We have to write this blog post somewhat frequently because we lose our grip on "real" vs. "not real" and--as importantly--why it matters. Sorry if you have read this type of thing before. This processing feels useful. We keep getting confused about what "real" really means. When we have a dream, as we did last … Continue reading Is this the same world?
Have you read _Nonviolent Communication_ by Marshall Rosenberg? The concept of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is not at all transparent. The reason NVC works as a mediation tool is because there is no compromise required: everyone gets their needs met. No one has to give up what they want because, when human beings truly listen to … Continue reading No compromise.
You’re not doing it wrong. It takes practice. When you find yourself in the same thoughts, circling the same carcass like a Turkey Vulture, look at the carcass—study it. What can you call that pile of roadkill? If you're worry is, "Will I succeed or fail?", that sounds like "attachment to outcomes.” Outcomes are what … Continue reading If you’re stressed about outcomes
We have a person we want to be friends with. Person replied positively to our text asking if we could be friends. And our few follow-up texts were replied to briefly and with an intention for lengthier connection in the future. After a week of hearing nothing, we are anxious. And uncertainty is a gift. … Continue reading Liberation in love
If we didn't have trauma, how hard would it be to have Older Child gone at college? Spouse is still crying on and off, mostly because Older Child came home for the weekend and has returned to college. We were mostly dissociated while Older Child was home. We wanted Older Child to ourself, like all … Continue reading How much can you take?
One of our therapists said the "middle way" is felt, not thought. You can't rationalize your way there. You have to dwell in the land of feelings to know. We acted out of accordance with our values. Spouse called it a choice. That may or may not be accurate. She views it as a choice. … Continue reading Choosing to respond versus reacting
Seeking pleasure ignores whatever is happening now. If we do experience pleasure, we try to cling to it. It ends anyway, and then we mourn it. Avoiding pain ignores whatever is happening now, especially when it's pain. Avoiding what is actually happening causes suffering because we want pleasure and have its opposite. We crave pleasure. … Continue reading What is the “Middle Way”?
We started a partial hospitalization program (PHP) at a local hospital that accepts DID patients. Why have we not known about this program before? Each time we come home from in-patients/residential, insurance sends us a letter, "Hi, I'm a free health coach. I'll call you soon to see how I can help you!" They call … Continue reading Started PHP
If we could accept our emotions and experiences in the present, or even when we reflect on them, our load would be lighter. Yesterday was spent with Older Child, who leaves for college in a few days! We're not sure who among us was present with him, and we worry, "Are we doing it right … Continue reading Acceptance for Tin Man
We wrote 26 different intentions/affirmations on scrap paper and put them in a brown lunch sack. Each morning, at breakfast, each present member of the family picks an intention. Then, at dinner, we discuss how we did. If we followed through or tried, we praise. If we didn't try, we still have time before bed … Continue reading Intentions project
I have so much to say. Our inside people have so much to say. We're trying to prepare to speak to each other. Right now, we're experimenting with a new inside place. Many thanks to KenKen and Naomi and therapists for inspiration. We have magic. We're not spending much time exploring or developing it. We … Continue reading So much to say
This post is an update on us. We went in-patient for trauma for 14 days. It was a somewhat helpful stay to stabilize us. We were not eating enough and had begun a spiral of pushing away people close to us. We went to the ER twice for IV fluids due to lack of sustenance, … Continue reading Back from in-patient trauma hospital
When we are Little people, many people think our parents can and will protect us from anything. And if we survive, that view is confirmed. It is made into fact: we are alive because our parents protected us. The truth may be more complicated, though. Your parents may have provided support for your survival, and … Continue reading all or none
"I feel like I need to wake up," she said, and smiled at me. "But I don't know what from. Or to." --Wildlife by Richard Ford We put a new sign on the dishwasher. One side says Clean and the other says Dirty. A magnet from a floor drain/sewer servicer holds the page-day-calendar sized paper, … Continue reading Wake up and notice
We sprang off our bed and ran foot-first into the edge of the bedroom door. Pain. Blood. Lots of both. This happened on July 4. Yesterday, it became clear that we might not need medical attention. The wound is still weeping, and we kept it clean enough that it could start to heal. Luckily, we … Continue reading Another injury, another lesson
"To strip yourself of pretense is to overthrow a hard master, the fear of giving yourself away" --Tobias Wolff Old School No routine right now. Summer brings children and spouse co-occupying this house. We are lucky to have spouse, to have children, to have a home, to have therapists invested in our healing. We are … Continue reading Give your truth
The traumas themselves are over, and the Punishing part of our mind is making us travel through time and space. We are young, we are scared, we are victims, they are coming to get us. Sick feeling in tummy. Dizzy feeling in head. When we try to remind us of the year, we say, "It's … Continue reading Soft voice, nice words
So much of our thinking is flavored by these plotlines. Our mind does not appreciate uncertainty, and so these familiar stories help us write the rest of an unfolding or prolonged situation to its bitter conclusion.
