Reflections on Life Thus Far

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


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Book Recommendation: Life after near Death

Buy the book here: Amazon.co.uk  or here: Amazon.ca

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I don’t know much German so Google translated the phrase out of curiosity. It translates literally as “Quick flees the time was ready” which I think may be better stated as “our time goes too quickly” or perhaps “Times flies before we are ready”. Sorry for the poor translation.

As a NDE (near death experiencer) this book is invaluable. I finally feel like there are answers to the questions I have had ever since my NDE in late 2000. The author has had her own NDE and interviews others including their experiences in her book. She comes from a research background so it’s not a book filled with ‘New Age’ concepts as much as personal stories and evidence based research (but don’t worry it is far from dry or tedious).

The book came out earlier this year and I just found it at my local library. It has given me a sense of peace knowing I am not alone in what I experienced and the after effects of the NDE. I even found myself thinking “aha! so that’s WHY I do/feel like that” and just generally feeling less crazy. Best of all is finding out about how all people who’ve had a NDE have muddy brown/black and white in their aura representing the trauma and shift in consciousness following the NDE. A friend able to see/read auras told me (before I found this book) I had a the black and white colours in my aura as described in the book. It really helped me feel better knowing everyone has that aura if they’ve had a NDE.

If you have had a Near Death Experience or know someone who has you should read this book! I’m not getting paid to promote or endorse or anything-I just want people to have something they can go to and find comfort/answers to some of their questions about the near death experience. You might find it in your local library or book store or you can order it on Amazon.

©Natalya for Reflections on Life Thus Far, 2016.

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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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The Importance of Community

Interconnection Yes, that’s right folks. Community is important. A radical concept if you’re a North American or perhaps Westerner generally. Why is community important? It is a check and balance on our collective psyches because you can’t get too “crazy” if you have a solid formation of people close to you who are willing to check in on you. I don’t mean a community of ‘busy bodies’ or gossips, but a genuine group of people who look out for one another and generally care about them. If you’re not in a community it’s easy to isolate yourself with the belief individualism counts for more than having others around you. Now I can hear the introverts getting worried-I’m a strong introvert-but don’t panic. I’m merely advocating we reach out to other people and find a community we feel a sense of belonging in. You don’t have to be around them 24/7!

How are you?

As a child growing up my family was dysfunctional and isolated. Anyone from a dysfunctional family will tell you there’s always a level of isolation involved in keeping family secrets, be it alcoholism, sexual abuse, addiction, abuse of any kind etc., or else the abuse would stop. It’s pretty hard to abuse your family if outsiders are regularly checking in to see how you are because they care about you. The problem is there’s often so much shame involved with abuse that the victims have a hard time confiding in anyone. Even so, it becomes harder to keep abuse hidden when you have a community to support you. My family had no such community. I was isolated at home and at school because I had no social skills. Surviving mother-daughter sexual abuse damaged my core sense of self. I was enmeshed with my mother and didn’t know how to make friends or keep them. The only thing I knew was to be submissive and give whatever was asked for. An ironic caveat here is I was warned(by my mother) about male sexual perpetrators so managed to avoid falling victim to that form of sex abuse.

Had I grown up with lots of caring people around me I likely would have developed a better sense of self independent of

Someone to care!

my mother. But isolation is difficult to break free from when you’ve also never learned what it’s like to be part of a supportive group of people. Thus, I had nobody I felt I could turn to since trust had already been eroded early in my life.  What I needed most was to have someone see me and tell me I mattered. Unfortunately, I can remember no such person in my life early enough for it to have impacted me significantly. The people in my life who were positive were not met until I was in my adolescence and by that time my self esteem was thoroughly diminished. So where did my resilience come from? Inside myself. Without anyone early in my life to positively influence me I learned how to survive using my own qualities. Perhaps, not surprisingly, it took me longer than normal to develop a full sense of who I am and know where I began and someone else started (boundary wise).

I’m not going to write about the mother-daughter sex abuse I suffered; I merely wanted you to see how a community of people, or lack thereof, can affect a person’s development and well being.

