Category Archives: life

Contamination 2!

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I have another friend who is in her early 80’s. I have known her since I was about 10 and completely coincidentally she lives 5/10 mins away from my new school. (My sister often jokes that I should open an old-people’s home, which I could fill with my friends!)

I love Ethel. She is sparky, good fun to be with and intellectually I enjoy her company. She is also extremely opinionated and bossy! The beginning of term has been busy at my new school. I had to make an early conscious decision that getting through work and trying to sleep were pretty much going to be my sole priorities for a while. Survival, especially of the physical kind.

Ethel made noises of support and understanding regarding this. She would say things like she knew I was busy, not to worry about seeing her… I had lots on etc… but of course, not only was this true, but I was also going to Thelma the caravan at weekends. I was feeling guilty and Ethel began to make noises of discontent.

As some of you know I’ve been in this position before. I also know that a ‘quick’ phone call or ‘popping in and out’ just isn’t good enough. If it’s quick, I get in to trouble for that, and if it’s not very frequent I get in to trouble for that!

I didn’t tell Ethel about the caravan. I want to get to a point where I don’t always feel I have to tell everyone everything. One of the reasons I like blogging is that I am in charge of what I do or do not say. Blogging feels like a precious gift in that respect.

I rang Ethel from school seeing if she wanted to come and meet me for lunch. She couldn’t make it. But I literally couldn’t offer another date in that moment, I just didn’t know when I was going to be able to see her for long enough. She asked about the weekend, but of course I wanted to go to Thelma. I said I would ring back with an alternative. She replied, “Don’t make it too far away, I might be dead by then- you haven’t got me around for much longer, so get a move on!”

She was partly joking but I also know she was serious. She however, would not have known that every time I see or speak to anyone at the moment, Im slightly anxiety-ridden that they are going to die on me and that will be my last dealing with them. I’ve been like this for years with my brother. Every time I leave his home I think I might never see him again. But I’ve noticed recently I’m doing that with most people. The reality is that at some point, it will be my last interaction with him or anyone, but I don’t find it very liberating to be panicked by imminent death. Ethel is elderly. But her saying that was difficult for me.

I feel like I am having to choose caravan or Ethel, caravan or Maud. The challenge is to choose me. And I find that so difficult, I can sense my heart rate increasing even writing this. I have to manage myself to know that if Ethel or Maud die while I’m at the caravan (or doing anything that doesn’t include them) I can manage the potential guilt. Thelma the caravan is bringing it’s issues!

Thanks for listening.

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Kitchen

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I have a new kitchen.

I ordered it last Christmas and it was installed at Easter. Lots of people do not know I have a new kitchen. I have been avoiding having people round my house because of my lovely new kitchen.

I painfully confessed to three friends about it in May as it affected them as I had made a mistake with my budget.

I have a new kitchen. It is a gift. I am trying to enjoy it and in the last two months I have had small glimpses of enjoying it.

It is beautiful. I am blessed.

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Thanks for listening.

The next few posts- my homework

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My DBT homework is specifically to blog about specific things as agreed with Penelope. This doesn’t happen very often but often in my sessions we talk about the things I haven’t blogged about and the reasons why. Interestingly, shame is often at the root of my absence. It is also noteworthy for me that the shame has some recurring themes to it… Anything that involves prioritising myself or something nice happening to me seems to elicit in me a temptation to hide. To hide the facts but also to hide myself.

I also acknowledge the need to justify myself and my actions- to others and to myself.

The next 3 posts are vulnerable for me. Don’t panic they are nothing sordid or socially unacceptable- but they are about being trying to treat myself well- and that is hugely challenging for me. Which is why I’ve been set the tasks. I am going to attempt not to justify or explain, I will just report. Eek… Very scary!

Here goes! …

Thanks for listening.

Being Alive

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The reason Rodney and Alice are prepared to rent their caravan to me is that they are sun-adorers and have never used the caravan in the Autumn/ Winter at all. They can’t think of anything worse… I on the other hand can’t think of anything better!

