I haven't posted in a while, and my sincere apologies to everyone who has written to inquire as to "when will the Blog be updated?!!" As anyone with DID is told often enough, there are times when you simply need to stop and take care of yourself. I've taken that time.....and have had many thoughts of course as a result. For now, here's two of them: 

And a great big thank you for the emails and words of encouragement! 

A friend wrote to me the other day about gratitude. I've been thinking, thinking, and re-thinking about that ever since. Of course, I have several books on the subject, with worksheets, attended seminars, shoot, I even have certificates the PROVE I've learned the principles of "gratitude". 

Isn't that funny, attend a lecture, and receive a certificate that says you "now know what gratitude is". See? It's even signed by the speaker! You are now an expert in the realm of "gratitude". You can make a list, you can find things to be grateful for, you got it all baby! ....but to really meditate on the subject? Well, I have!! (Don't I have all the answers?.....NOT!!!!) Now, here's the kicker: to actually APPLY the principle in practice? Oooops, my friend left me thinking on that one. 

So, I'm walking by the other night, checking on the family, like the control freak I am, and I realized something. My wonderful husband was doing exactly what I asked him to do. Have I said anything? Nope.....just trying to stay focused on myself, figure out step 1 of Al-Anon and take care of my inner needs, my personal "system". But, really, in a way, I'm acting like I'm still resentful of "all" the stuff we've gone through. All the "stuff" WE went through? I had to admit that my resentment also included: EVERYTHING I've ever experienced. Now, that goes waaaay back in time, as anyone with DID can comprehend. Average age of onset for DID, is 4.9 years, mine was right about there....so I'm holding resentment for what? 36 years folks.......thirty six years!!!! That's a lot of resentment. 

Ewwwww, I don't like that I'm doing this. 

I stopped, and instantly thought of (name deleted for privacy) note........and I couldn't move any further. I really couldn't. I knew the family was involved with what they were into, but, I couldn't move. I just watched. Standing there, with "gratitude" right in front of me, and I had to make a choice. Keep walking with my huge bag of resentment, or practice gratitude? 

Finally I said: "Excuse me.....(husband looked up), I just want you to know how much I've noticed that you are making eye contact, you're listening to what we have to say, you're involved with the family, and you are tired, but not asleep. I'm very impressed. Thank you, I mean it: Thank you. It warms my heart, and I'm grateful for the effort you've been putting forth." 

(I didn't want to say "drink" in front of the kids, but he knew it also meant that there's been no drinking, and his saying "no" to the offers from others. Shoot, I have a problem with "drink" as well.....so to hold resentment towards him alone is rude at the very least!)

He just looked at me, with those dark Choctaw eyes, and said: "I read your letter, I didn't take it lightly, I paid attention. I might not talk much, but I do care. I think about it often. Thank YOU for noticing that I am trying." And then, shock of all shocks, he smiled. Just briefly, but he smiled. 

Do you know what? I almost choked on the word "grateful". 

Why? I had no realization until that moment that I've been holding my little bag (well not so little bag) of resentment, carrying it around like a precious baby. It's been my baggage for so long, it would seem like I lost something to simply let go of it. 

Thank you my friend......you reminded me of a concept I would never have even truly considered in my day to day life. Ask me about anger and DID, flashbacks, nightmares, scars, stigma, medication, self care, suicide, self harm, etc........I can talk all day about those subjects. But resentment? Wow, now that's a huge issue, and cannot be ignored. We can try, but the reality is that it does exist. Of course it would...that's only logical! To deny that it holds a presence in our daily lives? Well, there's an error in that way of living.  One that leads to transference, and corrupts our very soul. 

We had a family meeting as a result the next day. We agreed that our new family motto will be: "Whatever maintains the safety, serenity and peace in our family unit comes first. No personal desire, emotion or preference comes before this."

I heard husband repeat the chant last night with the boys. It was a peaceful evening indeed. But, I had done something that normally I would have told the boys not to do: put a LARGE glass of ice cold coffee right on the table over the play station system, tele components, yeup, everything that is ruined by liquid. One trip, one nerf gun bullet, and the entire set up would be ruined.  So, in quick reaction, husband snapped, oooops, verbally snapped nastily at me. 

But then, all at once, they repeated the chant together. Oldest boy said "You were right, you just have to say it differently." Again, to my shock, that proud, proud man did. He re-said what he meant to say, but nicely. Youngest (with schizophrenia, so he doesn't always "get" things)....said: "It's important to talk nice, it means peaceful." 

Thanks (name deleted)........I know I'll need Al-Anon, and continued therapy for work on the resentment. Diagnosed 20 years with DID, and I just now realize that I'm still carrying around my bag of resentment, ever waiting to be added to? Time to let it go......don't know how, but I have the support and the tools available to me to figure it out. 

None of us are alone in this. 

Just my 20 cents. 
Have a good day.......
S. 
 
 
I finally remembered to take the camera with me to record the sounds of the frogs and cicada's in TX. I've lost so much of my hearing, that they are really all I can hear when I walk. But the camera also picked up (I think) the sounds of the air conditioning units running, so you'll have to ignore those.....I can't make out what it is, but I think, it's when I pass the units. Everyone is running their air conditioning right now. 102*.......sort of hot ya' think? I have met a lovely lady who has DID and is blind, so I always try to remember to experience the world in a different way, as she has taught me that not everything is visual in life. Further, we've had recent blog and forum discussions about finding ways to center yourself. Mine is to take a walk.....look around, be aware of where I am, and simply listen to the sounds as evening approaches. 

It'll take about 40 minutes to upload to You Tube, but the link is here:  http://youtu.be/6fJiZ9b43kU 

Now that (name deleted for privacy) started my morning off laughing.......coffee everywhere. You really have to see this pic she put up at Face Book (you can see it under my name: Shelly Dowen-Johnson).....too funny for those of us who were idiots and thought our bodies would be forever young.....hence, getting tattoos that are now shrinky-dink versions of what they once were. 

All I know is: I was laughing so hard, I set my cuppa down, and crash! Coffee and a broken cup at my feet. (Note to self: you cannot set a cuppa down on top of a lighter!) Well, it was the one cup that had already ended up with two chips, and is now off to the land of broken pottery. Poor thing, I suspect it was doomed from the word go. I have a metal cup now.....not taking anymore risks this morning. 

So, I did it. With a more than a little help from a friend to correct my thought processes (thank you anonymous friend!), I decided to send husband an email about the drinking and addict behaviors. 
Wow, so many things I didn't even think of. Over and over "Where's your boundaries?" "Why are you putting your feelings away, and only listing his?" "You're not an MD, you don't know that, first: put how you've been hurt, the boys have been hurt, second: list how the family is not safe, third: list these as symptoms of what you believe to be the cause." The final comment: "Stop talking or offering to talk.....you've done this for 9 years. He has to get help, he has to do it, talking until you're grandparent's isn't going to change a thing! REWRITE THIS, DELETE THAT" 

The "final copy" was more of what I really wanted to say, just didn't realize it was okay to put myself in the picture. Duh! Okay, okay, I'm learning. 

I emailed it to him, as I knew he would check his inbox after coming home from work.  


Frankly, I was more than a little scared......he could react in any way, shape or form. Some could be not very pretty. Yeah, I made sure to know where the car keys were, how fast I could get the boys out the door, etc. Sad to have to think of those things....but I'm not that stupid. 

He stayed in the room a long time.......uh oh.....well, wait, if he was that angry, he'd already be out here telling me what he thought, and how wrong I am. Okay.........found him head bent, tears in his eyes and shaking at his desk. Shaking....oh geesh, we've been down the "cold turkey" path before, and I forgot that part, not that he was going through withdrawals, but the shaking just reminded me of THAT part. Ewwww, it was hard that time, as I didn't really let go of how I felt, and was upset that now I "have to take care of him" on top of still being angry. The mood swings weren't fun either, while holding onto my little bundle of resentment. Turns out: he remembers that too....and mentioned it. Yeah, we've been down this road before. 

But, this time, with a little direction, I was able to put down how I feel about these things. That's what was different. I told him I'm going to Al-Anon, and he has his choices to make. But, I'm not playing the game anymore.......I am free from worrying constantly about this "thing" that hangs over our head daily. I let him know that I'm going to Al-Anon on M and Th at 10:30 with the boys, and that they have childcare. There are meetings at 8pm that he could attend, and needs to. He sees his psych on the 21st, and no, I'm not writing a letter to get him more tranquilizers......I suggest strongly that he be honest with the psychiatrist, as he has never done.....and admit what he's really experiencing, and stop trying to find quick fixes.   

