Monday, July 25, 2011

Expressive Arts Carnival: Group Word Cloud

This months expressive arts activity I found very different but interesting. The activity is divided into two parts:

Part 1: Think of someone you look up to, real or imaginary, who has taught you something you can use (or do use) in your healing. Describe either the characteristics of the person, what they told you, or how you have been helped. Use expressive writing by telling a story, writing a poem, or anything that makes sense to you. If you have a blog, you can feel free to publish this writing on your blog. But you will not submit this writing as your entry.

Part 2: For your entry, select three words from your writing that have particular meaning to you and also one color (or HEX color code) that you would like to associate with these words.

For the first part I wrote a poem which I would like to share with you, I'm not very happy with it structurally but I think it gets across what I was thinking.

The most frightening thing is to be alone
To look around and simply see emptiness
Knowing you are out there,
that you can understand
the emotions pouring out of me
To know I am not the first to walk this path
Though I wish to be the last
These are things that bring comfort

Everyone finds their own path
But paths cross and a helping hand is given
Each bring their own wisdom,
Advice and knowledge
of how to climb this huge mountain

Who better to understand,
Than those who have been there?
Who better to guide this journey,
Than those who have walked it themselves?

When I first sat down to this activity I spent a lot of time thinking who has helped me, there has been Margaret (my psychologist), numerous books (both on the subject and just in my general reading), Carl Jung (a famous Swiss psychiatrist). However for me, where I have learnt the most which has helped me on my healing journey is other survivors. Through their blogs, through forums and people I have met. They share their story and their techniques and for me that has been the largest help. That is what my poem is about.

This project really made me consider all those who have helped me and continue to do so, all the people I am so grateful for. I think it can be really easy to get stuck into how hard things are and focus on the hurt, and this can mean you overlook the people around you and you forget to show your gratitude.

For part two I had a hard time choosing the words to share, but these are the ones that stood out to me:

Alone    Understand    Wisdom

Monday, July 18, 2011

Glimpses of Co-Consciousness

A chalk pastel picture one of the littles did

Until recently, whenever one of my parts came out, or was in control, I would go into my 'room' within the house in our head. During that time I would not be conscious, of either what was happening inside or in the real world. However this is slowly beginning to change, I am starting to be aware of what is happening outside (in the real world) while I am switched. It has only happened a few times and I was only able to perceive  bits of what happened during that time. I still do have bad times when I hide away completely and littles take over, like last night - I lost about 5 hours to the 6 & 7 year olds.  However that is happening less and these glimpses of co-consciousness give me a lot of hope.

When I compare this to when I first found out about my parts it amazes me how far I have come. Back then, I was unable to communicate with them, there were no rules in place and they were able to do pretty much whatever they wanted. I had no idea what happened during those times and would usually be gone for hours, sometimes even days at a time.

Healing is such a difficult and scary process, and its hard to see how any of it helps. I honestly am still not sure how it does help but obviously something is helping if we are making this progress. What I really want to say to anyone out there who is working at healing: keep at it, it is definitely worth it. That isn't saying I feel that this means I am healed, or even close, I am still working through some very difficult memories and there still is stuff I haven't remembered yet. I also don't feel that just because I have come as far as I have that I am suddenly an authority on healing. I just hope that my experiences help other people feel less alone.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Too Tired To Let It Out

Lately I have been very slack with my blog and even more so with my journaling, even my art has suffered. A big reason for this is the Chronic Fatigue, dealing with emotions is tiring and when you are already exhausted there is just no energy to work on more. The problem with this is: healing cannot just be put on hold. It doesn't just stop because we are tired, or sick or because we have plans this weekend. Once healing begins, the book is open and no lock is strong enough to hold it closed again. At least that is my experience.

This has become my biggest struggle of late, I have reduced my psychology appointments back to once a fortnight, as I have already said, I no longer journal, my blog has suffered and I rarely do art, either recreational or healing. Yet the nightmares continue, there are small daily things I have to avoid because simply being near by can cause me to be seriously triggered.

My parts don't come out as much as they used to and there is a lot more co-existence and even a few moments of co-consciousness. This is one area I can truly see improvement, however I know some of my older parts are worried about the healing being on hold and I worry that I will make steps backwards. That I will begin losing more time again and that tiny things will cause me to lose hours.

I have a couple things that have been helping me cope lately, firstly, the love and support of my boyfriend and friends. Secondly is music and TV shows, things I can lose myself in and help the time pass without tiring myself out. However these things are things that I helping me get through, there doesnt feel to be any steps forward and that is so frustrating.

Last November I wrote this in relation to a Post Secret I saw:

"It summed up how I have been feeling for the past few months so well that I wanted to cry. I have been watching friends graduate from university, getting married, having babies, starting families, traveling - all the while getting out of bed feels like a huge accomplishment! I know I shouldn't compare myself to others - every persons journey is different and life isn't a race. However my life feels so empty and I feel so helpless to change it."

 I no longer feel quite like this, I am no longer simply existing, my life no longer feels empty. However I am feeling frustrated because my life now feels like its on hold, there are things I want to be doing, experiences I want to be sharing but I still cannot do anything because I am simply too tired.

Instead of being caught up in depression because of this, I now feel frustrated and I am just ready to be better. I am angry at the situation and overwhelmed at the fact that its been over 18 months and there still feels like no end to this illness. I don't even understand what is wrong with my body and the doctors cannot tell me!

The picture at the top of this post is a Polyvore set I did in attempt to use art to express how I have been feeling. I recognise that I need to try and post more and try express myself more through art.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Terrified of hospitals

I'm over hospitals, first Elmo fractured his L1, then a couple weeks ago I became really sick and couldn't keep any food down and became so dehydrated I needed to go into the hospital for a day. They did lots of tests and never did find out what was wrong however they believe it was just an infection. Then a few days ago Elmo went back into hospital for what they thought was appendicitis but turned out to be a swollen colon. He was released yesterday and is much better but over all I am just sick of hospitals.

I have to go back to the hospital tomorrow morning for yet another test as my doctor keeps wanting to check that the Chronic Fatigue isn't anything else. I will only be in there an hour or two, however its still the hospital and the truth is hospitals terrify me. I have managed with all these trips because Elmo needed me or because I knew I needed to be there and I'm not going to let myself be horribly sick to avoid hospitals. At the same time though they terrify me and it gets me all uptight every time I have to go. 

I am rather impressed though that I have managed to visit the hospital this year and I didn't switch, well for very little time anyway. A year or two ago I would not have been able to cope and would have hid away inside and let another part deal with being at the hospital. I even managed to avoid panic attacks. For me this is a huge improvement, that I have been able to face my fears and keep myself calm.

