Archive for the ‘Journey to the Center of Myself’ Category

For years and years and years and years and years, my favourite colour was purple. No ifs, ands, or buts. Purple. Purple, purple, purple. When I was a kid I wanted a purple bedroom, but my mother refused, saying it would be too dark. Piffle. I didn’t care. I wanted a purple bedroom. 

I wanted purple hair, so in my 40s I got purple streaks in my hair. It made me happy.  I have a lovely purple amethyst cluster sitting on my desk. I have plenty of purple shirts.

And then all of a sudden something happened, and I realised my favourite colour is no longer purple. It’s red. Rich, vibrant, energetic red. I’ve been buying red and black jewelry, red and black shirts, red and black accessories for the living/dining/kitchen area of my home. Red fills me with excitement.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love purple. It’s just moved back a notch.  I wonder if the change has anything to do with all the changes I’ve been making in my life. Whatever the reason, I have been rejoicing and glorying in red.

This morning I remembered the Color Quiz and decided to take it.  Here are my results. What say you?

Your Existing Situation

Needs excitement and constant stimulation. Willingly participates in activities that are thrilling and offer adventure.

Your Stress Sources

“Needs to meet people who have the same high principals and values as herself, but finds the need unfulfilled. her need to feel dominate and superior leaves her feeling isolated and does not allow for her to give freely of herself. She would like to surrender and let go, but sees that as a weakness she must not give in to. Holding back will allow her to stand out for the crowd and earn a higher status, recognized by others as unique and important.”

Your Restrained Characteristics

Current events leave her feeling forced into compromise in order to avoid being cut off from affection or future cooperation.

Giving more than she is getting back and feels misunderstood and unappreciated. Feels she is being forced into compromising and even her close relationships leave her feeling emotionally distant.

“Believes her hopes and dreams are realistic, but needs reassurance from others. Has strict standards when looking for a partner and wants guarantees that she will not be disappointed or lose.”

Current events leave her feeling forced into compromise in order to avoid being cut off from affection or future cooperation.


Your Desired Objective

“If motivated, she will easily and quickly learn new skills. Is very intense person who seeks excitement and sexual stimulation. Wants others to see her as an exciting and interesting person, who is also charming and can easily influence others. Uses her charm to increase her chances of success and gain other people’s trust.”

Your Actual Problem

“Impressed by unique and one of a kind things, and by people with exceptional personalities. Tries to takes the characteristics she likes in other people and apply it to herself as well as coming across as a unique individual.”

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I know I’ve not really been “all here” lately. Please bear with me, because it’s likely to continue for a little while.

A few weeks ago I had to step back and take a good hard look at where I was in my life, the path I was on, and what I was doing. And honestly, I was very unhappy with what I saw. I spent a lot of time talking with my husband (he was, fortunately, in town that weekend) about things. I’ve also spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection. It’s been a good thing. And I’m feeling a lot happier now. But it’s a process, you know? My energy has to be focused on a few very specific things right now and other things are of necessity having to take a back seat.

I’ve actually thought of deleting this blog, but this is how I keep in touch with some of the more important people in my life. And it’s fun, most of the time. So I won’t delete it.

Feel free to e-mail me if you’re feeling neglected. Know that I’m not intentionally neglecting anyone. Love to you all!!

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Last night I had an art therapy session scheduled for 6. I got to Dallas about 5, so I sat at the biggest Half-Price Books in the world and read until 5:45, and then wended my way to J.’s office. When I arrived, she was still in session with another client and was running late. So I sat down and opened up Chakras and Their Archetypes by Ambika Wauters.  I’ve been reading on this off and on since Saturday. After a moment or two yesterday afternoon, I arrived at this exercise:

Recall an experience in your life where you felt like a Victim. This would be a time when something happened to you which was out of your control and left you feeling hurt or unsure of yourself.

