Behind The Mask

Behind The Mask

“To those who abuse: the sin is yours, the crime is yours, and the shame is yours.”

—Flora Jessop, Church of Lies

Each year I write a Halloween blog from a different perspective.  I enjoy writing a comical post but like most of my humor it covers up a harsh reality that torments me.  The child in me shivers with fear as both the teenagers and adults forwardly shine with a protective humor that nothing seems to penetrate.  This year I’ve decided to bring forth the vivid and cold-hearted truth of what some of my early Halloween years that were forced upon me.

The boogey man was not dressed in blue coveralls with steel toed boots.  His mask was not the cast of Captain Kirk’s face and familiar theme song that can have most anyone watching the movie with the lights on.  He did not escape from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium carrying with him a large butcher knife. And Jamie Lee Curtis was not the “queen of scream.” They looked like most anyone living in a neighborhood beside me and you.

The fall time of the year with the smell and feel of wet leaves leftover from the end of summer are present.  A deep inhale is not one of safety but one of fear.  The coolness of early fall has me reaching for a windbreaker and replay of one of the scariest times of the year.  It replays over and over on a reel that never fails in a reality that never wavers with its truth.

DeviantArt

As a 5-year-old child wanting to be a part of the Halloween festivities I was excited and wanted to take part with my older friends.  But the predator would again find its prey.  They were more than twice my age and size.  I trusted them and thought that they were there to protect me.  But Halloween would strike fear in several ways. Leaving the safety of my own house I would go out looking for my friends.  But I saw no one.  Across the street and into our neighbors’ yard was pampas grass that stood where all us neighborhood kids had gotten our own paper cuts. I looked around the yards but saw no one.  And then he appeared.  In a black cape with the mask of an old man’s face I will never forget. No words were spoken just the slow walk towards me like most boogeymen.  But this time the boogeyman was between me and my house of safety.  Both my mind and body were on full alert.  I searched for my safety and a way to get back to it while the figure walked towards me.  As a 5-year-old crying and running was all I knew to do.

I ran back to my house as the figure continued to move closer.  The black cape continued blowing in the wind.  I ran into my house and back to my room where I locked my door and hid in my closet.  Sooner rather than later the figure made its way into our house and down the hall to my locked room where pounding on my door was all that I heard.  He spoke nothing.  I sat quiet as a mouse hoping and praying that the figure wouldn’t again capture me for another touch and feel episode that hurt and was scary.  Nope this time there was a burst of laughter from the big kids that served as their entertainment.  And this time behind the mask was my friends that scared me yet again.

That year I didn’t laugh and each time I have this memory there is no laughter.  I can only remember the fear that shakes inside of me as a child at a level of fear that I can’t describe.  And each year during the fall season, I put on a smiling face.  But I too have a life behind a mask of a little child that has never gotten over knowing the fear of being prey to someone’s seemingly innocent joke that was more than it appeared.

#thispuzzledlife

The Cat’s Meow

“One small cat changes coming home to an empty house to coming home.”

 –Pam Brown

The last few months has been about change.  These changes have been both externally and internally.  Moving back to my hometown has been difficult coming back to very vivid memories about my abuse.  But I’ve also gained a healthy relationship with an animal that, for the last few months, has been just what the doctor ordered.  Coco is my cat that I adopted a few months ago.  I have already written about her in an earlier post titled Yay Team Coco!!!  So, this is not another introduction post about her. 

This is a post, however, that is about things that I’ve noticed about her and us as we learn how to function as a team.  It has also taught me how to work better with my system and to have more patience while we continue to heal emotionally.  Coco is my “ride or die” companion and has brought me a big helping of love in a way that has made me flourish amid all the growing pains.  Nothing upsets her more than me crying.  She’ll pace around me meowing until I let her know, in some way, that I’m ok.  If I’m not ok, she’ll walk up to me knowing that I need to pick her up and to get a hug in a way that only she and I connect emotionally.

One of the many hurdles I’ve had to overcome in therapy is doing something as simple as picking up the phone and calling my coach when I need help.  After seeing a very abusive therapist for 2.5 years, being able to make a phone call was monumental.  I do, however, remember a time when sending a text was next to impossible.  I don’t pick up the phone very often and make that call.  But sometimes is better than no times.  I credit the relationship that Coco and I have built together with the ability to learn to trust again in different areas of my life.

Coco does have her cuteness ways about her that I’ve noticed.  There was one day when I was going through more moving boxes and I opened the box that had all my stuffed animals.  One by one I tossed them on my bed paying very little attention to any particular one.  I threw the box out and went on about my way.  A little while later I look to see that Coco had one in her mouth carrying it across the room.  It was a homely looking bunny that had suddenly become her personal stuffy.  And oh, how she loves her bunny.  More than once I’ve caught her sleeping with bunny with her paw gently securing her by her side. And She will also take the time to groom bunny as well. 

Most of the time it’s me and Coco having conversations about what she needs to quit doing and developing her cat manners.  This is what we work on until she decides that a break is needed from watching the outside world.  This is when she jumps in the crate covered by her favorite blanket and takes a much-needed nap complete with bunny in tow.  And when therapy time rolls around her job is to be close to me in whatever way that looks like.  And for me…. I keep putting forth the effort to continue getting better knowing that sometimes it takes passing an emotional kidney stone to make that happen.

#thispuzzledlife

All In A Name

“I sure hate it for Lake Charles, La. But I’m glad she didn’t come here.”

I do not think the female name needs any introduction. Many who were here actually have never forgotten the name. Because for many of us there is only name spoken on August 29, 2005…..KATRINA. Secretly, I spoke the same thought above. My child-like excitement over another storm was very quickly overcome by my adult memories and realities of what it meant to us who went through with terror and tears.

For only a split second my thoughts had forever buried the physical and mental destruction that only a few hours would create. And the fears and tears that seemed to the rest of the nation and world only took moments to forget. The weather event took only a couple of weeks to die out and now over 15 years to recover. The trauma of the event countinues to live in every raindrop, wind blown tree limb that peppers the yard for eeveryone who lived through it to once again find that tinge of pain that has never gone away.

And for some of us it also seems like a lifetime away. There had not been any life in Albuquerque, Master’s Degrees, two happy and healthy little boys and a marriage to someone I genuinely loved. It was danger on top of danger and that was all. The universe would again see best, where happiness and struggle would be found. Just like now…..the universe is has found what’s best. And through therapy I’ve learned to smile again.

She’s someone who was foreign to me. She’s someone that I’ve fought hard to find again after being lost for many years. She’s one whose name carries power again and no longer is one who can bring fear that manifests itself like a hurricane. She’s one who loves to be loved and gets to experience that in many ways and by many different people who love her back. Her name is DANA.

#thispuzzledlife

Yay Team Coco!!!!!

Yay Team Coco!!!

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
–Anatole France

I’ve taken a little break from writing these past few weeks. The last couple of posts were prepared ahead of time in anticipation of knowing that a break in my life was just beyond my sight. And again, I was right. Sometimes things just go wrong no matter what all you attempt to do right. Not long after I had written the post, Her Name Is Marley, things would take a sharp turn south. Marley and I had been bonding and we were bonding tightly. She was cute, sweet, and cuddly. My days of having a sweet kitten in my life were many years overdue. She made my heart smile. But there was something hiding from me, Marley, and the doctors. Marley was sick in a way that I couldn’t love it out of her no matter how much we both wanted. Being sick with intestinal worms and low blood sugar were just symptoms of a much bigger issue. Within a two-week time period that was costly both emotionally and financially we were hit hard. And my little Marley was in the fight for her life.
I couldn’t have asked for more of a very caring staff from the local veterinary office. Marley, more than once, would lay almost lifeless in my arms while the tears streamed down my face hoping that my breaking heart would somehow fix the issues at hand. I could hear the concern in each one of the staff’s voice every time, I would call to check on her. Then suddenly, she appeared like nothing was wrong. She was also about half the size of a normal kitten her age. Within a couple of days, she was in the condition of being nearly dead. The cycle was gut wrenching and incredibly tiring. More than once I was up all night with Marley providing care and just making sure she would make it through the night. But she was miserable from her daily fight for life.

As a pet owner, your mind and heart can make you question humane treatment versus a sometimes-selfish want to keep your animal alive. I had finally come to the time when I asked the doctors, “How much do I need to continue to put her through?” They wanted to take her home to observe her condition closer before giving me any kind of answer. For the weekend, she went home with them and I took my concern and exhausted mind and body to bed for a little respite care. And as the cycle would again repeat itself. Fluids, glucose, and other medications were just prolonging the inevitable and they saw it as well. Marley’s condition would never be ok. I was told that she had a condition with her liver that would never get better. I took my broken heart and prepared myself to be without her. I remember little about those last couple of days. I was truly heartbroken and didn’t want another animal. I just didn’t think that my heart could bare to love another kitten or puppy of any kind. My connection with Marley had been deep and I didn’t want to feel that ever again.

IMG_3187IMG_3339 (1)

IMG_3298IMG_3350 (1)

IMG_3363

The universe and my coach seemed to see how much I need the unconditional love like the kind freely given to us by animals. Somehow, they both seemed to try convincing and push me emotionally into just giving the idea some consideration. I was mad at them both. I resigned myself to the thought but decided that I would not actively look for a kitten. If I were to reconnect, a kitten would just have to show up in my life. And that’s exactly what happened.

A litter of kittens had been found under a house and the momma cat had been shot and killed. A good Samaritan took the kittens to the vet and they were looking for homes. There was only one female and she would be mine. I couldn’t believe how big she was. She was normal size for a healthy kitten. Nevertheless, she seemed to pick up right where Marley’s love left off. It took her a couple of days to realize that she could safely be a kitten around me. And it took me a couple of days to realize that she would love me if I would let her.

One of the issues I have is allowing others to love me. The many years of abuse and love demonstrated the wrong way has caused me to put up emotional walls around my heart. I’ve found that love coming from some people has conditions. And what I’ve needed for many years is to be shown and taught the concept of love after abuse. And this little kitten that I fought so hard to not find appears to be just what the therapist ordered. For me, the connection with animals has always been easier and safer than the connection with people.
The first hurdle in our relationship was to give her a name that was meant for her. I watched her for a few days while also searching through lists of names. A 5-year-old alter kept shouting her obligatory pleas to watch one of her favorite children movies by Disney. And the title that also allowed her to keep part of a connection with Albuquerque and the Hispanic culture was Coco. This little kitten seems to look like a Coco to me. I have battle wounds from our many hours of playing. And my heart bares the pawprints for every minute she’s loved me through my tears and wounds that are and are not seen.
Every therapy session she’s close to me and usually sleeping at my feet with her paws touching my foot. She seems to understand that her job is to be by my side when my many tears fall. And so far, her daily work opportunities have been plentiful. As my heart continues to heal and the growing pains continue to hurt, we continue to be a dynamic duo. The pieces of my puzzling life are still being found.
#thispuzzledlife

15 Years And Her Destruction Continues

“Millions of lives were changed in a day by a cruel and wasteful storm.”
—–President George Bush

This is a topic that to this day a difficult topic to talk about.  June 1st is the beginning of hurricane season which will run until November 1st. I was in Mississippi at the time about 1 hour north of Gulfport in Hattiesburg, MS. Make no mistake that she left her mark on this area as well. I still have a lot of anxiety when a storm comes around which is often. Katrina was something that this area couldn’t imagine possible after Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Frederick in 1979. We had “minor” hurricanes in other years. But after hearing stories from my parents and grandmother I wanted to see one for myself. All I can say is, “Be careful what you ask for and want.” I can say that I have some PTSD from the trauma that occurred from this storm.

katrina satelilite 2

hurricane Katrina20

This image became known as, “The Stairs to Nowhere. “August 29th, 2005 will never be forgotten. It’s been 15 years and just talking about this hurricane and tears will come to my eyes. I will never forget the uninvited guests known as love bugs that covered our vehicles and houses. The mosquitoes that were the size of house cats. The heat inside the houses was so hot that sleeping outside in a truck bed was the only way to get away from some of the heat. But the mosquitos were so bad that you also had to keep in mind that West Niles virus was also very possible. The price gauging from the companies from out of state to removing trees off people’s houses. Price gauging for gas and the rationing of gas.

