Personal Blog

The 5 Minute Therapy

I am an emotional human being which has led to some conflict in my life. In my 37.9 years of living, I am only now harnessing those wild emotions in order to be proud of my reactions, thus no shame needing to be felt in order to learn from the present experience. I have become strong in will power and have reaped rewards in my personal and professional world by learning how to actively listen and validate every person I come in contact with. Conflict has always created duress and anxiety, and to be able to avoid conflict, I had to know the reason and signs behind the acting trauma.

What I have learned is complicated and simple in the formula of mediation. There are two variables that lead to conflict, Physical Pain and Psychological Pain stemming from fear.  When presented in anger and directed at me, I cannot help but feel punished and ashamed, until I realize I am practicing narcissism. This problem is not about me taking a lashing, it is about the other person needing empathy and validation for their life and they are presenting in fear which equals Defensive Actions.

Fear+Pain=Defensive Actions stemmed from our neurological process starting at the pituitary gland and sending the code to the brain that we are now in survival mode. When the variable of fear is defined as perceived reality, the body physically reacts. We decide when we need defense, and this spectrum is wide yet personalized for each individual. That is a lot of variables, we are truly unique.

In the process of learning about fear and pain and defense, I got to practice what I have been researching and the strangest pattern emerged.

I go to work for 72 straight hours. I walk to decrease stress, I do yoga, I meditate and the client and I are similar in needing alone time to recharge, so we practice alone together time in quiet. For those 72 hours, I do not cry. I am her advocate, I am her strength and her validation, and these moments are not about me and the people I grieve for. This is her time, and I uphold that time for her. When I get home on Wednesday morning, everyone is at work or school and doing their schedule. This is the first moment when I am completely alone to sit with myself and check in.

I meditate, closing my eyes and not feeling particularly sad, just tired. The guided meditation voice, with soft sounds of life, plays through my phone while I lay in bed in rumination and with hopes of clearing my thoughts for healthy head space. I need to be clean when my family arrives home in order to be a good partner and mother.

About 5 minutes into the meditation, I began to feel a pain in my “woman ball”.  I have no clue to why I call it a woman ball, but it is defined as the location of the solar plexus that stores all the sadness and anxiety. Tori Amos has a song lyric that I perceived to say “I’ve gotta woman ball in my stomach” and I always envisioned this woman ball as a woman, curled up into a ball at the solar plexus, losing her courage in life through fear and pain. This pain is physical, it feels like knots and hard muscle that forgot its place as being central.  I wobble, I falter, my woman ball appears in my stomach. I massage the spot with my fingers and tears come to my eyes, and I feel a shudder of sadness.

I think of my mom. I love you mom. I will never know you mom. I hope you love yourself mom. I miss you mom. I wish you loved me mom. I wish you could be proud of me for my accomplishments. I wish I could hug you. I wish I could take your pain away. I wish I had an answer. My self-doubt streams outs of my stomach and I hold my sides and cry, and touch my midsection like a little kid with a belly ache, soothing and validating my pain. My mother’s face leaves my mind, and in her place I see my kids faces.

I wish I had been a great mom. I wish I had hung on every word. I wish I had never been so selfish in my sadness. I wish I had better solutions like I have after I educated myself. I wish I could hold you still, in my arms, smell your little scent, hear you breathing and smell the angel’s breath. I wish time had slowed down and I had caught up sooner.  Do you know I love you? Do you know I am proud of you? Do you know I worry peer pressure will make you broken and I won’t have any solutions? Do you know how intelligent and beautiful you are? Do you know I think the world of you and you are my favorite people? I fear someone hurting you. I fear someone taking you away from me, I fear you being abused, I feel the shame you feel. I love you. Can you hear me?

By this point, I am 3 minutes into my cry and my body is racking and I am sobbing and hating myself while trying to love myself. I am ugly crying, loudly, and my neighbors must think I am mentally unstable.

I think of my friends and my husband next, and I cannot find the same sadness. My relation is joy and happiness. I think of what we all go through, and how we all relate to one another through research and awareness. I think of our timing and our paths, not intersecting but running parallel. I sniffle. Grab my tissue. My time is almost up. I have support and love, and I want to present my best self, my true self, to these chosen people. I no longer live in solid depression, I validate my pain and fear through 5 minutes of crying and then I move on.

5 minutes is not a lot of time, but the pain released within that short time frame is pure freedom to my soul. The woman ball in my stomach has been replaced with the soul of a woman filling each corner of my body. My woman stands tall, puts her chin up and declares: I love myself presently, right now, in this moment. No one can take this feeling away from me or tell me who I am. I know me, and I do right. That is all the control I need.

