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The Fight For Yourself

Before I start this post, I wanted to thank everyone who gave me feedback from my last post. It’s great to see that I still have a readership despite being awol for the past year or two, and I’m glad to hear that people like my less informative posts, and were still down with seeing more of my shadow work stuff. So a lot of love to all of you ❤ and with that, now for the actual post…

Being chronically ill is frustrating.

Of course, many of you reading this know that, but it bears repeating all the same — being chronically ill is frustrating. It’s a constant uphill walk, filled with schedules and things you have to do, along with a lot of not-doing things that you want to do. It requires a lot of will power and discipline, which illness loves to collect from you as though it were extracting a fee. It also costs a lot of money and time to be sick all the time. I’ve lost track of how much dough and how many hours I’ve dumped into various doctors appointments, prescriptions, supplements, etc.

When you consistently hate yourself, this battle becomes even more difficult. You end up burning the candle at both ends — telling yourself that you need to do something, because its good for yourself and will make life more bearable, while simultaneously hating yourself for being sick all the time, for making your own experience on this planet even more difficult and frustrating.

Or at least, that’s how it has always been for me.

When I first started therapy, one of the first things that we discussed was the fact that I was so super mean to myself. I was always super critical of everything I did. I was very much like a non-stop version of this:

There is a reason why so many of us end up with this sort of negative internal self-talk. To pull from someone who knows more about this than me:

A flashback-inducing critic is typically spawned in a danger-ridden childhood home. This is true whether the danger comes from the passive abandonment of neglect or the active abandonment of abuse. When parents do not provide safe enough bonding and positive feedback, the child flounders in anxiety and fear. Many children appear to be hard-wired to adapt to this endangering abandonment with perfectionism.

A prevailing climate of danger forces the child’s superego to over-cultivate the various programs of perfectionism and endangerment listed below. Once again, the superego is the part of the psyche that learns parental rules in order to gain their acceptance.

The inner critic is the superego gone bad. The inner critic is the superego in overdrive desperately trying to win your parents approval. When perfectionist driving fails to win welcoming from your parents, the inner critic becomes increasingly hostile and caustic. It festers into a virulent inner voice that increasingly manifests self-hate, self-disgust, and self-abandonment.

The inner critic blames you incessantly for shortcomings that is imagines to be the cause of your parents rejection. It is incapable of understanding that the real cause lies in your parents’ shortcomings. […]

A traumatized child becomes desperate to relieve the anxiety and depression of abandonment. The critic-driven child can only think about the ways they are too much or not enough. The child’s unfolding sense of self (the healthy ego) finds no room to develop. Their identity virtually becomes the critic. The superego trumps the ego.

In this process, the critic becomes increasingly virulent and eventually switches from the parents’ internalized voice: “You’re bad” to the first person: “I’m bad”.

This is unlike the soldier in combat who does not develop a toxic critic. This process whereby the superego becomes carcinogenic is a key juncture where ptsd morphs into cptsd.

(you can read more quotes from Walker’s CPTSD book here.)

In Kemetic circles, you will often hear about how one should “not eat their heart.” In a way, its saying not to devour yourself, to destroy your own essence. Arguably, it’s working against ma’at to eat your heart on a regular basis. It undermines your health, your life, and what the NTRW have given you. Yet for someone like me, eating my heart was all I seemed to be doing. It didn’t look like it on the surface, but deep down, I have always been mean and nasty to myself. I’ve always been bitter at my own limitations, at my own body, at not being what I thought I wanted to be (truthfully, I don’t think I even know what I wanted to be… back to not really having a clear goal of where I’m even going.) I think chronic illness adds another layer to all of this hell because it gives you even more “reasons” to hate yourself, and the society we live in often reinforces that hatred (because western culture doesn’t seem to like disabled people much.)

If my body is a microcosm of my world, and I were to translate how I treated myself to how the NTRW run the Duat, it’d be a case of only going to battle a/pep whenever it suited me. The citizens would cry out in the streets about how isfet was devouring the outer edges of our land, and I’d begrudgingly pick up my spear and bemoan about how I have to go do this yet again to keep our land safe. I’d be the most obnoxious “savior” anyone had ever met. And because of my lack of speed to even help battle a/pep, I’d then have to spend more resources cleaning up the damage after the fact. All because I wasn’t really in it to win it. My heart was gone, for I had eaten it. I wasn’t really fighting for myself as much as I was just… going through the motions and hoping it would work out.

And if we flip that narrative, how would you feel if you saw the gods drag their feet and get huffy every time they needed to go smite isfet? Would you have a lot of confidence in them? Would you want to put your energy into helping or backing them? Or would you be more inclined to not get involved? I suspect a lot of us would waver at the sight of our gods acting like that, and on an internal level, the same thing happens to our neglected selves, our inner children that watch our adult selves shirk off responsibilities and only half-assedly dole out love to our own beings, our own selves. As my inner child told me very early on in therapy, “You care more about your astral self than you do me. Why should I even talk to you.”