We were told to plan for no food and water for 3 days. It was more like 2 weeks in our area. We all ate good for the first couple of days while everyone’s freezers were defrosting. After the defrosting everyone just had rotting meat and nothing to do with it. There was no sewage working either. Talk about nasty…. the manholes were running over with raw sewage and going everywhere. It was so bad that city officials were riding around neighborhoods telling us to use the bathroom in the woods.

hurricane katrina23

hurricane katrina22

A good friend of mine who was dating my sister at the time helped my dad with a chainsaw cut the tree limbs that were possible to move and put in a pile for the city to pick up. Sadly, he’s one of my friends that passed away a few years later. He was a good guy and I miss him dearly. We would finally get power restored two weeks later. Cell service would not be restored until November because the cell towers in New Orleans were destroyed. I was able to drive down highway 90 which was along the beach to get pictures like the above because I was a current student at William Carey University. The National Guard had control over the street and highways. I was in awe at what I saw. The mausoleum had been opened and the deceased were lying around on the beaches. The bodies of the ones of the mausoleums were also trying to be identified. Entire casinos barges were picked up and moved across the highway. The magnitude of the situation was finally beginning to hit me. This level of destruction I had never seen. I couldn’t identify street because all the signs were ripped away.

hurricane katrina21

 

hurricane katrina17

This was a funeral home where the first level was destroyed, and bodies were found on the beach. The amount of devastation on the Mississippi gulf coast was never acknowledged because New Orleans got most of the coverage. That was the reason for me and a teacher from William Carey University decided to write the book.
Those were the days where you got to know your neighbors and pull resources together just to get by. This is also about everyone being on the same economic level because there’s were no working atm machines and no banks open. I can remember that Sonic made hamburgers for the entire city of Petal, MS to keep the meat from going bad. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to find a place to keep certain medications cold for both children and adults. There were just not a lot of formula and water for babies and no way to keep medications like insulin to keep cool for the adults. There were thousands of people that were helpless during those days. We didn’t finally get cell phone service back until sometime in November because cell towers were destroyed.
We had no way of knowing what was going on in other areas. It was like we were on an isolated island because as a community we were also stuck on survival. The mayors had also called for a curfew in Petal and Hattiesburg and surrounding cities. For those who had generators the issue was fuel. And you also had to be alert for people stealing fuel out of generators, cars and boats through siphoning. There were many tears that were shed in the days after the storm. The storm itself was scary but nothing could compare to the fear and emotional devastation that happened as a result of the storm. Many thoughts of rebuilding, and others moved away forever. No matter what area of the south people lived in the date August 29, 2005 and the vicious Hurricane named Katrina will forever be engrained in people’s memory. And every year when that day comes around, I still shed tears for the tremendous loss that our state of Mississippi and the surrounding states that became our new reality.

#thispuzzledlife

Happy Birthday, Copeland

Happy Birthday, Copeland!!!

“You’re going to miss this one day, I whisper to myself as I’m
shot in the butt with a nerf gun while unclogging the toilet”
—Unknown

I remember when Mel was pregnant with our second and sweet little boy Copeland. It was one of the saddest times of my life because we had found out that Sarah’s condition had gone from being in remission to terminal and she wouldn’t have many days left. And we had lost Copeland’s twin at 12 weeks only a couple of months earlier. I was completely distraught at what was happening in our life. I felt guilty for being so sad at the loss of our unborn child and the latest news about Sarah. I was in a whirlwind of emotions and mad at God when I should have been grateful and looking forward to being a mom again. My mental health issues became more erratic at this time. My rock and my yoda and the one that was teaching me about life was about to be gone. I just couldn’t handle that. My heart was shattered at both losses. The world would go on and my world would never be the same.

              IMG_0186IMG_0188IMG_0189

Mel and I would have to drive back because she had to go back to work. My parents would Facetime Sarah’s service as I sat in my truck waiting on an appointment. After the service was over, I cried secretly that I can explain. I cried because my heart hurt, and It felt like part of it was becoming necrotic. I also cried because my soul hurt. I needed someone to just hold me and let me cry over this loss. And as I cry now, I am sobbing like I did that day secretly in my house. I was mad at God for taking them both away. I just didn’t understand, and I still don’t. Everything hurt and it does again for a woman who loved me just because. What an emptiness I can still feel from those losses 5 years ago.

Sarah died in February and Copeland was born in May. And I think his birth was what I needed to keep going. Our boys will never know fully how stressed and distraught both of their moms were at that time. And how incredibly special and powerful to us for being our children. Copeland came along at a time at a time that we needed.

IMG_1976

I now understand what my parents have told me for most of my life. One of my grandfathers died in September 1975 and I was born in December of that same year. My mom tells me that my birth is what helped them get through Christmas. And for Mel and me, Copland’s birth did the same thing for us. That little baby boy put a smile on my face where only minutes before there was a frown from a hurting heart.Ever since he was born, and Marshall has had the duty of being a big brother we have had some of the greatest entertainment and love that mothers can have with their children. Here’s a conversation that Mel and Copeland had several months ago….

Copeland: What are you made of mommy?
Mel:_Sugar and spice and everything nice.
What are you made of Copey?
Cope: Plastic
Mel: No sticks and snails and puppy dog tails that’s what little boys
Are made of…
Cope: nooooooo I don’t have puppy dogs!!!
Mel: so what are you made of?
Cope: Rubber
Continuing the conversation later she asks
Mel: So what are you made of Cope?
Cope: plastic and rubber and Boogers!!! Lots of Boogers!!!!

Copeland Samuel Landrum-Arnold is the finest little superhero man cub that God has created other than his brother Marshall. I am blessed to be in his life and to be called Mom when I never saw that as a possibility several years earlier. I love you, son! And I’m so incredibly proud to be your mom even with challenges. Happy Birthday, Copeland!!!

#thispuzzledlife

The Marley Chronicles

THE MARLEY CHRONICLES

Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching
is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance.
—Dan Greenburg

Since I haven’t had a kitten in several years, I thought maybe I could write things that I observe Marley doing. Yes, I have been taking notes on her behavior. I have sat quietly, while giggling at some of the funny things that she does. The way I see it, at least I get to experience unconditional love that I’ve missed since Simba and Nalla died. I’ve really missed having that. Having a mental illness that most people couldn’t begin to understand, leaves me living on an island. And then you look into the eyes of an animal and you intuitively know that somehow, they just get it. There’s no explaining that needs to be done with them. All you need is the willingness and opportunity to exchange energy and the outpouring of love will continue if you let it. Enough of the sappy stuff and tears. So, anyway I have put together a list of Marley’s crazy little kitten behaviors and wanted to share them. She will eventually write on her own but right now she needs my help.

1. Kittens can make snow out of the paper in a Kleenex box.
2. Kittens do their best to kill broom bristles.
3. Kittens are more like toddlers than we realize.
4. Kittens behave better for their grandparents than for their parents.
5. Kittens are like little vampires with fishhooks in their paws.
6. All they really need for a toy is a house shoe or a sock with moving toes to kill and they will be entertained for several minutes.
7. Their owners must have a high pain tolerance, Neosporin and a lot of love.
8. Just because you have on long pants does not mean your leg won’t be used as a scratching post.
9. If you’re busy writing, they don’t care. They will make their way to your pen and paper and then sit on them and look at you.
10. Trying to set boundaries with a kitten DOES NOT work!!!
11. Yelling “SHELTER!!!” loudly doesn’t work.
12. When you’re ready to go to sleep they’re not.
13. Watching them raise their back and hop sideways at their reflection is entertaining for humans.
14. Bathroom time for you is supervising time for them. Their motto is “If you can potty, I can do it better.”
15. Being told “NO!!!!” While being sprayed by a water bottle will get you attention faster than the Corona Virus.
16. When I’m cleaning the house, kittens want to help until the “death machine” (vacuum cleaner) is turned on. Then she sprint’s who knows where and sits quietly until death machine leaves the house.
17. AND WHEN THEY FALL ASLEEP IN YOUR ARMS ALL OF THE ABOVE DOESN’T EVEN MATTER.

Marley brings me joy and laughter. While living in Texas the animals that helped to heal my broken heart for my grief were: Harley, Annabella, Princess, Journey Faith, Callie Ray, Smokey Bear, Mickey, Esme’, Bella, Fanny, Black Cat, Fat Cat and a very special connection with Ginger Bella. They all were incredibly special animals that I got to share time and space with. And I’m sure they were all helping me to prepare emotionally for my sweet Marley.

#thispuzzledlife

Her Name Is Marley

Her Name Is Marley

“Emotions are the gifts of our ancestors. We have them and so do other animals. We must never forget this.”
― Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals

Recently, I’ve been thinking of my cats Simba and Nalla who I simply referred to as “my girls.” It’s been about 3 years since I had to have them euthanized. They were 15 and 16 years old when they died. I had raised them since they were 1 week old. And they were also a large part of my abuse history. Losing them caused a lot of grief because there were things that happened to them that I was unable to prevent. When I left my ex-husband, I was fortunate to get them out alive. A lot of my animals were left dead for me to find.
My girls and I shared a difficult time in our lives. I wasn’t going to be able to rush the grief that I had when they died. So, each day when I would open my eyes one of the first things, I remembered was how much abuse they also went through and the guilt that I had for not being able to stop it. They were treated as queens and they knew it.

IMG_2931IMG_2938

IMG_2932

While I was living in Texas when I visited friends, I would borrow the love the animals had for a visitor and each time a little piece of my heart would heal a little bit from the grief. Their animals were so compassionate, but I still missed my grumpy cats. The two years I spent in solitude doing healing work many wouldn’t understand that level of loneliness. Do I wish I had an animal to keep me company? You bet I did. There’s just something about having an emotional connection with an animal that you can’t have with other humans. I love domestic animals because they aren’t judgmental. I can’t say the same thing about humans.
Since I moved back to Mississippi, I have been thinking about getting another cat. I didn’t rush things because in my heart I would know when the time was right. I had been looking for a kitten but was not in a big rush. The right kitten would be waiting to meet me somewhere and I knew that. I just had to be patient.
For the last couple of weeks, I had been communicating with a local vet clinic. And just like I thought the right kitten was waiting for a home. I barely heard the instructions for her meds because I couldn’t take my eyes off her. We are a perfect match. I watched her for a few hours before settling in on her name. Me and my internal guys settled on a name and her name is Marley. She will also be a part of ongoing healing for me. If service animals were easy to acquire, I would have one. She will be my emotional support animal no matter what. Just like my emotional support beverage called Diet Coke.

Lacking a shared language, emotions are perhaps our most effective means of cross-species communication. We can share our emotions, we can understand the language of feelings, and that’s why we form deep and enduring social bonds with many other beings. Emotions are the glue that binds.”
― Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals

#thispuzzledlife

You Never Mattered (poetry)

You Never Mattered

You forced me to list and now it’s my time.
Your abuse has made me feel like I can’t be real in life
You destroyed parts of me that once thrived
And you sucked me into your grasped by being very kind.

Once everyone was gone you made your first move
Showing me the side of a human that most must prove
You dehumanized me in so many ways
Until I’ve learned to live life mostly in a trauma filled haze

But your days are over, and my days are near.
Oh, and the truth that everyone shall hear
About your venomous actions forced on to children, teens and adults
All you’ll be able to do is sit back and sulk

I won’t be sad for because you hurt me so
But what you shoved into the ground has now begun to grow
With growth you need water and those are the tears I shed
While I try to undo everything, you put into my head

I went to everyone looking for help
And it made it all worse and you hurt me more until I yelped
I didn’t know it then because I was just a kid
Because I matter now, and you never ever did.
#thispuzzledlife

The Myths About Dissociative Identity Disorder

 

“And if we do speak out, we risk rejection and ridicule. I had a best friend once, the kind that you go shopping with and watch films with, the kind you go on holiday with and rescue when her car breaks down on the A1. Shortly after my diagnosis, I told her I had DID. I haven’t seen her since. The stench and rankness of a socially unacceptable mental health disorder seems to have driven her away.”
― Carolyn Spring, Living with the Reality of Dissociative Identity Disorder: Campaigning Voices

There are so many different myths in society about mental illness. However, when you begin talking specifically about a disorder there are even more. And Hollywood doesn’t help when people with mental illness run wild and crazy and going around killing people. If that’s the only side of mental illness that people know and see then, of course, that is what will be formed in their minds about mental illness. This is very harmful and degrading to people who have some type of disorder.
So……. I’m going to write a little bit about these myths and see if I can help dispel some related to Dissociative Identity Disorder. I have found some of the more common ones in different places on the internet. I will do my best to try to dispel these myths. I haven’t told many people about my diagnosis because they take their uneducated ignorance and usually turn and walk away. I don’t take it personal because it’s just a lack of education. But I do smart back at them and I usually say, “Don’t worry I’m not going to cook you and eat you!”

Truth be told, if you walked up to someone and asked them what dissociative Identity disorder is, they would probably say, “What are you talking about?” But if you asked them what multiple personality disorder was they would unload all kinds of myths probably related to the movie Sybil, Split, The Three Faces of Eve, Frankie and Alice and any movie like that and could tell you all kind of information that was wrong. I will and in no way cover all the myths, but some is better than none.

stand up

 

1. Myth: DID is not real. In 1980 the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM-II) classified this as a mental disorder. So, this diagnosis has been around for many years.

2. Myth: DID=Schizophrenia are the same thing. There are similarities but there are significant differences. DID is a trauma related disorder and schizophrenia is an organic and psychotic disorder. I could expand on this topic for the rest of the day. But my best advice it to look it up yourself.

3. Myth: DID alters are obvious and extreme. The opposite happens. Unless you live around the person you most of the time won’t know any of the alters. Switching is so subtle that the average person wouldn’t be able to tell when a switch occurs. The disorder was designed to keep the individual safe from a very abusive situation so that’s why switching alters is not obvious. My wife knows a lot about my alters and my switching but even now things have changed and most have hidden deeper because my alters have gotten hurt by people and they only feel safe being around certain people.

4. Myth: DID is an iatrogenic rather than a trauma-based disorder. This statement means that the disorder is caused by the therapist or other professional. Contrary this disorder IS caused by trauma and not the therapist.

5. Myth: The belief that it’s only something that happens in a movie. Hollywood has created this belief and others. Very seldom does the movie industry present this disorder correctly. Remember that the industry needs to make money to survive just like any other industry. And they will do that anyway it needs to. So, if that means misrepresenting mental illness to get it done it will

6. Myth: People with DID are more prone to violent behavior. Individuals with DID are no more prone to be violent than anyone else. In most cases there is not an ‘evil’ alter.

