On The Road to

4givesness

After going through much of my life privately pissed off yet publicly functioning as normal, I entered therapy to save myself from myself. Something in the way I was dealing with a childhood trauma was no longer a viable option and it was time to let someone who knew better help. Over time the individual sessions gave way to group workshops and one workshop was on ‘forgiveness’. I liked the idea because in my whole life there was only this one incident that I felt unable to offer forgiveness. The book used also incorporated writing so that was right up my alley. As I worked through the book, Forgiveness is A Choice by Robert Enright, Ph. D., I came across a writing assignment with the following directions:

As one step in confronting your anger, please take the time to review what you have written in your journal from the entries in Chapters 4 & 5. Write a one- to two-page letter to the person, one that you do not send. Try to express to the person the learning that you have gained so far. Let the person know why you are angry, how angry you are, and the struggles you’ve endured because of the unfairness.

I was shocked with what came of the assignment. And I still return to it as it and I both morph over time.

R,

I am learning the extent to which your actions have harmed me and stilted the development of my life path. The anger of the initial trauma is not something I was ever able to feel since I was immediately thrown into a sense of shock at what was happening and have only later figured out the full extent of what happened. That may be why I am to this moment so afraid—to the point of physically responding—so afraid of my anger. It makes me nauseous to the point of wanting to vomit right now when I think about what went on when I was only six. My breathing is stilted and I get hot and clammy all at the same time. My knuckles turn white from the intense stronghold I have on whatever I can grasp at the time.  I look around wondering where the next attack will come from, sure that I won’t see it in time. It is now in my 50th year of life that I am able to express the devastation that your actions have on me and my life.

Beginning with your strategy of sneakiness in whisking me away from the sisters and making me feel ‘chosen’ above them or over them is a manipulation beyond the years of a twelve year old. That in and of itself has made me wonder for years if someone else had the same impact on your life by doing the same to you. How could anyone at the age of twelve be so deceptive without having learned it from someone? Though I struggle with whether or not the answer to that question would make a difference in my dealing with this situation and moving on I am not interested right now in impacting anyone else’s life but my own. At this point in my life your traumas are not my issue.

I can remember all the moments of the trauma and how in the moments I would close my mind off to what was happening and go somewhere else. I knew it would be over soon because all the time was stolen time. Unfortunately, I can remember it all.

I can remember the moment I knew it was something that was not right and that what you were doing was evil; frozen in fear and knowing I was unable to do anything about it or even what to do. Just as I could not remove your hand from covering my mouth from uttering a sound, my brain could not utter the words later to tell anyone what was happening. If you deemed it a secret by covering my mouth, who was I the younger child to question my elder? I remember the discovery by others and knowing that trouble was coming because of it and I had no way to stop it but somehow it was my fault since I was the one on the doctor table. I remember the feeling, the sight, the smell, and the frightening experience of having my bladder punctured with a tube to release the urine I refused to release because of the pain. I remember the older nurse’s disgust as urine sprayed all over the room and the younger nurse’s compassion and tear filled eyes. I locked eyes with her until it was over.

I remember once again my mother outside the room unaware of the pain. She is still “outside the room unaware” today regardless of our very recent frank conversation. I remember her dismissive commentary and contradictory responses uttered in her inability to accept what I was saying to her. In that memory comes a new resentment that is born from an anger that can never fully evolve. She is too old; time is too short; no purpose would be served in going down that road.  At this point in my life her denials are not my issue.

The most important aspect I have learned in my journey is the impact that ‘dismissiveness” has on my life. In the moments, I dismissed what was happening. In the reveal, my mother and father dismissed what happened with a simple “ask and ye shall receive” forgiveness notion. The reason I am having trouble with forgiveness now.  In the aftermath that is the rest of my life it has been one dismissal after another. Starting with that event because I had to box it up and pack it away since no one else told me what to do with it; it just sat in a dark corner of my brain. Every time it tried to surface I dismissed it by pushing the lid back down on the box. Nothing I have done has been my own, has been good enough, or has warranted any attention by anyone. All my accomplishments in my professional life are not even on the horizon as an accomplishment by anyone else in my family. I am simply a ‘teacher’. What I do now that is my own is not understood and dismissed for some reason.

Keeping the lid on the box is something I did for forty-three years before finally being unable to keep the lid on any longer. In hopes of saving the next generation from the sins of the last it had to be shared.  Afterwards, listening to a family doctor choosing to see someone to help the healing truly begin.

The shocking aspect that I have learned is how much I dismiss myself in my daily decisions and actions. While I know the value of the hard work my life has been to get to the point I have reached, and the accomplishments I have made on a day to day basis, I dismiss myself and my needs, thoughts, etc. to this day on a daily basis. I know and acknowledge how hard I have worked to get through school, get my degree, get a career, positions in professional organizations, and in my career path. I know how massive a decision it was to give up on a marriage that was doomed to violence and escape with a four month old knowing what price that would mean for my son. I know how wonderful my nuclear family of my son is and how raising him has blessed my life; being a little league mom and supporting him in becoming the best young man he can without male influence to depend on; what a great work ethic he has; and what a wonderful partner he is on most days to his wife.

I am saddened and newly angered by the notion of me dismissing myself.

So along with working on reacting appropriately in the moment to snide or critical commentary from others, I need to learn to stand up for myself with myself and be proactive in living my life and ceasing to just exist. Watch out world, here I come!