Last night he was embarrassed, kept saying he felt like a "failure again", I've heard this before. But, he's not angry with me.....whew. And it appears he woke with a new attitude, one with purpose. So, it's up to him. We'll see.....but for me: that's all I have any control over. I finally figured out the first step. Not mastered, but figured it out at least. 

Good news? A creditor called last night (one of many) which husband just ignores. I looked at him and said: "here's your chance to start making changes and face the consequences of your decisions one call at a time"......and he took it. Didn't like having to face the consequences, but he took it. Sadly embarrassing to see such a large man shaking and speaking with such a timid tone....but he says he will take all the others too and address them. 

I also told him that you can't just go to one meeting and think it will magically come together. It takes at least 6-9 from what I hear, as many people think "this isn't for me" for the first few, no matter how friendly everyone is. You have to learn to adjust your thinking......sometimes in 5 minute increments. Ask yourself: "Can I be a better person 5 minutes from now than I am at this moment?" The phone call he just handled? A perfect example of the 5 minute increment philosophy. 

Further, it's not an easy road, facing your life, talking about these things. But the groups aren't set up for people to tell you what to do or think.....they are for you to think for yourself, and start analyzing where your thoughts are off track, and leading the family down a very dangerous road. He got it.......it's up to him if he follows through. Besides, he already believes in a Higher Power......I don't....but I'll find my way. I believe in "something" out there, so that's what I'll grab on to. 

Strange, I feel lighter. I finally figured out that I don't have any control over this thing.....but I've accepted it. I let go (literally) of all the hurt and anger......and now: I feel like I lost weight, or a burden of sorts. Strange.....I don't understand, and am really just learning, new little baby steps towards no longer supporting and enabling this behavior. He was embarrassed? Well my own thoughts, and many they were, exposed to me just how foolish and ingrained my part in promoting this lifestyle for so long, with so many people has been. I feel outright dumb. No, make that DUMB. That's more like it. 

But, the Al-Anon site is good for reminding you that it takes time, and just like DID, it's a growing thing, requiring patience, support, and learning new ways of thought and behavior. I attend my first meeting tomorrow, with childcare, so I won't have to fuss about Aramis and his not being able to see me. If he knows where I'm at, and the person watching him knows just to keep reminding him, and re-answering the same question over and over, he'll be fine. 

I've been having nightmares, and now I see why. 

I have always had these nightmares, not the same ones all the time, but there will be times where I will have "the nightmare" that I have bugs, or something under my skin. I can see it, I can feel it, and "it" needs to come out. I gently pull and pull until I can remove the entire worm, bug, snake, or whatever form it has, and until it's completely out, I'm burdened by the realization that I have something inside me that I don't want. I usually wake up exhausted, and very disturbed.....my thoughts instantly turning to my daily life. For some reason, the pattern has always been the same: wake up with the question banging in my head "What is wrong in my world? What do I need to get rid of?" They have happened as long as I can remember.....and almost every time there is something or someone in my life, that I embraced and welcomed that is not healthy, but I refused to "see" it for what it was. Once I find and face whatever that thing is, and clear it from my life, the nightmares stop. At least "those" nightmares. Of course, there are others.....but these, always follow the same routine, with the same banging question when I wake. Over and over.....there is something wrong in my world that I'm not "seeing". I've been having these nightmares for the last few months. 

So, after months of "the bug" nightmares, I finally slept....well, sort of. I was reading the paper at one point last night, but I couldn't turn the pages, as the paper wasn't real. Frustrating, my hands were moving, and I couldn't finish reading as my hand would reach straight through the image of the paper that seemed so real. I couldn't finish the article.....and yet, I kept trying to turn the page, but couldn't. Ughhhh......

Then, quick as a wink, my nightmare changed: I'm with husband, he's in his work clothes, and we are in some jungle sort of place. We are there to meet some people, when I realize, these are dangerous people. I keep trying to tell him, whisper to him, repeat that this is not safe, and he keeps telling me to be quiet, he has it under control. Then I see guns start to slowly poke out of various windows surrounding us. The people we are to meet take off in their cars, and are racing away. Husband mutters: "OM.....it's a set up!!!", and I'm more than a little angry he didn't listen. But there's no time to be discussing that, as we have to get away. We jump into the car, which has no windshield, and he has no seat. So, I'm sitting on some box or something, and literally where the windshield would be if the car had one. He has no seat, so he's sitting much farther back, and is behind me. He stomps on the gas, and heads straight through every house, building, warehouse, fence, everything to get back to the airport. The entire time, I am yelling (as this nightmare is real to me) "FENCE!!!!" and the only thing protecting me is the slight frame left that used to hold the windshield. We actually drove through a steel tool manufacturing place, so I yell "STEEL" and am amazed that I don't end up with at least one black eye. We went through some building with a water tower, and I could hear the wood splintering as we clipped off all the support beams.....I was amazed I didn't drown, as he missed the water tank itself. 

Then the nightmare switched......I'm standing with a group of people, and they are looking at a crab. No crab I've ever seen, but it has large (are they called clippers? Their forearms? Claws?) and a scorpion-like tail. I start saying: "I don't do crabs, I don't do crabs", and am trying to move backwards, but so many people are there, and don't see the danger, and won't let me back up. When it jumps on my leg and starts to crawl up........That's when I woke to discover that husband was gently rubbing my lower leg to wake me up.  

It doesn't take a genius or Freud to analyze either of these nightmares. I don't like that the mind can turn so many objects and situations into examples.....and how real or very life-like the entire experience a nightmare can take on. But, it is what it is. That's what I had as a nightmare last night. No worms, but one hell of a crab. The entire car driving sequence is obviously how I feel our life is being directed right now. The driver is not listening, and has no control. Glad I didn't have to pay for therapy to figure out this one. ;)

I really don't know why I'm sharing this.....probably (name deleted for privacy) warm comment about going ahead and speaking about the realities of DID, and the daily aspects. I hate nightmares, sometimes I can tell they are messages from the insiders, other times they are as described above. But, they are disconcerting to say the very least. 

I also wonder if other people experience nightmares that are trying to tell them things? I don't believe in "dream messages", and interpretations of what "flying in your dreams" or "losing teeth" mean....as they are generalities, akin to palm reading. Not true science.....and I don't agree with Freud, that everything comes back to one subject...his "favorite". 

BUT, there's no denying that I have the same ones during certain points of my life, with minor variances. The car scenario was a new one, but makes sense. No windshield, I'm out, front and center for the danger, and he's flooring it with no idea of where we're heading. 

Well, that ends my scrambled ramblings for the morning. 

Sadly, you will hear the wails of two little boys who are not getting out of school today. 
They'll live.....besides, I have ice pops in the freezer that they bought with their $1 each. 

Have a good day everyone......

Shelly
 
 
Okay, remember: I'm used to the Social Work side of things.....I feel stupid now sitting in all those classes with peers who were going into drug and alcohol counseling, and really, really not "getting" what they were talking about. Duh! I've been thinking.....my entire past, every relationship has been with a drinker. No wonder one of the older guys told me that I knew more about alcohol counseling than I was willing to accept, and that would hold me back until I realized it. So, be patient please.....I'm getting this. My fist Al-Anon meeting will be this Thursday.

Why? Well, hmmmm.......because of the above statement. Now, mind you, my husband doesn't drink everyday, nor is it the "hard stuff" he used to consume from the first cuppa coffee until he went to bed. It's also no longer weed (that I know of), as his psychiatrist has found another legal medication to take it's place. However, I've had to admit, that the behaviors are still there. Run out of medication? All gumpiness breaks loose. Can't find the remote? Absolute upset.

Sadly, I've come to realize that these behaviors, among an entire host of behaviors, I am very accustomed to. The difference now? Well, I stopped drinking.....until I fell of the wagon a few weeks ago. I wondered at the time why husband didn't seem bothered in the least, let alone the fact that he encouraged the entire debacle. This of course led to many other thoughts, and as usual, I began to research some of my "old friends" in the psychiatry world.

Only to find out that the answer is much closer to home than I realized. It took several very good friends to point out to me that I'm repeatedly addressing the subject of fear. Fear of what? Fear of stepping out of the normal patterns of behavior, breaking the standard codes of silence, the enabling that has gone on since I wore diapers? (Not really, but pretty close!)

