Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have


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Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself

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Reactive Attachment Disorder & Me

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/reactive-attachment-disorder/basics/definition/con-20032126

No, I’ve never been formally diagnosed as having RAD but I definitely fit the criteria and identify with it. Most know of it as something only in children but reactive attachment disorder doesn’t cure itself with ageing. I come from an emotionally neglectful home and can’t find any photos of me smiling as a baby when being held by someone (including my mother). If I smiled it was when I was alone, playing on my own. Thinking about RAD makes me sad because I know how many of the problems I had in life are related to never forming a healthy attachment (secure attachment) with my mother. How do you form an attachment with someone who has serious issues of their own and no insight to get treatment? Small wonder I failed to develop a secure attachment with mom and never wanted to be held by her. I didn’t even like being touched so hardly got used to liking it.

Today I saw my counsellor and brought up my feelings of sadness and grief connected with RAD. Most of the session I simply cried and let out my pain from not feeling like I was secure with my mother. Mom was abused as a child herself and never went through therapy so passed her trauma onto me. Often I felt completely alone and helpless-not to mention uncared for. Naturally I never knew what I was feeling because I had no mirror or person to helpfully teach me what I was experiencing. This lead to a lot of anxiety because I didn’t know what was going on in me. Mom sometimes offered comfort but other times she neglected me and I felt ignored, like my emotions didn’t mean anything. This taught me to not express emotion overtime which lead to much pent up anger.

"Love is unconditional and 'knows' that our psychological pain comes but from our ego. Attachment 'thinks' that our pain comes from other people. Attachment dissolves when its object does not conform to what our ego wants. The pain we feel then is created by our frustrated ego, which calls these people toxic, whereas it's our own ego who acts toxically. This is called projection and precludes our development.~JY Besle"

“Love is unconditional and ‘knows’ that our psychological pain comes but from our ego. Attachment ‘thinks’ that our pain comes from other people. Attachment dissolves when its object does not conform to what our ego wants. The pain we feel then is created by our frustrated ego, which calls these people toxic, whereas it’s our own ego who acts toxically. This is called projection and precludes our development.~JY Besle”

The erratic expression of concern contrasted with indifference or anger from my mother when I was upset gave me no security upon which to build my emotional immune system. For a long time I felt numb or like I might emotionally bleed to death. Mercifully, numbness was more salient than any other feeling but it didn’t help me to mature properly either. As a result I isolated myself or spent time in unsatisfying, dysfunctional friendships that met none of my needs. Romantic relationships were a non starter so I am horribly stunted in this area. All that I know is what I have read from psychology and self help books. Having RAD meant I didn’t want to be touched because my earliest experiences were negative with few positive experiences to even out my perspective.

I wish I could reach out to people and tell them what I need but it’s really scary for me. I’m so used to trying to function as though I need no one but it’s painful because I am left dealing with everything on my own. The exception being when I see my counsellor. Just imagining trying to tell a friend what I am feeling or need has never been something I’ve managed to do. My thought is that they would not respond kindly or would reject me as my mother did. Since many of the friendships I have had have been with emotionally unavailable people my fears were not without warrant. Now I am wishing I could wave a magic wand and have friends in real life who accept me as I am-not as they wish for me to be.

This is a real grieving process. Knowing that I have spent so much time feeling alone with no close relationships hurts. Maybe if I’d realised my issues were attributable to RAD I could have avoided unnecessary treatments or at least not wasted my time exploring stuff that had little to do with my actual problem, attachment.

Perhaps the silver lining in my experiences is that I am wiser than I’d have been if I grew up in comfortable surroundings without any conflict. Although I didn’t enjoy going through what I have gone through I know it has given me insights and perspectives that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Pain can be a teacher and hopefully I will continue to see the messages in whatever it is that happens, not just what has already occurred. As the saying goes “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”.

Being personally insightful, self aware and philosophical has without question helped me along the way. I know I am

Adult attachment styles & romantic relationships

Adult attachment styles & romantic relationships

lucky to be 32 and unpacking trauma now instead of a decade or two later. I feel grateful for the opportunities I have been given and want to be mindful of all that I have, not the things I’ve lost. Yesterday, when I went to counselling, I was feeling sad with grief but being open about my feelings with my counsellor gave me healing. Today the sadness that had been hanging over my head is gone and I feel uplifted.

So often all that I require is the space to be open with my thoughts and feelings without fear of being shamed. Not all of my therapists have helped me but those that did I am immensely grateful to. It’s been a long road I’ve been on (this healing road) not always knowing if I was making progress or not in therapy. At 17 I embarked on a journey, a head shrinking journey, that has been successful in the last half or so more than the first when I fought merely to stay alive. Those early therapy years I struggled against suicidal thoughts and anger that I had “failed” in my attempts to kill myself. I wasn’t able to get very far then because I felt depressed and anxious constantly. Psychiatrists unwilling to take the time to get to know me threw me out with the proverbial bathwater labeling me as Borderline Personality Disordered. Now, I have concluded they were not the a**holes I used to think of them as, but rather lazy and too comfortable in their practice to take on any hint of a challenge. In other words, they had their patients already and were established enough that they didn’t want “bothersome/trouble” patients with BPD. They had lost any compassion they might have started with in favour of seeing only those with “easy” diagnoses-aka drug treatable conditions.