If there is one thing I could stress to everyone reading this, it’s that you have to be on your own side in order to win a fight against yourself (and by that, I mean, win a fight against your inner critic.) You can’t be passive in your love of yourself and expect to make headway in loving yourself.

I’m sure many of you are now saying “well that’s all good and well, but I don’t know how to stop hating on myself.”

The method that we used is rooted in the notion of having options. A major factor in PTSD and learned helplessness is the feeling of having no options to take. When we don’t perceive ourselves as having options, we feel like there is nothing we can do, that we are powerless; and often times it means that we don’t even give it an honest shot to try and be successful. The perception of having options (and therefore control in your life) is vital to moving forward.

We often generated options by asking ourself “well, what else might be true?” To give you a more concrete example, we often call ourselves lazy. When you find yourself saying “I didn’t finish it because I’m lazy”, you could ask yourself “what else might be true about that statement?” And you may very well realize that you’re not actually lazy, but are downright tired from a spoon shortage.

Another example might be “everyone hates me” converted into “I feel like everyone hates me.” One is a statement of absolutes, the other allows the possibility that maybe it’s not as bad as it feels right now.

The way that really made this concept stick for me was to step back from myself and go “if I was someone else looking in on me now, would I believe this is true?” Usually I am more forgiving of other people’s shortcomings and problems. I’m more able to be understanding and be lenient, to remind someone that they’re going through a lot, that they’re doing the best that they can. And in turn, I should be doing the same with myself.

I’ve found that this method works best with multiple people to help point out when you’re being mean to yourself. Very often, me and my SO will quip “what else might be true” or “why are you being so mean to yourself” whenever we start with the negative self-talk. It’s been very helpful for noticing those behaviours so that I can work to correct them.

If we believe that heka is an Important Thing, then we believe that our words have power and weight. And as such, we should therefore believe that mean words to ourselves are essentially our own internal execrations thrown against our own hearts. The more we execrate ourselves, the more salted the ground becomes, the less effective we become at everything. We are all amazing hekau — when it comes to execrating ourselves.

I propose that 2018 become the year that we master our internal heka, you know, the internal messages that we tell ourselves. That we truly start to fight for our own well being, for our own needs. That we open up to the possibility that we are not the pieces of shit our world has taught us to believe that we are. That we hold each other accountable, and ask each other to not be so mean to ourselves. That we help each other see our goodness and strong points. That we quit using our energy to break ourselves down, and instead utilize it to build ourselves up.

What untruthful things do you say about yourself? Have you considered whether negative self-talk could be damaging your relationship with yourself and your life? Will you end up working to create more options about how you talk about yourself?

Relevant Posts:

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Carving Out a Space

I had an awful dream last night.

In this dream, I was taken place to place by other people, not exactly following but not exactly leading, but ending up in situations not of my choosing where I always seemed to meet pain. Sometimes this pain was the form of people trying to get me to leave. Other times it was a more literal pain where I was being made to carry something with pins sticking out of it. In every situation, I may initially try to fight back, to draw a boundary out for myself and declare my needs and safety, but every time that declaration was ignored and met with more testing of those very same bounds. While the dreams were largely nonsensical, when I reexamined them upon waking, I found that there was a lot of my own experiences in them. A lot of me wandering around life, being forced to exist in a way I didn’t like, and never finding a way to really claim or enforce what I’ve needed.

When my health tanked, it took my ability to dream with it. I mean that in about every sense of the word “dream” — in that I no longer dreamed while asleep, and I no longer had any dreams while awake. I lost all purpose. I lost all direction. Upon starting EMDR treatment, my dreams returned to me, albeit in a patchy sort of sense. And upon switching over to Brainspotting therapy, my dreams have turned this sort of hectic mess of pieces and parts all taped together in a slightly incoherent fashion. I believe it’s my brain trying to grapple with the situation that I’ve found myself in. I think it’s trying to process while I’m asleep, to find a way to accept what is around us.

Acceptance is a common theme in therapy as of late. My therapist urged me to consider finding a way to use my voice to find some acceptance with my past. I’ve never really liked the word acceptance — it’s often been used as a bludgeoning tool (right up there with ‘forgiveness’) where people are actually less concerned with my acceptance of a given situation, but are more concerned with me being quiet so that they can be comfortable again. They don’t care if I actually accept a given situation, they only care that it appears like I’ve accepted it so that they can move on.

Further, the off-shoot to “acceptance” is usually “letting go.” “We need to find a way for you to be able to let go of your past trauma,” she’d tell me. However, the notion of letting go of something I’ve kept so close to my chest for all these years invoked a panic within me. The idea of losing the only thing that I do have, however painful it might be, was too much. And some portion of myself just couldn’t bear the notion of letting go as being a good thing.

In light of this, we have begun to call it “changing my relationship with” or “coming to terms with” instead. How can I find a way to change my relationship to what I’ve experienced. How can I come to terms with what I’ve been through, and yet still make a path for myself that is more enjoyable and content than where I’ve previously been. There is no pressure to feel things I don’t feel (acceptance) and there is no pressure that I’ll have to endure more loss through “letting go.”