I've been told before that I live with a "dry drunk".......had somewhat of an idea of what that meant....but skipped it. Sometimes it's easier to ignore than it is to face, especially the painful subjects. For me, when I ignore, my lovely mulitplicity stirs up my sleep at night, and throws all sorts of dark memories at me, forcing me to face the reality of the patterns reforming in my life.

So, I had to ask myself: do I really live with an addict? I mean it's "only a few beers" here and there, and he MUST have his medication, but the doctor said so, and if he doesn't have it, he becomes snappy and rude. Wait a minute.....that's pretty much standard fare. Sometimes he's nice, and enjoyable to be around, sometimes he's rude. If there's an upset at work, or anything that even slightly is pressuresome, well, he'll become disdainful and quick to become upset about something, anything......but it will happen. Is he happy? Noooo, he says he is, but hardly smiles......and I don't think I've heard him laugh in ages. In actuality, he sleeps a great deal, works hard, and likes his beer, his medication, and most important of all: to not be bothered.

I admit it: every relationship I've had has been with someone who drinks. Some were very violent as a result, which only ascerbates DID. But, for me, the smell of a beer on a man's breath was very similar to my father: another drug addict and alcoholic. He ended up quitting eventually, to become the shell of a man that he is, with my mother leading the family down her paranoid bi-polar schizophrenic path constantly berating him for the "alcoholic drug addict" he once was.

I also realize that there have certainly been spells in my life, where the use of Whiskey would, in only a few shots, take away all painful memories of the past, and instantly bring peace to my home. It's really easy to fall into that way of thinking if there's drinking already around. But alas, as with any "quick fix", it is only temporary. Like the component you use to fix a flat tire quickly......it's only useful until you can get to the garage and address the real issue: there's a nail in your tire.

It was hard for me to quit, and it still is. I hear others say: "Oh, my meds aren't working, I think something a little stronger will do the trick...." and for a moment, parts of me agree. Ahhhh, that's a slippery slope my friend.

I finally had to look hard at my life.....my current point in life. The realization made me so ill, that I've taken several days away from posting here. One lovely person even wrote to ask that I please continue the blog, as they read it daily........go ahead, write about this subject (when I explained privately why I had been absent.) Aaaaahh, here we have the "private code" again, akin to hiding the bottles, pretending that we don't see how many beer caps are in the drawer, (why the drawer, the garbage can is the other direction!), the "unspeakable". For who wants to hear about the reality of alcoholism or drug addiction?

Well, I initially thought no one wanted to hear about DID either.......and then, I thought to myself: WHY? It's out there, it exists, and it's common. Individuals and their divided selves struggle daily with trying to figure out how to live life with the residue of a traumatic childhood. Stop the secrecy, validate the pain, and support those who are finding their healing paths.

So, I looked up Al-Anon on Face Book......you know, where everyone finds everything, and then they check out Google. To my amazement, one group has been organized for 10 months and already has over 700 members. Woah....now this isn't a little problem.....this situation is affecting quite a few people, not to mention their extended families.

Yet, it still placed me a position of: do I mention this aloud to the world, or do I continue to be the family secret keeper? I did a great job at keeping secrets growing up......as any of my school counselors, elders at our local Kingdom Hall, or friends could attest. I had "safe" answers for everything, since to "tell" would unleash the violent monsters at home, and I certainly didn't want that to happen. Hence, my strong advocacy for mental health awareness, and the support of those who have been trapped by the "secrets" for most of their lives. 

But this subject? It's "just alcohol/addiction related behavior".........I even found myself writing "everyone does it, everyone becomes rude and disdainful, and you should never count on anyone to be there for you." Really?

Well first, the use of the term: "never" should always be suspect. For nothing is that absolute.....it's like saying "I never eat ice cream". Really? You must have tried it at least once to recognize that you don't like it? Or, "I never disagree with my spouse". Really? Every day, for the last umpteen years, you have constantly shared the same viewpoint, the same likes and dislikes, the same standards on every subject? It may be that you have not spoken aloud what you thought, but somehow, someway, you're body communicated that you disagreed. Further, if you have not shared any of these thoughts aloud, then are you truly married? A couple.....one who shares their thoughts and communicates effectively? I doubt it.

And secondly: define "everyone"? Everyone.....that simple terms actually means: everyone that I have known. So, who have I known? Ooooh, a lot of drinkers. I don't even want to count how many times I've cleaned up vomit, moved passed out people over, or checked to see if they are still breathing. How did I learn that a drunk always speaks the truth, just doesn't remember it the next day? Experience. So, to define "everyone" actually limits the number of people to those I have been acquainted with. Doesn't sound very healthy does it?

Of course, my reaction is to intellectually try to sort this all out: to research. I realized almost at once that there were too many sources I found that hit very close to home. Some left me stung as if bitten by a hornet.....the reality was that clear. Others made me ashamed to think of how long I have lived this way. Keeping the secrets, throwing away the bottles, saying: "Oh, that's okay honey, I understand.......you have a lot of pressure from (fill in the blank)." How many times I've covered things up so that the children don't become alarmed, and in a way: conditioning the next generation to carry on the role(s) of secret keeper(s). "Daddy's just throwing up honey, go back to bed, he'll be okay". 

Psychologists will tell you that every dysfunctional family has a secret keeper, and that they typically have the highest success rate of breaking the dysfunctional structure within their own lives. Today, I'm not so sure about that. But, it's also not too late to stop the indoctrinization of secret keeping.

My children are beginning to comment on a double standard, a set of negative behaviors that are acceptable for their father to demonstrate towards me, but are completely unacceptable for them. They are confused by this, and are further confused by my reaction. For me, I have DID, and have made no secret as to that diagnosis. It also means that I can switch off, I can tune out, I can ignore what is unpleasant and return to my "safe role". Basically, I can become who YOU want me to be, in order to survive. Is that how I want to live my adult life? A continuation of the past? 

Further, do I want to visually demonstrate these sorts of behaviors for my children to model? For children learn most by the modeling of their parents. Both parents........which is a heavy component of parenting that should always be remembered. Daily, we model how adults interact, live, communicate, and what our standard or values are. What are we communicating today?

Hence, without further ado.....I must admit that I struggle with alcohol, and I live with someone who has a serious problem with alcohol and addiction. He needs help, he needs healthier tools in order to face the daily struggle of life, but alas, he must seek these on his own.

For me, I recognize that becoming aware is only the first step. I must now learn how to live without remaining the enabler, I must accept that I have no control over this, or as Al-Anon says: "We cannot think our way out of this disease......we need the help of others who can see and hear us in ways we cannot see and hear ourselves." That's going to be a struggle for me, as I prefer to do my own research, and not be told "what to think", or "what is happening". But, something must change within myself, and this perhaps is one component.

I'm fortunate, in that there is a tremendous amount of support for those who find themselves in this situation. A dear friend wrote just this morning with a few words from Al-Anon along with some personal advice. He (also a fellow DID'er) says the step that brings him the most strength is the statement: "I recognize that I am powerless against (fill in the blank), which gives me the acceptance of the reality of where I really am."

He's right.....this statement alone applies to both DID and alcoholism/addiction.
Have a lovely day everyone.......may we each find a bit o'peace.

Shelly

 
 
We were talking about Maslow the other day, and referencing his "Hierarchy of Needs", as well as three of his eight (or nine) foundation beliefs. I personally, look at his "Hierarchy" as I do the food pyramid....fine, if you have the budget. Sometimes we don't, so sugar is off the list, meat is not as available as the food pyramid would suggest, and we may be a little heavier on the starches and carbs. It's cheaper to buy potatoes and noodles than it is to buy meat. Dairy? I'm in TX.......this is a beef state. So, dairy has been cut back. It's the reality of our budget and where we live.....yet logically, I can take the essence of the pyramid idea and pull from it what I may. I do appreciate many of the values he places within the "Hierarchy of Needs"......and I think various parts of my system reach for or have reached different sections of the hierarchy. All at once? Or in a ladder style? No way........and I don't see how that can happen. But taken in part, some principles certainly call to my innermost system.

However, since debate is welcome apparently, then let me explain what I don't like about Maslow's approach. Although he is highly acclaimed, and many other theorists have expanded on his foundational beliefs.......the point is that these are theories. I often think of Anna Freud, who had a rather interesting upbringing, sheltered and yet the boundaries between her father and herself were questionable to say the least, she had the tenacity to collect data and question one of the strongest held beliefs at the time. That of the importance of a father figure (a healthy one) in a child's life. Her worked continued with the orphans of the Holocaust. Now, I may not agree with all of her conclusions, especially in regard to her "orphan work", still, she had the cojones to step away from her father, and actually contributed a positive impact on the children who were removed during the London blitz.

