Feelings Rise

Emotional overload. My feelings rise up so quickly and leave me cornered. I strike out in anger, my favorite defense. I don’t know why these people love me, but I wonder if my emotional disconnection has affected them. I try to be happy and kind, but my nature is angry and suspicious.

All my life I have been waiting to be understood. I want to say and do the things I want, but the reality is that as soon as I do, I encounter resistance from others. When I am well, things move along nicely and everyone is content. When I am struggling, they vacillate between concern and anger.

I am so angry inside. I feel like all of the people that were supposed to guide and support me to adulthood failed to do anything but the basics. I was fed and clothed, but emotionally starved. I grew up nervous and suspicious but I did my best to hide it under an amiable, people-pleasing exterior. Now that I am not interested in saying what others want to hear, I realize I am going to start finding the conflict I have always avoided.

My heart feels heavy and alone. I am loved by my husband more than I deserve to be loved. He puts up with my shit and supports anything I decide to undertake. He accepts people unconditionally, and is the most genuine person I have ever known. He has changed my life for the better in too many ways to count. He accepts me, but he doesn’t understand me. When I begin an emotional freefall, all he can do is love me until it passes. I truly wonder how long another person will put up with emotional instability. I know he loves me, but someday, I am afraid this will be too tiring for him to continue.

I live in some kind of emotional freezer. I fight to keep everything neutral, but the wrong look, tone or words send me instantly into a raging animal. I feel cornered and trapped and all I want to do is explode and hurt the person in front of me the way I am hurting.

I see my children triumph and I cry tears of relief, pride and joy. Then the feelings turn, and I am them, alone on an island of isolation in my own childhood, wishing I had a parent like me who enriched my strengths, and helped improve my weaknesses. The tears are selfish then, for a middle aged woman who never stopped being a child waiting to be loved and accepted.

I ache to be understood. When I was in grade 10 or 11, I read a Steven King novella, “The Body”. There was a passage that made my heart skip a beat.

The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”

Some part of my teenage self started when I read this passage. I read it over and over, and highlighted it. Something about it felt so authentic to me.

This is who I am. This is my fear. I am afraid I will never find those friends who think like I do, and dream like I do. I want to be understood so badly. I’ve been to therapists and psychiatrists, friends and acquaintances, teachers and mentors; I’m still waiting to find my people. I’m afraid it’s been too long, and their beautiful, brave hearts have grown old, waiting to be recognized.

Lean Into The Discomfort

This is Day One of my pot-less situation. I used up the emergency stash yesterday because I know myself, and as long as it’s here, I will use it. I know I can live without it, but the thought of such a life seems dull. I bet all drug addicts rationalize their addictions, and I am no different. I miss it already. I’m depressed that I have none, and although my coping strategies are excellent, life doesn’t seem as interesting when I am sober.

My thought is that after a few weeks without it, I will see that marijuana is what is holding me back in life, instead of propelling me forward. Perhaps we will both start working again and so many things will improve that I will have no other course of action but to admit that I don’t need it in my life. Even though I want it.

My relationship with cannabis (and it is a relationship) has been the only constant in keeping my spirit happy. When I was alone, lonely and afraid, it kept me anchored to each day. I learned how to use my dependency to motivate myself to do more to ‘earn’ the right to use. I cleaned my house, walked, took the dog for a walk whenever I wanted to feel okay about being dependent on marijuana. I learned to engage in my real life and home in order to feel okay about being a drug user.

I am more patient and understanding when I am using cannabis. My body feels safe and secure. My spirit feels happy. My mind feels unified, even when there are several conversations going on up there at the same time.

Pot has a reputation for making people paranoid, and possibly being linked to developing schizophrenia. I often experienced paranoid thinking when I was high. More correctly, pot allowed me unrestricted entry to the thoughts that usually didn’t make it past my conscious filter. Some thoughts were paranoid stories that fleshed out my greatest fears, using players from my life as the subjects. Some thoughts were truths I didn’t have a place to integrate into my disordered thinking. Some thoughts were dark, old, things that my memory sanitized years ago.

