Tag Archives: memories

From There to Here; Maps for the Inner Child

This post is a project of a sort. A path through the first five years of my life. If someone had asked me if I would ever post pictures of myself as an infant on the internet, my answer would have been a quite vehement no. I’m not even sure why it occurred to me to do this–maybe thinking about my inner child started the process, I don’t know. Because really, who else would your inner child look like other than how you did when you were young? I don’t think it morphs into another person. It’s just a smaller, less experienced you, learning more every year.

There aren’t many people in these pictures other than me–my middle sister figures predominately. She was in a lot of the pictures I found–I was actually looking for a picture I have a vague memory of to compare to one of her two-year old daughter’s expressions, which I remember as distinctly looking like a look she used. I got sidetracked–that’s how this happened. I think the only adults are my Great-Grandparents, not through any intentional neglect toward excluding anyone, I just remember them a lot from when I was this age. Not a lot of kids I knew had Great-Grandparents, so I thought that was pretty special.

These photos are fuzzy. Some worse than others. I used scanning software on my phone to take pictures of them, so they’ve been through a lot. I thought that was appropriate as well, once I saw them on my computer. My memories aren’t clear, either. These are from loose photos I received after the death of my paternal Grandmother–I have albums, but I found these more interesting, and who really wants to see baby pictures of me attempting to eat my stroller? There’s one of me attempting to eat my hand. That’s good enough.

1 March 1969, 3 months - Oct 13, 2013, 7-55 PM 2 March 1969  Fang - Oct 13, 2013, 8-00 PM 3 June 1969 - Oct 13, 2013, 8-04 PM 4 March 1970 - Oct 13, 2013, 8-08 PM 5 February 1971 - Oct 13, 2013, 8-12 PM 6 Business card - Oct 13, 2013, 7-50 PM 7 Business card - Oct 13, 2013, 7-52 PM 8 Doc - Oct 13, 2013, 7-22 PM 9 Business card - Oct 13, 2013, 8-15 PM 10 August 1974 - Oct 13, 2013, 7-18 PM 11 November 1974 - Oct 13, 2013, 7-25 PM 12 Business card - Oct 13, 2013, 7-43 PM 13 Kindergarten 5 years old - Oct 13, 2013, 7-27 PM The first few are in the Philippines. Maybe my parents were right about me being born talking, since it looks like I’m about to in the first one. Fang, the ginormous dog, is labeled as my protector on the back on that picture. The next ones are either at my dad’s parents or at my Great-Grandparent’s house, in San Diego. I’m confusing myself a little, because I know at some point we moved to Oklahoma for various reasons–my Great-Grandparents had also moved back to Oklahoma from California. I believe I attended kindergarten in Durant, Oklahoma.

While I couldn’t find the one I was looking for of my sister, she really developed a thing for sticking her tongue out at the camera later on. I don’t know if I’ve seen my niece do that. The funny thing is that my sister in these pictures and her daughter now are roughly the same age. My Great-Grandmother and mom made my clothes–my grandmother? I don’t know. She’s the only grandparent I have who’s still alive.

Whatever the purpose I originally had of putting these together, my mind has finally gelled on something. At 44, I am full of issues, both physical and mental. My five year-old self is happy, has an uninhibited smile (okay, except for where I look serious and my sister is sticking her tongue out–it’s the tummy shot–my future pop star self), and is genuinely in the moment. She’s cuter than I remembered. I was even beating up the appearance of my inner child.

For those of us struggling with mental illness, maybe it is pointless to try to narrow out lives down to that one moment–and how can it possibly have been one moment? It must be more than that. We have a tendency to beat ourselves up, too, and are more than willing to give a long-winded self-deprecating spiel. We have a hard enough time with the illness itself, why can’t we give ourselves a break? Because it’s not just depression lurking in that Gordion knot–it’s anxiety, worry, fear, anger, resentment, blame, paranoia, sadness, hurt, betrayal, loss, grief, mistrust, and any other self-loathing behaviors we can think of tossing into the maelstrom. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to cut the damn know open until of it unraveling? The knots get looser, but they cling together for dear life because they’re the patterns we’re used to living. The ones that refuse to let us be kind to ourselves. Now, looking at all these pictures of myself that I spent so much time putting together, I see something in them. I didn’t know why I did this to start, now I do. This little person, this child, is me. If I saw that child on the playground, would I treat her the way I treat myself? No. Never. It would be hurtful, cruel, and compassionless. So why do I treat myself that way? I don’t deserve it. I can’t help the fact that I’m mentally ill; no one can.

