How to be a ghost without really trying… (+ FibroArt Monday)

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn via CC Flickr

 

Happy Monday! 🙂 (Hope your day& mine is pain-free)

I’ve been thinking a lot about my tendency towards silence.  Actually, let’s back that up, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I am as I am and how to change some core self-beliefs.  Seriously, ask yourself right now, Why am I me?

Some of us tell ourselves that we are too busy to think about such nonsense.  Some of us know that it would be better for us to think about it, but are afraid of what we might learn.  Some of us have asked the question, but have no answers. Some of us chuck ourselves into therapy, but with no intention finding answers, etc., etc.

You get the idea. It’s not an easy question either to consider or answer. Still, this is a question that I believe that we should try to answer throughout our lives.  This brings me back to my original statement about being silent.

Just over a week ago, I moved into the place where I’ll be staying until I leave Rome on the 21st.  My landlord is an amazing science fiction author, who reminds me of a cross between Bukowski and a much slimmer Santa Claus. Yesterday, he said to me, “So, is everything okay with you? I’ve not seen you for the past 10 days.”  Mind you, I’ve been at home.  Still, he was right. He hadn’t seen me.  I had made sure of that.  It wasn’t because I wanted to avoid him, but because disappearinghidingremaining unseen is second nature to me.  I erase my presence, even when actively in the lives of others, which may be related to my object permanence issues.  That, however, started way before the memories I can access.

What I do know is that growing up, my silence and lack of presence was something that was valued in my household. I did not stir the proverbial pot.   When I did try to express myself, I was often shutdown and compared with others who I understood had undesirable qualities.

In other words, I was encouraged not to share my thoughts, express my feelings, interact with the world around me, have friends, and generally be a socially-adapted member of society.  I’m lucky that I decided to become a therapist because I learned many of the interpersonal skills that I ought to have when I was younger.

Yet still, I have yet to unlearn that core household rule, which has become an unsettling self-belief: I must erase my presence.

And why must I erase my presence? The answer is rather simple, because the statement comes from my childhood thought: I should not speak or my family will hate me even more and I will have no home.

So, how do you undo the belief that being “present” in the lives of others means that you will lose whatever place you have?  Well, I have no definitive answer, but I’ll let you in on what I am doing.  😉

What I am doing is actively giving myself permission to:

  • Exist – I have the right to take up space on this planet, even if it means that others may be discomforted by that.
  • Speak – I have the right to speak my personal truth, even if it dispells the myths of others.
  • Love – I have the right to love and be loved just because I exist. My loving or being loved is not synonymous with my forfeiting my identity and goals in life.
  • Dream – I have the right to create goals for myself separate from the desires of others. I can dream as big or as small as I want to about my life.
  • Feel – I have the right to my physical and emotional experiences, even if they counter the needs of other people.  If I think the sun is freaking hot today, then it’s hot. If I am sad, then I am sad. It’s that simple. No one can dictate my feelings to me.
  • Be – I have the right to be whatever I am and whatever I am not.  It is my choice.

I could go on for a bit longer with the list, but there you have it. This is my first step.

Perhaps this may be helpful for someone else, especially if you grew up in a highly narcissistic family environment, or what I might call a house of non-self mirrors.

Take a look at yourself today. Smile at who you are, love who you are, acknowledge you are here and no matter what you have the right to be.

Until next time,

D. 

   

[Relationships] To Rebound or Not To Rebound? Um…I don’t think we actually have a choice…

For a few days now, I have been thinking about that space in between relationships, oftentimes called the “rebound” period.  Why?  Well, because I am in it, but not just in it…

I am actually recognising and admitting to myself that I am in it.

Now, for some people, this may seem quite a strange concept.  The inevitable question is: how could you not know that you were on the rebound?

Image Found: SomeEcards.com

Well, the answer is easy enough.  I just never thought about it.  I simply lived with a kind of go with the flow mentality that led me easily from one relationship to another from the age of fifteen.