I believe I know where my fear from hospitals comes from, but it frustrates me at how irrational it is. When my grandmother went into hospital (she was sick for all of my childhood) it usually meant I was left alone with my grandfather and bad things would happen. I believe I associate the hospital with those bad things despite the fact I realise that it was my grandfather and not the hospital at fault, and it just provided my grandfather with opportunity.

I am not really sure about the point of this post, other than to let out my frustration and anxiety about hospitals out. I do want to write in my blog more and plan to try, however as you may have figured out by this post I am still struggling with the Chronic Fatigue and been quite sick on top of that and that makes it hard to keep on top of blogging.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Expressive Arts Carnival: Coping and Safety

I seem to have failed at getting to back to posting regularly but I am trying. Things are still a little tough, particularly with the Chronic Fatigue. I am exhausted all the time and my body hurts, I went and saw my doctor yesterday and she had me have more blood tests and I a special test I am going to have to travel to Sydney to get it done (that's about 4 hours by public transport). I also have to see another specialist for another opinion. I love that my doctor is so thorougher however I'm always scared these tests will find something worse than the Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia.

That is not what I want to write about in this post. I want to write about my recent Expressive Arts Carnival submission. This month's activity is about 'coping': Through drawing, painting, photography or any other visual means, create an image about mechanisms you have used to cope when you thought you could not.

It took me a while to think of how I do actually cope. For me breaking down and falling apart has never really been an option. There have been times when I have wanted to, but something inside just wont let me let go of the reins, so to speak. There have been times when I have dissociated for days on end and my parts have taken over and there have been times when I will withdraw from all my social circles but I have always been able to function to some capacity. For a while I was going to draw about my alts and how they have helped me to cope over the years, because I probably wouldn't have survived some of my experiences without them. However I wanted to focus on how *I* cope and not just my parts, and I realise I have many coping mechanisms in place that I never really acknowledged all that much.

When I am overwhelmed with emotions or when I need some time to myself to sort things out I will sit at my desk with my headphones on, and this is what I decided to represent here. Sometimes I just curl up and listen to the music and other times I will draw while listening.

The night I started this artwork I was in one of those moods where I was exhausted and triggered and I just wanted to escape. I put a Natasha Bedingfield album on and started to draw. We had a bunch of people over (which has become a regular occurrence) but I took the time I needed for myself and trusted my friends to understand and respect that. I am really proud of that, that I was able to take the time I needed for myself and that I put my needs before the feeling that I should be polite to our guests.

When I submitted this to Paul he commented he didn't know if I looked "lonely and sad... or whether you just want to be by yourself and escape". My housemate and friend said that the girl looks content. Honestly it is hard to describe how I feel at these times, I still feel the emotions that triggered me and caused me to turn to this however at the same time I feel a particular sense of calm and contentment. Its a certain type of retreat that allows me to sort through everything that has been going on while separating myself from it at the same time. For me, particularly when I draw in these moods, its when I make huge steps within myself.
Unfortunately last month I was not able to participate in the Expressive Arts Carnival as I was not up to drawing and I didn't get my artwork done in time. It was disappointing because it was a great theme and the artworks were amazing. I really suggest you check it out here. The theme was safety, and I actually did start to draw something for the carnival, it just didn't get finished in time. However I did finish it this month and I decided to share it here anyway.

When I started this artwork I was having a particularly hard time with threats from a person who has hurt me in the past. He was sending me sms', prank calling the house phone and making it obvious he was watching me and my home. I was terrified and safety really felt like an issue. Elmo, my boyfriend, has been wonderful about the entire thing. He respected that I was too scared to go to the police and he made sure I wasn't left alone, and just made sure I felt as safe as I could given the situation.

This picture isn't really a portrait of us in any way, it is just a couple that I sketched up, I am hopeless at making my art look like someone I know. However it is supposed to represent how safe Elmo has made me feel particularly when it comes to hugs. I have felt very lucky that I have Elmo in my life, particularly in time when we can really help each other through some hard times. I'm not confident that I would have been able to get through the last few months as well as I have without his love and support.

Originally, I was going to put these artworks into different posts, however I realised how much the to themes are related, well at least for me. To cope I have needed to find ways to face what ever is troubling me in a safe way. And my relationship to safety has changed based on how well I am coping with everything. I do not think I can completely separate the two themes. Letting Elmo in and being able to go to him for hugs was a huge risk for me however he has helped me to cope as much as my music and drawing. I don't feel that I am explaining the relationship between coping and safety very well however I am really tired and I might go into it more in another post.

On a slightly random side note, I am particularly proud of both of these drawings as pieces of art. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do sharing them.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


It has been over a month since I last posted and I feel bad for that. Not simply for the people who read this but more for myself. Writing this blog is extremely therapeutic for me - it helps me to really analyse what I am going through and help me to feel calmer. Margaret explains this as the thinking, logical part of the brain connecting to the emotional part of the brain and helping process things and calming the emotional part. It is why journaling is supposed to help so much. I have also been avoiding doing any art and this is also particularly unhealthy for me as art is a way of safely expressing how I feel.

The reason for all this is I have been having a particularly stressful couple of months. To summaries, Elmo fell and fractured his spine (he has a wedge fracture in his L1 for those of you who have knowledge about spinal injuries), I caught a nasty flu which exacerbated the Chronic Fatigue, I started getting flash backs in relation to a new and particularly nasty memory, and started getting pranks and threats from a man who has hurt me in the past. My house-mate, and good friend has also been particularly struggling with his own issues. Overall, the last 7 weeks have been more than a little difficult.

It can be interesting how things work out; this year I have become a lot closer to a wonderful group of people and started dating Elmo and now all of this difficulties have been dropped in my lap. Had it happened 6 months ago I don't think I would have coped however with the great support I have around me I have been able to get through with out completely breaking down (though there have been moments I have felt close). I am not saying that any of this is good, or even okay - more that it is amazing how the universe/God provides.

Before I began to write this post I entitled it 'Falling' because that has been how I have been feeling lately in a number of ways. I feel that I have fallen off the side of the planet when it comes to keeping in touch with people and keeping up with my blog and reading others. I was literally falling down I was so tired with the Chronic Fatigue (even managed to give myself a mild concussion one night and sprain my wrist). And I have been feeling like I am doing everything I can to not fall into all the emotions that have come with this new memory.

Things are getting better slowly. After 7 weeks in a full back brace, Elmo was given the all clear today to take the brace off, and is getting around just fine. I changed my mobile number and the threats seemed to have stopped (though Elmo is still being very protective). I am very slowly starting to get my energy levels back to where they were and I am not falling down any more. While I am still having a lot of nightmares and still struggling to come to terms with the new memory I am beginning to be desensitised to it and the number of flashbacks has significantly reduced.

I will be trying to write more often though my posts may still be short and irregular at the moment. But I do want to get back in the habit because as I said at the beginning of this post, it does help and when you guys leave comments it really is encouraging and does make a difference.