It is scary to let your fear roam unrestricted in your mind. It’s scarier still to board the paranoid thought train and go where it takes you. You dip your thoughts fully into your worst nightmare, where you begin to feel all of the associated pain and hurt, even if only in your imagination.

Fear doesn’t keep pain away. It creates a lush breeding ground for paranoia. When I was high, I would meditate about a problem, and let whatever associations naturally formed, play out. If I wasn’t afraid to think the thoughts, they naturally resolved themselves when I realized how unlikely most of my fears are.

I have a strong belief that the bond I have with the cannabis plant is sacred and an essential part of my healing. I resent that I need to detox from something that feels right. On the other hand, I also need to know if life is better with or without the plant. I am not looking forward to the dry life, but perhaps I will be amazed at the benefits of living without cannabis.

Detox. Meh.

I have had a relationship with cannabis for more than a few years now. I have gone back and forth with fear and worry that my use of cannabis is somehow damaging to me spiritually, or that I am trying to escape from something I don’t want to deal with. In November, a new friend who grows his own medical marijuana stopped by with a ‘Welcome to BC’ gift for me, with assorted samples of the bud he grows. I have likely never received a gift that made me happier. I have been enjoying that bag immensely.

Yesterday the day came that I have been dreading. My stash had dwindled down to one bud. There might be enough there for an emergency puff or two, but this morning I find myself in the position of having no more pot, and a renewed reason for a tolerance break.

There isn’t much joy in the idea of living without cannabis. It’s like a daily appointment to meet with the part of myself that can’t seem to rise without it. I feel relaxed and safe in my body when I use it. There is a part of me that doesn’t care what the rest of the world has to say about using marijuana in lieu of a pharmaceutical drug. For some reason, it’s totally okay for people to have an alcohol dependency. In fact, it’s socially sanctioned. Lots of people are afraid of cannabis. Maybe it shows you more than you want to see about yourself.

I would be under the influence of cannabis every waking moment if I could. I love the way it makes my body feel free and at home. I like the way my mind works, even if it makes other people less comfortable. I feel like the me I am supposed to be, rather than the person who is always trying to do and say the right thing. Pot lets me bypass the filter that stops me from saying, doing or even thinking the things I want to, AND my body feels great. For me it’s a win/win.

I take this tolerance break because I can feel it’s time. The medicine doesn’t work as well after a while. I have decided that I won’t be getting more until I can afford it myself, or until it shows up again organically in my life.

I love you Mary Jane, and I will see you as soon as I am able.

I’m giving up on you.

Therapy. It’s really such a crap shoot.

I have unpacked my psychological bags for 7 different health care professionals in the past 18 months, in order to gain assistance in sorting out my difficulties in living in this body, in this life. The difficulty in condensing the concerns of a lifetime into an hour long appointment is obvious. It takes several appointments just to get the information shared, and start working on solutions.

My first counselor was an icy clone of my mother. I spent most of the time trying to get her to warm to me, as therapy in a frozen vortex is difficult.
The next was a comical physical representation of one of my abusers. He was like a caricature. I didn’t notice the resemblance until I was in my next therapists office.
My psychiatrist met me in 15 minute blocks, via skype. This was the sum total of the help I received in Ontario.

It was a ridiculous situation, but I managed to find
something from each of them that helped me move forward. It never occurred to me that therapy is only as good as the therapist leading the parade. I didn’t think about what would happen if the therapist was a harried new mother, and only vaguely connected to her job. Perhaps it’s difficult seeing so many people who feel helpless. Maybe you stop thinking you can help any of them.

In BC, the wait time was short, and the candidates impressive. My first counselor here was an unemotional Asian man, who listened without expression, and mirrored back my feelings to me. Our time together was brief, 2 sessions, as he was being replaced by someone new.
My last therapist was the best so far. He was engaging, reflective and probably too good looking. I had to take my glasses off so I couldn’t see how attractive he was when I was talking to him. As it turns out, our two sessions will be all we have, since he is not returning either.