Together, we cried. United we stand. Thank you, Crowing Lovers. I appreciate you.

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Personal Blog

Purpose

I was standing in the field I grew up in, with my cell phone pressed to my ear at 37 years old as I repeated the words “I am a child of God. God loves me. God has plans and a purpose for me. I forgive you. I forgive you.”

My words, spoken in between hiccups of the almost-sob that kept threatening to rise up and out of my larynx, fell upon deaf ears. This was the first and last time I have ever spoken these words, and I believed that although my life had seemingly fallen apart, this was not my end, nor my purpose. This space, this timely patient wrenching space, stretched on long after I spoke these words, but there was something inside myself that had changed. I felt valuable, and I stood tall in my fears from childhood and spoke my worth. I kept smiling and pushing that hurt down, until that moment on the phone that summoned my courage and belief to say “No” to my offender. I am valuable.

I did not always feel this way. I have hurt myself in all sorts of creative ways over the years, and in the process I hurt others as well. My rationalizations never met cleanly with my logic and intelligence, so lying to myself in the absence of accountability had never provided any sort of comfort.  Even still, learning to be accountable was an indirect focus and I had no idea what a clean life would look like for me, uniquely.

My community showed me accountability. I reached out to this new community as to piece together this new enlightenment, as we all know that with growth we will feel pain as well. The pain is behind me now, although I still ask myself every day in an impatient or angered/nervous moment; is this issue real or perceived? What control do I have? I can control my reactions??? Oh….

I have always had issues with impulse control and reaction.  I believe we learn this as we enter our middle adulthood, when narcissism begins to fade like our hair color and we begin to see society and community as very real and as an important aspect to our level of satisfied fulfillment.  I still struggle with the last of my impulse reactions, and I work hard to be the real-est self I can be with myself, shrugging off the need for a persona at home, work, or even in public daily life. The one impulse I have carried from young adulthood into the presence is the need to run.

I run to escape, I run to breathe air, I run because my legs will allow me to run, I run to be humble, I run to be strong, and I also run terribly slow and never worry about my speed. I run for me.

While scrolling through good ole FB, I came upon a video posted by a friend.  The video, created as a Student Story by Stephen Farr , a theology student attending ASWWU, was created by this friend’s brother. I immediately felt the power of relation, watching as he steps out onto the road and begins running.

To give a slight backstory to this video, part of the story Stephen speaks about I had heard before; the story of his sister, dying in the backyard. When I heard this story first hand from his sister, my arms broke out in chills. We sat at her kitchen table and she pointed to the spot in the yard that the Medics had found her. She expressed her gratitude to be alive, and the way she spoke of the incident was humbling. This story was not told to receive attention, it was told from an honest place that inspired me deeply to be openly honest as well.

Stephen’s own story of realization and of his comfort in knowing he had purpose in life brought me to tears. I had been in his place, running in the rain barefoot and drunk and feeling lost. When I came home from these nights, no one was there to tell me they cared.  The coupling of hearing his sisters words years ago, and then hearing Stephen’s words…I can only explain my tears in that they poured out of my eyes while bearing witness to love. Growing up in a difficult home life and persevering through just to watch the family you love fall apart, this story I have heard.  To keep running in purpose and see family love reunited in such a beautiful way, this I had not seen enough of.  To hear someone else say in affirmation that “God Loves me, I have a purpose” and witnessing the actual action behind the words?  I cannot see enough of.

People need people. We need community and to have our community value us as much as we value ourselves, which also means we have to value ourselves. This is the lesson I am learning, which began long ago and only recently has bloomed with the sharing and relations of other like-minded loving individuals.

Check out Stephen Farr’s Video here

 

Maya Angelou’s best advice ever again.

Personal Blog

Swimming Sweater

The end of 2017 will be arriving within hours of the present moment, and I am going to release the year in one large breath. Whoosh, a lifetime of paradigms have passed and 2018 holds a special place in our future, because now I understand.

I am sitting here in a sweater that is 3x too large for my frame. My mother picked it out for me. My mother, standing at the tallest 4’11 one could ever imagine, believed in hiding one’s body from public. From a young age, I have been swimming in clothes, fearful that someone may notice that I am fat, or that I am endowed on top, and as an adult I am still wearing the garments that hide me, the ole ‘swimming sweater’. I have been holding my breath so as to not take up too much space.  I have hidden away from the world because my mother told me I should. While she does not reside in my life, she still resides inside my brain and my habits. These habits are being left behind this year, in 2017. They are no longer necessary for my survival.