7. Myth: The belief that treatment is harmful to the patient. I can personally say that had I not got adequate treatment that I would probably be dead. Treatment is crucial for the individual to receive to be able to get better.

This is by no means a complete list of myths. With all the information out on the internet I would highly advise looking through scholarly journals to get more of the accurate information about these and other questions that you might have about this disorder and any other disorder. Educate your self about mental disorders and mental illness and then there will be no reason to fear individuals that have a diagnosis. Are there people who are violent and have mental illness? Yes, but that’s not most people with a disorder.

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shames us all.”
—Bill Clinton

#thispuzzledlife

My Punshiment (Poetry)

My guilt and shamed that others can’t see.
How much self-punishment will serve me?
I’ve hurt my kids and wonderful wife
And how I have taken from their lives
I feel that it is my honor to do
To punish myself like other abusers should do
The people that hurt me never punished themselves in life
But this is something I can do for my kids and wife.
My punishment I’ll do, and others can’t know
Until it’s time for my punishment I’ll show
My punishment I’ll do because I have a conscience you’ll see.
But they didn’t have one for what they did to me.
What can be worse than to drive Mel away?
Only what I deserve……an eternity in hell.
And then I’ll never hurt anyone again.
I won’t hurt my babies or anyone I call my friend
Then I’ll be the parent they need
The one who is no longer sick, and they can have stability they can see.
I’ve put my family and kids through enough
Just ask them and they’ll tell you that it’s been rough.

#Thispuzzledlife

Eating The Enemy (poetry)

Eating The Enemy
In this world I live in
I have a powerful enemy known as food.
And at times I can talk about it and be kind of crude
But please stay open minded for the reasons why
It’s so painful that all I can do is throw my hands towards the sky.
This one thing that most take for granted
I hate with every bitter part of me
Food has been the enemy that has the potential
to ruin relationships and lives.
With every torturous bite from a fork I feel like I want to die.
So, it usually ends up with me crying
Their words change the direction and
The way I look at food forever
The more I try the worse I feel
Why oh why must I shed these tears:
Shame and guilt pour over me like water from a waterfall
This should be easy…. just to eat.
But its not. Each word sent my way
Like missiles does nothing to help
Why must I put up such a fight?
Answer…. guilt and shame
Like a shark stalking its prey
“Get rid of it!!!!” It says
What a battle that I’m tired of fighting
Please take me away.
#Thispuzzledlife

I Am The Problem And The Solution

I Am The Problem And The Solution

“Dana, if you would get out of your own way, you could accomplish anything.”
—Sarah Pardue

One of the topics that keeps my stomach in knot is how I am both the problem and the solution of my own life. I can be the solution for my trauma. But I can also stand in my own way as the problem. Anytime I give into my addictive behaviors I have become my own problem. I will take and destroy anything that I work so hard for because of this. Things that I hold sacred I will unknowingly destroy because I feel that I’m not worthy of good things. I am also the solution to the problem of fixing anything that comes before me. This I have proven time and time again. I have both the knowledge and the power to change anything unhealthy. I just must dig deep and pull out all the teachings and reverse not give into what seems to be maladaptively comforting at the time.

What I must do is to reverse the messages that were taught to me through abuse. And stand up face-to-face with it and say, “today I choose to live differently.” And make the change better. I haves versus how I live which is to breakdown and give into that train of thought. I deserve better and want better. I have worked hard to be who I am and deserve a better life of constant abuse that I continually replay through my own behavior.

Invictus

Therefore, I chose the topic that I am the solution and the problem. Sarah and Coach have both taught me that I can’t give away what I don’t have. If I keep giving my recovery away or interfering in the process of changing, then how do I expect to be healthy and pay it forward by giving it away to someone else who I might meet that is also struggling. The choice is up to me. Not, Sarah’s teachings nor Coach’s current teachings. I treasure them all. So, the greatest give that could give them both is to see me overcome these old ways of thinking that were engrained in my thinking by perpetrators. I will be the solution even through tears and a heavy heart at times. Remember…. I’m the comeback kid.

In closing I can say that if I can ever turn around and have a positive self-image and love myself, as much as, other people love me, I will accomplish great things. Maybe my writing will help and maybe it won’t. But loving oneself is not something that happens overnight. It takes continually telling myself that I AM worthy of great things.

#thispuzzledlife

 

The Fear Of Eating Is Real(poetry)

Fear Of Eating Is Real
Food is a topic that makes me very sad
And I barely remember of normal days I had
He took away a relationship that was full of hope
Now when someone says food all I say is Nope!!!
His words constantly criticized me so much decisions come with tears
It hasn’t happened for days but for many, many years.
I’m scared to eat because he was there for a long time
Right over my shoulder to criticize me while I ate every single time
I want to be able to eat without solitude and tears.
In private I’ve eaten food for many years
Most take this action for granted and just eat with nothing to say
But the person I was abused by never had anything nice to say anyway
So, don’t make comments while I try to learn this skill
Because the fear of eating food is something that’s for real.
#thispuzzledlife

It’s Not About The Food

It’s Not About the Food

“Girls developed eating disorders when our culture developed a standard of
beauty that they could obtain by being healthy. When unnatural thinness
became attractive, girls did unnatural things to be thin.”
–Mary Pipher

This is a repost from a few years ago that never made it to my current blog.
One of the things that I’ve learned the most about my many maladaptive behaviors is that the perfect storm had arrived to ensure me having eating disorders when I was a very impressionable teenager. Not only was it teenagers having issues with body image. It was also the abuse that occurred during that time and the things that were said but also my impression about what had occurred and what was done. As a part of the abusive teacher’s very hateful nature was the being humiliated about myself as a human being in front of my peers. I was put on display a lot of the time and made to stand in front of the class while being made fun of without having any type of recourse. If I ever said anything back, I was punished by both she and the administration who clearly had no idea to what extent her abusive nature was. She, on more than one occasion would tell me when the rodents would get into my food in my locker “It doesn’t look like you need food anyway.”

My high school years during which I kept those eating disorders alive and well I became a sickly 83 lbs and ruined any of my hopes of playing athletics in college. What I was left with was a life of painful eating disorders that I still struggle with daily. These behaviors were further compounded when I met my ex-husband who disguised his personal reason for wanting to help me by encouraging the eating disorders in his own way.
I was made to weigh for him sometimes weekly because “I’m not going to be married to a fat ass” he would always say. He would also tell me that “it’s ok to have fat friends but you don’t have to look like them.” He micromanaged my food to the extent that that I was only allowed to eat what he approved of and nothing else. To make sure this happened he would allow me only 10 pistachios and 10 olives to eat while at work working two jobs. He would also sit out in the parking lot to make sure I didn’t eat anything that was not what he allowed. When I would tell him that I was hungry his supportive line was “No pain no gain.”

Open back

He would also leave random newspaper clippings around the house about the latest weight loss diets and/or make me take pictures of myself in swimsuits or naked, put them on the refrigerator and tell me “next time your fat ass gets hungry look at this picture and maybe you won’t want to eat.” He would also make comments if we went out to eat about how all the people were looking at me because I was a fat ass. He would say, “If you don’t like them staring at you then don’t be a fat ass.” If we had dinner with his family, he would wait until we left to criticize either what I ate or how I ate. And many times, these comments were said where other people could hear them. He would also say, “Did you have to eat that much of whatever we had for dinner? You eat like a prisoner who’s about to have their tray stolen! And that is why I must tell you how, when and where to eat. Because you’re too dumb to do it on your own. You’ve already proven that time and time again.” Eating quickly became the most dreaded activity I had to deal with daily. My goal was to try to get through life with him eating as little as possible. As you can imagine I did do that to his standards either.

The message that was conveyed to me was that no matter what I did it would never be to his irrational standards. I was also expected to be at the gym to workout mornings at 5:00 am. Being a well-known guy in the city he knows many people and that included the employees at the gym. So, he would call to verify my being there and what types of workouts I was doing. If I ran 4 miles, he would want to know why I didn’t “gut it out” and run 5 miles.

scales

Years of his verbal abuse, threats, and sexual abuse slowly broke me down. People who don’t understand why individuals stay in relationships like this often say, “Well he only did what you let him do,” cannot possibly comprehend what this does to your psyche. Those types of hurtful comments are why most suffer in silence and don’t ask for help. After all, sometimes it was the easiest and safest thing to do by just going along with whatever his demands that they were no matter what they were. He had me convinced that I was nothing without him. He and his brother tormented me for years and continue to do so internally. But again, they were both raised by a father who was also a malignant narcissist and a mother who worked at home without an education until much later in life. So really, she had nowhere to go with three children and no education. So, for many men and women in these types of relationships that don’t leave usually have a damn good reason for staying. There’s always more to the story behind those closed doors than what you realize. My own parents had no idea the extent of the abuse that I was having to deal with daily. Such is a life with a malignant narcissist.

Even now if someone tries to take a verbal jab at me while in a public place or group setting my “verbal sniper” becomes activated and a one-sided war will ensue. I have found that striking the first blow is a way that I can set the tone that I will NOT be hurt by whoever it is that I feel is a personal threat either imagined or real. All I must do is see this as a possible threat. Anyone that I perceive as an authority figure, I absolutely will not make eye contact with if possible.

I guess the message I’ve tried to convey is that eating disorders and other maladaptive behaviors are about something much deeper than society sees them. You see the signs and symptoms and I feel the weight of the trauma every minute of every day. To this day I will chose not to eat because the internal war about what to eat is just too painful. When I do eat, I can never be full and satisfied because full means fat to me. If I do feel full, I must purge with laxatives to get rid of that feeling. It’s not a binging thing it’s an eating thing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FOOD.

Understand this as well…. I’m done trying to live my life carrying my trauma and the trauma those two boys in adults’ bodies. I will NOT continue to be a part of the cycle of not working on my own trauma just to have mine and theirs to be spewed out onto other innocent and unsuspecting people. This is a work in progress no doubt, but the cycle dies with me. I’ve proven that I can live through it. Now it’s time to prove I can live without it. All I need was to find a coach to help with this and I did.

#Thispuzzledlife

The Pain Of Eating (Poetry)

The Pain Of Eating
Food and body image are painful to me
I hate them both and they’re painful to see
The memories of abusive things I had to do
It’s not about the food but look what his words they can make you blue.
Eating brings lots of pain
It makes me cry, just watch it rain.
The memories are never gone
And their effect is always shown
Please don’t look because I know you can see
What his words about body image has done to me.
#thispuzzledlife

Clouds (poetry)

Clouds (Poetry)
Have you ever laid on your back and stared at the sky?
And watch the clouds and sometimes wonder why?
People move around in a similar way
With purpose that move with little to say.
Pay attention to someone’s silence
It says more and they’re not necessarily violent
Quiet might be how they live their life
Without asking, you can see the resemblance of a similar life
They walk and you never see their eyes
Nor do you ever hear their silent cries
For the similarities you just might see
When I lay back and watch the clouds before me.
#thispuzzledlife

The Tomb And The Phoenix

The Tomb and The Phoenix

4.5.2015

“You have seen my decent. Now watch my rising.”

—Rumi

As cliché as this analogy might seem on Easter Sunday, it also holds big meaning for me in my own recovery from trauma.  I have made it very clear that I’m not a big ‘religious’ person per se. However, I do have a belief system.  I’m just not one that wears my spiritual beliefs on my sleeves any more than I flaunt my education.  Everyone has a spiritual belief system even if one says they don’t have one, which in itself is a belief.  Anyway, moving on….

One thing I’ve always understood is that psychology and religion more often than not, DO NOT agree on much.  Throw in a little Greek mythology and you’ve got a ‘hot mess’ for discussion for those with a closed mind.  I encourage you to have an open mind as I attempt to make a comparison/analogy from the standpoint of someone recovering from trauma.  I am in no way trying to offend anyone, as I respect that everyone has their own beliefs.  This blog always has been and always will be about ME and MY family’s journey.  If you find yourself starting to get somewhat annoyed, please refer back to paragraph #2.

open tomb

artist: Shannon Renshaw

As I think about Easter Sunday and what it has meant and still means for many, I want to attempt to describe to you where exactly I am and how I believe this morning as I continue to face my trauma.  As a child, I remember having Easter baskets left by the Easter bunny the night before in our living room for us to find first thing Sunday morning.  Ironically, I always seemed to get the same kind of candy and knick-knacks year after year.  I think the Easter bunny must’ve had some kind of secret ‘happiness meter’ that was used every year.  So…..”Easter bunny mom” remembered that gold brick eggs, Reese’s peanut butter eggs and Easter colored M&M’s became the norm in my basket. The night before, as a family, we would usually be dyeing eggs and watching the movie Jesus of Nazareth.  This is still one of my favorite classics old as it may be.  So this morning, I wait for our little 3 foot tall cuteness to awake and see what the Easter bunny brought him last night.

As an adult, the foundations of beliefs are the same but have a slightly different twist in a way that makes complete sense to me.  The question is….”Do I believe in the Holy Trinity and the Resurrection?”  My answer is undeniably yes.  There’s not a traumatic event in my lifetime that can come close to destroying that belief for me.  I was taught this at a very young age and is something that I still hold on to.  I don’t flaunt this because I feel that this is very personal for each person.  I also do not try and change anyone else’s beliefs.  Once again, I’m spiritual not religious so, my beliefs are somewhat different and are not exactly popular back in the ‘Bible Belt’ of the Deep South.  Oh, don’t get it bent, I have ‘beef’ with God for things that have happened to me as I’m sure most people who believe in God have also had at some point in their own lives.