When I was 13, maybe 14, a grown neighbor up the street molested me.  Some of the specifics around the incident are blurry–I don’t remember his name. I seem to recall that he and his wife had grown children who no longer lived at home. But I know that they always welcomed all the kids in the neighborhood at their house. They let us play pool on their pool table, served sodas and snacks, and were just really fun to hang around.  One day I was there with some of my friends. His wife wasn’t there, so it was just him. My friends left, and I was about to leave but he wanted to talk some more, so I stayed. He molested me that day. I left his house feeling filthy, dirty, terrified of him. It reaffirmed my feelings that I was a bad person.  I never dared talk about it in direct terms. I tried telling my friends that he wasn’t a very nice person after all, and I never went there again. I don’t know if any of them believed me, and I hope he never did that to anyone else.

The first time I ever spoke of it again was earlier this year when we did a cleansing ceremony at Jehara’s flat. I wrote a letter to everyone who sexually used me, and as I was writing that letter decided it was time to address him as well. I still remember how I felt reading that aloud, how angry I was–not just that he had harmed me, but that I had let him continue harming me by keeping the incident bottled up inside and allowing myself to feel guilt and shame over something that wasn’t my fault.

What are your feelings about this situation now? Are you angry, enraged, sad, grieving? Are you willing to tell yourself more about how you feel regarding this situation? Be willing to take the lid off your feelings and experience them as they are.

When I read these questions, I asked myself how I felt about it. And I felt nothing. That seemed very peculiar to me, so I closed the book to allow myself time to ponder the question. I skimmed through a few magazines and a book, but still couldn’t feel anything. J. was still with the previous client, so I went into the room with the sandbox.

I got some dolls down–a Chauceriangirl doll, an Amazon warrior doll, a Buffy doll to represent Izzybella, a red-haired buff doll to represent Amethyst, and a buff black-haired doll to represent Jehara. Then I picked an innocuous-looking male doll to represent the man who molested me.

I acted out the scene with the me doll and the him doll. After the incident was over, I sort of buried the incident away, so I threw sand all over the me doll to symbolize the shame and guilt and hiding. And I sat the him doll in a corner of the sandbox.

Then I acted out the scene at the cleansing when I told Jehara, Amethyst, and Izzybella about it, and I remembered the rage I felt then. I buried the him doll in sand, but no matter how hard I tried, his head was still sticking out above the sand. My sister dolls hugged the me doll, and I started shaking the sand off of the me doll. My Amazon warrior doll told me that I have always had the strength to deal with these things, and I didn’t need her anymore, so she went away.

Then I started wondering about him. I don’t know what his life was like. I don’t know if he ever regretted what he did to me, if that was a sole occurrence or if he molested more people. And I knew that I understand it wasn’t my fault. And I forgave him.

As I went through all this processing, I just never once had any feeling toward him. No hatred, no anger, no hurt, no tears, no resentment, nothing. I have somehow been able to let go of it.

There is another thing in my past that has caused me incredible amounts of guilt and shame. I first admitted it aloud about a month ago. Since then I’ve talked about it with J. several times. So last night I thought about it too. And the shame and guilt are gone from that as well.

In another book I read recently, the author says that lies are toxic. I’ve been lying to myself for many many years by burying all these things and not facing them. It was like I thought that if I admitted it, then it would make them real and would mean that I was a bad person. But when I did finally talk about them and admit them, I was able to realize that while they did happen, and nothing can undo that, I am not a bad person.  I feel like the toxicity is leaving my body.

I told J. the first night I met with her that I just think it’s the right time for me to do this. Last night we brought that up again, because I’m making so much progress so quickly. It is the right time. I’m reclaiming my Amazon warrior. I’m reclaiming a sense of myself as a good person. I’m no longer allowing anyone else to run my life, whether by active design or by default because I bury my head in the sand and permit it to happen. When I brushed the sand off of my chauceriangirl doll last night, I brushed it off of myself as well.

I’m clean. I’m whole. I’m complicated. I’m real. I’m honest. I’m good.  Processing will continue.

And processing of another kind–I love, Love, LOVE our new juicer! When I got home last night, Joe made me some apple carrot celery juice. And it was just as delicious as it could be. The juicer’s a little bit of a pain to clean, but nothing difficult. I’ll definitely be using it. Yay for the juicer!

