Attachment

Sleep…or lack thereof

Back in September, immediately prior to the rebranding, I joined Weight Watchers (more about that later. Or you can head over to IG @humaninrecovery and see what’s been happening.)

Every week is a new topic of discussion about mindset, behavior changes, and achieving goals. I call it DBT Lite. This week’s topic is sleep.

Sleep doesn’t love me as much as I love it. It seems as if it never has…at least not since adolescence. I mean, I’m writing this at 2:45 A.M. because sleep abandoned me.

Correction: my lovely, not so little, daughter chased it away and it’s eluded me ever since, four+ hours now. Now, she’s sound asleep and I’m wide awake. *sigh*

Supposedly, not having my phone in the bedroom with me would help with getting back to sleep. I’ve tried. Can’t do it. It’s my alarm. It’s my fidget. It’s where I do the brain dump. It’s how I run my brain down until sleep is possible again.

I have horrible sleep hygiene…always have. My room is a cluttered mess. My bedroom & bed are multipurpose locations. My bed is shared with a growing, nearly 10 year old child with sensory issues and needs. So, she’s either burrowing into me, flailing arms in my face, and/or hogging the covers. Occasionally, she snores and breathes through her mouth…Her dad sent me an article yesterday which suggested an exam with an ENT could turn up some medical condition causing sleep disruption which can present like ADHD. More on that later.

In addition to clinging to me like a baby gorilla, she insists on listening to “girl music” when she’s ready to go to sleep. Read: female pop artists. She goes to sleep fairly easy once the music is going. Not me. For someone who has words constantly flowing through her brain, pop music is especially unhelpful when trying to go to sleep. Any music with words is, including what she calls “God music,” my CCM Pandora channel, heavily salted with music by MercyMe.

Then there’s temperature.

I can’t sleep if it’s warm…she freezes and turns into a heat seeking baby gorilla. I like it cool enough to want my feet under the comforter…yeah, I know, weird. The problem with that is the baby gorilla blanket thief.

Let’s see, what else?

Oh, yeah. My body & brain. I’m a premenopausal spoonie with Bipolar 2 Disorder & PTSD. If the nighttime neuropathy doesn’t get me or the busy brain, the night sweats and apparently shrinking bladder will.

And, so, I guess it isn’t that sleep doesn’t love me. It just doesn’t feel welcomed or wanted. *sigh*

The kicker is that I don’t even drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages to get and stay functional. Apparently, I’m a deceptively alive and youthful looking zombie vampire.

Yes. I’m 49.

This is Day 2 of

Click to see other participants’ blogs and show them some ❤️!

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Staying Present on Bad Days

It’s was a horrible, painful morning. And the one person I want to talk to had gone radio silent.

I wanted to eat. But, I had already eaten and my body isn’t hungry. I really wanted to go lie down. I wound up doing both. Especially the eating.

I was eating my feelings. Numbing myself with food. Hurting myself with food. I saw myself doing it. I knew what I was doing and why. I simply couldn’t, didn’t stop.

It was different than in the past. I didn’t let myself “zone out” while I was eating. With every bite, I knew what it was and accepted that the compulsion was too strong for me to resist. I didn’t criticize or judge myself. I let go of resistance and struggle.

Yes, I ate too much today. However, I didn’t eat as much as I have in past binge eating episodes. I also stayed relatively present to the emotions which were driving the eating:

  • Grief
  • Anger
  • Futility
  • Guilt

I was also in physical pain. I guess it’s easier for me to cope with the self-inflicted pain and discomfort of overeating than to deal with the other pain I was experiencing and who had inflicted it.

Don’t worry. I’m not in a Domestic Violence situation. I’m single/co-parenting a child on the higher functioning end of the Autism Spectrum (HFASD) who also has Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Sometimes we have daily and multiple times a day episodes of violent behavior from her towards me. Today was that kind of day.

Anyway, back to the mindfulness. I stayed present to the painful, ugliness. I did avoidance behaviors, but, I did them with awareness and without guilt. So, even in that, I stayed somewhat connected to what I was experiencing instead of dissociating.

I’m counting that as a win for mindfulness.

April 2018: A mindful month

Happy Easter for those who celebrate it…Happy April Fool’s Day to the rest.

Last week, I met with the therapist I’ve seen for the past two years for the last time. No, it wasn’t a milestone for my healing and recovery from PTSD & Depression or a sign I’ve got this Bipolar thing under control. I wish. She’s moving away. 😔

The good news is she helped me get back in with my original therapist – I’d transitioned when she had to take a leave of absence. Since I saw her the two years prior to moving over to my other therapist, it’s really good to go back to her. I don’t have to start over with a brand new person. YAY! 😃

Unfortunately, I can’t get in to see her until April 20th.

Considering all the life issues I’m dealing with, in addition to the mental health issues, this isn’t a good thing.

