Scary times make messy heads

Last week in the hospital I felt completely overwhelmed. I went in anxious but calm, convinced they would just give me some drugs and send me on my way. Before I knew it I was wheeled into the treatment area, surrounded by doctors and nurses talking to me, inserting canulas, giving me drugs, hooking up oxygen and other drugs, asking me questions and telling me they wanted to admit me. And on the sidelines I had the mother carping about car parking and how she’d get home. I was scared, but I didn’t realise it at the time – not until I was chatting to a dear friend the other day, who helped me see that something somewhere was triggered and it brought out all these scared young parts who were, understandably, overwhelmed.

Of course my paranoia and irrational thinking escalated to ridiculous levels, though I’m now trying not to beat myself up over that. I’m not sure if it was feeling so overwhelmed, or the drugs they gave me, or what, but I ended up in a bad head space. Very bad. It’s still not great, but certainly better – and much better now that I can see my reaction to the hospital and treatment as the scared weird little parts of me (rather than a freaked out, crazy, irrational, stupid adult part of me, if that makes sense).

We figured out, my friend and I, that what I need to get better at is soothing the young, scared parts when overwhelmed. I’m guessing this is partly a grounding exercise – remembering that I’m grown up now, I’m safe and that the hospital staff are there to help me. Of course, remembering to do this ‘in the moment’ is difficult, if not impossible sometimes. I’m not really sure where to begin, but perhaps it’s in reminding myself to ground and soothe when I’m not precariously on edge. Like when my mother says something to trigger, I can remind myself that I’m an adult and her reactions are her responsibility. Or when I start my new job this week, I can remind myself that I’ve done it before and can do it again. May be this is overly simplistic, but perhaps it might help in the harder times, too. I hope so. All suggestions welcome, of course. 😉

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Expressive arts carnival: Music

Music brings me peace. It helps me feel calm. It helps my troubles melt away. And it brings me joy.

When I’m at the symphony, as I was on Friday, it’s like nothing else exists: it’s just me and the music. I become one with it – with the music, the instruments, the orchestra. Their beauty; their talent; their magic. It’s so beautiful, so peaceful and so calming.

Here I’ve captured some of my favourite things about music – my favourite composers, pieces, instruments – and also how they make me feel. I’ve loved classical music since I was a little kid. I can remember sitting on the floor at my grandmother’s house, leafing through her albums and playing them over and over and over again. My mother thought I was weird. Now I know the love of music just skipped a generation!

As I write this post, and as I made the word cloud, I’ve been listening to this album. It is beauty and calm personified.

This is my contribution to the Expressive Arts Carnival being hosted by Paul over at Mind Parts. What a lovely idea, thank you Paul. You’ve helped me put words to what music does for me.

Self-love

A few weeks ago the Strong One brought a little book to Group. It’s called “When I loved myself enough” by Kim McMillen. It’s filled with “wisdom” on filling our lives with self-love and with peace and joy.

Before you vomit, it’s actually just a book of nice little quotes. Literary genius they probably aren’t, but they are helpful, at least they have been for me. Here are some of my favourites.

When I loved myself enough, I began leave whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits – anything that kept me small. My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.

When I loved myself enough, I learned to stop what I am doing, if even for a moment, and comfort that part of me that is scared.

When I loved myself enough, I gave up perfectionism – that killer of joy.

When I loved myself enough, I quit rehashing the past and worrying about the future which keeps me in the present where aliveness lives.

When I loved myself enough, I learned to ask ‘Who in me is feeling this way?’ when I feel anxious, angry, restless or sad. If I listen patiently I discover who needs my love.

When I loved myself enough, I quit exhausting myself by trying so hard.

When I loved myself enough, I quit having to be right which makes being wrong meaningless.

When I loved myself enough, I quit wishing my life looked some other way and began to see that as it is, my life serves my evolution.

When I loved myself enough, I began feeling such relief.

Coping

I’ve been thinking about yesterday’s Group session a lot today. About me falling apart; about the collages; about all the different ways I’ve coped over the years.

