Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waking up

                  The neighbor's lamp is lit all day, and stands in dark, cool tree shade. Maybe evening exists all day

                                          under the shade of just this tree.
The world is full of poetry, especially when I go on walks in my neighborhood and see magical stuff like the above stretch of yard and sidewalk. While I was out walking the other afternoon,  I was thinking about how we view ourselves. Someone mentioned to me the other day that the world just wants you to love yourself, but that is such a selfish thing to do. My ears perked up at such a concept. Hmmm.
The way I see it, the more in love you are with yourself, the more giving, generous, selfless and loving you are to others. The more you dislike yourself, the more egocentric, selfish and uncompassionate you will be.
So, yeah! Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are beautiful, gorgeous, handsome, you name it! Believe in your self worth. When someone compliments you, accept it fully! They are right. Tell yourself when you wake up in the morning how amazing you are, and how much you love yourself.
As I'm writing even now, these concepts I speak of are new to me. For most of my life, I believed lies about myself and assumed I was lesser than most people, quite worthless in fact. Thankfully, I know the truth about myself now.
And yet, every now and then, I slip back into old ways of thinking and don't realize it until I've already allowed myself into harmful situations. The awesome part here, though, is that now that I know the truth, these moments of forgetting are temporary. Since I'm now aware of my subconscious thoughts' past autopilot mode, and since I know these thoughts are not true, that simple knowledge helps me get back into alignment. I have a true north now that is steady and sure, whereas in the past I had no true north.
An example of me temporarily acting like I was still in my past has been happening this past month. Some of you all know I'm on an HTMA mineral analysis program that is helping me regain my health. I've been on the program for almost 6 months, and I've made progress. Recently, though, a new supplement I was recommended to take has been giving me trouble, and I had to back off from taking it. I started falling backwards and experiencing old flare ups for weeks on end. I was quite disappointed, then angry. Then I just accepted it as my lot and numbly decided to just go on with the program, accepting that I was just an oddity who wasn't worthy of health, and who even the program couldn't help. I started entertaining ideas that had been normal for me for as long as I can remember. Thoughts like, "This is your lot in life, you aren't meant to have any better. Accept your failings, you don't deserve any better. Keep quiet and just accept the awfulness of the situation, it's all you're meant to have. Just give up and accept your defeat. Your practitioner doesn't want to hear your whining, it's your fault the program isn't working. You aren't worth her time and effort or anybody's time and effort, so don't even waste your time or energy looking for alternatives. You are stuck in this rut, and you deserve no better."
I went on in a fog for weeks on end like this, and just realized yesterday morning that those were lies. I actually jumped up from where I was sitting at my kitchen table and told myself, "Wait. No, you ARE worth it! There is a solution here, a creative way out of this. I am worth it, just like everybody else out there. I accept that there is an alternate path here, and it is an amazing alternative. Because I'm amazing, and I'm worth this. I'm now a sponge for the good that is coming my way. I accept it."
And just like that, an alternative came to me out of the fog. The supplement that I was taking came in a tablet form which didn't agree with me. But there was another more gentle tablet form, as well as a transdermal spray where you could soak it up in your skin and not get the side effects that the tablet would give you. Problem solved. So I ordered both, and I'm now just waiting for UPS to ring the doorbell. 
I guess I never knew how transformational it could be to have a healthy sense of self. Back when I was 24 or so, one of my friends who was studying to be a chiropractor took me to see one of his chiropractic doctor friends. The chiropractor took a look at me because I had been having headaches since I fell off a bike at age 5. I still remember the look that doctor gave me. It was as if he could see right through me, when his eyes looked at mine. The look was of genuine compassion and sadness. He told me the condyle in my jaw was not in it's socket right, and that effected my whole jaw and bite. That was before I got braces, but he told me that braces alone would not fix the issue. He asked if I was in pain. He also said that some kind of T1 or T2, or was it C1 or C2 was out of alignment as well. But back to his look. It was more real and full of genuine emotion than any look I'd ever experienced in my life, except one other time. It stayed with me.
And yet, I let go what he said to me. I knew it might help to get some work done at a chiropractor to help me ease the headaches. But I felt like I deserved the ongoing pain of daily headaches. I was so used to being whooped by circumstances, and thought that pain was my lot in life. In the Bill Gothard religion that I was brainwashed and brought up in, I was encouraged to embrace pain and physical deformity. I had crooked teeth, TMJ, migraines, a misaligned condyle in my jaw, and scoliosis since I was a kid. I was assured that it was God's plan for me that I remain this way, and I had better accept it or else risk his judgement for trying to go outside of his will. To try to correct it was to anger my Creator, who made me like that on purpose. God apparently planned for this to happen to me, and he would become angry if I sought medical relief because of it. God designed my life to be this way. I was told it was my thorn in the flesh to keep me humble. To voice to my family or father that I wanted relief and help was to incur incalculable anger because

1) I expressed my feelings, and my feelings are not worth bringing into the light of day
2) I was not worth a mere fraction of the expense of correcting the problem
2) it would anger God.

