The Falcon’s Story

January 10

I joined a group to write about loss.  When we entered the room, there was a table covered with images which we could use for writing if we didn’t want to follow the prompt.  I saw a picture of a falcon, soaring high above an indistinct landscape.  There was a small movement in my heart, so I picked it up.  While the facilitators were telling us the ground rules, confidentiality, etc. I looked at the falcon again.  My heart swelled and my eyes filled with tears.  As soon as we could write, I started.

I look at the falcon, soaring so high above the landscape that it’s hard to see what it is.My first thought is ski areas, but then I see what might be water.The words that come are “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”My eyes fill with tears.I was supposed to be a falcon, soaring above the landscape, seeing the planet as a huge world, one world.But somehow, just after I broke through the shell, I was crippled.I don’t remember what happened, but my wings don’t work.I am forced to walk, slowly, step by step, across a landscape of which I see only the tiniest little bit.At first there’s a pain in my heart.Then I look closer.There is grass, moss, tiny wildflowers.There are basins filled with sand, with odd succulent plants growing in them.There are ants, marching in a line, and here’s a huge white rock, full of crystals, yet smooth as though it has been scraped clean.I keep going and come to an odd place that smells bad.There are strange shaped objects, some colored liquid has spilled, there are ants all over it.The ants must be finding food, but nothing looks natural, none of this stuff belongs.

What have I done with my one wild and precious life?I have studied and learned how the sun happened, and the galaxies, how the planet Earth formed, and created its atmosphere.How one-celled animals transformed the atmosphere, how life created more complex conditions for more life, how the planet became so beautiful, so many diverse creatures, and plants, and rocks.Then humans somehow left the path of wisdom, and have started to destroy this life-support system on a tiny blue-green planet in the vast reaches of space.It’s looking as though we — because I am one of these destructive beings — will not be able to stop this process.I grieve for all the losses.

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?

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Really Doing OK Just as I Am

Tuesday, January 1

This morning I was thinking about a conversation with God, where I asked what I needed to do to fulfill “His” will, and God said “You’re doing fine just as you are,” and I said “No, I want something more,” and God said “PTSD isn’t tough enough for you?” So then I thought maybe I really am doing OK just as I am. Maybe I really am doing OK just as I am. I feel a huge relaxing. If that’s true, then I don’t have to push myself to do more. It’s OK if things get done (or not) when I can manage to do them, and it doesn’t matter if they are “late” according to some imagined standard.

Wednesday, January 2

The feeling of really being OK just as I am was stronger than it’s ever been. It was clear, as a felt sense, that even when I don’t do, or put off, “important” things, and judge myself for it, I am still OK. To whom am I OK? to my deepest self, and to Spirit who looks at me with an Erica smile.

Erica is my therapist, who looks at me with a special delighted smile when I say something good about myself.

Parker Palmer talks about making choices with ego, or soul. “Ego” for him is valuing status, praise, money. I have never valued those things. My ego judges me harshly for not fulfilling requirements for the bureaucracy, or to satisfy certain conventions. No, sometimes I don’t judge me but I’m afraid others are judging me. The whole business of washing hands after going to the bathroom, e.g. I don’t do it because I don’t agree that it’s important, and it makes my hands so dry. But if there’s someone else in the bathroom I imagine that they are judging me. They probably don’t even notice.

Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness
I don’t wash my hands all the time, because I don’t believe germs cause disease unless the immune system is down.  Here at Kendal I’m more careful because I know there are people here who are vulnerable.  I often use hand sanitizers instead of soap & water.

When I walked Mocha yesterday morning, there was blue sky, flying clouds, wind, it was warm, snow was melting in the sunlight, it felt like March. Really lifted my spirits. I was able to find the waning crescent, very faint, often hidden by clouds. It was good to see the Moon.

One thing Erica has pointed out to me is how important it is to me to be aware of the Sun and Moon, the planets and stars.  I think it has to do with orienting myself by the stars.

