Sunday, January 24, 2016

Video, audio, book list

I've just had a cracker of a morning listening to some CDs I've listened to before, watching/listening to some youtube videos that I've not seen before, and baking a cake that didn't come out, but it should. I'll do the cake again, I think I over mixed it, and I'm going to recommend my list of go-to information for childhood trauma and recovery.

I just watched a video about dissociation that just about pulled me out of my skin. By the time she was done, she could have just as well called it "Welcome to My ADD" because she had described what I've been doing all my life to cope with life. Being not present is the only way I get thru the day and the decades, and all this time I just thought it was distraction. I don't doubt that distraction thru dissociation is now hardwired into my brain, so the brain disorder of ADD is an accurate diagnosis as far as it goes. But I am NEVER fully present in the moment, in my own skin, in the truth about my life, in the truth about a host of other people and in the truth of my relationships with a host of other people.

I'm just NOT HERE, and I don't know that I've ever been here since I was a very little kid. That is just fucking scary.

Where am I? Daydreams, shopping, procrastinating, planning what I will do but am not doing now, working my job with blinders on so I don't have to think about anything else, putting out family fires or trying to get someone else fixed but not actually doing necessary and needful things for myself, watching TV or a movie or reading a book, remembering my past and trying to figure out what the whole deal with that was, wishing I could go to bed early or, in years past, wasting too much time sleeping so I don't have to be awake and aware in the present, or the great modern way of not being here: being on the internet.

Another couple of good, provoking videos I watched this morning are from Escape From Narcissism. One was...nevermind, here's a list:
Narcissist Parents Expect Their Children to Parent Them. Absolutely spot on.
Narcissism: Disturbing Clues in an Old Family Photo. We don't have many family photos. Despite Dad's photo "hobby," no one took many photos. I was horrified to find an old spool of negatives and discover that he had made the one roll last for over two years, even tho we were all kids at home. No one wanted to capture our lives and remember it later, no one made the effort to look at someone else in the family with kind eyes and make them look good on film. Neither of my parents had taken a good picture of any of us or each other in two years. Why?
Decoding: Was the Enabler a Narcissist All Along? I want to write something about my Dad's part in the family, and I recognize quite a few things she talks about, but I think she makes the common mistake of trying to put people in a bad guy mold that can be labeled "narcissist" or "addict" or whatever else we can see with our eyes and sort our world out with to make some sense.

I'm using the Pia Mellody preferred term "childhood trauma" because "narcissistic abuse" is just too narrow.  People act blindly and selfishly towards their children on a moving scale, it can get better and it can get worse. Most of the time, most parents haven't got a clue what they are doing to their kids because they don't really know or own up to who they really are themselves. They just are trying to get along, make a living, find some kind of reward for having lived, and once you are the one in charge you rarely question the quality of your own behavior towards others.

Pia Mellody is your girl if you want get serious about coming out of All of the mental confusion and getting on with your business of living.
This list includes all the instructional videos of her I could find online. She didn't actually publish them, but they are there and they are fantastic. She is a professional and she has a paradigm that works for the entirety of recovery, not just a hot patch for getting thru the next week or two.

She actually works out of The Meadows, an in patient treatment facility in Arizona, and their bookstore carries CD's and DVD's of hers available for sale. Generally, they are lectures to a larger group of patients and therapists, and they are comprehensive and wonderful. Her books are good and probably available in your local used bookstore, they have pretty much the same as what you will hear on the CD's, but you'll get it Much better if you have a few CD's to listen to as well. I'm guessing I'll have most of her CD's by the time I get done. I recommend you get the following CD sets as a bare minimum. Pop therapy online can be good, but you need the larger framework she has worked out in years as a professional therapist.
Permission to Be Precious
Love Addiction/Love Avoidance

Get them! You need to hear that what you are suffering and all the crazy things you are doing aren't unique, can be understood in a rational way within the big picture of childhood abuse and trauma, and there is an established map to guide you out of the confusion. It's not a big secret, there's no esoteric knowledge to be initiated into, and whoever abused you is not a great big bogeyman that can continue to come after you in flashbacks and mental illness the rest of your life. Mental health and emotional maturity are skills that can be learned.

Less analysis, more recommendations.

 Spartan Life Coach is good for thrashing out what narcissism is and beginning to own up to what that means in a relationship. Most of the time, he is speaking about romantic relationships, but parental relationships are thrown into the mix, too. He's a plain speaker, easy to listen to, and as far as he goes, I can't think of anything he's done that I would put a warning label in front of - go ahead and watch them all. I can recommend his London 2015 Seminar video course, too.

There is another group of therapists I'm working my way thru, but I'll have to wait on that recommendation. One of them is good, but another fellow they have in the group is just creepy - he does need a warning label, and it reads "This guy is a narc himself! Stay away!" When I get that group filtered, I may just add the good ones to my video list linked above.

I'll edit this post as I add to the list. Right now, I need out of the house and into the Present.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fighting flashbacks with flashbacks

is not a good idea. It doesn't work at all long term. I'll explain.