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Have you ever seen or read Great God Brown by Eugene O’Neill?  I’ve probably mentioned it before; it’s one of my favourite plays. Not because it’s a good one–actually, it’s very flawed. It’s about people, and the masks they wear for each other and for themselves.  It’s about how people usually don’t see anything in anyone else beyond the masks, sometimes not even recognizing their loved ones without the masks.

I was thinking about that today. I thought of all the masks I’ve ever worn, the masks I’m probably wearing now, and I had this mental image of a stick figure with mask upon mask upon mask upon mask.  For 7 years now, I’ve been consciously working on unmasking myself and trying to figure out what’s beneath all those masks. I wondered if I’ve made any strides or if I’ve just been substituting different masks for the ones I’ve removed.

When I shared this thought tonight with J., Art Therapist Extraordinaire, she reminded me of an onion and all its layers. She also reminded me that the onion can be rotated, and with each minute rotation a different face reveals itself. All those faces are real. They’re all different. And they’re all beautiful.

Maybe there’s nothing wrong with masks, as long as I know when I’m masking myself and when I’m exposing my true nature. Not everyone needs to see all my layers; not everyone needs to see every aspect of me. There are things that I want to keep private, and I have decided that’s okay.

So tonight in art therapy, J., made a plaster cast of my face. And she took great pleasure in something that she saw as one of my beauties, something I’ve always seen as unattractive. My eyes droop down at the outer edges, and I’ve always thought of it as ugly. But not too long ago I was noticing that Sarah Michelle Gellar Prinze, someone I’ve always thought extremely beautiful, has eyes that droop down at the outer edges. So maybe it’s not ugly. Maybe I just need to look at it differently. And when J. made my mask, she accentuated and emphasized the shape of my eyes. And it looks beautiful on my mask. I can’t wait to sit down and adorn it, inside and out, and see what I can make of it.

Not on the subject of masks, but the incomparable Izzybella surprised me by sending a lovely floral arrangement to me at work. Receiving flowers is utterly delightful. They make my desk smell wonderful, and they’re just beautiful. Also–purple streaks are coming, I hope, this week. Photos will be posted as soon as the streaks are.

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One afternoon when I lived near Galveston, Texas, I was out running errands. I remember distinctly having this sure knowledge that the way to save the world was for people to love each other, to truly, deeply, sincerely, compassionately, honestly love each other. And for an infinitesimal moment that lasted an eternity, I could conceive loving everyone on earth. And then I shook my head and said, “But I can’t do that!”

I’m older now. I’ve slogged many more difficult roads since that day. And I understand a lot more about love than I did then.  I also feel quite sure that what I understand about love is the smallest portion of what there is to know about it. I may not yet be capable of loving everyone, but I can conceive of it. I can try.

I’ve been blessed to have people come into my life who love me perfectly. I could tell them anything and I wouldn’t see anything in their eyes and faces except love and acceptance.  There would be no disgust or revulsion, no judgment. I would see sorrow for the things that have harmed me, whether they be by my own actions or the actions of others. I would see a desire to strengthen me and help me through my troubles.  My sister has always been like this for me, and now to have L-Squared, Jehara, and Amethyst as well, and J., Art Therapist Extraordinaire, well, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

Some of you who are reading this post I have come to know through reading your blogs, perhaps exchanging e-mails, and I feel quite certain that I would have that same feeling in your presence. I think I could tell you anything and I would be safe. My feelings and heart would be safe with you.  I hope you know that you would be safe with me as well.

There have also been people in my life to whom I am, perhaps, doing an injustice when I fear to fully open up to them for fear of rejection. But the rejections have come in the past by people I loved and trusted, and that was when they knew nothing of the deepest things in my soul. Was I being treacherous by not entrusting them with those things, thus ensuring that they would turn away from me when I changed? Perhaps with some, probably not with others.  Obviously not everyone needs to know the deepest recesses of my spirit.