Of course, the next question stirring in my brain was: how can I find a way to enforce those boundaries that I tried so very hard to grapple with in my dreams? How can I find a way to reject the pain that others repeatedly thrust and forced upon me while still maintaining some amount of relationship with them?

My therapist suggested that instead of focusing on the how, I spend more time looking at what it looks like and feels like to be in that space, that space of acceptance and understanding. I thought about that for a couple of weeks and came up with an incomplete list of what I imagine it would be like to be free of my past:

  • I would no longer be bound by fear and anger from my past.
  • If confronted with similar abuse or situations that mirror my past trauma, I would be able to maintain a clear head and stay present in the moment with minimal inner turmoil/upset.
  • I would be able to interact with people who are similar to my abusers and not carry their baggage home with me.
  • I’d be able to define my needs and enforce them. I’d be able to enforce boundaries as needed and leave situations that don’t serve me without guilt.
  • I’d be able to live the life I want, without feeling pressured to be what my abusers wanted me to be.

While I expect this list to grow and become more involved as I get further on this path, it at least gave me an end goal to reach for. It gave me a sort of destination or target to try and hit.

And more importantly, it gave me a mental image of where I want to be, and I’ve been using this mental image when I feel myself becoming worked up by my trauma. I’ve found that when I start to get caught in old trauma-based patterns, I can ask myself “is this where I ultimately want to be? Does this look like what I expect my new relationship with my past to look like?” and if the answer is no, I can try to realign myself to what I am looking for in myself. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but all in all, it seems to be helping.

Ultimately, though, this is leading up to what I am calling “carving a space.”

In an attempt to figure my own situation out, I have been watching other people’s experiences in regards to changing their diets and dealing with depression and chronic pain. A set of videos that has stuck with me are the few that Simona and Martina have released about her chronic pain and her subsequent depression. In her mind, there is a practice that she calls “building a ladder,” which is basically where she wakes up in massive pain, and tries to build herself a ladder out of the pit she woke up in. I could understand what she meant, even if it didn’t quite work for me. But as the weeks have gone on since watching that video, I have found what has begun to work for me — carving a space.

In my dream, I was a passive participant in everything going on. I only chose to speak up or act with initiative upon receiving pain, and with any amount of pushback, I would quickly devolve into sadness and anxiety. I was never good at enforcing what I need in the face of adversity. In many ways, my life has also been this way. I have felt like I’ve had no options, and that I was always stuck to the whims of the world around me. And while it’s true that children often don’t have options, as an adult, I have more choices and more freedom to create a life that I want, not one I was thrust into.

Of course, there are some things that can’t be changed very readily. For instance, I can’t easily move from this location. The idea of being in a place that is near the ocean or green and wet has always appealed to me, but I will likely never be able to do that on a permanent basis. The most I can hope for is to visit such places. Similarly, I am stuck in my body, for better or worse. While the difficulties that come with having this body are challenging and frustrating, at the same time, I need to find a way to work with my body because it’s the only one I have. Or in other words, I understand that I have options, but sometimes my options aren’t feasible or reasonable anytime soon. As such, I need to learn to work with what I have to get what I want.

Carving a space originated (for me) during a session with another person, wherein they were shown an image of their body. Their body was not shaped in a way that made living inside of their body easy. It was the equivalent of trying to fit your foot in a shoe that is 3 sizes too small. The metaphor here was trying to communicate that this person needed to find a way to make their body fit them better — through whatever means was best for them. Whether that meant exercising or taking better care of their body, or decorating it in a way that felt more genuine — they needed to find a way to mold their body to fit their actual shape.

I began to look at my life in the same way. It’s a shape that has been partially formed by others, and is partially beyond my control. However, I am able to work to carve out a me-shaped space in my life that makes life more bearable, more livable. This began with looking for things that made me happy, and partaking in those joys whenever I could. I began drawing again simply because it brought me joy. I began to do things that were only for me, and didn’t necessarily suit anyone but myself.

I have slowly begun to expand this practice to things I don’t necessarily want to do, but know that will ultimately help me do things that I want to do. For example, I want to begin backpacking so that I can go to parts of the state that are greener and have more water. And to be able to do that, I need to work on improving my health and stamina so that I can walk longer and go further. In the meantime, I visit smaller places that have things I enjoy, such as ponds that have ducks and other birds, to keep my brain happy with what is readily available to us in the here and now.

I feel like I have spent the majority of my life building things for others. Working to help others improve their lot and get to better places. For once, though, I am taking the time to improve things for myself. In a sense, it’s a matter of committing myself to the fact that I am alive here in this place, and that this is a life worth investing my time into.

