I DID IT!!!

Yea!  Yippee!  Music cued and I’m doing the happy dance!  Okay, really, I’m just sitting at my desk typing, but in my mind, I’m dancing.  Yesterday was day 28 of my own personal yoga challenge, and I am happy to say I did it!  Of course, if it would not have rained all last night and this morning, I would have had 29 days in a row since I always do beach yoga on Sundays.  Unless, of course, it is raining.  When I realized beach yoga would not be happening today, my first thought was, ‘I’ll go to Bikram;’ my second thought was, ‘what’s wrong with you?  Your body needs a break.’  So, no yoga today.   My body truly does need a day of rest.

This what I learned from doing 28 straight days of yoga – it is exhausting.  For whatever reason, I definitely need a day off to let my body recover and recuperate from all I ask of it on a daily basis.  I also think if I did beach yoga 7 days a week, I’d probably be okay.  It was the Bikram that I found so difficult.  And not difficult in that it was hard, but, rather, it was the heat and sweating like a racehorse that did me in.  Don’t get me wrong, I kind of liked it, or I at least liked the challenge of doing it.  I did not manage to fall in love with it, though I will continue to do it, but only one day a week.  What I also learned is I need to walk.  It is like breathing to me, and when I am unable to do it, I feel like something vital is missing.  I simply did not have the time to do yoga every day and walk, too.  Maybe if I didn’t have to work… but I did, I do.

I was so busy getting through last month’s challenge that I never thought of anything to do for the month of March.  Like I mentioned a few posts back, January was cleansing and no sugar or alcohol; February was continuing to eat clean, and though I did drink alcohol a couple of times, for the most part I stuck with not drinking, and, of course, my yoga challenge.  I think for March I will take it easy and spend the month deciding on a challenge for April.  It seems a good thing for me to challenge myself.

Below are a few quotes about challenge that spoke to me.  Perhaps they will inspire something in you, as well:

“To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It’s not about winning and losing; it’s about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It’s about embracing the pain that you’ll experience at the end of a race and not being afraid. I think people think too hard and get afraid of a certain challenge.”   ~Summer Sanders

“Challenge is the pathway to engagement and progress in our lives. But not all challenges are created equal. Some challenges make us feel alive, engaged, connected, and fulfilled. Others simply overwhelm us. Knowing the difference as you set bigger and bolder challenges for yourself is critical to your sanity, success, and satisfaction.”   ~Brendon Burchard

“I want to challenge you today to get out of your comfort zone. You have so much incredible potential on the inside. God has put gifts and talents in you that you probably don’t know anything about.”   ~Joel Osteen

“Scientists have demonstrated that dramatic, positive changes can occur in our lives as a direct result of facing an extreme challenge – whether it’s coping with a serious illness, daring to quit smoking, or dealing with depression. Researchers call this ‘post-traumatic growth.'”   ~Jane McGonigal

Of these four quotes, the last one explains, perhaps, the why I feel it necessary to challenge myself.  I guess in some ways I am still healing from my sexual assault, and this is my brain’s way of continuing my ‘post-traumatic growth.’  I like it!  It makes sense to me.  I think so much of what we do, of what I do, is more unconscious than not.  These small or not-so-small challenges I set for myself are a way of being more conscious in my life.  And if life truly is a journey, not a destination, as Ralph Waldo Emerson believed, then the way I see it, the more conscious we are, the better that journey will be.  So much, well, really, everything, changed in my life on 24 September 2011, which has turned out to not be a ‘bad’ thing.  I’ve just had to learn how to embrace what now is.  I will continue to challenge myself, and, hopefully, continue to grow.  And that, I believe, is a very good thing.

 

 

A YOGA CHALLENGE

The yoga studio I most go to when not doing beach yoga is Mosaic.  Starting on the 21st of this month, they are beginning a 30-Day Challenge, which includes doing yoga for 30 days, eating clean, and meditating.   I thought I would participate, but after looking at the studio’s class schedule, I realized there was no way to make it work for me.  So I decided to make my own challenge.  I started on February 1, which makes today the eighth day of my challenge.  My usual yoga schedule for the last year or so has been beach yoga on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, with the occasional class at Mosaic when it rained.

