Wednesday, June 28, 2017

7 Stages of Grief

My counselor surprised me when he taught me about the 7 stages of grief....nobody died.  He went on to explain that grief applies to any loss.  I looked at him puzzled so he drew a clearer picture.  The grief of a mother that couldn't love me, grief of finding out my idealistic childhood was a fantasy, grief of losing innocence, grief of mourning a relationship that died years ago but I didn't accept it.  The list got longer and longer.  The rough thing is these don't go in an orderly smooth transition; several can mash up all at once.  Anger at feeling guilty; depressed by the pain; bargaining with life and shocked by what is happening.  Grieving is a big part of healing.  Too often someone tells me that I should, "Hurry up and get over it."  Whatever 'it' is.  Part of my depression as actually grieving and an appropriate reaction to what happened.  Some of my past experiences reached the acceptance, hope, and thriving stage....others are still in the Shock & Denial.  Reminder to self, treat myself kindly and with the same compassion I would someone else experiencing grief.  I can be kind to me. 

Here is the grief model we call the 7 Stages of Grief:
    You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.
  2. PAIN & GUILT-
    As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.

    You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.
    Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.

    You may rail against fate, questioning "Why me?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair ("I will never drink again if you just bring him back")
    Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

    During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

    More 7 stages of grief...
    As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.
    As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.
    During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.

    You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.

    You have made it through the 7 stages of grief.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Brené Brown

Brené Brown shares several TED talks that I listened to several times.  Someone on Facebook was sharing about toxic shame asking if anyone had ever heard of it.  Uuuhhh YEA.  Toxic shame comes hand-in-hand with abuse.  The abuser blames the victim and sheds their shame onto the victim.  Blame and shame are dastardly duo that are difficult to over come.  Brené Brown studies shame, really she studies shame especially in relationship to vulnerability.  I have her book but haven't read that yet.  I haven't watched all of her videos but I learned about her from my first counselor.  Over the years I watched her video several times.  I am sharing the link to her TED page so people can explore her talks.  I hope they help.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

What do I do with my feelings?

I like watching NCSI.  The particular episode had to do with Tony saving a young boy from a burning building.  The fire collapsed part of the building and he was unable to save the boy's 4 year old sister.  He made a choice.  The boy grew up to become a fire inspector.  He resented Tony for not saving his sister.  The fire inspector had a situation where he couldn't save a witness to some arson fires.  He needed to have Tony point out to him that sometimes we have no choice as what happens to us.  We do choose what we learn from it and where we go from here.  I know the episode and seen the ones following.  The fires were set by a man that lost his son to a far caused by faulty wiring in a Navy ship.  A problem that was known but people made excuses as to why not to repair it.  The father wanted others to suffer as much as he did.  The boy that grew up to be the fire inspector wanted to make a positive difference. 

I can't erase my past.  Even when I forgot most of it, I responded from that pool of hurt and rage.  I didn't understand why I acted the way I did.  I felt crazy, depressed, and unsure what to do about what I was feeling.  I entered counseling.  Took my counselor years teaching me to believe in myself, connect to my feelings and recognize that I decide what to do about how I feel.  I don't deny my feelings but I choose which ones to act on.  I decide if I am going to spread the suffering I experienced or help others find their healing path.

I took the class about bullies last week.  Again the issue is do people make excuses for the bully pointing out their hardships or do we expect bullies to be held accountable for their behavior?  Right now the climate is blame the victim and coddle the perpetrator.  So messed up.  They trot out cliches like , "Hurt people, hurt people."  Excuses such as they had a rough childhood so they hurt others because they are hurting.  BS.  Yup....everyone in the world is hurt by somebody at some time.  This is Earth life on this planet.  Gravity pulls you to the grown.  Splat you are hurt.  A bully knocks you down the victim is hurt.  When you get up do you learn about gravity or blame the Earth for having it in the first place?  Does the victim get blamed or do you look at the situation and see how relationships are repaired? 

One of the definitions of explaining the difference between being human and a bully.  A person hurts someone else accidentally and apologizes and tries not to do it again is being human.  A person that hurts someone else on purpose and doesn't apologize is mean.  A person that hurts someone else and does it again and again and again is a bully.  There is a pattern of abusing others.  They perpetrator gets something out of it and wants that again.  Feelings of power, satisfaction in hurting someone else, and a variety of other feelings remorse not being one of them.  A victim to the bully is the object and the fact they were scared, hurt or embarrassed was the goal.  Bully's behavior is not about the victim.  I wish people would stop rallying around the bully, making excuse but instead set up a plan to change their behavior.  Some will change, others won't, the like it too much. 