When he went to make another appointment, and he told me that he wouldn’t be returning, I decided to give up on the process of having a professional help me navigate my own mental wilderness. I’m so tired of sharing the warts and moles of my life, only to be shuffled off to someone new. It takes so long to build trust and empathy with someone, and there is never any guarantee that the employee will be able, willing or interested in helping the client make a lifelong change. It’s so frustrating to know that another person holds the keys to wellness, but I cannot maintain contact long enough to have a successful exchange.

In the end, I guess I will take what I can from these sessions.

From the frosty lady I learned about radical acceptance. I have adopted the idea that all of my life has contributed to the person I am now. I love that person, despite her flaws, and she deserves to be encouraged to move forward.

From the doddering old man I learned that it’s okay to stop caring for people who don’t care for me.

From the skype psychiatrist I realized that therapy needs time, and a personal connection. Good work can happen, but everyone needs to be very goal-oriented, with the ability to prioritize mental health needs. I learned how to advocate for myself to take medication, and what kind.

From the expressionless Asian I learned that being heard is so valuable. Just having a place to talk about things, and a therapist who doesn’t judge is wonderful. I liked how rational and emotionless he was about his job. Unfortunately for me, emotion is one of my greatest challenges, so we were not the best match in a therapy situation.

From the last, and best version of therapy I have experienced, I felt understood. I realize that there are others with problems that they are NOT handling well. Since I am stable, and coping well with my difficulties, I no longer have a need to be supported I suppose.

I am a person with a rich inner world, who is lonely and experiencing the first real isolation I have consciously known. I am living in a beautiful, isolated mountain town.
I have the most amazing husband, great kids, and a beautiful, inviting new locale to call home. I see so much potential here for healing and becoming the person I am supposed to be. I am impatient for my new life to begin.

I wanted to write this to remember my frustration with therapy, and how every time I start the process I have high hopes for what it will bring to my life. The reality is, no one can possibly understand what it’s like to be another person. One cannot begin to imagine the compound interest of the experiences that shape another human being, without investing a great deal of time and energy into such a relationship. It is difficult to enter into a one-sided conversation about healing when the person who is scheduled to be the guide has never personally navigated the waters they find themselves in.

I find therapy to be unsatisfying exercise in you vs me, where YOU get to know all of my mistakes and problems, and I don’t know any of yours. You tell me how to solve the problems you have never had. Learning about mental illness is not the same as living with it, and it’s very unsatisfying to be bounced from service to service by smiling service providers who don’t have the slightest idea how to reach and help a drowning person.

Unwrapping The Gift of BiPolar

I had an epiphany 2 nights ago. I have been avoiding my sadness at moving. Imagine that. I have been running so fast, filling my plate with so many jobs, to keep myself from falling down with fear about what the next phase of my life will bring. I realized a while back that the first 6-8 weeks I was here, I was the old me, manic and denying all pain. Everything was NEW! NEW! NEW! and I plunged headfirst into every pool of interest I found. There was the unpacking, organizing, decorating, canning, cooking, refinishing furniture…the list could go on. I kept myself very busy, and my conscious self needed time to integrate the meaning of all of the abrupt change.

Eventually, everything got unpacked, organized, decorated, canned, refinished, and the frenetic energy dissipated. What replaced it, was deep insecurity and fear.

The arrival of my manic self was welcomed and appreciated when I needed it. As I descended into the opposite end of bipolar, I was scared and uncomfortable, just when I had started to feel relaxed. Issues of trust, and lots of delusional thinking had me acting like an insecure teenager. I felt ashamed of the way I was behaving, but I didn’t know why I was having so much fear, and I did what I always do to balance the fear. I walked, I listened to music, I distracted myself with as many healthy things as I could. In my old days, I would have distracted myself with things that were self-destructive. In my ‘new’ life, my coping strategies left my body lighter, my spirit stronger, and I didn’t feel alone.

I believe this was just another layer of truth being revealed to me. My authentic self was giving me time to make a graceful exit from one life, but was not going to let me away with not facing the fear I had just left. It was the first time I have ever ‘felt’ the full cycle, and learned to recognize the symptoms in myself.