I am sure I am not alone in this.  More than likely, there are many, who just never seem to be out of a relationship or out of the dating experience.

Of course, there are some people who might say, “Hold up, D! I know you were single from years XXXX to YYYY! I was there listening to you complain!”

And while that may be technically true, i.e. that I was not in an established relationship, I was most definitely casually or seriously dating on a regular basis in between and complaining about those dating experiences…and not my last relationship. 😉

The other day, I was talking with my friend, V. about being single.  V. is about eleven years younger than I am and told me that since he had started his dating life, he had spent more time being legitimately single than not.  His words gave me a serious pause for thought…especially as I was just about to head out the door to what could be seen as a–oh, I don’t know–date.

Image Found: Fremdeng.ning.com

His words acted like a very loud warning bell, stating oh so clearly, that I needed to back up and think about what I was about to get myself into! (Thanks, V.!)

Seriously, if I were to add up all the times when I was not in a relationship and not dating in any fashion between the ages of fifteen to thirty-five, I think I would come up with less than five years (and that figure is really generous on my part).

Five years of being single out of twenty years is really not a great deal of time.  Not only was I operating on a permanent rebound status, I was also not being fair to the people who dated me, either casually or seriously.

Even more importantly, I wasn’t being fair to myself.  I wasn’t allowing myself to heal and to learn lessons from my experiences, so that I could make better choices moving forward–not that I am not grateful for everyone and all the experiences I have had.

Image Found: Examiner.com

Still, it would have been far better for me and for those who had been involved with me had I waited and sorted through the feelings that can emerge when a relationship ends, such as sadness, fear, anger, jealousy, envy, guilt, shame, and that general sense of abbandonment (even if I had been the one to end the relationship).

Instead, I found myself in many emotional tug of wars.  However, I was the one working both sides of the rope,  attempting to pull people closer to me when they seemed too far away from me at one moment, only to pull them far away from me when they seemed too close to me in the next moment.

After my conversation with V. and subsequently my therapist (yes, I have started therapy again ), I began asking myself why was it that I hadn’t chosen to remain single for long periods of time.

Certainly, some might imagine that it would be an issue of fearing being alone…but anyone who knows me would easily refute that.  I love being alone, even in a relationship. Furthermore, I rarely experience loneliness.

Seriously, I really enjoy solitude. 🙂

Julie Andrews, Sound of Music. Image Found: TheAge.com

Perhaps I thought that that was what ought to be doing, i.e. dating and “moving on with my life.”  You know, gallivanting in meadow with the magical spring weather that forces you to embrace the warmth of new love…or something like that.

I am of the mindset that it is more than likely this.

Perhaps it was an effort to “reset” my last experience, which oftentimes enough had provoked some kind of painful emotional response.  Thus, being with someone new was a lesson that intimacy wasn’t something to be feared–remember, I really like my own company and so it is easy for me to isolate.

Well, the point is that I am embarking on a journey to understand this experience of being on the rebound and also working through it.  Thus, when the time comes for me to actually have another relationship, I will be better able to understand what I want from it and what I can give it.

If you are like me or the contrary to me (actively staying away from dating and relationships), then taking a moment to pause for thought on this subject might not be such a terrible idea. 😉

Until Next Time,

D. 

FMSpeak-English Dictionary: When I Say…I Mean…

6,909 distinct languages.

There were six thousand nine hundred and nine classified distinct languages in the world as of 2009.

If we add to that body language, the various dialects, conlangs (ASL, Klingon, Na’vi, and Tolkien’s many languages), jargon (legal, medical, craft, etc.) and internet speech (inclusive of emoticons and text-speak), it is possible to see that human beings have spent a great deal of time and effort attempting to communicate with one another.

Still, we manage, oftentimes enough, not to understand each other.

Even though we hardly need another language, I propose to add another “speak” to the mix:  Fibromyalgia|Speak or FMSpeak for short.