I remember several incidences in my life that I was mean to others.  I said things or did things or lashed out.  My main focus in my counseling is to become the person I wanted to be kind, concerned for others, caring, able to control my temper, willing to look for win-win solutions.  That is who I wanted to be.  Accepting my emotions and recognizing which ones I reinforce or act on is 100% up to me.  Yes, I have sent myself to my room because I was not behaving reasonably.  Good.  If my children were acting the way I was they would be sent to their room until they figured out how to address a problem without hurting others.  I still give myself time to feel, process what I feel, and they choose a line of action.  When I do this I am much happier with the out come then when I allow some deep dark emotion take control and act out hurtful thoughts.  Yup, there is nothing like a well placed time out to improve relationships.  I emphasize a time out.  Meaning what I feel needs to be addressed but I want to be in control of how that discussion is going to go.

I am thankful to my counselor that reconnected me with my emotions. Then took many sessions to teach me how to sit with them, process them, and make choices that improve my life.  Living with emotions is a learned skill.  I can practice and get better at making healthy emotional decisions.  What I do with my feelings is my choice.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Restorative Justice

I work at a school and to move up the pay scale I take more classes or workshops.  If I am going to spend my time in classes I want it to benefit me in some way.  I spent two days reviewing how to protect students in the classroom.  Most of the first day was review.  Reminded again to learn student names.  I am learning from Lumosity how I can do that.  Second day, today, they talked about procedures in place for reporting abuse and other criminal acts by students against other students or teachers.  I heard of restorative justice but didn't have a clear understanding of what all was involved.  Today they explained it so I understood and we practiced it comparing it to the old standard of crime/punishment. 

Basically, the student that offends others identifies who was offended and what needs to be done to resolve and heal the offense.  That is what I got out of it.  For instance if a student disrupts an entire class one of the choices may be an apology to the class instead of a trip to the principals office.  Mediation is part of the process in situations between two people.  Or bigger offenses may involve parents or others that were involved.  Part of what I like about it is the offender is required to take ownership and responsibility for their behavior.  I found a couple of links that I plan to go back and explore more fully.

Wikipedia link:

Edutopia has multiple links to examples of schools using the process. 

What I really like about this format of conflict resolution is when a student graduates from high school they can take the ideas with them to college or family life.  I am very enthusiastic about trying this out in the classroom next year. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Aroma Therapy Heaven

Aroma Therapy is a light touch with essential oils with music.  My friend is awesome and learned how to share her oils in a healing way.  I consistently feel much better after each 45 minute session.  Today I feel asleep amidst soothing touch and amazing smells.  I felt so mellow today I fell asleep.  It was awesome.  I spent the rest of the day feeling relaxed and happy.  Thank you friend, you make a difference.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

Survival tool but

....not a living tool. 

People pleasing is how I survived the insanity of growing up in a home with a demanding mother.  By jumping through her hoops I got fed and fewer spankings.  However, People pleasing has a negative impact for living everyday.  If I run around trying to please everyone else, I don't meet my personal self care and life goals.  I essentially give the reigns of my life over to someone else.  In abuse situations giving up that freedom to your abuser may mean the difference between life and death, literally.  Viktor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning written about his experiences in a concentration camp illustrates how prisoners survived by people pleasing.  However, I'm no longer in contact with my mother.  I am no longer in the neighborhood where I was terrorized.  People pleasing now is a stumbling block to self-care and meeting my goals.  Of course, I still do things for other people.  Service is not People pleasing. 

I found a definition of People pleasing that comes close to what I mean:

A People Pleaser is a person who believes that they are less then most others on the planet and have the need to hide these beliefs from all whom they come in contact with. They feel so low that they typically behave like a doormat and frequently put themselves in situations where they are treated as such. A people please will do almost anything to keep others in the dark about what is going on within. Dishonesty, deception and lies are the primary tools used by a People Pleaser. Within the context of an intimate relationship, a People Pleaser will frequently paint illusions that depict what they believe their partner wants to see all the while never disclosing who and what they really are. People Pleaser's also have the tendency to frustrate their partner to no end with this insidious behavior. A People Pleaser's goal is always the same which is to keep anyone from knowing just how crappy they feel about themselves and they will strive for this goal at any cost. A person afflicted with this "disease to please" will typically tell more lies over the course of a lifetime than those with other mental illnesses. People Pleaser's can come in the form of men but are typically women as they are more emotionally based.
When a People Pleaser dies, the see the life of someone else flash before their eyes.