So to all those people who have regularly read and commented on my blog in the past, thank you, you have helped me get through some difficult times.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Expressive Arts Carnival March

This month's Expressive Arts Carnival activity is an interesting: it is to create a memoir in 6 words and present it in an image. When I first heard about it I was really excited and while I thought it be hard, I definitely thought it be a fun one.

Unfortunately this month has been a busy one which has left me rather tired a lot of the time with very little time to have put towards an entry. However I was looking at it yesterday and realised its due in a couple of days and thought I'd see what I could come up with. I actually came up with a few and was able to put a few of them together in Polyvore.

It was interesting, once I got started, more kept coming to me. I found that they reflected different aspects of my life currently and overall.

This is one of the first ones I did - it is a reflection of the way my every day life is. Obviously its commenting on living with DID. Once upon a time I would have probably put "difficult life" or something more negative. However I no longer view DID as a negative thing, just simply a part of my life and a way to survive what happened in the past. However it does complicate life, for example with my boyfriend - he is dating 'me' not all of my parts. He does a relationship with each of them but its different.

I actually created this in Polyvore a while ago, though originally it said "caged by the memories... imprisoned by the fear". I simply edited it to fit the 6 word limit and I actually think it flows better now. At the time of creating this I was having a lot of flashbacks and nightmares and I was not handling being around people.

Since my little outburst of anger just over a week ago, I have found myself having some new memories and nightmares and I find myself frustrated with how much the past influences me now - particularly since I had no control or choice in what happened. I find it completely unfair and that makes me angry. It is hard for me to deal with and feel this is reflected in this too.

Recently I have been spending a lot of time with a particular group of friends. As I have mentioned previously, they are a great bunch of people and has really been uplifting to spend the time with them. I feel stronger and have more belief in my self that I can cope with whatever is thrown my way - both in healing and every day life.

I feel this one is a little 'sappy' and cliché but it is amazing how much friendship makes a difference and I wanted to acknowledge that in some way.

No matter what mood I am in, I always like to have music playing. I have rather eclectic taste and find that my mood often influences the choice of song. When I am having a particularly hard time I will often play music quite loudly or at least in a headset so it seems loud.  It is my way of coping with difficult times. This seemed particularly appropriate since I have been dealing with new emotions, anger in particular.

While this a very simple thing, it is something I am very proud of. It feels good to say it: the past will not define me. I think this came to me partly out of the anger I mentioned earlier, the frustration of how much the past influences my life now. But it is also a huge statement of how far I have come, at least to me. A year ago I dont believe I would have used such strong and confident language. I felt that I would never be free of the past and now, while I recognise there is so much for me to work through, I believe that its possible and I will get there. For me, this image as well as the statement holds so much hope.

The final one, though I didn't really present these in any particular order. I'm not as pleased with the presentation of this one as I am the others. I am not sure what it is but I am just not quite happy with it. However I feel the statement is very true of life, it is similar to the point I was making in last month's entry (Your truth) - where I was talking about choosing to look at things in a positive way or a negative way. 

I have recently been spending some time talking to a friend who has been hurt badly by a guy in the past. He was a very nasty piece of work and the abuse he put her through was horrible. These days she doesn't trust any guy, she doesn't let anyone near her and has very few friends. Rather than try and work through what happened she runs away from it and tries to pretend it doesn't exist. I can understand where she is coming from and I know that I can simply be there for her. But I find it really sad to watch how fear rules her entire life. I also find it scary to think that it would have been very easy for me to go down the path she has.

I truly believe that each person can choose the way they look at and live life. It is hard at first, but with time and practice it slowly becomes easier and then it is a habit. This is the choice I am talking about here. 

I haven't really decided which one I am going to send to Paul for this month's carnival, however I enjoyed making them and sharing them here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Learning to Deal with Anger

I feel bad it has been so long since I have posted anything. While things are still going well for me it has been a busy couple of weeks, at least for someone with my energy levels. However I am coping well considering and while still quite tired and sore I am managing fairly well.

As I described in my last post I have made some new wonderful friends, become closer with Tiger and began dating Elmo. All of these people, particularly Elmo, have become a wonderful support network and I believe it is because of them that I have been making some new steps forward in healing. The amazing thing is I dont think any of them realise how much of a difference they make to me. I try to explain and show how grateful I am but I dont know how to explain or show them without going into things that I really dont want to share.

A particularly difficult step forward happened on Saturday night. Saturday had been a great day, I spent it with Elmo, Tiger and the others and Tiger taught us to make sushi. It was wonderful and so much fun!
Tiger was feeling particularly lonely Saturday night so I invited him over to my place for the night. This meant that I had to settle Tiger in the spare bed and change the sheets on my bed so that Elmo and I could sleep there. This was fine – I really didn’t mind, in the scheme of things it was a small task. However, I felt annoyed and frustrated, my chest felt heavy and tight – like a huge lump was on it and I had the overwhelming urge to hit something. Inside I was told I was angry. It’s really the first time I have ever felt like that in my memory. It was terrifying.

I tried explaining to Elmo the best I could and he was really good about it. He talked to me and teased me a little and allowed me to throw a tantrum which ended with me hitting him with a pillow. I think he found the entire thing rather amusing once he knew what was going on and I was letting it out. For me it was frightening, not just the feeling and not understanding, but I felt out of control – I felt violent by hitting him with a pillow. I realise it was harmless and I would possibly have a pillow fight in play – but while I had no interest in hurting Elmo, hitting him with a pillow in that mood felt violent and that terrified me. I told Elmo that I didn’t like being violent and felt that it was and he thought that made me cute.

I know what I experienced was a good thing; I managed to feel something I haven’t felt by myself for as long as I can remember. I managed to do it without switching and I let it out in a healthy manner, even if it wasn’t a particularly mature way of handling things. But it was difficult, upsetting and frightening for me; it didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel like progress.

As for the reason for this anger, well it had been a wonderful day. I was happy to Tiger come and stay. Making a bed is not a big deal. But I was tired, I had been pushing it for a couple days and I was in pain and I was frustrated because I hadn’t been able to contribute with the sushi day as much as wanted because of it. I hate feeling helpless and tired. I hate that the Chronic Fatigue impedes on my relationship both with Elmo and with my friends. The anger was at me and the situation I am currently in due to the Chronic Fatigue. I’m not sure what triggered the anger to come out at that moment, perhaps it was simply that I had the support I needed and my mind felt I was ready.

What ever the reasoning I do accept that it is a step forward even if its a difficult one. It still frightens me and I am not particularly happy about it but I am still proud of myself.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Sense of Belonging

I have been struggling lately to post anything here, I cannot seem to find the right words. Things have been really well for me lately - I have been spending a lot of time with some new friends and have even started dating someone. For the first time that I can remember I felt like I belonged somewhere.

