Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Going Back

Today (1/22) I finally emptied out the van of all the hazardous materials, household goods donations, and bags of cat food and a bin of warm clothing and boots for an organization serving the houseless community. The last of my rounds of collecting stuff from many different friends to reduce trips for COVID safety. I also managed to buy us freshly made salad rolls and tofu since one donation site was near our favorite tofu shop.

Our van is now EMPTY and we can get lumber for a project CK wants to work on. Then it will start filling up again as I continue to identify things to get rid of. It felt really good to take care of all this today. I even managed to drop off some salad rolls at a friend's house; she's been feeling a little blue so I thought a tasty surprise would be helpful.

The hazardous goods have to be taken to a transfer station and the closest one is on the outskirts of Oregon City a small town I lived in as a child. It sits adjacent to an even smaller little town called Gladstone. I lived in Gladstone between the ages of 5 and 7.

Not long ago I came across a rare treasure, a letter from my childhood. A short card from President Jimmy Carter. I'd come across it before, even showing it to CK at one point. Only this time I'm in the middle of trauma therapy for the age I was when letter was sent to me. The envelope is addressed.

I looked it up when I found it and looked on the Google Street View. The apartments were still there!

Today, as I drove to the transfer station and drove past the offramp for Gladstone, it hit me that I was so close by! I'd talked to my therapist about going to visit some of the places I lived as a kid, some of the places where I found refuge for myself.

To go home from the transfer station I head toward Gladstone. Today I just kept driving past the onramp and on into Gladstone. I'd guessed right, I was just a few minutes away! I found the apartments, they are both smaller and sadder than I remember them being. There is a fence along the back; you can no longer easily access the creek that runs behind them where I played so much.

I drove from there right to the house we moved to; about 4 blocks away. I then drove right to the elementary school, passing the Lutheran church I went to for Sunday school and service (cheap childcare in the summer too with Bible Camp). The school is .6 miles from the house. The apartments are just .1 mile and I used to cut across the sports field that's still there.

I'm struck at how close together it really all is. Then I recall I was a 5-7 year old walking these paths, often alone.

I'll go back again and walk around more, but with CK with me for real support. This is the first time I've gone back this way, it was OK and not overwhelming, but I also felt done in when I got home.

We ate salad rolls and pan seared fried tofu for dinner with the peanut sauce I'd made earlier in the week. I had no other energy to do more. I'm so grateful that CK is fine with dinners like this sometimes.


For, Not Against

A couple of weeks ago at therapy I was sharing my, per usual, mixed response to the good news about my cardiac calcium test.

Things I read about the test noted that when that score hits 400 there's discussion about interventions involving exercise and diet.

My score was zero.

I honestly never considered that would even be a possibility. We're still going to test my cholesterol to see if the supplement I've been taking to address it has had any positive effects. If it has, I'll keep taking it just to be on the safe side.

I'm 51 and over 18 years ago I decided that I was going to tackle my family history of heart disease and my high cholesterol on my own.

I also thought I was going to help my back pain get better. By 2001 I'd already lost a bunch of weight, so I dug in.

I lost over 150 pounds. I kept off around 130 of that. I regained about 40 pounds, but then lost 20 or so pounds of that in the past couple of years as I've passed menopause. The numbers are a little vague because I stopped using a scale a couple of years ago.

There was part of that weight loss that involved really disordered eating behaviors. That deserves multiple posts by itself.

The net result was that it worked. I got all kinds of wonderful feedback and accolades for doing it. No one thought it was weird that I spent hours of every day absolutely obsessed about food because my cholesterol went down and the weight came off. I was my doctor's ONLY success story of personal lifestyle change affecting cholesterol.

Then, poof, I passed menopause and my cholesterol popped up. This test was to see if there was really anything to worry about and, clearly, I can relax a little.

Yet, here I am, unable to celebrate my good news. Again.

I "won" and I don't feel it.

I mentioned it to my therapist. How it almost is as if I don't know what to do if I'm not actively pushing against the examples set by my horrible family. I've used them as a kind of backstop from which I can blast away from.

Now that I've blasted on past any of the health expectations I was haunted by growing up, I don't know what to do!

My therapist wondered if I had to keep them as what I'm always resisting, pushing back against them, pushing myself further away from them.

What if I used that energy to work for myself?

Today in our session it came up at the end in being able to see how I sought out help and resources in the form of neighbors, concerned teachers, a pastor's wife, museum staff, librarians from all over, and more. When I was doing that and other self-soothing & emotionally regulating activities, it wasn't pushing against my family, I was seeking outward to support myself.

I'm going to keep focusing on this shift. I've moved so far past my terrible family that I don't have to fight them, I only have to keep moving myself forward.


Pests of All Sorts

Our day included discovering ants had found a stash of cough drops and dog training treats. Then that a rat had found food CK had packed in a bag back in March, but didn't eat and forgot about.

There was also a lot of laundry. Thankfully we had leftovers for dinner.