Friday, January 4

I emailed my brother Jesse to thank him for the book he sent me for Christmas and told him I hadn’t been doing well and sent a link to my blog. I got a lovely response in which he said he had read the blog, and he hurt that I hurt so much and he wished he could help me. I have to write and let him know how much he helps just by his response.

Note from talk with Erica:
Instead of making something happen, I’m allowing it to unfold.

posted by someone else on facebook:
I no longer force things.
What flows, flows.
What crashes, crashes.
I only have space and energy
for the things that are
meant for me.

Saturday, January 5

I’m not sure when it occurred to me that when people talked about “the gift of life” it always made me angry. I would respond with “the gift came to me smashed.” But now I’m seeing that what was really happening was the “gift” wasn’t a gift, it was conditional. It wasn’t freely given, I was expected to earn it. No wonder my deepest belief, and the one I find hardest to change, is that I have to “prove that I deserve to live.”

Today, January 9, I still feel OK just as I am.  I don’t think it’s ever lasted this long, or felt so solid.  Thank You.

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Perspective on the Past

I went back and started reading my journal for 2018.  Found a lot that was very interesting.

June 16, 2018

The talk with Erica was good. I have been really puzzling over why other people see what I am doing as HUGE and I don’t see it at all. She said that’s why neglect is so devastating. What you do, who you are, is disappeared. I’m an unpaid servant. My work is not valued, and I “earn” only a grudging existence. I am invisible to myself. I’m not taken care of, only exploited, so I don’t take care of myself.

Elizabeth said that I talk a lot about my mother. I puzzled over it and then realized that I’m still trying to make her cruelty real to myself, so I can accept how much, how deeply, I am wounded, and can accept how much time and energy and work it’s taking to heal — and I am healing. I can drop the judgement of myself as weakling and coward. Erica says I sound “alive,” Elizabeth says I sound more grounded. I can’t hear it myself. I can’t see how much I have changed, how much I have healed, how much I have done with my life.

My inability to hear the change in my voice is part of the lack of mirroring that’s given me a totally wrong understanding of who I am. This is why witnesses to who I am, accurate witnesses, are necessary for me to update my belief about who I am.

Here’s this woman — she’s intelligent and caring, she’s been through some extraordinary experiences. She’s learned a lot. She has compassion and wisdom, tremendous gifts to give to the world. And she has no idea, no idea at all who she is, or that she has anything worthwhile to give. She keeps trying to prove that she deserves to live by “getting everything right,” by making someone happy who can’t be made happy, by somehow living up to her own impossible expectations of herself.

“Here’s this woman…” is how I start the process of taking a big step back and trying to see myself objectively. It often leads to feeling compassion for myself.

I do think, possibly, that at least for a short time I have been able to drop my unreasonable expectations of myself. Not giving myself a hard time makes life easier and more comfortable. I don’t need to know that I’m wonderful, I just need to know that I’m OK, and that what I’m able to give is actually worthwhile.

At this time I was dealing with a lot of pain and grief about selling the house.  Asking myself again again if I couldn’t hold on until Lynelle has found another place to live.

June 19

On the other hand, part of me feels that going ahead with Cheryl, going ahead with Doug, instead of stopping them, is behavior conditioned by my parents. I “should” stand up and take charge. It’s easier to go ahead with what was decided, and that’s being lazy… Writing it down, I see that that’s nonsense. Of course it’s easier, that’s why I’m doing it. I’ve got to allow as much as possible to be easy so I will have energy for the hard part which is all the deep emotional, very early, stuff that’s coming up. Oh. That’s why this is so hard. That early stuff is non-verbal, physiological, felt sense, very hard to get at.

Cheryl is my realtor, Doug the contractor who’s doing the work to bring the house up to code — it didn’t matter until I tried to sell it — and I was thinking that I could stop them and back off until Lynelle found a new place to live.  Deciding to do what was “easy” is a total reversal of my usual pattern.