One positive thing is that I got the parent-child therapy started for me and my youngest – she’s on the high end of the Autism Spectrum and was recently identified with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). We get to see that therapist weekly. We’re going to work on attachment issues and the signs of depression the therapist saw in my daughter during our initial visit.

Now, I have 2/3 of the month of April without access to a therapist of my own. Considering I just came out of a two and a half month period of mania because I mismanaged my meds, I need something to keep me grounded and my newly stabilized sanity intact.

My therapist and I recognize that avoidance is a MAJOR issue of mine. Specifically avoidance of facing and processing emotions triggered by and/or triggering to the past trauma.

My primary tool of avoidance is self distraction and self-harm with food.

During the first two months of the manic episode the distraction was sex and risk-taking. The past two weeks, it’s been food and obsessive focus on a certain guy.

I’ve gotten my meds under control again…mostly. So, sanity is returning as I stabilize.

Typically, after a manic or hypomanic episode I’ll experience a short period of stability on my way down into a depressive episode. I can already hear that particular demon knocking on the door.

My therapist suggested mindfulness as a way to stay present to my emotions…allow all the big, scary, overwhelming feels to flow through me. To acknowledge them, without judging them. I need to give myself permission to experience my feeling and to stop running from them.

So, this month, I’m going to be accountable here to actually putting mindfulness into action. Anyone reading is invited to participate in the accountability…just be gentle, please.

In tonight’s mindful moment, I notice tension in my body, my breathing feels shallow, but isn’t, and I am experiencing achiness and pain in my legs and feet. As I lie (lay? – I always confuse those two) here I notice my thoughts wandering all over the place: frustration, exhaustion, thinking about the guy.

Anyway, it seems motherhood is calling and disrupting this moment of mindfulness.

I’ll check in tomorrow.

Life update and seeking a sense of safety

It’s hard to believe it’s only 15 days into 2014. I feel as if it’s already been three months, so much has happened in such a short period of time. I feel a need to decompress. This means it’s time to just write about the stuff that’s been going on for me in my life.

On New Year’s Day, I was alone again the way I had been on Christmas Day. I also wound up being under attack from the toxic texting that tends to happen when Keith is on his roller coaster of emotions from the way things have gone and his feelings about the choices and decisions I have made regarding our relationship and us living together. It’s hard for him to see and understand that although I still love him and that I do recognize and understand he has made efforts to grow and change, the reality is for me and for our daughter at least, the way things were between the two of us, was dysfunctional and having negative impacts on our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

I do not place fault or blame solely on him, his anger, or the critical atmosphere which he grew up internalizing. It’s only half the story. The other half of the story is my depression and my seeming inability to develop, maintin, and grow in self-esteem and doing the things I need to do for my self-care when I am in relationship with him in the midst of the tension, conflict, anger, and criticism. I have a complete lack of self-will and self-determination to do anything other than to enable him in his anger and emotional dysfunction and that depth of codependency is mine and much like the impact of an alcoholic who cannot function and drink at the same time, to the point that he sacrifices all else in life, in my codependent state and relationship with Keith, I have sacrificed everything on the altar of his dysfunction. I am powerless over it when we are living together, which is something that others in our lives cannot understand, accept, condone, or approve of because it means they are not treated well by either Keith or myself and has caused them harm, whether we intended harm or not.

Hand in hand with the codependency is my habitual self-harm behavior using food. Both the codependency and the food have been ways for me to distract, detract, numb out, and avoid dealing with the unresolved emotional and psychological traumas I’ve experienced in my life. Things which I have accepted in my life and thought accepting was enough to deal with them. However, true acceptance doesn’t happen if there are false beliefs attached to the acceptance. So, the acceptance of the childhood abuse, neglect, and abandonment which led to three years of domestic violence abuse by my son’s father in my late adolescence, all was predicated on the false belief that I was responsible in one way or another for any and all of those things or that I somehow deserved or that I wasn’t worthy of having experienced anything other than what I had.

Monday of this week my son showed up unexpectedly and unannounced. After having spent the previous week sick with the flu and having just come from being in the home with Keith during his weekend time with Luna because I was too sick to go anywhere else and it was his time to be in this space with Luna, there had been some predictable negative interactions and I was feeling raw and emotionally vulnerable. So, I really wasn’t prepared to interact with my son, especially since the last communication from him toward me was to announce on Facebook in response to a comment I’d made on his sister’s status update that I had given up my right to have an opinion or some such thing then unfriend me a little over a month ago, after the precipitating incident that caused LaLa and her SpiritLove to move out and me to leave three days later. I just really didn’t know how emotionally and psychologically safe we would be with each other once I opened the door and allowed him to come inside. But, I love him and I’m committed to being able to have a relationship with him, so I took the risk and opened the door anyway. I’m glad I did.