Its not that I haven't had friends in the past, because I have and I genuinely care about them and know they care for me. However I never have felt free to be completely myself and I have never felt such unconditional acceptance. They are okay with me - all of me - they do not mind if I switch and have began to get to know each part and they treat each with respect. It is a relief not to have to constantly be on guard or being worried about what will happen if one of the little ones comes out.

I still get anxious, and there is a part of me that is still really worried that we will be rejected or hurt. But my general feeling is one of belonging and that is the most amazing feeling.

Tiger is a huge part of that, he is a good friend who introduced me to this wonderful group of people. Recently the littles 'adopted' Tiger as our big brother - which he seems to take rather seriously. He really wants to take care of us and that amazes a lot of the less trusting parts inside. He is just so generous with himself and so loving, he really is a wonderful example that there are good people in this world.

All of this socialising, while does wonders for how i feel, hasn't helped with the Chronic Fatigue. I really struggle to give myself enough rest while still getting out and enjoying my friends and boyfriend. For the most part I make light of it because I don't want anyone to worry or fuss. However I do realise that its a big problem that I have to be careful with or else I am going to end up really bad again and I really don't want to go back there.

I am travelling to Sydney this week to see a nutritionist/homoeopath who has experience dealing with Chronic Fatigue and has helped others in the past. I am hopeful that she will be able to help. But I still recognise that I need to find a better balance.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Expressive Arts Carnival Febuary Entry

This month's Expressive Arts Carnival theme is "your truth", the above picture is my submission. When I first planned this picture it was going to be a landscape, which changed under the magnifying glass. One day I started drawing and the tree came about instead. While it was unintentional, I am very happy with the out come. I found the theme particularly challenging as when I read it I realised I do not know what I would consider "my truth".  I have spent a lot of this month contemplating what truth is in relation to healing and to DID.

Recently I have been making an effort to be more positive in the way I look at things and for the most part I have been really getting better at it. This month has been particularly positive for me, but that could also be to do with the me getting out more and spending time with some wonderful, kind people. This drawing is a representation of me taking a closer look at my life and trying to find a more positive truth.

Truth is largely influenced by perspective, it probably why two eye-witnesses will never give the exact same story. Each person sees things a little differently. The way a person is feeling at the time can change it too. In a post I wrote about a week ago, I talked about different things that had been happening lately and how I could chose to see them as a good thing or a bad thing. Both would have been *true* interpretations but they are very different things. What is comes down to, 'is the glass half full, or half empty?'

I have a lot I wanted to say on this topic but I have been really worn out this week and I am struggling to find the right words. So I think I might finish up on this post and come back to this topic when I am thinking more clearly and better articulate my thoughts on the subject.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Poetry from the past

High school was never a particularly pleasant time, and my final year was made worse as that is when I first began to consciously lost time. I say consciously as I am aware that I was 'split' before that but I have no memory of losing time. I do not remember being bothered by it or any other signs of DID until my final year.

Recently I was going through some old art dairies from high school and I found plenty of art, writing and poetry that I don't believe I did. Two poems really stuck out at me and after a little asking around I discovered that Nadia wrote them.

I thought I would share them with you:

The Hive

The hive vibrates, a constant hum
A reminder of the conglomerate
Each part fading into the collective
Nuts and bolts that keep the system one

Each bee works tirelessly
Perfectly in time, like clockwork
All to achieve the illusion of unity
To achieve the unachievable


I Am Here

Walking alone in the crowd
The lines fade to blurs
Each person forming a never ending ocean
Voices, shouts, footsteps, notices
Each sound, once sharp and distinct,
blend to form a constant drone.

I am the candle in the dark room
Red, in a sea of grey
I refuse to join the crowd
I fight the masses
I want to scream, to shout, to yell

I am told during this time that our system was really struggling to stay together and hold me together so that I could finish high school. Nadia was particularly struggling to connect with the others.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Big Brother

Before I was born, my parents had a baby boy, Graham. He would have been 3 years older than me. However he was a trisomy baby and died when he was 5 days old. He should have been a miscarriage. My mum has never really dealt with it - not that I can blame her - how can any mother deal with losing her child?

For me, I have always said that it hasnt effected me. Graham died before I was born, I didnt know him and never had the opportunity to grow attached to him. And for the most part I believe that is true.

But a small part of me is angry that I didnt have big brother there to look out foor me. I know this is irrational and that it is something that cannot be changed. It is why I have never told anyone. I didnt even tell myself. It has only been recently that I have started to feel the anger inside, and it has been since then that I have started to discover this anger.

I have several cousins, but I was particularly close with my 2 older cousins - Sarah, who is 6 months older than me and Joel, who is 2 years older. Joel and Sarah fought a lot, but Joel always looked out for her. I was so jealous of Sarah - she has the most amazing father - who, when I was a child, was the only example I saw that showed men were decent. She has a big brother who looks out for her.

My grandfather never touched Sarah - because Joel was there. He didnt even know it and he was protecting his sister. And that is probably a huge part of why I am angry - where was my big brother to stop Papa? But it is more than that. I have always wanted a big brother who was there for me, protective of me and a friend who would always be there.

 I truly cannot believe I have just written all this. I have never even said any of this allowed - to anyone. But the last two days it has been in my mind - I am not even sure what triggered it. I needed to let it out, to share it - because, no matter how irrational it is, it hurts.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Measuring Progress

When discussing healing I have often heard the saying 'one step forward, three steps back'. It is something I have said myself, there are times when things are so confusing that you feel you have been spun in so many directions that you don't know which way you face. There are plenty of times when the set backs are so easy to see, but it is rare to see the progress until you look back and realise how far you have come.

How do we measure progress? what is considered a step forward? what is considered a step back? There are definitely times when it is obvious, such as being able to handle a situation that I couldn't before. However, this week I have realised there are plenty of things that can be considered either - it is just a matter of the way you look at it.

About a week ago, I found out about a new part, Laila. I still don't know much about her - she seems to be an adult. However the way she speaks reminds me a little of Elsie or Sasha so I wonder if she is another non-human alt. I do know she is nocturnal, this is something she has told Stacy - and so far she has only come out at night.

When I first found out about Laila, I was disappointed. I felt that I had been making progress lately and felt that a new part was obviously a set back. I definitely thought along the lines of 'one step forward, three steps back'. Later, days later, I started to really think about it differently. In the past many of my parts have been around a long time before they have become known to the system and I believe this is the same with Laila. A new part doesn't mean I have 'split' again, it is just a part as surfaced that I didn't know about before. This could be because she has a skill we need, because she carries memories we are ready to face or simply I am in a place where I can accept something new.

Laila appearing now can be taken as a sign of our progress - of my own acceptance of our system. It is all a matter of perspective - the way I choose to look at it. I still don't know why Laila is a part, or why she has come forward now however I am choosing not to see it as a set back.

