Thursday, October 28, 2010

(Will &) Grace

I have written somewhere on this blog about Thomas Acquinas' belief that sin is misdirected love.  I love this definition because it does two things for me.

First, it shines a light on the dark parts of my heart.  Parts that I would not notice if I were just thinking of sin in terms of the usual lists.

Second, it softens my heart toward itself.  It increases my compassion for me, a form of compassion that is often sorely lacking in my life.

Here's how this worked for me just this week.

Tuesday night was hard.  I had spent the afternoon alone, and all of my fears were triggered by some truly severe weather warnings and watches.  When I am fearful, it is easy for me to jump to anger.

I picked up Marcy from a friend's house and proceeded to ruin our evening.  (Now, Marcy would not like that language right there, but it's shorthand and it works without giving too much detail.)

Somehow these explosions of emotion disregulation always lead to learning.  If you are aware and can watch it from the inside, you can glean a lot of important information.  This is when leaps can happen.

Normally after one of my episodes, I am filled with shame, and Marcy has been trying to help me see that this response is unnecessary.  That there is nothing for me to be ashamed of.  That I do not DO this on purpose.  That I am working hard to overcome so much.

Wednesday before heading off to the college where I teach writing, I went to daily Mass.

And as I knelt and listened, I heard some things.

It became apparent to me in a way it never has before that I am screaming "NO!" to life when I repress fear and allow it to grow into anger.

This life is beautiful...all of it, and it deserves a hearty "YES!" at every turn.

It also became crystal clear that I am denying the vast and deep love that is in my life when I do not open myself to exploring and expressing my fears as soon as they arise.

I am denying Marcy the opportunity to love me through the fear and thus past the anger.

I am misdirecting love.  And the word sin does not only NOT bother me but it seems completely fitting in these situations.

The word sin does not make me feel badly; it makes me want to do better and to be stronger and more courageous -- to assert my powerful Will.  It tells me that there is something else toward which I can work, from which I can derive what I need, for in every thing there is its opposite and its solution and in this case that would be Grace.

So now I kneel and I ask for Grace and Courage and a Trusting and Open Heart, and as I ask, I can feel it happening. I can feel the softening. I can feel that light shining in my dark.  I can feel love directing...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dancing with Demons

This didn't happen during dance but that made for an easier title.  It happened during yoga yesterday evening (a class in which I do incorporate dance).

I was teaching Kundalini tree pose (as taught by Ravi Singh and Ana Brett), which is quite different from Hatha tree pose in that it emphasizes the root and trunk of the tree over the branches.  There is a reaching in and down, rather than in and up.  It is a much trickier balance pose, as I have experienced myself and as my students attest.

Coming up and out of the pose is the likeliest point at which you will lose your balance.

And I found myself saying, "As we come up, it is most vital that we stay committed to our focus point."

I meant this literally, as we had established points of focus a few feet ahead of us on the floor.

But I heard it metaphorically, as a guide for my life right now.

As we come up, it is most vital that we stay committed to our focus point.

As I have become happier and more passionate about my purpose, demons have been called forth.  Thus NOW is the time for true focus.  Now is the time to live my commitment to this path.  Now is the time for which I have worked and is the time.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Asking for Help is Not a Sign of Weakness

When I was growing up, any illness was met with anger and impatience, as if we got sick just to bother people.  A headache could be met with a growl and eye rolling.  Something more serious could be met with mockery.  At the age of 6, I was taught to make myself vomit so as not to bother someone who was busy with her cleaning.

This has stayed with more even more than I realized.  I am a good nurse to Marcy when she is sick, but mostly I am good at getting her things.  Not so great at the bit of babying that we all need sometimes (though I have improved a lot in that area).  When I myself am sick, I just get mad.  I have a hard time allowing for the healing.  This only makes things worse.

Especially things of the mind.

Rather than admit that I am as bad as I am, I put on a good show.

I have repeatedly told Marcy, "I just don't think you hang out your dirty laundry."

But this was really just a cover for shame.

I am ashamed that I suffer.

This, of course, makes the suffering worse, because I attach all sorts of stories to it about self worth and gratitude and on and on.

But I suffer.  My emotional pain becomes so great that it turns into physical pain.  Though I have never been actively suicidal, death sometimes sounds like a relief and the idea of it lurks around corners, on busy streets, near water's edge.