Maslow, and this is my biggest argument against holding fast to ALL of his teachings, chose to work with only  the top 1% of the college population. He called these the "healthiest", and furthermore, declared: "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy." Ouch......not the open minded, or humanistic approach that is needed, nay, required in the field of psychiatry. And yet....he had valuable contributions, even if he chose to be highly selective of those whom he based his theories upon.

But theories are just that: theories to be questioned, considered and reviewed. I personally believe that more sociology is necessary in the study of psychology, and yet only now are students being taught to consider cultural differences, political viewpoints, and class structure within the formation of thier foundation studies.

Now, Victor Frankl also adds an interesting component to the study of psychiatry. He led, or contributed in a huge way to the study of existentialism. (Wow, want to talk about debate on that subject? Just get the drug and alcohol counselors in the same room with Social Workers on this subject alone! The debate lasted for almost a full week, often having to be moderated due to the rising of voices and anger that was provoked.) What struck me about Frankl, is that he survived several Nazi concentration camps. He wrote "Man's Search for Meaning"....which of course took off in sales across the world. Yes, he lost his wife and the majority of his family, but used his time while held under slave labor to consider how people reacted. What their essence contained, and how they interpreted the world around him.

My hold back? Well, he's talking about adults, who had led (mostly) a healthy life prior to the structural change in the political schema. And yet, he was one of the first to directly address trauma, without becoming "stuck" as so many of his predecessors on the sexuality of relationships and humanity.

Frankl was rather black and white in his beliefs about humankind, often saying there are only decent men and the indecent. I don't think we can concentrate in terms of pure black and white. But that was his experiences, and his response to the world in which he lived. In his main publication: "Man's Search for Meaning", he writes in two parts. I'm including a portion that has been condensed here:

"His concluding passage in Part One describes the psychological reaction of the inmates to their liberation, which he separates into three stages. The first is depersonalization—a period of readjustment, in which a prisoner gradually returns to the world. Initially, the liberated prisoners are so numb that they are unable to understand what freedom means, or to emotionally respond to it. Part of them believes that it is an illusion or a dream that will be taken away from them. In their first foray outside their former prison, the prisoners realized that they could not comprehend pleasure. Flowers and the reality of the freedom they had dreamed about for years were allsurreal, unable to be grasped in their depersonalization.

The body is the first element to break out of this stage, responding by big appetites of eating and wanting more sleeping. Only after the partial replenishing of the body is the mind finally able to respond, as “feeling suddenly broke through the strange fetters which had restrained it”.

This begins the second stage, in which there is a danger of deformation. As the intense pressure on the mind is released, mental health can be endangered. Frankl uses the analogy of a diver suddenly released from his pressure chamber. He recounts the story of a decent friend who became immediately obsessed with dispensing the same violence in judgment of his abusers that they had inflicted on him.

Upon returning home, the prisoners had to struggle with two fundamental experiences which could also damage their mental health:bitterness and disillusionment. The last stage is bitterness at the lack of responsiveness of the world outside—a "superficiality and lack of feeling...so disgusting that one finally felt like creeping into a hole and neither hearing nor seeing human beings any more" . Worse was disillusionment, which was the discovery that suffering does not end, that the longed-for happiness will not come. This was the experience of those who – like Frankl – returned home to discover that no one awaited them. The hope that had sustained them throughout their time in the concentration camp was now gone. Frankl cites this experience as the most difficult to overcome.

As time passed, however, the prisoner's experience in a concentration camp finally became nothing but a remembered nightmare. What is more, he knows that he has nothing left to fear any more, "except his God" .

Frankl's meaning in life is to help others find theirs."

I personally (now everyone is going to roll over in shock), but here it is: I personally don't believe in a "god". I just haven't been able to. Perhaps as time goes by, but for now: my research and experience has proven otherwise. However, I truly respect the importance He holds in the lives of others. I would never have that taken from them.

But, what strikes me with Frankl.....in regards to DID, are the stages he refers to that the inmates required in order to process liberation. The reason this calls to my system, is that I see this within the world of DID often. The depersonalization and numbness, the realization that we are "free", the replenishing of the mind and spirit, the potential or actuality of the deformation of portions of our systems, bitterness and fear....and the recognition that the experience(s) eventually become a thing of the past: "a forgotten nightmare".

Now, as far as DID is concerned: "forgotten nightmare"?........not so easily forgotten. But I also have to remember that Frankl grew up in a more idealistic home environment, with love, support, education, and.......servants. Not my upbringing. So maybe he could forget a little more easily than I can. I don't know......just thoughts.

But, what I do take from this, what I do consider as the days go by: is the stages, or the reactions that he lists. They are hauntingly familiar......I don't have the answers, only more questions. And yet.....my mind, and the minds of my insiders are intrigued.

I've been thinking a lot about the subject of "fear", hence my initial foray into Maslow. He speaks of breaking past the fear barrier, but not enough. I want to know more about this subject. For fear is what I consider to be one of the largest components of the trauma residue I have to face. The irony is that I'm considered "strong and intimidating". And yet.....I can begin to stutter, barely make eye contact, and shake so badly when faced with fear. To call it "a part of PTSD" (as many of my therapist do) is not an answer to my way of thinking. That's a description, akin to finding the word in the dictionary; but not finding the solution in a medical journal.

I'd love to hear thoughts as to this subject.....and the ideas presented above.

But please, don't judge me for not "believing in god", or analyzing and criticizing minds much greater than my own. It's only thoughts.......and I'd rather spend my time figuring out how my mind works, and deciphering the puzzle of my psyche than re-dwelling on the past over and over.It's just how my mind works, and I intend or mean no harm to anyone else in the process.

Shelly



 
 
I'm all thrown off......

Husband's BDay was yesterday, so a big Happy BDay to husband.

AND it flooded in TX starting Wednesday night, AFTER they had installed the waterproofing cement, which isn't supposed to get wet. Oooops, thousands of dollars at risk. He left for work Friday, and came back an hour later.....the work was protected, no trucks or equipment could move through the flooded site though, and work was called off. They'll be digging out silt and concrete for the next two days.

So, he had an "at home" BDay, which was nice for him. For me? Well, the boys played video games all day, and Dad enjoyed watching them. He ran an errand that I did not want to do (OOOoooh! I get a freeby!) and I had some fantastic steaks tucked away for the night. It ended up being a nice day.

Although I can't stand listening to video games. They don't even notice if I'm around I think, unless I'm walking in front of the huge TV, so I worked on a PP for the boys schooling. ALL DAY......took forever, as it's the outline of world history from the origin of man through the completion of B.C. Dang......over 50 slides of information. I had fun learning though, most I knew, and some I added (as the children's resource home school sites tend to be kinda baby-like) from my college classes or trips to Museums. My girlfriend and I had a good laugh, that after they finish this, they won't have to study any history until college. I felt like I was back in Dr. Chisholm's class.......agriculture vs hunter gatherers, migration movement patterns of people, land bridges, culture variances, etc. I just don't want the boys to think the US, and what they know of history through movies is all there is. Once you open your mind to the cultural and sociological changes throughout various communities and time, it really begins to explain so many things about humanity and life in general. (Home School site is found at http://theopenmindacademy.weebly.com)

Still, have another two days of work to do with the Summer quarter of their schooling though. A.D. , work pages, and then onto Math, geography, and language. Language is the most difficult for Aramis, really, he has some delays in that area. But little by little, we're working through the tenses and verb identification. Dante needs to improve in composition of large documents....but can handle it. I just have to organize an approach so he can "see" the entire picture, or sequence of thought behind writing a document. Believe it or not, he's already written a book, but it was more involved with the illustrations and descriptions than a typically formatted document. He's ready, and wants to start his second book.....his first was a hoot, as he had it "reviewed" by everyone. So many notes from people, it was very encouraging for him.

I've had terrible nightmares lately....just horrid stuff. Not all of it could be considered flashback related.....instead, it's just a lot of mixed up garbage. There has been some fighting within another DID group I participate in, I skipped it as I usually do......and I haven't seen any movies lately. Still, just filled with either things from the day, where I end up talking in my sleep,...or different parts of me do....and then as the night progresses, horrid nightmares. I usually end up just getting up, but that, in turn, leaves me tired in the early morning. Now: how can I sleep in the morning and NOT have nightmares, eh? Go figure......

