Personal Ponderings


DSCN4806.jpgI’ve gone through so many changes the past few years, when I look at the contents of my various blogs and websites, it just feels like it’s not representative of me anymore.No more kids at home. Can’t remember the last time I baked a pie. I cook for the freezer a little bit, but it’s not my go-to form of cooking anymore. Still living frugally, but not because I’m trying to find ways to feed and clothe five people on a single income. Just because I’m broke.  😉  Everything has changed or is up in the air.  In many ways, I feel like I’m rebuilding my life from the bottom up.

I feel like it’s time to make some changes in my online activities, writing projects, and websites/blogs. No definite plans yet, but just sort of thinking out loud here.  I know I’ve mentioned on here that changes are coming, and I’ve several times thought I would implement those changes.  But I just keep feeling torn about which direction to take.

I finished my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics three years ago, so I’m planning some projects inspired by things I learned in the MFA program. I did finish an experimental book of erasure poetry, Bad Things Happen, that was published two years ago, but readers seemed uninterested in reading it. Evidently my more esoteric creative projects need to be done for love, and not for readership. 

We’ve suffered some major relationship upheavals in our family, too. Long story very short, I’ve been estranged from my kids for three years (I will not share details, please don’t ask). It’s the most gut-wrenching, soul-crushing thing I’ve ever experienced. I was suicidal in the beginning, but have come a long way since then.  With the help of counselors and support groups, I’ve learned to cope with, and accept, the unacceptable and unimaginable.

This blog used to be called “Life: The Journey” and documented our family’s experience with my husband’s degenerative brain disorder. Many readers found it helpful and I was told it was inspiring to others going through difficult, senseless experiences.

Sometimes, I feel like I’d like to share the things I’ve learned over the past three years as I’ve traversed this latest journey. Grief, heartache, rejection, depression, suicidality, hopelessness, hopefulness, mental health issues, physical health, hospitalizations, etc.

Currently I’m going through a class on DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy). Each week, I find I learn at least one — often more than one — thing that I find so helpful. I’ve been wanting to share some of those ideas and practices with others. Simple ideas that can help people cope through difficult and challenging times. And even just the mildly annoying times we all face, even in the best of times.   I’m tossing around the idea of sharing each week something learned from the DBT class.  I asked folks on my Facebook page yesterday, and several people expressed interest in that topic.

Anyway, I thought I’d just think out loud here and see if any of this resonates with anyone.

Sincerely,

~Debi

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Facing my fears …

“You faced something that frightened you, and you approached it with strength and the willingness to deal with it directly. This is pretty much the theme of what you’ve been working on over the past few months.”

This was spoken to me by my therapist as she walked me to the elevator this afternoon. Wow. I hadn’t even realized that I had a “theme” in therapy. I thought my theme was staying alive. Seriously.

“Your focus, at first, was survival, but you turned a corner a while back. You’ve been working on moving ahead with strength, courage, and purpose. You’ve been looking deeply at issues and traumas from your past, and you’ve been able to leave those things behind and move on into a different future.”

Wow. Sometimes it just takes someone else to reflect my life back at me to be able to see things clearly.

I knew I was making progress. I knew I was facing my fears. I knew I was tackling painful memories. I knew I was working on rebuilding purpose. I knew I was sensing renewed hope.

But just knowing those things in an abstract way wasn’t as real to me as it was hearing someone articulate the very same things to me. Someone who’s been walking with me through the current trials and traumas.

I had been listening in the car on my way to my appointment to a CD of a lecture. It was by one of my favorite poets, David Whyte. He’d been talking about the idea of things that scare us — that we refuse to look at — as being things we throw into a black bag that we carry around with us throughout our lives. When we’re children, the black bag is small enough, it can fit on our belt. As life goes along, we accumulate more and more things for our bag, and the black bag expands and grows larger until it’s so big, it drags along behind us and catches in elevator doors.

When my therapist noted that I’ve been dealing head on with things that frighten me, it fit in so well with David Whyte’s conversation about the black bag. I think it’s possible to stop and open my personal black bag, and begin dealing with those things that have been out of sight and dragging along behind me for far too long.  My bag is quite full and contains memories of past traumas, phobias, nightmares, people who’ve hurt me, gossiped about me, personal failures, mental health issues, abandonment, grief, rejection, bullying, lies, abuse, and plenty more.

So, I’m curious … what themes are you seeing your life? And what things have you put into your black bag?

~Debi

Anxiety attacks …

Yesterday I had a full blown anxiety/panic attack.

But I can happily say it’s been almost a year since I’d experienced one. None at all. And I’d been having them daily (or more). Life fell apart two years ago and I’ve pretty much spent the past two years trying to rebuild myself, my health, and my life.

Anyway, I was feeling good about how long I’d been panic attack free. And then, WHAM-O! Another anxiety attack hit in the same afternoon. So I planned a quiet evening at home watching something funny on TV. And lots of mindfulness.

And breathing. Breathing’s always good.

One reason I wanted to start posting on this blog again is that I’ve been learning a lot lately about caring for my health (mental, physical, emotional) and I thought perhaps some of the things I’m learning may be helpful to others.

For example, someone may not have anxiety attacks, but they might deal with social anxiety.  Or nervousness speaking in front of a classroom.  Or … ?  There are so many anxiety-riddled events in our lives.  I’m finding that things I learn for dealing with my more severe symptoms are also helpful in similar — but less severe — experiences, as well.

I may add something to the About Me page detailing a little bit about my journey the past two years so I don’t have to repeat myself.  Then I can just include a link in future posts for new readers.  Whatever I write about it, though, will probably be pretty vague.  I try to be careful about not sharing things online about other people that could cause readers to think poorly of them, and because the events deal with people who were close to me, I want to respect them and not share details about their lives that I know they wouldn’t want me to share.  There are always multiple sides to every story, and since this is my blog, I’ll share my story and avoid sharing others’.

Okay, onward and upward.  Have to go do dishes.  🙂

~Debi

PS:  I’m going to include a photo with each post, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with the post.  This is a street in Tacoma, Washington.   The Grand Cinema is a little independent theater (to the left) that I go to fairly often, and the tables on the sidewalk are for a cute little coffeeshop where I usually go either before or after seeing a film.  So I’m well acquainted with this corner.