After 2014 and the beginning of 2015, I have really had to do some ‘soul searching’ on several different levels.  Having lost numerous friends and family this past year in a variety of ways can lead to, somewhat, deep thinking at times.  Losing Sarah while subsequently leaving a void in my heart has really brought back a lot of memories of things she use to tell me.  One thing that has always stood out that she told me was, “Dana, you can’t give what you don’t have.”  This, my friends and family, is why I continue to stay on this very difficult and very frightening journey.

The Phoenix, in Greek mythology, was a bird that arose from the ashes of darkness.  Associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix was later adopted as a symbol in early Christianity. While the phoenix typically dies by fire in most versions of the legend, there are less popular versions of the myth in which the mythical bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again.

Phoenix

On Easter Sunday the representation of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave is celebrated.  While this is important to me, so is the representation of the phoenix.  I personally feel that I will, in time, also begin my own rise from the depths of trauma and despair.  While in the midst of traumatic flashbacks, memories, migraines and all the other symptoms that come along with a lifetime of abuse, it’s very difficult to keep this in perspective.  Some days, all I want to do is just lie down and die.  I often wonder why I keep trying when my efforts seem futile sometimes.

I can say that the love that Sarah and other people have had and continue to have for me in this time when I’m unable to love myself, somehow, has become a motivation tactic.  That’s not to say that I don’t get tired and life doesn’t continue to beat us up.  Coach Nick Kolinsky always taught me to NEVER give up until the game is over.  And well…..the game is nowhere near being over.  I know how to survive only one way, when I get knocked down, I get back up.  That’s how I made it through my abuse and that’s how I’ll recover from my abuse.

Sarah would often times remind me, “Dana, you didn’t become maladaptive over night.  You’ve had years of perfecting this.  Likewise, you won’t recover overnight. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.”  Yes, there were some 12-Step influences in her thoughts.  That was exactly who she was.  She would always help keep things in perspective for me.  She was also one of the few that I actually would listen to.  Oh, how I love and miss the special ways that she managed to get through the tough outer covering of my thick skull.

As my painful and gut wrenching recovery continues, I have the warmth of her words to guide and comfort me.  That’s not to say that I wouldn’t give everything I have to be able to consult her one more time.  My tears for her loss continue to flow even now. Sometimes, I have to imagine what she would say to me if we did have that one last conversation.  And this is what I believe she would say…”Dana, my child, pick yourself up and continue to move forward in every way possible.  There are people that are in your life both physically and spiritually to guide you through this process. You are going through changes which are part of recovery.  This process has never been easy for anyone and you’re not the exception.  I will always be with you as I have always been. Do the work and rise to be the great therapist that I know you can be.”

And with that….off to work I continue to go.

#Thispuzzledlife

Why Didn’t I Leave A Harmful Therapist

Why I Didn’t Leave A Harmful Therapist?

“The reality is that for most of us trying to overcome therapist abuse (regardless of whether it is sexual, emotional, spiritual, etc.) very few other people have any idea what we are going through (even the mental health professionals we finally get up the courage to see after the abusive ones to try and pull ourselves back together). And because of that, healing can be significantly more difficult than it should be.”
—Michelle Mallon

I’m having a difficult time trying to find the words to describe my experience. The therapist that I’m talking about is one who was very ego driven. She put her ego before her ethics. And when it came to practice EMDR it was done 4 days a week with no processing time. She was also a very dominate and alpha female. I just went along with whatever she said and then I started becoming sick and before therapy I began to vomit. She worked her way into my system and began working with my main protector to whom she gave a lot of attention to in order to get to our well protected children. All my trauma was turned on with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), but nothing was ever resolved. This form of therapy usually works well for those with trauma, but I was always in crisis mode making it very dangerous to use this method.
Mel and I were lied to more often than we could count. And she didn’t want Mel’s input on anything. Red flags were flying high and I was still about giving her a chance in the name of loyalty. She also knew that I wasn’t a snitch, so she never worried about me turning her into the state licensing board. My psychiatrist was also considering dropping me as a client because she was retraumatizing me. While having him prescribing my meds was impossible. Before I knew it, I had become trauma bonded to her just like my ex-husband. I feared doing anything other than what she wanted. There was also information that was given to an acupuncturist that was done outside of the date on the release of information form. I had become her emotional hostage. I was looking for the good times that I remembered about the promises that she had made and well…I came up empty handed.

therapist abuse

Like many times with other perpetrators in my life I became frozen with fear about what to do. So, out of fear I continued seeing her. It’s easy to say, “Well just leave her and turn her in.” But I was terrified to do anything. I became very suicidal and my behavior became very erratic and impulsive more than normal. The one thing I learned when I was younger was snitching gives you a very dangerous label. So, no matter what, I was not going to snitch.

Therapist abuse is using the imbalance of power in the therapeutic relationship to… Control, manipulate and exploit clients (https://patch.com/maryland/odenton/what-is-therapist-abuse).
Clients who have suffered abuse in the past may not be able to distinguish between what is a violation and what is therapeutic (https://patch.com/maryland/odenton/what-is-therapist-abuse).
The power and influence the therapist has, has a lot of potential to do a lot of good and by the same token it also has the power to cause severe damage that could have long lasting effects on the client (https://patch.com/maryland/odenton/what-is-therapist-abuse).

When I met “Coach” I was so afraid of professionals that I didn’t want to have anything to do with her or any other therapists. I related their position to fear and abuse. I was unbelievably scared of anyone that I perceived in a position of authority and would strike out at them and try to run them off. Coach saw through my pain and showed compassion instead. I was so hurt by some of the things that were done and said by the other therapist that almost four years later I’m still, at times, having difficulties in the therapeutic relationship. I trust coach 110% as a person. But her position as a therapist still frightens me at times especially when discussing certain areas of my trauma. I have always felt bad that she had to clean up and deal with someone else’s mess. But, I so glad I met her. After having such a bad and abusive therapist, it’s comforting to know that there are still some that are incredibly compassionate. And I got the best one. Yes, I’m very biased. Thanks, Coach!!!!
#thispuzzledlife

I Don’t Belong (Poetry)

I Don’t Belong
In a place where I have friends, I don’t belong.
In a place where I have family, I don’t belong
In a place where there’s love,
I don’t belong.
In a place where I have freedom,
I don’t belong.
In a place where I have beautiful children,
I don’t belong.
There is life where I hold tightly to living
There is always someone giving
There are always differences
I’m not like others
Differences that some might see
Frustrations that have me clinging to life
I try to hold out for 2 boys and a wife
So hard I fight what others can’t see
The many parts of me
The hope that I held for so long
In a world where I don’t belong.
#thispuzzledlife

Yes I Can (Poetry)

Yes I Can
Flesh torn with jagged scars.
Reminding me that this battle is hard.
The sun reminds me that light wins over darkness.
And the little things remind me of how I’m blessed
All of this brought forth by music and a pen
Telling my story about where I’ve been
Their pictures with beautiful smiles
They never fade even after a little while.
I love them so and this is true
Two little boys that say, “Mommy, I love you.”
So, I choose to continue fighting
Because their love is so inviting
One assignment after another
Because I AM their mother
As I walk with them hand-in-hand
Signifying to them…” Yes, my mommy can!”
#thispuzzledlife

Road To Heal (Poetry)

Road To Heal
I cry and tears fall;
Wondering how I got myself in this place at all.
My stomach churns not feeling good enough to eat;
My life looks like it’s been put on repeat.
Again I end up in a place of chaos;
Knowing that she took over again and I lost.
When will this torment end?
I will do it once and never again.
Hell, I live and Hell I received.
But this time is different because there’s no reprieve.
Dear God, get me out of this horrible deal.
So, I can get back on the road to heal.
#thispuzzledlife

I’m Sorry (Poetry)

I’m Sorry
How sorry can one person be?
That one person just happens to be me
The way that I self-destruct and scare people
It’s not intentional to hurt them and feel their tears
Some I’ve felt for days, months and years
All I’m screaming is that I hurt so bad
No one hears me not my mom and not my dad.
My screams are silent, and no one hears
Restrict blood and air and brought to tears
Eyes and facial features all swollen
Just wanting someone to hold me and let the tears fall
My trauma hurts like a searing pain
It’s a very high cost with little to gain
I’m sorry that I’m this way
I’m sorry that I hurt so bad
I’m sorry that you know me
I’m sorry that I appear to love life
I’m sorry that I joke around when I’m so miserable
I’m sorry that you love me
I sorry that you believe in me
I’m sorry that I’m broken and still me.
#thispuzzledlife

Wounded Healers

Wounded Healers

“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.”
—Rick Warren

Psychologist Carl Jung created the term Wounded Healer. The idea says that a person is compelled to treat patients because he himself is wounded. The essence of the idea is said that going through our wound that we can allow ourselves to be recreated by the wound. Our wound is one that is continually unfolding through a process that reveals itself to us and thereby teaching us about ourselves. Going through our wound and realizing that we will never be the same again once we reach the other side, we then come out the other side where empowerment is born. This process is completely different than going around our wound. And this process requires actively engaging ourselves. This process also is potentially creating a new transformation. This transformation essentially has us changing from the “old” self into the “new” self (awakeninthedream.com)

The wounded healer only becomes able to help others, while continuing to do work on ourselves again and again, when instead of feeling victimized we can see that wound as an event and as a part of a more spiritual moment. And then we can see how our own suffering within ourselves, is reflected to the outer world in a way that helps alleviate suffering in both worlds (awakeninthedream.com).

wounded healers

What an incredible way to explain the healing process with reciprocal healing. I tried to make this a little bit easier to understand. I think that anyone who chooses to work in a helping profession, is on some level, looking to heal their own self maybe even subconsciously. The helping professions that I worked in were the medical and counseling professions. Maybe I, too, was subconsciously looking to help heal my own self. My dear Sarah used to tell me, “Dana, you can’t give what you don’t have.” What she was saying was that until I have my own trauma dealt with that, I couldn’t help others with theirs. And this has proven to be true. I want to help others so bad because I went through those professions. But my own trauma, after ignoring it for so many years, came along and broke my back. Maybe writing is how I’ll be able to help others. Maybe through speaking I’ll be able to help others. I don’t really know what path my life will take. But which ever way it happens is also one that I’ll embrace to the fullest.

I have worked with the homeless and addiction communities enough to know that that is where I belong. I have been blessed with the ability to see people for who they are and allow them to be individuals no matter what that may look like. I have seen and worked in some areas of lives and the country that would make some people shiver in fear. I never look down my nose at anyone because I understand where I’ve also been and the struggles within my own life. I have been, at times, unable to care for myself and smelling like last week’s garbage because I wasn’t able to muster the energy to get out of bed and take a shower. I have also been so caught up in addiction that my arm, legs and ankles were at the other end of a needle.

Most people see me as a fun-loving comedian that’s easy to be around. What they don’t see are the constant struggles of holding onto life just to make it another day. I’m so incredibly grateful to have had Sarah in my life for 15 years. The wisdom she shared with me and lessons she taught me are sometimes the only thing that seem to get me through the day.

Coach stepped in at a time when the term “struggle” was putting it mildly. She has also seen me fighting and struggling for the next minute. I now learn from her. The universe has made it possible and directed me, almost 4 years ago, in her direction. I am now her student and one day I hope to be seen as a “Wounded Healer.”
#thispuzzledlife

Her Name Was Sarah (Poetry)

Her Name Was Sarah
Very few people come
Into your life and leave a footprint
on your heart

She was the one that would start
By taking me under her wing.
She would also take my heart.

Our relationship was special and many
would see how incredibly
special she was not me.

She would first love me as an addict and
then as her daughter you see.
There was a special place in her heart that
was perfectly made for me.

Her tough love was strict
But I respected her so.
She wasn’t just a person
but one shedding hope.
She taught me many lessons,
and some were very hard.

She loved me through good times and
sheltered me from the bad

Who was this lady that never made me sad?
She was my rock and without her
I am lost and the grief I have for her
came at a great cost

She would first love me as an addict
And then as her daughter you see

There was a special place in her heart
that was perfectly made for me
Her tough love was strict, But I respected her so
She wasn’t just a person
But one shedding hope

She taught me many lessons
and some were very hard
She loved me through the good times
and sheltered me from the bad

Who was this lady that never made me sad?
She was my rock and without her I am lost.
And the grief I have for her came at a great cost
She would be disappointed at the
things I have done to the kids and Mel.

I can hear her saying, “Now what you’ve done has hurt both
Mel and the boys. You will learn a lesson and it will be hard.
Be careful about other people that love you,
you don’t put up your guard. You will end up
bleeding on people that didn’t cut you.

I still love you now like I did then. Don’t use my death as an excurse to drink, do drugs

and push people away. You pushed Mel and the boys so hard that they didn’t come back.

Think before you act, I’ve always told you. And don’t worry

every time you’ve failed. I’ve wrapped my arms

around you and given you a hug and helped you up.

It’s nice to remember such a beautiful person
and I loved her so much.
So much that it seemed to physically
and mental destroy me to lose her.