I love to walk, and as I’ve talked about before, pre-attack, I used to walk 60-90 miles each week.  The reason I got so much mileage is living on Coronado Island and walking everywhere.  My actual workout walk would be anywhere from 6-10 miles, depending on the day.  As I have also mentioned before, after my attack, my walking went to zero miles per week.  I could barely even walk to the grocery store in the middle of the day.  Eventually I was able to get back to walking, but only after the sun came up.  I have never gotten back to the kind of miles I used to put in.  That is partly because of not walking in the dark and partly because I’ve been really busy with work and don’t feel like I can take the time to walk when I need to be working.  In any case, my schedule of late has been walk on Mondays, walk sometimes early with my friend Mike on Tuesdays, bike to beach yoga on Tuesdays at 8:30a, Wednesdays sometimes walk, but usually this would be my off day, Thursdays bike to beach yoga at 8a, Fridays walk, Saturdays walk and Sundays walk to beach yoga at 9:30.  It may sound like a lot, but, really, it isn’t.  I need to move my body.  A lot.

For the month of January, I decided to drink no alcohol, eat clean, cut out sugar and processed carbs.  Though I was not 100% successful, I’d say I was better than 90% ‘good.’   I was actually in bars 3 different times during the month and drank only water.  That wasn’t as hard as it sounds when one of the bars I was in has drinks that are $15.50 without tax and tip!  Anyway, I chose to begin the year with a cleanse of sorts because I have yet to lose the weight gained after my attack.  And while it is not much, at most 10-15 pounds, and since I am tall and was thin to begin with, it’s not like I look bad; I am just not comfortable, and so decided that 2015 is the year to make it happen.  I have to say the biggest benefit of not eating sugar, which is what alcohol becomes, is very few hot flashes, and even the ones I’ve had have been tiny and not disruptive.  That alone should be enough to keep me from ever drinking again!  And to be honest, I did have one, and only one, glass of champagne on the 31st, so I did not remain alcohol-free the entire month.  I haven’t had anything since though, so that must count for something.

For February, with the idea planted in my brain to do yoga for 30 days, I decided to challenge myself to do it every day this month.  Saturday was an easy choice: go back to doing the ashtanga class I used to do in Pacific Beach.  Now I just needed to fill Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  The obvious choice for this was to do Bikram yoga at the studio here on the island.  Best of all, they have a 6a class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Perfect!  (I did a class there almost 2 years ago, and though I didn’t hate it, I had never gone back.  It really was difficult with hot flashes and made them worse.  I couldn’t see torturing myself even more so.)  I got a Groupon for $99 of 2 months unlimited yoga.  So, I had my schedule down: M,W,F Bikram, T, Th, Su, beach yoga and Sa ashtanga in Pacific Beach.  I figured the biggest challenge would be M,W,F, and oh, was I right.

I did okay on my first Bikram class last Monday.  Yes, I sweated buckets, but, thankfully, the heat did not give me hot flashes (must be the no sugar.)  Also, since I am a year more into my practice of yoga in general, I am simply stronger and better able to do the poses.  So, my first class was okay.  Since beach yoga is never a problem, Tuesday’s class was uneventful.  I did choose to walk to it, just to get some walking in.  Wednesday’s Bikram class had me wondering what I was thinking making this challenge for myself.  I was so sore.  I have been ‘Epsom salting’ myself on a nightly basis, which I’m sure helps, but I was really hurting.  I went to bed at 8:30p and slept 9 hours.  I also took ibuprofen in the middle of the night and woke up feeling much better.  Thursday beach yoga was good, as usual.  I wasn’t so much dreading Friday’s Bikram class as I was looking forward to Saturday and Sunday, which meant no Bikram.  Talk about a vacation!

Yesterday’s ashtanga class, which I had not been to since June, was awesome.  It is a pretty challenging class, but I love it.  This class is outside, on the grass above the ocean, not on the actual beach.  Steve Hubbard is the instructor and this class has grown from just a few at the beginning 7 or 8 years ago to over 200 people today.  There were between 230 and 250 yogis at yesterday’s class!  And today’s beach class was also wonderful.

Tomorrow it is back to Bikram at 6a.  I think, maybe, hopefully, the first week was the hardest.  While I cannot imagine ever loving Bikram the way I love doing yoga on the beach or my class in Pacific Beach, stranger things have happened.  I will continue to keep my mind open and enjoy the challenge I set for myself.

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The picture is from my Saturday class, taught by the wonderful Steve Hubbard.  I took this shot from Steve’s Facebook page.  You sure can’t beat the location!