The stress feels productive. It feels like we're doing something, like we're taking steps to remedy this forgetting about the road closure and the one-minute buffer to get to the haircut.
About three minutes after we sat down, a man approached us. We recognized him from our years of visiting this property. He is employed by the property manager. He is probably an inch or two below six-feet tall, has a shaved head, wears all black, and is very muscular to the point that we presume he is a serious weight-lifter.
Moods pass like clouds in the sky. One minute you are stressed about a new stain on the couch and 15 minutes later you are cracking up at a text conversation with your friend. You are both of those people: the regretful person and the laughing person. Or, if you take a Buddhist approach, there … Continue reading Moods, peanuts, and no self
3-day weekends are hard for us. Lots of time around other people. We and our children are much less effective at night: decision-making poorer, emotional brain overwhelms rational brain. Consequently, at night, little problems seem bigger. For us, that often leads to nightmares, and then we wake up disoriented. We finally have some alone time, … Continue reading Practice, patience, and repetition
Pay attention to young people! They may be carrying unspeakable burdens of shame inflicted upon them by others. Your kind word--just speaking their name--may make them feel welcome in a world that may have no rules for them.
A poem with art to support us
We injured ourselves again via inattention. Walked home from mental health therapy without being grounded in our body. A child operating a heavy machine. Twist. Foot ligaments damaged again. This is our most common injury: twisting foot ligaments. Two years ago we injured the left foot at least 5 times. We strengthened both feet's ligaments … Continue reading The practice is to be human
We're studying consciousness and trying to notice our states of being as they arise (someday we might notice when they pass, too). Paying some attention to how our emotions and sensations affect our particular moment-to-moment consciousness has yielded some strange mind thoughts, too. For instance, why does the name of every Canadian city with a … Continue reading Reflections on Consciousness
A poem with photographs
If control over gray wolves (aka timber wolves) is returned to the states that don't currently control them--namely, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin--these states can implement trophy hunting of wolves. Please don't kill wolves. They have delicate social structures so that killing an alpha is like killing the sole income-provider of a large family. The family will … Continue reading Please don’t kill wolves
A poem about always investing in yourself
You practice a fire drill when there is no fire. The goal is to know what to do in case of a fire. So it goes with mental health coping skills and crisis planning: practice when you are relatively calm so that you know what to do when you are panicked. We are panicked. We … Continue reading This is why we practice
We react differently to mistakes we make when we are alone versus when other people witness our errors.
We all have magic. The way to find yours is to spend time noticing. Avoidance of self and inner-experience is a barrier to being. Running to the next distraction. Running from the crying child inside your mind. This culture has all the augmented reality and not-you experiences needed to live a life that is devoid … Continue reading The only True You
Saturated fat from the fruit of the Doofo Tree will harden your arteries faster than an Alberta Clipper freezes a puddle!