To try to change a deformity would be pretentious, you would be thinking too highly of yourself. It was divine and heaven sent, and to try to ease your pain was to try to escape the refining fire of God. To try to relieve deformity or pain was to try to escape God's judgement, which would only bring upon me further judgement and further isolation from God. Truly a twisted way of thinking. Something you could believe only if you were also brainwashed to believe in your innate lack of worth.

I used to believe all of this because I so wanted my father to love me. Alas, he didn't, and my strict, full time efforts to constantly fall in line and obey blindly like he wanted only caused him to focus his ire on me, hate me more and impress on me my deep worthlessness in his eyes and my Creator's eyes.
That was then, but this is now. I made an appointment for this Friday to go see a chiropractor. Well, actually it's someone certified in the Rolfing technique who does myofascial release and structural integration. I'm so ready to invest in myself now, and to treat myself in the best possible ways.
This is only the beginning. I really laugh at the meager, spartan way I've treated myself my whole life. The relaxing things I've always wanted to experience but denied myself: swimming, hot tubs, dance lessons, long baths, riding horses, travelling, indulging in buying books, shopping, buying art supplies, going to a spa, facials, getting massages. Letting myself luxuriate. Enjoying who I am in this body. Making peace with myself.
I'm so glad I know the truth about myself. After all these years. It is so refreshing to have  a true north, and to know it will always be there. It always was. I just had a prolonged but temporary bout of amnesia. Which I'm ecstatic to be awakened from. Here's to waking up!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Being present

Silhouette of a grapevine that is wandering up the side of our kitchen window.

In the present moment, there is no suffering.
So as I stay in the present moment, I will always be safe.
The moment I think I am not present, is the moment I am. 

I am not this illness. I step outside myself and watch as an observer. I see that I am separate from this illness. It is not my identity.
A pained body thrives on pain. It can not thrive on joy. It finds joy quite inedible. So in this way, I can starve pain with joy. Eventually it will have no place to thrive in me and it will dissipate.

I am health, life, energy, upward momentum, spontaneous regeneration. This is my true identity and I accept it.  

Picnic by the river

Karl and I were invited to a surprise birthday party down at our local river park this past weekend that Clark planned for Louisa. I knew all my family members would be there. For a few days before the party, I entertained the thought of not going. But I decided I would go for Louisa. Also, I had a sudden flash of inspiration and asked myself- "What will they do to you at the picnic that you can't handle? Do they have an evil intent against you?"

And I realized that none of them had any mean intent towards me. In fact, I sensed that each of them was feeling quite good intentions toward me. Clark would be jovial and friendly, my father would smile and say he was glad to see me, and my mother would definitely beam and smile seeing me. They honestly couldn't help that they've said things that hurt me before. They honestly had no clue they were hurting me. I suddenly imagined each of them as little children, hurt and in pain. Very young children are innocent, but can act out when they are hurting because they don't know any other way to cope with their emotions. It helped me to see my relatives in this way... like they are harmless, innocent children who might act out. But they don't mean me any harm, their problem has nothing to do with me.

On the day of the party, something memorable happened. I was getting ready and picking out an outfit, after having just gotten a shower. And I remember suddenly realizing, "I am so calm. I feel so peaceful." Normally, the anticipation of going out on a car ride to any destination ties my stomach in knots and makes me woozy, nauseous and dizzy. Not on this particular day, though.

I felt like I was wrapped up in some kind of soft warm, protective blanket, but I could move freely. It felt like a buffer between me and the world. It was the opposite of what raw nerves would feel like (raw nerves being my autopilot the last few years). My body felt safe, and I felt very safe and comfortable in my body. It felt amazing. I felt light like a feather, light on my feet, full of calm energy, focused, grounded... safe. My head felt clear and I was looking forward to going to the picnic. I stopped for a few minutes to just experience what I was feeling. It felt so new, but I imagine this is what it felt like all the time for me before I got sick. I just forgot. And now here I'm experiencing this oneness with my body and complete health. And I accepted it. Smiled into the mirror and said, "I accept!"