 

 

A QUESTION OF TRUST

I was recently asked, given what I went through because of my sexual assault, if I trust again.  I was pretty sure what I was being asked, but I replied, ‘You mean people in general?’  Hesitantly, he said, ‘Yes.’  I suspect he was asking if I trust men again.  What I told him was, ‘Yes.’  He thought maybe I look for ‘the lie’ when dealing with people.  No, no, I don’t think I do.  I’ve thought about it a lot in the last 10 days or so since the question was posed to me, and the longer I think about it, the more I know this is true.

I have definitely been accused in the past of being naive.  Seems hard to believe that someone  would think that of me just because I tended to expect the best from people, and tended to give people the benefit of the doubt.  As Anne Frank said, “Despite everything, I believe that people are good at heart.”  I do my best, though I am not always successful, to live my life this way.  The truth is, even immediately following my assault, when I was still in shock, afraid of most everyone, men, women and children, I still knew, deep inside, that in spite of what had happened to me, most people were not bad.  And just as I really hated living on Coronado for a long time after 24 September 2011, I also knew that it wasn’t the island that had done something to me.  It was one person; well, and the entire process did not help, but it was never Coronado that hurt me.  Didn’t make it any easier to live there though, until I got through it.  I can’t even tell you exactly when it changed back for me, but one day I was walking home from uptown and it suddenly hit me that I no longer wanted to move away anymore.

I believe what I am told…is this the same as trusting someone?  I don’t think people are going to lie to me.  If you tell me something, I trust that you are telling me the truth.  Somerset Maugham said, “It’s a funny thing about life: if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”  I prefer to live my version of his quote:  It’s a funny thing about people: if you expect the best from them, you very often get it.  Or as Claude M. Bristol said, “We usually get what we anticipate.”  I think Anne Frank, Somerset Maugham and Claude M. Bristol sum up the way I used to be pre-attack, and the way I have, finally, gotten back to after a whole lot of work.  Part of what made my healing process so difficult was getting my head around the fact that it happened to me at all.  The only thing I did ‘wrong’ that morning was be tall, thin and blonde, and was be in a place that a predator was looking for just that type of woman.  I never expected it to happen to me.  Never.  And in spite of doing everything I was ever told or ever heard about how to behave in a situation like I found myself in, nothing worked, starting with no warning bells going off in my head when I first encountered DCD.  I attribute that to the fact that I didn’t expect to be attacked.  I trusted that I was safe.  Turned out I wasn’t, and my world turned upside down as a result.

What I do know with absolute certainty is I cannot, I will not, live my life being afraid.  Part of the reason I worked as hard as I did to heal from this was because no way was I letting one person, one awful event, determine the rest of my life.  I was very lucky that at the time of my attack, I was in a healthy, happy, loving relationship.  I know that my healing process would have been very different, and much more difficult, had that not been the case.  The fact that my boyfriend was very supportive and encouraging made all the difference, and even though, ultimately, the relationship did not survive, he was there for me through the worst of it.  For that, I will be eternally grateful to him.

Back in 2013, I chose TRUST as my word for the year.  This is what I wrote then:

“I TRUST that everything is working out. I TRUST that I am right where I am supposed to be. I TRUST that I am doing just what I am meant to do. I TRUST that everything happens for a reason. I TRUST that even if it may not seem like it at the time, everything truly is happening for my highest good and to make me a better person. I TRUST that the right people, the people who can be helped by my story, will read my story. I TRUST that the right people show up in my life at the right time.  I TRUST that even in the darkest hour, there is light. I TRUST that I am safe. I TRUST that even behind the clouds the sun is shining. I TRUST that I am making a difference. I TRUST that all my dreams are coming true. I TRUST that everything happens in perfect and Divine timing.”

Yeah, what I said more than two years ago!  And since I am two years further along my healing path, I can honestly say that, yes, I do trust people again, though I’m not positive I really ever stopped.  And last, but not least, my new favorite quote from Pinterest:

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And while the patience part is challenging, I do TRUST my journey.

 

THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE

I loved this book by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.  I just finished listening to it yesterday, though during the middle of it, I ordered the actual book, too.  I knew it was one I’d want to have and be able to reference.  It was a tough listen as times, but it explained a lot of what I’ve been through and continue to go through.

 

 

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What makes this book even more relevant to me is the fact that it was just published in 2014, which means it has the latest information about trauma that is available.

