Sharpening The Tools

Therapy to me has been about gaining the tools most lucky people honed at the knee of their loving and sympathetic parents. It’s hard to till emotional barren terrain with a sarcasm and empty promises. I like to believe I am well on my way to the fully stocked and functioning emotional tool shed I should have graduated college with. If I had graduated college.

The blow to my emotional foundation from last week in Mixed Messages put me in an easily angered and dark state making it hard to be around my family. Then my sister fell and broke her ankle. It brought up a lot of unresolved anger from when I broke my foot. I know, the two aren’t the same but they aren’t mutually exclusive either. I learned there is still a lot of anger in me at the living family. Sure, I forgave mom but it’s easy when you know you’re never going to have to deal with them, or care about them, or be measured and judged by them ever again. The anger I’m still dealing with in regards to my sisters and brother sometimes overtakes me and apparently I’m not as deft at hiding it from them. My humor turns scary dark. Who knew?

The anger was getting too comfortable so I took out my journal and I wrote for a few hours. When I was taking care of my mother I would open a vein and let the ichor run over the pages until the pain receded back to numbness. That was the purpose of the ‘vomitorium’ entries as I’ve come to label them. When I needed more than the temporary peace I limited myself to not just spewing but finding a solution to the bone stuck in my throat. I did a lot of spewing in this entry, about the abandonment, the narcissistic or neurotic tendencies which make me and my sisters who we are and how it affected me directly. It is all about me in my journal, that is the purpose of my journal. I calmed down the anger as well as talking myself through it and I’m turning to my tools to deal with it.

My most useful tool has always been my journal. I can remember writing a lot of posts about how I needed to be a better person, not for my mom, but for me because I wanted to achieve my goals. In some way I laid the foundation I’m building on today, in other ways I reinforced the illusions my mother conditioned me with. Focusing on my breath helps me work my way through acute and immediate stressors so I don’t get wound up in the anger and I remain functional. Forgiving the living is still a tool I’m trying to put to the whetstone but I can’t seem to make contact well enough to do anything but dull the blade. I don’t know why I can’t just wave my hand and say “All is forgiven”. No, I know why. It’s the memories and their words and the not being there when I needed them that present in my mind and refused to be mown down by the dull blade.

I love my sisters. I really, really do. Even when they don’t believe in me. They don’t have to believe in me as long as I believe in me. I don’t let the anger get between us, if I can help it. I need to sharpen my skills at hiding my moods better though. I don’t have to be the happy little clown all the time to humor them but I don’t need them worrying about me and trying to get to the festering angry core of my issues either. Thich Nhat Hanh taught anger has to do with the angry person not the one causing the anger. I can’t control why people do what they do, the only thing I can do is control what I do. Anger isn’t in harmony with Christ’s teachings, it isn’t in harmony with Zen teachings and it isn’t in harmony with a happy and healthy emotional wellbeing. Maybe it’s time to stop spewing in my journal and going to back stating a problem and finding a solution. So, I guess a blank journal is going to be the whetstone for the forgiveness scythe to put in my tool shed. Time to order more ink.

uPDATE

I started reading ‘Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames’ by Thich Nhat Hanh I realized I wasn’t trying to help myself or anyone else with the comments about my sisters. The ultimate goal was for them to read my words and be hurt by them. I don’t think they really know how deep this goes, I honestly didn’t know how deep this anger went until after therapy on Tuesday. I don’t want to hurt them (yes, I do) but the purpose of reading and journaling is to work through it until it’s resolved. into forgiveness. I had hoped this process would be a wellspring of posts for the blog but in light of my Monk, wanting to hurt the person who hurt me is natural but it is not freedom from the flames of anger, it only fans conflagration.

