Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Week 20 of My Recovery Marathon.

I could have titled this "The Woman Who Mistook Herself for a Bad Girl".

I've been mum these last few weeks.  Busy socializing, yes, and gardening, and bicycling.  Had I posted, I would have written about my "Grudges"  the first week, and life "Behind My Wall" the second week.  Probably, if I'd gotten my grudge off my chest here three weeks ago, I'd have created an enemy.  And needed to crouch behind my wall !

In any case, all unwritten posts led me here, ready to take the plunge and share.

To bring new readers up to speed, I'm growing up, finally.  Something to do with having free time.  I've been in SE (Somatic Experiencing) counselling since the first of the year, to heal from PTSD.  Not your ordinary super specific PTSD, but the diffuse Developmental PTSD.  That's what happens to kids when there are no adults (emotionally mature adults) in the house and the kids are left to bring themselves up.  Kidlet anarchy.  A colossal failure of parents to parent with love.  No, I'm not doing the blame game.  I'm doing the accountability thing.  Now, if the adult mixes drugs, alcohol, gambling, all the various 'adult' choices, you get parents who should have known better.  But, in the absence of those 'isms', you get parents that didn't know better.  My heart goes out to these parents who do love their kids, and I sure hope their kids open their hearts to these parents.  Who's perfect?  Hello?

So mine is the simple story of a little girl who made the mistake of believing that the two adults in charge of her care were actually adults, and that she was the bad person.  If that wasn't confusing enough, mix alcohol in, and the kid, who doesn't understand inebriation, is left scratching her head and hiding her heart.  Speaking of adults behaving badly, it's around in spades.  Would you take your kid to the political rallies where people bashing is the entertainment?

Ahhh. How familiar that scene is.  Memo to politicians:  Growing up emotionally is a worthy endeavor at any age.  Think of your next generation.

Which brings me to this week, week 20.  Made a huge step growing up.  I have discovered for certain, I have an utterly precious ability I can use in the real world.  Always had it, but thought it was faulty, because it wasn't telling me comforting things. Told me that I was faulty. I honestly did not know that a non-handicapped version of me existed until two days ago. 

I had to close my eyes to discover this.  In my SE counselor's office.  You might want to try this experiment yourself, this experiment she did with me.   Doesn't require a counselor.  To do so, make the room quiet.  Sit comfortably, feet on the floor, settling into your body, with no distracting thoughts.  This does take two people.  This first person must be kind hearted.  You qualify?  (yes)   Now, this first person is not you.  (Not that you're not kindhearted.)   This first person sends two messages outward, just with her intentions - no external clues.  The other person - you - is seated, eyes closed, left to identify the messages the first person is sending.

Lest you think this a parlor trick, like identifying which number she was thinking of, it is not.  This is an exercise in sensing emotional resonance with another person.  You are using your own 'feeling' sensibility in the absence of any other clues. 

This counselor has two messages, for 30 seconds each.  One message is going to be actually no feeling message at all.  She would be thinking - of her shopping list, her schedule, whatever, and not feeling anything toward the other person.  She would not even be looking at you.  The other message is a feeling message - one of regard, pure loving regard reaching out.  She would be looking directly at the recipient, with her full attention. 

As the recipient in this experiment, I was to tell which message was which.

The experiment commenced.  First message...

I couldn't help myself.  "I FEEL IT!!!"  I blurted out as this surge entered my heart.  It felt like this sonic boom of love entering my heart.  It kept entering, entering, reverberating to my extremities.  Then it circled round and round in yummy waves inside me.  All 30 seconds.

Pause.  Then the second 30 second message commenced.  Eyes closed.  Seated comfortably, not thinking, just sensing...

Nothing.  I cocked my head.  Nothing.  It was a familiar nothing.  This sensing and feeling -  nothing.  I cocked my head again, searching.   Nothing.  So familiar.  It was the same nothingness I experienced every day - reaching out to my mother, my father.  Nothing.  No feeling from them.  Just...thoughts.  Rules.  Routine. Hoops to jump over.  More rules if you broke the first rules or couldn't jump high enough.