Want to make the biggest difference in the universe starting today? Follow Salty’s take on limiting suffering, and start with yourself. We will keep trying the practice.
Everything rots. This is the sunny insight that starts us off on the Path.
Ya don’t have to start there, but it helps. It keeps us focused and motivated. It also keeps us from being surprised by the sudden calamities we come across in life.
This was the insight that kept me away from Buddhism when I first stumbled on it. I wasn’t ready to hear such pessimistic shit at the time. Then, well, the next five years were hell, and it started to make more sense.
There’s nothing sacred here. Circumstances provide us with everything, and then take it all away—including our bodies and minds. When we toss self-interest and self-concepts into that merry-go-round, the cosmos seems like an unfathomably cruel place.
We lose our youth, our health, our vitality; we lose our friends, loved ones, and possessions. A few months ago, I noticed hair growing out of my…
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Just concluded the most challenging week outside a hospital. We chose to show up. We were vulnerable in public. Still showed up. Scared. Shaking. Staving off tears with strangers in a closed room. Stayed there. We didn't want all that blood drawn and the pain from the shot. Still showed up and did it. We … Continue reading We showed up
I don’t usually get to write this blog!
We may not share disorders in common, and we may share feelings of low self-worth.
Have you ever heard of "off-label" use? We don't do this with medication. We do this with books. Let me explain.
The time we spend together as a family--Spouse, Younger Child, Older Child, and Us--in nature is literally the only time we feel truly rich. No phones, no politics, no materialism. Just us and trees or prairies or mountains or snow--and animals, almost always birds.
[This blog may use we/us and I/me pronouns interchangeably] We used to write fiction for fun. We wrote a humorous novel. It took us, like, twelve years to finish it. Maybe longer. We worked diligently on it for the last five or six years. It was among our primary hobbies and consumed many a weekend. … Continue reading Your hobby or your life?
Wow, we are making this shit up as we go; and it sounds like we might be onto something, doesn't it?
We are considering some sort of morning video or ritual to remind us the crucial rules, the ones people tell us are real, such as these 12 "rules"
The field of Positive Psychology says people pursue happiness in 3 different ways
I was getting annoyed that family member was starting to re-ask the same questions and was getting stuck in "analysis paralysis." I tried to look inside myselves to see how I could survive this
A somatic therapist with decades of experience encouraged me two years ago to replace "but" with "and" when I spoke to her, because so many things can be true at once. I was using "but" to refute, negate, and isolate myself. Once I started trying to replace "but" with "and," I noticed how reliant my … Continue reading No buts
I'm in a challenging spot. I'm low on energy and my therapist says I'm low on resources because I've pushed away the parts of me that know how to cope in new, healthy ways. So we're using old ways: OCD, anger and self-punishment. OCD sees the out-of-control world (our spouse is sick and we're stepping … Continue reading Back to basics
Every other Monday I set my phone to remind me of specific events in my life that I consider miracles. I'm not religious, and I'm very spiritual. Many of the miracles were signs delivered by nature, some by people, some by what could otherwise be considered unbelievable coincidence. Some saved my life. Some saved the … Continue reading Miracle Monday
Now it's time to parent myself. To provide my many Littles with the love, understanding, and safety they never received.
Are health insurance company interests influencing your mental health treatment?
You probably want to be free of suffering. I want to be free of suffering. Deep down, we're probably all compassionate beings.
A shaking leg A quivering voice These are Sure signs Of bravery Below are the steps to make this project, followed by a short video link that documents its creation: 1. Wrote an original poem in permanent marker on a ceramic salad plate 2. Put the plate in a gallon-size zipper bag 3. Dropped the … Continue reading Poetry Art: smash and assemble (with instructions)
Small changes can add up. For example, say you want to have more money (ideally to pay down debt, save for retirement, or go on a vacation). If you switched to a cash-back credit card, brought home lunch and beverage to work/school every day or every other day, and made a few other tweaks, the … Continue reading Go big or go home? Or make little changes?
