Don’t Blink.

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“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

Yesterday, I was driving home from an appointment. On the curb, where I turn into my street, a father with his two-year-old sat where the olive trees grow. The sun was high over head at noontime and the light filtered through the leaves, leaving shiny patches on their smooth tanned faces.

Peals of laughter rang out from both father and his son, who was at the moment, having a ball playing with a plastic bottle cap. He held it up and played with as if it was a prized possession. There is magic in toys of this sort that can entertain for hours.

Both father and son were having the time of their lives. Chatting it up and laughing up a storm. So full of energy, that if they had done an impromptu rain dance a cloud would have surely appeared.

I rounded the corner, and slowed to a snail’s pace in case the boy decided to dart from where he was sitting, as young children often do.

I started feeling the wave of a blush fall over me as I realized I had entered and was enjoying their intimate moment when I wasn’t an invited guest to the party. I offered a little wave out of my embarrassment right as I passed them. The little boy waved back to me in the same way that my children used to when they were little. He waved his tiny hand, holding tightly onto the bottle cap. My heart turned into a puddle in my chest.

On autopilot, I parked the car in front of our house and got out to go inside. But, as my car door shut, the duo pulled me back to them like a magnet instead of walking in the door, my feet took me down the block toward where they sat. Continue reading

Overwhelmed Due to Paralyzing Emotions or PTSD?

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“Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?” ~ Mary Manin Morrissey

 

I think many of us have experienced situations in which we were so petrified of what might happen that we literally could not move, let alone breathe properly.

One of the first times I can remember this happening to me was when I was about three years old.

I was in my bedroom late at night and I actually saw ghosts of soldiers marching up and down the hallway outside of my cracked open bedroom door. I still swear to this day that they were real.

I was wide awake and concentrated on making myself as small as I could and breathing as shallow as was feasible, lest they see me and find me. I found myself overwhelmed with fear and not knowing how to solve this problem.

I wanted nothing more badly than to run down the hall to my parent’s bedroom to be comforted, but it was the same long hallway that the gun toting, marching soldiers were occupying. And I had a strong intuitive feeling they did not want to be bothered or be seen by me. And I certainly did not want to get close to them.

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So there I lay—afraid to even make the small movement of closing my eyes. I was engulfed in the crushing terror of being without a good solution to my problem.

The soldiers showed up on more than one occasion, but I never told my parents, lest the brigade would find me out and become angry with me for telling anyone.

Looking back, I might chalk this experience up to a child’s imagination, but I refuse to discount my feelings that were so very real at that time. Whatever it was that I saw through my eyes and/or my brain during those nights was genuine, and I would never want to dishonor my truth at any age.

Fast forward from age three into adulthood—I have had these petrified feelings many more times since then. And, I know many others have had them too.

For me, it feels like a cold white heat in my chest, with the inability to inhale a full breath. Many would call this incident a panic attack, but I’m choosing not to label my experiences at this time.

These mind-sets have settled upon me on many occasions throughout my 45 years—some for good reason (like the time I was shot at by my friend’s crazy neighbor or after my father’s suicide) and some for seemingly lesser reasons (such as when I have become weighed down and felt that I could not get out of bed to save my life). No matter what the reason, my body’s physical reaction has been similar, and I know many others who can relate. In my case, this is caused by delayed-onset PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

I have learned some tricks along the way to ease the pain of these frozen feelings: And yes, I have been to therapy (a lot) and have read many books on dealing with how to dig my way out of the holes that I feel stuck in and situations I feel threatened by.

Here is what I have learned: Continue reading

Transformation & Butterflies.

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“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked pensively.

Orange Butterfly: “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” – Trina Paulus

When I received a phone call telling me that my father had committed suicide, I hit the floor—both figuratively and literally. It is devastating news when someone passes, but a suicide is especially hard to deal with.

Thank goodness I can not predict the future, because If I had known in that moment what the next few years had in store for me, I’m sure I would have given up right then and there. Instead, I somehow found the strength and courage to get up off of the floor that day and on the many days following my father’s death. It wasn’t always pretty or consistent, and much of it I did for my children and husband who needed me, but I did get up as much as I was able to.

Grief is such a personal process to go through for each individual. When we get bad news—life altering news—such as finding out about a loved one’s death, there is no way to tell how we will react, but in my experience, we will and do find ways of coping with our loss.

Somehow, we seem to embrace what it is deep inside of each of us that will help us to survive a loss. These tools that we carry at the core of our beings help us to maneuver our way through the unthinkable situations which are put before us in life.

Further, these tools can be used consciously and sometimes unconsciously. But, each and every one of us has an outlet of some sorts. Continue reading