Posts Tagged With: recovering from trauma

Day 1655: Letting go

Is everybody ready for another post about letting go?

Before I say more about letting go, I’m not letting go of my habit of sharing links to my previous posts with similar titles (here, here, and here).   I am now letting go any judgment of the fact that all those previous “Letting Go” posts occurred during the first year of this living-non-judgmentally blog.

Now that I’ve let go of that, I want to tell you that yesterday’s  therapy group focused on “Letting Go.”

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I’m now letting go of my disappointment about my inability to include a blow-up of that white board, zooming in on the words “letting go” (in a different color, on the right). If you can’t find “letting go” amid all the red on that white board, let it go.

People in yesterday’s therapy group did an exercise in letting go by writing down words of things they wanted to let go. Here are some of the words I let go:

DOOM

GLOOM

DISASTER

JUDGMENT

HATE

UNWORTHY

SELFISH

FEAR

 

Since last fall, I’ve been letting go of negative reactions about

  1. my open heart surgery,
  2. the recall of my pacemaker/defibrillator, and
  3. the U.S. election.

Letting go takes a lot of work!

Now, I’m letting go of many things as we prepare for our move close to the ocean. Sister Thrift is a great place to let go of possessions for a wonderful cause.

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Now I’m letting go of all my other photos from yesterday.

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While I did let go of many CDs yesterday, I’m not letting go of any of the Compact Discs shown above.

Here‘s Bonnie Raitt singing an amazing song about letting go:

Feel free to let go of any thoughts and feelings about this post in a comment, below.

I’m now letting my gratitude — for all those who helped me create this post and for all those who are reading it — go out into the universe.

 

Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Day 1415: Outrageous Fortune

Yesterday, I had the outrageous fortune to

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  • meet my sister Ellen, who is one of the leading women in my life,

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  • live another day without allergies,

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  • encounter a t-shirt which reminded me of my late father, who had the brilliant idea of renaming a local business “The No Fakery Bakery,”

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  • reminisce with my sister about how my father’s submitting that winning name in the local bakery’s contest many years ago resulted in our family winning free bagels and cream cheese for a week,
  • breathe free,

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  • realize that people are still singing and acting in the name of love,

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  • meet my wonderful friend Barbara, who is one of my favorite people in the world,

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  • see familiar faces in a local no-fakery bakery that ships all over the world,

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  • spend time breathing and taking pictures on a bench near the Charles River,

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  • see a bumper sticker with my boyfriend, Michael, which reminded us of an experience we had the day after my open heart surgery in September (which I had the outrageous fortune to share with you in this post),

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  • realize that no matter what else is happening to me right now, my scars from all my recent cardiac-related surgeries are healing and no longer need dressing with gauze and tape,

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  • and have another piece of Michael’s outrageous chocolate cake.

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During times of outrageous fortune, it helps to realize how outrageously fortunate I am.

Tonight, I have the outrageous fortune of seeing Benedict Cumberbatch in a production of Hamlet at a local movie theater with  my friend Kathy, where we’ll have the outrageous fortune of hearing him recite these outrageous lines:

To be or not to be, that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them

 

As I’ve recently said to several people I have the outrageous fortune to know, during times of outrageous fortune I can reduce my outrage with Dickens and  with Shakespeare.

I just had the outrageous fortune of finding this music on YouTube in the name of love:

 

Will I have the outrageous fortune of seeing a comment from you, below?

I have the outrageous fortune of being able to thank all who helped me create this post and you — of course! — whom I am outrageously fortunate to know.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Day 372: Learning to re-approach

Today’s blog post is inspired by ….

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… a microwave oven. Not that particular microwave oven, which I found through Google Images*, but the microwave oven I just used to heat up something** my son agreed to eat this morning before he left for school.

So why did a microwave oven inspire the title of this post, today?

Because I noticed how I always approach microwave ovens, these days, without fear.

That may seem unremarkable to you, but let me explain.

I have had cardiac pacemakers since I was 10 years old. (As I’ve bragged about before in this blog, I may very well be the longest surviving person in the Wide Wide World with a pacemaker.)*** When microwave ovens first came out (in the 1970’s, I believe)*** they were considered dangerous to people with pacemakers.  Indeed, I remember seeing lots of microwave ovens with warnings for people with pacemakers to STAY AWAY!  “Danger! Danger Danger!” said many microwave-related signs.