My attachment disorder is not cured but I see half the battle as having identified the root issue behind my troubles. Overcoming the rest of my attachment related issues won’t be easy but I feel confident I have what it takes to get through it.

Do you have attachment difficulties and if so, how have you dealt with them? Please share.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

 


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Forgiveness Is For You (Reblog)

I came across this post by another blogger which may not be to some people’s taste but this is my blog so I’m posting! 😉 Her blog is called Raise Your Vibration and is about esoteric type things I enjoy but may not be for everyone. So just warning you in case you really dislike esoteric kind of stuff.

http://raiseyourvibration.com/forgiveness-is-for-you-it-has-nothing-to-do-with-the-other-person-by-sabrina-reber/

 


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B4 Peace Monthly Challenge

Let’s visualize what a peaceful world will look like. For this month’s peace challenge, I challenge you to publish what your dream of peace looks like. Here are a few prompts. Feel free to use one or create your own.

  • With as much detail as possible, describe a day in a world full of peace.
  • What would the radio, internet, television sound/look like in a peaceful world?
  • Pick a spot in the world today that has conflict and re-vision this area as peaceful.
  • What would all the people who are in active duty to conflict do if we had world peace? How would we alter our spending, resources, and brain power if we didn’t have to worry about war?
  • Describe the world you want your children to live in. How would they feel? What would they be doing and with whom?
  • Pretend you are the only one living who remembers a world without peace. How would you describe how grateful you are to be living in a peaceful world?

Don’t forget to link to at least one other B4Peace post and add your post to the Linkz collection. 

 

I realize I haven’t done a B4 Peace monthly challenge in a while; yes, I feel guilty for that so when I checked October’s challenge and saw what it was I had to do it. What would a world look like at peace? Now there’s a challenge I can attempt!

In my view a peaceful world would entail one where we are all self aware and able to meditate on a regular basis. We would

meditation

meditation (Photo credit: HaPe_Gera)

all have a reasonable grasp on ethics and possess a moral and ethical compass inside us that never failed us. Our minds would not be full of a million meaningless things but mindfully aware of the moment we’re alive in. Distractions would be unnecessary because we would have no emotional scars repressed or suppressed in our subconscious and unconscious mind; thus we would not have pain to seek escape from through distraction. Our hearts would be filled with loving kindness and endless compassion for ourselves and others.

Arbitrary concepts that oppress people would be eliminated because we would be beyond the need to control others through oppression. Our enlightened minds would embrace everyone’s differences knowing we are all in this world together wishing to love and be loved. Through that awareness we would not even consider rejecting people based on concepts that separate us. Each individual would have their needs met easily since not wanting to oppress anyone we would live without poverty; thus our attention could be placed on cultivating our enlightenment. No one would even think about war because in our self awareness we would recognize the only problem is inside our mind and anger is a reflection of who we are not anyone else. People could still disagree and have differences of opinion but they would not culminate in anything more than a healthy debate.

The compassion and love inside each and every individual would effectively prevent wars from taking place; furthermore, our self awareness would also aid in mediating any conflicts that might arise leading us to make smart decisions, such as walking away or taking a few deep breaths if necessary. If anyone got to a critical state where there was anger the parties involved would be evolved enough to take time out to meditate on the folly of their ways. After sufficient meditation the anger would be gone or reduced to a reasonable degree and tensions would evaporate or diminish substantially. Denial and any other type of defence mechanism would also be unnecessary since these tend to arise when we feel afraid or uncomfortable facing a situation or truth. Similarly, honesty would be our default mode and lying would be seen as an ethical lapse requiring us to inquire within why we felt lying was permissible.

A peaceful world requires us to develop compassion for ourselves and others. Greed is a leading cause in wars so this is something everyone would have to consciously monitor themselves for. Being filled with compassion and love for everyone we would not wish to take more than we need however, thus mitigating the risk for malignant greed developing. In order to maintain our peaceful world we would all have to be evolved enough to the stage where we possess awareness of who we are; thus not blaming others for our own errors.

I think world peace is a long way off for us but it is not impossible. It begins with you and me though. If each one of us looked within ourselves and found inner peace we would radiate that to the outside world. Through our inner peace we would “infect” others with our positive vibrations leading to more people seeking their own inner peace. We cannot find peace OUTSIDE of us. Peace is found INSIDE ourselves. This is where we need to look if we wish to have world peace someday. To get there is as easy as sitting on a meditation cushion/bench or chair for 5 to 10 minutes if new to the practice and longer for more seasoned practitioners.

