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Topics - woodsgnome

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Successes, Progress? / Compost
« on: September 11, 2021, 08:01:46 PM »
For a long while, the book The Secret Garden and its 1975 BBC-TV adaptation played a huge role in altering my thnking. While I've had gardens here and there over the years, I just never gave it lots of thought. Finding that story, first suggested by someone on this forum, rejuvenated my thought about gardens. I no longer see them as just pretty places or a system of food production, but in reference to one's entire life.

In the story, Mary Lennox becomes enchanted with the idea of finding this secret garden she keeps hearing snippets about. Once she finds it, what she does with it becomes so much more than merely a nice project to have. Sure, she reacted to the magic of plants and all that goes with them. But deep down, mostly unsaid, it was a form of therapy for her. Yes, it was a garden; yet it represented her whole life. Plus, as she told her new companion Dickon once, she'd prefer it not just be a "tidy" garden, but have wild aspects to it, a place where she'd discover new things.

I became so engrossed with the tale that I'm sure my T was on the edge of feeling bored with my enthusiasm for the story. But once she actually unwittingly added to my mystique by something she said about compost. Actually I'd mentioned it first, and then only in passing reference to something else. Afterwards my T wondered if I'd ever considered how I could use the off-handed comment in reference to my own issues.

She suggested that I give it some thought. She's good at planting (a very apt word in this regard) -- suggestions that I might pick up on. In this instance the light bulb flicked on to the idea of compost.  :bigwink: Compost is, after all, formed mostly from leftovers. One could just throw them out, haul them away, or even burn them at some point, but composting presents an alternative. Fertilizer comes to mind in this regard, but even that often comes by way of an unplanned process of mixing the no longer needed ingredients into the formation of something new that can still benefit future plantings.

I'm hoping you catch the drift. For me it set in motion the idea that even the dregs and discards of life can somehow fit and function into one's ongoing story. Instead of plants only, in this instance I'm talking life. My preference would be for the easy -- toss the old story aside, haul it away, burn it, etc. While I'd love to do that with everything in my life up to my early 20's, and even some well beyond that, it became apparent that the old stuff had a way of haunting my adulthood too. In the gardening context, all that old material tended to still stink.

Well, okay -- so along comes this notion of composting. Not  valuing the decaying matter for itself, but finding a way to add it, rot and all, and maybe even seeing it transform into something else I had no idea might happen. I've experienced some changing perspective via these subtle mood shifts. Like so much else in Cptsd-land, it's not perfect, but part of the new wild garden, like Mary Lennox said she'd dreamed of for her 'piece of land' (and life).

In some ways I've come to regard therapy as resembling a huge mental compost pile. What to do with the messy, smelly, still-rotting leftovers? I tend to think in pictures, and that's one I like to contemplate. And begin to picture the newly created plants growing in just where they need to be. I've still discarded the leftovers, but in a way this transformation bears more promise than I'd ever thought of before.  :)

I've pondered coming here for several weeks (3 times for sure, maybe more). Once I had it all neatly formulated in my jangled head, typed an entry, and erased it.

Why? I still feel so unworthy of ever asking for help, even here where I know there are loving people who do care.

Of course the reasons are multiple, but I always end up shrinking away. I can't go easy on myself, but I have been trying for so many years, and just can't seem to close the final gap. The other night an old health issue swooped over me, and I'd rather not complicate with explanations.

Just ... can you help me? Just knowing there's been a thought of kindness about this ... maybe it will help me right the  sinking ship.

Thanks for listening. I always end up feeling like I'm fading away --  :disappear: -- and the holes into which I plunge seem ever deeper. Coping doesn't do it anymore. Then I fear ... did I ask too much?   

The length of this post rather resembles how long this mostly avoidant dance with the bothersome sibling I shall  mention has gone on. I tried trimming it, but I think it'll have to stand as is -- mainly because I can't bear the thought of going there anymore. It's like I'm still carting off the bricks from this:  :fallingbricks:

A few years back, I finally whittled down my chances of ever encountering any members of the FOO again. Mostly I did this by first relocating but mostly just sticking to my resolve to honour my boundaries, not answering inquiries, etc.; things like that. And, other than an occasional attempt by one sibling to try contacting me via things like birthday cards, my resolve has held steady.