We need to treat ourselves the way we’d treat that inner child. If it helps to get out pictures and look at them and remember, see for ourselves that yes, we really were that child once. It’s easy to think of our inner child in an abstract, invisible way. But looking at these pictures of myself, I know I really do need to be kinder to myself. Have compassion for myself. So many of us can do that for others but not for ourselves, and we need to try, because we are valuable, important, worthy, deserving people who should have kindness and love in our lives, and the first people we should get that from is ourselves. We need to give ourselves forgiveness and absolution, or we won’t heal. It’s easy for me to say all these things, because I have just as hard a time doing what I say for myself. It’s easy for me to tell other people and encourage them, but loving myself?

Maybe a start is remembering that little girl, and that she deserves love and kindness. She’s still in here, she hasn’t gone anywhere. I have a bumper sticker on my car: “Listen to Children.” I need to start listening and remembering that this little girl is here with me. Inner children don’t disappear, they just become silent. She’s just waiting for me to catch up and listen for a change.

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I’m Still Me Under All This (Part 2)

I never have felt like I fit in. People often don’t get my sense of humor, I do think in strange tangents, I’m odd. I’ve always looked, then, for that place I felt I belonged. I found one once online, which turned out to be completely artificial and ended quite disastrously. Many people were hurt emotionally. I wasn’t used to groups on the internet, or the way people took on personas and played ‘games,’ so I was just myself, because I can’t be anyone else, I’ve tried, with results that were just about as catastrophic. There was another person in this groups that had figured this out about me—that I wasn’t pretending and was more vulnerable because of my naiveté. The two of us had sort of slowly started talking. I thought he was funny, but was intimidated (he thought that was funny later) because he was very smart and witty. He finally did something silly, an alliteration or something, and I decided he wasn’t so scary after all, and started to talk to him. He’s now another reason I believe that there is a reason for the way life unfolds the way it does. The two of us are more similar than I would have thought I could be to someone without them being a twin, or, putting this tentatively forward, since I don’t know how he feels about it, a soul mate. I hope I offer him a quarter of the amount of comfort his advice and friendship gives me. He has patiently listened to everything I’ve been going through, while going through many of the same mental processes himself, dealing with his own hassles of a different health system than I’m familiar with—he lives in Berlin, he was born in Germany. In some ways our mental issues are very much alike. He just found a therapist that he thinks will work for him, an art therapist, and I started thinking, maybe that would work for me, too. Once I’m finished working with the therapist I am working with now (it’s through vocational rehabilitation), I need a new therapist. I need to do something different than I was. I need to process. Especially issues with my parents.

Let’s pretend, just for a minute, that we’re in biology, and we are going to dissect something (a very real looking 3D animation, not the real thing). The first is my little child kidney. It’s healthy, it hasn’t been around long enough to be damaged or hurt, given that I wasn’t born with any kidney abnormality (which I can safely say I wasn’t, given that I’ve had CTs and ultrasounds of my kidneys). The second is my adult kidney—me—with something damaged that needs to be figured out. It’s not working right. I’m not working right at the moment either. The two have a direct correlation. What happened between that first, child’s kidney, and the second one, my current one? I laugh and make jokes at the lab when I get tests done. As I’m handed the bag of equipment I need to take home with me to collect my 24-hour specimen, “Oh, look, it’s just like Christmas!”

Because what else can I do? I didn’t ask for any of this, mental or physical. All the issues that go along with kidney conditions—high blood pressure (last time I had it checked, 120/80), diabetes, being overweight—my weight has bounced around from the low end of my BMI two years ago to the high end, and now because of side effects of a new medication it’s going down again—none of them. I don’t have any of them. I did use a lot of Ibuprofen. I’m on prescription medications. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I never did drugs when I was younger. Not out of trying to please anyone. I just didn’t want to. So why? Stress? Some days at work I may as well have been as pressure cooker. So I keep myself in a stressed state in my search for acceptance and approval.

