Monday, January 30, 2012

Inner Child

For over a month now I have had a Rosacea flare-up on my face that is quite literally making me crazy.  The flare-up spots burn and itch and just when I think it is starting to get better it takes a turn for the worse.  I decided the other day to ask myself what this problem is trying to teach me.  A trick my therapist taught me is to write myself a question with my dominant hand which is my right hand and then switch my pen over to the left and just start writing as this taps into the other side of your brain.  So I thought I would try it and as I was writing with my left hand, the first thing that came into my mind was a visual of me when I was three years old crawling onto my bed for a nap.  I loved naps and I would curl under my purple blankie and snuggle up and sleep.  Is this really what was going on, was my inner child crying out for rest?

The next day as I was thinking about this thought I decided to investigate some more.  I pulled out my trusty books, "You Can Heal Your Life" and "Feelings Buried Alive Never Die" and I looked up skin, face and rash.  What was interesting was that in one of the books under rash as a possible emotional connection it said, "a babyish way of trying to get attention."  I found that really interesting as the day before I felt like my inner child was asking for rest.

In John Bradshaw's book "Homecoming" he said that, "Your inner child is present when you feel - tired, hungry, disheartened, sad or lonely.  Ask yourself what your inner child needs."  I am realizing that my inner child is wanting me to slow down and rest.  I have a tendency to do, do and do.  I really have a hard time listening to my body when it needs some down time.  Something else that John Bradshaw said in his book is this:

"To be duty bound is to feel that you have no right to joy because to do what she enjoys produces guilt.  Duty creates human 'doings.'  As Marion Woodman puts it: 'for the perfectionist who has trained herself to do, simply being sounds like a euphemism for ceasing to exist."

This is me, I feel like I am only worthy to be in this world when I am doing for others and that line about ceasing to exist made me realize that was exactly how I was feeling.  For me "doing" started at a really young age.  It was how I got noticed, I did for my parents, I took care of my siblings, I did the dishes, swept the floor, helped with dinner, whatever I could do and then hope that I was noticed for the doing.  John Bradshaw also said in his book, "The most significant role one has played in the family system up to this point becomes the most available way to have an identity."  My identity was the "second mom" the "fixer" and the "doer."  I carried that identity into my adult life and I am having a really hard time letting it go for what am I, if I'm not doing?  I have felt that my worth is tied into what I can "do" for others.  John Bradshaw goes on to say:

"Not knowing who you are is the greatest tragedy of all.  The rigid family system roles sealed during adolescence become the most conscious identity you have.  In fact, these roles become addictions.  By being in the role, you feel that you matter.  To let go of the role would be to touch the deep reservoir of toxic shame that binds your original pain, the core of which is the spiritual wound.  When you lost your I amness, you lost your mattering."

When I was three years old, my "I amness" was just who I was, the little girl who loved naps.  Now I struggle with knowing who I am without my doing.  If I haven't done what I feel like is enough by the time my husband gets home from work, I struggle with my feelings of worth and if I am worth his efforts at work.  He doesn't believe that and tells me repeatedly, but my doing is all I have known as to who I am.

I feel like somewhere deep inside me the three year old inner child is trying to tell me otherwise, but how do I do that?  John Bradshaw suggests that, "[the] inner child's I amness now must be affirmed in two ways . . . [through] two pillars of adult identity . . . love and work."  He goes on to say that we do this through the "dynamics of creativity . . . the following elements were essential in fostering creativity:  playfulness, spontaneity, ability to live in the now, ability to experience wonder, ability to concentrate, and the capacity to be one's own locus of evaluation (has a sense of satisfaction with himself)."