Until a few days ago, when that person managed to get a phone call through. I tried to stay aloof and hope the call would be short. Then something happened -- call it a bout of dissociation or something of that sort -- a trance-like feeling that takes over when a threat is perceived (e.g. trigger/flashback territory). I'm fairly sure that comes closest to explaining what happened, but I remember talking as if my Higher Self had taken over my part of the conversation.

I'm easily spooked talking about this sort of thing, and would rather disappear  :disappear: than speak my truth. This time, though, the Higher Self (or whatever to call it) became quite eloquent in reestablishing my justification for holding to my boundaries. Finall,it felt like I'd found a voice deep within that enabled me to reestablish what I need to make plain -- that I'm long past needing or wanting to have anything to do with FOO.

This was no time to back away, I needed a statement that would finally make my intentions clear. And, thanks to what I'm calling my inner Higher Self, I seemed to establish that I have to remain no-contact. My higher Self 'voice' seemed to find words that made no bones about why I've spent so much of my life avoiding any contact with FOO. Amazingly, it seemed to register with the sibling as to the why of my no-contact years and my need to continue in that vein.

I've told myself to be open to surprises regarding what might happen while on the trail of building an entirely new life. One of my biggest fears was that I'd be totally devastated if any of them succeeded at any contact. Here's the deal -- that contact was a surprise I didn't want in the worst way, but afterwards it feels like I cleared out some of the fog. How? I'm not entirely sure, but somehow it's as if my inner/higher Self DID take over the situation and speak as 'me', if that makes any sense. Whatever happened, it's the first time there was any indication that the sibling now has a firm understanding of why I haven't been around the FOO circle for several decades and it's my intention to hold to that.

Defeatist that I am (or have been) I've had a hard time believing that entities such as one's inner/higher Self might really help. Aided by those who've mentioned how the IFS system can function, I'm pleased to be changing my fear of finding an IFS-like path. Or, having failed so miserably to find much that really seemed to work before, how this time I've been drawn to take another look at fitting more IFS approaches into my recovery toolkit. So I offer a hearty thanks  :wave:  :hug: to those of you who've shared your own positive experiences with IFS.

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Adrift in a Sea of Despair
« on: December 08, 2020, 09:08:55 PM »
For while, I've sensed that underneath surface hurts, I'm really alright, even well-off sometimes. Then it all seems like a mirage, and I feel phony for even trying anymore.

I've realize for the umpteenth time that I may have mad what looks like progress towards re-claiming the beauty of life. Except, there's always been one huge block of inside grief/anger/bitterness that I've never been able to budge. I'm in one of those stuck places now; although it comes and goes, this time it almost seems as if it's appeared yet again, this time to reclaim its rightful place.

I'll spare the rhetoric, though. The reason I'm writing here is, as hinted, pure and total desperation that I'll ever feel right about life. It's the sort of cycle where I justve up on myself. It's sort of fraudulent for me to lament my own distress, when so many others need the same. But it's where I'm at.

Mostly what bothers me is this block that won't budge -- when all is said and done, the feeling that I was irreparably damaged at birth -- unwanted, despised, rejected, and ill-treated from there. I can't shake that original flaw.

Yes, I can say things have sometimes improved my overall defeatist attitude, but it always falls apart again. I can't shake the original wound is what it comes down to. My inner terror always resurfaces at this point of hopelessness.

Not to bore you any further, I just felt like letting some of my mood dissipate. But that's always temporary -- soon it collapses again into the repetitive cycle -- I'm no good -- all I have to do is acknowledge that and surrender myself as a lost cause.   :spooked: :fallingbricks:  :'(

Letters of Recovery / I Need You to Go Now ...
« on: August 04, 2020, 02:16:46 PM »
Dear Inner Critic,

I'm beyond wanting to know what your apparent role in my life was supposed to be about. I've run across various theories of how you penetrate one's psychological swirls. Still you feel like the uninvited guest. You've been here a long time, so I'm thinking it may be time for you to, umm, retire?