Not the community I would join! lol

Community can be any mixture of people grouped together. It is not just about proximity or geography, but the values and interests collectively shared. As long as you have a group of people willing to share in each other’s lives on a regular basis much of the damage due to isolation can be avoided. If, however, your abuse began as an infant(as in my case) it does become more challenging to counteract the damage. Still, all hope is not lost. One can always recover to varying levels of success depending on individual circumstances. It’s a rare individual who can’t recover at all when given the right support(s). The issue is more about how we can access those supports and build a community, or join one, if we are not connected socially.

How has community played a role in your life? Have you ever needed support but didn’t know how to find it because of social isolation? Did becoming part of a community enrich your life in an way (if you didn’t always have one)? I welcome your thoughts on what you think of community as a concept, as well as more practically and its implications/influences in your life.

©Reflectionsonlifethusfar, 2012.


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Final Confidence Session Was Anti-Climatic

Fred Wessel artworkYesterday was my final confidence building session and I have to say I found it disappointing. Our facilitator didn’t exactly get us to do any activities besides reading a lot of things on our own. It was not the kind of experience I hoped for when I signed up for the workshop. In my mind I thought there would be various activities we’d do to build our confidence but the bulk of our sessions focused on information sheets. I could have read the information anywhere. The only positive aspect to attending the workshop was meeting others in the same boat. Realizing I am not the only person with questionable confidence made me feel better. However, I didn’t feel the facilitator was very helpful.

I do, however, feel my confidence has improved in spite of the poor facilitation of the workshop. Meeting other people helped me the most as I isolate myself so much. Having to be around new people did me more good than the actual sessions themselves per se. What I had been hoping for was for the facilitator to get us to stand up and maybe do different activities that would get us out of our comfort zone. Yet all we did was take turns reading information sheets. We did one role play but with only one other person and we didn’t have to perform it in front of any of the other people. So I felt under challenged and under stimulated.

Even though I am being negative I think the experience itself was positive for me. In the sense that I was forced to get up early on a schedule to attend the workshop was good since I generally don’t have a schedule. Besides that I met a couple of people I’ll likely chat with again as we exchanged e-mail addresses. It’s doubtful all of us will meet up together again because we had quite different personalities but a few of us may for coffee or something. We’ll work on our confidence and see if we can help each other….maybe.

My plan now is to try and go out more so I am not so avoidant of other people. I have a bad habit of keeping to myself for the most part and not trying to really be part of anything. It feels lousy when thinking about how much I avoid other people because I told myself I’d be judged for being unemployed since I don’t look particularly ‘impaired’. Some people have the idea that if you look reasonably ‘normal’ you ‘should’ be doing whatever it is so called normal people do.

Well I am finished with giving a darn about other people’s opinions of me.I have imprisoned myself for too long with that way of thinking. There’s just no way I’m continuing to keep letting other people’s possible reactions or opinions toward me matter. They do not know me and I have a right to be who I am without apologizing. I feel very liberated. This isn’t me saying I don’t care about what others have to say it’s me saying I’m not letting it affect me negatively. The thought of others’ judging me caused me to close in on myself avoiding interaction with people (in the real world-not online). I’m not an extrovert but I do enjoy seeing people on occasion for a bit of socializing.

So I guess the confidence building workshop caused me to reflect on where I’m at now and question whether it’s where I want to stay. It kind of forced me to ask myself if I like being so isolated and cut off from everyone and I found myself answering it with a no. Maybe the confidence building workshop didn’t live up to the expectations I had but it gave me a different perspective on things. I think that in itself is valuable.

© Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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Confidence Building Workshop-Day 1

Day one of the workshop was exploring what confidence is and how we gain or loose it. We heard from

Confidence

Confidence (Photo credit: wherefishsing)

everyone why they were there and what they hoped to accomplish through attending. I was surprised how many people were working on the same things I am dealing with. It made me feel less alone, like there were others who needed a bit of help too. I felt encouraged that our instructor/facilitator had been a shy person with little confidence and was able to overcome that.