I started reading Ram Dass “Still Here” and found it very comforting. He talks about conscious aging, accepting being in a wheel chair, not pushing himself to walk again… I realized I could focus teaching circle dance on dances that are easy for disabled people. Like the ones I taught last Sunday. That really eased something inside. It’s really OK if I don’t get back to my previous level of fitness.

Ram Dass, Still Here is about his life after his stroke.

Wednesday, June 20

Erica thought I had done very well with B’s horrible telephone message. She thinks I’m staying conscious, allowing space for odd differing thoughts and questions, really being present for the whole process. That was good to hear.

The situation with “B”

I saw Nancy for my last PT session. She says I’m doing very well, and to keep doing it. I’ve been judging myself as failing to live up to impossible expectations: that I would do the soaking-massage-icing routine every day, that I would do the exercises as prescribed. Actually, what I have done is to build the exercises into my day, when I’m walking, or going downstairs, when I’m just sitting around, to be aware of stretching my foot any chance I get.

I’ve been saying to myself “I’ve been doing the best I can, and it’s good enough.” and trying to believe it. It’s amazing and painful to see how harshly I’ve judged myself for most of my life.

The PT was for my sprained ankle.

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“Should” versus My Inner Knowing

From my journal for June 17, 1993
Trajectory broken again. My flight of the last couple of days ends in a crash. Once again feeling anxious and scared, wanting to hide. I retreated into typing my journals, and the first glider plane went over, grinding pain into my heart and here I am weak and shaky again. Now, how did this happen? I think I saw the cause, so trivial it seems ridiculous. I was downstairs, after washing breakfast dishes, wondering how to start my day. I thought I would begin by typing journals. As I started toward the stairs I saw through the window the geraniums and marigolds I bought a couple of days ago. “I should plant those” went through my head. Then I felt my body contract and thought, “No, my energy isn’t right, I’ll stick with typing.” But somehow just the thought, that there is something external that “ought” to be done, can drag me far enough off my center so that even though I affirm my choice to go with my own energy, I’m sitting at the computer feeling fearful and the first plane just grinds it into me, how bad I am to be making my worthless journals my top priority instead of those plants which are clearly more important than I am. Gosh! even stating it like that I still feel the fear. I feel the battle going on inside me, in my stomach, the fear when I try to stick with a choice based on my inner feelings, and then moments of strength when I can feel that it really is my choice, and then I tumble back into fear again. Gosh! the battle is engaged in earnest between a life lived according to external demands, and a life lived out from inside. At least I see enormous improvement: that the plane did not blast my psyche to bits, that I was able to see the real cause of my anxiety in the moment when I made the external demand more important than the inner need, even though I refused to obey it. That’s what has made it so hard to see: that the outer demand was still running my life even though I refused to obey it.

“glider plane”  — see Airplane Phobia

“The outer demand was still running my life even though I refused to obey it.”  Now, 25 years later, I’m still fighting the same battle.  Since 1993 I have gotten on anti-depressant medication, ended the plane phobia, discovered that I was actually dealing with PTSD, and finally got to the bottom of what I was up against when I started working with a therapist who specialized in attachment as well as trauma.  I found out what it means to be traumatized before your brain and nervous system have matured, and how unbelievably difficult it is to change the patterns that are so deep in your brain and nervous system.

November 29, 2018
I am more tired than I know how to say. I did write and send an email to the people who run Neskaya, saying that I am too tired to teach for a while.
I’m wondering if part of the tiredness, and part of the tension I feel in my body, is that I’m fighting with myself over the issue of “proving that I deserve to live.” My worry about getting ready for the deep cleaning, that I somehow had to abide by “rules,” is the old way. Trying to do everything “right” so I won’t get “sent back to Sears & Roebuck’s” versus the one who knows that Kendal will never throw me out. No matter how useless I am. No matter how many things I get wrong.

