Saturday, March 30, 2013

Just a phase

Maggie resting on our couch
Momma said there'll be days like this, there'll be days like this, my momma said. Some days like today, it is like a thick fog ties me down, and thoughts and words come slowly. I feel drugged and physically exhausted.
This is when I need to have a banner in my living room right above the couch where I can see it. It would say, "This is just a phase."

I used to think this illness would last forever. Recently, I realize it is just a phase. I am thoroughly convinced I will be completely well again, even though most people with this condition are bogged down in it with no hope of a cure. Knowing that this is a temporary phase, I feel more relaxed and I don't get as frustrated when symptoms flare up.
A phase. I can make it through a phase! I remember when I was in college, especially undergraduate. It felt like it took ten years, but it only took five. And it took five because I switched universities three times, and my major a few times. But back then, if felt like college was taking forever. I remember I would make these charts trying to figure out how I could squeeze the most credits into each semester, plotting out exactly how many months and years I still had to go. I possibly poured more energy into those planning charts than I did into my actual studies. Ahh, the torture. I remember it fondly. I was miserable back then, but I was healthy and strong and had my whole future ahead of me. I remember being really depressed and moody, thinking my life sucked then. I didn't want to be studying in college, and I hated my circumstances then. I could barely see past each day, let alone a month or year. 
Looking back, I do laugh at my misery then at feeling stuck. I want to visit my younger self and poke her and say, "Lighten up! You will eventually graduate. You have no reason to be miserable. Enjoy every moment you have!"
I'm imagining my 60 year old self. She is probably itching to come back to poke my 37 year old self and say, "Lighten up! This is just a phase! It will pass before you know it. Enjoy the moments of good that you do have!"
So I'm listening, older me. Thank you for your reminder. It helps me to relax and accept this phase more easily. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sneaky subconscious

photo by Simone Quotes

I've  been experiencing some shifts lately, and my eyes keep opening up to new breakthroughs. Some with my subconscious. It's completely exciting for me. Somewhat painful. I feel like things are ripping on the inside of me. In a good way. I feel somewhat more balanced now than I used to be. I'm getting used to the constant changes in my perspectives. I feel like I accept things more.

I haven't yet written down in my journal or this blog a huge shift that occurred four months ago while I was working with a deeply compassionate and insightful medical intuitive named Brett. We were working through some trauma that occurred, and he was helping me release the trauma, as well as identify toxic emotions and beliefs. He also helped me set the stage for healthy beliefs to come flooding in.

He also helped me zero in on the exact psychological and emotional reasons I got sick.  Stuff that was hidden to me... I had no clue these issues existed. But before I get to that part, however, I have to underline that a genetic disposition and other long time physical stresses were running along side these psychological and emotional stresses, each helping to culminate in adrenal burnout.

So there is a genetic tendency toward adrenal burnout in my family. My mom and older sister are currently in less severe stages than I am. Before I was born, my mom had three children in a row, spacing them less than a year apart. By the time she had me, her hormones hadn't had a chance to rest and reset. Also, she was being abused by my father when pregnant with me. She was copper toxic and passed the heavy metals down to me. I was a space cadet even as an infant and child, always dreamy and thinking artsy, magical thoughts. My mom said that the first day of my life as an infant, I had complete control of my hands and arms. She said that I put both hands together, lining up each finger perfectly, and then twisted them. Took my fingers apart, then lined them up again just so. My mom was convinced I was either a genius or was autistic. I'm neither. I was just fascinated by my hands, I guess.

Me singing

When my counsellor Brett started working with me, he told me some fairly blunt things about myself. It's almost like he had me swallow a truth serum, and he could read my mind or subconscious. I feel like I'm performing open heart surgery with a clumsy shovel and spade in my attempts to try to relate how Brett knew these things about me. I feel as though I don't have the exact words at my disposal to describe what happened.  Regardless, it was like scales fell off my eyes. I didn't know this before, but in my subconscious, I believed for almost three decades that I deserved to be sick and mistreated because on some level, I thought I was worthless. Who believes something like that, right? I didn't even know I believed that. I could barely fathom I could entertain such thoughts. But there it was buried deep and somehow hardwired in my subconscious. I believed I was unlovable, a looser, and that I didn't deserve a good career, health, or loving relationships. In the deepest part of my mind, I was sabotaging myself without even knowing it. I believed this because I had been abused, and didn't come to grips with it in a healthy way. Because of what happened to me, I assumed that there was something intrinsically horrible and wrong with me, otherwise I wouldn't have attracted that kind of treatment. I assumed that if I was a lovable girl, I wouldn't have been abused.

On a ferry to Ellis Island
I would have never admitted out loud or even in my own mind that I thought I was worthless. But it was the driving thought in my subconscious pushing me and molding my decisions year after year. I often fell into what could have tuned into abusive relationships. Fortunately, I was smart enough to break up with guys before they could do much harm to me. Also, my sister Thalia and I early on saw what my father did to my mother. We reasoned that if my mom had a college education and good job, she wouldn't have been trapped as tightly as she was, and she could have escaped. So we decided that in order to escape the fate of our mother, we would need to have a good education, solid career, and our own apartment. That way, if a man started going foul, we could easily break away from him and be completely strong and independent on our own.

So even though I tended to attract abusive men, I was able to detach from them fairly easily, and did so on a regular basis. Every two years or so, I'd move on to a new guy. But outside of the realm of relationships, I was attracting to myself negative, toxic, and unhealthy life situations. I earned my degree in Elementary Education, had an excellent student teaching experience, and had a job offer from a good school district. I was instantly afraid. Why would an excellent school district be interested in me? The thought turned my head upside down and didn't jive with my beliefs about myself, so in my subconscious mind, I distorted the reality of what just happened. I told myself I would never get hired, they had become interested in me by accident, and it was best to ignore their phone call and pretend like it never happened. So I did. A week or two later, the school called again and my mom answered and said I would get back to them. I never did. I got upset every time she mentioned the call and eventually my mom stopped reminding me. I then pursued a job in a school in inner city Baltimore, Maryland, in the heart of the ghetto, an hour away from my home town. I got the job but only lasted three months. It was a nightmare. There weren't enough desks, chairs or books. Children ran in and out of the room at will. Some went across the street to get snacks and never came back in the class. I was never able to take attendance because they wouldn't sit still for me to count them, and they wouldn't all tell me their names. It was chaos. They were fighting with each other, like rabid angry wolves. Kids were throwing desks at me, crying in rage and anger, or snarling at me and stepping on my feet on purpose. I couldn't teach because I was breaking up one fight after another. My stress level was over the top and my mind would start going numb, like I couldn't even think straight. And yet, I felt I deserved this.