Mania for me is wonderful. It is full of creative, exciting energy. I have 10 projects on the go, and my mind is happy to be doing something interesting every day. It’s party time in my life, and very few problems surface.

When I dip into depression, it doesn’t look like traditional depression. My body feels numb-ish, but not so much that I can’t function. I do less. I get many more paranoid or delusional thoughts. The intrusive thoughts are manageable but annoying. I don’t sleep, and this is the most physically distruptive aspect of my mental illness.

This past cycle of my bipolar has left me in some sort of a Limbo. I know you can relate to the idea of being ‘parked’. I am a wife and mother, taking care of everyones needs, and surprisingly, feeling very accomplished and content. What if the thing I have been running from (domesticity) is the very thing that has brought me peace and contentment? I can thank mental illness for showing me how many places my attention was being drained, and how useless it was to invest attention in these places.

What if unplugging your life from Facebook, TV, fake friends, parties, and being part of the ‘social engineering’ can bring an incredible amount of peace and well-being into ones life?

When I had no other way of continuing the life I was living, my new life rose up around me. I hardly noticed the journey unfolding because I was busy licking my wounds. My new life was simpler, more heartfelt, grounded and good for me.

I know that thoughts DO create things. When I was too afraid to behave in my usual patterns, a new set of healthy, helpful patterns arose. The more I began to put myself first and became unapologetic about healing my troubled mind, the easier my life became. When I became unstable and fearful, these new patterns kicked in automatically to help me navigate the rough ride. Somehow, without knowing how or why, my desire to be the person I have always wanted to be started to manifest. I had tools to handle the problems that I had always avoided. I began to sort out all of the old shit that I had been hanging on to for too long.

During my sabbatical from social media, and people that didn’t have my best interests, I lost track of what the rest of the world was doing. Life became still. In that silence, I began to listen to a different voice. One that was patient, loving and accepting. One that loved me unconditionally and kept encouraging me to always make the best choice for me, that did not intrude on the rights of others. In real life, that voice was my husband, who has always been the kindest, most loving person I have known. I FELT loved, and words and behavior aligned for the first time. I was able to invest my own attention in things that were really important to me, like my family and a few good friends.

I began to look at BEHAVIOR, not words. I realized most people lie to themselves, and because they lie to themselves, they lie to others, consciously or not. When you compare what people say, to what they do, over time, you can create a very accurate representation of who that person is, and what role they should play in your life, if any. When people show you who they are, believe them, and don’t take it personally. They are not aiming their discontent AT you, but you ARE in the line of fire, and if you choose to take it on, you may. (But I wouldn’t!!! 😉 )

I learned that people who show up in life for the good times AND the bad, are the best people to align with. People who have been able to cut through the bullshit around them to remain authentic are the kind of people who I want in my future. These are the vessels I will pour my energy and attention into. When authentic meets intention, the REAL

Phoenix Rises

I am not pretending I don’t have a brain bully anymore.

It is trying to make my life difficult.

It makes up crazy stories that make me worry.

It is not allowed to talk to me anymore.

If it cannot help me in a positive, meaningful, enriching, nourishing way, it is not welcome in my life.

I am working so hard to learn how to love, but it’s exhausting.

This world is hard to live in when you are a sensitive soul.

You build a thick outer crust that makes it easier to live, and you pretend you don’t have any needs at all. You give yourself away to everyone you meet, and most people think you are worthless.

You are not worthless. You are the very best part of me, but you are sneaky and rude and mean. There is nothing I can do to help you. You have to go. Or I have to go away from you until you grow up and learn how to behave.

Angie asked me what The Phoenix was going to write and I guess I wrote it. I can promise you the me that you know won’t remember writing this exactly, except for the parts she paid attention to reading. She pays much more attention and that is not always a good thing because some parts are very scared and young.

Her fear is justified. She was repeatedly and brutally frightened by someones anger. So much so that she stopped living. The rest of her thought she was dead, but she was really just asleep.

She is angry, but pretends not to be.
She’s missed a lot of very important milestones, and she’s determined to start making up for it.
All her life she was cheerfully taking everyones bullshit but she star not to be so cheerful about it.
She has given so much of herself to so many in so many ways that there was just a shred of her left. And when she needed some of that energy she spent over the years back, it was no where to be found.

