Sunday, November 21, 2010

Forgiveness and Pain

In the book I am reading called "the power of kindness" there is a section on Forgiveness as one of the 16 elements of kindness. There was an example of a victim of the Holocaust who thought that the ability to forgive was the most important human trait.

Last Friday, I met with Kristin. And we talked about forgiveness. I told her that for me, forgiveness is something that I don't have trouble with. No matter what is happening to me today, I don't have to forgive because there is nothing to forgive. Whatever is happening is happening and not forgiving doesn't make it stop.

I do not hold grudges. Because if I don't forgive, I cannot move forward. And moving forward is usually away from some sort of pain that I am feeling. And the inability to forgive, if you want to call it a "grudge," which I feel doesn't adequately describe what forgiveness really is, means that I am allowing someone else to control how I feel and allowing someone else to determine whether I move forward. And that means I am being held place, holding onto the whatever is happening, and as I am clinging to that suffering and pain, it is holding onto me harder and harder. It's a deep spiral and the deeper you go, the harder it is to get out. The inability to forgive feeds on itself.

I told her that I never really forget. Remembering something does not mean that I cannot forgive. Remembering provides me with the hope that I won't repeat the same mistakes. With anything, practice makes perfect. Mindfulness, remembering, and forgiving is something that allows me to live and you do it over and over and hopefully you get better at it.

There was a pause. She leaned over from the edge of her chair and she asked me when I discovered this about forgiving. I told her that I learned it in my 20's when all I did was suffer. And then I decided to forgive and the suffering went away. She said that people work their entire lives to understand what I am talking about. I thought this was rather funny. That I, of all people, discovered something in my 20's, that people spend their lives looking for.

Then we talked about Pain. I told her that I feel pain and I think I am suffering at some level. She said that suffering = pain x resistance.
The removal of resistance - the act of giving in or the act of forgiving
doesn't make you weak. The book I am reading also talks about this. It's that moment when you throw up your hands and say, "Ok. I give." That doesn't mean that you are giving up or giving in. It means that you are no longer resisting and trying to control something you have no control over, or trying to shape and outcome that you cannot shape. And in that moment, suffering diminishes. Yes, you still have to deal with the pain of whatever it is that you are doing or having to deal with, but it is just pain without the suffering. And you see more clearly what you have to do, what you can control, without distractions from the things that you have no control over.

This release from resistance means you recognize what you can change and what you cannot. So acceptance - like the serenity pray (God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change) means less resistance which means less suffering.

So, when you are left with just the raw pain, without judgement, without resistence, then you can acknowledge and deal with it. You don't have to suffer. Suffering and pain are two different things.

She said my ability to forgive means that I can deal with my pain. And I can do so without the cloud of suffering, without caving into outside forces that are trying to control me. It means that I can deal with my pain in a step by step focused mindfulness, and control only that which I can and ignore all the rest.

All the years of studying and contemplation, all the years of advising people in this similar way, has engrained themselves in my cells and I am actually trying to practice what I have spoken. I never thought that day would ever come. All those years of inward thought have converged to this point in my life.

I used to ask why I searched so much, why my spirit was so restless.
Now I know.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Note to Self: Gloves

Always remember to wear gloves when walking the dog in 30 degree weather.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I will be focused

Today, I will stay focused on the path in front of me. I will focus on one step. And when that is complete, I will focus on one step.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

I Will Stay Strong

No matter what assails me today, I will remain strong.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mindfulness

I have been reading a book called "The Power of Kindness." I picked it up on a whim at South Station during a Fire Drill in our building at work. Instead of hanging with the rest of the evacuees at a big post office parking lot, I walked the opposite way to South Station and ended up at the little book store. And the title caught my eye.

It is written by a transpersonal psychologist and examines the concept of kindness. That although it is simple, it is made up of a whole host of other concepts such as honesty, forgiveness, belonging and mindfulness. There are more but that is as far as I have read.

Mindfulness is a Buddhist concept. It is about being present. It is what the practice of meditation trains you to do, be in the here and now, without worrying about the past, worrying about the future, thinking of all the shoulda-coulda-woulda's, or what-if's, and the if-then-else statements that crowd our brains and bleeds into our hearts and souls on a daily basis. All of which then causes is to "not really live."