Yesterday devolved into one long flashback, a daydream that kept repeating, degrading into a continually worsening scenario with each repitition, deeper and deeper into shame and rejection as it played out my fears and previous experiences in allegorical fashion over and over again. Of course, not eating all day didn't help one bit, but there never seemed to be a good time to take a break and nowhere to go eat and I really didn't deserve a rest because I needed to work harder because I'm so lazy anyway and ...you know how it goes, right?

This morning, it being Saturday and no need to rush out of bed, I started looking for the song playing in my head upon waking. After a long search on my computer and being drug thru several unwanted emotional states as I played other songs instead, I realized that my mother used to use music to fight her emotional flashbacks when I was a child. She would put on gospel albums and sing all Saturday morning, sometimes she felt better, a lot of the times it just wasn't enough. She was trying to use the feeling she got from worship music and her memory of being saved as a child to fight the never ending conflict and feelings she had from her poor self image and ego conflicts.

I've used music in similar ways, sometimes to induce a shame flashback - remember how awful I was, feel miserable about it, be crushed and grieve, sleep it off and firmly resolve to not be myself anymore. I'll become someone Much better in the morning. You know. I've also used worship music to fight off despair, after all, God loves me and wants to make my life better, and tomorrow is another day. Right, Scarlett?

Either way, fighting a cascade of emotions with a cascade of emotions never changes me. Mostly, it just fills up my time, drains my energy, and then I go back to being the same way I was before.  

If you're a Christian with any experience in the church house, you've heard quite a bit of preaching about emotional flashbacks, although you might not have realized it at the time. Basically, the teaching is that if you are feeling bad all the time, or if you are feeling bad about feeling bad, then you should apologize to God for feeling bad, worship or sing to God a sad song then three happy songs [cue the piano player to come up now] until you feel better, then you are all better, now go out and remember to not Feel Bad about that anymore.  (This may be the Protestant experience only, I think the Catholics may have more fun in between condemnations, but don't quote me on that.)

Don't get me wrong, I luuuuv Christian music - the hymns, the choruses, the antiphons, the doxologies - and I love all of the scripture that is the basis for them. I would not be here today without those truths and the melodic way so much of it was communicated into me. Some of them are so filled with solid doctrine I can almost feel my spiritual bones become stronger with every line, much like eating collard greens and fried chicken livers make my natural bones stronger with every bite. [Mmmm, I'm actually drooling now...collard greens with little bits of ham hock and maybe a boiled egg chopped up in there...mmmm. Ahem!] 

HOWEVER, hymns or worship music, or any music that makes you feel better, is not a substitute for understanding the truth about your family, yourself, your friends, and your circumstances. Jesus famously said one time, "...you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." It's the truth you know that makes you free. The Bible speaks the truth all the time, but it doesn't spell out every single thing that is true. It's a particular Message to the whole world, but there are a zillion things about each one of us that aren't in there, and some of us need to straighten out a bunch of the lies we've believed about ourselves and our little world around us to walk free.

Don't settle for good feelings for a day or a season when doing the work of uncovering and believing the truth is available. Spirituality is not superior to mentality or physicality, God created us to have all three, we are not whole without them all, intact and operating together in integrity. Go ahead and use every mental, physical, and spiritual tool, exercise, and counsel available to heal your thinking and your feelings will respond likewise. 

I've also heard it said that "healing is the dinner bell of the church." You'll not call many to the table until you are healed and whole yourself, so go ahead and be smaller, know less, forget what should have been and become strong enough to be found fit for service. Them collards ain't gonna pick themselves, y'know, and there's a whole world out there hungry for the truth.




Friday, January 8, 2016

Moments

I'm walking the aisles in Walmart waiting for a prescription to be filled. It's almost as cool inside the store as it is outside, and the smell and the sounds and my to-get list is pretty much the same as it's ever been on January 8th of every year.

Three years on and there are still moments where I miss my Mom. You do know, don't you, that there were moments where she was just my mom, not the grinding fear she was so much of the time. There were moments when we laughed together at ourselves, moments when when we made a favorite dish we both loved, moments she did step up to the plate and just be my mom. 

I miss those moments. I was always hoping for more of those moments. 

As the years went by and my care of her grew in time and responsibility, those moments disappeared and now I miss the moments where I protected her from herself and her weakness. I miss walking the aisles at Walmart scanning every shelf for something she needed and grasping triumphant when I found something she just might like.

 The moments are fading now like they should, all of them. Except today, in the cool, familiar quiet of this store, where I look back on three years ago today when I sat in the predawn stillness with her broken body waiting for the hospice nurse to officially declare her dead, and when I had her room cleared out by nightfall, all my duties and responsibilities to her nearly done. 

Who was that woman who did all those things, how did I ever make it thru, why didn't I do something else, try some other way, break free and demand something more?

How can I explain to anyone that I miss all of it, if only for a moment? 



Edit: The first three comments are mine. Worth reading if you're interested, but I left them as comments to keep the time stamps.