The inside dust jacket has this to say about Dr. Van Der Kolk and the book:

“This profoundly humane book offers a sweeping new understanding of the causes and consequences of trauma, offering hope and clarity to everyone touched by its devastation.  Trauma has emerged as one of the great public health challenges of our time, not only because of its well-documented effects on combat veterans and on victims of accidents and crimes, but because of the hidden toll of sexual and family violence and of communities and schools devastated by abuse, neglect and addiction.

Drawing on more than thirty years at the forefront of research and clinical practice, Bessel Van Der Kolk shows that the terror and isolation at the core of trauma literally reshape both brain and body.  New insights into our survival instincts explain why traumatized people experience incomprehensible anxiety and numbing and intolerable rage, and how trauma affects their capacity to concentrate, to remember, to form trusting relationships, and even to feel at home in their own bodies.  Having lost the sense of control of themselves and frustrated by failed therapies, they often fear that they are damages beyond repair.

THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE is the inspiring story of how a group of therapists and scientists–together with their courageous and memorable patients–has struggled to integrate recent advances in brain science, attachment research and body awareness into treatments that can free trauma survivors from the tyranny of the past.  These new paths to recovery activate the brain’s natural neuroplasticity to rewire disturbed functioning and rebuild step-by-step the ability to ‘know what you know and feel what you feel.’  They also offer experiences that directly counteract the helplessness and invisibility associated with trauma, enabling both adults and children to reclaim ownership of their bodies and their lives.

Readers will come away from this book with awe at human resilience and at the power of our relationships–whether in the intimacy of home or in our wider communities–to both hurt and heal.”

What this book also showed me is the things I did, EMDR, yoga, to name just two, were the ‘right’ ones to undertake and have contributed mightily in my healing process.  I also realize I still have more healing to do –dang it– but that it is possible to rewire the neuro pathways in my brain even more than I’m sure they have already been rewired.  It is a process and as much as I want it to be finished, the simple truth is it’s not.  I think, too, that for people who are on a healing path, it is lifelong endeavor, whether you suffered a traumatic childhood event, a devastating car accident, the death of a child or spouse, or just the day-to-day living of life that can sometimes be unbelievably difficult.  I’m realizing more and more that we are never really finished.  As I always told my therapist, I do not have a choice in this.  I have to keep moving forward.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who has suffered a traumatic event personally or knows of someone who has.  The knowledge and insights you will gain will be invaluable to understanding the why of how trauma affects the body and mind.

 

DYING TO BE ME

From the back cover of the book:  “In this truly inspirational memoir, Anita Moorjani relates how, after fighting cancer for almost four years, her body began shutting down—overwhelmed by the malignant cells spreading throughout her system. As her organs failed, she entered into an extraordinary near-death experience where she realized her inherent worth . . . and the actual cause of her disease. Upon regaining consciousness, Anita found that her condition had improved so rapidly that she was released from the hospital within weeks—without a trace of cancer in her body! Within these pages, Anita recounts stories of her childhood in Hong Kong, her challenge to establish her career and find true love, as well as how she eventually ended up in that hospital bed where she defied all medical knowledge. As part of a traditional Hindu family residing in a largely Chinese and British society, Anita had been pushed and pulled by cultural and religious customs since she was a little girl. After years of struggling to forge her own path while trying to meet everyone else’s expectations, she had the realization, as a result of her epiphany on the other side, that she had the power to heal herself . . . and that there are miracles in the Universe that she’d never even imagined. In DYING TO BE ME, Anita freely shares all she has learned about illness, healing, fear, “being love,” and the true magnificence of each and every human being! This is a book that definitely makes the case that we are spiritual beings having a human experience . . . and that we are all One!”

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I listened to this book while in the middle of my healing process (not that is it actually over at this point) from my sexual assault, and I realized that I, too, had had a NDE, a near death experience, though not in the way that they normally occur.  Because my assault was interrupted, which prevented my attacker from following through with his intention to rape me, I was also saved from the punches that were coming my way.  The last thing I remember before hearing my guardian angel’s voice was DCD’s fists getting ready to beat the shit out of me because I wouldn’t stop screaming and fighting him.  The only way he was going to be able to get control of me was to knock me out.  As I’ve said in the past, I was literally fighting for my life.  And in doing that, I dissociated from myself from the situation I was in.  It wasn’t so much that I left my body and was watching what was happening to me as it was the feeling that I simply was not there.   Dictionary.com defines a near death experience as “an unusual experience taking place on the brink of death and recounted by a person after recovery…”  Given that definition, that’s exactly what happened to me.  I am sure I’ll have plenty more to say on this, but for now this post is about Anita Moorjani’s book and her experience.