The air turns toothy and gnaws memories back to plasticity like two-day-old gum. The past stretches and bends and lacks the flavor of then. It absorbs ambient tastes. Feeds on dying leaves and burning wood. Instead of withering, I lose 30 years in a train whistle blasting through porous trees. I am dying of youth.
A morning fog yielded to muted and still vibrant foliage.
I don't recognize anyone in my system who is quintessentially "me." I have a birth name, and no one inside my brain identifies as that person. Not as the birth me and not as a host for the other parts.
Shame doesn't have to be permanent. There is a "cure":
Though it won't stick, today's winter preview is beautiful to me. Heavy, wet snow clumping on everything. I think of the baby birds now on their own and seeing snow for the first time--and so early! This experience may make first-year animals more cautious with food caching. Survival imperatives kicking in. Something I am learning … Continue reading First Snow
One of the primary difficulties with incorporating new coping skills is that when you need them, you are in crisis, which often means you don't know that you need them or can't remember them! This is why it is important to practice coping skills when you're not in crisis. The barrier to practicing when you're … Continue reading Practice coping skills when you’re calm
I am practicing the noticing and naming of (1) my body sensations (throbs, tingles, rumbles, hot/cold, etc.) and (2) my feelings (anxious, excited, masterful, etc.). I am practicing naming them because somehow I missed this body of information (pun intended) when I was growing up. Until recently, I could name mostly feelings of fear, dread, … Continue reading Not everything needs fixing
Feel your power!
I just spent 20 days as a patient in a trauma hospital. Patients were from all walks of life. No one complained about material deprivations in their lives, no one wished for more stuff or money, and plenty of patients were financially bereft. I pointed out that winning the lottery wouldn't help anyone here have … Continue reading Experiencing Life
There is no 'one kind' of caring. Spoiled by fiction we too often overlook the love right beside us and within ourselves.
Collage on construction paper mounted on poster board
Note: This blog's author often uses plural pronouns for self-reference. Most of what dictates how we are supposed to act (in public, at school, at work, etc.) is made up by people. We're not saying there is a committee actively making social norms for others to follow, though Ms. Manners and other champions of etiquette … Continue reading Breaking social expectations that violate your values
The dreaded days of fireworks. With PTSD, fireworks are gunshots, bombs, danger.
Last night, we dreamed of zombies. In it, our spouse was straying from our side amid a nighttime zombie attack. We couldn't keep spouse close to us, which increased panic. We saw a fallen body and instinctively moved toward it to help. Before we could get within 50 feet, the body was dragged away legs … Continue reading Turning stress into joy
These are hard faults to admit. And they are true.
When we were little and acted contrary to someone's expectations, we were usually chided with, "Don't ____." Don't hit. Don't swear. Don't drink grape juice in the living room. As adults, when we're trying to change a habit or practice, we often default to the same thinking: Don't judge. Don't yell. Don't eat that. We … Continue reading What are you doing? Why “Not pooping” is an insufficient response
As we aged, we transformed the rich experience of surviving the tornado into a static data point to prove our misfortune. Our therapist shows us how to add it back.
It’s all going to be right now
Practicing presence, after using dissociative states to survive for the past forty years, feels the same as if a doctor told us, "You've been living wrong all these years. Breathing air is harmful. You're supposed to be holding your breath forever, not breathing." That is how automatic dissociating has become.
Are you re-enacting the victim-perpetrator-rescuer triangle? If so, you are in good company (we do it). Here is why and how to stop.
When we develop a dimmer switch, we increase our options for meeting our goals.
Put these items on our "to do" list along with our tasks and we will be better organized, prioritized, and reminded to experience life in the now.
Nature is teeming with messages for us if we tune in.
Maybe if we honk our horns less and talk to our neighbors more, we will all feel better.