He shared with me something that another family member of ours, my younger cousin who is about 2-3 years older than he is, had told him. She’d let him know that when she was growing up and going through the things she was experiencing, I had been her safe person and given her a safe place to come to in her childhood when she didn’t have any other place to go to and feel a sense of safety. It was the first time he’d ever encountered anyone having that kind of perspective on me and the kind of person I have been. It was certainly not the way he has experienced me in his life and not like anything he remembers from his childhood. Apparently, it made him consider me in a different light and he was able to come to the realization that I attempted to give him and his sister safety and be a safe person for them as much as I ever had attempted it for our cousin. It was such a relief to hear him tell me that.

It also triggered more grief and realization inside of myself because I now understand that I never had a safe person or a safe place while growing up and I have carried that lack of safety with me the entirety of my adult life. Even when I am in safe places with safe people, I do not experience a sense of safety. I think that sense of safety is that sense of homecoming I’ve only ever experienced with one other human being and I think that lack of sense of safety is one of my biggest barriers in my relationship with God, myself, and others.

Putting June to rest – Time to get to work

I got to participate in an all day conference designed to match me with a mentor, called a Navigator, to help be get more focused and effective about achieving my goals and dreams. There’s a lot of opportunity here to get the kind of coaching, accountability, encouragement and support, that I don’t have the means to pay for – but have needed. To know that someone specifically thought of me to invite me to this event where others are making an investment in me and my future and guiding me on a path where I will be able to constructively learn how to invest in myself, is a huge thing.

It was overwhelmingly awesome.

I briefly met both the speaker, Donna Beegle and Oregon’s First Lady, Cylvia Hayes. Both of them have awe inspiring personal stories and the work they are doing is critical in the poverty war.

I learned a lot, made a LOT of local, f2f connections – both with peers or Neighbors in poverty and with people invested in mentoring/guiding, Navigators, many of whom have experienced similar obstacles, challenges, and struggles.

I have already scheduled a meeting with one to do some brain storming around resolving the things which have prevented me from pursuing a degree in the past.

Another one is interested in collaborating/exchanging info/knowledge about writing. I want to learn grant writing and she hasn’t yet connected her writing and experiences to blogging and social media.

Two others are involved with Early Childhood Education and are willing to help me continue to pursue supportive services for Luna – one of whom is in my neighborhood.

I met someone who is able to help me navigate healthcare systems and help with resources and access to services.

I met a woman who’s “impossible” dream and vision is virtually identical to the one that’s been a smoldering and dormant ember in my heart and mind for about 20 years – she’s in the area one of my church communities is centered in and serving – we both had the thought that we want to have this conference and connections brought into the Milwaukie area within the next year.

I made a new friend who has very similar life experiences. We “clicked!” I think we’ll be able to build a mutually supportive relationship.

I won a $50 gift card to Target AND a very nice and phenomenal professional looking bag/purse and received a few other practical goodies.

I think the biggest and most valuable piece of information I got out of the day is that people are not the cause of their own poverty. The US is the only country in the world that teaches that people are the cause of their own poverty and this false belief creates shame, isolation, distrust, and fear. There is almost always the message, overt or implied, that there is something somehow wrong with the person in poverty and that something fundamental about who they are and where they are from that brought their poverty upon themselves.

There are real, root causes and factors of poverty which need to be acknowledged, recognized, and addressed without shaming, blaming, and treating those in the poverty cycle as if they are somehow deserving of their position of poverty.

After that event was my last class in the attachment parenting group, Circle of Security. This class has helped me so much, and I recommend it to anyone who is in relationship with another human being, not just parents struggling with parenting issues. The things I’ve been learning help me reframe and understand what’s going on in others, as well as myself, and is helping me to choose different responses to old tapes, triggers, and patterns.

I’m ready to put June to rest and see what July has to offer.

Circle of Security: A tool for peaceful relationships

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This month’s Bloggers for Peace challenge is: Peace at Home.

I don’t know if I will ever experience peace in my home – mostly because I don’t ever, truly experience peace inside of myself, for more than a fleeting moment or two.

Things I’ve been labelled with, or have chosen to label myself with, like depression, anxiety, co-dependency, and hypomania are symptoms of the inner turmoil and chaos, which have been such an ingrained part of my existence that it predates my conception and is probably just as much nature, by now anyway, as it was nurture – or lack thereof.

I finally started doing more than just collecting the data and figuring out the likely diagnoses – after all, “knowing is [only] HALF the battle,” right? The other half is figuring out the plan of attack based on what you know.

One thing I’ve been blessed with is the opportunity to participate in a therapeutic parenting group on attachment, Circle of Security. The timing of this opportunity was serendipitous, since I doubt I would have been emotionally or psychologically capable of effectively processing what I’ve been learning, even six months ago.