I loved the book.  Her story is simply amazing.  She was, literally, hours away from certain death when her near death experience occurred.  What she ‘saw’ and ‘heard’ changed her life forever.

 

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YES!!!

It’s that time again. Time to figure out what my word for the coming (tomorrow, for goodness sake) New Year should be.  I’ve had some difficulty deciding.  And really, it’s more of a phrase than just a word, though it can be either, I suppose.  The point is it’s an action more than simply a feeling; a reminder to: Just Do It, to Go For The Gusto, to Grab Life By The Horns, to stop waiting for whatever it is I’ve been waiting for, to say YES to everything. I said back in September on the 3rd anniversary of my attack that I had survived and was ready to thrive. It’s time to take it a bit further and stop being so guarded.  Do I have a good reason for continuing to hold myself back?  For my heart and mind still being the slightest bit closed?  Perhaps, but where does that get me?  Alone…not necessarily lonely…but definitely by myself a lot of the time.

So my word for 2015 is YES!  And my phrase is Say Yes To Everything!  Well, most everything.  I am all for dancing like no one is watching, loving like I’ve never been hurt (or, for that matter, sexually assaulted) but I draw the line at singing like no one is listening, because the truth is I simply cannot hold a tune.  Okay, not only cannot I not hold a tune, I can’t even get into tune.  So, no singing; any and everything else, though, I intend to say YES to.

I also intend to continue my twice a week posting.  Last week I was in Atlanta for Christmas and decided to skip it since it’s more challenging to do it on the phone.  Overall, though, I did pretty well throughout the year with my intention for 2014 and consistently posting.  I find I really do need a set schedule to make it happen.  Some weeks I didn’t post on Wednesday, but I discovered that Thursday is just as good in case I can’t get my act together for Wednesday.  As for my Sunday posts about books that I read that have made a difference in my life and in my healing process, I’ll continue with those for the foreseeable future.  I love books and love to read, so I don’t think I’ll run out of recommendations for a while.

Thank you to all who continue to read my story.  There is so much yet to be told.

And as the sun sets on 2014…HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone.

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May 2015 be full of love, happiness, prosperity, peace and joy for us all!

WARRIOR POSE

I just finished reading, (yes, I actually had to read it as it is not available on audio), this book, and it is amazing.  AMAZING!  It is Brad Willis AKA Brava Ram’s autobiography, the story of his life as a war correspondent, how a devastating injury changed his life and the unbelievable power of the mind to heal.

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Warrior Pose is Indiana Jones merged with Gautama Buddha…a miraculous affirmation of the power of self-healing, a war story, a love story and a spiritual journey of epic proportion.  It is your story, my story, the human story.”  ~Dr. Emmett Miller, Pioneer of Mind-Body Medicine

Also from the book jacket:

“From covering the front lines of the Gulf War to investigating Colombian drug lords to living with freedom fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan, war correspondent Brad Willis was accustomed to risk.  But when mortal danger came, it was from an unexpected. direction.

At the pinnacle of his career, a broken back and failed surgery left Willis permanently disabled and condemned to a life in a body brace.  Then came a diagnosis of terminal, stage IV throat cancer.

At his 50th birthday party, friends gathered around Willis, who was crippled, almost mute, depressed, strung out on narcotic medications, and dying.  Halfway through the celebration Willis realized the party’s true purpose–his friends were there to say goodbye.

Everyone knew Willis was on his way out…everyone except his 2-year-old son, who urged, “Get up, Daddy!”

His son’s words ringing in his ears, Willis chose to abandon Western medicine and embrace the most esoteric practices of Yoga to heal his body, mind and soul–ridding himself of cancer and fully restoring his back.  As a symbol of his journey, he took the spiritual name Bhava Ram, which stands for “Living From The Heart.”

Warrior Pose is an adventure chronicling some of the most momentous events of our time through a journalist’s eyes, an unforgettable story about the power of love between a father and son, and a transformational journey of self-healing, inner peace and wholeness.”