2 months ago, my daughter’s fiancé assaulted her, with their newborn baby in her arms. I did not know until I saw the jail roster, and I requested public records of the police report. Her fiancé had asked her repeatedly to drop the charges, and eventually she did recant her statement. He plead guilty to witness tampering and is serving 6 months in the county jail, with a release date of February 2018. My daughter became very angry with me for telling my mom (whom she resides with at 19 years of age, with her baby) and my mom turned the tables and told her to avoid me. This is not the first time, my mom has hired a lawyer once a year to have my rights terminated for things such as trying to move out of town, for trying to ground my daughter for her most recent exploits, while enabling my daughter to crash her new car twice and any other financial means demanded as the first grandchild. I was a single mother for most of my kid’s lives and my mom always believed this marked me for life as a bad seed. She would explain my tattoos to people saying “She looks terrible, but she’s really nice.”

She is entitled to her opinion. Her opinion states; “Your hair looks really good now that it is longer, but geez you speak just like your aunt. I cannot stand it.”  My two favorites are “She didn’t really have cancer, she just wanted attention” and “I guess now that you have a degree you’re all smarty-pants and too good for us.”  Her opinion of how unlovable I am is absolutely her opinion.

This goes deeper, of course, and when we arrived in court 4 days before Christmas the judge stated “This issue goes back decades” and looked directly at my mom. He was right. Almost 4 decades have passed, and while I believe my mom once loved me, I now believe she has detached.  Thankfully, I save all my texts from family because of past ordeals, and those printed texts disproved what my mom had to say about me in a court of law.  My daughter, whose fiancé was in the same building in the jail, was upset that I had called CPS about her Domestic Violence issue. She wants to stay with him, run away to Oregon when he is released, and believes that they will rekindle and no violence will be had. I have nightmares that he cuts off her head and sends me a photo. You can imagine my guts turned to mush when he texted me (I do not know how he got my number) a little pseudo threat the day after he asked her to marry him and she said yes. Fast forward to present day and my daughter has taken my mom’s attitude of projecting her anger on me with my mom’s backing. Standing in court and listening to them embarrass themselves was hard to witness. I had not called CPS, just to be clear, the police had marked the box for CPS involvement at the time of the incident.  I understand though, and I send them a little thought every morning out of love asking them to please love themselves today.

My mom was brought up in an abusive home, removed into foster care, abused, and felt small her entire life. My father did not have an easy life growing up, and also practices a level of detachment that makes me sad for all of us. I see my habits mirror that detachment, and I feel ashamed.

I had an epiphany at work, around hour 72, after a particularly hard evening with my client. My client has 24 hour care, speaks in her native tongue of German when confused, and she was frustrated at the end of life happenings that we all take for granted, i.e.:  standing from a sitting position.  I had barely slept the last few days with her, and I was in amazement at the calm I felt even though I was exhausted. I sat beside her bed and she reached out her hand to find mine. We sat like this for about half an hour. This beautiful woman was showing me something. She was not letting me detach, she needed love and I was able to provide it quietly. A few hours later, she awoke again, and still I felt calm and motherly. Her head was hurting, so I sat at the top of her bed and brushed her hair aside with my fingers, the same gesture I used to give to my daughters when they were younger, as she fell back asleep.  I came home in wonder, slept 11 hours, took a bath, and realized a major issue in my life.

When I come home and I am tired, I tend to be short with my family.  The home has become a place to be my true self, and I evaluated why I am two different people, the one at home and the one at work. What if I showed that same care to my family, that same respect and loving gestures and patience that I possess while at work.  Why is home scary?  Why do I feel like I need to be distant to the ones I love?

I went home and I spent the entire break with my family as though I was at work with the comforts of home. My household was happy. We did not have any disagreements, and we even went shopping together (the true test of my patience; going to the mall.) I understand that my other family had taught me a bad habit of protecting myself from them. This present family does not wish to hurt me, so I no longer need to protect myself.

As a court room observer and participant, I was blessed with the gift of sight. While standing in front of a judge defending my honor and credibility, I felt like I left my body and was watching the entire scene from an objective viewpoint. Every accusation was met with my evidence of being a loving mother, and as I walked out of the court room, a young woman looked up at me and shook her head and whispered “I’m so sorry.” At that moment, I returned to my body, tears welled up and I felt a sob coming on.  My husband and my close friend escorted me to the car. My mom and daughter drove away angry, complaining loudly that the judge was mean to them, and I got into our car feeling relief.  I am loved here, I thought, I am supported.