The day she died I lost the only rock I had.
It was very clear, and I was glad.
I can describe her in one word…. BEAUTIFUL.

It was nice to have a break from
the evils of the world we live in.
She was my everything and things
have never been the same since her death.

The number of tears I’ve shed
over her could fill up an ocean
She was a very special person to
me and her name was Sarah.
#Thispuzzledlife

Eating Disorder (Poetry)

Eating Disorder
Each time I look in the mirror I see things;
A distorted vision is what you bring.
I should be able to simply eat food:
But too many times I was told I was no good.

The scales where you show those horrible numbers.
I shake my head and start to wonde;r
Will I ever lose enough weight to be happy?
Probably not because happiness seems to exit my psyche.

What you do is kill in a way that’s called murder;
You always make promises that you won’t hurt her.
But piece-by-piece you break her down:
Lying to her about how that special number can be found.

But that number is not there because it’s constantly changing;
To reach the unattainable goal there is no ending.
Strive for perfection that doesn’t exist;.
I can kill for just trying “oh it doesn’t miss.”
So get ready to have pain and die in perfect order:
Your battle is with an illness called an Eating Disorder.
#thispuzzledlife

PTSD (Poetry)

PTSD (Poetry)
You wake me up to show me things that haunt me;
You don’t care who you hurt even with crying pleas
Slowly you take me to another place and time;
And honestly you should be charged with a horrible crime.

You visit me all day and all night long;
Can’t you see that I did nothing wrong?
Flashing of pictures stuck in my head;
No wonder so many people end up dead.

You don’t care and you hit my psyche with precision
Just another wound causing an incision;
But you’re persistent if only people could see;
You’re a killer of a disorder called PTSD
#thispuzzledlife

Law Enforcement And Mental Illness

Law Enforcement and Mental Illness

“If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got.”
— Quote from Tony (Anthony) Robbins, American life coach,
motivational speaker, and bestselling writer.

The topic of Law Enforcement and Mental Illness is one that comes with strong emotions on both sides. However, it’s a topic that needs to be dealt with now. I’ve never been in law enforcement, but I have been a part of Emergency Services from several angles. I have worked side-by-side with different cities and their officers. I worked in Hattiesburg, MS and Petal, MS on an ambulance as an EMT-B. I have also worked in Albuquerque, NM with the homeless at a county funded detox facility. Those jobs guaranteed me working with officers from all police departments. And as my condition with Dissociative Identity Disorder deteriorated in Albuquerque, Mel and our family have dealt with law enforcement sometimes on a regular basis due to some of my behaviors.

I’m not in a position nor will I run down fellow individuals who have worked and continue to work in the field of EMS because I understand the stress, callousness and cynicism that naturally develops just to be able to survive doing that type of work. And I understand that they are police officers not social workers. Most people don’t have a clue about what is seen and experienced in that field. What I will say is this…. there has been and continues to be a lack of education surrounding mental illness. Granted sometimes the behaviors get out of hand and force is needed to keep the individual safe from themselves and others.

Recognizing-Mental-Health-Disorders-in-Others-1
What I’m talking about is the lack of education and training on mental illness that officers face. Sometimes having a Crisis Team individual to go out and talk to the individual can ensure less stress on both parties. Instead of immediately handcuffing an individual when simple talking to the person first could accomplish the same goal of getting someone much needed help. I completely understand that this is not feasible with all police departments especially smaller departments, in rural areas. Additionally, budget cuts in recent years makes this task virtually impossible.
Individuals aren’t necessarily prone to violent or criminal behavior. Does it happen? Sure, it does. But blanket statements are what causes stigmas that continue to build over time. Albuquerque had just started having a Crisis Team as we were moving out of the state.

There’s nothing like hearing someone hollering at you and looking down to see red dots on your shirt and not understanding why. Just like an episode of Cops, I was told to lay in the prone position on the cold concrete. I was then held at gunpoint with the red dots moving to my head. The male officer began screaming at me because he was supposed to get off work 30 minutes prior. The female officer was talking to me in a calm voice. Fortunately, I was wearing my medic alert dog tag that I wore because of another situation. She recognized the medic alert dog tag I was wearing and read the information. I was taken to one of the local hospitals for a mental health evaluation where I was subsequently let go.
This is just one of many situations that we encountered prior to leaving the state. Before I moved to Texas and Mel and our sons moved to Mississippi a crisis team came to our house wanting to know what the best way was to help with crisis situations. We gave them the information and for once I felt like I was being heard. There are many situations that happen like the above mentioned that could be helped with just trying to find out what the crisis is about versus being accusatory. And having the Crisis Team knowing what to do to help has changed how I feel about police officers and authority figures. We have a long way to go by challenging stigmas about mental illness. But I think it’s a start.
#thispuzzledlife

No One Heard Me (Poetry)

No One Heard Me (Poetry)

As a child no one heard me
As a teen no one heard me
As an adult no one heard me
I was loud with my voice
And no one heard me

I had wounds and scars
And no one heard me
I felt the heat of a bullet
And no one heard me

Their big hands hurt me
And no one heard me
My silent screams
And no one heard me

Holes in the doors and walls
And no one heard me
Who will cry for the little girl?
And no one heard me

#thispuzzledlife

Finding Me

Finding Me (Poetry)

The pain of laughter that everyone sees

The person before you is not really me

The funnier I am, the more pain I’m in

Maybe it’s wrong or some terrible sin.

I loved living life until these terrible days.

Now I live in a trauma filled haze.

Keeping those secrets has eaten a hole.

I’m no longer me but rather a shattered soul.

Most days I’m scared and can’t think

And to get through this life I feel I must have paper and ink

That tiny little town, the memories and secrets are held. 

It not Southern Comfort but a type of burning hell.

Friends and family from a time I once knew

Happy-go-lucky and not dark grey and blue.

The days I was carefree I was happy and nice

And if she asked me again, I wouldn’t think twice.

Two boys that are precious I wish I could hear

Held close to my heart because they are dear.

Far behind the smiles in pictures they just can’t see

How I hang on for dear life while I try to find me.

#thispuzzledlife

Peace (Poetry)

Peace (Poetry)
Peace is something sacred that many don’t find;
You can get pushed to find it and leave the pain behind.
The monsters destroyed us and that is a fact;
Peace is among the living when it gets too difficult to carry
the weight of the world on your back.

When life becomes to difficult and the pain is too real;
You must come to acceptance of the pain that you feel.
Life seems too hard and the pain I can’t describe;
And no matter where you go there’s no place to hide.

So you have to accept that this pain is here to stay;
Peace is what you find even if you’re no ok.
God won’t have me and the devil just laughs;
Where do I end up on this god forsaken path?

Nothing is given neither life nor death;
I’ll just have to see when and where I take my last breath.
Peace is what I feel with like walking in glue?

Tears fall and my chin begins to shake;
How much more am I suppose to take?
Peace takes over when nothing else will;
And I will take my last breaths when
I’m too tired to continue climbing this hill.

Or maybe peace I will find on the journey to find me;
Peace takes over when your will is through.
I find it when I wake up knowing
there’s nothing more I can do.
The weight of the world just seems to disappear;
Then peace envelopes you when your time is near.
#thispuzzledlife

Safe Place (Poetry)

Safe Place
A place that has no hurt and no pain
A place where I can go without emotional rain.
A place where the sun shines all day long
A place that could easily become a home

A place where I can hide from things that are bad
A place where I can go and never be sad.
A place where I run to where the monsters can’t see
A place that allows me to be me.

A place where I go when I’m not wearing masks
A place that I go and no one else asks
A place where I can go for my own soul’s sake
A place where I go that’s always safe.

#thispuzzledlife

Coronavirus And Social Distancing

Coronavirus and Social Distancing

Day 1: I have stocked up on enough non-perishable food and supplies to last me for months, maybe years so that I can remain in isolation for as long as it takes to see out this pandemic Day 1 + 45 minutes: I am in the supermarket because I wanted a Twix
—Sir Michael Tweet

With all the necessity of social distancing due to the Coronavirus, I am reminded how not too long ago I chose social distancing on my own. For a couple of years, I chose to have limited contact with the outside world so that I could focus on my therapy. Then I felt the relief of knowing that I had begun to heal enough to make some adult baby steps back into a world that could put me into sensory overload within minutes. I remember the many time I would begin having cold sweats and vomiting from having to go to Walmart or drive on the interstate or just to drive back and forth to therapy. My anxiety would get the best of me and I would, at times, must pull over at a gas station and try to get grounded enough to be able to drive the rest of the way home. And then to walk into my dark and cold bedroom and collapse on the bed for a couple of hours before I could even turn a light on.

It was a very lonely way of living, but worth the pain of the loneliness. Today, the social distancing I’m still separated from friends, but my family is just within feet if I need company. And this time its all about trying to survive a pandemic. I’m usually working on some type of therapy assignments. I’ve put in the work that could’ve earned me another degree but its all worth it. I’m going through a lot of growing pains in my therapy right now. Coach is leading the way and I’m doing the work.

Corona Virus. Virus Cells Or Bacteria Molecule. Flu, View Of A V

At times I miss my way of life in Texas, but I sure enjoy having people around that I have a lifetime of familiarity with. I continue to battle anxiety, depression and the flooding of memories when life was much more difficult. Now the battle is also about trying to dodge a virus that seems to kill anyone in its way. I’m trying to find a source of humor as I always do but I have a healthy fear instead. Solitude allows for people to focus on what’s important in life in a way that daily life tends to help distract. And for many people it’s boring or uncomfortable. For me, I don’t try to bombard my brain too much with news that’s scary. I just try to be informed and leave it at that.

I worry for friends and family and our nation at what’s happening throughout our nation and the world. But I also try to have a focus on continuing to help heal wounds that have opened. I look at my severely scarred arms and feel the pit in my gut as my heart also opens and drips red tears at days gone by. My misty eyes and brain tell me there was a time when the pain was much worse at the loss of friends. I still cry for my teammates that were hurting at that time when their worlds were changed forever. I cry for yet the loss of more friends that I’ve buried deep in my psyche until recently when those memories have become unearthed. I must tell myself that now my tears are about healing and they won’t last forever.

Growing pains hurt and there’s no other way to put it. Change is sometimes uncomfortable. Acceptance of situations and their reality can hurt. And becoming a new and better me continues to hurt with each painful step forward. Just the knowing of my own capabilities of breaking the chains that have safely kept me bound for many years scares me. Trusting enough to unbind myself as painful as it might be sending a pain and fear over me that cannot be described all in the name of healing. And to know that my tears and fears are validated as I do this work leaves me grateful with each assignment.

May everyone be protected and able to work on some part of ourselves while our nation and communities struggle to fight a pandemic that’s killing our loved ones. Work on relationships that are here today because tomorrow it could be just a painful memory. God bless our country and loved ones.

We have toilet paper—no worries
—unknown
#thispuzzledlife

Corona Virus and More

Coronavirus and More

“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.”
― Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

With the Corona Virus being something very serious all over the world, as well as, social distancing being a necessity I have been able to find to some humor in my boredom. Over the last several weeks Coach has given me enough assignments to equal another master’s degree. She has compassionately gone for the jugular. If it took this long and bad therapy to show me what good therapy is all about. Then the wait was worth it. We have also noticed that bad handwriting can be creative and incredibly funny.
I’ve also mentioned several times throughout my blog about my grandmother called Nannie and some of her crazy antics. The Corona Virus would’ve been no different

I went down to our local grocery store so that my parents didn’t have to get out. At their ages, they are more susceptible to the coronavirus. When I got there the carts were already wiped down with disinfectant. So, I grabbed my cart and realized after about 10 minutes that the only people I saw were elderly people in the store and I started chuckling. The first reason for my laughter was that I had started on the right side of the store like my OCD always leads me.