For years, I have pondered on the notion of using the Self, your own body, person and life, as a shrine to devotion that can ultimately serve the gods. In a way, I think this is a part of that. I can’t claim to be a shrine for the gods and not take care of that shrine. I can’t claim to be living to the fullest for their sake if I’m not even willing to invest in myself, in my own life. I can’t expect to serve as a useful shrine, or even devotee, if I’m spending every day miserable, wishing my life was something that it’s not (or wishing that I was dead). Nor can I wait anymore for the currents of life to take me to a destination that is better. Instead, I’m finding it’s easier and more fulfilling to try and get there myself. To carve into the life that I have, and make it more livable and suitable for my needs. In a way, it’s like decorating my house, finally putting some paint on the walls and investing in furniture. It’s reminding myself that life doesn’t always have to be awful, and that I don’t have to always take what is thrust upon me.

I’m not entirely there yet, and I’ve still a long way to go to really truly embracing that on all levels, but I think I’m at least taking the first steps to getting there. And every journey has to start somewhere.

What do you think about carving space into your life to make it more enjoyable? Do you find it hard to invest in yourself or your life? What ways or methods could you use to change that?

**As a post-script, I would like to know if any of my readers would find any benefit in more posts like this that discuss either where I’m at along this journey, or what I’ve learned from therapy that you yourself may find useful in your own life. Or would you rather things stay more Kemetic/pagan driven? Thoughts?

 

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The Page Turns

This past weekend marked my last therapy visit. I had thought long and hard over the past two weeks about what I would do in regards to therapy, and currently I feel that I need to focus on my physical problems. And once my physical issues are sorted out, I can begin to work on my innards again. I explained my stance to my therapist, and she seemed to understand and support my decision. While I’m sure on some levels she wishes I would have tried the route she suggested, I feel that this is the path I must take. To go any other way besides this would not be true to myself. And above all, I try to stay true to me.

So to fill some of you in, I believe I have narrowed down (finally!) what is wrong with me. In the past month since I have moved, I have begun to eat better and better. And by better, I mean I’m not eating McDonalds every night. As I cleaned up my diet, I began to see more patterns in my body’s reaction to food. I noticed that vegetables hurt my stomach horribly. I learned that noodles still didn’t sit well. Things like that. And so I turned to the Internet again, as I always do, to see if I could find something that linked all of these things. And ironically, there is something that is a common theme:

Fructose.

There is something called Fructose Malabsorption. Basically, it means that your body doesn’t absorb the fructose like it should. And so the fructose travels down into the lower parts of your digestive tract where all of your little bacteria can munch on it. These bacteria eat the fructose, and begin to create waste- which is usually in the form of a gas. This gas creates bloating, gas, and pain (among other things- people’s symptoms run the gamut). The more fructose you feed these guys, the more they procreate, and next thing you know, your gut is overrun with them. If not kept in check, the condition can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, apparently.

The good news for this is, after only a few weeks without fructose, I feel a TON better. The bad news is, everything has fructose in it. Most vegetables, most fruits. Wheat. Brown rice. Agave. Honey. Garlic. All sorts of stuff. So finding things to eat has been a challenge. And the next step for me will be to see a dietician/nutritionist to ensure that I am able to get enough nutrients. And from there, I’m not sure what I will do. But hopefully there will be an upward trend for my health.

In regards to therapy, I am very glad that I went. I learned a lot about myself in the past 6 months, and I feel like my horizons have been broadened. I no longer approach things in the same way that I did before, and I think overall it’s been a good shift for me. For anyone considering hypnosis or therapy, I’d tell them to go for it. Just to make sure you have a therapist that you meld with, and that you can trust them. Because if you lack trust, your sessions won’t be nearly as fulfilling. Hypnosis has done me wonders with focus and meditation. I can now walk through the beginnings of the hypnosis my therapist would walk me through every session, and enter into the same state where I can begin to work on things. It’s really interesting.

I’m really excited to see how this will change things for me. The possibility of being able to function normally, and not be in pain on a regular basis is an awesome thought for me. And while I’m sad to see therapy go (for the time being) I do look forward to seeing where this next branch will take me.

 

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Two Sides at War

This weekend marked another visit to the therapist. And for the first time, I felt like we were cutting to the heart of something. Like we had tapped something that was important. As I sat in the chair, all I could really hear in my head was finally! And what’s most ironic about this is, it almost didn’t happen.

I went into the office, and we sat down to talk. She told me that I looked different. That she could see it on my face. That I was happy. That something had changed a bit. Because of this, she felt I didn’t have to talk about anything if I didn’t want to. We didn’t have to work on anything if I’d rather pocket the money and come back in a few weeks. However, I didn’t want to leave it at that. I didn’t want to pat myself on the shoulder and consider it done. I wanted to push through.

So we talked.

We started out on my new place. This happiness that is occurring, which stems from the new place. The newness of it all is keeping me active. Keeping me busy. Apparently it’s making me happier- even though I can’t feel a difference. And I think that statement right there sums up everything.

I am happier, but I don’t feel happier.

This set the tone for the rest of the session.