Where once I wanted to thoroughly understand you, I don't really care anymore. Or I'm just tired -- you're pretty draining, all things considered. You needn't take that personally -- all I'm saying is 1) I accept that you've been in my life and 2) I accept that your role, if any, is beyond what I most need NOW.   My life has to shift focus -- to self-love and self-compassion, building on what I can contribute myself. It's not to say others can't help, but if that's what you supposedly were about, I'd like to relieve you of that burden, for you and for me both.

I don't require your protection, if that's what you were about  ???. Your harshness in doing so only rings as unwanted echoes of those horrid harsh voices that reinforced my loneliness, heightened my fear, and tortured me with shame and self-abasement to the point of not wanting to even live if this was all life had on offer. I'm finding out there's more, but it's still a struggle. If you left, this might relieve some of the pressure to want to attain perfection.

Perhaps it's not all on you, and I figure it might take you a while to fully comprehend what I'm saying. But please understand -- I have to follow my own muse, not the screams, taunts, and cajoles of those who first abused and then abandoned me. Perhaps that's where you swooped in, but please -- if you thought it might be for my benefit, I have the right not to agree with that. Perhaps you think it's bold of me to request that you leave, that I'm actually requesting a sort of reverse abandonment, but I know I need it and this time I can choose it.

To be clear -- yes; yes I am asking that you leave me alone, once and for all. And while I might be alone, I actually might be less lonely without your voice in the mix. After all, I was quite used to not having anyone, except for your repeated visits.

Plain and simple -- please go away. I don't have any patience for any more lengthy explanations. Perhaps I could somehow still understand you. But I seem to recall a saying that talks of peace beyond understanding. That's where I need to be -- at peace, away from the strife of being savagely criticized. Like always, I'm afraid you won't understand, but I simply had to take this chance that, whether you fully get what I'm saying, please/please/please back away, or just go away entirely.

I've been working on how to say this without hurting you. That's so typical -- here I am ultra worried that you might not understand. I've done that so often, and so many have taken that as a signal to walk all over me. It's more the other way around this time -- I need to stop the hurt from my side, too; as I have to live with myself. I no longer can wait for this freedom.

Thank you.

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Losing it; back to 'normal'
« on: June 04, 2020, 06:15:43 AM »
The more things change, so goes the old cliche, the more they stay the same. That's the ton of bricks   :fallingbricks: I find myself under. Again. Normal. Never changes. More of that and why bother looking for it to be any different ... it's my life story. Which, as I was told endlessly from the start, is all my fault. It was so obvious I was totally unwanted, and that feeling forever haunts me if nothing else does. Worst is when I join them in hating me.

Oh sure, there's glimmers here and there. I'm pretty good at boosting myself with pep talks and other yadda-yaddas, before settling right back into the next round of self-hatred and sense of failure. While not wholly true, the feeling was planted like an irreversible tattoo and overrides decades of trying to get out from under those bricks. Called coping, this quickly reverts to resignation that I really can't turn the corner, that I was and still am unwelcome in a world I don't understand and don't want to be a part of, with its hatred and spite.

Go figure -- my T tells me my mood has seemed better lately. Maybe that's even true, for a while. I'm not sure it matters; I've already lost out on life, anyway. Actually, even improvement scares me -- it's like the old notion of watch out for the other shoe to drop even if some things occasionally seem better. Whenever I start to feel good about myself, the tiniest hole in my balloon will pop and I flounder in pain yet again. I know it can't be real -- some of this happened decades ago -- and yet it won't give up its hold on my psyche. I'm still ruined or ... is that just the perfectionism I'm desperate for?