My husband and I had a long conversation about Maslow, Adler, Jung and Freud, which of course, led to Anna Freud (who I have loads of thoughts on) and it was actually very interesting. These are not "his subjects", as he is more mathematically inclined, but still, he's not bored by the thoughts, nor uninterested. I wanted to write about some of the questions and ideas I had as a result....but alas, the PP took much longer than anticipated. His eyes were huge when I told him about "Emily's nose"......well, mine were huge too when I stumbled across that little tidbit of Freudian history.

I did have a lovely chat with a neighbor lady about Kierkegaard (sp?), and his philosophy........it was delightful, as she had asked many of the same questions I did, and had some very interesting conclusions. I laughed so much, as our ideas flew back and forth so quickly. She has the same bit of humor and yet passion that I do for these subjects.....it was quiet enjoyable. We plan on meeting up again....perhaps for a walk around the nearby Lake.

The mosquitoes are eating everyone alive though.....even the poor dog. I suspect he might have "hot spots" too.....so I need to research about these. Anyone know an effective treatment that he won't lick off? Poor little guy is just miserable.

We still haven't heard definitively if it's Louisiana or New York next. But the co-worker who was going to change companies is now changing his mind. He says it would be nice to continue working with husband, they make a great team, and the Louisiana job is fascinating. The largest scale exhibit since 1979! They estimate a year, but it will be longer....as this exhibit takes the visitor through the Mayan culture, the Amazon, and into something (I can't remember).

Hey, my blog averages, somewhere around 40-70 visitors a day......and then it jumped to 140 in one day. Good lawd.....shocked me. To answer (name deleted for privacy) question/comment: I write a lot more on by blog than I do at some DID forums. Some subjects are just too sensitive, and would require extensive trigger warnings.

.....but for now, I need another cuppa, and to stop scratching these dang skeeter bites (I know better, the littles don't), and the girls want everyone to know that the frogs are out, and we walk at night to listen to their chirps. We saw one large frog and a wee baby one last night. Texas has completely different sounds than Washington....oh, and they found the Cardinals nest. It's a beauty......but they don't want to write. Okay.......it's their choice.

Have a good day everyone....I need more coffee.....I didn't get much sleep last night. Worked until 1am on the PP, then walked for an hour listening to the sounds. Ended up in bed about 2:30, and of course: slept terribly.......maybe tonight will be better.

Shelly

 
 
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I've been thinking a great deal about Maslow lately. In college, we had to study all the various forms of counseling, theory and practices, and of course Maslow's hierarchy of needs was discussed, as well as his principles of self-actualization.

What struck me when we first started the chapter on Maslow, was that he created a list of the people he felt had demonstrated fully the essence of self-actualization. On that list was Eleanor Roosevelt, whom I have long admired. Consider that we had just finished studying Freud, Jung, and a host of other theorist's, and each I memorized and placed within my inner "tool bag" of ideas..... not one of them hit me the way Maslow did. Of course, I couldn't possibly memorize everything, but from the first moment I began reading about his principles, I became excited, rejoicing over so many ideas that actually made sense.

Additionally, I've been reading Sara Ban Breathnach's second book: "Something More.....Excavating your Authentic Self" almost daily right now, which slightly touches on the principles of self-actualization. Her book is interesting, and I'm certainly not inclined to put it down.....there are many comments and ideas that I've found quite encouraging. Still, I woke wondering what else Maslow had to say....and how it could apply to my personal healing journey?

Within a few searches on the internet, I found what I was looking for: (http://www.abraham-maslow.com/m_motivation/Self-Actualization.asp) His hierarchy of needs is often referred to in a wide variety of discussions, from philosophy, sociology through anthropology and of course: psychology. To put them simply, he states that all human beings require certain needs to be met in order to survive. The higher on the pyramid those needs are met, the stronger the person becomes, and the more able he is to reach for self-actualization.


The subject of self-actualization is divided into a list of 8 various traits that one must address. For now, I am merely going to point out traits 2, 5 and 6. Anyone can read the entire list at the link I provided above.

Trait number 2 is defined by Maslow as:

Growth Choices
If we think of life as a series of choices, then self actualization is the process of making each decision a choice for growth. We often have to choose between growth and safety, between progressing and regressing. Each choice has its positive and its negative aspects. To choose safety is to remain with the known and the familiar but to risk becoming stultified and state. To choose growth is to open oneself to new and challenging experiences but to risk the unknown and possible failure.

This really strikes to the heart, as many who daily struggle with DID, are often doing so because of being forced to choose between safety and that of internal growth. His comment regarding choosing safety, and remaining within the known and familiar also infers the risks involved in such a decision. For once one has secured his/her basic needs, the requirement for safety has been met. And yet, to choose growth requires the individual to open themselves up, to become vulnerable to the unknown, or the challenging. This is an area we each struggle with within the environment of a therapeutic session, with our immediate families, even our employment. Everywhere, we are challenged by who we are, and how protected we shall remain. As Maslow says: each choice has its negative and positive aspects.....sometimes we can remain so protected, that we've built a wall that is virtually impenetrable. It's understandable, but it also presents a detriment to personal growth.

Numbers 5 and 6 struck me this morning, but truly, the entire list is though provoking to say the least.

Judgment
The first four steps help us develop the capacity for "better life choices." We learn to trust our own judgment and our own inner feelings and to act accordingly. Maslow believes that following our instincts leads to more accurate judgments about what is constitutionally right for each of us-better choices in art, music, and food, as well as in major life decisions, such as marriage and a career.

Self-development
Self-actualization is also a continual process of developing one's potentialities. It means using one's abilities and intelligence and "working to do well the thing that one wants to do" (The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, p. 48). Great talent or intelligence is not the same as self-actualization; many gifted people fail to use their abilities fully while others, with perhaps only average talents, accomplish a great deal. Self-actualization is not a thing that someone either has or does not have. It is a never-ending process of making real one's potential. It refers to a way of continually living, working, and relating to the world rather than to a single accomplishment.

To "trust our own judgement".....wow, now that truly is a challenge. Often, within the community of DID, we refer to "old messages" that come through from the past. The lessons we were taught to believe, and hence continue to live by. BUT, have we learned to trust ourselves.....to trust that we are safe now, that we can step out beyond our wall(s) of protectiveness? Ahhh, therein lies the challenge.

One of the things that caught my attention, more than anything else that Maslow taught, was that his principles do not apply to intelligence levels or talent. It would be easy to say: "Well, Eleanor Roosevelt was able to achieve self-actualization because a) she had money b) she had a blessed life or c) she was special." Not true.......Maslow refers to the fact that many gifted individuals fail to use their abilities, that they choose to not live life to the fullest. He reminds us too, that this is a never ending process, the act of making real ones potential. And yet: is that not what we all seek? To live life to the fullest, without the constraints and negative thought patterns that were placed within our very psyches as children?

I could continue on and on regarding Maslow's thoughts, and I probably shall over the next week or so. But for now, these few ideas are buzzing around in my multiplied noggin for the day. It challenges my system to rethink the world, and the choices I make daily......and it encourages me to continue to grow.

In Ms. Breathnach's book, I read last night the following section:

"Soul-directed events push us past the perimeter of comfort and the safety of old patterns....But soul-directed events-authentic moments-never betray us. It's true that frequently they leave us in a daze or catapult us into confusion. But, as with driving through a patch of fog that comes upon you suddenly, if you keep your heart steady in the same way you'd firmly hold the steering wheel, you can make it until the fog lifts. Suddenly, you can see the road again. You can see where you're headed. You are returning to your Self."

When I read this section, I was stunned at how closely it described the dark moments when one struggles with DID. How confused, and how disconcerting the environment appears to be. If I didn't know better, I'd almost assume that this paragraph could have come out of any DID Resource publication. Instead, it comes from a book that is simply about discovering our authentic selves. This simple comment serves as a reminder to have trust in who we are.

As one who has lived in heavily fogged in areas, I can attest: the fog does move in as quickly as the chaos felt within our DID psyches. And yet, the solution is not to turn on the high beams, for that simply bounces back a light that completely blocks our ability to view anything, let alone think. Instead, the solution to what the natives called "Tulley Fog", is to slow down, and remain steadily pointed in the direction in which you were moving. To trust your mind, to trust yourself, and calmly move through the haze. Eventually, and when you least expect it, the fog does lift.

And just as miraculously, the road is clear, and you are right where you intended to be.

Have a wonderful day everyone......

