Tag: healthy aging

Along the Path of Healing

Along the Path of Healing

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Photo by Jermain Chastain from her lovely website French-Kissed. Click on image to visit.

I’m settling into life with my new food choices. As time goes on, what I eat has become less and less a part of my waking thoughts, and more just something I do at certain times of day. I have not allowed myself to “cheat” because it is in those gray areas that I know I can become quickly sidetracked and lost. If I give myself an inch, I will take a mile, or at least I fear that I will. Until I can put this fear to rest, and trust my inner knowing a wee bit more, it is just easier to keep myself safe. Self-care is a requirement for change.  I also find great comfort in having Crystal at my side, because I know she believes in me when I don’t believe in myself.  She is gentler with me than I am with myself, and I need that.

I continue to work emotionally and spiritually with the traumatic experiences that have shaped my life and choices; shadows that need to be brought into the light. Carolyn Myss defines trauma as, “something that has happened to you that your reason cannot comprehend; a cruelty, a betrayal that your reason can’t absorb.” (Transforming Trauma, A Seven Step Process for Healing Trauma, by Carolyn Myss and James Finley, Ph.D.)  The first time I listened to these words, I stopped dead in my tracks. It was profound for me. Eye opening. Oddly freeing.

Up until that point I could not see, nor accept, that my experiences were sufficiently “traumatic” to warrant attention. Therefore, I did not treat them as such, and they were not healed.

Myss goes on to say, “A trauma is…a cruelty, a betrayal that your reason can’t absorb. “Why are you hitting me….Mom…? Why are you molesting me….Dad…? Why are you doing this? What did I do? I’m only four. You’re the giant that’s supposed to protect me. I don’t understand this. How could you do this?”   You can see through extreme examples how one’s world is shattered by trauma, but it can also be shattered by less extreme events.

Who among us has not experienced something in our lives that was not only painful, but in some manner incomprehensible? Perhaps as a teen, a best friend turned against us and we became the object of ridicule rather than respect; or a boyfriend betrayed us by going out with someone else while we were out-of-town; or our husband had an affair; or our sister, who was once our best friend and confidant, decides we’re no longer a priority. There are traumas of all sizes, from violent crimes and horrific accidents, to social structures that we once trusted implicitly that let us down. The size of a trauma is not the size of the event itself, so much as it is the way we experience it. So called “small” traumas, layered one upon another, without recognition or treatment, can lead to a life of chronic emotional, physical and spiritual pain, leading to a life of quiet desperation.

When we are not aware that we have been traumatized, and when we do not have the tools to give ourselves the love and self-care we need to heal, we turn on ourselves, with self-blame, criticism and isolation, and/or, we turn on others.  We are thrown out of balance. We lose confidence. We become distrustful. We no longer live in the world with our hearts and minds open, but rather, we live in reaction to the world, carrying a heavy guard around hearts and gifts. It’s no wonder we cannot be and do the things we so desperately long to be and do.

There are many ways to begin to bring our trauma(s) into the light. Step by step we can bring them from the shadows, take a healthy, loving look at them and then enter into the healing process. It is often helpful to work with a therapist, a spiritual guide, or a holistic practitioner, someone who can guide and direct our path, and give us the tools we need to grow in resiliency and inner strength. Most of us should not try to do it alone.

When we struggle to give credence to the life experiences that may have traumatized us,  it may be useful to go through one’s life with Caroline Myss’ definition in mind. I found this exercise eye-opening. I began to see why certain past experiences had continued to make their presence known in the present. I understood the need for a different sort of healing. For me, this was not an exercise of rehashing how horrible life was, but rather to gain perspective and understanding. For those of us who are highly sensitive people, things may hurt us deeply that might barely phase another, and that’s okay. This very same sensitivity is a gift on the other side of trauma, but first we must heal.

When trauma shatters our reason, we become fragmented. The world no longer makes sense. Until we heal the trauma, we live in a house divided, struggling to find peace. Healing is not only possible, it is necessary. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to each other.

Dorothy Sander 2014 copyright

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

Day #8 & #9 – A Word About Trauma

Day #10 – Food for Fun

We All Need Support

Holistic Detoxification Process

 

 

Holistic Detoxification Process w/ Crystal Honeycutt

Holistic Detoxification Process w/ Crystal Honeycutt

Last week I asked Crystal if she would be willing to write a few words about the detox and wellness program I’m following from her viewpoint as an expert. She went above and beyond and created this great video. I know you’ll enjoy it! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in a comment and one of us will try to answer them.