I was looking for a nephrite pendant because it’s first healing property is with the kidneys, and found a stone I’d never seen before. Eudialyte. It’s an amazingly beautiful stone, and I liked it immediately, but was drawn to one pendant in particular. The healing properties include healing and purifying the blood. Sounds good to me. It balances the root and the heart chakra (I really do need to learn more about those, but I think those are good things). “It can helps one to separate oneself from the anger, guilt, resentment, hostility, animosity, despondency, depression, anguish, and sorrow which limits ones self-love and the ability to give love to others; it is said to dispel jealousy and notifies us when our paths cross with our “soul mates”. My boyfriend thought anything to help re-establish self-love was a good idea. The whole perfection thing is very good for beating yourself over the head with. Hm. The site I found the quote from also mentioned something I didn’t find at any of the other sites—that it’s mildly radioactive. I’m not sure about the legitimacy of that. If I start to glow at night, I’ll know. I played with the test cores the US Corps of Engineers drilled out when they were looking for uranium on the reservation. That could explain some things.

I also saw mentioned on one page that Eudialyte was a good stone in terms of coincidences. Something along those lines. I received it in the mail yesterday and started wearing it. I started looking that evening for an art therapist, with increasing frustration, and finally found some listed under ‘play therapy’ instead of ‘art therapy.’ I found a woman I’m interested in meeting, who, strangely enough, has her BA in Art/German. She sounds like someone who would match my temperament, and she makes some really beautiful art.

Link is for Eudialyte quote.

http://zoultier.com/gem-historical-metaphysic-zoultier/eudialyte-historical-metaphysical-healing-properties

What are we, if not

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peridot Dragon Garnet eye

I’m Still Me Under All This (Part 1)

What do you do when the fuzzy mess that has been your memory breaks open and things you thought you had put behind you years ago come rushing back to hit you in a tangled mass, bringing with them emotional chaos and feelings that suddenly your medications can’t deal with adequately? When you feel like you’ve been reincarnated but you haven’t died, and you have to live through the mistakes, circumstances, events from your childhood all over again in your adult life in an attempt to find some clue, some hint, anything that will link when your brain broke to the present moment. All to find out why you are making the same mistakes in this second half of your life. How do we go from being innocent, guileless, guiltless children to the insecure, self-doubting adult we are today, punishing ourselves for unknown crimes by attempting to be perfect, do everything just right, so things will be okay? The fear of not doing a good job, the fear of letting people down who are depending on you, like the ones waiting for you to edit their manuscripts.

The manuscripts. This was the job you wanted to do, for a long time, and now I can’t even begin to work on them. I look and the words make no sense. What used to be my natural ability to sense their flow is gone. It all sounds wrong, yet I can’t find the words through the void in my brain to give the advice on how to make it better. Take out this word. Replace this. Awkward. I can manage those. Deadlines loom. I’ve been working for months and I’m destitute, completely dependent on someone else to take care of me. Maybe it’s not a surprise I’m having a hard time finding the motivation, when I have to ask for everything I need, just like a child. There’s that child again. She keeps coming back.

I had a dream I was drowning yesterday. There was another person there. I don’t remember who. I didn’t drown. I was fine. Buoyancy, I suppose you could call it. In my dream I had it. Where is it now? Resiliency? I don’t know where that went, either. It’s lurking in my sometimes inappropriately gallows sense of humor, I suppose.

So many things are happening right now I’m spinning. I hate spinning, it makes me dizzy and I don’t like feeling dizzy. I’m clumsy enough as it is, always running into walls and doorjambs. I’ve perfected a maneuver for avoiding the doorjambs, most of the time. I’ve done a better job at avoiding them than my beloved cat, who just slides into them head first at full tilt, then sits there looking stunned before shaking his head and walking away. That’s resiliency. With the wall, it’s my arms that take the brunt of the force, to at least keep me from walking completely into them. My arm stops me before the rest of me follows. At least I’m not a zombie—I would have disintegrated into bits by now from all of my architectural collisions.

