April 20, 2015

Waking Up, What Am I Thinking?

Today I learned that my three minute meditation is the most important part of the mindfulness practice I am learning, for my current anxiety and (hopefully passing) depression.

Later, in Centering Prayer, it was particularly poignant that I heard these words, which I shall paraphrase:

 To be awake is  "to know that what we think has an effect on how we feel, that what we feel has an effect on what is:   thoughts and words are the tools with which we forge our lives." 

 When I am awake, then I can find myself, and listen to myself. I can hear my thoughts, feel my body.  Waking up is a process.  It is soul work, to  discover the truth of me, and align myself with that.  I do think this is what Step Four is all about, and why I must go through Step Eleven (prayer and meditation) to really awaken.  To awaken will eventually mean that  I shall eventually "experience every tragic and terrible thing, knowing that it holds a lesson for [me]." 

I get the impression the lessons are not meant to be the punishment I was raised to believe.  Thanks, Jan Philips (The Book of Hours for a Prophetic Age) for this message of hope. 

April 17, 2015

Hiding the Truth in Plain View

"The trouble with lying and deceiving is that their efficiency depends entirely upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide."
~Hannah Arendt
I am glad I came across this quote, today, AFTER I sent my mom the letter that she received last Friday. In it, I avoided admitting I had seen my uncle (dad's last surviving sib now), but I did not lie.
I told another truth instead, one my mom had not asked me about. That I was glad to meet Aunt E.n in the nick of time.
When she asks me (for she will once her courage returns), "Did you see your Uncle 'J,' too," I will not lie, nor will I speak the truth. 
For her deception so trivializes my own need to protect myself. I might switch the topic to the one that is most important to me, and motivated me to find my dad's family, "behind her back" as she would put it.  I can imagine saying,   "Mom, what matters to me, is that I finally have a sense of what my dad's people are like. Why was  it was so important to keep us apart, for fifty years, so that I only now can appreciate Uncle's daughter? When we talked, I discovered she and I lived an hours drive away, when we were in college!"

April 9, 2015

Time for You To Find Emotional Peace?

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There Is No Right Way to Do Step Eleven

This past week, I have been using a book on mindfulness meditation that is for all of what I have felt since February:   Ennui, boredom, depression, anxiety.

I discovered it by accident at my local bookstore:  The Mindful Way Workbook... to free yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress.  Thank goodness for that being the only title at the store or I would be using multiple books and thinking I needed one for each emotion that is troubling me! 

Since about mid-February, I have been wrestling with  each head of multi-headed hydra. No longer, for my book puts it straight. I don't have to wrestle with the heads anymore, or try to vanquish the hydra.

Now I get to just be Aware of the hydra.

It is funny how the arms wave at me, even when I am doing a body scan.  A few of the thoughts that come up as I listen to the accented English of the instructions: "Just 38 minutes? Wait, the time in the book says, 45.   Either way, why won't 20 minutes suffice? ....Oh no, I am not breathing very deeply. Uh-oh,  am focusing on the wrong foot. What did he just say about how to breathe into my leg?"

When it is time to sense my body, I am not quite sure I feel the skin on my foot. I do feel my neck tense on the pillow, and I am tempted to judge that. Almost. Then, comes the sense of amazement when I do feel my neck release ever so slightly. (It helps to put a rolled towel under the cervical curve at the back of my neck.)

What are my feelings?  Well it is thrilling to be aware that I actually did relax and by the very end, when I hear the bell "ting," I am surprised it's over. I want more. And, I feel like stretching in the luxurious way that a cat does....


April 6, 2015

Know Yourself, Be Honest

Dear Mom, 

We need to get very real with each other-- and to do so we need to get much more kind with one another.

So, the Truth.  Let's tell it.  I'll start with me. 
The only time I don't tell the whole truth is when I am protecting (or trying to protect) you.

Now that I have said that, I need to address some things you have spoken to me recently, that have bothered me.

Today you said I'm bad-mouthing you back in your old home town, in the Northeast, the one you left 50+ years ago. Yeah, right.  What could I possibly be saying about you that someone has not already recognized twenty years ago?

Those zany messages that you are leaving on my voice mail? Oh my gosh!  You say I have put information about you on the internets. You believe this?