As we all know, I have two sides. And I have been working to make my two sides, my two halves, whole. According to last week’s session, one side of me is cock-blocking the other side. I am getting in my own way. In the session, we labeled one side as the ego. My ego is the one doing the tripping. The other side is my Soul. The Soul is what I am supposed to be listening to. The one I should be following. But I’m not. This is due to the ego telling me all sorts of useless and often times false information. It tells me I’m not happy. It tells me what I do and don’t want (see my post about breathing). It tries to make all of the rules for me. And the ego only backs down once it’s been pushed back, or once it thinks it’s set the ‘rules’ and therefore it’s job is done. The Soul on the other hand is more calm. It’s got it’s shit in order. However, it’s a lot quieter, a lot harder to hear. And apparently, once you really start to work with that side of yourself (she called it a “Soul-led life”) you lose control. You quit trying to control things, trying to be the master of everything, and you just are. You be. Which, for a control freak such as myself, is a tall order (not to mention how little the ego likes this idea as well). It also seems that part of the reason why I “get” things, yet can’t apply them is because my Soul knows something, but my ego doesn’t allow me to apply it, or feel it. It doesn’t allow me to live a lot of what I say.

And really, I find this sad that I don’t feel things. I don’t know when I’m happy. I don’t necessarily know when I’m excited. I always keep my emotions in tight range (well, the happier emotions. I seemingly have no issues with getting angry out in public). And I do wonder if this habit of keeping emotions locked up is part of why I don’t feel so much anymore. Sure, I know when I’m angry and frustrated. I know when I’m sad or down. But I don’t know when I’m happy. I know of things that make me happy, but when I’m doing those things, I don’t feel the happiness there. I deny myself happiness.Which comes to one of the statements we used in this session:

I have no choice but to be sick because I don’t deserve to be fully alive.

We discussed this statement. Why I don’t deserve to be alive. I told her I have no clue where it came from. I’m so damned alive, I can’t imagine wanting to die (even though there was a time when I felt that life wasn’t worth living). She wondered if this was some remnant of some past issue I had.

We also discussed my relationship with my SO. She feels that this move makes us work together. Moving stuff, coordinating where to put items, how to pack stuff, unpack stuff, etc. makes us do things together. It makes us communicate. And that is part of why I’m happier too.

And of course, I don’t really feel that either.

I told her that I was still battling the desire to do a million things at once. That I was being good, and trying to do little to nothing when I’m tired, but I was struggling with telling myself to calm down and rest. I want to do everything I can. All the time. And of course, this interferes with my relationship sometimes because I’d rather go sew, or work on some craft or another than sit with my SO and cuddle or something similar.

So two homework assignments came out of this.

First, I need to create a list of everything I want to do. Everything. Ever. Then I need to break it into short term projects, medium term projects, and long term projects. She feels that this will help me organize my brain and prepare for when I actually get time to do side projects again. Second, I need to create a list of things I can do with my SO on a regular basis to keep this connection going. I am to break this list up into free, low cost, medium cost, high cost, etc. Then we have to decide how we’re going to keep this whole connection thing going on. I more or less need to figure out how I’m going to balance my relationship with my millions of side projects. And I need to stick to it. SO needs to take priority.

So then we went back to the ego thing. My ego is causing me problems. She asked me if I really wanted to work on listening to my Soul and less on my ego. She noted that deep down, I’m afraid of losing control. Afraid of what will happen when I simply let go. However, despite these fears, I would say that I want to continue on this path. I want  to see where it leads. I want to ‘jump off the cliff’ as it were. I don’t like that I always seemingly need to be in control. That I have to have my fingers in everyone’s pies. I don’t want to be that person that micromanages everything and everyone in a 5 mile radius. I just don’t want that. And while it might be scary, it might be a bit nerve wracking, I’d like to see where this leads. She then asked my soul if it was ‘ready to do war’. Apparently it is, and it seems this will be the next chapter of work for me.

I am much happier when my Soul is guiding me.

It would seem the first step to working on this is to continue relaxing. She says that my ego is rather busy with the move, with getting stuff done. It has enough to focus on that it’s willing to sorta leave me alone for the time being. So if anything, this is a great time to work on things in the background as it were. And as always, relaxation is important. It helps me to let go, to work on my focusing and relaxation techniques discussed in the Breathing post. And I imagine the more I relax, the easier it will be to hear my Soul talking to me. A phrase to sum the relaxation up is:

I am relaxed and enjoy giving and receiving positive touch.

Apparently this will help me somehow. The hypnosis we did relates to sex, connection and my SO. So perhaps that’s how the phrase is relevant, but I can’t help but feel like there is more to it than this. I’m not a touchy person. I don’t care for being touched. I was rarely touched in my youth, and even now I’m particular about who touches me. Perhaps this is a wall that needs to be examined for other possible ideas, meanings, etc.

The hypnosis wasn’t much for me this week. I laid there, stood on the tenth floor of the building of relaxation. It was empty as always. I took the elevator in the center of the floor. Rode it down to the bottom. I noticed this time I was in a nice black suit. For whatever reason. I started to walk down the hallway, opened the door… and she talked to me. In the beginning, she had me place outdated ideas, fears and concepts into this whirlpool. And after a moment of looking at these useless items in the whirlpool, I was to pull a plug out, and watch these unneeded items leave me. I stood and watched. Sometimes the water was in a tub, then it might shift to a large, round room. Then it would go to being an ocean… and back and forth between these various ideas. After that, I don’t remember a lot of imagery. There were shades of red, black, and skin tone. But honestly, not a lot of images. The hypnosis itself consisted of more or less opening the 5 senses to your partner. Which I suppose would help me to actually do more with him, and find more ways to connect with him.