I love it when the sun is out, but I do not like being in the sun. (In Bulgaria, I am covered head to toe and sit in the shade all day long- I think I was paler when I left there as to when I arrived- I hadn’t topped up my fake tan!)

Wind and rain have a soothing effect on me. I have been known to go and sit in my car in the rain as I love the sound of rain on a car. I have also done that in my log cabin and as I write, the rain is pouring down on my caravan and I LOVE IT! The sound of the rain lashing down but me being safe inside has a cathartic effect on me. The doors and windows are open – outside is wet- I am dry. (unlike camping which I do not like when it is raining!)

I also love a ferocious wind. Walking along by the sea with the wind blowing and the sea choppy is a treat. Because I feel alive. Many, many times- thankfully decreasing all the time, I have just existed and sometimes I just feel ‘dead’. Nothing can seem to break through. But the wind and rain have always been able to penetrate that feeling, and I am grateful for that.

So Autumn/ Winter on an Easterly Island is absolutely fine by me. I need to make sure I have a set of suitable clothing at the caravan… but I will be ok. It will be lovely to be here when the sun is out, but it will be equally lovely to be hear when it is not. I am ok.

Thanks for listening.

MoE ii

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My practice of mindfulness of emotions continues! I did not sleep very well, my sleep was disturbed by dreams of stabbings and murder (unsurprisingly based on my news yesterday). Sleep (an integral part of DBT) plays a significant factor in my resilience and emotional health. Lack of sleep is definitely one of my biggest triggers and weak points. (Good to know)

Last week I had been dog sitting for the most gorgeous schnoodle dog called Dezzie. I have loved having Dezzie. He has been cuddly, friendly, affectionate and generally fairly low maintenance. Because he is so small he has been transportable and because he is so well behaved I have not been stressed by his potentials actions with other dogs and people.

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My own previous dog was quite a challenge to me and to be honest in many ways he didn’t actually do me a lot of good. Dezzie has brought me joy and companionship this week. I did find leaving him very difficult- my own issues with separation anxiety were definitely triggered but being with him has been really lovely.

Tonight he went home 😦

I miss him and I feel sad. I knew I had an opportunity to practice being mindful of these emotions and one of the things I had been reading about last night was very helpful. When I feel an emotion (usually a negative one) I allow the emotion to ‘mean something’ or i attach a judgement to the emotion. For example, I am sad because I am alone. I am alone because I am not loved… It is not ok to be alone on a Saturday evening, it symbolises that no one wants to be with me etc… Andrea Fell talks about not rehearsing an emotion or allowing yourself to retell the story behind the emotion.

Mindfulness of emotion means experiencing the emotion in the present moment. Focus on the physical sensation of the emotion. Recognise and acknowledge it’s presence but let it go in its own time. Don’t hang on to it. Don’t keep rehearsing the reason for it.

I miss Dezzie. Nothing more, nothing less. I have had his company for the last week and I have enjoyed his company. He is not with me any longer. I experience that loss and work hard to not let that emotion mean something it doesn’t mean.

I realise that my understanding of this is quite shaky at the moment and it is a new way of me experiencing emotions but I like the potential of easing my suffering! So I will definitely need to continue practicing it!

Thanks for listening.

Mindfulness of Emotions

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Thank you for the kind comments and texts about my toes… The pain has subsidised, the bruising is multi-coloured and I am hoping to get it strapped up so I don’t hurt it or catch the nail that is hanging off 😦

In my sessions with Penelope we have been discussing ‘feeling’ my feelings. The DBT term is being mindful of emotions. Allowing myself to feel what I’m feeling- not drowning in them, not ignoring them but accepting them without any judgement. I find this hard. My default is to ignore/ push away out of fear of being consumed by them. But I don’t want to always push it away… As I struggle with physical pain at the moment once again I am challenged about the relationship between emotional/ mental stuff and physical pain… Historically, my grief/ emotional struggles have manifested in being physically ill… I want that to change. So I have to change.