I do not want to waste another moment of my life hating myself, and I certainly do not hate my daughter and my mom. I understand their hatred, and I wish they saw the good inside them that I see. But I will not bear witness to another charade. 2018 is the year for my present family and community.  My husband needs my love, my daughter at home needs my praise for all the “doing right” that she does and my love surrounding her like an interdependent support system as she matures into a young woman, and my friends need me to philosophize and psychology analyze our lives in order to be the best true self that we can be. And I need them.  I need you.

New Year’s Eve 2017, we were living in a home with a broken toilet pipe that made us sick and led to a lawsuit against our landlords, in which we won 6 months later. I lost my job.  We became homeless for 8 months. My youngest daughter stayed with her dad for the summer, and I missed her terribly but am also so very thankful that her dad was 100% there for her and us. Carlton faced off with his father about past abuse. I faced my mom in court. This year was for the birds. The coming year see’s us in a great house, with incredible jobs, and a happy family with no strings attached.

No more giant sweaters. Only breath; sweet beautiful oxygen and love.

Happy New Year Crowing Lovers. May the year bring only the best to all of you as well.

Personal Blog

The Staging of Life

My entire young life I had heard that I need to grow up and be an adult. When I turned 18, pregnant with my first child, I did not magically feel like an adult. I got married, had another daughter, and still the enlightenment of being a year older never felt like the definition of adult. If time is a concept that society created in order to have structure but does not tangibly exist, could the concept of being an adult also be a myth used to explain the in-explainable?

While typing Edith’s Memoir “The Book of Edith”, her caregiver would forewarn me of the bad days as they happened. For Edith a bad day is mass confusion within dementia and her body is locked into place from Parkinson’s, with her failing site producing hallucinations. As I would come every weekend and read her the journals I had typed onto my computer, we would relive her childhood. The journals were especially fond in the memories of her childhood, even though she lived in refugee camps and was busy running to the woods to escape the bombs reigning down all around their hometown of Stuttgart, Germany. Her childhood is told in a way that reminds me of my own childhood, the feeling of nostalgia accompanying the reading. Edith, in the last sector of life, loved hearing the stories she herself wrote, especially the early stories that tell of her defiance with her mother, and later the mothers love she found as a woman, as an adult.

As I would read, her caregiver would report odd happenings through her day that happened to coincide with the stories we read. The characters who once were live humans have long past, and this memory and need to remember becomes imminent. We finished the book and printed it, as you may know, and Edith said she was “Kaput”.

Edith’s health began deteriorating quickly, and my friend (her caregiver) asked if I would be interested in sitting with Edith on weekends. I had been a caregiver for adults in my past career in the decade prior, but had been working with children as of most recent. Months passed and Edith’s health rapidly fell into 24 hour care. I arrived with a duffel bag full of home comforts for the 24 hour shift and appreciated the view from her apartment as a gift of perspective. The observation ritual I noticed seemed backwards from the magical words of “Someday, you’ll be an adult.”

As a kid, that statement meant freedom, as thoughts of paying rent and mortgages and utility bills were not in the view for my younger self at that time. I could not wait to be an adult and be independent. My definition of adult meant I no longer had to listen to my parents, which ironically is still a great value I have on being an adult. Growing up meant understanding as well, becoming wise in my elder years. And all of this was supposed to just happen at the moment I turned 18, then I would be 40, and then maybe retire and die. Life had been cut into chunks that I wasn’t aware had been studied by the brilliant psychologists, one of the observations being about Lifespan Psychology, and the four sectors of aging.  Carl Jung referred to this idea as simply the “Stages of Life.”

Jung’s work in archetypes lent to his study of the human psyche in regards to the stages of life, naming four in particular; the Athletic stage, the Warrior stage, the Statement stage and the stage of the Spirit. While ages varied, Jung found that the stages were loosely based on approximate ages, and if given the opportunity to live through the years he found that there was a psychological viewpoint within each archetype.

The athletic stage is based on looks and performance. Humans enter this stage at birth, grow exponentially for the 5 years, and learn cognitive functioning. This stage lends fascination to the visual of the body and its usage. The athletic stage lasts until approximately the age of 25, which coincides with the biology of brain development changing around this time.

The warrior stage begins with restructuring this new life. The value of freedom and to conquer in career and life overall is strongest at this stage. The adults are gone, and now we get to make choices that state our importance to the world. The warrior raised children, builds her career, and learns to physically and emotionally support ourselves in self-awareness.