My last session with Margaret (my psychologist) was a hard one, it left me shaken and I really struggled with the things we discussed. Ever since I have seen Margaret we spent very little time discussing the past, my childhood or any of the abuse. Not that Margaret hasn't tried to get me to talk about it, but I am a master at avoidance and changing the subject and Margaret will only push me so hard - I need to be ready. My last session was different, we discussed my last visit to my grandparent's house (after Nana had died, but Papa was still alive). I talked about how it felt, the fear and the need to get out. We discussed other things but I will go into that another post. I have mentioned in other posts that I can actually talk about the abuse to some degree however it is like telling a story - I am detached from the memories and don't feel any emotions about it. This was different - I talked about my memories, my feelings - I didn't just tell a story.

Being a hard session could be taken as a bad thing, a set back but the truth is I managed to start to face the emotions, to talk just a little about the past. That is a huge step and Margaret made sure I knew that before we ended our session. The 7yo didnt flip out at me talking either - which is a big thing for her (she is the keeper of secrets).

This weekend has been a wonderful weekend, I was simply happy. There was nothing particularly special about this weekend, I did have lunch with a great friend who I haven't seen in ages, I went to church, I cuddled my friend's new born. These are all simple things but they brought me so much happiness. I came home from church on Sunday night and I was happy. I am happy. content and just simply in a good mood.

I could look at my great mood and say that it is of little consequence, I just had a good weekend. However when I think back to 2008, I was so depressed, I didn't think I would ever be happy again. Even just reading my blog at the end of last year, I felt that I wasn't living life. The fact that I am happy is such a great thing and is evidence of the progress I have made. It is also a reminder of the great things and people I have in my life.

I don't believe I have suddenly turned a new page and I am going to be always happy and making huge bounds forward in healing. Life doesn't work like that. There will set-backs. There will be bad days. However I can see I have made progress and that I am making progress. More importantly, when difficult things cross my path I can choose the way I look at them. I hope this reminds me to look at things more positively, to recognise even the baby steps forward.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Healing Art

Art has been a great means of healing, both for me and a number of other survivors I know. Personally, I believe art is so helpful because it allows me to express how I am feeling - even when I am unsure of what I am feeling. Art allows me to work through issues, to explore how I feel about something and often leads to self discovery.

After I was hurt in 2008, I just could bring myself to paint or do any form of art - even though water colours had always been a calming activity and art in general has been something I was passionate about. It was too hard and hurt too much. I didn't really understand this response - at this point I didn't really understand the idea of using art as a healing tool. The images that did come out during the few times I tried were very dark and frightened me. For a long while Margaret (the psychologist who I see) encouraged me to get back into art but I resisted for a long time. It wasn't until the end of 2009 that I really started to try again.

Starting to paint again was a slow process, having stopped for so long I found that I was out of practice and often would get frustrated that I couldn't get my art to be what I wanted due to a lack of ability. I was still learning what it meant to use art as a healing tool and so I was mostly trying to paint images like I always had, rather than letting it come from within. I would often give up trying for a while, or would get destructive with my own art. I kept coming back to it though and while my skill is still not what it once was, I am discovering I don't mind so much. I am now creating art for the process and not the end product and that is much more satisfying.

Paul's blog, where he often shares his healing art and the process, as well as the Expressive Arts Carnival have both been something that has really helped me to understand what healing art really is. When I discovered them in November 2010 I really started to get into art in a healing sense. It was like a door finally opened and understanding of what Margaret had been talking about made sense. I began to start to really trying to use art to explore my feelings, and to sort through my emotions and express them in a safe way.

One of my little ones, the 7 year old, doesn't speak, it is her role to keep the secrets and make sure we don't tell. She struggles to understand that we don't need to keep those secrets any more, that it is safe to share our story. She is getting better, she has allowed us to open up more and slowly is learning that it is safe. However it is still a scary thing and there is still a lot she wont let us touch on. This can hinder our healing, particularly since she often stops us speaking in therapy. Art has become a way that she finds safe for all of us to express our feelings about the past without telling the secrets.

Art is an extremely personal thing, and the way one person chooses to create is not going to be the same as another. However it doesn't matter, their are no rules with art and while there will always be critics, there is no wrong way with art. I think I have always found this very appealing, particularly when I grew up being in fear if what would happen if I got something wrong. There are several ways I go about healing art, each one is as productive as the other, though the outcome is usually very different.

When I am in a really bad way I usually reach for which ever medium I am drawn to at that moment which is easily accessible. I just let whatever is inside out onto the page. Sometimes it works out as a picture, other times its more abstract, just colours and patterns on a page. It gets how I am feeling out onto a page, it is simply an outlet to the mass of emotions I am feeling at the time. This is something my littles one do more often than I do, I find it hard to just let things out. It feels out of control and that scares me. However I am getting better at simply letting go of how I am feeling and letting it flow on to paper.

More often I simply draw with pencil, without particular focus. I usually do this when I have something on my mind and I am trying to work things through. I find these pictures rather enlightening as I don't usually have a plan of what I am going to draw, its simply like doodling while letting my mind wander. Quite often the picture turns out to be a face, or an eye usually crying. This is my most common 'doodle' when I draw like this however all sorts of things come out.

There are times when I have a particular picture in mind, there is an idea that I want to express and I usually plan the picture out on paper before starting on the actual artwork. When I first started to learn about healing art I never thought that this form of artwork would be very healing. It wasn't until the first time I participated in the Expressive Arts Carnival November 2010 that I really found that this could really help me grow and explore an issue. When I work on art like this it usually takes at least a week, as I will work on small parts at a time and keep coming back to it, adding to it, changing it and improving on it. Often it will be in my mind even when I am not working on it and it really allows me to explore the issue surrounding the art.

Sometimes the process is a mix of these three, I will have an idea in my head of what I want to do, usually a theme of some kind based on what I am thinking or feeling but I wont have a specific plan. This kind of art I find very meditative. I am focused purely on what I am doing and I let every thing else flow away. Collages are a great example of this, usually there is a theme that the collage is based on but the actual structure is based on the pictures found. I find sorting through the various pictures, editing them to fit into the collage and placing them to be very relaxing and I believe my state of mind is very similar to what it would be if I were to meditate. Often I am so caught up in the process and the individual components that I don't actually see the entire picture until I am finished and sit back. I think this is why I have enjoyed Polvore since I found it, it can be very relaxing and a great way to express myself when I don't feel like other mediums.

