crazy” and they don’t offer forced apologies to continue to rationalize their behavior.

Any adult who goes after a child is a predator, no matter how you slice it: they go after the weaker and the smaller and I simply don’t have time for that.

God gave me my mother for a reason and I’m so grateful now. Mom showed me that I had to put up with only one person like her, because she honed me to deal with life in a very clear cut way: I must stand up for myself because expecting someone else to is folly. Shrouding abuse as friendship / love / marriage is really insidious.

As Travolta said …

Cutting people out is never easy. There can be community repercussions, you might lose some sleep over the decision, you might want to run back hours or days later and say, “I didn’t mean it! I am sorry I cut you out after you abused me! You’re right! I should’ve been stronger! We all make mistakes!” (DON’T DO THAT.)

Sometimes, it’s the only way. You don’t have to take it. You can’t be a jerk about it, but you don’t have to take it. A clean cut, no matter how difficult and uncomfortable, will also, my friends create a pearl, or brighter yet: a diamond, and that sparkly, shiny thing is you.

Thank you.

While I’m Away …

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I think I’ll be away from here for a bit. My recent posts of addiction and Mr. Hoffman have stirred in me an unrelenting nag or nudge to write about my life and how I’ve overcome some realities. I’ve hinted at it before, writing a memoir — it sounds so lofty, doesn’t it? 

Don’t worry — it is. 

Ha ha. 

My challenge thus has been about the “where” in all of this. 

Where does one begin a memoir? Do you start at the beginning of the central life? What if circumstances which preceded the beginning of that life coalesced to create the reason for the memoir? 

These are the things I get caught up in. These are the moments that keep me from writing it. The nagging distractions and details. 

So instead of dicking around and wondering where I’m supposed to start, I’m just going to begin where I can. Just get it done, right? It’s the one thing that simply won’t go away. I can stop thinking about chocolate, I can stop thinking about a glass of wine to have with that chocolate; I just can’t stop thinking about writing my memoir. 

Every time I write something else, I feel as though I’m cheating on it; as though I am being unfaithful. But unfaithful to whom? To my ego?  No… I figured this much, and it will sound so affected: I am cheating on the truth and telling people that change is possible, that the old story about Ebenezer Scrooge can happen to all of us any time of the year. 

Dickens wrote an entire story about it, forgiveness and kindness and truth; Vonnegut just said this, as my yoga teacher read in class yesterday, and it made such sense. Were I not already seated, it would have knocked me over:

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

Then there’s this: WHO THE WHO AM I THAT SHOULD BE READ? I dunno. That’s a distraction from a negative side. Both of you have told me to get on the stick, life is about living and I really love writing, so…   

The other aspect, which is critical, is that writing any of this can’t be about exposing or hurting. It must be about moving forward with some semblance of an end point. I’ve read some memoirs by the adult children of famous writers; Saul Bellow’s son’s memoir comes to mind and I hated it. It’s all yucky and bitter. That’s not how this should go. It’s about healing, forgiveness and that all-too bruised word which means so much and creates anxiety in all of us: “growth.” I just gulped. 

After months and months of wrestling with the concept of a memoir, and my predisposed notion that memoirs really ought to be written by people who are near death or famous, or famously near death, I have determind that the best “memoir” construct I can emulate is that of Joan Didion, per her Blue Nights and The Year of Magical Thinking, which are amazing books if you’re unfamiliar with them. She is self-indulgent in them, absolutely, but aren’t we all?

In those books, Didion collected thoughts, observations and wrote essays about her experiences in the wake of her husband’s death and in the midst of her daughter’s. I don’t think her books “helped” me with anything, other than showing for me, the other side of the world my parents inhabited: the side I didn’t see, the 1970s and 1980s double-knit, sweaty-longneck, chunky-bangled, high-ball, leisure suit lifestyle and parenting style that has caused so many of my peers a form of adult unrest and unease which can only be described as “fucked up.”  

Ahhh… that was funny. 

Didion was already famous. But that didn’t matter, she wrote these things because she simply had to get them out; that she did it brilliantly and in a way that didn’t necessarily require you to jump in on page one “AT THE BEGINNING” caused me ease. It helped me to understand that life needn’t be linear, and our recollections of it are OK — life is a tapestry. Not everyone remembers everything the same way. Isn’t that the point?  

In some way, the memoir I’m writing does reflect a death: the death of my comparisons of myself with others; the death of my crusade to be everything unlike my mother, the death of my hardness against my mother (which was ultimately a hardness against myself; we all get there in our own way, hopefully), and the death of a way of life, codependency and enabling, which stole years from me despite my fervent interest in seeking and speaking truth. 

So if I’m not here, that’s where I’ll be. Working on that. Charlie and Murphy tell me they have some posts planned. Charlie got a new collar, a “Gentle Leader” which is based on a horse’s halter, a “head collar,” and which is supposed to evoke feelings of his mother gently and firmly coaxing him to do what she wants, but Murphy tells me that Charlie just thinks it’s a mother-something. It certainly reminds me of a horse halter because that little 20-pound microBear does some serious bucking when it’s first on. 

Wish me luck; I’ll be appealing to the angels Gabriel, Raphael and Michael to keep me clear, honest, healthy and protected from negativity during this experience.   

Thank you.