Candace Pert, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, RAPID Laboratories, Inc; author of Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d and Molecules of Emotion: The Scientific Basis Behind Mind-Body Medicine had this to say about the book:

“Remarkable recoveries and miraculous healing of incurable cancers and other terminal disease have been the topic of many recent books.  Bhava, born Brad Willis, has written the most exciting, original and vividly relevant book yet on this topic.  Its concise, hard-hitting prose makes a page turner about the shockingly grim world behind the nightly news as revealed to a top television reporter.  Ram ignores his progressive physical collapse, stuffing his feelings and internal life to focus entirely on his macho career.  Using his fierce will to survive and strong intellect to question medical authority, Bhava draws inspiration from the miracle of his son Morgan, halts his self-sabotaging habits, chooses ‘right living,’ and heals himself via a selfless emotional life dedicated to teaching and healing others.”

I have said before that yoga was instrumental in my healing process, that it definitely contributed to saving my life during my healing process from my sexual assault, and it was and it did.  I am in awe of just how dedicated and determined Brad Willis was to save his own life and transform himself into Bhava Ram.  I highly recommend this book.

 

TIME CHANGE

Most everyone set their clocks back an hour this past Sunday.  It is my favorite day of the year.  Whenever I tell people this, they look at me like I’ve lost my mind.  The reason it’s my favorite day is the day seems endless.  Or at least it used to when I’d wake up at my usual time, but instead of it being 5a, it was now 4a, and I’d get up and walk for 2 hours, which is 8 or so miles, and when I’d get it home, it was only 6a.  The entire day would go like that.  It would seem so much later and it would only be, like 10:30a.  Now, though, because I don’t really walk in the dark anymore, when I wake up super early, I don’t want to get up, because, really, what am I going to do?  This last Sunday, I woke up and realized I couldn’t get up and walk, not because of the darkness, though it wouldn’t be that way for long, but because I have beach yoga on Sunday mornings at 9:30 and I walk to it, which is about 2 miles.  And then afterwards I walk home.  So I am getting a nice walk and yoga, and a 4-6 mile walk before that seemed silly.  So I went back to pretend sleep.  Pretend sleep is what I do when I don’t want to get out of bed because it’s either dark or cold or both.  I’m beginning to think I was a bear in a past life, and that’s why all I want to do these days is hibernate.

It is very strange, but before the time changes, and before we have nighttime temps in the 50s, I have no problem getting up.  Now, it’s a completely different story.  I so do not want to get out of bed because it’s cold, freezing actually, in my house.  It doesn’t help that I have to sleep with my ceiling fan on to help with my stupid hot flashes, so not only is the house cold (no insulation, typical in old California houses) because it’s cold outside, I have the extra breeziness from my fan making it even colder.  In past years, I used to sleep with my workout clothes on so that all I had to do on our chilly mornings was put my shoes on, that way avoiding being naked to get dressed.  If I tried that now, I would cook myself, even without the electric blanket because of those stupid hot flashes I already mentioned.  It is quite a dilemma.

I also realize that any of you reading this while living someplace other than Southern California, someplace where it is actually cold, will probably be rolling your eyes and saying this isn’t cold.  I’ll be the first to agree that it isn’t cold, but I am the world’s biggest wimp when it comes to being cold.  Besides, it’s all relative.  I lived in Chicago for 10 years, so I definitely know cold, and this is, of course, nothing even close to that.  However, it’s cold for here and especially after the really hot weather we have had since we began May with 2 separate heat waves.  And this week it is hot again.  I know, I know, poor us, right?  Well, if you lived here, you’d understand.  This picture I found on Facebook might help explain it a little better:

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And I am not afraid to say I did this on Tuesday.  And I wore two jackets to beach yoga.  Of course, once I got over to the beach and into the sunshine, it was warmer. Clearly,  it doesn’t bother me to look like a dork.  I would have worn my slippers, but I don’t want to get sand in or on them.