All in all, it was an interesting session. I feel like I’m finally getting to stuff that is more important. I’ve cut through some of the crap, and I’m starting to work on things that really matter. Of course, everything we’ve worked on matters. Every little step that I take forward is helpful. But for whatever reason, I can’t shake the feeling that this is bigger somehow. That this will change things for me in a larger way. I hope I’m right.

I can also say that the more I work on things, the more I don’t always trust what my brain tells me. I’m slowly beginning to see how sometimes we feed ourselves lies. We coddle ourselves. We tell ourselves things that make it better for the moment, but ultimately ends up hurting us in the long run. I have a friend who told me once that life is filled with lies. Lies we tell ourselves, lies we’ve been told. Lies which don’t appear to hurt on the surface, but can do deeper damage below. The more I head down this path, the more I begin to understand what she told me. The more I start to examine things differently (even within myself and my own thinking) the more the world begins to shift. All I can really say is that it’s interesting how the perspective changes.

 
 

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The Gift of Breath

Last week’s therapy session left me a lot to mull over. I left there with a lot of questions, a lot of doubts, and a big ol pile of ‘I don’t know’. All in all, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with any of it. However, after a week of sorta mulling it over (only sorta, because my schedule has been hectic with the move) I’ve not made a lot of progress. However, there is something I can say with complete certainty:

I love the act of breathing.

When I was first told to breathe when my brain started to freak out, I kinda laughed. I scoffed at the idea. “Really? My brain is on OVERDRIVE when this happens, and you expect my breathing and counting to ten to solve it? Please.” I spent a lot of time after my last session talking with people on how I could get my mental flurries under control. And ironically, every single suggestion that was given to me made me laugh. I scoffed at all of it. I thought it was all stupid. Even some of my most trusted friends gave me advice that I mentally laughed at. I really couldn’t understand why I was so adverse to fixing my issues. However, because one of my friends was really adamant about how it would help, I decided to do it anyways, even though my brain was totally telling me that this was entirely stupid and a waste of time.

So I began to breathe. I also began to try my friend’s technique of relaxing and focusing at night. And I can say that the few times I’ve done both of these (see statement of hectic schedule above) has made a difference already. Many times I will feel a surge of emotion coming on, and I will begin to breath and count. Sometimes, I won’t even get to 5 before I feel better. There are times when I will be on two, and my mind will try to go back down the emotional path, and I’ll have to start over again at one. It’s not perfect yet, but it is helping.

Breathing is awesome.

I think this raises an interesting point, though. Sometimes your brain is wrong. And last week, my brain was totally throwing a temper tantrum about breathing, about focus, about giving up the emotional roller coaster that I had been on for the past few weeks. Now mind you, I’m not out of the woods yet, but I think it’s a step in the right direction. And this whole point really sticks in my mind, because I wonder where I’d be had I not listened to my friend. Did what she said and actually tried everything. Many times in Kemeticism/Paganism, we hear a lot of people talking about doing ‘what feels good’. “I don’t do that, because it doesn’t feel right to me”. Well what if your brain is making you feel things that are counter productive? What if your mind is being a three year old who wants candy, and will make you feel (and therefore do) things that are unproductive until you give it that candy? Watching my reactions this past week has really made me think about this.

I haven’t made a lot of ground on my other assignments, but I think the mental clarity will really help me to start understanding the other things on my plate. Slow and steady wins the race. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to breathe.

 

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The Wave Rises

Last weekend was another therapy session. This time we were in the new office. It was nice to have a change in scenery.

We started the session off by discussing our new apartment. There are issues with the apartment that me and my SO have issue with, and she discussed with me how there is perfection in imperfection. Sometimes, we try so hard to create this pretty picture that is in our head, and in so doing, we end up making things even worse. Which I can understand. Luckily, my SO has gotten a bit more laid back about the state of the apt. Hopefully that will be resolved soon.

After discussing that, I brought up a topic that has been bothering me for a long time now. It’s some weird ‘ailment’ that I’ve had since I was probably a child, but I’ve learned to ignore it more or less. On 3-11, I went to a film screening relating to the Great East quake in Japan. It was a documentary not only showing footage during the tsunami, but also showed how Japan and the Japanese have dealt with the loss and destruction that was wrought. It was painfully sad to watch, yet inspiring in other ways. I knew before going that I might have an issue with it. That I might have an emotional breakdown in the middle of the theatre. However, I went anyways. I went for a friend, and I was kinda interested in seeing what the movie was about.