Letting go and being playful, spontaneous, etc. is a challenge for me, but if it will help me feel better and help my Rosacea disappear, I'm game.  Again, I come to the word "balance" and when you are not being balanced, your body will tell you, mine has been trying to tell me for over a month and it took this long, and for my condition to get really bad, for me to listen.  Okay inner child, I listening!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Change Everything

I have been really struggling with getting a lot of different things done for several months now and I have been really frustrated over what to do about them.  I would try different tactics like rearranging my day to see if I could do better and still nothing seemed to work for me.  My husband would remind me that a lot of it was the depression and the medication which would make me feel a little better, but I was still really bothered that I wasn't doing things that I actually wanted to do.  Then I came across the article "Brother, I'm Committed," by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the July 2011 Ensign.  I found the following quote particularly inspiring:

There is a difference between intention and action. Those who only intend to commit may find excuses at every turn. Those who truly commit face their challenges squarely and say to themselves, “Yes, that would be a very good reason to delay, but I made covenants, and so I will do what I have committed to do.” They search the scriptures and earnestly seek the guidance of their Father in Heaven. They accept and magnify their Church callings. They attend their meetings. They do their home or visiting teaching.

It was that first sentence the stuck in my mind, "there is a difference between intention and action."  Yes, I understand that depression can completely squash motivation, but what I was struggling with felt like it was more than that.  I had great intentions, but my problem was the action.  So for several days I had the thought of "intention vs. action" running through my head.  Then earlier this week as I was thinking about all the things that weren't working for me, I decided to write them down.  I looked at my list which was compiled of simple things like doing the dishes, writing in my journal (which I love to do but still was having a hard time getting it done) and so on, and thought to myself "change everything."

I'm not really sure where that thought came from, but I realized that I was trying to force things that weren't working for me any more.  Even though I had been writing in my journal every day for over 4 years doesn't mean I have to keep doing it that same way.  So I took my list of things that weren't working for me and I decided to change how I was doing them.  Some items required a new goal, for example, with the dishes, making sure I have an empty dishwasher in the morning, then a clean sink at night was a first step. 

Another step was to completely change how I was doing some things, which for me, turned out to be using the ipad that my husband gave to me for Christmas.  I searched and found apps to replace some of the things I was struggling with such as a journal app (which is pretty cool, I can add pictures, music to express how I felt that day, etc.).  I found a finance app that pulls in all my bank information which I was having a really hard time staying on top.  I don't have to enter anything, it does it for me.  My husband is always saying "work smarter, not harder" and I felt like that was what I was doing with my list of things that weren't working for me.  I was find easier ways to accomplish them instead of sticking with the old way.  I have all the apps that I use daily on the first page, the ones I use occasionally on the next page and the ones I use rarely on the last page.  This way when I turn it on I see things that need my attention today and everything I need (my scriptures, journal, fitness data, reminder list, calendar, etc) is all in one place.  So far, it is working great!
  
A few days later my daughter was really having a hard time getting her room clean and as I was talking to her about it I told her how I "changed everything" and maybe we needed to do that for her too.  We started on her closet, we pulled everything out and started over.  She is what I call a "visual" organizer.  She likes to see where everything is.  She is also a "dropper," you know, drops everything where she is.  So we fixed her closet so that it was more suitable to her style of "dropping."  We moved her laundry basket out where it was more convenient for her to drop things into.  She loves socks and never wears matching socks (just who she is) so we put a basket in the bottom of her closet so she can just drop them in.  Hopefully this new system will work better for her, it may need some tweaking, but the key was to change it so that it functions the way she functions.

Then we moved to her vanity area.  She had a rolling cart with drawers full of craft items and I decided we should empty it and change it to hold all of her vanity stuff, so we completely reorganized that area. This is how her vanity area looks now.  The rolling cart has tools (like curling irons, etc.) in the bottom drawer, nail stuff in the next drawer, extra lotions and things in the next, head bands in the next and other hairs stuff (like bobbby pins, pony tailers, etc) in the top drawer.  The drawer of the vanity itself has 3 compartments so we put her make-up in there divided by lips, eyes and face.  Then we took a small shelf to the left of the vanity and put only jewelry on it.  It took us all day, but it was so worth it. Her room had been set up for a tween, but she is a Senior in high school this year and preparing for college and she really needed a room that was more set up for a young woman.   I think it turned out great!