On a slightly different note, Paul has posted the latest activity for February's Expressive Arts Carnival. This month's theme is 'Your Truth', read more about it here. As I do each month I really want to encourage any survivors to submit their art. I have found that the activities often help me to grow and explore myself and being part of the carnival gives us a voice in a safe and loving community.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness - why I need to forgive and how to accomplish it. For a long time the reason I felt I needed to forgive was because God told me to, as a Christian that should be enough, however this didn't help me know how to achieve it. It wasn't until recently that I realised that I couldn't answer those questions until I figured what it meant to forgive.

My mind and some of my little ones have been raging at me, why should we forgive HIM? He hurt us and he took pleasure in it and you want us to forgive him? The pain and anger with those questions is so overwhelming that it has left me shaking in the past. Anger is something I don't deal with very well, honestly it's not something I deal with at all, some of my parts hold a lot of the anger -but for the longest time I haven't been able to get angry, I simply hid within myself and let another part deal with confrontation. I am getting better at this, I now get frustrated and even a little angry at times. I stand up for myself more and I am more likely to voice my opinions. This blog has helped me with that last part. However anger still frightens me, even anger that comes from within (maybe even more so) and the anger I feel with those questions terrifies me.

This is where my epiphany stemmed from, it was from this that I realised why I should forgive: because I don't deserve carrying around all that negative energy, the anger, hatred and pain. Several dictionaries describes forgiveness as "to pardon an offence or an offender", to absolve*. I am starting to see forgiveness as more than this - to me, it is letting go of the hurt, anger, hatred. It is accepting what happened and choosing to live on without the negative energy.

I created this in Polyvore after I wrote this post and decided to add it...

The key word here is acceptance. When I say acceptance I do not mean pretending that what happened was okay - if what happened was okay then there would be nothing to forgive. By acceptance I mean acknowledging what happened, understanding it was beyond our control and choosing to let go.
understanding... accepting... letting go... forgiving...

Not that I am saying this is easy, it is anything but easy. And this sudden epiphany doesn't mean I have suddenly forgiven and let go of the pain and anger. I beginning to understand that forgiveness might not be something you just decide and move on. It's a process and sometimes a process that needs to be repeated several times.

I am starting to recognised that this is even more emphatically so when relating to myself. The few times I have felt anger it has usually been directed at myself, there have been times when I truly hated myself and believed that I deserved all that happened and more. Yet I hadn't thought really of forgiving myself because I do not see what there is to forgive - what happened was not my fault. And yet there are times when I still need to understand this, accept it and let go of the hate. I need to forgive myself.

*  forgive. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved January 29, 2011, from website:

Friday, January 28, 2011

January's Expressive Arts Carnival

The 7th Expressive Arts Carnival was published today. The theme is self portraits and the artwork is amazing. There are so many ways in which people choose to express themselves. There are so many powerful images, full of emotion in this artwork.

Self Portraits can be very confronting, particularly for survivors. The way we view ourselves is influenced by our friends, family, society, our past and by the things that were said to us by perpetrators. For me, the way I view myself changes based on when I think about myself standing alone as to when I think of myself as part of our system.

As I viewed the different artworks in this month's carnival, I could relate to different parts of each piece. They all invoked strong emotions in me and in some of the the little ones too. I felt the hurt, the loneliness, sense of being dirty, unclean and broken, of being separated and isolated, the sense of being disconnected - not only with others but within myself. But I also felt I large sense of hope, of healing and of love and acceptance.

I found Shen's series of art, which she posted on her blog, to be very challenging. The series was based on a metaphor from Osho's book "Emotional Wellness". I really suggest reading Shen's post, it quotes the book and talks about her process in creating the series.

I think when I have the courage, that I am going to have to try a similar art project. I think it would be a really good try explore what is under the emotions and the influences of the past.

When I was reading Shen's post I these words particularly stood out to me:
"I give the outside world and the past so much power, but in reality they have no power unless I give it to them."
This is something I can really relate to. I think it is something I need to remember and learn.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Expressive Arts Carnival: A Self Portrait

When I first read the activity for the Expressive arts Carnival I planned to submit Natalie's portrait that she did last year. However on the way home I started to consider the project and the way I view myself and I realised that this was something I really wanted to explore. As I spent more time contemplating the way I see myself I realised there was so much I wanted to represent.

I wanted to show how much hurt I still feel inside from my past; I wanted to show how fractured I feel living with DID but I also wanted to acknowledge how much I have achieved in healing and how much my self esteem has improved in the last few years. I was overwhelmed with how I could achieve all this in one portrait.

The inspiration for my self portrait finally came when I was reading one of Nadia's poems:

Staring in the mirror
We are angered by what we see
The reflection of a girl
A single face, standing in solitude
The mirror tells a lie

For a second the anger spills over

Unable to be contained,
The fist flies at the image.
The crash breaking the silence
Like a thunderclap on a calm night

Now the mirror lies in pieces

Shattered into a thousand fragments
Each containing a face of girl
Now we see our reflection
The mirror shows the truth

As well as showing how broken I sometimes feel with so many parts, I thought that the broken mirror was an apt metaphor for how the abuse has distorted my view of myself. I drew a number of drawings however none of them really captured what I was trying to portray. This is when one of my little ones suggested I try Polyvore, which they had discovered through castorgirl's artwork.  
Reflections: a self portrait
I am really proud of how this turned out, though it is nothing like how I originally imagined it. Despite this, I think it does capture all that I wanted it to. There are so many symbols in here of how I see myself I don't think I could really explain it all - I am not sure I understand it all on a conscious level anyway.

Having spent this time really looking at myself and the way I think about myself, I realise that I still struggle to not see myself as broken, as damaged goods. However, I am proud that a part of me is trying to fight that view and that while I still see the bad, I see good along side of that. I recognise that I am a strong, loving person, that I am creative and a good friend.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When the Tears Don't Fall

Please be warned this may be triggering to some survivors
please take care of yourself


A few days ago I read castorgirl's post "Expressive Arts Carnival: Self Portrait". I was really blown away by her artwork, which triggered some very strong emotions for me.  I found the images very confronting and could relate to them on many levels. In the comments section I explained what I saw however it was castorgirl's reply which really articulated what I saw:
 I can see why you would see the perfect face people want us to present to the world, and the hidden damage we feel. That was another motivation for taking the picture – to show the dissociative coping, show how others see us, or how they want us to be. 
When I was reading the post and viewing the artwork there was a lot of internal conflict, for many of my parts and for me as well this images and some of what castorgirl said really reflected how we felt about the abuse of my childhood. The sense of feeling dirty, used, broken. It really made me want to cry, not just for the hurt we had, and continue to feel - but for the huge number of people out there who feel the same pain.

I still struggle with the ability to cry, to let the tears fall. Its not that I don't want to cry, because these days I do - I want to let it out and feel the release that comes from a good cry. In the last few years I have started to be able to cry - but I can still count the number on 1 hand. I believe the reason I struggle so much is because I was punished for crying and so I learnt not to, and now I don't know how to undo that learning.