©Natalya, 2012-2013.


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Reductio ad Absurdum (Reduction to Absurdity)

I’ve been thinking lately about the annoying phenomenon of people taking a maxim or truism and not considering how

English: Pope Pius IX funeral.

English: Pope Pius IX funeral. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

they’re reducing a helpful bit of information to absurdity. For example, take the maxim or phrase “leave the past in the past and move on”. A fine piece of advice in many different circumstances but NOT every circumstance! Another is “don’t dwell on the past”. Again, perfectly good advice and apt in lots of ways but not in EVERY circumstance. When you have been abused as a child hearing such phrases are invalidating and unhelpful to say the least. We don’t need condemnation for not healing ourselves in a New York minute! Healing from abuse and trauma takes time, especially when it happened in childhood. People need to respect this fact and not add guilt to our burdens by telling us some variation of “move on”.

Generally when people use these phrases they are trying to either make us feel better or make themselves feel less uncomfortable in our presence, or both. It is not a case of people lacking a heart it’s just that they haven’t learnt how to feel compassion for themselves so can’t offer it to others. The best you’ll get from a lot of people is sympathy. Lots of people are empathetic and have compassion but these aren’t the people you end up dealing with when you’re hurting! Call it Murphy’s Law or bad luck, either way it doesn’t lead to a place of understanding.

My grandmother’s funeral is today and I’m not attending because I didn’t love her and am angry she stayed married to an incestuous pedophile. She never attempted to make amends in the years after my mother was forced to leave home either. My grandmother chose to take her husband’s side and have my mother leave the family home when she was a teen. Mom was very traumatized and never got better which lead to her abusing my sister and I. Now I am supposed to just pretend nothing happened and attend the woman’s funeral because it’s the “right thing to do”? I don’t think so!

Perhaps someone more spiritually evolved would be able to “forgive and forget” but I am not that evolved. Instead, I am choosing to stay home from my grandmother’s funeral because I will not participate in more deception and phoniness. The aunts that will be there are the ones who chose to ignore their inner child’s pleas for compassion after being abused, instead opting for a mask they could put on for the world to appear “normal”. I tried to wear a similar mask but it always fit poorly and would fall off. Sadly, people with better fitting masks took the opportunity to make sure I felt inferior-but no more! I am not going to force myself into a mold so other people feel comfortable. It is not my problem if people end up being uncomfortable in the presence of authenticity.

I guess I should try to address reducing arguments or tenets to absurdity since it’s the title of my post. Well here’s one that bugs the Hell out of me “treat everyone equally”. So I can hear the protests already and you wondering what on earth is my problem with such a fine ideal as equality. The issue is not everyone has the same abilities and conditions meaning we are not equal in anymore than a human/spiritual sense. Yes, we’re equal as far as human beings but past that we stop being equal. After our inherent human equality there’s inequality of sex, race, economic status, etc. If I am economically rich and have white skin I have more privilege than someone economically poor-especially if they happen to be a person of colour. Add in gender and dis-ability and the playing field we are on is not even close to level.

We are all unique and have different talents but we can’t penalize people for systemic racism and sexism or preference for materially wealthy people. I do not like the notion of treating everyone equally because we haven’t all got the same advantages. This is the reason we have affirmative action policies in workplaces and schools. Disabled people and people of colour have racism and ableism to contend with that able people and white people don’t. Even if you are an able white woman you do not have the same advantages an able white man has. Able bodied white men of middle and upper classes have power the rest of us don’t.

My favourite term in the discussion of equality is “false parallels”. False parallels occur when we look at someone of colour who decides to cater only to other people of colour and white people complain it’s racism. It is NOT racism because people of colour don’t hold the power white people have. Thus, persons of colour catering to others like them are simply ensuring they don’t have to compete with those who already have an advantage in society from their white skin. A similar idea is all women’s clubs where men complain of sexism. Like people of colour, women hold less power than men so women organizing a club only for women is not sexist. It is sexist for the group in power (men) to have an all mens’ club excluding women, provided the club is something women could participate in. I am not suggesting we start having segregated this and that either, I am merely pointing out the absurdity people engage in when they condemn minorities for wanting to have their own spaces and be a part of the larger society too. It isn’t preferential treatment for minorities*.

*Minorities are people belonging to groups they have no control over such as their race, gender or sexual orientation. It is nothing to do with statistical figures or which group has the most members. It is about the power held by a group in relation to another. Vulnerable persons fall under a similar classification in that they are vulnerable in relation to another without their “handicap” (I am using handicap here to mean whatever makes the individual vulnerable, be it their age, disability, physical or mental status, etc.).