So what did I learn, well, that when I feel like thinks aren't working either I need to make a new goal to accomplish it, such as with the dishes, or I just need to change it completely.  Just because I like a certain way of doing something or that it has worked in the past, doesn't mean it needs to stay that way.  I'm so excited about my new way of doing things!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Denial

"Denial" is the fourth of my five therapy boxes and the funny thing about denial is that at first you don't even realize that you are doing it.  I found this definition of denial as it relates to psychology: 

An unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge
painful realities, thoughts, or feelings.
It wasn't until my second visit with my therapist when I was telling her about growing up and she said something about that being a lot to deal with as a child and that that wasn't normal before I took a second look at what I had accepted as a normal childhood.  There were a lot of things that were normal, but then there were the things that weren't and were never talk about.  As I began to re-evaluate some of my childhood experiences and look at them through new eyes, it made me very sad.  I looked at how my daughter's life at 13 was and how mine at 13 was and I was very sad for the 13 year old me.  I cried for her and her challenges.

I had had a vision of my life that was very "rosy" and I couldn't seem to see what some of my other siblings were talking about.  I had a very good life and I didn't see how they could have made some of the choices they had because I kept thinking we had the same up bringing.  Then when I realized I was very co-dependent, I understood their choices, we all picked different ways of coping and my "drugs of choice" so to speak were co-dependency and denial.

I didn't allow myself to see that there was something wrong with our messy home, other than I preferred clean rooms.  I didn't allow myself to see that my mom wasn't taking care of the house or my siblings at the time, I just did as much of it for her as I could.  I didn't allow myself to see that my family wasn't fine.  I didn't allow myself to see that my family wasn't as active in church as I thought we were.  I didn't allow myself to believe that we were neglected in many ways.  I didn't allow myself to see that my mom always being sick in bed or on her bed with her head in a book weren't good things.  I didn't allow myself to see that her emotional explosions were frightening.  I didn't allow myself to see that my mom was relying on me to be what I called myself which was "Second Mom" and sometimes turning away and leaving me to it all.

The problem was that I then continued this pattern of denial into my adult life.  Once I was married and had children, the pattern of denial became the "normal" way I treated myself.  I denied myself the basics of even food and rest.  I would give my husband every opportunity to sleep while I would take care of the kids, even if I was exhausted.  I kept thinking if I let him sleep then he would be happier with being with me and the kids.  I gave up my sleep because I thought for sure it would make everything better.  And the food situation, well, food just never really seemed that important to me.  It was more important to take care of the things around the house than for me to stop and eat something.  Another example is that I denied paying for myself to get a haircut.  I would cut my hair myself so I wouldn't spend any money on me, it was some how okay in my mind for my husband to pay for a hair cut, but not me. 

Worst of all, I denied myself love.  I had always felt like it was more important that everyone else felt love.  I didn't want my family to feel like they weren't loved, so it all went out to them.  When I was younger it was to my sisters and my parents, when I was older it was to my husband and children.  I didn't even realize that I needed to show love to myself.  I denied my own wants and desires for the same reasons.  It was more important that everyone else get what they wanted or needed, I was fine.  I was always fine. 

And last, but not least, I denied my emotions.  I would lock them up inside and I wouldn't even let myself feel them.  I had learned how to lock them up in my heart.  I wouldn't share them with myself and definitely not with others as I didn't want to burden anyone.

Embracing truth and letting go of denial wasn't exactly easy, but once you see the truth and you understand the truth, the only thing you can do is move forward.  I knew it was time to face truth and quit denying myself.  We did a lot of different things in therapy to begin to do this process.  One thing I did was reading my past journals.   As I read my journals with new, non-co-dependent and truthful eyes I was shocked at what I saw in the old me.  I saw how I let guys mistreat me and I was ashamed at how I just accepted it.  I saw many things that in my life I had accepted as normal but now realized I wasn't seeing the reality of things at the time.  It was very eye-opening and made me realize I needed to treat myself better.

Probably one of the best things I did was talking with my parents and sisters about growing up experiences.  We started talking about painful experiences that we had never talked about and other family members weren't even aware of.  We all started opening up to each other's pain and helping each other heal which was, and still is, a huge blessing for all of us.