 

IMG_2641Concern In China As Mystery Virus Spreads

Secondly, I realized that the everyone outside and inside the store would’ve been called names because there was no handicap parking space available. This was a very big deal for Nannie. I could just hear her saying, “Well I hope they all just go to Hell!!!!” Like she was the only one entitled to a parking place.
Thirdly, I could hear her saying, “Now, just look here at all these old people out shopping when they were told to stay at home.” While I tried to point out that she was one of those old people that should’ve stayed at home. Nannie was quite the entitled person in her own mind. And as my daddy always says, “Your Nannie always had decorated language.” Sometimes it takes us just slowing down for self-quarantine to see the humor in situations.
#thispuzzledlife

The Greatest Generation Part 2

The Greatest Generation Part 2

That’s what he was saying, the civil rights movement – judge me for my character, not how black my skin is, not how yellow my skin is, how short I am, how tall or fat or thin; It’s by my character.
Pam Grier

1960-1969 Dwight D Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Lyndon B Johnson
Woolworth’s Lunch Counter
Freedom Riders
August 28th, 1963 March on Washington
Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have A Dream Speech”
President John F Kennedy Assassinated
President Lyndon B Johnson
****Civil Rights of 1964
Selma to Montgomery March
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Malcolm X was Assassinated
April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated
Hurricane Camille

malcom-xmartin luther king jr

track camillepresident kennedy

 

1970-1979 Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter
May 17, 1970 my parent got married
Antiwar Movement
Women’s Rights Movement
Watergate Scandal
Kent State Shooting
December 4, 1975 I, Dana Landrum-Arnold was born

1980-1989 Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush
Iran-Iraq War (1st Persian Gulf War)
Post IT Notes (Coach!!! They were born for you!!)
John Lennon was killed
Summer Olympic Games were held at Moscow, USSR
**boycotted by over 60 countries
Prince Charles married Lady Diana
Assassination attempt on President Reagan
AIDS were reported
Michael Jackson’s Thriller
Prince William was born
HIV was discovered as the virus behind AIDS
Crack Cocaine was made for the first time in Bahamas
Titanic wreckage was discovered and filmed
US space Shuttle Challenger went up in flames killing entire crew
Oprah Winfrey Show was born
First Conjoined twins were separated
Persian Gulf War came to an end
End of Cold War
Fox TV began regular broadcasting

geroge bushchallenger
mr gorbachev

 

1990-1999 George Bush, Bill Clinton
Impeachment trial of Bill Clinton
Monica Lewinsky Scandal
3-way race for the presidency (Bill Clinton, Georg HW Bush, Ross Perot)
Operation Desert Storm 1.12.91
The Gulf War Ends 2.27.91
World Trade Center is bombed
51 Day Waco Standoff leader David Koresh
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act
The OJ Simpson Trial
President Clinton signs the Assault Weapons Ban
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols explode a bomb outside the
*** Murrah Federal Building, OK City 168 killed
Osama Bin Laden announces jihad against Jews and Crusaders.
Columbine High School in Littleton, CO
Killing 12 Students and then killing themselves

TIMOTHY MCVEIGHColumbine

osama bin ladenOJ Simpson At His Criminal Trial

2000-2006 Bill Clinton, George W Bush
September 11 Terrorist Attacks
Saddam Hussein was found hiding in a hole on December 14, 2003.
****He was hanged December 30, 2006
Boxing Day Tsunami
Hurricane Katrina was the 6th strongest hurricane in Atlantic history
***She claimed 1,836 and 705 missing

katrinacasino katrina

september 11george bush 2

Writing this blog post has brought about many different feeling and opinions. Noticing how much my grandmother got to witness and be a part of has left me jealous. She saw the Deep South at its ugliest. And she has saw our country at its strongest even though we had tears in eyes at the reality of life. Some of the hard times I’ve only heard about from her. And at other times I was there with her to witness history in the making. Either way I loved my Nannie regardless of differing opinions. And now I start a list of my own witnessing of history both good and bad. What I wouldn’t give for one more conversation with my ornery grandmother and the stories that taught me lessons.

“It’s funny how, in this journey of life, even though we may begin at different times and places, our paths cross with others so that we may share our love, compassion, observations, and hope. This is a design of God that I appreciate and cherish.”
― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

#thispuzzledlife

 

The Greatest Generation

The Greatest Generation Part 1
“The Greatest Generation was formed first by the Great Depression.
They shared everything—meals, jobs and clothing.”
—-Tom Brokaw

The “Greatest Generation” also known as the GI Generation and the World War II Generation were born between 1905-1924. Yep that would be my Nannie’s generation. While gathering all the information for this blog, I’m amazed at the history that they had front row seats to. Obviously, my generation overlapped but to know the amount of history that my grandmother had going on around her and her witnessing with her two eyes continues to amaze me. And it also explains why she was the way that she was a lot of the time.
My grandmother also went through the Great Depression. Dr. Glen Holl Elder Jr wrote: Children of the Great Depression made it through their adult years well. These children came out of the Great Depression knowing how to survive, make do and solve problems. They were very strong supports of the American way. They held families together, made commitments and kept promises. There were also 56.6 million live birth. These children were known as Baby Boomers (www.oreilly.com).

dust bowlgreat depression

greatest coffee

The adults from the Greatest Generation had the largest rise in schooling ever recorded. In midlife they built suburbs, invented vaccines, plugged missile gaps and launch moon rockets (www.lifecourse.com). In the 1930s, food was so scarce because the Great Depression happened while the Dust Bowl which ruined crops. Most people were so poor that the philosophy “hold on to what you have” was a statement of safety. No one knew how long either issue would last. So, had they not learned to hoard possessions lack of survival was almost imminent. These beliefs and cycle for way of living was perpetrated (www.postconsumers.com).

Naturally as one who has been in the mental health system most of my life, I wonder how their mental health issues were dealt with. Baby Boomers grew up in a time when mental health issues were not discussed nor acknowledged. Conditions such as anorexia, bulimia, ADHD, PTSD, autism, and learning disabilities were unheard of and depression and anxiety were signs of weakness (www.workhealthlife.com). Boomers were people who just tough things out and not asking for help. Likewise, this generation learned from the Greatest Generation this type of outlook on mental health. I can remember my Nannie saying when I asked what was wrong with someone, “Oh they’re just deaf and dumb. Just stay away from them.” I always thought that was harsh way of looking at things, but I guess that’s the only view they knew to take. I’m glad people have been educated and that my coach doesn’t feel that way.

I have made a list of some of the main events in history that my 86-year-old grandmother was able to experience and live through in history. This is in no way a complete list but one worth looking through. Writing about this has stirred every emotion in me both good and bad. Enjoy a little walk through history that my grandmother experienced in this great nation.

soldier feeding

1919-1929 Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge,     HerbertHoover
Great Depression
Woman gained the right to vote
Prohibition
KKK began terrorizing the nation
Birth of radio
Insulin was mass produced
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day began
The Spirit of St. Louis, Charles Linburgh
Mickey Mouse was debuted on Steamboat Willie

1930-1939 Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt
The New Deal
Black Sunday 7,000 died from pneumonia from the Dust Bowl
The Golden Gate Bridge was built
Rise of Nazi Germany
Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass)
World War II begins

dust bowl 2

1940-1949 Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman
Mt. Rushmore was completed
Pearl Harbor was attacked
D-Day
Anne Frank died
Hitler commits suicide
Nuremberg trial *12 Nazi leaders hanged*
Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl was published
Ghandi was assassinated

1950-1951 Harry Truman, Dwight D Eisenhower
Truman orders the development of hydrogen bomb
Korean War begins
Assassination attempt on President Truman
Dwight D Eisenhower inaugurated
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
*Unanimously bans racial segregation in public school
Inoculation of children against polio
Martin Luther King Jr leads boycott of Montgomery, AL bus system
Eisenhower sends troops to protect school integration
Rosa Parks
Emmett Till
Little Rock Nine
Civil Rights Act of 1957
Vietnam War begins
Castro takes over as President of Cuba

civil rights

civil rights 3

The Civil Right Movement makes me sick to my stomach knowing how people treated other people during this time. I can’t justify any of this. All I can do is shake my head. The world, our nation and the Deep South has been through a time of growth for many years. I can only hope that this growth continues from these times presented to you. May God bless our nation.

One individual can begin a movement that turns the tide of history. Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement, Mahatma Gandhi in India, Nelson Mandela in South Africa are examples of people standing up with courage and non-violence to bring about needed changes.

Jack Canfield

#thispuzzledlife

Goodbye 2019

Goodbye 2019

“Forget the past, it’s gone, but glance back occasionally to remind yourself where you came from and where you are going.”
—Chloe Thurlow

As I sit here watching the last days of 2019 pass by, I must look at how much I’ve grown this year. Looking back over the year 2019, I am constantly amazed that I’m where I am mentally. This year has been one of many struggles. This year was filled with some very hard times and a lot of growth. Some of the most difficult and loneliest times of my life were in the year 2019. But this year has also held a lot of redemption for me.
I spent many days and nights earlier in the year barely able to function. There were days where getting out of the bed was just too much to handle. And this was all done completely alone. Some days it took everything I had just to make it to my therapy appointments. 2019 was a year when I thought I was busy dying but I was persevering to get better. I was engaged in a lot of maladaptive behaviors, but I was also clawing to hold onto some form of life. Coach and I had some intense therapy sessions, but I never felt anything but her love and wanting me to succeed. There were many times I remember telling her, “Don’t you dare give up on me. And don’t stop pushing me.”
Then after having trusted her and doing whatever assignments she told me to do for over a year I began to reap the benefits. My thoughts and beliefs about myself and the world around me began to change. I soon had the hunger for being happy and happiness I would find. I then realized that the craving for being alone would dissipate and loneliness became my enemy. I would soon formulate a plan with my parents to move back home to Mississippi. Texas had served its purpose and brought about change and growth. I was no longer controlled by my trauma. And I now had an internal system that was helpful and working together instead of chaotic and hurtful to both me and those around me.

I was “different” in every kind of way. I was no longer facing life like I was going to a fight. I was beginning to enjoy life for what it was. Days were still difficult at times but not catastrophic. The day would come when my mom and dad would, at separate times, move my belongings home. Except the day my dad would fly out to help me we would drive my truck the 8 hours back to Mississippi together. I was excited to be making the move but terrified of the unknown. I knew one thing…. I had grown closer to God and my faith in him through a time of desperation had not let me down. Coach would continue to guide me through these tears of fear as well.

goodbye 2019

Excited as I have been moving back home, I have been moving forward with shaky uncertainty. I was terrified moving back to the same town that once held so much judgment against me. I was also moving back to where my children have been living and growing for two years without me. All these emotions I hadn’t counted on being so intense. I was so consumed with being happy that I wasn’t prepared for everyday emotions and frustrations of a situation like this. My “difference” became apparent to both me and other people who I had known all my life.

When I left this city almost 10 years ago, I was full of anger that had lasted the entire time I was gone. I was now returning happy and at peace with myself and my trauma that originated in this same town. I also had been embraced with my reappearance rather than shunned like I had been preparing. I came back to town feeling loved and looking for love again. I had been on a path of self-destruction that had almost taken my life. And now God has given me a chance to start over.
Each new day I try to find a way to grow and thank God for giving me that chance. My opportunity of being a better parent has proven to be a slower process because I am now starting completely over trying to learn how to do this the right way. And honestly, I continue to take shaky steps forward. I don’t really know what I’m doing but two little boys were glad to see me make it back to town anyway. I’m finally able to be fully present with my children and enjoy the simple things like rocking in a chair together.
Friendships that I thought were dead and gone are now renewed and healthy. I no longer go through my days wanting to die. I go through life with coach by my side and God leading the way. And hopefully I’ll be able to find a way to give back in a way that benefits others. And just maybe one day in my personal life I’ll find love in a healthy way and they will also be able to enjoy the new me as much as I do. Goodbye 2019.
#thispuzzledlife

Adjusting To Home

Adjusting to Home

“Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Today is the two-week mark of me having moved back home to Mississippi. The timing of the move was to ensure that I was home for the holidays and that’s exactly what I did. I came home and was soon greeted by my little boys making the first week filled with love and happiness. Anytime you move from one place to another there is an adjustment period usually filled with frustrations and my time back has had those times as well.
For me there has been a mixture of emotions that I was somewhat prepared for but have also been surprised by. With my dark past in this small town and trying to get settled the stress of it all has brought tears to my eyes. The stress of being back in a town where there are some difficult memories to face mixed with the stress of getting new doctors, reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances, developing new routines and the death of a family member has left me emotional and a bit edgy. All-in-all I would consider the experience thus far normal.

In the best of circumstances, the stress would be a noticeable factor. But coming back to the place where all my trauma occurred with still very vivid memories has made the transition a little more difficult. The difficulties where they are uncomfortable are not impossible to overcome. My initial thoughts about moving back where that I would face a lot of judgment and harsh criticisms as I had in my younger years. What I have found is that I instead have faced people who still are supportive and who love me even knowing my past. And those who send their judgmental stares and comments my way have been drowned out by hugs and words of support and compassion. Me and old friends have sat while we all laughed and cried together with stories of difficult days from the past and the near future. And my aching heart is always soothed by the words of my children saying, “Momma D, we’re glad you moved back because we missed you.”

IMG_2272

My spiritual life which has held a lot of contentment for many years has been met by people who just want to love and support me while I find my way here in small town living of the Deep South. And thanks to coach before leaving Texas I was already learning how to let people love me again. Likewise, I continue to be supported by my friends from Texas who only want to see me succeed as they saw me in the days of barely putting one foot in front of the other to keep surviving. The best advice I was ever given as a child and an athlete that’s kept me going was, “Never ever give up.” And the words I always tell coach is, “Don’t ever give up on me.”

IMG_7406 (1)

Two of my hardest but most rewarding years of my life were spent healing in Texas. And it’s where I feel like I got my second wind in life. I love being able to smile a genuine smile today. I love feeling like I now have the capability to be a mother to my children. I love knowing going forward that my relationships with people will be ones that are genuine instead of superficial. And that they can be relationships that are healthy. I love knowing that my hard work has bought me something more rewarding than a degree could ever give to me……LIFE. And I love knowing that no matter how many times I wanted to nor how far down I got physically and mentally…. I NEVER GAVE UP. The miracle happened and I’m alive today to enjoy it.
#thispuzzledlife

Happy Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday To Me

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. “
—-William Barclay

Today is my birthday and a day that I haven’t really celebrated since I was young. My birthday has always been representative to me of the day that I was put up for adoption and given away because I was unwanted. And after meeting my birth mom several years ago the fear of being unwanted at birth became a reality. That was exactly what she told me. I didn’t receive the explanation from her that she was young and couldn’t take care of me. She very coldly told me, “You were an inconvenience in my life and you still are.” I don’t know how cold the chill was that went over me the day she spoke those words. But it was cold enough to chill my soul.
I’m not afraid to admit that this has been a very painful part of my life for a very long time. And in many ways, I have allowed her reality to control my thoughts and actions about myself for many years. And then I met Coach who through unwavering compassion has taught me differently. She saw the open wounds of those awful words and graciously began helping to promote healing.
What coach has taught me is that I wasn’t an inconvenience to anyone but her. The beauty of living in a free nation is that not all our realities have to match, nor do we all have to agree. She also taught me that my self-worth should never be determined by a woman who didn’t have the capability to love me anyway. I have two wonderful parents who love me and have done nothing but support me my entire life.

celebrate life

 

Today, I’m happy to say that December 4th is a day that should be celebrated. I am a good person who loves people and loves to be love by both family and friends. Life has not been easy, but the trauma doesn’t control me any longer. My birthday means that God was gracious enough to breathe life into me for me to make my mark on this earth the best way that I can. I have a family and two beautiful little boys that call me mom that love me. And I also have friends spread across the country that love me and want nothing but the best for me. And I have a “system” that does their best to help keep me functioning in new ways that we’ve learned the last two years. They are a special group that I depend on to help keep me going and loving me enough to keep me safe in every single way.