But why, then, after living forty one years, am I falling apart? First my accidentally self-inflicted editing injury, pulverizing my left ulnar nerve into neuropathy and my left hand into atrophy before surgery. My first surgery since childhood when I had tubes put in my ears. My parents thought I was ignoring them. I just couldn’t hear. Then my gallbladder decided it was ready to part ways and take its polyps with it. Next was a kidney stone, blasted into bits by laser like an asteroid. That one had to be done twice because of sneaky fragments that hid away, deciding my kidney was more inviting than wherever biohazardous medical detritus goes (probably an incinerator—I won’t tell it that). Between those were white blood cells in samples where they shouldn’t be, and a round of antibiotics. Finally, I thought, done with those things.

My kidneys have decided otherwise, determined to keep my life interesting. I learned about nerves with my elbow. Now I’m learning about creatinine levels, glomerular filtration rate (GFR), and stages of chronic kidney disease. My GFR last time, after a 24-hour sample, was 53. That puts me in Stage 3. It’s a very clever thing, this disease. It has a silent phase that can last for as long as 20 or more years. But it may not be CKD—I don’t know exactly what is causing this. Neither does my PCP or one of the other doctors at my clinic, so I’m going to see a Nephrologist. That sounds very scary and like something to do with death. Or Egyptology. It just means someone who specializes in kidneys. They’re actually fascinating organs, and do amazing things for the body. They filter your blood and keep it clean, basically. The lower your GFR, the more damage your kidneys have, so mine come in at, “kidney damage with moderately low GFR,” (taken from WebMD, which has a lot of good information on kidneys). It’s a figure out what’s going on and watch and wait stage. You can go down to a GFR of 30 and stay at Stage 3.

Whatever the case, I need to change my lifestyle. That means exercise. If I were a heroine in a novel, that would be my fatal flaw, my Achilles heel, the area I need to grow. I need to eat better. I’ll learn more about that—I’m learning now, but it’s a little tricky for a vegetarian to find protein that isn’t high in  phosphorus, who isn’t my friend.

My mind and my kidneys are unraveling comorbidly then. All the things I don’t want coming back are, and what I want to be healthy isn’t. My therapy for Self-Defeating Behaviors suddenly turned into my life cracking open over determining how perfection interferes with my life. A smaller thing, I thought. I have been in therapy for years and years, many different therapists. This one, though, she is a little like me. She’s the first therapist I felt actually could empathize with me, and wasn’t just nodding her head to encourage me to keep talking. She listens, and she asks hard questions. She made me start to think, and now I can’t stop. The timing isn’t very good—it’s like a one-two punch, but considering how much my thinking is bringing up, revealing, hooking together with little claws like Velcro, the events in my childhood to the events of my adult life—it had to be done. It’s similar to pulling off a band-aid, only it feels more like duct tape.

My search for perfection didn’t just start with the difficulties I was having at work for the past couple of years. Or, as I reflected, quite a few of the jobs I’ve had, once I stopped to think about it. My reincarnated adult self started making connections, and then couldn’t stop. The overused cliché that hindsight is 20/20 isn’t always right. For one thing, I wear progressives, and even then my eyesight can’t be corrected to 20/20, so things are still a little fuzzy. Maybe that’s all right, though, because things don’t repeat themselves in exactly the same way. The way we do things as children and the way we do them as adults changes, which is why, when you first look back, similarities might not seem obvious. It’s not precisely the way we do them that’s always the important thing, though, it’s our motivations behind what we do that are the penultimate answer. Why do I try to do things perfectly? And why do I keep trying, when I never get the result I want? I’m still working on that. “Why,” as my counselor asked, “do I feel the need to keep that level of stress in my life?”

My boyfriend believes strongly in the healing powers and properties of stones and crystals. I want to. When things are already set in motion, can belief in something stop them? I believe some people are so closely attuned to things they do react immediately—a little boy I worked with who had autism loved being outside, so I started showing him different stones. I’d bring a new one every day. He would put them, unerringly, exactly on the chakra they aligned with. I asked my boyfriend about it afterward, out of curiosity because I don’t know much about chakras, and he confirmed it. This little nonverbal eight year old boy innately knew about the stones from the metaphysical level. One day he took one and wouldn’t give it back. I thought, if he feels that strongly about it, he can keep it. It was a stone listed as being very good for people with autism.