Although we did not do much on day one I walked away feeling a little less isolated and a little bit more hopeful. When I was growing up with my narcissistic mother nothing was ever ‘good enough’ if it was not done perfectly. I don’t think she was conscious of how she made other people feel but I formed the belief you didn’t share anything unless you’d accomplished something major. It took a long time in therapy before I could appreciate little things can be big things when we’re struggling. Now I appreciate smaller accomplishments and celebrate positive steps I have taken to be kinder to myself and healthier. I need not win the Nobel Prize to feel valuable as a person or that I’ve achieved something really great anymore. Sometimes it is remembering the smaller achievements we’ve had that allow us to feel worthy as we are.

confidence

confidence (Photo credit: glsims99)

For day two and three of the confidence building workshop I hope to learn more strategies for increasing my confidence. I know a lot of it will be from just pushing myself to go out in public and attend a group with people I’ve never met before. Everyone there had a different story but we all shared in the painful reality of lacking self confidence-as well as self esteem for some. So I learnt that even though I tell myself I’m all alone in my struggles I am not. There are lots of other people struggling but I just have to reach out more so I can see it instead of isolating myself.

Thanks for reading.

Comments, thoughts?

© Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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Savouring Solitude or Isolated?

There are times I find myself sitting with myself enjoying my company telling myself there’s nothing wrong

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

with what I’m doing. Then there’s the times I question how much solitude is healthy even for a true introvert like me? Am I isolated or merely happier in my own company? A part of me wants to believe I am alright, nothing to worry about. Another part insists I’m shutting the world out to protect myself. But what’s wrong with protecting yourself? Is there really any way to determine the correct amount of interaction with the outside world beyond my computer?

The reason I’ve been thinking these thoughts has to do with the fact I hardly go out anymore. I need an appointment to go to, or some other planned event to attend before I’ll push my butt out the door. It isn’t easy for me to encounter people in public. I feel self conscious from staying indoors at home for so long. Somehow I’ve become convinced I stand out and my small town will gawk. I’m not freakish looking but people tend to be nosy and gossip inclined around where I live. It’s hard to just ‘blend in’. If I thought I could go outside and ‘blend in’ I’d have no problem because I wouldn’t think about people paying attention to me. But in my area it’s difficult to go unnoticed. Not that people are obviously staring but you get the feeling they’re aware of you and I just want to be invisible. I want to go out in public incognito with nobody knowing who I am.

Part of the problem I suppose is I am 30 still living where I grew up and haven’t left ‘the nest’ yet. In my head I’m a failure-I have ‘failure to launch’ syndrome! Of course it’s not due to being lazy, rather I have a lot of student loans and can’t afford living on my own. I don’t have a job. My last one ‘burnt me out’. So I quit after being a slave to it for three years. It felt fantastic but I haven’t been able to find something suitable since. Thus, my current anxiety around going out and being seen in public. I’m afraid of being judged. I don’t like people thinking poorly of me but I imagine if they found out what I do most days-sit at home blogging for no income-they’d criticize me.

I don’t have a wealth of confidence and though my self esteem is reasonable I can’t seem to shake others opinions of me completely. Negative comments to do with what I’m doing everyday bother me. I already feel ashamed of myself so anyone else who has something negative to add typically heaps a bit more shame on top of what I’m already carrying around. But I should mention I don’t give a rat’s a** about negative comments concerning anything else-just my unemployed status.

For some reason being unemployed makes me feel like I’m a bad person. I have many good points/qualities

Unemployment

Unemployment (Photo credit: born1945)

etc but it all boils down to me being unemployed. The shame is hard to bear. I’m afraid I’ll never have another job-let alone one I actually enjoy and get decently paid for. The longer I am without employment the worse I perceive myself. I worry that the things I’m good at will be useless and not help me find gainful employment that I actually like. It doesn’t seem to matter to me that I have a 4-year degree and almost another full degree in a professional field because I don’t want to work in the area I studied in.

So I look at myself as being severely handicapped when it comes to competing for jobs along side other people who actually have experience/education in the area. My education and experience is in an area that nearly drove me crazy! I’m not going back to it! So what’s a woman like me to do?

Please, any insights or positive advice/comments would be appreciated! Thank you.

© Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Zen Lady Meditating and Reflections On Life Thus Far with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.