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What I Am Reading and Why

Reading for me is something I have to steal and sneak snippets of time to accomplish.  Between work, new love, family, wanting to write, wanting to knit, sew, make jewelry, learning to bake bread the old-fashioned way and hundreds of other want-tos and should-dos–reading falls into many “need niches” of my life.  I am often reading something spiritual, something for writers or the writing craft, something for personal growth, something for work, and of course something for pure esape.  The problem with reading for me is that I am an eternal learner  so as you can see there is that journal there in the middle where I have to cogitate what I read.  My current pile below is heavy on the craft of writing.  As a teacher I find myself heavily writing during those school breaks and there is a one a coming J.   Four of the six are on the topic of writing or writers. The other two consist of one spiritual growth and one personal growth on forgiveness.  It is still open because boy is that a long process sometimes.  There is no pure escape book because I am having trouble finding somethig that suits my need after having ravished both E. L. James’ 50 Shades and Stieg Larsson’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogies.  Anyone have a suggestion for me?

My current reading stash along with my journal
My current reading stash along with my journal

Quick facts about PTSD include the estimate of 5 million people who suffer from PTSD at any one time in the United States and the fact that women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.

 

Forgiveness is a Choice by Robert D Enright

This blue book is open because even after a six week workshop with my therapist and a wonderful group of women seeking empowerment in our lives, I am still struggling with completing the cycle of forgiveness regarding an event in my past.  Suffering from PTSD is what brought me to therapy and my faith, while sustaining me, has suffered a crack in the foundation of what I was raised with and what I am now as an adult choosing to re-believe or affirm.  This book is a gut wrenching journey through the forgiveness process but well worth the turmoil.  Once you till the ground that hardened and lay fallow from years of avoiding the issue, the book helps you prepare for sowing seeds of forgiveness that may or may not sprout.   What it has done for me is remind me that the person in question is certainly more than the one sin I was focused on just as I am more than the one event that reaped my PTSD.  I am still in the book four months later because I still have work to do and it is a process.

Dancing the Dream. . .the seven sacred paths of human transformation  by Jamie Sams

My current spiritual growth book is rooted in Native American wisdom regarding our path lives.  According to Sams we have seven sacred paths that are never forced on us but present themselves to us as opportunities and each path allows us to expand as humans.  These paths are not linear but dovetail and allow us to embrace lessons on several paths at the same time.  The seven paths are:

East Direction:  We become illuminated; see a purpose for our life

South Direction:  We learn to rise above our childish human reactions, compulsions, and unhealthy emotions

West Direction:  We learn how to heal our pasts, our bodies, self-esteem

North Direction:  We learn to share wisdom; live with compassionate non-judgmental open-hearts

Above Direction:  We embrace unseen worlds of spirit; heavenly realms; unknown parts of universe; intangible forces in Creation

Below Direction:  We learn to perceive unseen force; connections to spirit in all living things; how to bring our own spirits fully into our human body

Within/Now Direction:  We gain access to all life in our universe within our human body and walk through life in a state of full spiritual awareness without separation or judgment

The connection throughout the reading to “mindfulness” is helpful as I grow and transform my PTSD self into my SELF.

“We all have energy and direct our thoughts/feelings into the world.  That energy can implode on us and penetrate who we send it to resulting in loss.  We carry invisible burden baskets containing our limitations, thoughts, emotional wounds.”

Mindfulness can help us break free from our fears and live a purposeful life not a purposeless life.

Rumors of Water by L. L. Barkat

As managing editor for The High Calling and four time novelist, Barkat shares what we all need to be reminded of —writing comes from life.  What I enjoyed best about her novel was that she spoke about her life in reality, included how writing flows through her daily mindfulness and how it extends letting me follow where it goes, and the chapters were manageable for those of us needing quality guidance on a tight schedule.  The reality of her conversation with the reader about writing and how it seeped into the day and presented opportunities and trifled with her or stumped her kept me shaking my head in the affirmative as to having the same experiences and enjoyable or angst filled moments as Barkat.  So she makes you feel like a writer if you are working from your real life stance.  Creativity has to have a foundation and why it can’t have it in your real life is beyond me.

The mindfulness of when writing enters her thoughts and how those thoughts flow through her are a journey I am sure I have never been still enough to capture in myself.  The ride is well worth the ticket.  As a teacher it tickles me best that she has fostered the love of writing in her daughters and they have the same connectedness to writing that she does.  Even when the writing thought gets tangled and lost in an interruption, you can’t write without living.

“Writing starts with living.  Living starts with somebody caring so much about something that they need to

drag you out of your writing chair and take you where you’ll be surprised to find your words.”

The manageability of the chapters meant, for me, that even after a 12 hour day of teaching (yes they exist) I could still treat myself to a one-on-one session with Barkat about the writing craft and maybe just maybe be rejuvenated enough to craft a draft before crashing for the night..  Not only that, but each chapter seemed to have a tangent I could take somewhere.  Thanks Barkat!

As for the rest of my stack the next three books that I have yet to crack but will tonight include

The Novelist by L. L. Barkat  The Artist’s Rule by Christine Valters Paintner & The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

Will I juggle all these books at once?  Yes, I will.  Will I try to write my own creative texts while I am juggling?  Yes, I will.  The book I am writing with my boyfriend; the one I am writing by myself, a poem/story I am writing for my six year old granddaughter—that only means another two have to be written for the five year old and two year old so they each have their own story from Gran’Ma.  In my world, life is juggling and even when things drop there is something in that to capture from the pieces.