Yet, I haven’t thought about that in years, and I approach microwave ovens fearlessly.

Again, that lack of fear may not seem post-worthy, because:

  1. It’s been a long, long time since microwave ovens could possibly cause any danger to me, and
  2. They actually weren’t all that dangerous to me to begin with, despite the hysteria of the signs.

However, I am writing about this, this morning, because of something I’ve been noticing a lot, lately:  people (including me) often avoid re-approaching things that remind them of past dangers, pain, or other negative experiences.

For a lot of us, our internal warning systems can be a little “off.” They might be working too hard, as protection against future hurts.

Here are some things that I’ve witnessed people avoiding, because of past negative experiences:

  • Intimate relationships.
  • Other people, in general.
  • Performing.
  • Particular geographic locations.
  • Traveling, in general.

I stopped that list because  I have to get ready for work.

I do want to tell you this, though: The more I notice my own fears, the more I notice that I can avoid lots of things, simply because of one experience in the past.  Here’s an example of something I’ve caught myself avoiding, lately:

Smiling — after I’ve eaten and before I can check myself in a mirror — just because one person once told me, “You tend to catch food in your teeth.”

That’s embarrassing to admit, for several reasons, but there it is.

Okay, I REALLY have to wrap up this post.

Do I have an image?

Check.

Have I re-approached the title?

Not really, since the title promised the opportunity for learning how to deal with this kind of avoidance.

Here’s the deal, people:  I don’t know the magical answer of how to re-approach something associated with a past negative experience (at least one that I could come up with and write about in a few seconds).

However, I can say this:

  1. Re-approaching old negative stuff in new ways takes practice, and
  2. I have figured out how to do that, for some things, including (a) microwave ovens and (b) smiling, which I’ve been doing more, no matter where or when.

That concludes our post for today.

Thanks to those who avoid, those who approach, and everybody in between.  And, of course, thanks to you for visiting today.


* Here, in a Wikipedia entry on a term I’ve never heard, “Dialectric Heating,” which, apparently is the name for the process used by microwave ovens, which reminds me of one of my favorite words, “dialectic.”  Nobody guaranteed these footnotes were going to be (a) illuminating or (b) interesting, you know.

** Left-over American Chop Suey, if you must know.

*** I didn’t want to put that particular parenthetical information in a footnote, because I know some people don’t read these.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , | 29 Comments

Day 313: Riding the waves

Last week, I was talking to somebody who was dealing with major life changes. The changes were all the result  of one traumatic event which happened to her, a couple of years ago.

Some of the latest changes were “good” — financially and otherwise. She told me that people in her life, more than ever, were wishing she’d “get over it”:

You should be happy now.

Just put it all behind you, and move on!

When someone experiences traumatic events, people have trouble understanding the twists and turns of the healing process.

That includes the person who has experienced the trauma, too.

This person described a lack of control, a sense of powerlessness in the face of unpredictable, upsetting events and forces — including other people’s reactions and her own feelings.

Together, she and I constructed a metaphor to describe how she felt.

First, she was lost at sea, amid giant, frightening waves.

Then, we changed the picture. We imagined her on a surfboard, on top of those waves. The waves were still enormous, powerful, unpredictable. She could not control them, but she could ride them.

Of course, like any surfer, she would “wipe out” and  fall off her board at times. But the surfboard would always be there, bobbing nearby in the waves, ready for her next ride.

I like that metaphor.  I’m using it for myself, today.

There are always forces — outside in the word and within myself — that I cannot control.

Sometimes those forces are bigger. Sometimes they seem dangerous.

But I always have my surfboard, at hand. And I can always climb back on top, and ride those waves.

What IS my surfboard?

Why, it’s everything that helps, including my

  • Wisdom
  • Experience
  • Skills
  • Humanity
  • Connections to other people
  • Music
  • Animals
  • Access to beauty, in nature and elsewhere
  • Love
  • Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.*

It’s time for an image! Let’s see what Google is offering today, for “surfer”:

Mark Healey

Gee, that looks like fun!

Thanks to Mark Healey (for riding that wave), National Geographic, surfers everywhere, survivors of all kinds, and to you — of course!  — for visiting today.

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*  Quoting Yul Brynner, in “The King and I”:

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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