In my efforts to transform personally, I've been trying to practice mindfulness. And what is Mindfulness? This is an excerpt from the book explaining one of the Buddha's discourses:
"In what you see, let there be only the seeing.
In what you hear, let there be only the hearing."
Do you know how hard this is? Every sound, every sight brings to the forefront of our minds all of our preconceived notions which are based upon on our past experiences and future expectations, which are then are based upon those past experiences. As a result, we never really "live" in the present, we don't take in things as they ARE; instead, we conclude and divine our futures, what we believe they will be or should be based upon our past. and as a result, we are never in the present. We just live in our pasts and our make-believe futures. I know. It's hard. Brain twisters. But that is the point of meditative questions. To put your brain into such a tizzy that all it can do is become relaxed and release it's preconceived ideas.

I have been trying to do this for the last two weeks. It has been so hard and seemed impossible at the beginning. But I also discovered that no matter how much energy I used, it is hard to act and think based on what I do not know; I have found that it is easier to act based upon what DO I know. And what I know is based on what I feel. And what I feel is based on what I know of my surroundings. I cannot control my environment or those around me. But I can be aware NOW about my environment and those around me. And thus I can control how I feel and how I act within the environment that I know it to be. And forget controlling anyone else.

It is getting easier as time goes on but "easy" is relative. Sometimes, it was VERY hard. And I haven't even scratched the surface. But I have noticed some changes about myself. I no longer have road rage. Really. I am not cursing and yelling at every Tom Dick and Harry that cuts me off, stops short, doesn't use a blinker, drives too slow, etc. I am just accepting because I am HERE. And I cannot control it. But I can control how I feel and how I react.

I am noticing more. The other day I took the dog for a walk. And I walked by a house that I have walked by a hundred times. Ok. Maybe 50 times. But I have walked by it A Lot! And in front, along the fence is what I have nicknamed The Burning Bush. It has tiny little serrated-edge leaves that hang down. The tips and edges are crimson. And it is travels up the leaves and toward the stem, it goes from redish tinted, to orange, to gold to yellow. Every single leaf is almost identical. And I saw them in relief against the back drop of white fence and yellow house. It was amazing and one I will not forget soon.

I am also trying to "unplug." Instead of sitting with a computer on my lap or chatting with friends on my blackberry while at home, I am present. I am sitting and, for the first time, REALLY noticing other people in the room, how "plugged in" they are, and how partially present they can be.

As a result, I am also enjoying my time with JJ. Enjoying ALL of him. His presence within my presence. Because that is how children are. They are mindful, nothing beyond this moment. And that is JJ. When he tells me he loves me, I believe him because that is how he feels NOW. I am spending time seeing what he is seeing and I am amazed at his wonder of all the things around him. I am listening to all the things that he is saying and I am amazed at his intelligence, reasoning, and yes, sometimes he godawful stubborness. But that is who he is. And I am taking it all in.

I am also contemplating all the years in which I was not present for my Hunny Bunny or my friends. I am sad about this and I have started reaching out to a few. I see this as al-anon in a way, this path to regaining and transforming my sense of self. And the discovery of the person that has been buried under years of detritus, rubble from the battle of life.

Mindfulness is not easy, especially for someone like me, who has always been driven by the fears from her past, toward the promise of something better in the future. Not realizing that the better future is here. Now. TODAY.

Mindfulness is also exhausting. New sights and sounds assail my senses. And it cannot process them fast enough. It's as if I have a small basket and the world, the present, is throwing things at me. I am trying to catch them in my small basket but I am not fast enough to catch everything, and my basket is too small. And the processing.... what is this feeling that I feel? What is this pain? What is this melancholy for what I have been missing? But the yellows are yellower and the oranges are beyond vibrant. I am seeing things as they are. For the first time, I am seeing beauty and I can feel it in my heart instead of cataloging it in my brain.