 

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

Day #8 & #9 – A Word About Trauma

Day #10 – Food for Fun

We All Need Support

 

We All Need Support

We All Need Support

Anna Ravera WATERCOLOR
Anna Ravera WATERCOLOR

It took far longer than I would like it to have taken, for me to understand what real “support” looks like. I’m a rebellious sort, by  nature or nurture it’s hard to say, and I have never liked people telling me what to do, think, or say. It’s one of the primary reasons I did not pursue ordination after I graduated from seminary.  I couldn’t buy into any one denomination so completely that I felt I could follow their rules and dictates, nor did I want someone telling me how, when and where  to live out my faith. (I was ever so idealistic and naive!)

Instead of living under the umbrella of organized religion, I chose as soon as possible to become self-employed.  Sometimes I envied people who could cozy up to a group, business or organization and make it their life. It provided structure, guidance, answers to questions that required no thought, or questioning, or finding one’s way through the dark. Going it alone can mean little if any support, unless you make a conscious effort to seek it. As an introvert, I did not and I rarely had time.

Years ago I believed that a “supportive friend” was one with whom I could commiserate; someone who would rally behind me in my anger and frustrations with life. Of course, I would return the favor. I remember the exact day I decided I was done with that kind of support.

In my late twenties, I was working for a small non-profit organization, drowning in politics and drama. Caught in the middle of the fray, I was fired. Understandably stunned, upset and angry,  I went home and started calling whoever I thought would understand and see things my way.

After several days on the phone with various friends and co-workers, I came to the conclusion I was not getting what I wanted. In fact,  it was making matters worse. Some of the people I was “sharing” with weren’t even really on my side.  In fact, I was drowning in pity, judgement and platitudes, and feeling more and more inadequate and flawed by the minute.  In that moment, I decided I would never again share my problems with anyone, especially in that way.  I was on to something, but it took me many more years to take the step I really needed to take.

I went on to use a different flawed approach, going it alone. Except for my husband, I shared my personal life with no one, unless I was paying for the privilege. That didn’t stop me from listening, supporting and empathizing with the few  friends that I did have over the years.  By the time I reached fifty, I was crumbling fast. I was burned out. I was carrying a weight so heavy I was practically crawling on my knees.

It wasn’t until the accident, that I finally stumbled upon the real solution. I was no longer on my hands and knees, I was flat-out, face first in the mud. I couldn’t breathe or move, let alone think or feel my way out of the place I was in. Every ounce of security I had once felt, and I admit it was not a ton, had evaporated through my fingers. I could trust no one and nothing, most especially  myself.

Immediately after the accident my focus was on my hand. Several times a week my husband drove me to rehab, as I could not drive, and there I received loving care and emotional support from Jane, the physical therapist who worked with me. As look back on it, she did as much for my emotional state as she did my hand; helped me find the courage to keep going and to believe in a positive outcome.

It took two years for my hand to heal enough that I no longer was constantly reminded of the injury by my difficulties with typing, removing jar or gripping the steering wheel of the car.  The stiffness and pain was also within an acceptable range. Now, I’ve gotten used to the scars and the way my pinky turns under. I didn’t know that I had yet to face the bigger challenge of PTSD.

Unable to think clearly, leave the house, drive a car, or return to my writing with any sense of purpose or direction, I began to consider seeking help. For what, I really didn’t know.  What I knew was that I was terrified to go to sleep at night; that I could not “feel” my feelings; that I was not “in” my body; that I had panic attacks regularly and often over little things. During the day I was riveted to my chair in the living room by fear and immobility. At night, I managed to get myself to sleep by listening to ebooks by such life savers as Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Byron Katie, Brene Brown and so many others. That was my first step in find support and comfort.

As I look back on it now, getting back on my feet has been a step by step process that absolutely required the support of friends and professionals, but friends and professionals who “got me”, who did not offer me platitudes,  pity,  judgment,  opinions, or unasked for advice. What I needed, and what I’ve come to believe everyone needs, is understanding, compassion, wisdom and a willingness to believe in us, when we no longer believe in ourselves. We need people in our lives who reflect back to us our truest self, with love.

What I have also come to accept about myself is that I need support from people who can go deep; who can speak to me in the symbolic language of soul and spirit where I live. Traditional therapy, while I have spent more hours and days engaged in such over my lifetime, has never been particularly helpful, or healing. When I turned to Crystal for help, I turned in the right direction. I’ve learned so incredibly much from working with her and it was possible because she has always seen me as a whole person, body, mind and spirit. She addresses all of my needs while challenging me to step up to the plate.

My dear, wonderful friend Jill also has the capacity to listen to my heart, to challenge my mind and to encourage me to grow and stretch into the center of me. She reflects back to me my real self.  These two people, their advice, guidance and counsel provided the foundation for my growing understanding of support.  It doesn’t take a dozen friends, it just takes one or two of the right ones and then choosing bit by bit to make oneself vulnerable and open to their love and care.

