From the Elephant Journal blog site, relating to the sentiments in my last post:
It’s not that I don’t believe in the power of our thoughts, but I have also definitely experienced the immoral potential of positive thinking the video at the link below is talking about. Emotionally repressive, ignorant, insensitive, isolating, and invalidating. Probably not the intention in most cases, but almost every day, I still hear snippets of this, and have to remind myself what it is for me.
Unfortunately, this was my experience of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I didn’t need to change how I was feeling; I just needed to understand what my feelings were responding to, and be validated for feeling that way. That my feelings were normal and healthy, and that there is actually nothing distorted in my view of reality, and there never has been. I realize this might not be true for everyone, but for me, my feelings were a normal response to an abnormal situation; the only way through the feelings has been to feel them, and appreciate how normal they are. CBT did not honour that for me; instead, my experience was that CBT was saying my feelings were the problem. Depression, anxiety — they were something to be gotten rid of, not honoured and listened to! Talk about the OPPOSITE of what I needed …!
Change my thoughts, change my feelings, change my behaviours.
Would you tell that to someone in grief? Probably not. I didn’t need to change anything; I just needed to feel, grieve, understand. That was the way through it for me.
And so here is a link to the video that spurred this whole out-pouring. Enjoy! Tell me what you think! This could be an interesting discussion …
This song, by the Alaska String Band has been replaying over and over in my mind for the last week since my roommate first played it for me.
All religious language of God and Jesus aside here (I am not a religious person in any sense of the word), it’s as if my inner one wanted me to hear this when I tried to take my life two and a half years ago. She wants me to hear this now, to comfort me, and reassure me, and help me heal from that time. I’m not sure where she ends and my higher power begins. She and my highest self are the same. This was her voice, steady and unwavering, and which I couldn’t hear. It’s as if she is singing it to me now, telling me how much she loves me. She takes my hand, and tells me she is there, has always been there, and will never leave me. She will never stop singing this song to me. This is her voice now and always.
“Farther on, still go farther … Jesus will foresake you never. It is better farther on.”
I’m trying to figure out where I am today, how I’m doing (yup, my favourite question. SARCASTICALLY speaking).
I looked at places to rent this morning. Moving in here after having moved just 2 months earlier, and with such an extensive history of transiency and instability on the HOME front; my nesting instinct flooded me, and my bank account. It was like it had been repressed for so long that it all came flooding out of me. I toured second hand shops, bought little statues and decorative items for the deck and the garden and the walls here. I spent an entire week repairing the walls in my room, and painting it, including the french doors, all the trim, the walls and the ceiling.
It was 2 months of bliss with the one roommate I began with here — I’ll call her L. We were a recovery household. Our friends mixed brilliantly, and began to drop by regularly. Our lifestyles flowed so effortlessly and naturally together, we barely even had to think about it. We began creating a culture of authenticity in every moment. We prayed together, and shared with and witnessed each other deeply on a daily basis.
Our third roommate — I’ll call her E — came to us serendipitously through a friend of mine. She spoke the language of circle and spirit, and all of us felt a great ‘yes’ at the thought of her being here. We met a couple of times before making the final decision, and then she moved in.
How I didn’t see it coming is a mystery to me indeed. I feel dismayed. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so unsafe, and so much hatred and resentment towards a person. Not a pretty side of me is coming out in this situation. Part of me is angry and hurt, part of me is terrified, and part of me is deeply ashamed of how I am feeling. I want her gone. Just the thought of her and my body tenses, my cortisol surges, my heart beats a little faster.
If I am really honest, I feel that all her spirituality and wisdom are a crock of shit. She presents herself as a great healer, and an elder, connected to ceremony and the ways of the First Nations People here. And yet … my experience so far (the story in my mind) is that there is zero vulnerability with this woman. Zero openness to others’ truth and wisdom. She thinks psychotherapy is useless and a waste of time, doesn’t believe in labels or using mental illness as an excuse for a ‘lack of respect’ with regards to relating and house work. She looks down on 12-step recovery work, saying it’s “A good base,” and has expressed that she does not want to be doing “emotional processing” with her housemates.
L sees these things, but is somehow not triggered by them. L has been enjoying E’s company and wisdom, and making long-term plans with her. The connection between L and I has become almost none-existent. We do not have authentic sharing and witnessing around the house any more, unless I ask for it specifically.
Three days ago, I got to the point of ‘her or me,’ (which I have since backed down from), and shared everything with L. It was a hard conversation, but our recovery and NVC skills got us through with shining colours — except that L remained with her ‘hands tied’, saying to me, “Well, I would be so, so sorry to see you go.”
I have been moving in and out of the place of action: This is an unsafe and unhealthy situation and I guess I need to move / I need to communicate … what the fuck to I say in this situation. Ah! … and … getting lulled into a false sense of ‘everything’s fine.’ No one is yelling, and we can all make this work, and there is no way in hell I am going to rock the boat, or rain on anyone’s parade with my little feelings over here. I can just go along in my own little world, and still enjoy this beautiful house on the river, with the beautiful yard and swimming hole, gardens, fire pit, private deck and gazebo. Just avoid the conflct; pretend it isn’t there, trust that the Universe is working it out, stay open — maybe I’m just not seeing this person’s true heart; maybe it’s all a big misunderstanding; — invite her out berry picking, give her a ride, ask her about First Nations traditions, join in the ‘big happy family vibe’ that is between her and L. Don’t be such a downer! Just go with the flow. Think positively.