I also opened myself up to see what was really inside me.  I found ways to begin feeling my emotions which often was a painful process.  I had to start by thinking about experiences and logically thinking how the average person would feel about that experience.  I would write them down, then in daily life I would find ways to move with that thought, like throwing rocks when I was working in the back yard and saying, "I should be mad about . . ." and eventually the emotion would come out with the thought.  Another way was doing Cranial Sacral Therapy which really helped me get in touch with emotions and pain I had locked in my body.  I have followed these processes with sadness, joy and anger and I think fear is probably the next thing to follow this process with.

You can't fix anything if you can't see the problem and denial is a huge problem, but it blinds you to the fact that there is a problem there.  I'll forever be grateful that the mask of denial was pulled off of me as now I see my life clearly and I've improved my life because of that.  I've been able to let go so much of the past, forgive and move on and in doing that I open myself up to more happiness than I thought possible.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Resolutions

I just love the new year because it is a time of reflection and a time of looking back at the past year and seeing what worked and what didn't.  I like to take what didn't work and try something different.  I also do this with each new catalog cycle in my Close To My Heart business, a new catalog, a new cycle to try and make things better.  I just love planning and organizing my thoughts to start anew.

I was reading my friend Haunani's blog recently and she had just written a "manifesto" and I loved what she wrote and I hope she doesn't mind my sharing (she has a great blog you can click the link on my list of blogs I follow to see it, it is called "Stuff I love"), here is what she wrote:

I read someone's New Year's "manifesto" and I loved it. Hers was colorful and framed and cute, but mine isn't there yet...it's just been in my head all day, so I thought I'd set if free and put it on my blog. Here's mine...  Move more. Be adventurous. Try something new. Hug people. Smile at strangers. Say I love you. Stop worrying. Stop questioning. Trust. Believe. Hope. Turn off the tv. Eat more veggies. Get enough sleep. Write letters. Be generous. Listen to music. Play. Laugh. Sing loud. Look for the best in others. Be grateful. Wear pretty shoes. Remember how many people love you and stop worrying about the ones who don't. Pray. Listen. Read. Be still.

It kind of reminded me of the beautiful gift my friend Heather made for me.  I didn't write the words, but they are words that I would use (I guess that's why when she saw the vinyl lettering she just knew it was for me).  I hung the mirror in my bedroom so I could see the words to constantly remind me. 

This week I was preparing to teach a lesson on Sunday and in the lesson it refers to President George Albert Smith's "personal creed" which is as follows:

“I would be a friend to the friendless and find joy in ministering to the needs of the poor.  I would visit the sick and afflicted and inspire in them a desire for faith to be healed.  I would teach the truth to the understanding and blessing of all mankind.  I would seek out the erring one and try to win him back to a righteous and a happy life.  I would not seek to force people to live up to my ideals but rather love them into doing the thing that is right. I would live with the masses and help to solve their problems that their earth life may be happy. I would avoid the publicity of high positions and discourage the flattery of thoughtless friends. I would not knowingly wound the feelings of any, not even one who may have wronged me, but would seek to do him good and make him my friend. I would overcome the tendency to selfishness and jealousy and rejoice in the successes of all the children of my Heavenly Father. I would not be an enemy to any living soul.  Knowing that the Redeemer of mankind has offered to the world the only plan that will fully develop us and make us really happy here and hereafter, I feel it not only a duty but also a blessed privilege to disseminate this truth.”

Isn't that great, the lesson went on to tell about President Smith and how he truly lived his personal creed which really inspired me.  So between Heather's gift, Haunani's manifesto and President Smith's personal creed and in the true nature of New Year's Resolutions, here are my words to live by:

 Follow my Breathe strategies consistently.
Make dinner and do the dishes.
Make my tasks match my energy level.
Dress cute each day.
Share my talents.
Acknowledge others through words.
Create to my heart's content.
Love with abandon.
Face anxiety with courage.
Feel the peace of the Temple.
Be an obvious member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Reach out to others in all directions.