When you are looking support, look for someone who listens carefully to what you are saying, who can empathize with you and validate your experiences, all the while maintaining enough distance and perspective to offer insight and perspective when asked.  Sounds easy and sensible, but hard to find, even in therapists and especially in healthcare professionals.  Above all else, TRUST OUR INTUITION.

Often the hardest part about getting back on our feet is taking the first step when we’d rather curl up in a ball and die, to muster up the courage and strength to risk again and again until a support system is established. Not to risk is to stay broken, to continue to hurt, to give up and give in to despair and defeat. The only way out is through, and no one else can do it for us.

Dorothy Sander 2014 copyright

 

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

Day #8 & #9 – A Word About Trauma

Day #10 – Food for Fun

We All Need Support

Holistic Detoxification Process

 

 

Food for Fun – Day #10

Food for Fun – Day #10

Durham BullsToday I woke up more clear-headed than I have in centuries! The ebb and flow of anxiety and depression has become less severe. I feel fatigued at times if I try to do too much, or don’t keep my food intake up. While all is not perfect, I am feeling better and better each day. In fact, I felt so much better last night I had an overwhelming desire to go to Tutti Fruiti’s for a big cup of frozen yogurt to celebrate! How else does one celebrate….anything!

Food as a form of celebration, fun, reward, and relaxation is deeply ingrained in my body, mind and spirit. My husband and I always plan where we will eat whenever we do anything for enjoyment. It’s part of the outing.

He loves to cook and loves to eat and his favorite pastime is planning our meals, in or out. Whether it’s a picnic on a trip or going out to a nice restaurant, it’s a central focus. Fortunately, we eat fairly well most of the time and our finances have never allowed us to indulge in dining out on a regular basis, but a change in perspective will have to be made for me to hold fast to this new lifestyle.

Finding ways to enjoy time together, without food as a significant part of the experience, will be a challenge. Every year we go to opening night at the Durham Bull’s. It’s coming up in a couple of weeks, and while the game and ambiance is always enjoyable, ballpark food is part of the fun. It’s something we only do once or twice a year. Much of it I could do with out, and usually do, but there are a few items….well, I’m just going to miss. I do not want to slip into deprivation mode on such occasions, especially if my husband chooses to indulge.

Scott has been cooking up a storm for me and helping in every way he can. Still, I know he is struggling with deprivation. He wants to support me, but he wants his pasta! I keep telling him to cook and eat what he wants, and I will take care of me, but I think he’s trying to eat healthier, and for the moment is sticking with it .  It’s made cooking more challenging for him,  allowing for fewer opportunities for creative expression.

These are all things to sort out and it will take time to do so.  Change is never easy. Even if it’s entirely worth it!

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection

Day #8 & #9 – A Word About Trauma

Day #10 – Food for Fun

We All Need Support

Holistic Detoxification Process

Along the Path of Healing

Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go – Days 5 & 6

Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go – Days 5 & 6

too much coffeeI’m completely blown away by how much energy I have in such a short amount of time. At times I don’t think my body knows what to do with it, as I often feel keyed up (for lack of better expression) or HOT! I think I’m past the hot flash stage, but maybe I woke my hormones up.  That might not be all bad!

Yesterday,  the keyed up thing did not feel good unless I was doing something; felt more like one might feel when you drink too much coffee. I couldn’t stop talking, or thinking, or writing, or doing…and I just wanted to chill! Poor Scott wanted to put a sock in my mouth — and to think I used to be quiet! My massage therapist told me on Saturday that she could feel so much energy coming from my head that it was clear my brain was working overtime! We didn’t stop talking through the whole thing, so the massage was no help in that regard.

It occurred to me that the last three years I have been largely shut down. The first year after the accident I pretty much just sat in a chair. I didn’t go anywhere or do anything besides a little writing and such. I almost never left the house except for rehab or doctor’s appointments. The second year was only slightly better. I did go more places, albeit reluctantly, and move my body some. The third year I have been on a roller coaster of feeling good and crashing. I walked almost every day, unless I was in the valley. So perhaps, and I’m waiting for Crystal’s input, I’m firing up the engines and need to move! 🙂

I’ve accomplished more in the past week than I’ve accomplished in the last month. My brain is clearer, my focus is better and believe it or not, I’m doing better with the limited food choices.

I’m going to end this and go put up some info on what I’m doing. I’ve appreciated all the support I’ve been receiving.  I wasn’t even looking for it when I began this blog. I just needed to help process the whole thing as I went and to help me find perspective. It has been such a bonus to talk to all of you and to exchange thoughts and experiences. Thank you! You’ve made it easier. DS

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6

Day #7 – The Body Mind Spirit Connection

 

The Morning After the Night Before – Day #2

The Morning After the Night Before – Day #2

Tiffanie At White Sands by Woodie Duncan
Tiffanie At White Sands by Woodie Duncan

Nobody should have to drink swamp water first thing in the morning. I just have to get that off my chest. Even if it tastes sorta okay, really that’s a stretch, I feel more like a frog than a human being. It just isn’t natural! Give me spinach and lettuce  if you have to, but icky green water? No thanks!