Since I started dancing, my symptoms have gotten worse. I've written here that I attribute this to a greater awareness, and I believe that.  Now that I have tasted such joy, I can no longer numb myself so easily and that means I am also tasting bitterness more acutely.

On Wednesday, I think I hit my bottom.  I will not go into the gory details; those are for Marcy and me alone.

But by the middle of that day, when the worst of my Storm had passed, I realized that if I truly love Marcy and our life, it was time to fess up.

I am ill.  I need help.

It is imperative that I treat this, for a while, as my Main Job in life.  So we are structuring a detailed plan, including more Mass (it helps me), more Reiki (ditto), better sleeps, better food, but also, we are investigating a specific type of therapist for me -- one who practices Dialectical Behavior Therapy*, a therapy that has proven to be truly efficacious in the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder.

(*I am currently making my way slowly and carefully through this workbook.)

I do not like labels and I am not considered "severe" (partly evidenced by my willingness to ask for help), but you can read symptom lists and check off every single one only so many times before you admit, oh, maybe this is me.

BPD is also referred to (and I think much more accurately) as Emotional Regulation Disorder.  There are neurological, genetic, and environmental components that create this disease.

Some psychiatrists and psychologists also think that Complex PTSD and BPD are pretty much the same thing.  There is a TON of crossover and the same therapies tend to create wellness.

And then there is the P Word -- Pharmaceuticals. I am willing to try them for the first time in 16 years.  The first and second time I did this (many years ago), they made me violently ill, but I am desperate.  We asked a friend, and the words "side effects" came up.  I did some more reading, and for now, the horrible nature of the side effects really outweighs the benefits.  For BPD, they usually put you on at least three things, and then that doesn't even necessarily really help.  I am not willing to do that to my body yet, as I believe very strongly in the power of my mind and other therapies.

But the important part of that paragraph -- the really big change in my thinking -- is that I am even willing to consider that road.  Just not yet.  I want to give other things time and effort.

The fact that I am willing to come out to friends and to ask for help and to find a therapist...this is Big Growth for me.

I refuse to just stick my finger down my throat and act like everything is okay so that no one is bothered or uncomfortable.

Nope. Time to rely on the love of others. Time to show myself compassion by saying, "I am in pain and I am in trouble."

No more hiding what is really happening.

My (and your) life depends upon it.

(I'll keep you up to date on progress and what we try that works, etc.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Feeding My Dancer

While Marcy was in Italy, I went to two performances of live dance here in Erie.  I don't remember the last time I did this, and I realize that I need to do it more often.

It's important to feed our creative selves with the creative offerings of others.

During Marcy's flight back home, I was attending a performance by a NYC company, CorbinDances.  Patrick Corbin was part of Paul Taylor's company for 15 years, and since I really respect Taylor, I was totally excited about Corbin.

I was right to be.

My Inspiration Meter is now reading "Full."

What do you do to fill yourself up?  Do you take in enough Creative Nutrition or do you expect yourself to produce, running on empty?

Here is CorbinDances on YouTube.  This doesn't even scratch the surface of the quality of their live performance:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Loving What You Love is the Way

When I took that walk and ended up on the swings this past Sunday, this was the tree that pulled me into the park, pulled me in when I wasn't intending to go any further than standing atop a hill and looking out.  The orange of this tree was like a magic magnet and I could not stay away.

I am reading the Geneen Roth book again and this quote hit me in the sternum, right in that emerald green heart space:

...ask yourself what you love. Without fear of consequences, without force or shame or guilt. What motivates you to be kind, to take care of your body, your spirit, others, the earth?  Trust the longing, trust the love that can be translated into action without the threat of punishment.  Trust that you will not destroy what matters most.  Give yourself that much. (Roth, p. 141)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Bit New

BlissChick is a bit new today.  Eventually, the banner will also change, but for now, I wanted to create a different feel here.

I want the emphasis to be on this spiritual path to healing that I am walking -- or more accurately, that I am dancing.

I want the emphasis to be on my current life, not the past. (Thus very new content in the tabs.)

I want the emphasis to be on my teaching and my work in healing movement.

This doesn't mean I won't write about the fears and the frustrations.  That is all part of this particular dance for this particular chick.

But overall, the site is moving, moving, dancing, discovering, healing, opening...embodying bliss.