Now December the 4th isn’t a day where people are prevented but rather embraced for wishing me a happy birthday. Today I smile instead of frowning and staying locked behind doors. There’s nothing like getting to share birthday time with my oldest son Marshall. And, today is a day where God is thanked for the breath of life that made me. And for my birth mom, she is silently thanked for being the vehicle by which I enter the world. These days of being grateful have changed my view on many things. I am grateful to God, the universe, friends, family and others I’ve not yet met for being a part of my journey. Because the day that someone is born is a day when life changes for anyone, they meet in ways we may never know. I say with all the happiness in my heart…” Happy Birthday to ME!!!!!”
#thispuzzledlife

Marshall’s Birthday

Marshall’s Birthday

“We never know the love of a parent until we become parents ourselves.”
–Henry Ward Beecher

The doctor walked into where Mel and I had been sitting waiting for the ultrasound. The doctor takes the apparatus and gel and moves it over her belly. Looking at the monitor he said, “Do you see that little blinking light?” Mel and I both shook our heads yes. The doctor said, “That’s your baby’s heartbeat.” For a moment the feeling was surreal, but it soon changed to excitement. This was our baby and we would be parents in less than 9 months.
The next few months we would be preparing for our little baby to reach the due date. At 12 weeks the doctor would tell us that our baby would be a little boy. We were both beside ourselves with excitement. But in a few months Mel would develop pre-eclampsia and be put on bedrest. This would make me extremely nervous, but I was still hopeful that everything would be alright.

IMG_2273

IMG_2277

The days came and went but our baby’s birthdate would change from a date in January to December 3. This meant that he would be a preemie and would have to go to the NICU. The day of his arrival Mel was in labor 36 hours. I was just a ball of nerves waiting and hoping that both Mel and our baby would be ok. I eventually fell asleep on a couch in the room from sheer exhaustion. The next thing I know a nurse or doctor was trying to wake me saying, “Ms. Arnold your baby is about to be here.” Mel was also yelling, “Dana wake up!” I wake up quickly and head over to where everyone was scurrying around. Within a few minutes Marshall Lake Landrum-Arnold would be born and he was beautiful.
The team would whisk Marshall away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Mel wouldn’t get to see him for the next 24 hours. It also meant that we would have to leave our baby at the hospital when we went home. That must be one of the most agonizing moments of my life. So, our routine would be me going to work and dropping Mel off at the hospital to be with Marshall in the NICU in the morning. And when I got off work I would go by and pick her up from the hospital which we renamed Camp Marshall.
I can honestly say that those days were some of the most stress of our lives. Leaving your baby at the hospital while you go home no matter how well things are going is very hard emotionally. The level of worry isn’t one I can put into words. But eventually on Christmas Eve of that year we brought our little baby home. Marshall was making our hearts beat then and he still does. The Christmas of 2011 was one of the most special Christmases on record. Because he was and still is one of the best presents, I’ve ever received. Happy Birthday, Marshall!!!!!
#thispuzzledlife

I AM THANKFUL

I AM THANKFUL

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
—Albert Schweitzer

With the Thanksgiving season here I couldn’t help but think of things that I’m thankful for. The transition back to living in Mississippi is one that is still in process. I’m grateful to be back around family but living in solitude for so long has left its mark. Still amid some of the frustration I’m incredibly grateful just to have another day to wake up to every morning. Everything I learned in Texas is being put into practice which includes everyday frustrations and the sometimes overstimulation of being in public and around people daily.

My heart has longed for several things over the past couple of years since being in Texas and this thanksgiving my heart was warmed by not having to spend the holidays alone again. I was able to spend the day and night with my two little boys. I can’t explain to you what healing effects that had on my heart. I finally got to show them that I could be around little boys without freaking out. More than once both boys were in my lap while we were rocking and snuggling. And we were able to go to Walmart shopping hand in hand amid the holiday crowd.

It wasn’t comfortable but there were no cold sweats that day. Texas taught me that not all situations would be comfortable, but I would be ok. And that’s exactly what’s happening. I have been preparing for two years for the days and things that I’m currently experiencing. But when my little boys told me that they loved me and are happy that I moved back home that was all I needed to hear.

THANKFUL

I still had to dodge nerf bullets and some of those might not ever be found again. And a trip to McDonalds and all the squealing and stimulation was enough to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. But I got to enjoy the boys being able to just be kids without feeling like I would snap from all the noise. Instead I was able to enjoy the chaos that I had missed. Me, my boys and my family could tell that my hard work and healing was paying off and that brought the tears to my eyes.
Those that say, “Well, that was just one time.” I say, “I remember the times when a day and a half of being around my boys squealing and playing without snapping wasn’t possible.” I did it and I’m still doing it. My hard work is paying off and for that I AM THANKFUL.
#thispuzzledlife

My Parts And Change

My Parts And Change

“DID is about survival! As more people begin to appreciate this concept, individuals with DID will start to feel less as though they have to hide in shame. DID develops as a response to extreme trauma that occurs at an early age and usually over an extended period of time.”
― Deborah Bray Haddock, The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook

I don’t know why I’ve decided to write another blog so soon. Maybe it’s because I’m so eager to get back home that the loneliness of this room has taken its toll. But maybe it’s also because my parts are talking so loudly about the upcoming change that it’s hard to do anything else. I still hold true to my beliefs about the benefits of my two years of hard work and the spirituality that I hold near and dear. But to ignore what my parts are saying would go against everything I’ve learned. So, I’ve decided to give this some attention.
My child parts are like typical children. They’re excited to know that they will be able to play with Marshall and Copeland soon. They look forward to being around them again and to once again. And a certain little 5-year-old looks forward to being able to play with her chap sticks that have carefully been sent back home at an earlier date. They also long for a parent’s love to help ease the scariness of this new change.
My teenagers have a menagerie of emotions like most teens. Some are ready to go NOW and are having a hard time with patience. They all look forward to this scary but new life and experiences. My once loud and aggressive protector is the one who is surprisingly calm during this time of stress. She has always been the one no one could get close to. But through healing she has become one that knows her place and realizes that everything isn’t about a fight. The kid that she is longs for someone to simply hold and support her while this change happens. She’s not afraid to admit that she’s scared. But she also knows that she’s still one of the backbones of strength and courage in my system. Instead of being a part of aggression she has found and made peace with her trauma and now works with us all instead of causing chaos. She has become one of the hardest working parts in relation to recovery. And she holds tightly the words of our dear Sarah close to her heart.

you survived

She was hands down the loudest but most damaged alter I have. Her loyalty to our coach and our system is comes from a place that’s admirable and loveable. And I must admit that having her working with us for several months now is something that makes my heart leap for joy. Her heart is open and healed and has become one of my parts that I couldn’t live without. She one that has brought about the most change and has remained open to love, peace and happiness. My part that is her direct opposite and wise beyond her years is still strong with positivity. Very simply put she brings light to the darkness. The desires of her heart I won’t share but peace from within is what she exudes.
My athlete and student are parts that keep us all going. Having the respect for our dear coach they both repeat the phrase, “Stay the course and trust coach. She hasn’t led us astray yet and we need her right now. We trust her because she’s proven trustworthy. Listen and follow her guidance because she will help lead us home safely.” And I must admit that writing keeps “the student” occupied.
A few of my adult parts looks forward to helping Mel raise the boys. They also bring about nurturing and grace on a daily basis. They look forward to being role models for my children that will help me to be the mother I need to be. I have other desires of my heart but none more important than the ones that foster my being able to take care of myself instead of having to be taken care of. I look forward to being able to take care of myself instead of being trapped within myself and frozen with fear.
All these parts make up me, Dana Landrum-Arnold. I’m proud of who I am now and what I can become as a person in the future. My heart longs for many different things. And I’ll admit that I’m very nervous. But when I look back on the days of Texas, I can say that it has been the most rewarding and difficult time of my life. I have worked harder for this resolution of my trauma then anything else. The scars of my story are evident on my arms and my heart. But the peace I’ve fought so hard for is written all over my face and heart as well. I now see myself as one who has discipline, courage, strength and love to share with anyone who will accept it. I am a good person who a set of individuals tried to destroy a little at a time. What I was blessed with was several parts of myself who fought my battles and took care of me for many years regardless of how maladaptive the behaviors were. And now I’ve grown to the point that it’s time that I take care of them and my responsibilities as Dana. They helped me to survive and now I will help them to thrive. My name is Dana Landrum-Arnold and I have a story to tell.
#thispuzzledlife

Change Can Happen

Change Can Happen

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about leaving Albuquerque and moving to Texas. Now after doing all the work in therapy I’m now making another change from Texas to Mississippi. With change comes anxiety about the uncertainties of the future. I’m living life one day at a time and making the transition and believing that everything will work out for the best. I have been preparing, in therapy, for the last two years to be the mom and the healthy person I need to be. I must say that I’m very happy and proud of the person that I’ve become. I wake up every morning glad to be alive and looking forward to the day of challenges and growth.
Texas has been very challenging but so worth the struggle. I now walk in peace while knowing that I can lead myself as a healthy example for my children to follow and be proud of. The daily stress of this move is something I embrace rather than fear. With everything I’ve been through I couldn’t help but develop and grasp hold of a spiritual life. I don’t go around spouting off scripture but I do know one thing….that there is a God and I am not him. Just like Sarah God has always been by my side regardless of my situation. I use to blame God for everything bad that happened to me. But today I can say that God has been here through my trials and sleepless nights filled with tears.

start over

Sarah told me many years ago that “religion is for people who are scared to go to hell and spirituality is for those of us who have already been there.” I have to agree. I hold on every day to the opportunity that I have to grow in some way. I’ve made a lot of mistakes while in my sickness. But I have also forgiven myself for them. With new life comes new opportunities to repair what I can and start over where I can’t repair. Going forward I can see a life where I can support myself emotionally. I look forward to those that cross my path and hope to be able to learn something from each day that I live. And also take the lessons that I’ve learned from my struggles to have a brighter tomorrow.

Blogging has given me hope and a way out of darkness. And there’s not a price that I can put on the therapy that I’ve received. Coach has guided me to a life that I never knew could exist. I’m living proof that if you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired that you can go to extremes to change. Even if that means moving to a different state and living in solitude to make that change happen. Life and mental illness doesn’t have to be a death sentence. It all depends on what you’re willing to do to get better.
#thispuzzledlife

A Letter From Beyond

A Letter From Beyond

With all the healing work taking place I can’t help but think what my dear Sarah would be thinking. So, I’ve decided to write something to help my heart a little bit. Sarah was always concerned and who knows how many of her own tears and prayers were shed and said for me. She was one of the kindest people I knew, and compassion seemed to flow from every pore in her body for me. But make no mistake that she would also very sternly and loving to insert her shoe into my ass if she thought that’s what I needed. I imagine that if she were to talk to me today it would sound something like this…

Dear Dana,
I have been watching you for the last few years and have seen you decline at an incredible rate. You have given yourself every excuse to behave in ways that still make my skin crawl. I told you several years ago to never give yourself a reason to destroy yourself and things around you. Especially no excuses surrounding my death.

All I ever wanted for you was happiness and recovery. I know you were hurting but I never left you. But I have also seen you step up and take charge of your recovery. You have been through some agonizing days and even then, I never left you. And like pulling teeth you have finally begun to allow people to love you when you weren’t able to love yourself. You have finally gotten out of your own way and done work that has brought about healing.

I always had faith in you and your abilities, but you had to see it for yourself.  Your work was about you and no one else.   Your eyes have finally been opened to a new life. You have taken charge of your life and cleaned your side of the street the best you can. Your recovery with your new coach has been done one day at a time. And I can’t imagine a better team to make this all happen. This will continue if you get up every day and choose recovery. This process will continue to help you grow as you become the mother that your children deserve. Continue to work on your relationships that deserve the respect that you choose to give to them. Some relationships will be salvageable where others won’t. Thank God every day for life because people that you choose to allow in your life will be blessed just like me and Doug were. Celebrate life for it’s so precious and can disappear in an instant. Help Mel to raise the boys to be men that you both can be proud of. I loved you but never let love end just because a person’s life ended. You have gifts and a beautiful heart that anyone can see and love. Don’t cheat someone out of your beauty just because of a loss. Grieve and move past the hurt and pain. There are many other people that will be placed in your life that will be cheated out of your noticeable beauty if you let the past affect your present and future. Not only your children and family but also those you have yet to meet.