I digress…back to the time changing…I’ve decided that it may no longer be my favorite day of the year.  I love that it is light earlier, but I do not like that it is dark by 5:30p and that will only get worse until we reach 21 December, which by the way is not the shortest day of the year.  It may be the day with the least amount of daylight, but every day is 24 hours, regardless of the light or lack thereof.  Anyway, getting up when it is dark and cold is just too much for me.  And I do it anyway.  Just this morning (and Tuesday) I met a friend to walk at 5a.  According to my phone it was 61 degrees, though my thermometer said it was about 10 degrees colder.  I didn’t look at it until I got back though, so thinking it was above 60, I wore a skort.  I was fine because we walk fast.  Now, though, I am trying to decide if I can keep it on or if I should put yoga pants on; not long pants, mind you, because it isn’t that cold…yet.   I am sitting here, wrapped in a blanket, freezing, while writing this, but it is sunny outside and going up into the high 80s again today, so even if it is little chilly on my bike ride over to the beach, the actual beach should be warm enough.  I know I have tough decisions to make, but someone has to live here and deal with this kind of stuff on a daily basis!

IT’S NOT A STRAIGHT LINE

As much as I’d like it to be, as much as I’ve tried to make it be, it simply is not a straight line.    In my mind it goes something like this — you get attacked, you do whatever it takes to make sure your attacker is prosecuted and sent to prison, you go to therapy, and you are healed.  But what happens when you get attacked, you do everything you can to make sure your attacker is prosecuted and sent to prison, you go to therapy, and you aren’t quite healed?  If you are me, apparently, you beat yourself up for not being where you feel like you should (there I go, shoulding myself) be at this point.  I have been accused in the past of being too hard on myself, for holding myself to some impossible standard or ideal that pretty much no one could ever attain, and when I, of course, fail to achieve it, I then beat myself up.  This is a vicious cycle and it needs to stop.  The question is how to do I do this, how do I get off this merry-go-round?

I am not sure why I have such a hard time acknowledging and being proud of myself for how incredibly far I have already come.  I can easily say that I understand this to be true on some level, but I’m not sure I truly understand that to be the case.  I think I want it to be true, because otherwise all the work I’ve done, and it is considerable, would seem to be for nothing, and that might just put me over the edge.  Some days I do see the progress I’ve made and I feel good about it.  Other days, though, the most innocuous comment sends me off the deep end.  And, worst of all, sometimes it is me who makes that comment.  Like today.

I was accused (and rightly so) of being mean to myself.  At first I did not see it this way.  I was being sarcastic about what I was saying about myself.  I used to be a very sarcastic person (pre-Hoffman), but these days I rarely use sarcasm because I now understand that sarcasm is just thinly veiled anger.  And I make an effort to be kind, not condemning to others.  I somehow forget to include myself in that effort.  (How’s that for irony?)  Then it was pointed out to me that perhaps it is myself that I am angry at, for not being what I call ‘done with my healing.’  This, of course, starts me on the hamster wheel yet again.

All of this happened today in my energy healing session with Marsha Bliss.  I am still in physical pain, and though not a lot, it is still enough to make me want to do something to get rid of it.  While Marsha was working on me and we were talking about my post a week ago about my ‘new normal’, as in, is the way my life is now my new normal?  Marsha made up an example of someone who has lost a limb, and after a period of time, is now skiing.  This person has not let the lack of a leg stop them from moving forward.  This has become the new normal for them.  Something about that conversation triggered an incredible sadness in me and the tears to go with it.  Here’s the thing – when we see someone, (from the outside, because, really, unless you’ve been there, you can NEVER know what goes on behind the scenes, what goes on inside of them,) who has triumphed after a tragedy and we think, wow, this person is happy and has moved on and bla, bla, bla.  That’s just it, we simply do not know what happens when they go home at night, if they are crying themselves to sleep or are one step away from suicide or really are doing okay, in spite of it all.  We just don’t know.

 

I wrote the above paragraphs last night, and while I have no idea if they somehow influenced my dreams, I did have really weird dreams and woke up this morning feeling rather blue.  Then when I was going through my emails, I came upon the following quote, which gives me enormous hope:

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”   ~Benjamin Franklin

I’ve been nothing if not persistent in my desire and actions to move through this traumatic event.  And something else Marsha said yesterday has been running around in my head, and that is that we are never done with whatever it is we are doing in our lives.  If we’re done, we’re dead.  I get this, I really do.  I understand that once we get through, put behind us or in some other way move on from a situation, traumatic or otherwise, something else is bound to come up.  We’ve all heard the adage that God, Life, the Universe (whatever word you want to use) never gives us more than we can handle.   I believe this.  I even have it posted above my desk (don’t always remember to look up to read it, but it’s there.)  And as much as I subscribe to this belief, I always just as often forget about it.  I think what all this means to me is I just have a lot more stuff to deal with, and not all of it, maybe even none of it, has anything directly to do with my attack.  I definitely attribute, if not all, most of what I am dealing with these days to that one event, and that would be because so much of it seems to stem from it.  Physically, I have not been the same since, so it makes sense that it would be the reason.  And, really, it probably is.  At the same time, what this also means is there is still unresolved issues from my past that are arising now because I am finally at a place in my evolution that I am able to deal with them.  That is both comforting and annoying.   So, to paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald from “The Great Gatsby,” I beat on, boat against the current, born back ceaselessly in the past.