I've heard it mentioned a few times by some of my online friends who have recovered from AF that it's so easy to get used to your new norm of health once it comes back to you. That you instantly forget what being sick was like, and being your old healthy self again is as easy as riding a bike. Even if you haven't ridden it for awhile, it comes back to you instantly. I believe it. I just got a taste of it that day.

On the drive down to the river, I reminded myself to look at my relatives as little innocent children... if they acted up it was because they were in pain themselves and didn't know how to express it. They wouldn't be angry at me per se', so I didn't need to take anything personally. It could roll right off of me.

And "it" did. Clark was trying to make me feel bad for volunteering to bring a cake because he assumed that it was a decorated birthday cake when it was a cream cheese pound cake, resulting in him having to rush out last minute to get a real cake. I barely heard him. I was having so much fun that my ears literally didn't open to process his words. I felt so balanced and centered, like nothing could hurt me. It was such a wonderful feeling!

Just as I sensed, my mom was beaming to see me. She loved the macaroni salad I made, and I sat with her and Louisa and bat the breeze (and flies) out on lawn chairs. My dad was quite jovial and friendly with me, laughing and saying he was glad I made it, complimenting the food I brought. I had fun catching up with my brother and sister, and my nieces and nephews. We went on a walk along the river and the kids picked some shells that had washed up.
The temperature was in the 90's, and no breeze was blowing. Our picnic tables were in partial shade, but I wasn't in the shade the whole time. Interestingly, I did fine the whole time. Only afterwards did I think to myself that this in and of itself was a milestone. Normally, I go into heat exhaustion if I sit out on the patio in the heat for more than 20 minutes on a 90 degree day. But I felt quite wonderful. I was drinking water and salt from my water bottle the whole time, so this helped.
The next day, Karl's parents came over to visit. They got to our house before I started my breakfast, at the time of day when in the not so distant past I would have been comatose and walking around groggy and dragging. But I was bright and energetic, and had no nerves. It felt normal to be eating breakfast in front of them. I helped my mother in law make gravy and mashed potatoes, and she was talking non stop. We had lunch an hour later than I normally eat, and I started going into a hypoglycemic, low blood sugar daze where the room spun and the conversation took on an eerie, slow, dragging quality. So I quickly started eating lunch, and was fine again in 20 minutes. Sometimes I think I can get away with little things like eating lunch late, but I still need to stay on top of watching the clock. Which is fine because I can go several hours without food now, compared to only 10-20 minutes in the past.
I was pretty stoked that I felt pretty amazing after two days in a row of getting out and being social. I'm getting to the point now where I was the first year of adrenal burnout. During that first year I was still working full time as a teacher and didn't take a day off of work, was on my feet all day, travelled by train on long trips in and out of state, went to parties, and pretty much did everything as a normal person did. During that year, I felt good during the whole day except for 10:30am -1pm, and 6-8 pm.
Right now I have no huge swings during certain set times of the day where I feel good or sick. Things have evened out more. I do go through whole days where I feel very sleepy, but not sick. I am super excited to have days like this where my worst symptoms are simply feeling sleepy. Compared to before, this is amazing. True, every now and again a migraine/fibromyalgia day will pop up, or an IBS/upset stomach day will pop up, or a bone pain day will pop up, but these days are getting less frequent as time goes by. One of the things that makes me most happy is that the anxiety is certainly abating.
I'm in such an exciting phase of my life right now. The upward and positive momentum keeps spinning faster, and I allow it. I'm not putting out any effort at all to push the momentum like this. The only thing I'm doing is allowing and accepting the good. It's doing all the work while I just sit back and keep the doors and windows of myself open and receptive. It's so enjoyable to soak up good. I've been unknowingly resisting it my whole life. And to think, it was there for me all this time, I just never thought I was worth it.  Now I know I am, and it has flipped my world upside down.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Everyone's a giant, everyone's powerful, everyone's trying, everyone's learning, everyone's worthy, everyone's loved, and everyone... loves you.

Everyone is me.

Who else,
The Universe

The house next door...