Generally when I feel I want to cry, but can't, I draw the tears. Its not the same thing but it does help me to reflect on the emotions and to find a sense of calm. I have drawn hundreds of these pictures over the years and generally they have a similar look to them. This time, when I drew in relation to cartorgirl's post something different came out.

In this picture I didn't just see the tears I wanted to cry, I saw the deep hurt, shame and fear that I have been unable to face for years.

Over the last few days as I have been reflecting on my reaction to castorgirl's art and my own drawing I have found a deep sense of accepting that all this hurt is not my fault and that I did not do anything wrong. It was not my actions that cause my grandfather to hurt me the way he did. While I have intellectually acknowledged this for a while now, this is the first time that I have had a deep sense of accepting it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Home again and crashing...

It has been a very long tiring week and I fear I am crashing both  emotionally and with the Chronic Fatigue, because of it.

I am now back home after 14 hours of travelling over the past 3 days, the reason for so much travelling is that I had to make an extra trip for Ann's funeral which was on Tuesday. The funeral was very well done, and a beautiful reflection on Ann's full life and the love she shared with so many friends and family. I found the wake harder than the funeral - there were a lot of people and I was expected to be involved in all that small chit chat with people I barely knew (I didn't know a lot of Ann's friends and have never been close to her family bar Judith).

Now that I am finally home and I am alone, I am starting to come apart after holding it together since Ann's death. I am physically exhausted and my body  is aching a lot, I know I have pushed myself to far this week physically and adding the emotional stress of it all I am not surprised that the Chronic Fatigue is hitting me hard today. I tried to take plenty of breaks and rest but I did do too much.

Emotionally I feel numb, too tired to feel much more. However at the same time I am uptight and anxious and I am just feeling generally negative at this moment. I feel disappointed in myself too considering how well I have been doing and how positive I have been despite the sad events.

I recognise that it is okay to feel this way and I just need to take some time and take gentle care of myself in the mean time. However I have this fear that now I am home I will settle back into some old habits of last year and just give in to the Chronic Fatigue and feeling down again. Don't get me wrong -  am glad to be home, to sleep in my own bed, to be able to follow sleeping routines and other healthy habits I have at home that are harder to follow when I am away. But I am scared of the bad habits I have here too, I am already overwhelmed by the amount that I need to do around the house and I am feeling dreadfully alone in having to handle getting it done.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pranic Healing

I mentioned in the post Christmas at the Beach that I had been trying something new for the Chronic Fatigue. One of the things has been Pranic Healing and I have been meaning to post about it for a while.

Just before Christmas Mum told me she had invited a man over who believed he could help my Chronic Fatigue through Pranic Healing. My first reaction was skepticism, I do believe there is more than we really understand however I think a lot of clairvoyants, healer etc. out there who are taking advantage of innocent and usually people who are hurting. I think their are few gifted people out there to the number who claim they have gifts.

Anyway, I agreed to meet Steve and surprisingly I felt comfortable around him and my instincts told me he was for real. I have always felt I could trust my instincts and they are usually fairly close to the mark. I agreed to try a session with him.

Pranic Healing is interesting - it requires no actual touch. Steve began by reading my aura and chakras and seeing where the work needed doing. He than asked the spirits to help guide him and heal me, it was much like a prayer I might say. He had me lie down on a massage table and he cleaned out my aura. Both this and the reading were mostly hand actions about a foot away from my body. He asked me to focus on happy memories occasionally, to think of things that would make me smile and try and get me to hold on to those memories. He then focused on putting healing colours into my chakras.

 One of the things that Steve mentioned was that each of our chakras have little shields and that sometimes they get hurt or broken. I think this hit home for me because I often feeling that me shields are cracked - they have taken to many direct hits and wont hold up against much more.

Honestly I was still a little skeptical, but I had agreed to try it and be open and I believed for the most part I was. After that first session, I walked away feeling lighter but I actually didn't feel better until the next day. It was not a dramatic improvement but I felt more awake and less "clouded" in my mind. It might not sound like much but from the way I have been feeling this is a lot to me. It has meant I could pick up a book a read for an hour without exhausting myself.

The next day Steve gave me a call to ask how I was feeling, I explained about feeling more awake and less clouded however that the pain that comes with Chronic Fatigue had not lessened. He admitted that he had been focusing on energy and had forgot about the pain and the next time we worked he would work on that.

I had the second session two days ago. The pain in my muscles and lower back is less though not completely gone and the pain in my joints, hands & feet are still the same. He has given me some exercises which involve breathing and visualising colours to help with different things. I think I will continue with the exercises, I cannot really tell if they help or not but they are relaxing if nothing else. Overall I think Steve has helped, I don't think Pranic Healing holds the cure to Chronic Fatigue but I do believe it has helped make some of the symptoms a little more manageable, for a time at least.

I am still skeptical on a lot of these practices - mostly because of people and not because I think there is nothing to them. I think this comes down to trust and I find it hard to completely trust people. I don't trust very many people completely. Its actually interesting because many people have told me I trust to easily. But if I am honest I am usually open and trust people to a point - if they break that trust then I close of completely, but it takes a long time for anyone to get my full trust. I just don't think people realise that because they see the small amount of trust I give at the start and think it is all the trust I have.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Expressive Arts Carnival Activity 7

The activity for the Expressive Arts Carnival for January has now been posted (see here). Submissions are due 26th January 2011.

For those of you who are new, the Expressive Arts Carnival is something a fellow blogger and friend (Paul at Mind Parts) set up to bring survivors of abuse together through expressive art. Each month Paul posts an activity which survivors are encouraged to submit via email which are then published on his website. These artworks are published with full credit though pseudonyms are often used. Have a look at past Carnivals here.

This month's theme is:
Through drawing, painting or any other visual means, create a self portrait. Please also include a couple of sentences saying what the process was like for you.

I really want to encourage any survivors to participate, I have personally found that being part of the carnival to be very rewarding and the activities to be a great exercise of self-expression and healing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mum & Me and defining healing

A couple of weeks ago I wrote Loss of Routine, in which I mentioned my relationship with my mother. At the time I had a comment asking if we were able to talk openly about things and since then I have been meaning to write a post about my relationship with my parents.

My mum and I have an interesting and complex relationship, in many ways we are very close, particularly since we spent so many years just the two of us (see here).  However we have made very different lifestyle choices and my Mum doesnt always understand my choices. This causes alot of fights and tension between us, particularly when I have spent any great deal of time at home. I think we are also amazingly similar in our personalities despite the different lifestyles, we are both extremely stubborn people who need to feel in control of our own lives which causes its own clashes.