My classroom where I taught first grade in NYC- I was so proud.
Years later, I tried again in another school in another rough neighborhood, this time in Spanish Harlem, NYC. It was just as bad there, but this time I told myself I must make it work. And I did. I thrived in that war zone, and was constantly in fight or flight. After a while, the principals saw what a trooper I was, and saw how quiet and well behaved the children were in my class. They were well behaved because of my blood, sweat and tears, not because they were just a naturally good class.  Soon the administration promoted me to lead teacher, started sending teachers to train under me, and had me leading seminars to break in new teachers. Teachers who stuck around and did a good job were rewarded and given easier classes year after year. It was only the first year teachers who were given the toughest classes to cut their teeth on, sort of like a sink or swim kind of situation. The teachers who passed the test and stayed on the ship were given better classes if they made it through the first year. Very few dedicated teachers wanted to apply at the school, and turnover was heavy each year. The administration didn't want any experienced teacher to leave, so once you became an experienced teacher, you were spared the onslaught of children with behavioral issues. So I was at the point where I was being sent calmer students, with only one or two challenging cases per year. Things were looking good. Until word got around that I had a knack for soothing troubled children. Soon the administration started sending me slews of the toughest kids, the ones that were making the other teachers quit by the droves.  I was in a war zone again in my own classroom. I didn't even think to question this, and I didn't think once about leaving the school for another. I didn't believe in myself or my personal worth, and I had no boundaries, so I just smiled and toughed it out. I felt this was what my life was supposed to be like.

Around this time, I hadn't been eating nearly enough for the last few years. Whenever I would become highly stressed, I would stop eating. I somehow felt more in control during uncontrollable life situations if I was able to go without food. But more than that, I had this life long hidden mantra that I wasn't worth the time, effort or money that went into shopping for and preparing good food. I disliked shopping for food for myself, so I performed that chore as little as possible.  Food was for nourishment, and I felt uncomfortable nourishing myself. I wouldn't have ever admitted this out loud, perhaps not even to myself. But there it is. It was just another hidden thought I held that guided me down quite the nutritionally depleted path.

Nutritional stress was just one of many stresses, though. I was on a constant roller coaster of stress physically, mentally, emotionally. I attracted the drama and thrived on pain because somehow it confirmed to me on a subconscious level that I was truly worthless.

To be honest, all I wanted was love and approval from someone in charge. First I wanted it from my dad and never got it. Then I wanted it from God and never got it. Just got a lot of condemnation and judgement. Then I aimed for approval from the principals at the school.  I was a perfectionist in everything I did, trying to earn just a little pat on the back. It was basically futile, to say the least.  But that made me try all the more. Even though I was shy, I became a type A person in each job I took on, giving 125% above and beyond, extending myself far more than was healthy.  Word eventually got around that a few of my colleagues at the school hated me because I supposedly made them look bad. Unfortunately, I didn't mind as long as the principals approved of me. I was so hungry for approval from someone other than myself.

I unknowingly had this silly belief in my subconscious mind since childhood that love was something that must come from a source outside of yourself. That you couldn't trust yourself to find it inside of yourself. I believed that since I was born a sinner and would die a sinner, I was worthless. I sometimes had a fleeting fairy tale like thought that maybe, possibly, some day, someone outside of me might prove me wrong and make me worthy. I was on a life long search to find that someone or something outside of me. But I didn't ever find it, so I was frustrated, angry and confused about life all through my teenage years, twenties and early thirties. I was a mess. All along, my subconscious mind kept secretly telling me I was worthless, and I just unknowingly went along and acted accordingly, piling on more stresses.

It was during my fourth year living in NYC that my stress levels started foaming into some kind of a rolling boil. Around this time I was dating this kind but highly critical guy who I invited to live with me. I was too frazzled, busy, and in over my head to have a shred of time to invest in any relationship, and yet I invested anyway, not respecting my own limits.  I was taking classes full time in downtown Manhattan, finishing up my master's degree while teaching full time. I had a 4.0 in every class, every paper, every assignment. Perhaps the professors would take a liking to me if I turned in amazing papers. Nah, none of the professors noticed. Over the next few months, my doctor put me on a bunch of ridiculous pharmaceuticals that messed me up. I was on birth control, and it must have raised my copper levels. It made me spacey and nauseous, but I didn't value myself or my health enough to think to get off of it. I told myself I had to just tough it out, because I deserved a hard time, and  this is simply what my life consisted of. I did a round of IVF, donating my eggs and getting money which I put towards my master's. I had misgivings about being a guinea pig in this way, especially when it made me feel loopy and tired, but something in my subconscious was OK with this procedure, I was OK with undergoing a possibly harmful treatment. I was getting severe stress headaches and migraines at this point, and when other medications failed, I was eventually put on an opiate called Tramadol to control the pain. One day I decided to go off of Tramadol cold turkey. That day was April 18, 2009. That was the day the bottom of my world dropped out. I was fully functional up to that point. After that day, I became very sick with adrenal burnout, and remained sick for four years.

Looking back and seeing the beliefs I held about myself, I think- No wonder I attracted to myself and allowed myself to be in such destructive life situations! I want to be careful to set a healthy tone here. I don't judge myself, because I honestly didn't know what I was doing. I'm writing this so that I can merely observe and soak up what really happened to me.

There was another piece. It wouldn't make much sense to divulge it here, as it would require me to write and relive toxic stuff that I have shed and don't wish to identify with too much. But it is a critical piece since it helped me understand even more why I really got sick and couldn't recover. I think I may be able to give a bit of a synopsis without going too deep. My father had a tendency to kick a man when he was down. Even with his own children, when he sensed pain or discomfort he would circle like a vulture, pecking and inflicting more pain when the little innocent one hadn't the power to fight back. I was scared of him in general, but at the tenderest moments of my life when a healthy parent would hold, comfort and nurture their dear child, my father chose those exact moments to lash out at me in rage and disgust.

As a result, I connected the dots early on. I saw that when my underbelly was exposed and I was most vulnerable and weak, it was my fate that I would be hurt and abandoned more by my father. In some twisted way, my young brothers and sisters and I were brainwashed to believe God OK'd my father's every move, and we were too afraid to question this. We were raised in a religious cult similar to the Westboro Baptist hate cult, based on the patriarchal Bill Gothard religion.

In this cult, women were treated as objects, were bullied into closing their minds down and blindly obeying the man, believing that when a man spoke, it was the ultimate voice of God. Women were not allowed to express their feelings or say no. They were to accept abuse from men (yelling, anger, throwing furniture, psychological and emotional abuse, sexual and physical abuse) because it was God's creative way of punishing them for their innate sin and worthlessness. Abuse and punishment were a woman's lot in life, but the abuse was coated over in terms such as "God's loving chastisement." Life was supposed to be hard, and the more struggles, drama and repression you encountered in life, the more God was loving you as a true son (not a daughter, a son). Love meant strangling, oppression, control, fear and punishment. When bad things happened in your life, it was because you were sinning and deserved it, but God loved you enough to refine your character, so thank him for it. So in my mind, God and the universe had no compassion on me when I was in pain, I deserved to be sick, hurt and alone. It was simply a manifestation of my innate worthlessness, and I deserved it. God was very loving to put the illness on me. If I rose against it or against any of my family's abusive teachings, I would feel my father's rage more, because I was resisting authority and the way things simply are. If I rose against the way things were, my mom and sisters would frown at me and shush me down out of fear for their own backsides and my own.