Shelly



 
 
According to the All Psych Journal, the average individual will require 7 years, with many misdiagnosis, before being officially deemed as having Dissociative Identity Disorder. When one finally reaches the point of being diagnosed with DID....they have only the slightest of indication as to the difficulty that now lies before them. How challenging and treacherous the road ahead is, and how many twists and turns they will be forced to take.

For many, there is a relief: the "ah ha!" moment of understanding as to what has been going on inside their minds for so very long. For others, it's the validation that they are indeed in need of sincere assistance, which often was not provided during most of their childhoods, even perhaps into their adult years. And for some, the reality comes crashing down with a thunderous roar, and darkness prevails.....for alas, they are finally viewing the truth of their history.

The individual soon learns that according to the DSM-IV, the "typical age of dissasociation is 4.9", and that the diagnosis of DID carries the "highest rate of suicide", more so than even schizophrenia, self harm is typically observed, as well as eating disorders, depression, PTSD, low self esteem.....and, well the list depressingly continues.

They are often told that it takes time to heal (on average: another 7 years of intensive therapy), and to allow for all the "natural" stages of grief in order to progress through safely. In fact, one of the first things that most psychiatrist's will do is ascertain the threat level to either 1) self harm, 2) commit suicide or 3) hold suicidal ideations in some form.

Obviously many people find this subject extremely difficult to discuss. However, the facts are startling clear within any DID forum or community, that the subject of suicide hasoccurred at least in thought at one time or another. Often, one particular insider (or alternate) will hold onto the thought for years, rearing it's ugly head at the lowest of moments.

And low moments exist.....for typically an individual with DID will struggle with the feelings of isolation, loneliness, lack of validation, continued abuse by family members, denial, or the accusations of "destroying the family" (which was accomplished long before the diagnosis, otherwise, there would be no diagnosis in the first place!)

This subject often reminds me of the television show called "Dexter". He refers to his "dark passenger", the person inside who pushes him to do the very things that the average person would typically not consider. Suicidal ideation rides along much the same way, a constant throbbing within the psyche to end it all, to close the torment once and forever, to take matters into our own hands.

I know: I struggle with it often, and for many years carried these dark thoughts around constantly. Like a double heart beat, the incessant message ebbed throughout my entire system.......and could not be ignored. Oh yes, I could smile and appear quite "normal" (which, as many will tell you along the healing pathway, is only found in the dictionary), but the reality is that smiling came just as easily to my system as the thought of death. I was not frightened of it, for on the contrary: it had been my constant companion from such a young age that I knew nothing different. Instead, I accepted it, and had come to embrace it's inevitability.

Although the subject of suicide is often considered taboo to speak of, the reality is that it is a component of the diagnosis of DID. In fact, many find the question presented by their first therapist or psychiatrist so shocking, that they deny these thoughts have even occurred. Only to realize later that the road to healing will present this issue glaringly at some point in time. Like a snake, waiting to strike, it lies deep within, and is ever present, ever alive.

Of course, no two people experience trauma the same way, just as no two people react to trauma in the same way. There are particular similarities, which many who have been diagnosed with DID find validating and reassuring once they connect with their therapist, and the DID community....but it must always be remembered that no two people view the world, nor their experiences in the same way.

There are some who have one insider who holds onto the thought of death, and only one throughout their entire healing process. Others have several, or sadly their entire system has developed the belief structure that death is the only solution to the agony they face daily. For my system, I discovered over the years, that one person held the thought, and yet many others shared the belief. For myself, it was the reality that I had experienced so much violence, death, and the ever present threat of dying, that my system developed it's own mantra of sorts. A belief that "you may threaten to end my life, but I will do it myself before you have the chance to." And this was how I learned to live.....day by day, hour by hour, with the understanding that as long as I could survive, I would continue to live. However, if that was threatened, then I would end my life at my own hands. Sadly, this also translated into a belief structure that my life held no value. For you cannot accept the concept of suicide if you value anything in your present world.

Of course, as I aged and had children, a new problem presented itself. For I love my children, and enjoy every minute of the day spent with them.....but carrying the image of worthlessness often times led me into the realm of thought that my children would be "better off" without a mother such as myself. I know I am not alone in this arena, for years I have read the many notes from those who struggle with DID. They repeat these very same thoughts, to the point that they have convinced themselves that truly: their immediate family will be far happier without them. It's the dark passenger, the message from the past, the heartbeat of valuelessness that haunts our daily existence.

Some find comfort and hope through a Christian based belief structure......others strive to find value within themselves, while others, who have experienced abuse in tandem with Christianity avoid any mention of the subject or even the suggestion of looking towards a "higher power" for strength. Once again: no two people are alike in their experiences, but each carry the dark secret that death is a passenger simply waiting to speak for the entire system. For some, it's akin to the feeling that at any time, the house of cards can tumble......and the consequences have been accepted long ago.

I was thinking about these things this morning, as I looked at my husband's Tibetan prayer wheel. He, as many know, has accepted the Buddhist belief structure, and finds a great deal of comfort and fortitude in following these ancient, but often poignant thoughts. For myself, I have attempted to study, to wrap my mind around the concept of Buddhism, only to discover that I understand more of it's history than I do of it's essence.

However, during my studies of Buddhism, I came across the subject of husband's prayer wheel. Little did I know that the spinning canister held small bits of paper, each containing a prayer for someone who had departed this life. I wondered if this was true? To my surprise; upon inspection, our prayer wheel indeed contained thousands of small bits of paper with dainty notes written upon them. As I studied deeper, I learned that someone who practices Buddhism uses this prayer wheel to pray to family members who have passed on......to the ancestors for guidance and direction in their daily lives.

Since I am aware that my husband prays every night and morning, I often observed the spinning of the wheel, and the ringing of a bell three times as he would light incense before his statue of Buddha. One day, I finally asked him: "do you pray to your ancestors?".....and his answer surprised me. My husband, being of Choctaw decent, replied that he did not pray to the departed, he prayed for each member of his family daily. For the living, as he chooses to remain with the living, focused on today, and not the past. I found this interesting........as I had privately begun the habit of praying every morning; but my reason was extremely different than his. Both approaches to prayer have provided a peacefulness within our home, but the variance in viewpoints struck me.

You see, after several horrid years of nightmares and sleeplessness, I finally sat down, and wrote the name of each person negatively impacted by the hands of my abusers. It's sad to reflect that although one may feel that they were the only one harmed by an abusive individual, the reality is that typically, many children suffer at the hands of the same perpetrator. As my list grew, and my heart ached, it occurred to me in shocking clarity how many had died by their own hands. I truly had never connected the years, the people, and the consequences until I had forced myself to see the truth for what it was. So many beautiful people, who could no longer face the life they were left with. I missed each of them terribly, and yet: they were gone, vanished, their smiles never to be viewed again, and precious dialog forever closed.

And that's when I realized that my personal belief structure needed to change. I needed to amend my previous standards and the survival mechanism I had clung to for so many years. The danger was past....and I needed to accept that. I was free, and these dark thoughts are messages from the years that have preceded this moment in time. So many of my dear loved ones had opted out, had selected "option B", and had ended their lives. If I could do one thing to change all of the damage that had occurred, only one thing, what could it be?

I can continue to survive. I can release the messages from the past, and through the continuation of walking this healing path, prevent the next generation of children under my influence from any of the damage that we had experienced. And for the days when I believe that I am not worthy of life, then I shall look to those who have given theirs already, and shout aloud to that dark passenger that I will not be defeated. I will not be the last one to go......I shall survive, if only to honor the memory of so many innocent victims.

I still do not claim to be Buddhist, nor have I accepted any "traditional" belief structure. Yet, there are some things that I have embraced, and experienced a healing through. My husband has a poster with the 19 Instructions for Life that have been attributed to the Dalai Lama (although some argue that he did not preach this list, it really doesn't matter, as the message it contains is worth more than accurate accreditation to my way of thinking). As a family unit, we review these lessons frequently, and hold onto them as our familial value structure.

I recognize that this subject is not one typically discussed, and I admit that I have self harmed on many occasions: my arms display the scars for all to see. I have even been hospitalized. But, little by little, day by day, I have quieted that message from the past. I can recall that I am safe now, and for me: I am free. There are many who did not survive......and they shall not be forgotten.

Instructions for Life from the Dalai Lama:
1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, respect for others and responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go some place you've never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

 
 
It's Sunday.....and in Texas it's humid........okay, I'm going to stop complaining right now. We've just been told that husband will probably be sent to Louisiana next. Hmmmmm, I believe that's humidity central. Knock on all wooden heads out there that he get's this one, as it's at least a year long job......which means much longer since the company always under-estimates the time involved. Remember? Texas was supposed to be completed in March, then May, now......I don't know. They're wrapping it up though......The Louisiana job sounds like a lot of fun for husband.