The “deep cleaning” is something that Kendal makes possible every year.
From November 28
It wasn’t as much of a big deal as I had thought.  Not much had to be moved so all my packing up and moving things was unnecessary.  I also had thought that the cleaning had to be done to their specifications instead of being entirely my choice about what was done.  How’s that for a metaphor for my life?  I do enjoy having things neater.

December 2, 2018
Noticing that I haven’t taken the calcium supplements in a while, that I’m having trouble with my feet and have to work some exercises in during the day, that I haven’t been able to do the water with a very little vinegar in it that’s supposed to help with my hiatal hernia — it feels like I could spend a lot of time & effort on keeping my body going, and why do it? At the moment, I don’t really have anything to feed my soul, since I’ve had to let go of going to Neskaya. I hate to miss Winter Solstice, it’s my favorite holiday. the most meaningful. Maybe next year. O dear that’s painful.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

I’ve been wanting to write about my mental/emotional state, hoping that if I understood it better, I could handle it with more acceptance and compassion. I feel hard and dry, possibly even a little bored. I don’t have any sense of my grief for Neskaya, but I need the company of someone who understands.

I’ve got a lot of odd music in my head. Trip the Light, American Pie, Turning Toward Morning — I know there were more…

“Trip the Light” is from Matt Dancing in 2012
American Pie” is a song written by Don McLean
Turning Toward the Morning” is a song by Gordon Bok

Unsatisfying.  That’s what my life is lately.  Don’t know: what I want, what I need, what will soften me…  Well, it’s just a bad time.  Now put your right foot forward…

“Now put your right foot forward…”  is how I kept going through severe depression.

Cup of tea.  I washed dishes while I made it (good for me!)  And I remembered to put the iodine on my hands (good for me!)  It’s true that neither of those things is an action toward world peace.  But washing dishes is an act of stewardship, and using the iodine is an action toward self-healing.

The iodine is for the tendons which are getting hard, making my third finger on my left hand unable to bend backward.  Sometimes makes it hard to type, can’t do the dog posture.

I realized what the songs are for.  The last line of American Pie is “This’ll be the day that I die.”  In Trip the Light it says “We’ll see with new eyes.”  There’s the tension between how I feel right now — that I don’t deserve to live — and my hope of disabling that belief.

I was reading Parker Palmer while I ate breakfast, and he talks about holding the tension between how things are now, and how we want them to be.  It’s the same idea as Robert Fritz’s “structural tension.”  To hold the tension between current reality and the vision.  Do not lie to yourself about what’s really going on around you and in you.  Don’t let go of the vision in spite of your discouragement.  When I’m deep in discouragement, I can recite the words of the vision: love, peace, justice, health, compassion… but I don’t believe in them.  Does that count?  Somewhere in E.G. a vicar says something like “surely the recital of the proper forms can be counted as prayer.”  I’ve been told that the intention to forgive is good enough when your heart is too hard to forgive.

Parker Palmer.  The book I am reading is “A Hidden Wholeness”
Robert Fritz

E.G. is Elizabeth Goudge, the quote is from one of the books about the Eliot family.

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Past Terror

I posted a piece on a week of terror which happened in June & July,  2016.  I think that was the last time I had that much terror.  Part of it was plans for going to California for a workshop on Grief with Francis Weller.  The “Kim” who sounded drunk was my contact person at the Riverglen, which is independent and assisted living for seniors.

Here is how it starts:

I’ve just been through a week of terror.  Lots of possible triggers.  I haven’t had this bad a bout of terror for many years.

Tuesday, June 28

I’m feeling terrified.  I was reading Deborah Crombie and felt scared while I was reading.  Kim left a message.  She sounded a little drunk on the phone which was unnerving.  I have to leave for St.J. to see Bess about Writing for Recovery in 45 minutes.  I set it up because Erica is out of town today.