I  have also always felt that I need to look after Mum as much as she looks after me. Mum has always provided for me and always been there in her own way. However she doesnt cope with things very well and I have always felt I need to be strong for her. In this aspect I have often felt like the mother in our relationship. My mum is not really aware of me looking after her and I prefer it that way. My mum is very particular about each person playing their "roles" in life and its her role to mother me not the other way around. However I am the only person she lets close enough to help her.

To answer Paul's question (can we talk openly about things?) the answer is yes and no. I talk to my mum about most things in my life and Mum has always shared with me more about her own struggles than most parents do with their children. But there are a few things that we dont really talk about too much.

My Mum is a very opinionated and strong willed person and she struggles to accept things that she doesnt understand. This is particularly so when it comes to things she doesnt understand in my life, and I think this is because of her love for me. However it makes any things in my life she doesnt understand to be difficult topics to discuss. The two things that this really limits our conversations on is my beliefs and DID.

Yesterday, Mum & I drove with Charlie & Rascal back from the beach house to my parents home. Andrew drove back in his car with Satan & Oscar (my parents dogs) which allowed Mum and I to have some really good talks, just the two of us.

One of the things we talked about was that Mum does understand DID or Chronic Fatigue and doubts she ever will however she realises that ignoring it or puting it down will not help me heal and she does realise I have been hurt & sick and need to heal. This was hard to hear but comforting at the same time - that my mum doesnt understand and struggles to accept my diagnoses hurt, I have always felt my mother and I are closer than most mother/daughter relationships and to know that she doesnt completely believe it all makes it so much harder to trust other people to be understanding. However knowing that even though she is struggling she wants me to heal and she wants to be supportive was encouraging. Mostly I knew these things about Mums thoughts on DID already, but to talk to her and hear it from her say it was good.

Another thing we talk about was uni, we discussed why I have chosen to stick with a psychology degree and why, something my Mum never particularly understood. She listened as I told her how I am struggling with comparing myself to others, that I feel in all aspects of my life I feel I am falling behind my peers and my life at uni is a huge example of this that slaps me in my face whenever anyone asks "hows uni going?".

I talked about Chronic Fatigue and how I was anxious about going back this semester and the fear that the stress of uni would set me back with the Chronic Fatigue and I would have to start healing all over again. Mum wanted to know why I was going back then and I was able to tell her about how I felt that I was disappointing her with how much I am struggling with uni, that I am so far from being completed. That the reason I was going back was because I didnt want her to feel disappointed in me further, that I am so consious of how long it is going to take me to complete my degree part time and I felt bad putting working on it off even longer.

Mum and I talked about me having come so far and that I should let myself have all the time I need rather than pushing myself too much before I am ready. She has encouraged me to withdraw from this semester (which hasnt started yet - starts in March) and spend some time doing a little volenteer work so that I am doing something and pushing myself a little while not having the pressure and stress. I think prehaps she is right, and knowing I have her support in this makes me feel it is okay to do. I am going to talk to Margaret (my psychologist) about it before I definitely do anything because I find talking things over with her help me to look at it in a different way and more confident in my decisions.

We also talked about how much she is struggling with Ann's death, we talked about her being depressed but she is not ready to achknowledge that she needs to allow herself to heal - she sees too many obstcales and wants to just put on her mask and keep going - because to her its the only option. I try to encourage her otherwise but she needs to see it herself before she will do anything. Its hard to see her in so much pain and not be able to help more. I listen, and I provide comfort, sometimes I encourage her to do little exercises I have tried or heard about, I tell her about options of help that are available but until she is ready to start healing and seek help there isnt much I can do.

I deal with her pain better than I used to, I recognise that I am doing all I can and that I cannot carry her burdens. I have learnt to listen and be supportive without adding her issues to my own. I have learnt to also take time for myself to process and let go after I have spent time listening to my Mum. Listening to her stregthens my own resolves in healing, I recognise that putting up a mask and "getting over it" only causes more pain and negativity in life. I want more; I dont want to just appear to be happy - I want to be happy.

Paul from Mind Parts said something in his post, Reflections on 2010, that struck a chord with many of his readers, myself included:
“I also have an appreciation for the fact that healing is really about living. It is not all about therapy. The work we have done has helped me live more of the life I want to live.”
I think this so well worded, it defines what healing is to me. I want to live life to the full, I want to be happy and content and I want to have the tools to deal with hard times so that my outlook on life will no longer be defined by them. I want to learn to look forward in to the future and not have that vision obscured by the past. Healing is the means to do this, its the means to allowing myself to live life to the full. Healing is about living.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Not the way I hoped to start 2011

New Years Resolutions are not about instant change. They are goals to achieve within the year, to create new habits and bring positive changes to your own life. New Years is a time to re-assess goals you are still working on, to reflect on the past year and consider what you want to continue and what needs to change.

As a new year starts many people have the expectation that this year will be different, this is the year that everything is going to be different. When something bad happens, usually a situation out of their control, they are disappointed and give up on their resolutions, and their belief that the year will be different. Change requires time, commitment and persistance as well as faith that it can happen.

As 2010 ended I really spent a lot of time reflecting and considering what I want to change. I sat down and wrote specific goals for 2011 and wrote notes on how I plan to achieve these things. One of my big goals is to be more positive - about myself and life in general. I have felt that I havent been living life (see here) and I truly believe that I can change this, but I also recognise that it will take work. In this way I believed that 2011 would be different, that this was going to be a great year.

Our New Years celebrations have been the same for so long that its almost tradition - a nice evening with my parents and Judith & Ann (sisters who are old friends that watched me grow up). Each year we spend here at the beach house, we have afternoon naps, then a buffet of food that we never finish - a lot fresh seafood, bread and cheeses. We watch the 9pm fireworks accross the bay and then watch the midnight fireworks on TV - the large display over the harbour bridge. There is a lot of champagne that I rarely touch, and just good company and food.

This year it was the same as always, after watching the midnight fireworks display on TV we wished eachother Happy New Year, hugged and kissed and went to bed. Around 3am I was awoken by the sounds of the ambulance taking Ann away. At 4:30am my Mum told me that Ann had died of a heart attack and she was going to the hospital to pick Judith up. Everyone was in so much shock. Ann was 68 years old, hadnt been to a doctor in 12 years because she had seemed perfectly healthy. She did not have any chest pains, or any other of the early warning signs.

On the whole everyone is trying to be as positive as possible - Ann lived a full life, had done all of the things she had wanted, her last evening was filled with happiness, eating food she enjoyed and surrounded by people she loved and who loved her. She did not suffer.

I have been so shocked, and I have been so tired, aching and had pain in my joints and lower back (from the base of my shoulder blades down). My guess is with the emotional stress of everything the Chronic Fatigue has flaired up. Feeling so down and having the year start like this made me doubt that I could make those changes, made me want to just give up on my resolutions before I had even started to work on them. However I realised that if I did that it would be my choice - not the situation, but my choice to let the situation influence my resolution.