Newspapers have put video up on the net of the Hogle zoo exhibit he worked on, but now with the animals having a blast! It's fun for the littles to watch, especially the polar bear exhibit.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXr6rWBswRo

I've been thinking a great deal of a quote I recently read. To be honest....the quote has stimulated so many thoughts, that I find it almost a challenge to put them down into a logical order. Alas, that's a good thing though: to read something that calls to your most inner parts, and provides a seed of thought that grows until it blossoms throughout your entire system.

To be honest, it's not just a single quote, but a quote within a paragraph that grabbed my attention. So strongly did it hit me, that I marked the paragraph with an explanation point.

" 'The soap in the bathroom, the flowers in the garden, the book on the bedside table are all strong symbols of a life in progress' notes write and interior decorator Charlotte Moss......'you look at these details and a world unfolds.' Each day you create yourself anew through choice. By paying attention to details- your authentic gestures-you give expression to the most personal of all the arts; making your own imprint on life" ("Simple Abundance" by Sarah Ban Breathnach)

My own imprint on life? What imprint have I left? For the moment, and for the last number of years, I have been uncovering and recognizing the imprints that others have left upon my life. Initially, it was the negative, the abuse, the violence, the neglect, the emotional fractioning of a small child and young adult. But what imprint have I left? The person I've become, free from the origins of dysfunctionality?

This reading, along with the "Life Questions" that my therapist has assigned me to study and answer have both brought to mind the same question: Who am I now? What imprint am I leaving in my wake? Who have I become?

So, after answering all of my therapist's life questions, and since I have completed this assignment so many times before the answers are almost painfully by rote.....I looked at the paragraph above. In detail, slowly savoring each word.

"The soap in the bathroom (oatmeal, by Yves St Laurent.....always has been my favorite, also a bar of Dove, as I love it's simplicity)......the flowers in the garden (well, we don't have a garden, we live in an apartment, however, I always take notice of this very, very small yellow flower that is found all over this area of Texas....so small, it's no bigger than the letter "o" typed......and sprinkled in just a few spots that one can easily walk past them. I often stop and simply take notice of their simple perfection.....so small, and yet, so determined to live. How many people walk by and step on these little yellow stars of delight, and yet they still exist? Their determination to survive amazes me almost daily).....the book on the bedside table....(well, that has always been the complete works of Jane Austin....wherever I travel, I bring my dearest friend "Jane" along)....are strong symbols of a life in progress."

A life in progress......that's certainly correct. But it was only when I truly thought of these individual things that I began to see my life 'in progress' as she says. My choice of soap, the book I favor, the flower I noticed.....all relatively simple things, and yet they do reflect who I am as a person. It was then that I began to look at the larger picture around me.....my entire abode. Granted we travel a lot, hence even more so, the things I choose to bring along with me are certainly 'imprints' of the person I am.

It was then that I noticed that I have consistently moved this one small, very simple jewelry case to every location. It was a gift from a dear friend, who came from Israel, who was a great painter like her father before her, who had suffered through many years in Auschwitz. This simple jewelry case reminds me of our friendship, and how much I learned from her. How much I admired her strength, and yet, she often commented that I was truly the strong one. We argued this point many times.....for she had served in the Israeli Army, had traveled the world, had experienced so much, and yet: she saw strength in me that I didn't.

I looked deeper, and noticed that I have several dragonflies carefully held in small cases......I had found them on one of my many walks through Utah, and only collect those that are dead already. Their beauty intrigues me, and their life cycle additionally calls to something way deep inside myself. For it's the larval stage of the dragonfly that feeds off of mosquitoes. The very creatures that seek to attack us as humans, these wee creatures feed off of. One would never know it, to look at their fragile beauty. They are my heroes of the insect kingdom, and often remind me that what you see often hides a much more powerful creature underneath.

Of course, as most people, I have a collection of photos saved throughout the years: representing special occasions or moments in time that I wish to cling to when grounding. They remind me often that time has passed.....and just as time has passed, I have changed.

Which leads to the final thought of that paragraph: "Everyday you create yourself anew by choice." By choice. What an empowering statement. By choice. So simple (which I like) and yet, very deep. As a child, I often had no choice in the matters at hand. As a young adult, again, choice was not something that was offered to me or even expected. BUT, as a free adult: I have a choice daily to determine the course my feet will follow, how my mind will function, and the decisions I make. For good, or bad, I have the opportunity, every single day: to create my world anew.

Quite profound to my way of thinking. I discussed these subjects with husband just yesterday, and he made a comment, which to me: was striking. He said: "You are incredibly strong person, I don't know why you don't see it. Don't you realize that you've created 8 of you to survive, you are not only a survivor, but you have made yourself stronger in the process."

Hmmmm, I never really thought about that. I have survived, and I've learned to honor that. But to become stronger in the process......well that thought had never occurred to me.

My son came out this morning, and said: "You look very soft and loving, but there is something inside you that people don't see. You are strong, stronger than even Dad......but you choose when to let that part of you out."

I choose? Really? Anyone struggling with the diagnosis of DID will argue that choice doesn't seem to be first place within the system. And yet, I must admit.....I do. I choose to be harsh or understanding with the children, I choose my words carefully when dealing with the general public, I choose with whom I associate, I choose daily who I am, and what I stand for. The entire system (thank goodness, after many years of battling) has chosen to cooperate together, and no longer views the world as a hostile environment destined to repeat the dangers of the past.

Perhaps, most astounding of all, is that every day, we choose to live. It seems simple, but as anyone who has suffered from self harm, or suicidal ideations understands: it can become quite a challenge to organize the entire psychological system into working for life, for the next day, for the future. I have come to believe that statements like the one mentioned in today's post; "Everyday you create yourself anew by choice" are a critical reminder for those dark moments. 

How true indeed........I know, beyond a doubt, that I am not the first woman to suffer at the hands of victimization, nor am I the first human to have been oppressed and damaged deeply for years on end. There are many men and women who have come before me. Perhaps the most astounding thing of all, is that they too moved past those events, and daily chose to create life anew for themselves.

Perhaps, that's why that simple jewelry box means so much to me.......and as I looked around, the few possessions I pack carefully each time we move, each hold a memory or a symbol of survival that I appreciate being surrounded by. There may not be many things, and most of them may be simple, but they truly define who I have become.

My imprint on the little world around me. It's a fascinating one that I had not taken the time to truly analyze.

So, while on the path to self-recognition, self-awareness, self-actualization.......each, obnoxiously redundant as to "the self", I have discovered a few things. I leave an imprint, that is unique and true to the person I am. How empowering is that concept! I have a choice, daily, to create "a world anew" for myself.

Have a good day everyone......

may this next week bring us all a bit o' peace.

Shelly

 
 
I've been working on the subject of ancient Rome for the boy's home schooling. Of course, with so many years involved, and two completely different children, I not only have to break down such a complex study, but also divide the historical timeline into sections. Right now, we're still "at the beginning", post-Greece (which they studied with delight) and now into the "founding of Rome". My obligation, as I see it, is to instill as many of the basic components as possible, so that they may build upon these as they mature. 

Hence, we're discovering that the Romans were credited with inventing concrete, a complex system of aqueducts, that they lived in "flats" (and no, Dante: a "flat" is not a skinny person, as he put on his test) and that we know these things through the study ofarchaeology. What I mean to say is that a few historical remnants are left for all to view, such as the Colosseum; but many more have been buried under layers of silt, clay and debris. People have continued to live within these areas, and have simply built new lives over the past. The study of course, must include the subject of mosaic tiles.

For the children I merely needed to show them photos of partial digs, with college interns painstakingly sweeping eons of soil away, gently uncovering extraordinary works of art. A few at-home art projects using tidbits of colored paper, and a simple template; and they were creating their own mosaic art pieces. Of course, within a few minutes we were able to discuss how "boring and repetitive" this task was, how many "tiles" still remained, and how large the template seemed to grow as they were filling it in. Now: imagine doing so as a slave, without pay, without credit, and the historical lesson continued.

