Monday, July 26, 2010
The Awareness of Pain & the Pain of Awareness
I've been thinking about this post for many days, but it kept feeling overwhelming to me because I was in the middle of all the muck that I wanted to write about. Now I feel like I am emerging a bit and am getting some perspective...if not just a wee amount.
Remember, too, that I am really struggling with how much to write. I mean, I am essentially a private person. You'll notice (or not) that I don't write a lot of details on this blog about my past. I generalize, assuming that people who need the writing, people who have had similar experiences...they'll "get it."
Like we are talking in code.
At the same time, I want to be honest. I want to be open. I think it is super important to my own development and growth and healing, as well as to those who might be reading this blog for this very reason.
Here we go...
When I returned to dance just a year ago, it was a Miracle of the sort that cannot be overemphasized. My life was suddenly filled with the possibility of Big Happiness, a possibility I had sorta decided was just not for me. I had thought that the level of contentment, peace, and love that I had was more than enough, and it really scared me to even think about asking the Universe for more. I didn't want to "jinx" what I already had. And staying small and relatively unseen felt comfortable and safe.
Then I started dancing again, and God, it makes me breathless to think about it. I cannot describe to you the Joy and the Big. I do not have the words to tell you accurately what happened to my heart. And what continues to happen to this day.
I really thought I was done.
I really thought that I had completely defeated all the demons in my life.
I did not know that my mind and body and soul were waiting for me to be strong enough to handle the demons that were hiding in the deepest and darkest places.
When my depression started to leak back into my life a few months ago, I tried to ignore it. I kept telling myself that it wasn't real, that it was just old habit, that more dancing was all I needed.
More dancing is always good, don't get me wrong. I continue to work on this every day because I know I am who I am because of it.
But the depression and anxiety kept growing regardless of the dancing and this just made me feel worse. How could this be? I had found my "thing!" I had found my bliss path. I had found what I was born to be.
I had, but like I said, the mind and body are brilliant and they knew to wait for my Strength to assert itself before allowing me to go all the way down.
I started getting angry. My argumentative defenses started to take over my life, which includes Marcy, of course. Poor thing.
I got to the point where I really thought (and Marcy really thought) that I might be losing it. That I might need to go into a hospital.
I was devastated.
And one day, Marcy came home with a probable diagnosis for what was going on. We were desperate for an explanation, for some sort of guidance through this hell, and a diagnosis seemed like the right place to start.
At first, it brought me a level of awareness that brought some relief. Naming something is very powerful.
But if you name it incorrectly, watch out.
When I first attempted talk therapy 15 years ago, my therapist immediately had me read a book about Borderline Personality Disorder, convinced that one of my parents fit the bill.
I came back to her and said, "But this is me..."
She said, "NO! Children of BPD often fit the bill but it's learned behaviors that can be overcome..."
Phew. Fast forward to recent time and Marcy and I were sorta convinced that I really was BPD. Like I said, at first, this felt like a relief...oh, look...this is what has been happening to me.
But then I started to get worse. As I wrote to a blogging friend, this diagnosis was birthing some serious self-disgust. I hated this person. Everything felt wrong.
Then (angels singing here and light coming down from the heavens) I happened upon the work of Dr. Judith Herman, who believes (and she is not alone) that many, many women who are diagnosed BPD are actually Complex PTSD, which leads to horrible consequences.
The mainstream psychological community, for instance, perceives most personality disorders as serious mental illness that can never be cured. On the other hand, Complex-PTSD is not an illness but an injury and just that change in language means the world!
There is hope! There are methods to overcome this. Lo and behold, one of the most promising methods is all about getting into your body.
So we come back to the beginning of this long story...dance.
Also, as soon as we identified the Complex PTSD (which is way way way more accurate for me and my history), we created this boat load of coping mechanisms, and here is the most beautiful thing of all:
THEY ARE WORKING.
I have so much work to do, but I am not afraid of work. I am afraid, though, of being told that I am "crazy" and "broken" and completely "unfixable." That was too much.
Now I know with just time and patience and care that there really is that Big Happy in my future, that dancing was not lying to me at all. Rather, dancing was making me strong enough and brave enough to move toward the Big Happy.