Enough of that. That's all lie. It's always been a lie. I realize that for the first time in my life. It's like blinders fell off of my eyes in the days and weeks following my work with my counsellor, and I can finally see clearly. It's like I'm wearing truth goggles, and if I see a lie, I can not bow to it or let it sit like poison in me. I shed it right away... it doesn't stick to me anymore.  I've been sensing deep within that I am loved, I am love, I am infinitely valuable, and that I deserve glowing health.

The main reason that I believed these lies was because I kept my mind a complete wasteland, refusing to question my inner beliefs. I did this because that's what the religion and my dad taught. But more than this, I knew from the time I was 5 that my dad loathed me. So my entire childhood and adulthood, I did everything possible to get him to approve of me, even if it meant dumbing down my mind and following the religion meticulously. To no avail. Ironically, the more I tried, the more he hated me. The more my younger sister threw all caution to the wind and broke each rule, the more he doted on her. I didn't get it. It was a no win situation. After I got sick with adrenal burnout and severe chronic fatigue and was on the verge of being homeless and going into hospice care, I went begging to my parents and asked to stay with them. I got a firm NO, I would be in the way, I would be a nuisance, and I would be a threat to their privacy. I shouldn't ask again. Door closed.

It was then that something broke loose. I was a step away from my deathbed, and he wasn't willing to stretch out a hand to help. If he could turn me down coldly in a situation like this, why was I still trying to get this man to approve of me and why was I still entertaining his religious ideas? I ended up living, and mulled over the situation for a year afterwards. I realized that he would never approve of me and never love me in his current mind state, and that I was the fool to keep trying. It was so hard to let go. But if he was willing to let me die without helping, he was finished with me, and nothing I could ever do would make him love me. So I gave up on trying. Finally. After all these decades.

That's when I had an epiphany. I guess most people have known this for quite some time, but it was at this point that I understood experientially that my sense of self worth is not equal to the way that my family treats me. My loveability is based on the fact that I am, and so by default I am amazingly loveable, I am love, I am worthy, and nobody's treatment of me can change that.

After I gave up trying to get my dad to approve of me, I suddenly wasn't in fear of his rules anymore, for the first time in my life. It felt pretty strange, but I didn't fear opening up my mind anymore. So I opened up my mind, and suddenly these religious beliefs I'd naively kept as my own now seemed ilogical and unloving. So I detached myself from them. This was about the time I was consulting with the medical intuitive, Brett, who helped me let go of the trauma and toxins.

The last week or so, I've been waking up saying to myself, "I accept! I accept my health. I accept good. I accept that I'm getting better and better every day." It doesn't matter that people with advanced chronic fatigue typically don't get better and have this illness for life. I would have believed that last year. Would have. Well, I did believe that last year. But not now! I deserve better!
I feel like I've been coming into a healthier frame of mind the last few months. Because of this, I'm making health decisions that are benefiting me, decisions I couldn't possibly have been able to make in the past when I lived in a state of unknowing self sabotage. I bypassed many a treatment over the last four years, not allowing them to be options because on some level, I thought I wasn't worth it and deserved to be sick. These toxic beliefs didn't just help contribute to illness, they helped prolong it. 

I used to blame myself for getting this illness because I piled so much stress on myself psychologically, emotionally, physically and nutritionally. But that was back before I understood the factors that go into this condition. I know I wouldn't have gotten this illness if I didn't have a genetic predisposition towards it. I can think of things I did to precipitate this illness till I'm blue in the face, but to be honest, most people use their bodies far more than I ever did or will, and they are strong and healthy like oxen. I started out with a genetically weaker and more susceptible body, so I would have had to have walked perfectly on eggshells my whole life, completely stress free in order to not have not gotten this illness. At best I probably could have delayed the illness till my late 40's or so, even if I nourished myself 100%. My mom has always had low blood pressure and a tendency towards this condition. She managed to delay getting chronic fatigue until she was in her 50's. Before she reached her 60's, she was 80-90% recovered. She had a mild case. My sister got this same illness in her 40's, and two years later she is almost as recovered as my mom is. Again, she didn't have that severe a case, either. A cousin of mine got it nine years ago and recovered from it. She was pretty bad off, as all her symptoms mirrored mine, but she's fine now.

I know I will recover completely. Not even genetics can stand in my way. I'd like to learn more about our ability to reprogram the genes so that illness is no longer a part of our DNA code. 

In any case, I'm just relieved that I'm not blocking my body's attempts to heal with any more hidden, toxic thoughts. I'm finally allowing myself to see and accept treatments. I recently invested in a Bio Tuner, which eased me into parasympathetic state within a month and calmed the anxiety and panic attacks that had been bothering me for four years. I also finally made the decision to start Nutritional Balancing through hair mineral analysis. I'm two months into the program, and already I feel stronger and more balanced. I'm looking forward to making more updates as I go along. 


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dousing a fire

Back when things
just rolled right
off me.
Why do I often feel so sensitive, defensive and maligned against? Some days, it's like my body is a magnet that draws to itself and magnifies each hurt, each bit of slander, each little judgement I sense may be directed towards me. What some people can easily shrug off is like a crushing weight to me.

I used to be able to shrug off implied insults or hurts more easily when I was young. They seemed to roll off me like water off a duck's back. I just didn't get insulted. Direct insults didn't hurt me, even when they were directed right at me. It's like I knew I was a winner, and not much could bring me down.
I can sense in my deepest self that I will get back to that point where it's tough to get insulted. When my autopilot automatically assumes the best intention from someone else, and I don't take things personally.

The last few months, it seems like the last of the patriarchal male abusers in my family have been rearing up their heads and threatening me. It's like I am reliving my childhood, but now instead of my father wreaking havoc, it's now my brother in law and others who are conspiring together against me.

I've been pinching myself lately, to see if the scenarios playing around me are real. I mean, seriously? I left my toxic family in my mid 20's and set off for a city many hours away. I spent the rest of my twenties and half my thirties far away from them. And I was so happy and oblivious, finally leading life surrounded by healthy, normal people. It was such a relief to be away from it all.

Age 31 or so, on my own, healthy and loving life. With a good friend.

And now, because of the illness, I had to move back to my hometown to be close to my family, and I'm in the inner circle again, being bullied, poked and prodded by the men. Being shamed, judged, controlled, trapped.
Several of the family members closest to me have been disillusioned with me because I won't participate in negative, judgemental conversations, and I won't embrace the toxic religion. They are angry because I don't believe that man is innately sinful, and that I don't believe in a judgemental God who dooms people to hell, and only allows certain in to heaven. 

Somehow, word got out in my family that my sister Thalia and I are Buddhists. My brother in law Clark recently informed his wife Louisa that Thalia and I aren't allowed to babysit their two kids Sabrina and Patrick because they think that we will poison their minds with Buddhism. Seriously? He is an abuser who hits his wife and kids, and he thinks a Buddhist is a danger to his children? I don't even know fully what a Buddhist believes, but I imagine a child is quite safe around someone of this persuasion. My sister Louisa is powerless to say no to Clark, because she is afraid of him. As a wife, she is to be submissive to his spiritual guidance. To open her mind and rationalize that her own two sisters are harmless would be tantamount to insubordination, a sin that she doesn't have the courage to commit. My mom and other sisters are powerless as well, because we are not men. A man is the spiritual head of the house, and what he says is final. Because Clark has the label "Christian" firmly planted on his forehead, whatever he authorizes is solid and unquestionable, period. No female has the right to question him, and if they are foolish enough to, the other women in my family will shush you down in embarrasment and shame, and the men will bully or threaten you.