“To be happy, to me, is to suffer less. If we were not capable of transforming the pain within ourselves, happiness would not be possible.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames

Therapy was also enlightening in as much as I learned to get to forgiveness you have to go through (not skip over) the anger. I have to deal with anger as it comes up, like my Monk says, but I am allowed to be angry. There has always been a real fear of anger taking me back deep into the void. Ellen pointed out in the Void there was hopelessness and depression. I’m not hopeless any more, and though I am still medicated for depression I am not suffering with it any longer. I can get angry, I can feel it and learn from it and work to transform it into forgiveness and freedom. This, however, is going to have to be dealt with in my journal and therapy. I will try to express my progress as long as it isn’t a subversive attempt to hurt my sisters.

Essential Goals

It’s a new month which means it GOAL TIME again. I’m stymied. I write S.M.A.R.T. goals. And I’ve been very good about writing a set of goals that cover EVERYTHING I have an interest in. I write my goals with the same maxim my Mom used for selling mobile homes: If you throw enough crap on the wall, eventually something will stick. And, I guess in a purely numbers game, it’s not a bad practice. My goals aren’t numbers and the purpose of them is to propel me towards the ultimate goals in my life. Instead, I’ve filled my life with busy work so I can avoid the one thing I’ve always wanted since I was 11: To Be a Published Author!

Ellen suggested I read (listen) to a book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. So, I started listening on my way into work. I’m generally to tired and/or brain dead to listen to anything other than fluff on the way home otherwise I’d be done by now. He coaches leaders and management teams in the reality most management staff enthusiastically ignores: Everything is NOT important. Companies and people try to do everything for everyone and fail in providing anything of true value to anyone. His example was we try to go a millimeter in every direction instead of marshalling our energies to go in one direction where we can truly make a difference in our lives, our families and the world. That description summed up my goals perfectly. I was trying to achieve a little bit in financial goals, in spiritual goals, work goals, writing goals, family goals, health goals…..and on and on and on and on….and never really getting anywhere.

This book has come into my life at a very important time. I am no longer trying to dig myself out of the crap-hole I was in before and directly after the apocalypse. I am actively looking for a template, a concept or a philosophy to destroy the stumbling blocks of my past so I can build a strong foundation for my new life. The one blessing to be had beyond surviving the abuse and major depression is to to design and write my life the way I want it to be. I’m replacing the old psychological tapes with bright shiny CD’s of brave self-talk and I’m making the choices instead of letting the choices make me. I am scared witless, (honestly, when am I not?), but Mr. McKeown is helping me see through the fog of fear right now.

My journal entry on Saturday narrowed down the top goal, the only real goal I’ve had my whole life: To be a published author. All of my goals before had a writing component to it, but it also had spirituality, financial, educational, work, health and Misc. section where I was pushing through the whole year to mark off boxes on an annual To Do list instead of moving forward in one purposeful direction. I’m not saying spirituality, financial stability, health and education aren’t important I’m saying they are no longer on par with the ONE goal. There is a component of each of those ancillary goals in the larger one but time is finite and my share of it not committed to work and commute is even smaller.

I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m hoping he tells me there is an app that opens up when I try to enter a task or appointment and asks “Is this going to help you to be where you want to be in 5 years?” (The current goal is to be published in 5 years) so I don’t just willy-nilly say yes to someone/something that really won’t push me along the path I want to be on. I’ve made some decisions though. I’m not going to do my Christmas project like I did last year. I wanted to do hats and scarves for the homeless, or send them off to the refugees of Ukraine but I need to be writing. I will still crochet because it helps me when I need to work through a knot in a plot or I just need quiet time to let things ferment before I write. If I get some hats and scarves together before Christmas I will find homes for them but the “project” part has been abandoned. I feel bad, like I’m a bad person for choosing my goals over charity, and honestly, as I’m writing this I’m still questioning it. Another example McKeon made was a quote of a friend of his. “If it’s not a Hell Ya! it’s a no.” The project isn’t a Hell ya! Then again, exercise isn’t a Hell Ya! either but I have to do it anyway, both for health and to grow my stamina to write. I wonder how Mr. McKeown would advise me on that?