Why?  Because I realize that there is some clarification needed for certain expressions that I use when discussing my well-being.  So, I thought I would share some of my entries here.   My hope is that it will be useful (and perhaps amusing) for you.  Here we go.

The first 5 entries: 

When I say…

  • “I am tired.”

I mean…

  • “My body feels as though I do not know how I could possibly move it another inch.  My brain isn’t forming thoughts clearly.  My eyes are not sure when the last time they closed or opened themselves was.  Even if I had/have the opportunity to sleep, I can’t sleep.  I am too exhausted to move, sleep, think, talk, cry, laugh, care, be, feel, eat, drink, deal, know, want, need…Please, don’t ask me anything else about my health, because if you do, then I just might fall apart.”

When I say…

  • “I am not well.”

I mean…

  • “Every movement makes me nauseous, tired, hurt, cry, angry, desperate, and scared of what will come next.  Every thought is no thought, and I’ve probably forgotten your name or what we were last talking about when we met.  Every minute feels like I am being pierced by hot needles all over (or, if I am lucky, just some parts of my body).  My brain is splitting apart and I am sensitive to light, sound, smell, motion.  Please, don’t ask me anything else, because it will be too much and I am barely holding myself together.  I want to cry and sometimes I will…if you keep asking me if I am okay.  I am not, and you already know that.”

When I say…

  • “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

I am mean…

  • “Why me? I thought I was feeling better.  Why won’t this go away?  Why can’t I get it (medication, work, relationships) right–why does my illness get in the way?  Please, don’t ask my anything else, because I won’t be able to deal.  (See last two entries).”

When I say…

  • “No, I can’t.”

I mean…

  • “No, I can’t, physically and/or psychologically. What you are asking of me is counterproductive to keeping myself well. The conditions are inauspicious.  It’s winter.  I haven’t slept in four days (literally). It’s been raining and dark for days.  Walking is a challenge–smiling, too.  I don’t want to be around others when I am like this.  I don’t want to bring others down with my illness…and you can’t bring me up, because you can’t make me better.  It’s impossible at the moment.  I mean ‘no’ at this time, this moment, but who knows about the future.  So, please, ask me again, even though I may say ‘No, I can’t.’ Okay?”

When I say…

  • “Yes, I can.”

I mean…

  • “Yes, I would like to and think I will be able to, if the conditions are auspicious, i.e. the weather is good, my stress level is low, the season is right, and I have actually slept.  I am really happy that you asked me and I want to do it–really, I do.  Please, believe in me.  Please, give me time to do my best.  Please, help me to challenge myself to do more than I think is possible.”

And so there we have it.  A bit tongue-in-cheek, but quite true for many, if not all, people who have fibromyalgia (see video below).  At some point or another, we have had thoughts like these–And I am sure that most people have had thoughts/feelings/experiences like these…the thing is that we just happen to have them more often. 🙂

I hope that these entries will help to spread more awareness and give some insight into what it feels like to have fibromyalgia.  It’s no walk in the park. 😉

People with fibromyalgia, we are strong and we show that every day.  Regardless of who we are, where we are, what we do, how we live; we are trying…and in trying, we survive and eventually thrive.

Below, I leave you with “Voices of Fibromyalgia”, the video that inspired this post.  Many thanks to its creator!


Until Next Time,

Diedré

He tells me to “let it go…”

Today, I was told “just let it go” a few times in a conversation. The “let it go” was in reference to an object.  I found it a curious comment, since I rarely hold on to possessions and, with ease, give them away.

I found it curious that this person did not realize that the “thing” to which I was holding, if I were holding anything at all, was actually something intangible, something far more precious and valuable than any object.  That is, friendship.

Friendship, whether young or old, is far more important in our lives than any item that can be purchased.  It is through the connections that we build with others that we truly learn about ourselves and the process of living.  Sometimes the connections that we form are unhealthy for us, damaging, and can darken our perception of ourselves and the world around us.  Other times, our connections can pull us out of the temporary abyss in which we sometimes find ourselves.