Enjoying life, no judgements, complete freedom to be me.

So Thalia and I are  on the outs as far as contact with the kids goes. And yet it was Thalia who opened her door to Louisa and her kids when Clark physically abused them two summers ago, when my parents refused to give Louisa or her kids refuge at their homestead. My parents approved of Clark's actions, since he was a Godly patriarch. They said that divorce wasn't an option because Clark hadn't cheated on Louisa, so she shouldn't give up on him. So when Louisa had nowhere to go, Thalia told Louisa that she and the kids she was more than welcome at her place. That was the same summer I had gotten so sick and had to leave NYC, with nowhere to go. My parents wouldn't take me in, so that July Thalia took in Louisa, her kids, and me. It was crowded in her place. It was the summer of the three sisters, all of us living in one house with Louisa's kids. We were sharing beds and couches. But Thalia made it work. She was the good Samaritan who gave from her heart when my Christian parents turned a cold ear to us.
It is no wonder that Clark is being vicious to Thalia and I. In his religion, it's OK to bully or shun others who fall short of the faith. Apparently, neither she nor I are Christian enough, so he has the right to with-hold our niece and nephew from us. Also, Thalia encouraged Louisa to get away from Clark when he was abusing her. So he has it in for her. His Christian faith tells him it's OK to fight fire with fire. To go in there with a blazing sword, cutting right and left without compassion. I thought that Jesus' message was to face an enemy with love. And yet, in my family's cultish beliefs, they act like even Jesus was too soft, and if he was a man he would have burnt the backsides of anyone who crossed him. My family is so pious and they say they believe the Bible, but they twist the kindest, most loving passages of the Bible and make them sound cruel.
My family delights in judging me. I'm being told that I'm sick because I haven't forgiven my father. The truth is that I love my father for who he Really is. I love my father because underneath, he is loving, compassionate, kind, soft spoken, and nurturing. True, I haven't seen him display these qualities to me, my family or others. But that's how I choose to view him- for my own sanity and because underneath, that's his real identity. My father doesn't know who he Really is. He left his real self behind decades before I was born, and my siblings and I have only experienced him as cruel, angry, violent, abrasive, loud, hypocritcal, controlling, and abusive. His religion tells him this is OK, and this is who he is content being. Because of this, he will keep hurting me if I spend time around him. So I choose not to go over to the house a lot. I choose not to make a close bond with him because he will hurt me again. The last time I spoke to him, he told me that he didn't like me and wasn't able to get close to me when I was a child or as I am now. He said that I reminded him of himself, more than my siblings do, and it repelled him, since he hates himself. That's why he hated me and not my siblings as much. Now why would I want to speak with this man further when doing so results in a spill of toxins such as this. It is his norm to say hurtful things like this with no regard to another's feelings. His empathy switch is broken. To continue to pursue connections with him will simply result in me hearing more of this line of thinking. If I was a masochist, I should pursue a relationship with him. But because I love myself and I love my father for who he Really is, I will not allow him to hurt me anymore because I'm removing myself from the situation.
And yet, my words go over their heads. I'm told if I really forgave my dad, that I would want a close relationship with him, and that I would be going over to the house more often like most of my other brothers and sisters.

A few months ago when my mom was visiting me, I let down my guard and told my mom that I was abused by my dad. I had kept in a secret, and she hadn't known about it. No one did. When I told her, I shared that it had been a major factor in causing me trauma and leading to the current illness. I was crying and blubbering, because it was a big deal to open up and share this. My mom's response was that she was embarrassed for me. She gave me this weird look, as if she didn't believe me, and said, "Where was I?" As if to say that she would have known if I was being abused. And yet she was abused and to this day refuses to admit it. Her religion says this kind of treatment is God blessed. 
Thalia was talking with my mom the other day on the phone, and my mom told Thalia that I was having issues and really needed to forgive my father. She also said that I needed to start going to church with my husband Karl, and that I wasn't trying hard enough to be a good Christian wife. She pitied Karl for having to go alone. Ugggh. My mom still doesn't see that the illness keeps me feeling so sick, it's impossible most days to get up off the couch. I love my mom so much. I see her pure and good essence. I also see the black inky cloud of toxins blinding her eyes. She doesn't know any better. I wished that I hadn't let my guard down and let myself be vulnerable in front of her when I shared about the abuse. She turned around and used it against me. She didn't know any better. That's what her religion requires of her, judgement. If she's not judging, then she is slacking as a Christian. My mom wants me to just back down, be silent, and not cause waves. Her first job is protecting my father. She told me confidentially that she wouldn't share what I told her with my father. She said it would "shatter" him. A Godly woman's loyalty is first and foremost towards her husband, even if the husband is harming her children. It is her job to protect him and shame anyone that dares to question him.
Louisa is just as dominated by Clark. Louisa came over to visit Thalia and I the other Saturday. We were talking about religion. I was going on about my favorite topic. I was sharing how I was so confused how the more a man studied religion, the more cruel and abusive he got. I brought up our dad, Clark and Karl as examples. I was sharing how the more Karl hung out with Clark, the angrier and more violent Karl has become. Louisa said that no, Clark had changed. I said, "Yeah he changed because you put your foot down and left him. He got scared. It was you, Louisa, who made the change, not him." Then I was sharing how I wanted no more to do with that religion, because all I saw was hatred and cruelty. Then Louisa bursts into tears and says that she wishes we would just come back to the faith. She told us that she was afraid that Thalia and I would go to hell, and she didn't want to loose us. Seriously! Ahh, now I am on the receiving line. I used to watch Christians try to witness to non-Christians all the time. Awkward, unloving process. And here our own sister starts to try to witness to us, and it just doesn't fly, and she keeps crying.
Later, we came to realize that it wasn't the immortal souls of Thalia and I that Louisa was crying about. She had confided in my mom that Clark was getting more abusive towards her, and that he was getting too comfortable, thinking she wouldn't do anything more to try to leave. She's been having health problems, but he can't keep a job or the health insurance that goes along with it because he gets violent and gets fired from the scores of short term jobs he's had. She said that Clark was enraged at his current job and hated it, and that he was planning on damaging the equipment there so that he could get fired and collect unemployment. After that, he's planning on selling their home and going to a college in NY so that he can further his ministry and witness to the Jews. No wonder Louisa had burst into tears. I would be crying too.
And this is the kind of man who is mentoring Karl in the faith. This is who is teaching my husband. I'm being bullied now by Clark. It feels so childish to be subjugated to this kind of treatment again. I  left this behind twelve years ago, and I am reliving it again because I'm temporarily in a powerless position. The men in my family know that both Thalia and I aren't able to get away from them and the religion because our health makes us dependent on them, on the family.