More to follow…..

Now, off to the goals…….

Now & Zen

I’ve been working on reducing my need for Ashwagandha, not remove it, but to lighten my dose a little to see what happens and what other supplements I can use in concert with my Ashwa habit.  I’ve done some research and I settled on L-Theanin.  It’s found in green tea, but it isn’t green tea…no caffeine, no tannin no thermos full of machta to get my RDA.  It’s suppose to sedate the mind without making you tired.  At the moment,I want to be sedated.

Perhaps starting this new regime while still trying to acclimate to my new job might not have been the best decision.  I added it to my morning meds on Monday and until Wednesday everything was peachy, nothing had really changed.  I even had the same trainer I mentioned in Training Is Fun-Da-Mental who seemed to want to kick my legs out from under me every chance she got.  (My paranoia has informed me she has reported every foible back to the boss lady.  It has been a struggle to keep my paranoia and anxiety from comparing notes.)  But I survived, that was my point.  I had therapy on Wednesday night and woke up tired on Thursday and struggled to do the morning draws and processing but I felt every prickly ounce of stress and salty drop of anxiety the whole day.  I came home, ate a bowl of cereal and went to bed.  Today was a re-run, just add diarrhea .  I did do better with getting through but the Zen-like calm I normally feel with the double-double dose of Ashwa was barely holding me up.  I hate feeling stupid, and constantly correcting myself when I call myself stupid, idiot, etc. 

I have noticed though when I am able to push through the initial onslaught of anxiety due to a new situation, or a change in process, correction and so on, I can quickly take stock and realize what it is I need to do to get it done, fix it, or who to ask to help.  I am asking for help.  I consider that a win and a move in the right direction.  I’ve been assured I am doing well, and my coworker has heard nothing but good things about me from the people who have trained me but when I have days like today and yesterday I wonder.  I soothe myself with the statement “lf if this job doesn’t work out I will just get another one”  I honestly don’t want another one, the benefits of this one is AWESOME. 

Tomorrow I work at a busy site that’s open 7/365 and I don’t think anyone in the group will assign me to work in the processing lab or checking people in so it should just be a busy day of sticking people with needles.  I am going to double my L-Theanine dose and see if I feel any calmer.  I can’t afford to lose my Zen.  I like my Zen.  I want to take it home, put it in a box and buy it squeaky toys.   Plan B of my Zen-Quest is to take the L-Theanine at night and the Ashwa in the morning.  Plan 3 is to just go back to the double-double dose  and keep and eye on my Thyroid. 

Wish me Zen.

UPdate

i was wrong. When I showed up on -time with my co-worker from my site I couldn’t find a lab coat in the room that was in my size. No lab coat, no sticking people with needles. I spent the first few hours on the front desk after everyone else on the team trickled in fifteen to thirty minutes later, giving the people in the waiting queue about and hour to contemplate how easier and convenient having your blood drawn on Saturday isn’t. The lead eventually found me a labcoat that would fit, almost, and I’m pretty sure by the wrinkles in the thing she pulled it out of the dirty dab coat bin. It didn’t smell and it didn’t have any unsightly or unexplainable stains on it so who am I to complain. It got me off the desk.

As for the re-mix of the morning supplements, the double L-Theanine did the trick. I still felt a little harried, especially when the lead would go through her personal exercises of correcting everyone, not just me. I guess that was something, I’m not the only one she feels is totally inept and needs “training”.

I was exhausted though. My mind work up at the normal time, 4:30am, and wanted me to get up and work in my journal, write, or do something productive. My body refused to obey. It’s been a nice quiet restful day. I did get the nibs and converters in my fountain pens cleaned and ready for the new ink I just bought….One is called writers blood. If I like the way it flows I might buy a big bottle and make it my signature color. I don’t feel the heart of darkness black ink I used to use doesn’t represent me any more. We shall see.