The statement stage is about realizing our place within the world as a warrior while understanding that community and the humans we love are more important than the career and money we spent the last 15 years building. The statement is a realization that there is more to life than the items we own, and we want to be a part of the fabric that holds the world, our individual world, together.  So far we have progressed through stages of confidence building in our physical and mental prowess, have self-actualized our lives.

The spirit stage is recognition of the body and mind being separate. For most of our life we depend on our legs to carry us, we do not see old age bringing sticky muscles and cracking bones. As I watched Edith try 3 times to push herself up from her chair, I could not help but think of all the mountains she climbed throughout her life. Now there is a separation, and with that separation frustration or acceptance. I look around the dining room and recognize the frustration of working an entire life just so the kids can sell the house and lock their parents in for their own safety, the child becoming the adult for the now adult child. I watch two older men, white haired and missing teeth, gossiping about the ladies with arms folded and little smirks and I think to myself what a cosmic joke. We spend all this time and money on looking good, and in reality none of that actually exists, just like time, it has no value unless value is given to it.  The spirit stage is acceptance of childlike wonder, as we regress to our less physical life. The recognition of spirit is a beautiful gift as it specifically outlines the idea that you are still, indeed, you. In fact, the other 3 stages of you were not fully formed until this very moment.  We are able to become the observer, with all the unique information about ourselves, in an effort to ease out of the body without fear and trauma.

My definition of being an adult has changed due to my life experience. I have no desire to fulfill the stereotype of being an adult as defined in my past stage(s).  Instead, I will continue to be me as only I know it and learn the acceptance of the difference between body and mind.  Where are you in the stages of life?

Warmest Regards,

Peggy

 

P.S. I have included a link to this highly recommend reading about Maslow’s self-actualizers.

 

The Following information was taken from here; https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

Characteristics of self-actualizers:

  1. They perceive reality efficiently and can tolerate uncertainty;
  2. Accept themselves and others for what they are;
  3. Spontaneous in thought and action;
  4. Problem-centered (not self-centered);
  5. Unusual sense of humor;
  6. Able to look at life objectively;
  7. Highly creative;
  8. Resistant to enculturation, but not purposely unconventional;
  9. Concerned for the welfare of humanity;
  10. Capable of deep appreciation of basic life-experience;
  11. Establish deep satisfying interpersonal relationships with a few people;
  12. Peak experiences;
  13. Need for privacy;
  14. Democratic attitudes;
  15. Strong moral/ethical standards.
Behavior leading to self-actualization:

(a) Experiencing life like a child, with full absorption and concentration;

(b) Trying new things instead of sticking to safe paths;

(c) Listening to your own feelings in evaluating experiences instead of the voice of tradition, authority or the majority;

(d) Avoiding pretense (‘game playing’) and being honest;

(e) Being prepared to be unpopular if your views do not coincide with those of the majority;

(f) Taking responsibility and working hard;

(g) Trying to identify your defenses and having the courage to give them up.

The characteristics of self-actualizers and the behaviors leading to self-actualization are shown in the list above.  Although people achieve self-actualization in their own unique way, they tend to share certain characteristics.  However, self-actualization is a matter of degree, ‘There are no perfect human beings’ (Maslow,1970a, p. 176).

 

 

 

Personal Blog

My Secret Songs

I am going to tell you a secret that only my Husband and Doctor are aware of; I hear music.

I was a musician for years, playing loud guitar and attending extremely loud shows. I loved feeling the music, but I have found over the years that my car stereo has gotten harder to hear even at mostly full volume.  I ask my family to constantly repeat themselves. I can hear the tone of people, but I cannot coherently put the words together anymore. This struggle, whether from all my loud music or from my genetics (My aunt is 100% deaf, my dad is 50% deaf, I have a daughter who is 80% deaf) exists in my everyday life. This is not the secret I speak of though. There is more.

The stress infliction form this year has provided my own case study results, and when things got weird I needed an answer. Here is the secret. I have auditory hallucinations in the form of music.

Sometimes the music has singing, but mostly it is instrumental, sounding a lot like Tschaikowsky in the sense of emotion being carried by woodwinds and brass and cymbals crashing. The music is very classical but fluid and expressive. When fear is not involved by the knowledge of the fact that this is a hallucination, I actually enjoy the music.  The phenomenon usually occurs at night before I fall asleep at this time in my life. Last summer was different.