The Crombie series is one I read over because I know it is safe.  This is the last book.  Not having something safe to read immediately can be a trigger.

Wednesday, June 29

The meeting with Bess was good.  I was scared all the way over and for a little while after she’d come, and then as we talked I started to feel better.  The work sounds fascinating.  Bess is currently teaching the workshop at the Recovery Center in St. J.  It’s Wednesday night, and she has just started, so I’m going to go tonight.

One good reason for reading past posts is that sometimes I feel like I haven’t gotten anywhere in all these years, but sometimes, like with this one, I can see how far I’ve come.  If you want to read the rest of the post.

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Ereshkigal

This was originally written in 1993.  I posted it to this blog on June 30, 2012.  I have recently been going back and reading old posts, and mostly liking them very much.  I do this randomly, or start from a particular post and go to the posts before or after it.  I have caught some things that were obvious to me at the time of writing, but that I can now see might be confusing to the reader.  The conditions under which this was written are in the original post.  It’s a conversation between me and Ereshkigal, Sumerian Goddess of the Underworld.  I only quote the last part of it here.  It resonated very strongly with my present struggle between allowing myself to rest, and pushing myself to do what I “should.”

No, Damn, I’m willing to listen, but this all sounds like the most godawful platitudes.  I know the pain and rage of the buried sister.  Surely there’s something more here, something I’m missing.  What do you really have to say to me?
—Something about the power of anger, how to use it correctly, how to burn up what should be burned.  You were angry at your friend today for whining.  Correct use, correct use.  “That’s what it costs” you said.  That’s what I say to you, that’s what it costs, that’s what it costs to live.  It’s hard to be yourself, to really be authentic, to stand for yourself against all the pressures telling you that you’re wrong, crazy, isolated, sinful, selfish.  Selfish, by god — yes I say be selfish, be authentic self.  Jesus didn’t die on the cross so you could be Jesus-clone, he died so you could be Jenny.  You must pay the price to be Jenny.  The price is poor health and lack of understanding from society, the price is that many people will not notice you, and many others will be threatened, still others will be jealous and try to tear you down.  The reward is great depth of perception, great power in expressing what you see, and the glorious moments of bringing through a truth from the shamanic world.    The price is self-doubt, and conflict, a struggle to keep your balance among the great spinning wheels, constant effort to see truly, rejection of easy answers.  The reward is the satisfaction of encountering truth: bone-hard, bone-deep.

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Being Stuck in a Process

“Being stuck in a process” reminds me of a pattern Dr. Rankin discovered.  I had started therapy with her in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, in 1997.  She was a specialist in mood disorders.  I had been seeing her for several months.  It was May and the planes were starting up.  I suffered from an extreme reaction to the noise of small planes.  On Friday I had a session with Dr. Rankin.  I asked her if it was OK to “white-knuckle it” through the noise.  She said “Of course.”  Then she said she had observed a pattern in my behavior.  I would start a project that had several steps.  I would do the first two steps just fine, but if I ran into trouble on the third I would conclude that I “couldn’t do it.” I would fail to see that I had already managed to do part of it successfully, in fact I would even define those first steps as failures.  This was enormously interesting to me.  I started being able to see when I did it, and finding a way to keep going.

It’s still operative in my life.  Looking back on my childhood, I see that my parents were too impatient to help me when I got stuck with a problem.  They would make me wrong for asking for help.  I remember once my father said “If you didn’t know how to do it, why did you even try?”  I remember wondering “What ever happened to ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’?”  I thought I could see through what he said.  I had no idea of the power of a parent’s words to affect a child.  That idea was repeated over and over in many different ways.  The lesson I learned was that if I wanted something to happen, I had to do it all by myself, and that if I got stuck, there was nothing I could do about it.  I see now that that’s a perfect prescription for depression.  Given the PTSD and alcoholic parents, it’s not surprising that I suffered from severe depression for most of my life.  Until I was 55, in fact.