My wish for you is still happiness in whatever way that may look. Never forget to thank the people that helped and love you for they too have seen you hurting and hurt with and for you. There have been more tears and prayers said by numerous people that you may not realize. Anything is accomplishable if you realize that there’s a spiritual being bigger than you. For you are not the ruler of the universe. Ask for what you need and keep those you love close. You have learned many difficult lessons these last two years and I am proud of your efforts. Remember that every day of life is not to be fought with but worth fighting for. You make my heart sing and your beauty shines these days because you’ve found your own authenticity. And damn it looks good on you. I miss you and love you and will forever be by your side.

Thank your coach and her seemingly unending compassion and love that she shows you. She is a rare jewel. The days you thought I was gone was nothing more than me backing off and giving her space to try to help the one I and many others love…. you. Be a person people can look up to rather than one people fear. And remember that life is not easy and was never meant to be easy. I’m of you and love you very much, kid.
Sincerely,
Sarah

This has been an emotional piece for me to write but I needed to hear what I could imagine Sarah saying to me. She is still deeply missed. I’ve finally made peace with her death and subsequent absence. But I choose life authentically. I choose to let people love and care about me even though it’s still uncomfortable at times. I choose life.

#thispuzzledlife

I Am Enough

I AM Enough

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
—Melody Beattie

I’ve spoken recently about a shift that has taken place. And I truly believe that it’s because all the hard work that I’ve done in therapy is finally paying off. I’m learning how to do something that I’ve never been able to do…. Love myself. This process is one that is not easy but necessary. I’ve always been tormented by my trauma and a chaotic system which led to self-hatred.
This self-hatred then bled out into every part of my life especially relationships. But I’m learning to forgive myself for these things and the weight of the world is being lifted from my shoulders and, in turn, given me a sense of peace. I can’t explain how it feels but it’s evidence that I’m healing.

When you go through trauma you develop survival instincts. These behaviors are not always healthy, but they help you to survive. Me and coach have spent many hours working on developing a new way of living. I told her recently that it feels like I’ve just walked through hell with gasoline draws on and it’s the truth. I had to do the work and hold on until the miracle happened and it finally did. I still have days and moments that are difficult, but I can see a better tomorrow only getting better.

You are enough

All the hateful messages that were taught to me by my perpetrators have been replace by positive affirmations about my capabilities. I don’t just say them. I believe and practice them in all areas of my life. Processing the trauma along with the affirmations have prepared me to make this move back to Mississippi in order to be a healthier mom for my children and for me. What I’ve had to learn is how to accept myself and to be comfortable just being me.
This has truly been a long and will continue to be a process. I have done it. And I’m doing it. I’m loving myself without reservations. I’m also forgiving myself for things I’ve done and how in my sickness I’ve treated people. Some of those relationships have made it and some haven’t. But I know now that I will be ok. Because I am enough just being me.
#thispuzzledlife

Angelica (poetry)

Angelica

She was still one that no one wanted around

Being kicked aside she was found

But no one had know her job

For she stepped up and sobbed

She was treated like property and chained like a dog

Submissive she was but she drew the short straw

Some would label her as an outgoing whoreface.

And she would have a scarlet letter she always wore

No one chose to get to know her only a label assigned

But she would soon get a new name designed

Her name would be Angelica and all she needed was grace.

For this would be the new name for her delicate and child-like face

#thispuzzledlife

The Angry Addict

The Angry Addict

Sometimes I find things that I’ve written but haven’t published on my blog. This is one of those writings….
There was a day when an angry addict walked through a treatment center door. A break from a harsh life and there would be many more. The addict was still a person, but we would prove to be one heck of a chore. Compassion was what she was craving, and her heart screamed, “More, more, more!”
This professional she was different and left judgement at the door. The patient she was also different, but she was never a bore. The pain was written all over that addict’s face. Turn her inside out and trapped inside was a very hurt child that simply needed some grace.
The addict asked, “What do you want? And why do you care?” With confidence, dark eyes and long black hair she answered, “Because you’re talking to someone who has already been there. I can tell someone has hurt you and I want you to tell me about it.” Like a puppy this grown child followed behind that confident swagger.
This one she was different, and the addict could tell. Talk about mean people from her past and present? Why did it even matter? Because when you walked in, I could recognize that war fought tattered look. He made off with your sanity like a cold and heartless crook. Wheat he showed was not love and I’m telling you the truth. You were at the mercy of a dark man and when he’s done is called abuse. I want to know the things they all did to you. Look into my eyes and know that love lives here not abuse.
We’re going to be serious for a moment so put the jokes, smiles and laughter away. My heart and stomach seemed to find that familiar sting that no one could make go away. I can see in your eyes that you’ve be battling for years. Drip, drip, drip and the grief poured out in a flood of uncontrollable tears. Gently she said, “Let me and others love you until you can love yourself.” Know that not all people hurt you like you’ve done to yourself. She saw the addict’s heart was as raw as her arms. And told her, “You can trust me because I love, and I will not hurt you.”
The 90 days in treatment had come and gone. And now she would return to her abusive home. But someone cared about what she had been through. As she made her way to the exit she heard, “Take care of yourself. You know I think you’re different.” And then the quick reply, “And so are you.”
Five years later the addict was a student and doing exactly what she said she would do. And one day she called that professional out of the blue. Months went by and their relationship grew from a “random connection” that was true. She finally got the courage to tell that husband, “We’re through.”
Days and nights where she would learn from her compassionate teacher. Yoda was teaching her now “open-hearted” adult kid because she knew how to reach her. A visitor to their house was confused about who I was, and I said, “I’m just a close friend.” The professional known as Sarah being as serious as she could be. She looked at the visitor and said, “No she’s our daughter.” I thought wait that’s me.
She told me one day, “Dana, remember this about how he treated you……
“Not everyone can see the good in a person because they’re always looking for their faults. He missed seeing the reasons we love you and that was his fault. If you see past cuts and scrapes on your skin and can look through all the bones and into your chest and hurting heart and under the thick layers of material that help to encapsulate your that fragile heart is a secret space and in that space is some material that’s growing and bubbling over and saturating your chest cavity with something called personal beauty. And that’s what we see and love you for every day.”
Our mother/daughter relationship grew into one that survived off promises, goals, loyalty, love and mutual respect. She was my personal definition of safety. But the day would come when she would be ripped from my protective grip. By an unforgiving disease that could careless who’s heart it would strip. My heart that was wide open began sounding the retreat back behind those protective walls never again to repeat.
But my heart never lets me forget that horrible day. I went when I was called home to the hospital because of promises we both made. And when it was time, I sat at her feet knowing that soon her maker she would meet. With my heart breaking and tears rolling down my cheeks. I took one big final gasp of air with her not knowing how I could just be.
She was my everything and I was her adult kid. How lucky I was to be with her when I felt her leave. “Dana if you ever get stuck not knowing what to do. Do the next right thing and hit your knees if you choose.” Her words still guide me with her presence gone. And I would give anything for her to pick up that phone. I want her approval either right or wrong.
A year and a half later when more bad things happened and the continual hemorrhaging of a once loveable heart. And a mind and body that had continued in a war. We entered the doors of another treatment center and dragging the leftovers of what used to be a human behind me. And a day later we would meet our new professional and something internally would change.
Angry at people for being hurtful and hating this lonely life without Sarah, I began striking out at everyone and everything even those that loved me. I wanted someone or something to pay for taking her away. Relationships began falling like the twin towers. I swore that no on would get close to me for very long without me destroying the relationship just so I wouldn’t have to feel that bad and scared ever again. Sarah was still somewhere close, but I was fighting mad. But this new professional we met with fire and venom never flinched. I tried everything I could to push her away. But the next time I felt Sarah this is what she would say, “Dana leave her alone because she is one that will stay. I picked her out for you and she’s who you need starting today. She’s the one you need. So, make it happen and move there.” That wasn’t what I wanted to hear because I wanted to prove my point that she would leave like everyone else. Mad I was and madder I got because I didn’t want anyone else to love me and leave.
So, I called up Texas and again found the one that would stay. Whatever I do I just can’t let her get away. She is the last gift I felt my Sarah give. And now she’s working with this angry and very hurt adult kid. The kid screams and silently cries about what others did. For she isn’t bad she’s lost and confused. And wanting her Sarah to hold her while she’s lost and confused. That angry teenage heart that still cries tears of blood. But again, she ran into a wall of pure love.
The pain of losing Sarah has been more than I could bare. But move to Texas I did because she’s never led me astray. I don’t want people to love me so why did I move here? Because I’m that same kid that despite knowing the harsh reality of life that has hurt me so bad. Texas is still better than the desert no matter what “things” I don’t have.
Texas hasn’t been easy, and no one said it would. But we’ve been pulled along by the little engine that could. No one knew what compassion and love can do. But to heal you must expose the bad and the good stuff too. And just for taking time to listen as you always do. Coach this angry kid wants to personally thank you.
#thispuzzledlife

There’s No “I” In Team

There’s No “I” In Team

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

–Andrew Carnegie

While watching the Word Series vivid memories have come alive. The smell of the hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill blanketing the air. The feel of the cool grass during warmups. The excitement of both team’s players and fans seem to permeate every inch of the park. And the little butterflies in your stomach are attached to the love and respect you have for your teammates and coaches.

We outfielders are warming up by coaches hitting ground balls and pop flies. Then we throw them back to the coaches awaiting our next turn. I soon hear coach Nick holler, “Charlie, that was a $100 catch and a .10 throw! Try it again!” I take another turn and catch and throw with precision. He hollers, “That’s my girl! Good job!”

As game time closes in coach pulls me aside and tells us about the players for the other team. And just before we take the field coach tells me, “Charlie, I’m counting on you and your team is counting on you to lead them. Look alive out there and hit your cutoff man. Keep your eyes on me when you’re running the bases and watch the pitch hit the bat. And let’s get us a win. I’ll be right here if you need me.” I head to my position and soon hear, “PLAY BALL!!!!”

coach

In the time I’ve been in Texas, I’ve taken some of these same lessons to form the “coach/player” bond in my therapy. Coach has always told me that she wouldn’t let anything hurt me, but I had to do the work. I’ve given 110% effort and each time I’ve looked up when I was scared or didn’t know what to do coach was right there to assure me that I’m not alone. She tells me what to do and I don’t question her because I depend on her guidance through the nightmares of my trauma.

She’s seen me struggle with tears in my eyes and the strained ability to take another step forward. But she’s always said, “Dana, I’m right here if you need me. I’m not going to leave you.” Together we’ve been able to work together and now I stand on my own two feet and see life through a new set of eyes. I now have the confidence to be a mom and a wife again. And to see that I can live life with confidence. The work has been some of the hardest of my life but when I need her she’s there.

In a couple of days, I face another scary time and I know she’ll be there. My eyes will be on her, again, to look for her guidance. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and will continue to gain through this work. I’m grateful to be alive. And I still know one thing to be true, THERE’S NO “I” IN TEAM.

A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience’s attention, then he can teach his lesson.
John Henrik Clarke

#thispuzzledlife

Freedom In My Eyes (poetry)

You start a war on your hands and knees

Crying and begging for help shouting PLEASE!

There were days were I was tired and sore

And even more days I could do nothing but crawl on the floor.

But that floor was my lonely highway of healing

Not knowing if I would live through the work because it was so grueling

I was getting some much needed schooling

But hope and determination powered me forward

And the daily work sometimes leaving me scarred

This time I was still leading a team you see

Because the athlete would activate the wolf in me

I was changing into something I would need

But this time it would be the real and authentic me

Coach was guiding me to a beautiful life

Working hard once again to be a mom and a wife

This time I look in the mirror I don’t see tears

For the first time in many years

There are no screams or cries

Because this time I see freedom in my eyes.

Reflection

Reflections

“Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.”
– Tony Robbins

I’ve just come back from a visit to Mississippi where Mel and the kids reside while I’m in Texas working on getting better. I’ve had a heck of a stay here. One of the many things I’ve noticed is the effect my sickness has had on them and others around me. And, honestly, it’s difficult to see. Coming back to my room, in Texas, a hard and heavy blanket of depression has descended upon me. But also, there’s hope that is continuing to prevail. I don’t know what’s ahead in the future but I do know one thing…. I will continue to accept my mental illness and get better.
Lately, I’ve been very depressed, and anxiety filled about an unsure future. This falls under a term simply known as “future trippin’”. Quite fitting don’t you think? Anyway, I’ve given my worries to the universe in preparation for more hard work and an upcoming surgery. The rest will just have to work itself out for better or worse. The only thing I know to do is to continue to work on my healing and becoming the best person I can.
Recently, my parents, Mel and my therapist who are my biggest supporters and cheerleaders have left me with a sayings and thoughts reminding me that, “I’m the only one who can change my future is me.” Simplistic as this might seem, it holds a lot of truth. No matter what’s going on around me, I’m the only one responsible for me. The future is left up to someone higher than me. All I can do is hope for the best.
I challenge anyone reading this to put aside things you can’t control and to work towards your truth in being the best person you can be. And to leave the future where it supposed to be because it’s not called “the present” for a reason.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift—that’s why it is called the present. Enjoy it.”
—-Alan Johnson

#thispuzzledlife