Over the summer months, I had begun having a hard time putting words together. My sentences would become incoherent, as though the stress of life was beating at my frontal lobe and I could not focus on anything else but the problem of being without a home. I would listen to the car stereo, driving aimlessly while looking for a place to feel normal, and the song playing would slow down as though someone was pausing life. It would last about 3 seconds, and by the time I would ask Carlton “Did you hear that?” the slowness had rescinded and the tempo was the same as it had always been. This slowing of my frontal lobe to interpret the sounds I was hearing was frustrating and I thought I was losing my mind, one note at a time.

When we moved into our new house, I became very sick with Sepsis from a bladder infection. Later I would find out that I have an actual condition called Interstitial Cystitis, which is a depletion of the lining of the bladder and has an inflammation effect. This is very painful, and accompanies psychosomatic effects, while there is no real cure that would not cost more in my health points than worthwhile.  My body has been inflamed for most of my adult life, and I know that I will need to revisit the Anti-Angiogenesis diet in order to be healthy. Armed with this knowledge, my stress level balanced and I felt pretty good.

As you know, more stress returned. As the story unfolds, there is credit card fraud involved, emptying of my bank account, and not to even mention the emotion of loss that I feel from my “other” family. The “other” family is my blood, but they are not an active part of my community. My family is my community, my “other” family is the family who wants me dead. Blow. Bite. Blow. (Maya Angelou). As I lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling light glowing in the residue of energy, I think about the control I have. I have no control I have no control how I do I control my reaction what should I do can I make this better…..and the music starts. I can hear it. It sounds like it is coming from the hallway. I get out of bed and walk to the door, the music disappears.

I lay back in bed and the music returns again. Slightly alarmed, I listened for patterns in the notes to see if I can match them to anything halfway recognizable. I do not. But the music is really beautiful, and I give up and just listen to my private show, falling asleep not long after.

My hypothesis of why I am having auditory hallucinations comes from a Psychological perspective, as I have no credentials towards the medical sciences.  The variable I have found to coincide with the hallucinations is stress. I can allude to the idea of my brain filling in the gaps neurologically while my hearing is at a deficit. Variables are physical and psychological. There it is again; Everything psychological is biological.

I do not like to play Doctor with a degree from Web M.D. and the idea that my migraines and ice pick headaches, aching neck and shoulders, are from anything but hormonal shifts. It’s not a tumor. It’s not an artery issue. Why? Because I do not know that in any certainty. Those are worst case scenarios that create more stress on the body.  The idea of those invisible existing conditions are worse than just living your daily life and enjoying the creative brain pattern, created uniquely for you when in times of need.

I think I will listen, enjoy the orchestra, and wait for the perceived feeling of having to survive to pass. I think I’ll take the donut my brain is offering, and enjoy it until I no longer need it.

Thank you for letting me share.

Here are two videos on hallucinations.

Oliver Sacks made a lifelong study of hallucinations and neuropsychology. This is his Ted Talk.

And here is another Ted Talk which I felt explained the connections of why psychologically the brain interprets and prescribes defense mechanisms in times of stress. This particular video focuses on Schizophrenia.

Personal Blog

Found it!

My True Self. I found it in a gift at my doorstep.

As of late, I have made two very simple rules to live by in my life, tailored to fit my unique self. This year has been enlightening to say the least and I am thankful for the lessons. I know now who I am, and I understand I also need a little work. My resolution became the 2 following rules.

  1. Do not make promises or commitments to ideas you know you do not enjoy.
  2. Do not talk to your mom.

I would commit to writing them down and post them in my closet so that every day I would remember, just follow this two-step plan for decreasing anxiety.  When I tell people my rules they either nod their head slowly in relation, or they look at me like I’m a jerk. I know I’m not a jerk, so I have deduced it down for empathetic understanding in a formula that ultimately ended up equating to time being well spent.

I took my time reading a book titled “Mean Mothers, Overcoming a Legacy of Hurt” by author Peg Streep. The irony struck me immediately while the author describes her similar encounters when speaking of her mother. And her name is Peg. It was as though the book was literally speaking to me. I highly recommend the read for anyone who has a mother who is not nice. This realization came after receiving my degree in Psychology, and only started appearing when I worked in the PCAP offices as an advocate for young mothers, the cycle emerging pattern of  mothers abusing their daughters and drugs using unspeakable offenses. The book made my inner child grow into a wise old woman. I understood the pain I feel for my mom is not my pain, it is her pain. Her mother never showed her the love she needed to grow into being aware. And my mother did not know how to show me love because, she just did not know how.