I opened my eyes. With absolutely no clues but my felt sense,  I'd read my counsellor's intentions correctly.  Hah!  No handicap here! 

"This [first message] is what babies feel from their Moms who love them".

Uhhhh.  I felt this message between my husband and me. 

I CAN read someone's intentions!  That is, IF my wall between me and you is down and I'm actually listening with my heart.  Of course, why would anyone need to build a wall in the first place if all messages were love messages.  But we don't live in a perfect world, and that's O.K.  One can use one's sensing abilities and play nicely with others.  So, to myself, I say:  Please!  Embrace the grudge.  Everyone has them.  Lower the wall.  Just in case a lovely heartfelt message is on its way in :-)

Have you ever felt someone's eyes on you, then turned to see that someone is looking at you?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Birthday Bash and Lesson #3

I came back from this weekend in a funk.  It's lifting now. 

Social Lesson #3:  Even though things fail to unfold as I'd like, it doesn't mean I'm failing.

 aka  "Don't take their stuff personally"  Just keep loving.

I assure you, I didn't take Dad's fall personally.  Falls happen.  What made this past weekend special -  our family assembled for a BIG birthday celebration - his 103rd.   (Which really falls this weekend, except we couldn't get the whole family together then.)

I have to cut my father some slack.  Why shouldn't he take a shower at midnight, then fling the towel over the shower curtain bar?  He didn't plan to slip.  When he did, he did manage to crawl over to the button and press for help.  Of course, help took forever to arrive.  (Did not, but it seemed that way.)

With no bones broken, apparently, the staff concluded there was no need to send him off to ER or alarm all of us ahead of our arrival.   My brother knew in a timely manner, though, and had my Dad checked out pronto.  O.K.  Just badly bruised.  Then one hour before, when we'd arrived for the bash, Dad called his Birthday celebration off. ??? If he was O.K. the day before???

Somehow Dad had the idea that Ibuprofen or Tylenol was bad for the liver (right, but in large doses over time, Dad).  So this father of mine had taken no pain medication night before, only to awaken to pain that had jumped right over his very high threshold and left him stiff as a board.  My brother arrived.  Together he and the staff tipped him, head over toe, keeping him straight as a board, to full upright positon.  At this point, Dad bent in his middle and sat in one of those electric lift chairs.  Hallelujah.  Ornery but now contrite?  he took the Ibuprofen.  We waited for it to kick in.

The Birthday lunch bash was a somber affair, Dad upstairs and we kids downstairs.  But, the Ibuprofen worked its magic. 

For some dang reason, this video hasn't loaded.  Sorry.  It was so sweet!  Dad felt relaxed.  He got his Birthday cake, his Birthday cards, his Birthday gifts.  He loved it all!  The Genealogy Book Judy created for him was a huge hit.  This man comes from sturdy stock, for the most part.  We learned my father's R**** ancestors date back to 1520 in Norwich, England.  His Great Great Grandmother's lineage goes back to the time of Henry VIII in England.  The R****'s came over soon after the Mayflower did, settling in New England.  Moses R**** served in the Revolutionary Army.  Then came two doctor generations, moving from Vermont to Wisconsin.   His father, an only child, then moved to Seattle.  His mother's family, Norwegian, had come with the wave of Scandinavians mid-19th century, settling in Wisconsin.  She travelled from Wisconsin to Seattle, marrying the man she'd fallen in love with at the University of Wisconsin.  She bore a daughter who died in infancy and then bore a son.   When this son was 14 months old, his father died of TB.   On her own, she raised her son.

My Paternal Grandfather, 1908
My father, 1972
So his Birthday turned out well.  