However, it was found in the strangest of places. In odd, fierce, beautiful people who feel more than the rest do. They live in tiny places, cluttered sometimes, and hurting inside. Their environment matches their insides. They are hoarding, but not enough for people to be concerned.
They are taking drugs or drinking too much alcohol, too often, and they are hurting so much.
But because they have always pretended to be happy, the rules state that they get the role they are playing.
Some of them stopped playing and touched the fire.

Be aware. The masks are coming off.

And some of these people have been badly burned. They are going to need emotional care. Please be gentle with people who are hurting right now.

Your master is not who you think it is.

Your master is you. If you are blaming your bad habits on someone other than you for any reason you are about to get a sharp correction.

You are to be impeccable with your word. It starts slow but keep it up. Every day your master is firm with you, you become better. You have a master inside of you, and by master, I don’t mean in a slave/master way, but it can be that way too, good or bad. It’s in a ‘mastery’ way. When you quiet your life, you will hear your master. Maybe it’s a place. It could be a climate. It might be a love. But that master will always call, and you will always have a chance to answer the call. No need to rush, but no need to delay either. Keep your growth constant, and never forget that you are a master inside, and eventually, you two will meet.

I met my master on January 1, 2014. I was reduced to rubble in its presence. I slowly built myself up from the ground zero. Every day that went by I had the choice of continuing to buy into old lies, or to keep preferring truth and integrity. So far that choice has continued to enrich and benefit my life. My brain bully is dying, and as much as my emotions would like me to spend a great deal of time mourning the loss of the good old days, I am reminded that the days may have been old, but they were not that good. I know what love is now, and I have been loved as I should be by several wonderful friends. I understand the way love works, and that I will always get what I put in. I will always put in my best and I will always hope for the best.

I have created boundaries with people who make me uncomfortable. These boundaries are only temporary, and are in place to make sure I don’t act rashly (thank you reactive emotions).
At any time, someone who really wants to get to know me will seem authentic enough to want to know me, and not just the reflection of themselves they wish to see.

I understand that my basic training as a human being involved great amounts of anger which actually served the purpose of making a protective shell around myself which I am now quite grateful for. In the end, all my brain bully did was make me better.


Healing Rituals ~ Burning Shit Up

Sometimes I feel like my brain needs a physical cue from my body to make the connection between what I am feeling, and what I want as an outcome.

When I want to symbolically break an old connection, I burn something.  I make a little funeral pyre, and include something that belongs to the person, or something that reminds me of them.  I have a ceremonial burning to release the bonds of the past, and to make the intention of creating something different in the space I create.   While the contents burn, I reflect on why I am requesting a mental adjustment in my obligations to that person.

Burning feels good.  It feels real.  I connect with the power of making my own decisions, and removing the familial bonds that have shackled me.  I say goodbye with love and with acceptance for all missed opportunities.  I release us from our previous obligations to each other.

This burn was to disconnect my father.

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I am sure to many he was a great, fun fellow.  To his family, he was something quite different.  I don’t need to defend my feelings.  Even emotionally crippled people have the capacity to rise out of their own misery, and change their behavior.

How limiting to excuse the behavior of a selfish, calculating liar because he was also a victim.  We are all victims in some way.  It doesn’t lessen our obligation to try to do better.

In my current, emotionally healthy life, I choose who gets to be in my inner circle.  There are no obligations to prior bonds of family or friendship.  I choose people who respect my boundaries, recognize my worth, and accept me with unconditional love.  That may be a tall order, but it’s my boundary, and I won’t accept less anymore.   In my new standard, people earn their place in my life.  If the person is no longer living, I sever the connection that previously existed based on societal obligation.  Whether living or dead, people who don’t take their responsibilities as a human being seriously, aren’t granted access to anything more than my politeness.

I have made peace with my past, even if I haven’t decided if I want to make peace with all of the people in it.  It’s my choice to decide who gets to stay in my heart, and who gets evicted.