This is all so familiar. Tired, overwhelmed, and ... no, I don't want to go any further. It's pretty bad when the best one can hope for is a teeny little bit less 'progress' lest it turn into yet another dead end and false dream. Always being afraid is just so discouraging; maybe that's a good sign. Probably good/bad is just irrelevant -- no one can ever say I didn't survive. That's often all that holds me together, yet even that seems so flimsy, so artificial. Neither good or bad, but I wanted so much more than mere survival. Like love, and all that; no one cared then, and it's never going to happen now. Another misfit bites the dust.

This seems like it may be useful to many on OOTS. Despite the gender specific title, it appears geared to cover areas that both women and men who've been abused can relate to.

At any rate, if interested, the link for info and registration is:

As of the moment, I feel useless. Intelligent, maybe. Somewhat logical, perhaps. Unique -- oh sure. And ... useless.  But wholly circular as to who my life affects. I once touched many, but the operative word is 'once' -- albeit I still have a hard time acknowledging any inherent goodness to the effect I had.

The present time seems only to contain the daily limited painful movements, ongoing almost pathetic self-boosting pep talks (I'm alright, not my fault, etc.) and still ... it all hurts all the time. I know -- just thoughts. Knowledge, in this case, sure doesn't equate with feeling useful. I'm at a low ebb, for sure. And scared -- mostly of myself. Like I so need my dear old friend, fear, to even notice my existence.

I have no other friends without stretching the definition. Only a distressed body whose every movement hurts. I spend hours thinking how it all hurts, every bit -- inside and outside. I know those feelings can be false. Then why do they feel so real? And why deny it anymore? Do I dare share this with anyone outside of my therapist? When will she give up on me like everyone else has? And will my next dose of hope be just as temporary as they all have been? Can I let go of this dark cloud hovering around me?

Questions abound. And the biggest is too obscure, probably even narcissistic like all those people I couldn't stand who used me as their rag doll when I couldn't defend myself. The very thing I never wanted -- but then I was told never to hope, and it was ripped from me anyway. Why do I try anymore?

Frustrated? Set Backs? / My Pity Party
« on: December 21, 2019, 07:00:20 PM »
Christmas always struck me as the holiday of extreme hypocrisy; it's also associated with times of some very gloomy personal memories. For years, though, I've been pretty good at obscuring those memories and developed my own brand of an alternative take on the season. Finding there's lots of folklore and music that I find appealing, I've been able to endure and even thrive on aspects of the season.

It's still avoidant, though. And in place of obvious direct threats to me it's like there's more sinister explosions that threaten to roil my fragile emotions into a raging inferno. My tendency has been to guard against this; to the point of hyper-vigilance. But this year the whole mess has boiled over, or caught up, or something that's set in and I'm not even sure what precisely triggered it.

I'm awful, per usual, at fishing for words to describe the utter futility that accompanies this mostly numb feeling of seasonal angst. The words that seem to fit the best are familiar, though; so I'll go with those -- sadness, ripping anger, frustration, failure, and worst of all -- self-hatred. I grieve that I could fall into this pit again; that my careful guarding failed. That I thought I could wholly avoid deep sadness, that I was only confirming my own hypocrisy.

Sorry for the extended rant, broadcast live from my pity party. Held in my 'party room', atop something I came across in a dream. In the dream, I was living in a creepy old house that provided minimal shelter. One day I discovered a secret passageway leading to an upper roof I hadn't been aware of. For a while it just seemed too scary, like everything else in that place (and my life).

Finally, though, curiosity won out. I opened the hatch to a stunning mansion featuring another ladder leading to a magnificent sky. The whole scene spoke of possibilities, close in and further out. I think I've found my Christmas wish for this year. Can this be -- do I feel the 'pity party' shifting from numbness to anticipation? Dare I call this my 'dancing day'?

Julie Brown Yau is a U.S.-based therapist who has dealt with a range of trauma-related issues during her career.

This recent interview appeared on a site known as "Buddha at the Gas Pump." Despite the name, the site is NOT geared to pushing any religious or spiritual views; it features interviews with relatively unknown people (with some exceptions) who aren't famous but are very well-attuned to the fields they represent -- with special emphasis on how spirituality and psychology (loosely defined) intersect.