Which led me to reflect this morning on the same subject, yet from a different perspective. So many of us with DID have felt as if we must uncover, or "dig up" the past in order to understand the present. In reality, that is true. Unfortunately this requires patience and time as we often uncover old wounds that are still festering and painful. It simply is not an endeavor that one can quickly accomplish, view, document and then move on from. Just as archaeology requires the painstaking work of removing layer after layer of the past, so does the very act of reflection as to our personal lives. In discovering who we are, and which contributions have made us the way we are....we must do so tenderly, with gentleness, for often the very act of "digging" becomes a re-traumatizing event in itself.

For myself, I recognize that I discovered a complex mosaic hidden deep inside of my very psyche......one which made little sense initially, but through patience and study, I have begun (just begun, mind you) to understand. Thousands upon thousands of fragmented memories, all connected to form the larger picture: that of myself.

And yet, when viewed from the perspective of DID, this analogy is rather quite accurate. Layers and layers of life, the everyday debris of existence has slowly covered over who I truly am. I am still here, but I am hidden beneath history. Is that where I want to be?

Dante, my oldest son, and the one who is apparently preparing to be a philosopher, made a statement while we were driving the other day. He was talking about Plato and Socrates, and the various viewpoints people have, all in the quest to answer questions that no one has quite yet defined an answer to. When, after a period of silence, (for which I was grateful for, terrible mom that I am!!) he said: "You know momma, the only thing that is real, is right now. Whooop! There it went. And now......whooop, there it went again. For once that second goes by, it becomes the past. The future we cannot touch. We can't change the past, and we can't touch the future, so the only thing that is "real" is right now. But it moves so fast, that it's almost impossible to grab."

And how true.....the present time is simply: here, and then fleetingly blends into the layers that become our "past". We really have very little power or control over anything but where we are right now. We can make choices within these seconds of time that impact the future, and hence leave marks upon the past, but to recognize that we truly do not have power and control over so much in life is truly humbling.

So....... I may be a unique and exquisite mosaic that has taken years to create. I may have been buried under the tonnage of filth left in the wake from individuals in my life, but in the here and now: that is who I am. This short period of time is all that I literally have any semblance of control over.

That very concept promotes a freedom I have previously failed to recognize.

Jane Austin wrote in her publication "Pride and Prejudice", to "think only of the past, that which memory brings you the most pleasure." Of course, when one reads the entire novel, it is clear that she is not referring to ignoring important life lessons. Instead, she is advising one as to how to live in the present moment: and how to make that moment as pleasurable as possible.

For that moment in time is the only thing we do have control over.

Have a wonderful day.......

Shelly


 
 
Last night an interesting combination of events occurred. The intersection of a wide variety of thoughts and emotions all triggered by something as relatively harmless as making supper.

The boys and I had been swimming for hours, and as it was approaching evening, I began to prepare dinner. I asked what they felt like, since the heat tends to destroy what appetite I do have. They said they wanted "a sandwich, with meat in it". Hmmmm, looking at the refrigerator, that was not exactly what I had in mind. A sandwich with meat in it.......well, they are always asking for homemade hamburgers, and I always say no. I have those ingredients, so I might as well make hamburgers.

Oh how delighted they were......all the way through supper, "thank you momma!", "how wonderful these taste momma!", "we didn't know you could make these momma!" over and over. One simple meal, and they were overjoyed.

And yet, all I could think was: I hate hamburgers. I seldom eat them when out dining, but when I do, I prefer sauted mushrooms and onions, and melted Swiss cheese......not the "standard" American hamburger, and certainly not what I was taught to make as a child.

That's when it occurred to me: I can't stand the smell. The grilling of the meat, the slightly smoky taste from grilling them, the ordinary catsup, mustard and mayonnaise combination. Every aspect, every component brings to mind images of the low educated, white trash, trailer park, dirty children, plastic wading pool, beer drinking family that I shrink from.

Which is interesting....first, to be so obnoxiously prejudice and stereotyping an entire culture (which is inaccurate to say the least), and second: that the issue of homemade hamburgers could bring this all to mind.

Ah, now there's the kicker. My therapist has mentioned delving into the subject of mindfulness. She's not the first therapist, nor counselor to suggest such a topic, in fact, I studied it deeply while in college. I'm well aware of why she has suggested the disection of mindfulness, for many who are diagnosed with DID, share a common tendency to not be fully aware of what they are sensing in the world around them. Due to extensive trauma, that part of the psyche has been shut down: to feel, to be aware of one's emotions, to simply be fully conscious of the world around us.

I thought for a moment about this idea, and truly wondered at the connection between homemade hamburgers and the embarrassing mental image that was immediately called to mind. Truly, what is the connection?

Well, it's relatively easy to state that yes, I grew up making hamburgers, within a dysfunctional familial unit, and therefore do not care for the smell. But, the fact that I was aware of the smell, brought to my attention the very essence of mindfulness.

My therapist, as many have, has handed me a sheet with over 21 questions on it, all in order to formulate a foundation of personal awareness. Basically the goal is to reach the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding that so many of us excercise regularly. "Notice 5 things you see, 4 things you smell, 3 things you can feel, 2 things........." We practice this in order to center ourselves in the present, and although lengthy, the questionaire she provided me meant to accomplish the same things, yet to a deeper level of consciousness.

"Describe yourself as a person" (What do you like most about yourself? What do you like least about yourself?"

"Describe your father. In one sentence, describe your father's life"

Of course the questions continue through the entire family unit, childhood experiences, personal standards and values, etc.....until you finally reach question number 21 (and are absolutely fed up with the intensity of the exercise).

And yet that is where mindfulness comes into play. How we FEEL. Well, we feel a lot of things, and many of them are unpleasant, hence we have learned to block these away, to release a Novocaine injection of a psychological sort that numbs our very mind from any sensory input.

I read a quote from George Elliot later that evening: "If we had keen vision and feeling for all ordinary human life it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's hear beat, and we should die of the roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walks about well wadded with stupidity."

What truly am I aware of around me? Although I despise the word "stupidity", I immediately connected it with my earlier biased thoughts regarding homemade hamburgers and the stereotypical "white trash" upbringing I cringe in reaction to. There was no denying that it was indeed "stupid" for me to formulate such a negative and inaccurate conclusion as a result of preparing supper. So, answer the question: What am I truly aware of around me?

And just as easily the memory came to mind of the smell of both of my boys when they were young. I literally would tuck them deep under my chin and inhale their fragrance.........there's something magical about how a new baby smells. It's not the baby powder, it's not the dryer sheets, or laundry detergent. It simply is the smell of a wee one's life.....his (or her) skin, the pure newness of everything about that precious 10 pound bundle.

I thought of the smell of garlic as it hits the hot pan, and how much I enjoy adding fresh herbs from the garden. Even now, the herbs may be store bought, but there is nothing in the world as fragrant to me as cumin when it responds to the heat. The aroma is pure joy, and communicates an absolute headiness I anticipate from the first moment I reach for the ingredient. I know, I can feel, I anticipate what I'm about to experience. That, in a nutshell: is mindfulness.

Rachel Carson says: "For the sense of smell, almost more than any other, has the power to recall memories and it's a pity that we use it so little."

It occurred to me then as well, that (as usual) I was watching the boys intensely while they were swimming, ensuring that I knew exactly where they were, that they were well behaved, and that they were safe. It wasn't until later, when I climbed into the pool with them, that I recognized their arms wrapped about my body. Their little faces, with missing teeth so unique to this age group, and I could almost see the babies they once were. Before I knew it, I had pulled them both in close, tucking their heads next to mine and inhaled: ahhhhh, there's that aroma. The smell of pure boy-ness mixed with chlorine, the macaroni and cheese they had for lunch, and a bit of my perfume. That: is mindfulness.

So, I may despise the fragrance of homemade hamburgers, but the reality is that for my children, the experience created a memory for them that was truly positive and will be heartwarming for years to come.

And, as much as I may display reluctance to answer all 21 questions......life isn't all about the negative memories. There are positive ones.....and it's time for me to start calling those to mind as well.

Have a wonderful day today everyone......

I'm going to take at least one moment today to recognize the sensation of something positive within my immediate environment. I'm going to ask myself: how does this smell? How does this feel? and perhaps most noteworthy of all: how shall I remember this?

Shelly


 

    Shelly Dowen-Johnson

    I am currently traveling with my husband across the United States, due to the nature of the work he does. 

    I am the mother of two boys, one who has recently been diagnosed with Early Onset Childhood Schizophrenia (Schizoaffective Disorder). 

    It appears the Dowen family gene sequencing contributes much more than the darling dimples both boys have inherited!  But, as always, with love, tender care and support....we will thrive! 

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