Full of life and healthy. On a bus tour in the DC area.
This is so not my reality. I have not manifested this. I do not resonate with this. Well, OK, let me be honest. The old me did manifest all this in the first year and a half that I moved home. The me I used to be would have resonated with what's happening around me. But my new self, my healthy self doesn't jive with the old patriarchal ways anymore. And that is why there is dissonance in my home, in my life. If I reverted to doormat status and let them push me around and dominate me with the toxic religious beliefs, there would be harmony around here. But I've changed since then, and I won't let them degrade my spirit. I have to remind myself that my current situation was created by the uninformed me of a few years ago. I'm creating new and healthy situations for myself as I go along because my mind is healthy and loving.

I realize that the males in my family are unawakened and don't know who they really are. I know they're doing what they're doing out of fear. This religion is the first thing each of them has discovered that keeps them afloat, and if they feel it is being threatened, they will lash out. It's like trying to take a security blanket or life preserver away from a scared, hurt child, he will lash out. Maybe throw a tantrum. As he gets older, he will bully or shun you if you threaten him and his beliefs again. It's a self preservation tactic. He is just afraid.

So I understand each of them on some level. But it is degrading to my soul to be in this situation in a waiting pattern. I feel incredible sadness, as well as a heavy weight in my mind and in my shoulders each time the toxins leak out during a phone call or face to face conversation on the homestead. I feel so hated, so worthless, so wrinkled up in the soul. Until I remind myself who I really am, then I'm ok.  But I have to keep re-energizing myself again and again, and it is an energy drain. I'm able to do it, but my energy could be better utilized. I realize I wouldn't have to keep re-healing through self love if I didn't live smack dab in the center of this nest of bees I call my family.

Taken when I was 26, a year after I was
out on my own for the first time. So happy.
My strength is knowing that I can walk away from this. I was so much happier when I lived far from my family, and was oblivious to them. I left before, and I can do it again. The first time I left, I didn't know what I was leaving, and I didn't know who I was. This time I know who I really am. Karl and I can move to another state. Meanwhile I'll try not to take it personally. I will try to see and love them for who they really are while I am biding my time here. I won't confide in the other female pawns in my life, as they will only tell the patriarchs and make it worse for me. I will try to make more friends online, and associate with people who are loving and healthy minded. I will believe in myself and accept that I truly am getting healthier, and that I'm manifesting healthy situations for myself as I go along.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Celebrate yourself!

Me as a baby. Cheek city.
So I have been comparing my old beliefs and new beliefs a good bit lately.  I guess there was one old and new habit that I haven't explored much yet. Maybe I haven't explored it because I haven't settled comfortably into the new habit even as of now?
I used to believe that it was sinful to have a hobby, likes and dislikes and even a personality. I also believed that it was sinful to love yourself, since you were at your deepest core a sinner. Can you believe that? I can hardly believe it either, but somehow it was a way of life for me. I was taught that the only God approved pursuits in life included Bible study and prayer. All else was bordering on the slippery slope of being worldy. Working, eating, speaking, interacting with people, simply being OK for even a moment with being in the world... these were carnal activities that were to be limited strictly. These activities would bring punishment from God if indulged in, and were supposed to be engaged in as rarely as possible.
Age five
I learned early on to remain as quiet and colorless as possible. That was the safest course of action at the homestead where I grew up. I obediantly shunned development in my personality. I learned to avoid developing likes or dislikes. I learned that I was supposed to float in a dark and quiet, joyless world that included only stictly religious thoughts and activities. I did question this particular belief and fought against it in my mind, but out of fear I gradually bent closer and closer to the will of God and my father and I became a colorless soul. Mild as luke warm water and safely bland. I carried this belief unfortunately throughout my life, up until today. Even right now it is a part of my make up. I am glad I'm writing this post so that finally today I realize that this is a groundless, false belief. I have had a hard time being brave enough to identify in public, in conversation or even to myself what I believe in, what I enjoy, what makes me tick. But I plan on exploring who I am further. I want to learn to openly celebrate me without fear of punishment.