I frequently hear the phrase, “I just want justice.”

Justice is the last thing I want. Take my actions throughout my life, lay them on a table and dissect them with a scalpel. Weigh them against the strictest measure of right and wrong. I have done much wrong in my life. I hope that I have also done much good–does the good outweigh the wrong? I don’t know.

No, I don’t want justice. I want mercy. Love. Compassion. Tenderness. Right now when I’m finding it incredibly difficult to be tender with myself, when I’m looking at my spirit with hugely magnified lenses, I desperately need it from others.

You don’t have to like me. I hope you do, and I’m ready to like anybody. But please don’t judge me. Just love me.

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Never ask yourself a question if you’re not sure you’re ready for the answer.

These posts about my fifth grade shenanigans prompted me to ask myself a question, and I had a horrible panic attack as I was trying to deal with the answer to that question. Fortunately, tonight was my second session with J., Art Therapist Extraordinaire, and she helped me banish the remnants of the panic attack. You know, I knew that starting this up was going to open the floodgate. I just didn’t realize it was going to open that far, that quickly. It must be the right time for me to deal with things. But as I told J., I don’t want to. I want it to be done, but I don’t want to do it.

What makes me sad was the realization that my antics in 5th grade, something I’ve always thought of as hilariously funny, now strike me as being heart-breakingly sad. I hope the laughter returns.

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Last night at dinner I was telling L-squared a story from my childhood, and both of us were red-faced, laughing so hard there were tears in our eyes.  I’ll put the story below a separator, because it’s kind of gross.

But before I get to that, I want to talk about something that’s been weighing on my mind ever since last night.  I don’t have a whole lot of memories of my childhood. There are a few, but not a lot. And there are other memories that have been flooding back into my mind all week, some good, some not so great.

One of the assignments I am to do before I go back to see Jamie on Monday is, 2 or 3 times, spend some time alone with my Miranda doll that we made, and find out what she wants to say and what I need to do. I’m learning that one thing she is telling me is that it is all right to remember and, even more importantly, acknowledge. I don’t have to let pain overwhelm me, but I do need to acknowledge what I felt when those things happened. My stuffing things down and stuffing my body for comfort, I think, stems back to those childhood days when for whatever reason I couldn’t fully express or acknowledge what I was feeling.

Here’s an example. My mother had tons of books at home, old books, new books, books about everything you can imagine. I was a voracious reader, and dived into old children’s books. We had a set of Childcraft from, I don’t know, the 50s maybe, and I was fascinated with it. I read the old-time Bobbsey Twins books as well as the more modern updated ones. I read Elsie Dinsmore and sobbed along with her. I read Anne of Green Gables and Chronicles of Avonlea from old battered hardbound books that were starting to fall apart–this was before they regained popularity in the 80s. I read The Unwilling Vestal and thrilled as Brinnaria sternly chose to retain her virtue even though it meant being separated from her beloved for the 30 years she was forced to serve as a Vestal Virgin. None of my friends had read any of those books, and I was patterning my thoughts and life after a manner that no longer existed.

When I was in 6th grade, I had illicit chats via notes passed furtively to the girl who sat in front of me. I idolized her. Wanted to be her friend. I did not understand that I was a figure of fun to her and her friends. She was nice to me, and played along, and didn’t tell me how weird I was. I got the idea out of one of those old Childcraft volumes to have a tea party with planned little games. I told her my idea, and she went along with it, and we planned the whole thing. My mother, instead of being angry with me for planning a party without consulting her first, was delighted that I was going to have friends come over. We set the date, got decorations, had refreshments ready, and no. one. came. Finally another kid, M, who used to mow our lawn, took pity on me and came over and hung out for a while.

I was so stung at my friend’s rejection of me, and convinced that she and all her friends were laughing about me, that I don’t recall talking about it anymore. I know I never addressed it with her. When I saw her in school next time she ignored me, and I ignored her, and that was the end of that.  We pretended like it had never happened.