I also have to give myself credit for not quitting in my work to change myself so I could have a life.  I suppose that’s where knowing I have to fix it myself is actually functional, because I don’t blame and manipulate others.  In the process I have learned that “trying to fix myself” doesn’t work, that I do have to get help, but teachers and therapists actually offer to help.  I keep learning that what I’m trying to do, to heal from my childhood wounds, is much harder and taking much longer than I ever imagined.

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Depression in Reaction to Feeling Good

This was originally posted on June 1, 2015.  I wrote the first paragraph to share with other people struggling with PTSD.  I’ve been going back and reading older posts and finding them comforting and validating.  This one resonated because I am deep in despair.  It doesn’t feel like depression, but it does feel like numbness, apathy, exhaustion.  The exhaustion is real, and I was hoping to find something that will help.  I went to the Vreeland Clinic, because I know they have been able to help people that standard medical practice can’t help.  And I’m not interested in medication.  One of the things I had to do is collect saliva for a test for cortisol levels.  But I have had no luck.  I struggle with dry mouth, due to both medication and age, and I simply am not able to produce enough saliva to put in the collecting tube.  Being stuck in a process to help me feel better brings up all the messages Nancy Napier talks about.  “You don’t deserve good things” etc.

June 1, 2015

The worst thing about PTSD for me is to be where I am now: Technically called hypoarousal, it also means depressed and numb.  The numbness is my brain and nervous system’s mechanism for saving me from overload.  I can barely get through the day.  There are other things I need to do, like find someone to prescribe medication — my regular person is on emergency medical leave.  I have to find out why my application for Medicare B seems to have gone into the void.  Trying to jump through the hoops of the bureaucracy is too difficult.  This is why so many Veterans are in homeless shelters.  I’m not a Veteran — not of a foreign war — though I could say I’m a veteran of a domestic war:  I was traumatized in infancy.

Nancy Napier explains that this is in reaction to having felt good about myself recently.  “When we’ve been hurt as children, it’s not unusual to have parts of us that guard against hope. … Disowned parts of us fight back with messages that say we don’t deserve good things, that good only turns into bad in the end, and who do we think we are anyway?”  Getting through the Day, pp19-4

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“Bombed-Out Village”

Wednesday, November 21

Thinking about talking with Erica about starting to tolerate — and even enjoy — the ordinary.  For most of my life I was in too much psychic pain, I needed something fairly intense to hold my attention.  Erica said something about “living on a battlefield.”  Yes, part of me is keyed up, waiting for the next bomb to drop.  Reminds me of that session with Debbie when I became aware of the bombed-out village.  The worst of it is that instead of having people around who are also in the bombed out village, so we can comfort and support each other, I am surrounded by people who are oblivious.

I started working with Debbie Alicen at Umbrella after I had found a reference to cutting oneself being a consequence of childhood sexual abuse.  I pursued the issue, hoping to find out what was stopping me from being able to easily have sex with my husband.  Years of work did not bring up any evidence of sexual abuse — all I could remember was being molested by my father at age 12 — that’s not a big deal is it?

March 17, 1989 Work with Debbie

I told her about the sadness that I had been feeling, even read part of what I had written (and that sad high voice appeared, with some crying.) I also told her what I told Dana, that it felt like being part of a group of refugees leaving their bombed out village, and having to leave behind beside the road those who can’t make it — no time for mourning or burial, just having to walk on, dry eyed, because of the necessity of survival. Debbie said “That’s what your life has been, and now you’ve finally got to the place where you can mourn, and you are also sad that it had to be that way.” At first I felt resistance, no my life wasn’t that awful, and then I realized she was right, in the necessity of survival there had been no time or space for mourning my lost innocence, my crippled creativity, and no room for anger about my sabotaged power.