How long can I keep this up? I think that question can be answered only after I have completed my journey. But the journey is never really complete, is it? In this moment, in this present, I think I can for a long time to come. For the skeptics out there, time will tell.


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Thursday, November 11, 2010

"6 Stages of Post-Partnum Depression"

This is a repost of a blog from Postpartum Progress (Thank you Katherine Stone for commenting on my blog which is how I found your site). I have added my own comments in parenthesis after each one.

The Six Stages of Postpartum Depression:
  1. Denial: This must be what new motherhood is like. I'll be alright. It can't be postpartum depression, because I'm not mentally ill. I'm sure it will wear off soon. I just need more sleep. (I feel really tired and depressed. I don't know why I am so fatigued. I think I just need to sleep more and I will be okay. It cannot possibly be the adoption. I think it's jet lag. I am supposed to be happy about this and finally getting a child. )
  2. Anger: Nobody understands what I'm going through. Why me?! This is supposed to be a time of joy. I don't deserve this. I don't want to have to take medication. I don't want to go to therapy. I shouldn't have to call a doctor. This is not fair. (This really sucks. I hate this. I should never have started this and agreed to it. It's not my fault. And it's not fair. This is such a huge intrusion into my life. I never signed up for all the problems or medical issues. I didn't know how he would look. Or that I wouldn't be able to understand him. He is defective and what have I done? If someone had told me... WHY didn't they tell me?)
  3. Bargaining: If I just exercise more and eat better I'll be fine. If I could just get to the point where the baby sleeps through the night, I'll be okay. If I get closer to God and pray more, this will surely go away. (I need to work more. I need to just immerse myself into my work. And it will all go away. I can just work late and Carrie can take care of JJ until I get home and he is will be asleep and I don't have to deal with it until I am used to this new thing.)
  4. Depression: I should just leave my family. I'm bringing everyone down. They all would be better off without me. My poor baby doesn't deserve a mother like this. I'll never get better so there's no point in going on. (I should just leave. I can leave anytime I want. Maybe I will. Joseph will probably leave me anyway because I am such a lousy human being. And JJ would be better off without me. What can I offer him?)
  5. Acceptance: What's happening to me isn't normal and I can't ignore it anymore. It's not my fault. It is okay for me to talk to a doctor. It's okay for me to ask for help. I can take medication or go to therapy or do whatever is necessary for my health and that of my family. (I am depressed. I think I have something - not sure. But I am angry and I need help. I have run Joseph's patience out. I am going to damage my son if I don't do something fast. I need to talk to someone, just like Joseph has been trying to tell me to do for the last 6 months. )
This has been the most cathartic experience I have ever been through. Never again will I judge any parent for whatever actions they may or may not take. It is hard to walk in their shoes because every expereince is different. And in almost every case, what seems to be is not what really is. That has been the most humbling lesson for me, especially when people point out some of the ills and wrong doings I committed during this dark and terrible period and all I want to say is, "yes, but..." And I know full well for those who have made up their minds, there is no excuse for the actions that come out of a depressive episode.

The most impact that this has had on me is the sense of fear and shame. Fear of everything. Shame for how I felt. And then denial because I judged myself to be unworthy and less than human. And that led to more shame. And more fear. And now I live in shame for what I lived through. And fear that when people find out, they will judge me, and I will become nothing more than the essence of the shame and fear.

Now, I am actually talking to people. Not a lot of people. Just a few close, trusted friends. And each one has told me that what happens in Post Partum depression is something so sacred, so "out of body" that it can't be held against me. It is not who I truly am. And that it is not my fault. This has last been the most difficult concept for me to deal with and rationalize. And I am still working on accepting this.

I am so humbled and awed by the people who have come out of the woodwork to support me. My boss. My HR person. Both recounting personal stories and personalizing my experience. I wept. And my friends, who I knew were always there but was too ashamed to speak with. I found out that between friends, there is no shame and no fear. There is nothing but love, acceptance, understanding, and guidance during recovery. To all of them, I am indebted. And I will owe them the rest of my life for being with me at my darkest and deepest point, for loving me when I was the ugliest human being on earth.