As time accumulates with each passing moment, I have come to understand that there is nothing truly to which we can hold, except ourselves.

This connection that we have with ourselves is one to be nurtured and acts as a guide through even the most difficult of moments.Thus, even as we make or lose connection with others, we never let go of ourselves.

To my young friend, who advised me to “let it go,” I say there is no “it” of which one must let go.  Rather, one must simply let go…of every “thing” that one has ever desired to possess.

For many years, I have maintained an “open embrace,” allowing others to come into and go out of my life as they choose.  It is the way in which I prefer to live, i.e. neither feeling the need to hold on nor having the necessity to let go of…

"Black Health Is..." Found: http://cdn.madamenoire.com

“Black Health Is…” Found: http://cdn.madamenoire.com

Until Next Time,

D.

Choosing not to chase…

ImageHow do you know that you have been running until you stand still?  How do you recognize that your running has been a chase, one that is going after that which is and always will be ever-elusive…because it is not real?

We are born into a world that  sometimes demands of us to begin running before we understand what it means to truly stand, before we understand what it truly means to walk.  Sometimes, we are asked to go after and resolve the dreams of those who have come before us, because they have “failed” to achieve them.  Thus, their dreams become our dreams.  They live vicariously through us (even if they no longer live), and then we do the same to others.

As we begin this new year, we may be tempted to create long lists of goals to be achieved over the next twelve months.  That is, until we have to create newer and even longer lists that include the goals we “failed” to achieve (alongside the ones we now believe we must achieve in order to be “successful” in the process of living our lives).  We may be tempted to beat ourselves up for not having achieved our goals from the previous year(s).  We may even be tempted to simply give up and decide that we can never live life as we are expected or would like to live it.

Recently, when asked if I have made any resolutions for the new year, I have responded, “No.”  This answer, however, is not true.  There is one resolution that I have made–I have resolved to understand why I chose to make resolutions.

This year I have resolved to understand what parts of my desires for my future come solely from me, rather than from the desires of those who have come before me and who have had an influence upon my life.

It is a daunting task.  It is, however, a task that I am undertaking with great pleasure and already happy results.

28I recognize now that the fear-tinged “happiness,” which I have been chasing for so very long, is neither of my design nor is it my desire.  I recognize now, even more fully, that the capital “H” Happiness is not a fearful experience and one does not have to chase after it.  Happiness is always around you.  You simply have to choose to stop running.  You must choose to stand still–at least, this is what I have come to understand in regards to my life.

Stopping, however, is a process.  You cannot simply halt yourself midstep and not expect to fall.  No, you must slow yourself down and begin acknowledging that which surrounds you.  And as you slow down, you begin to realize that you can breathe more easily, think more freely, move more gently. You realize that the path, on which you are travelling, is not so very hard on your feet, on your body, or on your mind.  Indeed, the path is actually one that is quite beautiful even if and when it is isolated…

Beginning late October of last year, I began this process of stopping.  I decided to allow life to show me that, even at my lowest, I can also experience my highest sensations of gratitude and love.

Thus, I would like to welcome this new year with an expression of gratitude to all those who have supported me and continue to do so (even when my path diverged from their own). Particularly the following people:

  • My Mother (who is an emblem of strength),
  • My Sisters (who think and know that I am quite strange but love me anyway),
  • My Ex-partner (who showed me the part of myself that was missing and still loved me),
  • My New and Old Friends (who help me to face myself each day),
  • My New and Old Mentors (who inspire me to reach that which seems beyond me),

Thank You All.

 I hope that You have been able to welcome the new year with hope and joy. 

Until Next Time…

Best,

D.