Summer hydrangeas
I go on walks most every day where I pass by my neighbor's hydrangeas. I laugh because each time I see them, I think they have been magically lifted straight up and out of the illustrations of an old copy of the fairy tale "Hansel and Gretal." The way the story goes, there was this witch who lived in this gingerbread house lined with icing, candy canes, gumdrops and lollipops. I guess that's how she lured children in. Before I learned how to read, I spent much time lost in the illustrations of this book. To this day, I swear that hydrangeas are not real... they come straight from book illustrations. They transplant themselves in normal people's yards looking out of place, making us scratch our heads and wonder.

The amusing part here is that my neighbor who owns the hydrangeas could be a witch. Hee hee. She yells at the neighbor kids who cross through her backyard, and she has her husband all but hogtied. She is a dominatrix, and he eats it up. He shuffles around his yard like a dog with his head down and tail between his legs. You can tell he's huffing, puffing and angry, but he won't raise his voice at her. He keeps quiet and fumes while she belts it loose across the lawn, calling him names and telling him he can't fix nothin' right. He must eat it up though, because three years later, he's still there, taking it. On weekends, she sits enthroned on her back porch and gossips about what her friends are saying and doing on Facebook, and her loud voice wafts through our patio screen into our kitchen. We don't need Jerry Springer, we just slide open our patio door.

Saw the fireworks last night from our second floor window. We could look out over the trees in our backyard and see them from where we stood. Pretty neat. I didn't know they would be shot off on the 3rd instead of the 4th, so I noticed them accidentally while walking past the window to go downstairs. I had just taken melatonin, taurine, and California poppy seed, which I usually take to help me sleep, and before the grand finale was over I was cutting Zzzzz's. This is impressive, as in the past I never would have been able to sleep through the night, let alone a night where the neighbors compete for hours on end with their own homemade fireworks.

Went to a park last weekend and sat out on a lookout hill catching the breeze and some sun. Got a sunburn on my nose. It sure was nice to have two days in a row, both Saturday and Sunday, where I felt pretty much completely normal. And here's the kicker, I was on day 1 and 2 of my period, and I felt amazing. I keep track of how I do each day in a chart where I track what NB supplements I take.

I am going to start working with a life coach this coming week. I am so looking forward to it. I have been having a tough time translating what I know and believe into a healthy practical way when it comes to my toxic family and having to be in such close proximity to them. I will be so relieved to get some answers and lay aside the angst and anger I have toward feeling like I have to keep my mouth shut when their actions really bother me. I get  emails every day in my inbox from "the Universe," and my latest message was, "Anger is almost always a sign, AJ, that you've been quiet for too long. Speak up, buttercup -The Universe."

Exactly! It's true. I really only feel bursts of anger because my family's toxicity bugs me and I want to speak up, but feel too threatened to.

I do miss the past when I was so emotionally healthy that other people's attempts to bug me just rolled right off of me. I know that being in adrenal burnout means that by default, my hormones and feelings will be raw and I can't help but be super sensitive emotionally. So I want to accept this stage of my life as something that I want to work with, not against.

It's really funny. I remember a period of time that lasted two years or so. It was a couple years before I got AF. I went through this phase where I couldn't cry. I was emotionally like a rock. I was dating this artistic man who would often get weepy, and who I would break up with on a semi-regular basis. It would cause him to cry and be really sad, and he would write me apology letters and beg me to forgive him. It didn't really touch me. He asked me one day why I never cried. Maybe it was because he did enough crying for the both of us. Or more likely, I had already developed my tough side on my own before I met him, and because of that I was attracted to a man who honored his softer side. I think that's what happened. I had been in intense fight or flight in the public school where I was teaching for a year before I met him, and I had to be tough to survive. I do feel really bad now that I treated him so coolly, and was unattached to my emotions.

Interesting how these things progress. Compared to how I am now, I feel like I was in a pretty healthy place emotionally for most of my early and mid 20's. I didn't get overly toughened until after moving to NYC, but I couldn't maintain that very long. Then I got sick and am super sensitive emotionally.

But I realize that this is not who I am. Karl has only seen this one side of me because he's only know me while I've been in adrenal burnout. He can't imagine me any different. He doesn't understand that this is a side effect, so to say, of this illness. The important thing, though, is that I know. I remember how I used to be, and that's my real identity. Emotionally calm and balanced.

At a park last weekend.
Who IS this, right?
I dare say, though, the way I'm headed on this NB program, I'm getting to a place where my autopilot will be a state that I was in when I was a very young child before age 5, before the abuse started: light and happy, goofy even. I hardly remember that. I used to think that my innate personality was serious and restrained, like it's been all through kindergarten, elementary school and beyond up until now. I thought it would be my identity that I was forever locked into. Maybe not?