Well now that I have written this disjointed post I’m going to publish it for your reading confusion! 😉

©Natalya, 2013.


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A Bit Disappointed

My counselling appointment got cancelled for tomorrow as my counsellor is ill. At first I was okay about it but then my dad had to go phone my aunt to check on his mother in-law who’s in a nursing home near my aunt. Well, she couldn’t talk tonight so is calling back tomorrow and I am stressed because I hate talking to family. It’s always the same awkward conversations interspersed with small talk. I hate it and would have benefitted from a pep talk from my counsellor tomorrow but she’s unwell. My appointment got rescheduled but not ’til Tuesday which won’t help me with tomorrow’s phone call. The thing is I just don’t enjoy talking on the phone period. Doesn’t matter who it is I just don’t like it unless I am in the right mood which is not very often. I tend to worry about what to say and how to answer uncomfortable questions-of which there tends to be a few with my family.

So I am not feeling relaxed now in spite of the knowledge worry never does anyone any good. It was only an hour ago I found all this out about my aunt phoning tomorrow so I haven’t had much time to settle myself. You’d think by now I’d be better at handling family conversations but I always end up anxious to some degree. Even if I am reasonably relaxed there is always a tiny amount of anxiety lurking when family is involved. This means I’m not staying present and am thinking too much about the future that hasn’t happened yet. Mindfulness is helpful because then I know whether or not I am staying in the moment or mentally checked out thinking about the future. It helps if I can take a few deep breaths to re-oxygenate my brain after I have gone into anxiety/future mode so I can return to my surroundings.

The other thing about my anxiety is it means I am attaching value to someone else’s opinion of me. If I was totally okay with myself I would not be somewhat worried what my aunt might think when she finds out I am still unemployed and am not doing anything productive. Yes, I am usually helping my dad as well as doing the housekeeping; I even have several online shops I make designs for that I could potentially earn some money from (not much though). But these are things I have not yet accepted myself as being 100% valid so I fret about what my family will think of me. I so hate worrying about what my family thinks.

This is a challenging time of year too because students have returned to classes and I am not in any academic programmes currently. So I struggle with feeling like I am okay the way I am. If I am busy all the time doing housework I sometimes feel like that makes up for my unemployed status and not being enrolled in anything. But I don’t have the same motivation to houseclean all the time like I did in the Spring because there isn’t as much junk to clean like there was then.

Ultimately, I know the answer to my anxiety is staying in the moment and trying to become more accepting of myself regardless of what I’m doing. But it isn’t easy so I need to write what’s on my mind at times like this. It sort of helps me get a bit of perspective like I get in my counselling sessions. I’ll be alright.

©Natalya, 2013.


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Meditation Friend

Yesterday, I got lucky-not that kind of lucky but lucky to find a great meditation cushion

English: A zafu, the pouffe-shaped traditional...

English: A zafu, the pouffe-shaped traditional seat cushion used in zazen (sitting meditation). This one is – as the horizontal name tag reveals – of western make. Deutsch: Ein Zafu, das puffförmige traditionelle Sitzkissen im Zazen (Sitzmeditation). Dieses Exemplar stammt – am waagerechten Namensschild erkennbar – aus westlicher Fertigung. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

at Winners (a store). It’s purple and filled with buckwheat shells which makes it heavy but very good to sit on. Deepak Chopra made the cushion; okay, likely he designed it and someone else made it but you know what I mean hopefully. It has the seven major chakras embroidered on the top and I am just very pleased I came across it when I did because I’ve been wanting a meditation cushion for awhile now. They can be a bit expensive though so I hadn’t managed to get one but this one was only $20 because Winners is a department store that sells stuff with either slight flaws, minor defects, seconds from a manufacturer/designer and that sort of thing. Long story short, I have a pretty purple meditation cushion (zafu pillow) and am quite enthused about it.

Now I can resume my meditation practice I stopped back in February after my inflatable, portable meditation cushion had a leak and wouldn’t retain air for long. I like the one I got yesterday a lot better anyway so I am not missing my old cushion. Now, I know I could have meditated without a cushion but I just didn’t feel inspired without a proper pillow to sit on. I need to feel like I am creating an atmosphere when I meditate and I didn’t feel it when sitting on my bed’s pillows or on a flat mat. Rolled up towels also left me uninspired. Wow, I am rambling so will quit here.

In other news, I started to put the hardware up for the new drape rod and decided not to continue until I can get a drill because attempting to screw a screw into a stud in the wall with a regular old screwdriver is torture. It took me over an hour to manually get a screw into a stud in the wall about 80% of the way. Yes, I am lacking in muscle in my arms but it shouldn’t be so darn hard to get  a screw in the wall just because it’s in a stud. I might try to finish the window I started but the other window will have to wait ’til I get a drill because my arms hurt!

I hope you’re all having a great Friday and enjoy your weekend.

©Natalya, 2013.