Fear Sucks (the Air from Your Lungs)

Facing your fears can kinda suck.

Sure it's necessary for growth, blah blah blah...but it still sucks.  It's painful.  It's...scary.  And it can feel like it will never end while it is happening.

While Marcy has been away, I have been forced, as I have mentioned, to work with Big Demons -- by myself.  Which is good.  Right?

I spend a lot of time walking around with fear in my belly.  I breathe deeply; I do all the right things and it can still be there.  This slightly nauseous feeling.  This dread.

I've had some really good days.  Better than my good days from before going through this, but then the fears come back because they tend to be like the bad guy in the Matrix -- they can self-replicate.  You think you've defeated them and you walk around feeling all proud of your emotional jujitsu and then you turn a corner and there they are again.  Baring their teeth at you.

Last Friday evening, I had an amazing reiki session with a local practitioner (and for a great reiki practitioner's blog, go here).

I respond really well to reiki, but I have definitely had some mediocre sessions.  I have also had some great sessions, and this session was AMAZING.

I felt wave after wave of fear and anxiety draining out of my body.  Later that night, I slept through the night for the first time since Marcy had left for Italy, and I am still sleeping so much better.

Then on Tuesday, I had nightmares.  Who knows where they come from?!  I certainly don't call on them and I don't feed my brain scary media anymore.

When I got up Wednesday morning, my Fear Belly was back.

This is an opportunity for me to practice some of the new self care skills I am working on but what?

It can be hard to find the light switch when you're standing in the middle of a dark room.

Taking a deep breath, I start running my hands along the walls...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What I Need: A Sign of Things to Come

Graciel is doing this great thing today: She is asking that we all write out our needs in some way and blatantly present them to the Universe.  I love her post today.

Now, my signs will simply be written here since my helper mate, who has excellent printing skills (whereas my writing...oye), is in Italy -- Florence today, to be exact.

On Sunday, I took my camera and headed to the Lake and then I ended up at our city arboretum, where I unexpectedly discovered my first sign -- a sign to which said helper mate, Marcy, would respond with a resounding, "DUH!"

I Need to Play More!

I think this need is very akin to the new mantra that Graciel and I came up with when she was visiting.  That new mantra is not meant to be complicated. The next happy thing, the next playful thing, can be as simple as sitting on that swing instead of just walking by.

Which leads me to my second Need:

I need to stop worrying what the hell other people think!

This is hard to admit, but I totally worry about this -- a lot.  I think most of us do.  It stops us from wearing that dress or doing that thing or saying those words.

These two needs, taken together, are representative of all of my needs right now, and they are all about Trusting & Owning My Life.

What about you?  What are you ready to ask for?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Let It All Go & Just Dance

Often when I am teaching yogadance, toward the end of the class, when things are reaching a peak in terms of energy and movement, I step back and witness the movement and I start yelling out encouragement, and I find myself, so much of the time, saying...

Let go!  Just let it all go!  Let your body surprise you!

As usual, we teach what we need.

Yesterday, I spent some time finally reading Geneen Roth's Women Food and God, and then I made my way to Mass for a Feast Day that is about the rosary, a meditation and prayer tool that I use almost every day.

Spontaneously, as I prayed, I heard myself asking for those same things that I yell out to my students.

Just let it go.  Just let yourself be happy.  Let go of the fear that letting go with bring something bad.  You no longer have anything to be afraid of; you no longer are unsafe.

Then I came home and read this out of the Geneen Roth:

You become an expert at finding experts and programs, at striving and trying hard and then harder to change yourself, but this process only reaffirms what you already believe about yourself -- that your needs and choices cannot be trusted, and left to your own devices, you are out of control.

When dancing, I know that trying hard and then harder will not get me to any place of new movement or any place of deep, body meditation.  When dancing, I know that it is in being in the exact now and being in the breath and allowing the body to be what it is...that is when I am out of my own way and I am free.

It is the same for life.  I must dance this life and stop trying so damn hard.  I must let go and let my body, mind, and heart be what they already are.  Luminescent.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Do You Need?

Graciel, who just visited me from Buffalo, is doing this super cool thing.

On Tuesday, October 12th, she invites us all to write and then photograph signs that express our needs.

Would you like to play along?