I wasn’t happy with the collage I made in Group – mostly because I was trying to limit myself to something safe to talk about, but also because I ran out of time, and my collage therefore wasn’t “perfect” (whatever that means).

So I made a new one in Polyvore. I’m happier with this one (although it may still not be perfect). It more accurately represents the different things I’ve used to cope over the years – good and bad. It represents the darkness, as well as the light. It represents the greater ‘balance’ I now have. And it honours all of these things.  

That’s all for today folks. Enjoy the collage. I have been enjoying creating different things, in different ways lately. It’s fun, and healing, all at the same time. 🙂

Guilt and confusion

So, it’s Mother’s Day here. I spent much of the weekend at my parents’ house which, as you know, is never a good thing for me.

My father was his rude obnoxious self, making snide remarks to me and calling my mother awful names. Why does he do that? I just don’t get it.

My mother spent most of her time complaining about my father. When I offered the “logical” solution of putting him in a nursing home (which is what he needs), she just made various remarks on the theme of: “It’s not that easy.”

I thought, “Bulltish it’s not, Mum, but this is your life.”

Anyway, none of that is really the point of this post. The point of this post is guilt – feeling guilty, to be precise. Or ranting and rambling about feeling guilty. And being confused about feeling guilty.

It struck me today that I feel guilty. I feel guilty because I no longer play the “good daughter” routine where my father is concerned. I will be civil to him, but that’s about it. I won’t engage in conversation with him, and I try not to look at him as far as is possible. Given how rude he usually is to me this generally means we say hello to each other, and nothing more. I certainly don’t make any effort, not like a “normal” daughter would. Thankfully, at least, this trip I didn’t have to sit through dinner with him – that’s always quite triggering for me.

Anyway, as I was packing the car to come home, I made the mistake of looking at him. He gave me that look – the look of a sad, frail old man. I hate that. It made me feel guilty for not feeling more compassionate towards him, and for not making the effort.

Now I’m confused and torn because as soon as this guilt thing hits, I start yelling and screaming at myself that I don’t need to feel bad for not being the adoring daughter – he’s hardly been the adoring father.

So… guilt and confusion. It’s a mess.

When I came home I settled in to some colouring. It didn’t solve the guilt, or the confusion, but it calmed me a little (even if it’s not William Morris; not even a real Roger Burrows book).

I also took some photos in the garden after the rain. 

I still feel guilty, and I still feel confused, but I’m better able to sit with those feelings. For now, at least.

A ramble on healing, nurturing and the like – Part One

I sat down tonight to write a quick post on healing and self-care – following in the footsteps of some esteemed bloggers, here, here and here. I ended up writing a thesis. I’ve been mulling over this question of “what is healing?” for quite some time, but without any magical answers.

Here are my thoughts… I’ve broken this into a few parts so that I don’t put you all in a coma in the first go! 😉

Some days I think I’ll never be healed (however we conceive it). Every week I go to my therapist’s office and it seems I’m reminded of that. That’s my fault, not hers: she is always pointing out to me how far I’ve come, how good things are now, etc etc. But my head just says, “yes, but…”

It’s like I’m sitting there and the Universe is dangling everything I want in front of me, but whenever I reach out to grab it that same Universe says, “uh huh huh. No no,” and laughs at me for wanting those things.

Perhaps I’m doing a couple of things in these moments which, cognitively speaking, are a direct route to unhappiness: (1) I’m comparing myself to others and to some unattainable “perfect” life and (2) I’m focussing on the negative – the things I don’t have, rather than the things I do have.

This part of my brain wants to quit now. Quit. That’s Q.U.I.T. If I quit now perhaps I can avoid any more disappointment? This part of my brain also wants to go back to the days B.T. (Before Therapy). Sure, I was an emotional cripple then, a wreck, and spiralling out of control in workaholic crazy land. But I knew how to do that. I don’t know what “this” is now, and I don’t know how to do it.

Another part of my brain has an inkling of things I want in life. That part of my brain knows that I can’t deal with this stuff alone, that I’ll need my therapist’s help for a while yet. It’s this part of my brain, combined with my in-built Super Reliable streak, that keeps me going back to therapy every week.