Coping with big emotions is a challenge. For us, big emotions feel urgent and overwhelming. When we struggle to catch our breath, many of our traumas are triggered. Breath is so underrated. A deep inhale followed by a big sigh or prolonged exhale can feel so restorative. In fact, catching our breath is the goal … Continue reading Practicing skills when “calm”
We have unmet need for Safety. We are always looking for risks, dangers. Is there a way to look for evidence we are safe? The one person we’re not feeling safe about is us: we are worried our behavior will turn violent or will embarrass us or humiliate us. In that case, another unmet need … Continue reading Anchors to humanity
If we do not attempt to meet our needs, who will? If we wait to be rescued, we are putting our agency on hold, staking our life’s fulfillment on others. If they are well-adjusted, they know they cannot be responsible for our existence or even our contentment. Thus, we will wait in anger. We can … Continue reading Responsibility as a goal
(We use plural pronouns) We are working with New T on sitting with powerful emotions. Feeling hopeless and despair is uncomfortable. We normally dissociate instead of ride it out. New T had us use bilateral stimulation to activate both sides of brain. Having T with us allowed us to just be in pain for a … Continue reading In Now we must trust
We went into nature with Older Child all day yesterday. We woke up and hit the road long before sunrise. We birded in a national forest all morning. Birds were scarce; trees were abundant. We saw not a single person or other vehicle all morning on the forest roads. We drove with the windows open … Continue reading Stress is a choice that takes lots of practice
The meds that helped us get off xanax are themselves leaving our system. We have chosen no meds. Why? We don’t remember what we know and do not know. We know we are low on skills. But we don’t know what we need Now. We used to have energy. We used to have a fire … Continue reading Wait at the intersection
These are forecasted to be the final warm days of the year here. Autumn has often been a melancholy time for us. Suicidal ideation often spikes as the leaves fall. We think the trigger was the annual return to school as a child, which augured suffering because we could not sleep at night. Summer allowed … Continue reading We want to slow it down
We usually write when we have something to say or if we want support. This post does not fulfill either of those. We are just writing so that people know what is going on in case they are interested. Older Child will return to college in a few weeks. All classes are online. So why … Continue reading What’s going on with us
We have lost much ground in: Being in our bodyMeditating Feeling any contentment Physical strength Therapeutic relationshipsHealing our traumas Cooperating internally Having friendships Expressing our gender We have gained ground in: Being compassionate to Younger ChildGetting off benzosAdjusting to new normals Things may not go back to the old normal. There is no knowing. Even … Continue reading Start (resume) where you are
We have been in COVID long enough for Younger Child to exclaim last week, “I just got upset because the people on the show [“The Office—US version] weren’t social distancing!” We all had a laugh and we were all a little fearful. In about 90 days, Younger Child has an adapted worldview that now recognizes … Continue reading If social distancing ends
Friend Eliza wrote about an experience that resonates with us. Her blog is here. She wrote about the need for reassurance from a friend that the friend is still there. We have that kind of urgency with T-1. We would urgently need to text T-1 because we panicked T-1 had forgot us. T-1 told us … Continue reading Gentleness for cravings
Maybe take in a deep breath Maybe let it out slowly Maybe repeat this a few times. Maybe sigh if it feels like a release Can we have compassion for ourselves to start? For how we were raised, for what we believed, for questions asked and unasked? Now can we have compassion for those we … Continue reading Compassion for change
We see some of our thought patterns, we think. We think that the content may change and the thought patterns persist. In other words, we could complain about missing T-1, that Ts in general are harder to get help from, that a Child or Spouse is or is not doing X or Y. It is … Continue reading Rewiring a brain: 16.5
“These are days you'll rememberNever before and never sinceI promise... ...When May is rushing over you with desireTo be part of the miracles you see in every hourYou'll know it's true that you are blessed and luckyIt's true that you Are touched by something That will grow and bloom in you” “These are days” —10,000 … Continue reading May is rushing
We sat in our car next to T-3, who sat in a different car, and, as weather was nice, we had our windows down and held therapy that way in T-3’s parking lot It felt like being near T-3. It felt like therapy So now our body and mind are wondering if we want to … Continue reading New therapy, same as the old therapy
It’s getting close to our worst right now We tried to help Younger Child. We see the suffering. And Younger Child thinks that fulfillment lies outside us This is what society teaches Young People: Your value is assigned by teachers as grades, by the number of followers and likes Do what adults say to you, … Continue reading Liberate us while we are young, or now
This is not an easy post to write, because it feels embarrassing and triggering. And we feel isolated around these issues and wonder if other survivors and those with OCD might also share some of these struggles. If not, it was worth a try. Urinating is highly triggering for us because of sexual trauma. There … Continue reading Toileting and hygiene with trauma and OCD
Hypervigilance, as most experiences, has shades, gradations. Many people feel a heightened sense of fear in times of high stress. If you have experienced Trauma, that increase can push you out of your window of tolerance. We are finding our baseline is now out of the window of tolerance. Practices to get back into our … Continue reading Practices to calm frazzled nerves
T-3 is back in town. We'll meet online for now. Same with other Ts. We had our first online therapy session a few days ago. Not having physical connection provided some benefits/gifts we would not have known about without having tried it and being mindful of it: With T-1, we were able to bring up … Continue reading Bravery of isolation in teletherapy