I know now that the best way to celebrate God is to celebrate your own colorful self in the world. So I'm now going to practice focusing my energy on celebrating me without shame or fear.
Where do I begin? What do I love? What makes me smile? I feel hesitant to even answer these questions. I feel guilty taking up the time and space on this blog to focus on  me. But I should remind myself that this is a new page in my life. This is actually a healthy process! It's alright to do this.
I love the warmth of the sun on my skin. I love the second of transition between the freezing chill before the sun drapes suddenly on my body and the goosebumps that instantly sprout up the second I sense the warmth of the sun spreading like a glow, like warm butter seeping through toast.
I loved laying on my bed looking through my bedroom window screen as a child during the late afternoons after school, watching the sun highlight the curve of hill in our backyard. The screen pixilated the yard into thousands of tiny dots, each a different hazy shade of green. I would squint my eyes to make the view more blurry and dreamy looking, then I would open my eyes to make it crisp and neat again. Over and over. No wonder my mom thought I was autistic, right? I would get lost staring at the dotted variations of green, trying to replay them in my mind as if I were going to paint each tiny shade on a canvas, dot by dot. My view would change depending on the slant of the sun, time of day, and season. Sometimes golden yellow, with purply green shadows. Sometimes almost bleached out when the sun parched the grass in summer. And autumn? I would sit for hours on my bed leaning against a pillow, cuddling with my safety blanket, sucking my thumb and contemplating the colors outside my screen window. Those were good times.
When I was a kid, my ears looked like elf ears, and I was little and thin. My parents jokingly told me I was part elf and part angel. The angel part because my shoulder blade bones stuck out when I moved, and they told me those bones were angel wing stumps. I half believed them. I got mad because my dad would try to "pull" my "angel wings," which meant he tried to touch my shoulder bones to check if they were wing stumps or not. I used to spend a lot of time in the woods behind my house in a kind of quiet contemplation of nature. I would swing on a swing up there by myself, thinking up stories and poems, getting lost in appreciating the sun glancing off the trees and reflecting on the meaning of life.
As a child, I didn't talk in school. At first, it wasn't necessary because I was so busy observing and storing up images in my mind of what was going on around me. One day in maybe third grade, I was standing in the recess line, and I turned and said something to a girl who was playing jump rope with me earlier. One of the boys in my class heard me, turned around, and let out this loud whoop, yelling "She talked!!!!" I was mortified, because that was the boy I had a crush on. All eyes in that recess line turned slowly toward me in slow motion. They were asking me if I was going to talk again. I didn't like the attention at all, so I clamped my mouth closed. If it was this big of a deal to say something, then I  certainly was not going to talk again anytime soon. So I didn't. The only time I said something the rest of elementary school was when I spoke very quietly to my almost friend Jennifer when no one else was paying attention.
So I had a blanket when I was little. It was cream colored with silk edges. I used to take it everywhere. Even to dinner. I would sit with it in my lap at the kitchen table. To fall asleep, I would rub the silk part and suck my thumb. I did this until I was eleven. I kept the edges of the blanket until I was 24. I was good for a few years without it. Then when things got stressful for me when I was 27 or so, I had to go buy another blanket with silk edges, so I could sleep. When I was under severe stress, I cut the edge off the blanket and kept it in my pocket so I could feel it there. It got to be a habit, and I still have an edge in several of my coat and sweatshirt pockets. It's kind of like a lucky rabbit foot that people keep in their pocket or on a keychain. Except it's not a rabbit foot, and it doesn't make me feel lucky. I'm not sure how I picked up this blanket habit, but I'm going to celebrate it, because it makes me unique, and it is what makes up me.
Helping a little tyke. 
I love music. I play the piano and just started learning to play guitar. Animals. I am drawn towards them. I feel more comfortable around them than I do around most people. I feel like I am grounded around them, and I draw energy and peace from being around them. I like to think that I bounce that energy and those good vibes back to them. I was holding my nephew's bunny Alfie the other night. I was at a dinner party and I was on the verge of passing out and feeling sick. But if I concentrated on Alfie, I could re-center myself and not go as deep into a crash as I otherwise would have.  Alfie's nose just kept wiggling and his whiskers kept time with the movement, and it made me laugh. Each time I laughed, he twitched nervously in a knee jerk reaction kind of way, so I would relax my body and stroke his head and put him into a bunny trance. Not the deep bunny trance, just a mild version of one. I was giving him a bunny massage, so that if he had any aches or pains or worries, I could ease them away.
Our cat Maggie is still getting to know me. I don't know why she doesn't seem to bond with me... yet. She has been the only connundrum as far as me jiving with pretty much any animal. Maybe this is just how cats are. I wouldn't know because she's my first official cat. But I just love her to bits. She likes to be held upside down, and she stretches her front and back legs out as far as they go in either direction so she looks like a skinny rocket. That's her way of saying, "Rub my belly. Now." I lay my face on her belly and rub my cheek on her fur and listen to her heart beating. 
A few people have told me that when I talk, I sound like I'm speaking poetry. Like I speak in metaphor, use similies, don't finish my sentences, and speak of impressions, nuances, subtleties. It's true. I don't like speaking about facts. It feels too direct, too bald, stark, naked. I don't like getting to the point in a direct way. I'd rather circle around intuitively and let people draw their own conclusions, since I'm sure they are smart enough to do so without me doing it for them.
As far as careers go, I was an elementary school teacher. Most of the time, I loved it. But in a way, I didn't always fit in. I remember we would have meetings where the principal would focus on a discipline such as academic rigor. Ugh, that those words drove me nuts. Then she would have us brainstorm in groups what academic rigor meant. Then we would have to share out loud, and then write it down with these colorful markers on a huge sheet of paper taped to the wall. Or her smart board if it was working. It was tiresome and monotonous pinning those facts down. I wanted to focus on how "academic rigor" personally affected the children in our particular class and each of us as teachers and how we could change it to fit our own unique teaching styles. I didn't like the depersonalization in those meetings.
Reading to some kids
So in some ways I was resistant to the typical teacher stereotype. But in other ways, being a teacher suited me quite well. I loved being the one responsible for teaching 28 children each year how to read. What a priviledge!  My favorite memory from childhood is the very second I first realized that I was actually reading, and that I could read anything I wanted to from then on with no help from an adult. I was seven years old, and I was leaning against the lattice of our porch in the shade because the sun was too bright in the center of the porch. I was wearing shorts and I had goosebumps on my legs because I was reading "The Ghost of Windy Hill." Well, I was actually just looking at the pictures, which were drawn in charcoal with these  mysterious dark strokes. Even the wisps of hair of the children on the page were waving in the wind spookily. The folds in their clothing and the thinness of their legs was spooky. The dust poofing up from their stage coach as it pulled away from their home on the hill was spooky. I don't know how many countless times I sat and "read" that book by falling into the story through the portal of those thinly drawn, whispy pictures. I didn't know how to read, but I remembered the jist of the story from when my mom read it to me, and I had the first few lines of each chapter sort of memorized.
That afternoon on the porch, I was planning to just treat myself to a spooky session with the illustrations. I would run certain cryptic lines through my head like, "On a dark and cloudless night, when the moon was full and the hoot of an owl lingered in the wind...." Then I found myself looking at the lines in the book, and suddenly, the words were flowing and it wasn't the pictures telling the story. It was me....reading the story. Suddenly, I was in the book for real, and I was the reader, not my mom and not my sister. I started getting goosebumps on my legs again. So I hugged myself really tightly, then scooted over to the slant of sun in the center of the porch and stretched my legs out. The goosebumps were going big time, and I felt a warm chill of excitement and sun. I was reading on my own! I was unlocking the mystery of the Ghost of Windy Hill all by myself! I felt such power, like I was on top of the world. Finally! I can't remember a childhood thrill higher than what I felt that day. It was like the wealth of the world suddenly spread out at my feet, and I was master of all I could see. I had the key now, and I could unlock a book and the richness of the world anytime I wanted!
I had to tell somebody. So I ran into the kitchen, banging the screen door behind me. I tugged on my mom's sleeve while she was cooking at the stove. "I can read! By myself!" My mom barely turned her head. "I thought you already could read?" she said. I knew she meant that I could read the simple little boring, basal book that I brought home for homework. "No," I said, "I just read The Ghost of Windy Hill'! I never could read that by myself before. Now I know I can read anything!"
My mom was happy for me, but it was not monumental news for her. She had dinner to get on the table. I wasn't deflated by her inability to see how amazing this event was. I walked on air the rest of that evening and week. I remember when I was 17 and I took my own car out for the first time by myself. I was completely elated and felt like I was set free. I could go anywhere I wanted, anytime, without asking. Talk about freedom. But as exciting as that was, I remember thinking... this doesn't even compare to how amazed I was that day I learned to read on my own.
 Me sporting some serious under eye darkness.
I was also bummed that the illness
caused me to loose too much weight. 
Looking back, I remember that I actually didn't go to kindergarten. My mom asked me one year if I wanted to go, and I said, "No. I want to stay home and play." She said, "OK," thinking that I was too shy anyway. The next year she asked me again, and I said, "No." She said that I would have to go, but I had missed kindergarten, so I would have to go straight into first grade. I went into first grade not knowing my alphabet and not knowing how to read. I remember my first grade teacher showing me these flash cards with words and pictures on each card. Most of the cards I could guess just from looking at the picture. But then there were two cards that each featured a purplish jar on them. One card said "jam" and the other said "jelly." For the life of me, I couldn't get them straight and I was mortified each time. My teacher asked me to sound them out, and I had no clue what she was talking about. I was such a people pleaser that it broke my heart to see my beautiful teacher purse up her lips in a slightly frustrated way. Many years later when I became a first grade teacher, I would always remember how lost I was, and how much I wanted my teacher to smile and be proud of me. It makes teaching such as honor, to be entrusted with such impressionable little people.  
OK, so what else do I like. I like when men speak in quiet, calm gentle voices. I feel so validated when I see a man helping a hurt or crying child, animal or helpless person. It is quite healing. When I witness this, it is like everything suddenly becomes right in the world, and my brain goes, "Ahhhhh." I feel energized when I see a man choosing compassion and love over a "rule" or tradition that would indicate otherwise. I like when people ask "why?"
I like when people see past the written word to the idea underneath. I love when others see the big picture with me, or show me the big picture. When you can see the forest and the trees in crystal clarity both at the same time. It's also great to have a connection with someone past the spoken word. It's neat to run into people who I "get" in an instant, even though we don't exchange an ounce of conversation. Sometimes I can even tell from a photograph. It doesn't matter what their bringing up is, their nationality, religion, or life experience.... I intuitively can read people and make connections on a level where speaking isn't necessary.
Summer 2008 with a rum and coke at Lake George, NY
You could say that I am a day dreamer. People can tell me pretty much anything, and it goes in one ear and slightly out the other. I have to focus to catch on when people are talking. But if I read something in print, I grasp the concept effortlessly. Which is why I'm interested in sharpening my auditory skills. So I can be more in tune with the rest of the world. Listening to audio books might be helping, so I've been investing time with them and my ear buds lately.
Most times, I feel like I have the mind of a teenager even while I'm in an adult body. I don't know who I am, so I still try on different ways of being. I'm a chammeleon, changing to accomodate who I'm around, who I'm speaking to. Afraid to commit to being anybody, with any kind of thoughts of my own.  Trying to wear bland colors and blend in, trying to act like I don't exist because I don't have the right to a place in this world. Not asserting myself in conversation. Listening, absorbing, and deflecting what people say to me, making them feel good about themselves. Leaving my opinions untouched, because I feel I don't have a right to them. 
I've been practicing saying what I really think to those closest to me. Those closest to me are mainly my family members caught in the religious web, and let me tell you, I get guff from them. Resistance, averted eyes, shame, guilt. And yet I don't back down like I used to. I always feel my temperature rising, my heart beating faster, my adrenaline pumping. I know I'm standing up for myself, and it takes effort. I feel their judgement of me, I feel the heaviness of their resistance towards me. I feel like a caged bird beating it's wings very fast and hard against the bars of a cage, banging the door and almost popping it open. I feel like a half smothered bird trying to peck at whoever is holding me down when I express myself to these family members. I know I must speak up in order to keep my head above water. To stay silent anymore is detrimental, and something deep inside of me knows this.
I've let others decieve me long enough. I've ignored who I am long enough. Well, those days are gone. I believe in myself now, and I want to discover more of who I really am.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sun soaked limbs