And in retrospect, I am glad I went, and I regret that I went. It was very bitter sweet, the whole thing. I am glad for what the movie gave me- which is perspective. It showed me how I should be grateful for more. How many of us are missing the point entirely. We are so caught up in all of these physical trappings… and for what? To watch these people’s lives completely torn apart by this huge wave… it really shifted how I view things. In the documentary, there was a guy who lost his life over his car. Instead of running up the mountainside with his friend (to escape the ever rising wave), he ran back to he new car- because it was new and expensive. And this guy watched his best friend die. Over a car. I think this really embodies what a lot of people I know are like. We are so caught up in our stuff, we miss the real meaning of being here.

So for that, I am glad I went.

However, the first 5 – 10 minutes of the movie is real footage that a group of Japanese captured from a hillside. You watch this water roll in. And roll in. And roll in some more. You think it’s going to stop, but it never does. You listen to these people screaming for their lost family members (because they know that their family members are now under that water somewhere). You watch these people running up the hill to try and get away, only to have them sucked up by the wave. It leaves a mark. It left such a mark on me, I can’t even think about it without getting upset.

And it is this that I wanted to talk to her about. For many many many years now, I’ve had an issue where I have these waves of overpowering emotions. Sometimes it will be triggered by a movie such as this, or it will be triggered by something as simple as a song on the radio (some of which are not sad songs, and other songs I don’t even know the words to, yet I have a reaction). Other times, I will have this wave while reading an article in the newspaper (and sometimes the articles aren’t sad, or it’s a happy spin on a sad story). People can tell me stories, and I get upset. And I mean really upset. And while I’m sure that everyone else in that theatre was sad to see that movie, I would be surprised if many of them shed tears over it nearly every day for the week following.

When I told her about this issue I have, she told me that I have extreme empathy (specifically, extreme empathy for pain and suffering). I have no clue if this is what I have. Most people I know with empathy react to people around them. They feel the emotions around them, or people they are close to… and I don’t know if that’s what I’ve got. It almost seems that anything with a strong emotional background or footprint makes me react. I wish it wouldn’t. It’s debilitating. She continued this by saying that everything is controlled by karma. The bad has to balance out the good. And that until I could really accept the balance, I would continue to have problems. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that. I can’t justify killing 15,000 people with a tsunami. I don’t care who they were in their past lives. I do believe that bad things happen. Sometimes they happen for good reasons (to cause good changes in the world) and sometimes they just happen without any reason at all. I also grasp that in order for life to continue, things have to ultimately die, or be destroyed. Art is all about destruction and creation. And in order to fuel my body, I must kill things (plant, animal or otherwise). So I understand this exchange, but I don’t know what part it plays in my emotional roller coaster. Nor what to do about it.

After we discussed that, we started the hypnosis. It was to help me calm down and to realize that I need to take a break and have me time from time to time. I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about it. I didn’t zonk out for this hypnosis, but I don’t remember a lot of imagery being associated with it. I remember the key part of the hypnosis was to breath. When things start to upset me, I need to breath. Which is easier said than done. Specifically, I need to breath and count to ten. Long breaths, so it’s more like counting to 30.

My other homework assignment was to look at my relationship. To see how we complete each other, how we play off of one another. How we push each other to grow, etc. I have a basis for this (I know there are a lot of ways in which my SO has caused me to grow and change for the better), but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be looking at it from another angle, or something else. I imagine it’ll become clearer in time.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Astral, Crack, Hypnosis & Inner Work

 

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The Joy of Eating.

Last night was interesting for me.

I went to bed early, as I have been instructed to do (as per this post). I had created a list of things I needed to do this weekend before I laid down in an effort to stay my mind from drilling me over all of the stuff I “should” be doing (or just flat out reminding me of what I need to do in the coming days despite the fact that I have told my brain time and time again that I’ve got it covered). I laid there for a bit, and as my mind traveled, it wandered to one of the worst topics it could find for sleeping – money and food.

It is easy to see how my brain got there. It was telling me about how I needed to call the power company before our move-in date. Then it told me how sad it was that I hadn’t had the chance to work on the laundry list my second job has given me so that I would have cushion to pay my move-in fees. And then it had to throw in “and you’ve eaten out so much, it’s not like you’ve saved any money there either”.

And in a single moment, a dam had broken in my mind. Suddenly, there was the roar of hundreds or thousands of mes chasing down this topic. It was deafening in my mind listening to all of this rabble about what I eat, how I should eat, how I’m killing our bank account, how I should be better, how I should stop, how I could stop… on and on and on and on.

Eventually, I got so frustrated with the roar, I decided to get up. I couldn’t handle it anymore.

I had let my Other know what was up, and he dropped what he was doing to sit with me. I don’t know what had snapped in my mind, but as he prepped a pot of tea for me to drink, I sat on the floor and let tears fall. I don’t really know where they were coming from, but they came and I didn’t have any real reason to stop them. In retrospect it really feels like something ‘broke’. Almost like I hit a level, or reached the next level, or uncovered something in my brain… something, and now all hell has broken loose. It’s like I’ve fixed the first layer of issues, and now my brain has decided it wants to go deeper. And ironically in a matter of a few hours, my body went from feeling great to feeling like it used to- in pain and not cooperating with me. Ironic how the mind can effect our health.