 Other aspects of a people pleasing behavior, they have no opinions of their own.  The other person's goal is their goal.  They take the blame for anything that goes wrong, no matter who's fault it might be.  They will do things for other people without any regard for themselves.  They put their happiness on the other person's shoulders.  A people pleasing person is only happy if the other person is happy with what they have done.  They tend to give all their decision making and happiness to someone else, making the other person responsible for their well being.  They blame those close to them if they are sad.  They blame fate or circumstances on their drifting through life.  A people pleasing person gives away their personal power to anyone else. 

Why do I know all this about people pleasing behavior?  Because I did this.  Counseling taught me to take back my power.  I learned to have an opinion and that my opinion matters.  I was retaught how to take personal responsibility for my own happiness.  I learned slowly because People pleasing was my go-to survival tool.  I struggled with setting my own goals but I am doing it.  I struggle with finding my 'Why' for living but with plenty of encouragement I am becoming the person I was meant to be in spite of an abusive childhood. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

In Spite of......

I am a huge fan of Dale Chihuly.  I love his art.  Glass blown and shaped into a symphony of form and color.  He shared in an interview his challenges with depression.

News articles disappear so I will share the article here.  This is not to say that you must follow his footsteps but to encourage and share that depression/mental illness/PTSD is part of what makes you who you are.  Live with it and thrive anyway.  

The private studio of glass artist Dale Chihuly reflects his long obsession with collecting. Sheets of stamps cover one table; pocket knives are marshaled on another. Carnival-prize figurines from the first half of the 20th century line shelves that reach the ceiling.

Amid the ordered clutter, some items hint at more than Chihuly’s eclectic tastes: a long row of Ernest Hemingway titles in one bookcase, and in another an entire wall devoted to Vincent van Gogh — homages to creative geniuses racked by depression.

Chihuly, too, has struggled with his mental health, by turns fragile and luminous like the art he makes. Now 75 and still in the thrall of a decades-long career, he discussed his bipolar disorder in detail for the first time publicly in an interview with The Associated Press. He and his wife, Leslie Chihuly, said they don’t want to omit from his legacy a large part of who he is.

“It’s a pretty remarkable moment to be able to have this conversation,” she said. “We really want to open our lives a little bit and share something more personal. ... Dale’s a great example of somebody who can have a successful marriage and a successful family life and successful career — and suffer from a really debilitating, chronic disease. That might be helpful for other people.”

Chihuly, who began working with glass in the 1960s, is a pioneer of the glass art movement. Known for styles that include vibrant seashell-like shapes, baskets, chandeliers and ambitious installations in botanical gardens and museums, he has said that pushing the material to new forms, creating objects never before seen, fascinates him.

Even in the past year he has found a new way of working with glass — painting with glass enamel on glass panes, stacking the panes together and back-lighting them to give them a visual depth. He calls it “Glass on Glass,” and it’s featured for the first time in the new Chihuly Sanctuary at the Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha, Nebraska, and at an indoor-outdoor exhibit opening June 3 at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

But the flip side of that creativity has sometimes been dark. He began suffering from depression in his 20s, he said, and those spells began to alternate with manic periods beginning in his late 40s.
“I’m usually either up or down,” Chihuly said. “I don’t have neutral very much. When I’m up I’m usually working on several projects. A lot of times it’s about a six-month period. When I’m down, I kind of go in hibernation.”

He still works but doesn’t feel as good about it. His wife noted that if he only went into the studio when he was up, he “wouldn’t have had a career.”

Asked what his down periods are like, Chihuly took a long pause. “Just pretty tough,” he said. “I’m lucky that I like movies. If I don’t feel good, I’ll put on a movie.”

Leslie Chihuly, who runs his studio, is more loquacious about the difficulties his condition has posed in their 25-year relationship.

They’ve tried to manage it as a family with various types of counseling, medication and a 1-to-10 scale system that allows him to communicate how he’s feeling when he doesn’t want to talk about it, she said.

Chihuly gave up drinking 15 years ago, and it’s been more than a decade since he was “life-threateningly depressed,” she said, though he’s never been suicidal.

“Dale has an impeccable memory about certain things, but there have been certain periods of time when he’s been hypomanic, as we call it, or depressed, and I’ll be the keeper for our family and our business around those difficult times,” she said.

She met him in 1992 after a mutual friend set them up. He was in a near-manic period, talking about an idea for bringing glassblowers from around the world to Venice, Italy, to display their art in the city’s canals. He had no plan and no funding, but she was eager to help him realize his vision — one that would eventually be depicted in the public television documentary “Chihuly Over Venice.”
Six months later, they traveled to an exhibit opening at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
“It was like the lights went out,” she said, choking back a sob. “All of a sudden the guy who was interested in everything ... that guy wasn’t there.”