The timing has also been problematic and inconvenient due to childcare issues and the ongoing issues with our family’s financial issues relating to Keith’s job. This has been the “short” course of eight weeks (there is a 20 week comprehensive one I should probably seek out), and I’ve missed and, thankfully, been able to make up two of them.

The videos, handouts, and group discussions have helped me see and understand in clear and comprehensive ways, why I feel and act the way I do, the things that drive my brand of crazy, and how it not only has impacted my parenting relationships with my kids, but every other relationship I have ever had with anyone and everyone.

The tools and information provided in Circle of Security are not only guiding me in being the Bigger, Stronger, Wiser, and Kinder parent little Luna needs me to be, it has taught me where to see my own disconnects and helped me to understand in deeper and more profound ways what and where the ruptures are in the relationships with my adult children and other important people in my life. This program is primarily a early childhood parenting/caregiving curriculum, but I believe that it is also something that can be effectively adapted to anyone going through a healing and recovery process regardless of parenting status.

Just as in February I had the breakthrough, with the help of a friend who is a college professor and MSW, that I probably have cyclothymia, this course has helped me to understand that in all likelihood I grew up with Disorganized Attachment . I am able to see and understand, on a much deeper level than ever before, exactly why my life and relationships have been as chaotic, conflicted, and painful as they have been – and it isn’t just the dysfunctions and unresolved issues of everyone else; a concept I’ve paid lip service to, but have been in actual denial over.

My relationships are inconsistent, disorganized, and conflicted because I grew up in inconsistent, disorganized, and conflicted ways, surrounded by multiple generations of caregivers who weren’t capable of being or teaching any other way. I have carried that forward into the relationships with my own children.

There is an ocean of grief inside of me that is rising and needs a constructive outlet and time to rise and recede – as in the time of Noah, when the rains began to fall, the barriers to the depths broke apart and waters rose to meet the rains. I pray that my ark is built to withstand the coming flood. I pray also that I remember to rely on the provision to carry me and my loved ones through so that, when we hit land again, we have all we need to start fresh.

I cannot expect the other people in my life and in my home to choose peace with me when I am not able to be at peace with myself. If I am not attached and loving with myself, it is nearly impossible to be attached and loving with them.

Peace in the world begins with peace in the home. True peace in the home starts with peace inside of ourselves. True peace inside ourselves means being willing to go through the inner storms and accept that whatever we are experiencing externally is a reflection of our internal selves, then taking action to address it, in compassionate and loving ways.

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What do you mean it’s Mother’s Day?

Once again all my writing is taking place on the miniature touchscreen on my phone, due to the technological dysfunctions that seem to have become the rule, rather than the exception in my life. Moving on.

Last night, LaLa gave me this card and I couldn’t NOT cry as I read it.

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Mother’s Day is one of the many holidays I’ve felt disconnected and disassociated from for most of my life.

I don’t have any tangible memories of my own mother. If I think really hard I have a couple of memories of memories, if that makes any sense. Overall, though, that place where a sense of “mom” or attachment to someone who loved me in that way should be, is empty, blank, formless and void.

I’ve always kind of known it was true and not “normal” by the standards of the rest of the world. But it has been my normal for as long as I can remember. I accepted it about myself a long time ago. What else could I do?

Mother’s Day always seems to highlight my lack of attachment to a maternal figure. It also brings into consciousness the struggles I’ve had with being the mother my oldest kids could have an attachment to.

Just like celebrating my birthday hasn’t ever truly been something significant or meaningful for me, neither has celebrating Mother’s Day been something I anticipated or felt was something that was relevant for me.

This is the time of year when the faces of Facebook become the faces of moms who have passed or smiling images of loving and happy mothers embracing their children. It’s a painful time for those who grieve the loss of their mom’s. It’s a joyful and happy time for those who celebrate and are celebrated within the interconnected generations of mothers, daughter’s, grandmother’s, sisters, aunts, and granddaughters.

For those of us who grew up disconnected from these relationships and roles, this can be a time of profound insignificance – a time when it feels more than ever that we are on the outside looking in.

If I’m less excited and responsive to your cheerful, “Happy Mother’s Day,” greeting, than you might prefer or expect, it isn’t because I’m churlish or grumpy, it’s because I’m struggling to work through all of these things.

I have struggled with believing I’m a good enough mom to deserve the honor of being celebrated. I’m finally on the verge of accepting the truth and reality that my mistakes and the damage I’ve done as a mom do not disqualify me from being celebrated and honored alongside all the other moms.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be truly comfortable and engaged with this holiday. What I do know is that it is feeling more and more like I am connected and included among those being honored this day and less like a pretender and one unworthy of anything more than scraps.

For today, I will wipe away the tears of grieving what never was and cherish the snuggle time with Luna, appreciating the gift of love LaLa gave me last night, and trusting in the knowledge that the relationship with Marco is growing.

I am a mother and this day is mine to celebrate.