The road is long. I can't see the end of it yet.
And every step I take is scary and I am afraid of falling.
But I am doing it for myself, my son, my family, my friends.
And I will succeed.


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Call to Prayer

These days, I have set my Blackberry alarm on. It had been set to a loud wailing old fashioned telephone sound. But this morning, I changed the daily alarm to Chi Gong.

It's a prayer bell. Or at least it sounds like one. I remember hearing it in Korea at one of the big Buddhist monasteries. The bell rang. And the monks quietly filed into the prayer room, a very large room, in single, quiet line of gray robes.

It was a call to prayer.

So now I wake up with the sound of prayer bells. Every day I look for illumination. I try be live in the present - a walking, living meditation, living more deliberately than I have before. I would say that I may never have really done that before.

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Trip Up North

I went Up North this weekend. JJ was having an overnight with Niles so he was well taken care of.

I went for illumination, enlightenment, and an epiphany. And I received all three in abundance.

In times of crisis, I withdraw inward while others find blame all around them. Blame is never the answer. It means you must admit that you never had control in the first place. And our sense of control, real or imagined, gives us comfort to be who we are at any given moment.

So I withdraw inside of myself And the inward journey has begun. I must travel through the darkness to reach the light. There is anger, fear, and pain strewn before me and I must wade through it all.

And I am forging forward. I will come out the other side a self, a different "me". And my focus is my son. I see his face that guides me. And gives me strength.

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What was once thought lost...

...is found...

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Friday, November 05, 2010

Lilly

Lilly came to visit me.
And I wept.
And wept.
And wept.
She wants to take me away.
Wants me to come live with her.

Be sure to bring Boris.
Made me laugh.

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Fridays with Kristin

Today I had my weekly chat with Kristin. We talked about a bunchastuff but I told her about the bugs.

She asked me when I had this dream and when I said "on Monday, she asked if I had dreamt of things in the future before. I found that an odd question. But I said, "yes." And the I told her that I hate dreams.

She said that perhaps I am dreaming of things that have always been with me from my past, and I have carried them through life, and that they are just showing up during times of trauma, when we are at our most defenseless. And so we talked about it. And that it might not be something I was doing TO someone but since I was the one hurting, that maybe it was something that had happened to me. Perhaps my parents' marriage drained the heart and soul from me. I had never thought of it that way.

She said that I need to give myself permission and tell myself that I am worthy. Not just derive it from what anyone else tells me. But time to try and tell myself that I am lovable and good and kind and that it's okay to be fearful. And to give myself affirmations of loving kindness that tell me that I am ok. That I am worthy of loving kindness every single day.

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Tomorrow

Tomorrow I am going to see Amanda. Joseph and I talked about it and I will be spending the night. This is my first foray out into the world alone since, well, since I met Joseph. And since all of the latest life events started. I am a little frightened at the thought of the 2 hour drive alone.

Amanda is Joseph's twin. In almost every way. The giving, the patience and perseverence. The loving and the caring. And other things that I can't even think about right now.

She will be able to provide me wth things to think about, ways to see things from a different angle and outside of my current self-made box. She is my family as well as Joseph's. I joined them when I met Joseph and then Amanda 7 or 8 years ago.

Wow. Has it been that long?

It seems like yesterday.
Ok. That's a bit trite and very cliche.
I feel like it has only been a couple of years since I first met Joseph.
And I remember it like it was yesterday.


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Those Damn Bugs Again

One thing I didn't mention about the bugs. I thought they looked like ticks. But they were so big that I said there is now way they can be ticks.

Ticks represent something that is weighing on you, draining life or energy from you. And they were on my ring finger, which leads to my heart.

My heart, love symbolic, has been weighing on me.
And it could a few other things that I am not prepared to face at this point.

I hate dreams.

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

My First Motherly Moment

Last Saturday, we ran a 5k Race. Joseph's mom and dad were visiting so we made it a family affair. We met some of the Tri-deads and BAA folks who Joseph ran with. My plan was to run with JJ.

We started out at the back of pack and it was clear in the first .25 mile that running together would be a mistake. I was clearly holding JJ back. He would run ahead a little bit ahead of me, look back, stop and wait for me.