When I was about five years old, I had a secret. I knew that God and I were one, that he was quite proud of me. I knew I was absolutely amazing. I remember being young and stretching out on my mom's bed after taking a nap in a patch of afternoon sun. These thoughts would make me stretch out my arms and fingers, and my little toes would splay outwards. I would feel happiness and electricity, a warmth in my body.

Then one day, reality struck. Well, looking back I don't need to say "reality" struck. Let's rephrase. Then one day, a mis-truth struck me. I was in church with my parents and the other adults during a sermon. My feet were dangling quite high above the red carpet and my 5 siblings were lollygagging around me, leaning on me on one side, another sibling slouching and poking me on the other side. We weren't allowed to go downstairs to the children's church because my father didn't trust the uneducated, soft female teachers there. They might lead us astray. So I was listening to the pastor, and he was speaking of Moses and the burning bush. He said that God's glory was so great that if a human were ever to see his face, that human would die. I became instantly aghast when I heard that. I wondered, "But why am I not dead, then?"
I knew I had seen God's face, and I knew my glory was the same as His. I had known this simple truth in my child's mind while basking in the sun after napping on my mom's bed. I tried to make sense of this dilemma. The pastor said I was supposed to be dead by now. Hmmm. I wasn't dead. So maybe God spared me, and only me. Maybe I was more special than any of these nutsy adults in the church? I did an inward check. Did I feel special, still? I listened to my body and thought for a few minutes. Kind of special, still. Yes, God must have spared me. But why was I different than everyone else? Suddenly I remembered the pastor talking about the Anti-Christ, who was clothed with light and thought he was God. Oh no! Perhaps I was the Anti-Christ, since I thought I was one with God? Absolutely not. The Anti-Christ was supposed to be evil, and I was so not evil, at all. The thought horrified me. And confused me all the more.

So I met up with God during the next naptime laying beside my sleeping mom and sister. I conspiratorily whispered to Him, "God, you and I really know better. I don't think you'd ever kill me for seeing your face. You already spared me because I saw your face. But the pastor at church said I will surely die next time. I guess I get a few free passes with you while I'm young, but then I reach an age or time when I can't anymore. So I guess the pastor is right? If so, could you please not show your face to me anymore? I really like my life here and don't want to die. Thanks!"

I was looking forward to feeling better after I said this prayer. But I felt jumbled up on the inside, less relaxed in my body. I woke my mom and told her in probably a less than coherent way my dilemma. By the lack of depth in her eyes, I could tell she didn't understand, but she assured me I wasn't the Anti-Christ, that I was a good girl, and that I shouldn't think anymore about it anymore. So I decided it was probably safer to not think. I decided that I was inside my mind too much, and that I should just focus on the physical, real world instead of daydreaming. So I did just that. But the naps I took with my mom and two year old sister in my mom's late afternoon, sun-gilded bedroom somehow lost that magical, safe, honey soaked, amber hued happiness that used to settle so happily in my child's limbs.

My childhood memory is now fresh in my mind because my friend Jason shared an anecdote on Facebook the other day that triggered it. Jason is an intellectual who is always thinking, always pondering. He is a strict, logical, Bible believing kind of fellow. 

So Jason wrote: "Autocorrect can be Interesting, but I have an interesting autofill issue that's kinda funny. My email address begins with "Godismylivinggod@****.com. So, whenever I send myself an email, all I do is type "God" and the email comes to me because autofill finishes the address. I don't know, it's funny to me because I send my email address to "God" and it comes to me. Maybe it's just too early for me to be thinking. Or better yet, me thinking and having access to update my status!"

Oh, Jason!  This does makes for a fun story. Full of irony on a groggy morning. But maybe the irony in this story is that there is no irony there at all.

I know that the subject behind my blog post today could be construed as a bit sensitive to some folks. So sensitive that I'm not even putting the subject into words. It is light and floating. I won't pin it down. I'm keeping a light hearted tone, here. I really do love pushing the envelope and trying to open my mind to all the possibilities. I know my Creator is smiling broadly at me, very pleased with my alert, inquisitive mind. He or she is saying, "Atta Girl!"