 

 

IS THIS MY NEW NORMAL?

Just when I think I’m all done…Since it has been a little over three years, for some reason, I think my healing should be complete. Is this too much to ask for? I’ve worked really hard. I did I intense therapy (EMDR) for 14 months; I’ve read and reread (okay, actually I’ve listened and listened again, since I still have some trouble reading a book) books designed to help me through the trauma, and really, life in general; I workout again on a regular basis; I write about my experiences each week; I feel really good, for the most part. Oh, I have my moments, but they are few and far between. So why, oh why, is my body still hanging onto the muscle memory of my attack?

I am unable to walk, as in my working out walk, near the Hotel Del without a physical reaction. Usually this means that when I get too close, my back starts hurting. The really weird thing is I do yoga on Thursdays and Sundays practically in front of the Del, and that isn’t a problem. I can even go inside the hotel without a response, but if I walk anywhere near it, my body seems to think I’m still in some kind of danger. It is beyond frustrating. Do I have to walk by the Del?  No, but this is not a huge island and not being able to walk on that side of it definitely limits where I can walk. More importantly, how can I get my body to understand that I am safe? That proximity to where my attack happened does not mean it is going to happen again. Or is this something that I will just have to live with for the rest of my life?  Is this really my new normal?

And as if the physical aspect of this isn’t enough…last Saturday at my Hoffman gathering, during one of the visualizations, up came my attack.  This was quite a surprise as with this particular tool, it is usually a scene from childhood that comes up.  No such luck.  And whereas I normally cannot see the patterns I am still hanging onto, I clearly saw and understood what they are this time.  Rats!  Even more distressing was the second time we did the visualization, I got the same dang scene.  That really threw me.  After we complete the elevators, we pair off to discuss them.  I simply did not wish to go into it with my partner.  It was nothing personally against him, but he is a guy, and a guy is the reason for my attack, so I chose to let him tell his scenes and I kept quiet about mine.  Because I am usually more forthcoming at these gatherings, the facilitator was a little curious as to why I did not want to share with my partner.  In the end, I ended up sharing it, to a degree, with the entire group.  Again, it wasn’t anything personal, but it was such a shock that it came up this way and I wanted time to think about it on my own.

So what have I thought about since Saturday?  Honestly, not much.  It seems that the memories come and go and I, apparently, have no real control over them.  I know that I want, more than anything, to be completely over my attack.  And maybe this is just unrealistic.  Do we ever totally get over the traumatic events of our lives?  Or is it more of a fading of the memories over time?  In the scheme of things, three years really isn’t that long.  It feels like it is, but, really, it just isn’t.  It feels like I’ve been dealing with this forever.  I just want to feel good again.  Like, really good, in mind, body and spirit.  I don’t think this is too much to ask.

If this is my new normal, (and just what is normal?), then, perhaps an attitude adjustment of sorts is in order.  What I’ve done, and continue to do, is what has gotten me to this point, and I think I am on the right track, so I just need to keep on keeping on, trusting that I’ll be finished with my healing when I’m finished with my healing.  There is no rushing it, as much as I’d like to, and as much as I keep trying to.  Clearly, that is not working.  And the truth is, I am much better able to deal with the mental aspects of this far better than the physical ones.  (After I finished my therapy and then five days later my back went out, I realized that I’d rather have to do another 14 months of intense mental work than have physical pain.  That, I am really not good at handling.)  As far as my body goes, I know I just need to keep moving it.  I need to feed it good, clean food.  I need to do my best to stay away from the things that make me feel worse, like my old friend sugar.  I do so well for a time, and then I fall off that sugar wagon.  Again.  Right now, I am half on, half off, which I guess is better than completely on, but not nearly as good as completely off.  Working on it, though.  Every day.  And getting used to the idea that this is my normal now, and that’s okay.  It is what it is.