Dale Chihuly remained quiet as his wife described that moment. A tear fell from beneath the recognizable eyepatch he has worn since he lost sight in his left eye in a 1976 car crash.
Though the mood swings were new to Leslie Chihuly at the time, they were familiar to the other artists Chihuly worked with. Joey Kirkpatrick met him in 1979, when she attended Pilchuck Glass School, which Chihuly founded in the woods north of Seattle in 1971. It was a small summer workshop; the students constructed their own shelter. She and her partner, Flora Mace, spent many hours watching movies with him during his down periods.

“What amazed me about it is his persistence at picking the thing, his creative life, that would pull him along or keep him going through those times,” she said. “When he was up, he could call you up at Pilchuck on a Sunday night and say, ‘Meet me at the airport at 10 tomorrow, we’ve got a flight to Pittsburgh to go to some demonstration.’ It was always exciting. When he was down, there wasn’t that. It was quieter.”

Chihuly said the message he’d have for others struggling with the condition would be to “see a good shrink” and to “try to live with it, to know that when they’re really depressed, it’s going to change, before too long. And to take advantage when they do feel up to get as much done as they can.”

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Why can't I just be?

TW wrote me: Ruth, do you ever "have time" to just BE? Think you can do that?!

Nope...absolutely not....I do try.  Thanks TW for reminding me I am enough.

 There is a bit of history to this one.  Childhood was not a time for relaxing for me.  I was either turned totally loose to go and do what I wished any where or I was tightly under my mother's thumb.  I never knew which way a day would go.  The days of extreme control I craved to just be....for me that was so not happening.  If I appeared to be doing 'nothing' more work was heaped on me.  I learned to function at a frantic pace.  Didn't matter what, just something. A poem my mother used to chant.

If you got too much to do and you don't know where to start
And you start to feeling blue and you're quickly loosing heart,
Don't be a dumb thing,
Start something.

Evil poem....chanting of a slave driving inner critic that valued doing over being or doing something useful. 

On my other blog I shared the 11 forms of self abuse from Lilly Hope Lucereo.

 The two that drive me are 'Working too hard' and 'Lack Of Self Care & Lack Of Healthy Boundaries'.  I also spent over 3 years in bed.  I didn't know it at the time but I had a complete break down but I had kids to care for while my husband worked on the road.  I kept moving but lived a twilight half life.  I have 10 times more energy now than I did when I was 35 years old.  I have so many things I want to do and I want to do them all right now.  I was playing Happy Acres on Facebook, I became so competitive that I wasn't eating or sleeping trying to do everything.  Yes, I was trying to do everything in a game designed to allow me to pick and choose....oh no. I had to do everything.  When I started to play at work, I knew I was in serious trouble.  I was an addict.  

People forget the drugs and alcohol are not the only things people get addicted to.  I feel driven to do things.  The sit back and relax thing doesn't happen.  Watching TV I usually watch two shows and either crochet or work on Sudokus.  Just sitting and watching doesn't happen.  We went to the movies.  I bought popcorn and kept eating one piece at a time to keep my hands doing something.  I schedule break time but often work through it.  Playing a game is not relaxing either.  TW thank you for reminding me that going at a frantic pace is not required.  No one will give me brownie buttons for working harder than any one.  In fact, more than once I was reprimanded for working too hard and too fast.  The boss at the time thought I was trying to show him up.  He didn't realize I only had one speed R for RACE.  

One of my coworkers was assigned to help me change over computers in a computer lab.  30 computers to be changed out.  He moaned and groaned complaining it would take all week.  I asked him why?  I pointed to the other side of the room, "You start there, I'll begin here, and meet you at the back."  I worked silently and intently.  Took a break for lunch.  I met him at the back at a little after 5 PM, mandatory quitting time.  (They threatened to fire me if I worked over time.)  The coworker was astounded.  We completed the lab in a day.  He turned to me and asked, "Do you always work like this?"  My answer, "You mean there is another way to do it?"  He had to reassess his opinion of what he heard about me.  

At one point in my marriage I worked 3 part time jobs.  When I went to school I would take crazy difficult classes.  DH and I had an argument and he accused me of always having to get an A.  I thought seriously about this.  I demanded so much more out of a class than the teacher expected that I got the A as a byproduct of my own expectations.  I realize now, I drove several teachers crazy with how much I did in class.  In counseling, my therapist restricted me to one hour a day working on why I functioned the way I did.  He told me to fire my MEAN BOSS.  That mean boss is me.  Still tend to be a bit of a slave driver.  

TW....this summer I will set a goal to sit and be for at least....I don't know how long I can keep myself still before I jump up and go again.  Work in progress.  Thanks TW.