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lush and new jeans

There are three things in this world that I could tend to splurge on, if I let myself: books, plants and gardening supplies, and creative bath products from Lush. True, my list changes from year to year, but my current list has remained constant for the last three years.
Books. Ahhh. I've been putting the brakes on the number of books I've bought over the last few years, but if I didn't deny myself, I'd invest in at least four books per month. When I was in NYC and rode the trains for up to two hours per day, I'd try to make sure I'd have a meaty novel stored away in my bag. It was such pleasure to open and get lost in my book while on the train. My day would bog down if I had to carry so much in my bag that there wasn't room for a book. I was a voracious reader as a kid. When I got out of high school though, I stopped because I felt guilty reading anything that would lead me astray. I knew the Bible was deemed good to read, but because I wasn't sure what else was acceptable, I took the safe route out of fear and gave up my love of reading in a martyer like way. How painful that was. I know now the sky is the limit for me book wise, and I will not be judged. Liberating, beautiful thought. Recently, I've been listening to audio books with my ear buds. I feel like a kid being read a bed time story. It makes me feel warm and safe, cared for, despite whatever the book is actually about. I get used to the intonation and texture of the reader's voice, and I feel like that voice is a dear friend.
Plants. I have a grin from ear to ear just thinking about this spring's garden. I once dug up a decent sized chunk of my parent's front lawn. I turned it into a wildflower garden when I used to live at home while still in college. It was so enjoyable landscaping the yard, feeling the dirt beneath my hands and sculpting it to rise or curve just so. I would plot the curves of little pathways in dirt or stone, planning out the various colors and textures of plants. After I moved out of my parent's home, I went through five years of no gardening as I moved in and out of various apartments that didn't permit digging in the lawn. Then I spent five more years in NYC and became starved nature-wise. I would have to travel by train 45 minutes to go to a decent park just to get a plant and nature fix. But the parks there were congested, teeming with tourists and locals, so peace of mind was not to be had that easily. Now finally I am living in my hometown in an apartment where I have a garden plot that is about 6 feet by 5 feet. Karl and I are moving to our own home in a few months, and I will have basically the whole lawn to do whatever I want to it. I typically am a saver and not a spender, don't have a shoe or jewelry fetish, don't really shop for clothing, and can easily spend a day or two window shopping, coming home without buying something. But when it comes to plants, I don't really monitor my spending. That is one joy that I splurge on. If my family members were to read this, they would say, "What?" My idea of splurging would actually be buying 1/10 of what I should for a garden, and hand crafting the rest.
So, books, garden supplies, and... Lush. Actually, to be honest, the cosmetic, beauty and bath aisle of any department store will do. I remember I'd go after work to the Rite Aid or Duane Reade down the street from my apartment when I lived in NYC. I'd go in simply to get a roll of toilet paper, and I'd end up dreamily in the make up aisle, or sniffing the deodorants. I think I have a thing about smelling good. When I was a kid, I was only allowed to take a bath once a week. So that stuck with me, and when I got old enough to shower anytime I wanted, I reveled in the luxury of it.
It's funny. I've been fore-going showers on and off for the last four years. This illness has caused me to sometimes become too fatigued to undress and get a shower. Sometimes I get dizzy, light headed and nauseous in the shower and have to skip it or fore go it. Standing up to blow dry my hair has often been such an effort that I have had to lay down afterwards. To conserve energy, I've gone months where I could shower only every other day. For the first few years, this made me really angry. I'd be frustrated that I couldn't even do the basics to keep myself clean. The last few months I've come to a place of calm, though. I think I'm more accepting of myself and take it in stride.
However, it's almost spring, and I want to celebrate. I feel new on the inside, and I want to splurge on some girly stuff. I've been saving money for way too long. True, I don't work and haven't for four years. But it's time to break free and treat myself. I want to order from the store Lush. If you've never gone in a Lush store, you're in for a treat. It's like Bath and Body works times 100. Visually, it looks like a haven, an oasis of color. And it smells divine.

When you first step in you kind of think you're in a candy shop because it's so bright, but the atmosphere seems slower, safer, more mellow and serene than the busyness of a candy shop.

The mood is soft and serene in the shop. There are huge round blocks of beautifully hued soaps hanging down along the windows, catching the sunlight and glowing.

Then there are slices of these soaps stacked up in walls
from the floor upwards.

Honey, amber, translucents, aquamarine mint soaps, butter colors, liquid wine red with swaths of purple, hardy moss and earth smelling soaps.

Then in the middle of the store there are tables full of baskets of bath bombs and butter bars in  delectable smells and shapes.

I seem to get lost in this store each time I go.

 Time slows and I feast my eyes and nose on each soap, picking them
up and feeling their marshmallowy textures.

 I usually become glazed over in a stupor in this store.

The soaps look and sometimes smell like cupcakes or
marshmallow candy. But more buttery and sweeter. 

I loose all track of time in this store, and usually, I need to be dragged out.
The last time I was there was four years ago in NYC. I'm going
to have to order online soon.

Next on the list of things to buy: a pair of jeans that fits. I haven't gone out shopping for over four years, and my jean supply has dwindled down from maybe eight pairs of jeans to one pair. Most got holes in the knees or back pockets, or got paint on them, or got dirt stained by me sitting on the ground gardening in them. The jeans I have now are too loose, and are falling off my hips. Not nice. I wear bulky sweatshirts to keep me warm in the winter, so I look like a shapeless snowman. I am longing for a pair of tight jeans that I don't have to hitch up every time I move. As much as I'm longing for summer so I can wear tank tops and move freely without the constriction of tons of layers of clothing. These jeans will be my motivation. I somehow became agoraphobic over the last year or so due to being afraid that a crash would hit me out of the blue while out in public. However, I really, really want new jeans. I can feel their tightness on my legs. I've been contemplating going out to get them for the last two months. I'm going to sit here and contemplate them a little more right now.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Easier to love

I've been learning about reincarnation and past life regression lately. I've only recently been receptive to learning more, and so this is relatively new. This stuff is mind blowing. It gives me peace knowing that I have lived maybe thousands of lives before, and will live many more lives. There are so many things that I've always wanted to do and explore, and one lifetime is not nearly enough. 

The thing that strikes me most recently though is that suddenly, it is easier to forgive my father for abusing me as a child. Because I have been many, many people in my past lives. I easily could have been a position of power where I could have been a religious abuser in one of my past lives, just like he is now. Even in my present life, up until recently, I myself was religious and a bit dogmatic. I thought I had to be tough with people, ignoring them and not being compassionate to them for religious reasons. I don't place any judgement on myself for this, though. I didn't know what I was doing. Otherwise I would have stopped, right? I thought God approved of this. I feared being punished by God if I didn't act this way. If I hate my father for being abusive to me, then I am hating my own self. I love myself without judgement, so I love my father without judgement. If he knew who he really was, he would be so transformed with love that he would have no ability to do anything but love others. In another life, he will eventually learn who he really is.
I also can't judge my mother, who allowed my father to abuse me. Because of all the thousands of lives I lived, I could have been a mother who overlooked my spouse's abuse of my children. Out of fear, or out of ignorance, I don't know. I can't judge my older sister Louisa for allowing her religious husband to physically and emotionally abuse her two kids. In a past life, I may have overlooked the same thing. 
I am everyone. I have been everyone. I see myself in everyone. I love myself, and I feel a warmth and love for everyone I meet. I have no judgement of myself or of others. We all reflect over and learn from our lives after we have lived them, and over thousands of years, we grow from young souls to more loving older souls. We carry over our wisdom learned through experience from one life to the next. As we learn compassion and love, we evolve into more peaceful, complete souls. There is no rush. There is no right or wrong. There is no punishment. It just is. We all get there sooner or later. Love wins. Love experiences itself through our human lives. God experiences himself through us. It is a divine process. And quite liberating. There is never anything you or I could do that is wrong. We are each infinitely loved, and we are infinite love.