I couldn't do it. I couldn't hold him back.
So I caught up with him and I said, "JJ, you run. Run ahead without Mama."
And helooked at me a little worried and said, "you?"
And I said, "you go run as fast you want to. Just stay with all of the running people. And I will see you when I get to the finish line."
He seemed a little worried but I said,"you can do this. Mama would be so proud."

And so he ran. I watched his form ahead of me. So free and so beautiful. And so soon out of sight. And I cried a small tear thinking about it.

My first motherly act.
Amazing.
Letting him go and watching him run ahead.
While worrying about him.
This came out of the blue.
And I thought of the future when I would have to release him to High School, to driving, first dance, first drink, to college, to his bride, and God willing that I should be alive, to his first child. I thought of all the firsts to come and felt a lump in my throat.

At the end, JJ won the 19yrs and under age group award for First Place.

I was so proud.

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Bugs

The other night I dreamt about bugs. There was a leaf like bug, a stick like bug and a group of 5 little round beetles all stuck together in a long row.

I remember picking them up and sticking them to my left hand. And then my sister (I think?) and I walked hurriedly to I have no idea where. I remember that there were a lot of people and a lot of commotion. And the building we arrived at looked like a school, with a blue metal door and side lights. Typical school doors, I think. And it was night.

And I remember sitting on the grass because of the bugs and I knelt down. The leaf bug and the stick bug fell off. I knew they had died or were dying. The group of five still hung on. Then 2 loosened and fell off. Then there were three. They were stuck to my ring finger, over the knuckles. And they kept tightening. And it started to hurt. So I told my sister that I had to get them off because it hurt. She said just leave it. But I insisted. I used an envelope to scrape the first one off. Then my sister handed me a thin plastic ruler, the kind I have in my office at home and wondered what I should do with them, and scraped the next one off. And then she handed me a new ruler and scraped the last one off.

My ring finger was red, dry, and patchy but I knew it would heal. My sister said "let go." And I got up and we ran off. I don't know to where because I woke up.

I looked up bugs. They are anxiety, worry, things that you are afraid of. There are different meanings behind distinct types of bugs but I couldn't find the leaf bug or the stick bug. I did find the beetle but it wasn't really. So I found scarabs and they weren't really that either. They were a combination. Sort of like black lady bugs but not really.

So I thought at first it was a centipede that turned into individual little bugs on close examination. And I read that centipedes mean that I am letting my fears and doubts hinder my from making progress and achieving my goals. This is interesting because Joseph said that I am afraid of everything and have to feel that I am perfect all of the time. There is definite truth to this. I need to stop thinking negative thoughts.

There was nothing for beetles but I found something about ticks which said that they mean that something, someone, my job or even myself is slowly draining the life out of me. But these things were bigger than ticks, almost the size of dimes.

So I went top Scarabs, and I found means that I have the ability to survive, adapt and change. And that I am on the right path. But these bugs were not the same as the scarabs, they were smaller, round, hard shelled, and had little skinny legs that poked out of the side. A type of indistinguishable beetle stuck together like a centipede one attached to another. Sort of like those black lady bugs (which we know symbolizes good luck). If you extrapolate that out, it’s about something draining me and my letting my fears run me but there is hope and good luck and the fact that I was able get rid of the bugs, which I put on myself willingly, and then forcefully ridding myself of them seems to be a good sign.

I also looked up the meaning of it being nighttime in the dream. And it stated that it can represent the unconscious side of the personality. And also symbolize ignorance and despair of the dark night of the soul. Psychologically the process of “becoming” requires us to sometimes enter the darkness before emerging into the light.

Hmmm. I guess that about says it all.

I am in the process of becoming. Shedding the old fears and anxieties that are slowly draining the life out of me. I willingly became fearful and angry, and now I am willingly shedding it all. It was dusk in the dream - night had just fallen so I know I will enter a darker period before I emerge into the light of being. This dream makes me feel stronger, gives me courage, and makes me want to cry with hope.

It is time for me to wake up and become truly human.

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