My mom has done some whacky stuff, and I could regal you with tales of her neurosis but it wouldn’t matter. My husband is my witness to everything and I trust his judgement when he says I may be speculating.  I’m not here to ask anyone else to judge her either, but I am stating that my mother took her projections too far when she cast them onto my back to carry around. My stomach has always hurt, questioning my intuition and even my intention as though I did not have the control or tools to analyze a situation. College gave me this tool, not my mother, and it allowed me to see her.

This evening we were given a gift, delivered by the local Police department. My 14 year old daughter sat just inside my door while the officer served me with a No Contact order from my oldest daughter and my mom. They live together. Rule number 2 was becoming easier already.

So here’s the projection broken down. My mother hired lawyers throughout my oldest daughter’s life for reasons like moving out of town with my husband, or making the kid do a chore. This sort of argument over my daughter persisted in the same bizarre fashion until my daughter ran away to my mother’s home after being grounded for drinking, 6 months before she turned 18. She refused to come home, and my mother told her not to go home, and my mother told me she would just help out for a few days. My mother deceived me.

 

From this point forward she would not look me in the eye and it took me until this evening to figure out why. She stole my baby. Who was 17.5 years old.

I do not see the situation as that she stole my baby, but I see her guilt and shame and her avoidance and I always thought it was because she knew something was wrong with me. I hated myself over it, how could I make my mom love me again? The answer is she will never love me again as her daughter, she withholds that love from herself. I digress.

Still, I had no hard proof that she was not just busy in her daily life like we all are and I let it go. I titillated over this idea for a few weeks as my mother’s behavior became increasingly strange. She mailed me junk mail one day. No note, just an old flyer asking us to come back to Dish network. She addressed the envelope, put two stamps on it, took it up to town and then mailed it to me in the town 15 minutes away from her home. Still, I had no hard evidence, until now. The statement my mom and daughter made was that I was trying to steal my granddaughter. Jerry Springer couldn’t keep up with this madness. The allegations were widely creative and I vowed to go to court and say what I needed. Then I was guided into a wonderful thought. I have control over this.

We have time but none of know how long or in what increments we have left. I decided to not to commit to things I do not enjoy with my time in Rule number 1. I can tell you I do not want to stand in court and bear witness to my struggling daughter projecting her safety being jeopardized into a sideshow event. I know how to handle this. I will write a letter. I am a writer, and that is what I do. I will write a letter in defense of my reputation, and ask that judge to place that order in effect if that is what she needs to feel safe.  The order means my other daughter will not be able to see her sister or grandparents for the holiday, and I doubt if my mums had any foresight on the matter. This recognition of leadership heightened my senses and I no longer felt the need to explore the sadness and analyze if it was my fault. This is a game I will not witness and instead we move forward with the gift of the evening.

The gift I am speaking to is the merging of my true self. I know, I see, and I cannot find any anger attached to this situation. I received a court document in my mother’s handwriting and the understanding that if I break rule 2, I am not only hurting myself, but literally crippling my family with the sadness that follows.

Instead, my husband and youngest daughter all came in for a hug and a moment to grieve our loss. Then we talked and I was keenly aware that they were watching me, gauging my reaction and trying to act in accordance, hesitant. I preach to everyone about being a leader, and at this moment I knew I had to put action to my platform.  I made a joke about the tree being a tiny bit lopsided.

My daughter jumps in with “Kinda like us mom.”

“A bit off kilter?” I asked.

“Nope just crooked.”

She gets it. I get it too. So does my husband. We had a year of extreme endurance, and I can see the finish line for this race. And the next kinder, gentler race begins here, I just have to follow my own rules.

 

Here’s that book I mentioned;

https://www.amazon.com/Mean-Mothers-Overcoming-Legacy-Hurt/dp/0061651362

 

Personal Blog

Being Seen

“There’s a difference between wanting to be looked at and wanting to be seen.

When you are looked at, your eyes can be closed. You suck energy, you steal the spotlight. When you are seen, your eyes must be open, and you are seeing and recognizing your witness. You accept energy and you generate energy. You create light.

One is exhibitionism, the other is connection.

Not everybody wants to be looked at.

Everybody wants to be seen.”

 

― Amanda PalmerThe Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

 

As a performer and musician, I would not understand this differentiation of being looked at and being seen, until after I ceased to perform any shows and quit my band. The decision was based on many variables, but the underlying feeling was that I hated being looked at and I wanted to be seen so badly that every show became an opportunity for connection or rejection. The rejection was strange; it was not rejection of my persona, but a rejection of my true self I so desperately wanted to be seen. The rejection came with flattery and being looked at and I would chew on drink straws while a young artist would try to convince me that I should come hang out in their van. My persona would laugh and shake her head, treating the request as an ironic joke while understanding I was the prey and he was the manipulation wanting to be looked at, not wanting to be seen.