I think every time I handled a situation that way a little part of myself died. Or maybe it just went into hibernation. I stuffed it down, as if my body were just a hollow shell, and I could tamp any unwanted emotions all the way down, pack it tightly in, never to be seen again. 

I can look back now, and realize that I exuded weirdness. None of my peers knew what to make of me. I was smart. I read a lot, weird stuff that no one ever heard of. I’d rather go to the library than anything else. I dressed funny. I may as well have welded a sign to my back that said, “Kick me!”

So I think I have to remember. I think I have to realize what I was feeling, and how it was all right to feel that way. I’m not interested in casting blame on anyone. I just want to pull out the stuffing, let it get a good airing, and then put back in only as much stuffing as I need, enough to cushion the shocks but not leave me like a Weeble. Do you remember Weebles? “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.” They couldn’t fall down because they were so round that they just wobbled back and forth. But sometimes in life, you fall down. It’s a necessary part of life. You get hurt, or you trip, and you fall down. And maybe you need to cry for a minute, and get someone to soothe your wounds, and then you get back up.

I’ve always prided myself on getting back up. Maybe I didn’t spend enough time letting the sounds be soothed, though.

Okay, enough of that. Now I have to put up a separator and tell you about a particular incident when I was probably in 5th grade. Read on only if you have a strong stomach and a good sense of humour.


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It amazes me sometimes how vast a gulf there is between what the intellect knows and what the heart believes. I feel about myself in ways that if I heard anyone else say that, my heart would break that they could believe such things. Logically I know it. My mind understands that the things I believe about myself are untrue. But my heart remains unconvinced.

I love the colour purple. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t my favourite colour. I remember one of my friends in junior high school had her bedroom painted purple, and I loved spending time over there in a lovely purple haze. I’ve always pictured my soul’s inner core as a brilliant purple star of light. Sometimes the star is huge and pulsating, but more often it’s tiny and shriveled by the burdens I carry and place on top of it.

I was telling this to my therapist yesterday, and said that when I get some weight off I want to put purple streaks in my hair. She thought it was a great idea, but wanted to know why I was waiting. And Jehara said the same thing this morning. They tell me that I’m beautiful and that I can have purple hair. And yet I feel like “the fat chick” all the time, and being “the fat chick” is difficult enough without being “the fat chick with purple hair.’

I have to face the fact that I’m ashamed of being fat. It’s not who I am. My husband often tells me that he knows what my truest self looks like, and I believe him. I sort of know her by sight as well, and trust me when I tell you that she’s not fat. She’s curvy, and healthy, and has purple streaks in her hair. She’s offbeat and funky. And she doesn’t wallow in shame. She allows herself to just be, and not judge herself for who or what she is.

But she’s buried beneath layers of scar tissue and insulation. I used to think the insulation was to keep her protected from the world. I don’t think that now. It occurs to me now that the insulation is insulation my shame has erected to hide her from me. Maybe if I coax her out despite the shame, she will be able to get rid of the insulation and sear the scar tissue away.  Maybe getting those purple streaks in my hair would help her start forcing her way out.

I don’t think anything good comes from shame. Shame is a powerfully destructive feeling. Shame doesn’t help you make changes; it makes you cover things up and hide them because to lay them bare would be to reveal that shame. And how often does the shame truly have basis in fact? I will tell you after I talked to my therapist last night and saw the love, compassion, horror, and tenderness in her face, I began rethinking my feelings about those events and thoughts and beliefs.

Since I was a child I’ve believed that I was a bad person. Except for an incredibly rebellious stage during my teen years, I swung to the other extreme, trying so hard to be what I and my peers perceived as a good person that I completely sublimated myself in that. For a few years now the pendulum has been swinging back toward the center. I quit trying to fit into the molds that my religious culture followed. I didn’t quit trying because I wanted to; I quit trying because I realized that there was no way I could possibly fit into those molds and be true to myself at the same time. I lost friends over that, and it hurts a little to this day that people didn’t really care about me when they found out I wasn’t good. And logically I know that means they didn’t really know me, and honestly, did I really give them a chance? Some I did, some I didn’t. But again, my heart doesn’t really believe that. My heart believes that when I quit trying to be good according to that pattern, I must really be as bad as I’ve always believed.