I’ve run my brain over this a million times, and I want to post it here – partially to get my thoughts in order, and partially to see if anyone has any effing clue as to what I could be doing about this.

As most of you probably know, I have problems with food. I use it to medicate, to fill holes. I have discussed it off and on with my therapist, but I have yet to really figure out the trick to eating in, or eating better. I can tell myself until I’m blue in the face that I need to this or that, but in the end, I have yet to ‘will’ myself into doing what I seemingly feel I should be doing (and my therapy seems to imply that the key to dealing with this issue is to face my pain, to deal with my pain. Too bad I’m not sure what that pain is, or how to deal with it). So based off of last night, here is what I sorta have figured out. This might include stronger language, words that my therapist would probably tell me not to say or think about myself. But honestly, I think something gets lost when I filter out the real strength of the emotions I feel regarding this. So I’m leaving those words in. Here goes.

What I have figured out –

I have figured out that my eating is strongly related to stress. When I get stressed, I suddenly want to eat out more. Lots more. I’ve figured out that, in relation to last week’s session about expectations about myself (and what I feel I should be doing or need to be doing at any given moment) that I have a LOT of expectations about what I feel I should be eating. And when I do eat out, I really down on myself for doing so. I’ve had to learn to not spew this out, because it makes my SO feel like crap as well. He feels cock blocked because if he makes me eat in, and eat things I don’t want to eat, I’m a bear to him. And if he lets me eat out, I turn the whole event into some shit fest about how “we really need to get this under control”. It’s pretty much lose lose for both of us. And while I’m curbing how much of it he sees, I’m still thinking it to myself.

This brought me to an interesting idea this past week as we were on our way to go eat out. Something I’ve been learning in therapy is that everything (generally speaking) is a choice. No one forces food in my mouth. I choose to eat out. And despite all of my talk about owning up to decisions (such as in the Cliff post), I am horrible at owning up to the fact that I eat out. Sure, I’ll tell you about how we do it all the time, but I will rarely take responsibility while I’m in the act of doing it. This has to stop. As I read what little I could find about eating in more, I found an interesting article (here) about how the first step is to give yourself permission to eat. And really, I don’t. I completely down on myself for eating out. One could go so far to say I hate myself when I eat out.

And I eat out pretty damned often. So put those two together.

So I know there is a lot of ground in purely knowing these few things. I know my mentality towards food has to change. Food is necessary, and once upon a time I loved to eat. However, that has shifted to thinking that food is a chore, and I can say that most of the stuff I eat isn’t very yummy to me. My range of foods that I like (and can eat) has dropped significantly in recent years, and it is stunting my ability to find foods that I can make at home or even buy at restaurants. It’s really frustrating. I know that deep down I could probably force myself to eat things I don’t like, but realistically it’s not effective. I’ve done the whole ‘make a menu for the week’ thing, and if I get home and don’t like what I’ve slated for that day, I decide I don’t want that, and I eat out. And anymore, I can’t find 7 meals to string together for dinners… and that’s an issue too.

I mean, I’ve got a whole shelf of recipe books and I can honestly flip through them and say that nothing sounds very appealing. Am I just being a spoiled 5 year old who needs to be forced to eat things? Or is it something deeper? Of course, most of the cuisine that I was raised on either sends me into a comatose state after eating (meat and potatoes) or sends my stomach reeling due to an obscene amount of grease. Or both. And I have yet to find any niche or genre of foods that doesn’t contain things that set my stomach off or are actually tasty. There are a lot of healthy foods that I do like, but I have yet to find good ways to prepare them so that I will enjoy them.

I’ve looked into other alternatives for eating in as well. I’ve looked into having meals delivered to my home. I’ve looked into cooking meals in other locations, and bringing them home. However, most of the meals rely heavily on foods I shouldn’t be eating (such as tomatoes), that I don’t want to eat (meat) or are more expensive than what I’m already spending per week – despite the eating out. We’ve looked into pre-cooking meals and freezing them (to no avail, and lack of space to boot). We’ve tried to make simpler meals. More complicated meals. We’ve tried buying more food, less food. We even went so far to try and buy junk food for me to eat in the house (so that I wouldn’t go out and buy junk fast food to eat). Turns out the junk food that’s in the house tastes worse and makes me ill. Go figure.

I even began to blog about things I’m cooking at home to try and bring myself to want to cook more. While I’m more able to maintain a level head when I’m hungry and I’m enjoying the learning of cooking (slow as it may be), I’m still having problems with finding things I want to eat. Even now, I know I need to find recipes for next week, and currently I have no idea what I will be cooking. Nothing sounds good.

To say I’m at my wits end doesn’t really cover it. And what is most ironic about this, I know that my stressing about the situation only makes the situation that much worse. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and many days I wonder if the key to eating in general is to not care where I get the food from, but to just enjoy eating again.

Too bad I have no idea how to turn my brain off so that I can do that.

 

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