Many of the interviews on this site are extremely long -- this one runs just shy of 2 hours. I found that it wasn't 'til after the first half hour that the focus seemed to flow better.

The emphasis is on Yau's experiences and keen observations from her 30 years or so of practice. It's not mentioned extensively 'til right at the end, but she has a recent book (I haven't seen it yet but it sounds great) just out called "The Body Awareness Workbook for Trauma: Release Trauma From Your Body, Find Emotional Balance, and Connect with Your Inner Wisdom."

The interview itself is #526 in the "Batgap" series and was recorded recently. There are tons of other interview there but only a few are specifically geared to trauma as this one is. The style  is wonderfully relaxed.

The link to the interview:


*TW* -- there's nothing overt or graphic here, but there is a hint about abuse that could trigger a reaction.

I tried to stick with a meditation the other day (or was it 15 minutes ago?); and, as usual, felt taken over by my constant habit of falling into hyper-vigilance, even in the safest of surroundings, in this case my home -- specifically designed to be calm and peaceful. Yet this happens all the time. The inner dialogue runs something like this:

I better pay attention.
I start to meditate ... this is going well
Wait --- what was that?
Just a random faint noise.
But I better pay attention.
It might be them
Coming to get me
Whatever will happen
it won't be good.
That was years ago, I remind myself,
but still feel a panic closing in.
Doesn't matter -- I better pay attention
But they're not really here
are they?
Please ... but I've failed to ever have that work.
I'll still try, though; somehow I have no choice.
Until I know they can never get to me.
I better pay attention.
But I'm so tired.
I wonder what it's like
Not to have to pay attention.
Must peace alway be only a fantasy?
When is my ongoing prayer
pleading for peace to be
answered? How will I know?
I better pay attention.
Do I know?
I'm afraid I do...but I have to pay attention.
Tired ... can't sleep ... hopeless, again.

Inner Child Work / The Child at Your Door
« on: October 02, 2019, 02:34:35 PM »
Among the regular places I visit for inspiration, a favourite is called "A Loving Healing Space". Today's entry (Wednesday, October 2, 2019) I found to be a wonderful reflection on inner child to which I'm sure many of us can relate.

If you link within the next couple of days, this entry titled "A Temple of Refuge" will be at the top, but will change in the future as he adds to these regularly (not necessarily daily). So if you come across this in the future you'll need to go to the link and then make sure you look for the October 2, 2019 entry. The link is:

Your inner child(ren) will feel welcomed, and you'll have found yourself as a good friend you can treasure.  :hug:

Ideas/Tools for Recovery / Playing With Options
« on: September 26, 2019, 05:55:19 PM »
Some years ago I picked up a book called "Taming Your Gremlin", by Rick Carson. It's a rather light-hearted, short but to-the-point discussion about all things inner critic. It even has several great cartoon illustrations showing the gremlin/icr in action. My fave shows the snide-looking critter seated in a theatre, critiquing the on-stage actor (very apropos image for me as I was an improv actor for many years).

This snorty fellow is smug, as if he's ready to pounce on every word or movement that will, inevitably, not be to the gremlin's liking. I found this book to be a nice alternative to all the serious reads I go through in my frantic search for better ways to handle the aftershocks left by so much trauma. So I survived -- what now?

One takeaway from that book was this simple 3-word suggestion -- "play with options". Make no mistake, getting a grasp on all these symptoms, flashbacks, and associated hurts is always work in the ultimate sense. Yet even changing that one little word -- from work to play -- can perhaps make a dent in one's attitude while dealing with these perplexing issues.

I've probably experienced more lows than highs in my struggle to escape and/or live with cptsd, and still tend to  run into  walls at every turn. I've wanted to give up and somehow find myself just keeping on. Maybe 'keeping on' is a habit, too -- and I won't chase that one away. I'll play with keeping it around, now that it seems stronger. Playing with that option, I can visualize/play with it as a person or archetype, a symbol (e.g. sea-shell), or a feeling of 'can-do' to replace the 'this will never pan out' expectation.