Today I heard some awful news. Two of my ex-pupils who I taught for about 7 years have been convicted of murder (a horrible high profile case- absolutely tragic). I knew them and their families very closely over a period of 12 years. I am trying to be mindful of my emotions. I’m struggling not to drown in despair … It’s quite a big thing to have to practice on and to be honest I’m not entirely sure how to do it. I plan to do some reading up on this skill after this post- I need help! I do want to change but some times I wish I didn’t have so many opportunities to practice.

But I acknowledge that I feel so so sad. Sad for the victims’ family… Sad for the pointless waste of life… Sad for the people who had to witness such violence… Sad that I didn’t make more of a difference in their lives… Sad that awful things happen and that people choose to inflict such pain on others… Sad.

Thanks for listening.

This is tricky!

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Life in DBT and Hepzibah land has been eventful… The challenges and opportunities to grow and develop continue to present themselves with sometimes alarming frequency and intensity!

DBT began to develop into a new chapter a couple of months ago. This was sparked by me receiving a proof of my interview for the sexual fantasies of English women book I did some months back. (See previous posts for the background to that particular event!) As I talked through the chapter with Penelope, my sessions have ventured more into trauma work. That is all fine. I signed up to this process and I will do whatever I need to do to come through the other side. But then some things happen that have the potential to really floor me…

In my sessions and with one particular friend the issue of my toe nails has become a hot topic. Random I know but a significantly painful one for me. This sounds completely irrational what I am about to say but it is currently my experience. My toe nails are a major reason why I have stopped going to church and stopped referring to myself as a Christian. Let me try and explain… (I’m more trying to explain to myself than anyone else…)

I have had a number of unpleasant toe nail and feet experience- details are irrelevant to this boog but they have left a difficult legacy for me. But throughout my 20 years of trying to follow Jesus, I have been haunted by the fear of being tortured for Him by having my toe nails ripped off. I’m sorry I’m just trying to be honest. Christian martyrdom in the 21st century is a fact. Christians all over the world are being killed and tortured purely because they love Jesus. In many accounts I’ve read of persecuting Christians finger and toe nails being ripped off seems to be a common form of torture. I’ve always lived with the fear that if ever I was being tortured by this method I would denounce Christ- and that has always been a devastating thing to me. That my faith was so shallow I would deny my Saviour. And a couple of years ago, I felt unable to live with this hypocrisy that I would deny Him. So I just stopped trying to convince myself that I loved Jesus and decided to be honest and I feel unable to call myself a Christian as i feel totally unworthy of His most beautiful name…

In my bid to try and address my body image issues etc I have begun to try and face the toe nail situation. Last week I let a good friend cut my toe nails. (I’ve only ever let another friend do this once before). I can’t cut them myself either. To my friends I’m happy to try and talk about this at another point. But last week I let a friend touch my nails. I was shaking and crying but I let her do it.

Today I had an accident at work. I dropped a video and DVD player directly onto my big toe from a height. I genuinely screamed in agony. I now think it is likely that my big toe needs lancing to alleviate the pressure under the nail. I can’t do it. It is just too much for me. So I am lying in bed drugged up with as many painkillers as I can, ice around it and elevated… The pain is rough but the fear of needing my nails to be touched is even worse…

I was with special friends when it happened but in that moment I was trying not to vomit from the shock and I just didn’t want to try and explain why this was such a big deal to me… It all seems so silly…

As I write this I wonder why I’m blogging about it. Sometimes I blog as a means of processing my thoughts. Sometimes I blog as homework. Sometimes I blog because I just really enjoy it. At this moment I blog as I really am feeling the need to be listened to. I’m not quite able to randomly text a friend and tell them about my toe nails- I know I should but I just can’t. My sister has seen my toe tonight and knows they need seeing to but she does not know my problems with my toe nails and I don’t want to tell her why so I’m feeling very alone and frightened. Gosh it sounds so weak doesn’t it!!!!

Last week I thought God reassured me about the toe nail thing. I felt He was saying that my ability to endure pain for Him was not about my strength of faith but about His strength of power. Tonight I’m not in pain because of Him, I’m in pain because I dropped two metal boxes, one after another, directly onto my big toe nail… But the challenge to me is the same. Can I trust His ability to see me through the night and to face tomorrow… I hope so.

Thanks for listening.