I wish I could just disappear. I feel there is the potential for me to be back at the place of needing to move AGAIN, feeling humiliated and hopeless, lost and alone in the world. This is what having to move again would do to me. I don’t know if I can survive another move. The chaos, the disruption, the fear of having it not work out AGAIN.
So, although I am not crying or raging or acting out; like a true internal bpd, I am deeply upset inside, and not showing any of it on the outside. It is bottling up inside me. I feel paralized, drugged almost, avoiding the panic that ensues when I acknowledge how I am feeling. Stuffing it so no one, including me, has to feel uncomfortable. The silent, invisible cage.
Tomorrow, I am supposed to be taking E berry picking. I don’t want to; I want to pull out, and I want to tell her why — not in a confrontational way, but in the way that gets the octipus out from under the table. I would feel so much safer if it were acknowledged and out in the open that there are hard feelings between E and me, and that spending time alone together is not very comfortable right now.
I don’t know how to make this happen. I don’t know if I should cancel. If I should make up a different excuse, and be polite and tactful about it.
I don’t know how to honour how I am feeling right now, and not feel like I am hiding it, living with a secret, again.
And so, that’s where I’m at today. I don’t want to admit how much this situation is bothering me, but it is.
Thanks for reading. Love.
The page linked above is talking about ‘wishing to disappear’, states of experiencing the world in slow motion, and the endless cycle of sabotage. I’ve possibly never been so relieved to identify so deeply …
Description: The feeling of shame can be described as a sense of smallness, worthlessness, and powerlessness in a given situation. … It is triggered by a “perceived” break in one’s connectedness to others or to oneself. This is compounded by feeling exposed and extremely concerned about another’s evaluation of oneself. Shame can be defined as the emotional experience of another’s devaluation or disgust, real or imagined. It is a self-absorbed, self-centered, and isolating experience. While acutely feeling shame, an individual is not considering the implications of his behavior for others, but is focused solely on the possible impact on self. Shame essentially splits a person into both an “observer” and “the one being observed”. The observer part witnesses and criticizes the part being observed. Sometimes, the presence of another is not even required to generate shame.
Shame & behavior: Shame is self-perpetuating. Internalized shame tends to induce behavior in the future that will lead to an outcome of further shame. This is not recognized at the time. The original motive for the behavior appears to have nothing to do with shame. Yet, shame invariably results, and this final outcome indicates the true, underlying motive for the behavior as being the generation of shame, rather than the prior illusory motive. Behavioral attempts to escape shame always work this way. This can easily lead to an upwards spiral as increasing amounts of shame accumulate within which then fuels further shame-creating behavior. …
Systemic impact: Shame is more than a feeling. It is an entire organismic state that affects multiple systems in the body. Shame operates at primitive levels below the reach of rational thinking. Shame brings with it a subjective sense of time slowing down which serves to magnify anything that occurs during a state of shame. It also is accompanied by intensified feedback from all perceptual modalities, particularly autonomic reactions such as blushing, sweating, and increased heart rate. These autonomic reactions induce a state of heightened bodily awareness which combines with the slowed sense of time to produce the extreme self-consciousness that is a part of feeling shame.
Shame and trauma: Shame both mirrors trauma and is bound up with it. Much of the power of what we term traumatic events lies in the shame bound up with these events. Through traumatic events, perpetrators can download their own shame onto the victim who ends up being pervaded by it. For the victim, this becomes an experience of powerlessness or helplessness. Perceptions of being powerless create shame, for the self is seen as being weak / ineffective. This often leads children to vow to “do it right” the next time in an attempt to overcome the trauma and prevent further trauma. This can easily evolve into a perfectionistic stance which, in the end, only fuels the shame, as perfectionism generally guarantees failure.
Shame signals: In addition to aversion to all eye contact, shame can manifest as fragmented thought and speech including: pauses, repetitions, false starts, inaudible voice level, and unclear diction. All of these are common with AD children. Subjectively this often gets reported as “going blank”, somewhat like dissociation.
Coping Defenses: The primary defenses for handling shame are denial, dissociation from all feeling states, splitting, withdrawal, perfectionism, entitlement, externalization, rage-driven behavior, pre-emptive shaming of oneself, and inability to give or receive praise. With repeated use, these defenses, like all defenses, can function so quickly that the child never even consciously experiences any shame….
… Attempting to counter all this with positive reassurance is potentially damaging, for it can accentuate the shame by being so at odds with the self-image, and it can make the person offering such feedback seem completely out of touch to the AD child.
(Rape Trigger warning)
I was rather disturbed to read a recent newspaper article stating that certain sections of the police force in the UK had been encouraging rape victims to drop cases in order to keep statistics on the good side. READ. This is horrifying and makes a mockery of the "serve and protect" stance taken by law enforcement.
- The police. Of necessity the police are required to question the victim thoroughly. If this is not explained to her she may perceive that she is not believed and this can reinforce feelings of guilt and self blame. If she is unable to accurately describe her assailant or recall details of the attack, this may reinforce feelings of low self worth and inadequacy.
- Hospital service. If the victim is treated in an impersonal manner then the feelings of depersonalization are reinforced. If hospital staff offer judgement comments on her behaviour then feelings of guilt can be produced.
- The courts. The above comments apply here as well. The cross examination can seem like a repeat of the rape experience.
- The circumstances of the assault can affect the victim’s coping capacity."
TRIGGER WARNING : If you are uncomfortable reading about sexual abuse, please do not read further.
It is estimated that up to fifty percent of sexual abuse victims who receive medical treatment after episodes of abuse carry no physical scars at all. However, it is also estimated that all of them will carry the mental scars for most, if not all of their lives.