I made it through Day #1. My only cheat was coffee with a splash of fat-free half and half. I started Day #2 the same, so now that my confession is complete here’s what I’m discovering.

It was both easy and hard. Easier than I expected, hard because it took work, focus and argh discipline. When I went to bed, after a cup of home-made vegetable beef soup and two Tylenol, I thought there’s no way in hell I can keep this up. I have to admit, however, I was proud of myself…a little.

The most valuable tool that I used throughout the day was something I’ve been practicing for some time: mindfulness, staying in the moment. When my mind wanted to jump ahead to dreading my next meal, or lack thereof, I brought it back to the moment. Just now. Be here. When you are here, you can’t wallow in self-pity or despair over what could have been or  might never be. I will, can, and do drink the swamp water  in this moment. That’s it. That’s my only thought, and then it’s done, and I can go back to writing.

I have an intellectual awareness that food = comfort, and have paid lip service to how it’s impacted my life, but yesterday, I began to explore the connection in a deeper, more personal way. First, there is almost nothing on this diet that offers me comfort, except for the sweet potato that I had at 3:00.

Comfort is an illusive thing and often, it is not even clear what need we are trying to meet. Yesterday, I realized that I have a powerful need for security. It’s stronger now perhaps  than it was in the past, as I have come to  a place where I have almost none of the typical types of security, such as a steady job, certain income or a husband with same. I do not have the external structures I once had, such as kids to raise, parents to care for, or again a job outside of the home.

Over the last several years since the accident I unconsciously created a meal regimen that offered me structure, security and comfort all in one. I found healthy foods that I enjoyed for breakfast and lunch and that’s what I ate…every day. Eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, fruit/yogurt/nuts for lunch. Dinner was whatever my husband fixed, and as I’m not a fan of dinner, it was simply a meal at a structured time that filled my stomach.  I moved on with enjoyment, however, to a cup or two of decaf coffee with flavored cream and later a bowl of cereal and/or a low-fat fudge pop. All of this comfort food, albeit healthy to some extent,  is not on my food list now.

The absence of the opportunity to find structure, security and comfort at meal time and beyond is forcing me to look at new ways to fill this need. Interestingly enough, today I was eager to write down my foods, take my supplements and write this blog. Ah, structure, of a different sort. Security can be found in participating in planned, creative or functional tasks. It’s only the beginning.

I had very dark, vivid and ominous dreams. It must be my “rebellious liver”! I’m always amazed at the creativity of the psyche. If I could have recorded my dream, it would have made an awesome horror flick. Where does all that stuff come from???

Before I end I have to say a word about my husband, Scott. I would not be honest if I did not say that we have had our difficulties during our thirty-two years of marriage, so those of you who are single, please don’t assume as I did when I was single that it is an easier or better life, because it is not. It is different. It presents its own opportunities for growth or avoidance of growth. Single or coupled, in the end we must always face ourselves. Perhaps being single offers one a better opportunity for an authentic life as one is forced more readily to face oneself,  but I digress.

Scott has supported me in every endeavor I have ever decided to undertake. He never questions my choices, criticizes my madness, or stands in the way of my valiant attempts to be me. In fact, he almost always jumps right in and participates in whatever way he can. When I opened Baby’s Best, my used baby furniture store, and I was 7 months pregnant, he was right there beside me,  hauling furniture, putting up shelves, and keeping an eye on our then three-year old son. When I said, “Let’s move to Virginia”, he rented and packed the truck while I sold the house. When I said, “Let’s buy a fixer upper”, he was right there, knocking down walls, laying flooring, and installing appliances while

Breakfast Day #2

I painted and painted and painted. When I decided to sell jeans on eBay, he bought and assembled shelving and helped me turn one of our spare bedrooms into a warehouse. That’s just the short list. Now, as I attempt to modify my health, he is right there with me, unceremoniously preparing meals for me like the one in the picture (my breakfast). After a hard day of work he made a luscious meal of salmon and veggies and a pot of soup. Already, on Day #2 I can see how instrumental he is, and will continue to be in my  success with this program. Thank you, friend and soul mate. You’re the best.

Day #1 – I’m a Coward

Day #2 – The Morning after the Night Before

Day #3 – There are No Words

Day #4 – Coming Full Circle

Day #5 & #6 – Hyped Up and Nowhere to Go

Day #7 – The Body, Mind, Spirit Connection