My memory of this session is that I was so confused when I left that I couldn’t remember Debbie’s name.  So it was a surprise to find that that didn’t happen until six month later.  Now I understand that it took that long for the understanding to percolate downward and become experience rather than idea.

September 8, 1989

At Beverly’s after “emergency” session with Debbie. Having trouble remembering. Couldn’t remember dream to be able to work with it, it became just a bunch of meaningless words. Images from other dreams perhaps floated through my mind and disappeared. I sat in the ruins of my bombed out house and cried. Still baffled. A fragmented

September 9, 1989

“A fragmented session with Debbie” I was going to write when distracted by Beverly…

The session with Debbie was very confusing. I told her the fragment of the dream, but it didn’t mean anything. Other dream-like fragments floated through my mind, but couldn’t be grasped. I felt the whole time like I was in two places at once, massive sense of deja vu — haven’t we already talked about this — then fragments of dreams — or dream-like fragments — dreams, memories of the past? “floating in wide orbits with no center.” When it was time to go I couldn’t remember the date, the year, or Debbie’s name. I felt completely disoriented and fragmented and it persisted for a little while at Beverly’s. But I can’t remember what happened in the session well enough to write it down.

I think what happened was Debbie’s validation of the shift from seeing myself as a monster to seeing that my inner environment is what is monstrous — something I internalized at a very early age, something that felt a lot like living in a bombed out house. No wonder I had all those dreams of the A-bomb falling on our house, it matched my inner environment. No wonder the planes upset me so much, they remind me that I’m living in a bombed out house, a violated body, an invalidated psyche, and I’ve been trying all my life to pretend that’s not true.

The upset about the planes was my extreme reaction to the noise of the small planes towing the gliders out of Franconia Airport.  I suffered from it for 14 years.

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“Shell Shock”

Wednesday, November 14

My talk with Erica was really pretty amazing.  She was absolutely delighted that I was really beginning to let myself rest.  She said she had felt so protective of me at the beginning because I didn’t seem to have any idea that I needed protection.  I realized, from the softness and caring in her voice when she says “It’s OK, Sweetie, you need a rest,” that I may be allowing myself to rest, but it’s still grudgingly.  I’m still judging myself for having to rest.  I also was able to understand why the Quaker meeting was so intense, and why I had to leave right away and not talk about it.  She saw me protecting myself against something that really was too much for me.  I see that having been expected to do things I couldn’t do when I was a child, I have always expected too much of myself, and judged myself harshly when I couldn’t do what I “should” be able to do.

In Friends’ Meeting, one woman had talked about being with her ex-husband when he died.  He was an alcoholic, and they had had difficulties, but she was glad to be with him.  But she said she reached a level of despair that no one could understand except the hospice people.  It was Veteran’s Day and one of the men recited the poem “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row…”  I got tears in my eyes, remembering that that was the first World War, and they talked about “shell shock” as being cowardice.  It wasn’t until Vietnam, that people began to understand that it was PTSD, not cowardice.  I identified with the soldiers with PTSD, but didn’t really get that  I had been traumatized until I read Peter Levine’s book, Waking the Tiger, in about 2003. As a consequence of what was said at Friends’ Meeting, I was seriously triggered by despair, death, and trauma.

Saturday, November 17

The session with Erica was surprisingly intense. I think I’ve been a little troubled that life has seemed so boring recently, and that I have been addictively buried in reading. I take my addictive reading — can’t put the book down — to mean that I’m avoiding something. At least I’m starting to have some trust that the process will continue even if I don’t get actively, cognitively, involved. Maybe there’s also some trust that whatever it is will emerge into consciousness when it’s ready.

Often when I think I am avoiding something, I start searching, desperately, to find it so I can fix things.  I have to keep relearning that I can trust the process.  I think of Parker Palmer talking about the soul, how it’s like a wild animal.  “If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out.”  from A Hidden Wholeness    pp126-7

Posted in Journal, Present Day, Trauma | Comments Off on “Shell Shock”