Psychologically, I've come to accept the likelihood of not finding a full cure for all of cptsd's  long-term effects; I tense up just thinking of all that would involve. Yet I've noticed slight deviations, too; and looking back, I have to credit those 3 little words -- play with options -- as suggesting that there might be ways to detour around the inevitable frustration of always working so hard. And while not seeking an inevitable cure, maybe I'll find some healing along the way. This speaks to the idea of the journey being more important, not the past, and not the destination.

At least that's been my experience, thanks to a slight shift in how I use words. And how I translate those words into feeling better inside, just by playing with options -- inner child especially likes and deserves that.  :bigwink:

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Out of sorts as a way of life (Ugh) ...
« on: August 16, 2019, 07:20:52 PM »
I used to think it was weird -- that I haven't ever been able to live a whole, single day and not slip down a peg, or two or three, from any good vibes I've got going.

It's as if I check good stuff off, as if I'm not  supposed to have those, and that having them is not allowed, for a whole host of reasons. And yet, all of those reasons were planted in my psyche/soul by outside sources, coming under the blanket term of heavy years of abuse from FOO, to schools, to a bunch of ruffians disguised as holy church men (and women).

Toting up a day as leaning, say, 10-20% positive is enough to set what I call a reverse trigger -- I don't feel real unless I feel down or trying to fix a wrong; stuff like that returne me to my steady state.

The point being -- I DON'T WANT THAT ... ever. Yes of course there will probably be setbacks, but why does my life feel incomplete unless I'm suffering?

No answer. Probably best that way. But inspiration is always nice. Anyone? I keep hoping, maybe beyond any reasonable hope, that a corner can still be turned, but defeated and (of course) that only revs up the blame myself engine; and if/if and if fills the regret barrel and can't/can't can't takes care of the future.  ???   :stars:

Frustrated? Set Backs? / Stranded on the EF roller coaster
« on: June 30, 2019, 05:47:35 AM »
**TW ahead; very brief/slight  non-active suicidal ideation reference ...

I find someone to trust; now that confidence has been shaken, violated, or something equally dire, and I've been completely undone for several days now. That's what's going on with me as these thoughts transfer into inadequate words. Call it a massive EF rehash of  all the bad stuff that I internalized and which stays close to the surface. And, every so often (any time is too often, however) any self-love, anything that I've slowly built up in my fragile recovery efforts seems not to  be working for me.

I'm okay, I tell myself or try to, blinking behind tears. If I really know I'm okay, I wonder where the okayness hides in these times of absolute panic. When the person I trusted with the empathy they said they possessed isn't there; when they twist things in hurtful ways while destroying all the slowly built self-esteem, and more, to shreds. When they blamed me for creating my own victimhood. When they thought hurting me was helping me. Or worse -- in their smugness had no idea what they were even saying, not caring if or how deep it would cut to my core wounds.

TW***This is one of those times when the giving up life option seems like a close call. For sure it's a time when self-hate can seem like the only true friend I've ever had anyway. But is it -- my only true friend? I don't know, and thinking seems rather hopeless right now, having had all my emotional scars renewed to where my body literally tingles in shame, anger, and more. Helplessness is so real, again; so now, so all that I know.

But this is senseless; as it would require further explanations. However, I think anyone reading this far will be able to share in the despair I feel. Also realize the hopelessness that this can ever truly change. So I'm scared. I'm so scared to sense that I can ever make it out of these cycles all returning to self-blame and guilt that I'm even alive. Is it too much to ask, if I seem worthwhile anymore? That indeed I can have a place here that's not filled with sorrow?

I think I have one last gasp, and this might save me yet. Given all the grief that my pseudo-friend has foisted on me, I have the ace -- I survived! And survived! It's more than they'll ever understand. My road may be lonely, but survival itself is the one certainty I can hold close and not need recognition for ... it's here, in this heart. See? I have my integrity intact, and that's all I truly want.

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