The birds and the flow of water…

I have no desire to write today.  My body aches from fatigue and illness.  My mind focuses on all the things that I ought to do and ought to have done.  I am taking pleasure in listening to the sound of the flowing water from my shower…another ought to.  I am pondering the call of the starlings that have made their arrival known to Rome.  My mind refuses coherent thoughts. I write because if I wait for the desire to write to come, it may never do so.  I write because I recognize that I am hiding myself from certain truths, or perhaps certain fears. Today, in this moment, I am asking myself why I have chosen this path.  It is so very uncertain.  Why take a step towards a destination unknown?  I suppose I have no answer.  I can only live in the now, not the then or the hereafter . I have no guarantee that this life that I am living will lead to anything that would be considered a success by all.  What I do know is that I am filling that which was once empty.  Until next time. Best,D.

Fruit stands, and why I choose not to date…

Rome, romance…They would seem to go hand-in-hand.  Taking a look at the multitude of tourists who are perma-grinning all over the place all the time here, perhaps they do.  For me, romance is something I am choosing do without (as mentioned in a posting a couple of days back).

It isn’t just the need to focus on my well-being.  It is simply the craziness (to me) of it all.  I have found that dating doesn’t seem to quite exist here.  Many people either seem to be looking for an interesting fling/story…or they are ready to have you cooking and cleaning their houses (notice, I didn’t say marry…because, for some that is not quite what they have in mind). At this point, you may be wondering, D, why on earth are you thinking about this?

(I was attempting to find a video on attraction.  I found Yanni instead.  Makes me smile :))

The answer is that I went to buy some tangerines at the fruit stand today.  What?  Yes, it all happened at the fruit stand, where I was openly solicited by a handsome twenty-two year old, who was being actively encouraged by his older brother to ask me out.

Anyway, after laughing off the matter and abruptly extricating myself from the situation, I went home and began to think about my “dating” experiences in Rome.

And honestly, I haven’t really “dated” here in Rome.  I have met some very interesting people.  Half of whom were too young and looking for a mother/caregiver/advisor person.   The other half were older and looking for someone to dominate and exoticize.  Suffice to say, I saw through all of that easily enough, and have thus remained single.

More importantly, however, these experiences and this episode made me realize that I needed to ask myself a serious question: That is, just what is it within me that is attracting these types of people?  After all, there must be something that I am seeking to have so many of the same types of people come my way.  I am quite positive that there are many eligible, single, socially adaptable, independent, successful, internally and externally attractive people out there in the world.  So, what exactly is going on with me?

Some people may say, Well, D, you are a strong woman.  And strong attracts weak. And to those people, I will say, perhaps you are right, but I am willing to wait for the universe to present me with someone who can recognize the balance of strength and weakness within himself or herself and in others.

So, Mr. Young Fruit Stand Man, thanks but no thanks…I’ve learned this lesson too many times already.  🙂

Until Next Time!

Best,

D.

 

P.S. Excellent quote I found on ViewOnBuddhism.org:

“When we accept the way things are we are able to love everything and everybody. When we are not able to accept even one thing in this world right now, then how could we ever develop boundless love? Lack of acceptance is conflict. Conflict is pain. It is psychological pain. It is a spiritual illness. As long as our hearts are tormented by that pain, we do not have the strength to give our heart to anything and because of that it is impossible to bring about inner awakening. Enlightenment, you see, is just another name for boundless love.

It is almost impossible to practice loving-kindness towards all living beings without addressing, in a meaningful way, the innumerable problems arising in our own lives. It is a contradiction, you see. It does not work. If our heart is tormented because we are not able to accept things the way they are, then it is impossible to open our heart. It is impossible to let go of all of our defenses and embrace others. Therefore we have to constantly practice and deepen our awareness. We have to remind ourselves to accept things as they are. This is pretty much what the teachings called Mind Training are all about. Mind Training in Buddhism is about carrying those perspectives and even reciting slogans, phrases like “I shall accept the way things are.” Anam Thubten, No Self, No Problem