We self-harmed physically yesterday. We do not do that often. We do not yet have the skills to fill the emotional void that wet intend to fill with self-love. The emotional pain was long in duration and deep in intensity. It’s the pain of Trauma from abuse and neglect. It’s pain of not yet understanding … Continue reading Being with pain
Many people reading and writing blogs, and many people living human lives in relation with other humans, want to change things about themselves and their lives. Can we agree that this is a normal behavior? For us personally, in order for changes to occur, big things must eventually shift. We want to treat people with … Continue reading The hardest changes to make
This journey that we are on is about survival. The ways we survived in the past stopped being effective more than three years ago That has left us exposed, vulnerable, without skin. We have spent our time nursing our wounds and making new skin. And we are attempting to remake ourself, not just heal what … Continue reading Liberation into Now
Do you get bogged down in the details of your story? In the telling and retelling? We do! In life, we feel an emotion, such as anger or fear, with the shock and force of a paper cut, and we are off on a trail of actions/events that almost always lead back to a major … Continue reading What is alive in us now?
Everyone and everything and all experiences are teachers if and when we are receptive to the lessons. We spent much of our working career in a college, which means we spent most of our life at school. This was by choice because we like learning and teaching. Here is what Nonviolent Communication (NVC) teaches about … Continue reading Empathy for those who piss us off
"...take your time. Those three words give you the power to come from a spirituality of your own choosing, not the one you were programmed for... It's critical for me to be able to slow down, take my time, to come from an energy I choose, the one I believe that we were meant to … Continue reading Take your time
Until we were a young adult, we could not solve the mystery of realistic paintings hanging in art museums. People would stand in front of a painting that depicted throngs of people frozen in time, and the observers would study the painting and talk about details in specific, knowing ways, as though they were watching … Continue reading Our original stories
Older Child returned to college this week. This house is filled with people grieving. When our body and mind experience pain, Punisher--one of our protectors--begins a long-establishes process of self-harm. Punisher ranges from a newborn to age 3. Punisher often initiates chaos and then becomes an infant, with whom you cannot plead, bargain, reason. Punisher's … Continue reading Changing Established Patterns of Behavior
It can be healthy to set goals for a new year. It can be unhealthy, too. To make it healthy, make small, sustainable changes. For example, if you want to start meditating, revive a meditation practice, or extend a meditation practice, try what feels achievable and realistic. Five minutes twice a day is a useful … Continue reading Small steps are most effective for making changes
We are alone by choice. Spouse and Children are with Spouse's family for holiday celebrations. This is not for us right now. The problem is that we are slipping further and further into dissociation and delusion in general. We are living in conflict in our head much of the time. Punisher invents scenarios, dramas, delusions … Continue reading Agency
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?
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
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
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
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
"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
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.
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
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
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
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
We may not share disorders in common, and we may share feelings of low self-worth.
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?
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"
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
You probably want to be free of suffering. I want to be free of suffering. Deep down, we're probably all compassionate beings.
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?
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
Collage on construction paper mounted on poster board
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
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.
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.
Which pursuit is worth our life’s energy? It’s not the one you think. Yes, this post will really reveal the meaning of life.
Our goals in this blog post are to encourage you to obtain disability insurance or supplement your existing coverage, to warn you of the pitfalls of the disability insurance system, and to convince ourselves and you that we are not our financial status or our diagnoses.
starting a new practice--to look for good in things or to approach situations with no expectations at all--takes conscious effort
We sometimes feel lazy when we are not being productive in some way. We self-critique that we could be doing more: more journaling, more cleaning, more problem-solving. We felt especially out of rhythm after a recent family getaway. We hadn't been journaling regularly or trying to solve any of our myriad problems. How could we … Continue reading Do This One Thing After a Vacation
Five non-medication, fast and easy interventions for traumatic flashbacks.
The past is remembering Now a prior Now. The future is a fantasy. Practice being Now.
We keep reading in self-help books that "feelings are natural" and "judgments are dangerous." Wait, what's the difference between a feeling and a judgment? Can you have one without the other? We had to have it explained to us repeatedly, and we think we understand! If our boss says in front of coworkers, "I received … Continue reading Are You Intensifying Unpleasant Feelings with “The Layer”?