Next day, we got the call.  Dad, stiff as a board again, was sent to the ER.  LONG story short, many x-rays later he returned home as ambulatory as the day before.  This is when my buttons got pushed; ER and the words "compression fractures" will do that.  While we now know for sure that this fellow is made of rubber and stubborn grit, we also know the staff will make sure  he takes his pain medication.  Meanwhile, this kid is feeling every bump and bruise like it was her own. 

So here's for two generations -

His Dad

My Dad
Feeling a little sad right now.  Happy Birthday, Dad.  Love you.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Mile Marker 17: The Makeover Continues

Sometimes I wonder why anybody needs to read about a woman messing around in the guts of her life. Is that my insecurity showing?  I know I like to read what's under the hood of women's lives.  Especially stories of widows making it up as they go along, where there isn't ever going to be another partner that slips into the 'beloved' spot.  Some make the transition look easy.  THAT's a fantasy.  No two stories are alike.

So here I am at Mile Marker 17, 17 weeks into an intensive overhaul that began the first of the year.  And what we have this month, is the emergence of the Socially Sensitive Heart.  Good Lord, the Self-Help industry is humming in my town, with my three office visits per week.  And the books.  Amazon is humming.  So two weeks ago I added two to three bicycling excursions a week.  Help!  Whether I master the social challenges of these depends.  It's about time I started writing about my excursions, because your feedback would really help.  I've a girlfriend I call almost every day; we give each other the play by play.  My counselors are thrilled with me, that my solitary little life raft is splintering.  But hey, I may crawl back under my rock unless I learn some social skills quick.

Honestly I'm only into this socializing 3 weeks.  And already I'm up to Lesson #2.

Social Lesson #1:   Look for emotional reciprocity in potential friends.
Friendship requires  putting yourself out there.  Harriet Fraad uses the term emotional labor, which resonates with me.  "Emotional labor is the expenditure of time, effort, and energy utilizing brain and muscle [heart] to understand and fulfill emotional needs.  By emotional needs, I mean the human needs for feeling wanted, appreciated, loved and cared for."  And, obviously, it has to be reciprocal emotional labor.  She continues:  "Emotional labor differs from physical labor, by aiming to produce the specific feelings of being wanted, appreciated, loved, and/or cared for [in the other]."   Article, 2008, "Toiling in the Field of Emotion". 

THAT opened my eyes.  I've always been an emotional toiler by nature, a good thing.  But I used to do the work of two.  Heck. That's what I was trained to do.  Neither parent was capable of emotionally toiling for each other, let alone their kids.  So we kids toiled emotionally for our parents, so THEY'd feel better.  Some children grow up to play this energizer bunny role in their marriages.  All of it springs from a child's healing fantasy:  Enough sensitivity and support on my part will surely awaken sensitivity and support on his/her part.  Hah!

Social Lesson #1:  Look for emotional reciprocity in potential friends.  Got this one  - 100% 

Social Lesson #2: Boundary Setting.  Um...Is this the lesson where you pick someone YOU like to be with, who likes you also?  Is it where you UN pick someone when necessary?  Or where you pick the terms you will abide by, letting the other know?

Two weeks ago I captured someone's interest.  It felt comfortable, fun.  Lesson #1 in action.  We went cycling on our own.  Nice man.  Practiced the 'required' conversational reciprocity.   Married, so that ensures we'll be pals only.  He leads rides regularly, so he knows the routes with fewer hills.  Great for me, who isn't in top shape yet.  After our ride, he invites me on a day trip this Thursday, to a town on the Hudson River full of antique shops and splendid views.  O.K....Fine; he's married and his wife works.  So he has time and she doesn't.  He'll make a great pal.  He's clearly a family guy; showed me photos of his kids.  Then, after another group ride and lunch - he texts and offers a casual dinner invitation.  Whenever I have time, of course.  Of course....???   I ignore the invitation.  What is a married man doing asking a single woman out for dinner?

What do I do? Have that awkward conversation?   Back out of this Thursday's day trip? 

Social Lesson #2:  Learning....

There are so many moving parts in making new friends!!!