A decade of playing to bars taught me a few things about perspective in the entertainment field, specifically the stage of music and rock stars. Lies were imminent, impulse in full gain, and the crowd competed to be looked at in a staging of their own, in front of my microphone. The young lady on the side, inching up to the platform, would always become my focus to smile at. I see you, I see you seeing me. We are kindred. I stand where you stand at shows, close enough to be enveloped by the music playing form the giant speakers, far enough away from the rowdy middle. Safely tucked in the darkness, the whole experience unfolds and I was pleased that one person took the time to see my true self tucked into the lyrics. This simple exchange was the motivation I needed to share and relate in my own narcissist need.

I loved the music, the power of the chords and the flaws in a solo that created a unique live experience. The collective experience of band mates and friends gathering together in unity for the purpose of fun was what I lived for. I never wanted to be looked at and truth be told if I could have worn a bucket over my head and played anonymously to the crowd, I would have. I would plead with my band to wear stage makeup, but in the end I would show up in my favorite comfort jeans and a t-shirt, donning a pair of cheap chucks. We would play shows with all different types of artists, eye liner heavy on the men and cheetah print abundant with the push up bra industry of women fronted bands. I sat between the men, who tended to be able to convince at least one woman a night to sleep with them based solely on the fact that they played an instrument on stage that evening, and the cheetah women who looked at me as though I was no threat to their sexuality or attention they basked in. I was intimidated by the women’s sexuality and power, while also misguidedly hating their animal print in defense of the judgement I speculated from them. (I do honestly think it’s weird to dress in the skin of an animal and then add boobs and presto! Hot woman. I was more cup o noodles; Add water and I’ll pee 1000 times before getting on stage and then bloat with beer and salt afterward.)  The actuality of what my friends thought I was doing at out of town shows was glorified and unrecognizable. The best times were the quiet moments when a conversation turned philosophical and away from sexual. These moments, I felt truly seen and satisfied. This conversation was proof that my true self was recognizable and relatable.

Early on in my entertainment career, my band mate took me aside on the eve of my impending divorce. This is what he said.

“Peggy, you cannot be a slut.”

I was like “Um, why not?”

“Look, I know you see men in bands do it all the time, and it is a double standard. You don’t want your fame that way. You don’t want to get shows based on sleeping with bar managers or other bands people. I know you’re getting divorced, but we need you all to not be a slut for the sake of you and our reputation. We want shows because we play good music. Don’t be a slut.”

I mulled this over, and not tending towards slut factor, I found it was easy to say no. I can happily tell you I have turned down many who went on to find infamy and the infamy has no bearing on regret. I have no regret for listening to my friend, who was asking me to hold myself to higher expectations of being seen, not just being looked at.

I still had impulsive moments, but every single moment came with a lesson that reinforced the idea of letting my creative work speak for my true self. I loved playing music, but also found that playing the same type of music was not educating or furthering my abilities. When I left my band, I quit music for over a year. I quit listening, I quit playing, and I soaked up silence waiting for the magic to return.

The change brought on by life circumstance of my failing health had twisted my world into a scattered mess of need with no categorical system. Starting in silence was the beginning of the rewiring of my dearly beloved music affair, and I found myself seeing the performers’ pain or triumph dancing from ear to ear in my headphones, the space between capturing the waves of sound in the invisible middle part of my brain. I found Mozart here, Camille Saint Saens, Chopin, as well as uplifting words from Grouch and Eligh, Patty Griffin, and of course relating to my earliest mentors; Amanda Palmer and Ani DiFranco. I found healing within my body as well as in my soul while feeding my mind with whimsical notes.

Many instances of my life have circled the same ideology, the possibility of achieving success having to be met with ‘the right way’ for me. I would never tell a woman how to dress and risk criticizing their sexuality out of my jealous misunderstanding and lack of femininity. I want success, but I want it on my terms. I want kindness and rewards and balance to flow through my community, my community being the like-minded intellectuals trying to make the world a better place while being seen for who they are in their entirety.

Sadness and depression circle around the confusion of being looked at and being seen. If I have one gift, it is the gift of sight.

I see you.

I thank you for seeing me.

Warmest regards,

Peggy

 

*if you have not read Amanda Palmers book, I highly recommend reading or listening in audio. You can find her book here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IRISKD6/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

And her website here:

http://amandapalmer.net/theartofasking/

And for fun, her Ted Talk here:

https://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_palmer_the_art_of_asking