You've even said I am "selling" your stories.  Uh-yes, you said this. Now, where do you think those stories are, exactly?  Which stories are the ones you wish I'd (not) tell?

I already see a psychiatrist.  You might wish to see one yourself; it is enlightening and simplifying.  

Mine advised me that knowing more about my paternal family would help my mental health as I age and give my Deep South family (DH and DS) a complete sense of the legacy our son is made of.  Thank God for Dr. A's guidance.  The geneagram he had me create helped me to locate and meet Aunt E. in the nick of time.  

Uncle "Jake" and his family too, seem transparent and sweet. (Talking with them, I recognized dad's sense of humor!)

Sincerely, VSmitty

Dear Challenging Parent, Nothing Without a Green Light

Dear CP,

If I understand correctly, you have a concern that you might be included in a story that would feature something unfavorable about you.

Do you see your full name anywhere on the internet? I thought not.  I have love to share, and I seek understanding of myself in relation to others.   This means I have no desire to publish anything at your expense.    No intent to publish any story about you, in any form, that would be hurtful.

In fact, you already have seen anything that includes our story that would be considered "published." (Everything else remains in letters between us).  There's nothing, absolutely nothing, that would result in financial gain or defamation.  Prior to any publication of any kind of work that names you, professional integrity demands it be read by you.   I live by that standard.  This anonymous blog is by me and about me, and what I have written here about you, does not violate that standard, because I do not include my own name here, nor otherwise identify you or anyone close to you.

The truth I live by is this: "Each of us has our own story and we write it to help ourselves survive."  Our stories need not agree, in order to help us survive.  Your story contains part of mine. And Einstein said (I paraphrase), that if we achieve anything, it is because we acknowledge the lessons and accomplishments of those on whose shoulders we stand. This means that my story must have part of yours in it, or I am not being respectful of where I come from.

Again, IF there is a story that would benefit others, that identifies you in it, we would both know and agree! Or we would use the legal guidelines of a respected publisher to make the story fictional, but still reflective of the history you lived through, without using your identifying characteristics.

Until that time, if ever, I am happy to consider practicing the craft of writing, privately between us.

Letters are a good start, though I know you don't like writing.  Got concerns? Do put them in writing, and watch how our correspondence may change and heal you.

Best, your daughter

April 5, 2015

Step One with My Mom

What brings me here, to write today, is that I am finally realizing how powerless I am to change the relationship with my mom.  I am also powerless over my feelings of anxiety and insecurity about this.  I thought I was making important changes, by my willingness to "keep coming back" and not giving up on our relationship. 

But these past months,  I have been hearing some old refrains from mom, that I know I put to rest over a decade ago.  First I was told that making contact with my mom's family, in order to have a more complete life, makes me a bad person in her eyes. But wait,  that contact was forged, through my initiative, almost 40 years ago! Later,  I lived, by God's providence, in the same state as my mom's relatives, for nearly a decade.  That made me a real family member. And as God is my witness, I rarely spoke of my mom, or her and my challenges with one another, without seeking to have compassion for her. I always looked for the good. 

By getting to know aunts and uncles, I gained so much hope, actually, and that staying in touch with my mom would help us all heal.  I got to realizing how much my mom and her mom had in common, and that each of them did their best in rearing their children.  Call me Pollyanna. 

Through all of this, my parents (and I) continued to get older.  This this past year, I took the next step of understanding the other side of who I am(my dad's genes and family history), before it was too late.  I, by God's grace, was able to find dad's last surviving siblings. You would think, from the way my mom is handling this, that by doing this, I was seeking to betray her!

I know my intentions were and are good, but in her mind... I am actually trying to "sell" her story. Were she to even see these words, she would probably think they too were something I was promoting to others, rather than something I do, just for me.  (At this point, if I were to handwrite this, I probably would tear it up and throw it away. Mostly because I am concerned that it won't have any redemptive power for myself or anyone else. I am terrifically worried it won't have a happy ending no matter how hard I work at my part.)

Just me, working the part one of my favorite slogan,  "Know yourself, be honest."  The only person I can know truly is me, of course. It is also true that, when I see some of my family patterns, I can better see where I may need to do some retooling or relearning...