And it’s this complex mish-mash of emotions and beliefs. I think that I’m a decent person. I have a good heart. I love people. I always want to help people. A bad person wouldn’t do that. But then I also believe that a good person wouldn’t do the things I’ve done in my life. And then I realize that there were so many factors impacting my actions that I can’t just pick out as a cause the fact that I’m bad.

See what I mean? Scar tissue. Blankets. Walls. That’s what my fat is. Because to try to think about all this and sort it out and make it into any kind of sense is agonizing. But growth is agonizing, and I’m so very tired of all of this. I’m tired of lying down at night desperately afraid that I’m going to die and knowing that I haven’t lived yet. I’m tired of being afraid that as soon as someone knows what I’m really like, I won’t be perceived as lovable anymore.

So yesterday I took an enormous step. I told someone. I told someone who’s never met me before, and I told her what I did and what was done to me. I told her how I felt about myself. And I saw it in her eyes. Not the revulsion I’d expected on some deep level (I thought that obviously she’s a therapist, she won’t let her revulsion show, but I knew it would inevitably be there somewhere), but pity and love and compassion. And she gave me an assignment to do then and there: draw my childhood self and what she was feeling. The picture is frightening. And then I had some sentence stems to complete around the picture of that little girl, and what she had to say is heartbreaking. She made me a little wire doll, and I made purple hair for her, and a brilliantly coloured dress. And I have a box I get to decorate that will be that little doll’s home. And over the next little while, I’m going to get to know that doll, and she’s going to help me understand that I’m not a bad person.

And maybe, just maybe, I won’t worry about waiting until I’m slimmer to get those purple streaks. Maybe that’s the wrong approach. Maybe instead of waiting until my truest self emerges, maybe taking that brave, bold step will help her emerge.

Bear with me, friends. This is going to be a painful journey for me. You’ll probably hear a lot about it as I keep going forward.

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I had my first session of art therapy tonight. It was exhausting, draining, cathartic, and a jumble of other emotions I can’t name. I told her things I’ve never said aloud before and scarcely dared even allow myself to think about. I cried. I drew. I scribbled. When I left, I proceeded to cry until I was almost halfway to my house. And I was famished and tired and wired all at the same time. 

I got more out of this session of art therapy than I have in all the other sessions of talk therapy combined. This is a good thing.

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“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” –William James

Something I’ve struggled with all my life is being organized, tidy, neat, clean. I’ve succeeded to various degrees at various times, but it’s never been something I felt I could say that I had mastered.

But lately I’ve noticed things changing. I’ve gotten one room in my house clean and kept it that way for more than a month. My kitchen’s been clean and I’m keeping it that way. And I’m finding myself wanting to tidy up other areas, like my desk at work. I’m finding a desire to simplify, to get rid of excess things. I thought this afternoon that excess clutter prevents one from seeing what’s important.

Thoreau said that “[a] man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”  For many years now I’ve tried to fill the empty spaces in my life with food (which led to my becoming fat) and with things (which led to a cluttered, messy, unrestful home).

And now I’m finding that I want peace and serenity more than I want things. I wonder if my newfound ability to keep my surroundings clean and orderly has to do with how I’ve been working on my inner self, as James suggests. I’m finding the ability to just be, to sit still and feel the quiet. I found some music that is designed specifically to affect each of one’s chakras in a positive way, and as I listen to it I feel a lot of peace.  It feels good.

I find it intriguing that I’m not trying to change things, or even trying to change myself. I’m just searching for peace, and in that peace changes are coming without my trying. Like I find that water tastes better than soda, or that my desk with a few decorations is more restful and conducive to productivity than a cluttered desk piled with all kinds of kitchy doodads.  This is something I’d like to make last. It feels good to not have all this clutter everywhere. It feels good to be able to just sit at my desk and take a moment to be, and not worry about doing.

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