Go here for more!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

List Making

(A candle that Marcy lit for me in Milan, Italy a couple of days ago.  For other pictures and updates about her Italy trip, visit her blog...being updated by me since internet in Italy is wonky.)

Here is how silly I can be:  Before Marcy left for Italy, we had one of our planning dates so that I could make a list of potential projects, which I could work on while she was gone.  HA!

This list had things like:  Re-do blog; write a few books; sew curtains for the entire get the idea.

What the list did not include and should have:  Sleep well; eat well; take care of this brain; watch for obsessive thinking; rest; exercise; go for walks; drink calming tea; journal with pen and ink and paper; watch for obsessive thinking some more; do lots of deep get the idea again.

Some day, I may learn.  Emphasis on "may."

Monday, October 4, 2010

A New Mantra

Yesterday, Graciel from Evenstar Art drove to Erie from outside Buffalo for a day of chatting, followed by her attending my Kundalini Yoga & Movement class for the second time.

So. Much. Talking.

During all of this talk, we came up with a new mantra for ourselves that I think most of you could use.

It comes from a saying in A.A. that a friend of mine taught me: Do the next right thing.

Graciel and I decided to tweak it for our own specific heart needs:

Do the next happy thing.

For two very serious animals, who tend to see everything as "work," this is a big deal.

Do the next happy thing.

This is not meant to be another difficult thing in your life.

The next happy thing is most likely something small and easy.

Listen, in particular, to your heart and your body; tell brain to just shut up -- it tends to complicate.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Heart of Darkness: Long Term Consequences of Domestic Violence

(I hope writing this helps someone out there. As has been pointed out, October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and this piece is a reminder that the adult woman is not the only victim when there are children in the house.  It also demonstrates how very long the repercussions of domestic violence go on.)

Drama.  I was raised with so much drama.  One of the worst varieties was waking in the middle of the night, from a very young age onward, to the sounds of someone leaving to "never come back."  Crying, screaming, doors slamming, cars driving away.

To say that I have a fear of abandonment is not some psycho babble.  It is my core fear and it is deep and dark and entangled in every fiber of me, sometimes so overwhelming that it threatens to take over everything, convince me that my life is not filled with love, that things are falling apart, that perceived threats are real, that I will never be loved or happy again.

The saddest thing is that none of this is ever true, but my brain -- this poor, damaged brain -- cannot tell the different between now and then.

So the loneliness I feel with Marcy in Italy is not your garden variety, "oh, my partner is not with me."  Many moments it is just that, but there are moments when it becomes my own personal heart of darkness and last night, in the middle of the night, was one of those times.

Waking in the middle of the night, paralyzed by fear, is not unusual for me. But to not have Marcy right there and to feel physically left alone...that is unusual.

Call it Complex PTSD; call it Borderline Personality Disorder....whether learned or genetic or all comes from the same place -- the place of a small girl frightened for her very existence, having learned that her existence was dependent on people who were, themselves, not parenting because they were too busy reacting out of their own fears and weaving their own violent dramas.

Last night, because Marcy is not here, I had to ride this wave all by myself.  These emotional storms are physically painful, extremely.  Normally, in order to try to rid myself of that pain, I start an argument, but how do you do this when you are alone?  (And believe me...this is hard to see about yourself but it is not intentionally done; it is part of the illness of this.)

I am starting to see, no matter how hard this is, that this separation is good, because it's time for me to fight these demons on my own.

Thanks to the mindfulness that my practices of yoga and dance have given me, I was able to watch the process.  Not at first.  No.  At first, I was caught up in the wave, but then I felt myself pull back and watch.  And I saw how the storm passed as fast as it came in.

It almost took my breath away.

For the first time, I truly saw the abnormality of it.  I saw the damaged and hurt brain from which it came.  I saw the "illness" of it.

I try so hard to convince myself that I am not ill, that I am not truly suffering, that I am keeping it all together.  This is the opposite of compassion, is it not?  This denial only keeps me from taking care of myself.  It is the "push through" method, and it doesn't work.

I have big moments of Bliss in this life.  I have work that I love and a partner and animals and a beautiful home, so I have this feeling that to admit to illness is to be ungrateful, but it is really the opposite, is it not?  To admit to illness is to love all the parts of yourself, no matter how unattractive you may find them.

To embrace the whole of your life -- that is true gratitude.