I've been having a day where nothing I get done feels like I've made enough progress. That jerk brain is still right below the surface, ready to criticize.

Then, I got a shivery overwhelm feeling when a trauma memory triggered. As far as those go, it wasn't the worst. It still wasn't what I needed going into inauguration week.


What Ifs

At therapy today I had a round of "what ifs".

What if I hadn't been born to a family with intergenerational trauma going back who knows how far?

What if anyone in my family took my side.

What if support within my family wasn't always transactional, if it was offered at all.

I noted, and my therapist agreed, that these part of my grieving. She reminded me that having a supportive family doesn't yield a positive results. Well-off people from loving families end up living on the street, alone.

They came up after considering how my Mother would say to me when I was an adult how hard she tried to be a good parent, that she did the best she could. As I process new trauma I'm once again angered at this, that this was the best she could do.

My therapist said that, sadly, this was true. She really couldn't have done better than what I got. It brings up the grief for a childhood that I never got.

I started the year by making the best gluten free cornbread ever! Bubbles!!! I'm making it again this week to try and replicate, then document!


Kindness is a Warm Blanket

I made it out of the house with all my things, even though I tried to leave in my slippers!

I got to OHSU South Waterfront, where the diagnostics lab is, and got myself checked in.

There were a lot of kindnesses that helped so much.

The staff folks checking me in were very sympathetic and understanding of my anxiety about risk. They had me wait separate from the open atrium waiting area so there wasn't anyone coming by me.

It was a bit of a wait.

Being inside a closed up medical building waiting for a procedure is a whole new level of anxiety.

Once in I was delighted to find out that the scan used a CT, so I could wear my high-protective mask, didn't have to worry about my nose/ear piercings, and I even got to keep my bra on since it didn't have underwires! I kept on my tank top too since the electrodes could be placed around and under my clothing!

The very tall, kind man, Brandon, who conducted the test got a pillow to support my legs so my back was comfortable. He also brought me a warm blanket, which helped my anxiety hugely!

I told him I have Complex PTSD, he'd not heard of it before. I noted that for me it's due in large part to developmental trauma.

"My Mother had a personality disorder.", I said.

I've come to find that telling people that just lets them know enough to realize that I've survived some terrible stuff. Usually no one asks more, which is fine.

Brandon nodded, "Yeah, I hear you. That's too bad. You just let me know if you need anything else to make this easier."

Then three electrodes and lying still and breathing when the machine told me to. About five minutes.

We chatted a little at the end about why I was there. He laughed, "You mean you're here because you're being proactive about your heart health?!"

I said that was about it. I was keeping ahead of my family's genetic issues, where possible.

He told me he was proud of me and that he wished there were more patients like me.

That was pretty awesome!

Now I wait to hear from my doctor about the results.



I rather loathe that words like resilience and grit have lately been co-opted to be another way to make individuals responsible when they fail to overcome systemic injustices. It's so fucked up the way this country wants to blame victims of oppression.

It cheapens the words.

I was punished often for being stubborn, for resisting the world view I had imposed on me.

I'm able to steer my EMDR processing now; finding instances where I'm exhibiting creativity, ingenuity, resilience, intelligence, and so much tenacity. All these things my Mother and family labeled, "stubborn", were there behaviors that kept me alive.

Age 6 today; last session of 2020. Still pieces coming in, new sharp slivers of adults being terrible.

Realizing I was groomed for months. That I've not felt safe sleeping for most of my life.

My Mother knew I was molested and was incapable of responding responsibly. Instead she made up excuses, shamed me, blamed me.

Rage, rage, and more rage at all the terrible adults I encountered.



I've felt blue and unmotivated all day. Of course I didn't really become fully aware of it until I was crying.

I got stuff done, but everything felt hard and wasn't satisfying. I just feel like a useless jerk.

Christmas Blues and anticipatory therapy angst? Already going into a schedule crash since I'm not teaching for a couple of weeks?COVID despair?

I wish I knew. I think I don't tell CK when I feel this way because I don't understand the cause and don't want to say, "My mood is off and I don't have a good reason."



I responded to a Tweet the 16th that asked what mundane thing you missed from pre-COVID.

I miss going to Powell’s Bookstore and browsing. Really, any bookstore, but I recently had a wave of longing to sit at a table in World Cup Coffee, the place in the corner of the first floor of Powell's, and peruse books I'm considering purchasing while watching people.

Just the joy of walking along the tall stacks to see what jumped out at me. To look for bargains among the used and remaindered titles.

I then expanded my comment to say that really any shopping where I could just casually browse without being hypervigilant for people too close to me. Without worry that some white woman is going to pull her mask down because she just has to open up a bottle of lotion and smell it (recently seen at a New Seasons Market), the bro who just has to get his poke and gets too damn close, or the elder woman who bumps into three people on her way down a narrow aisle.

Complex Trauma means I'm always a little vigilant about people in my personal space, much less touching me. COVID has taken what was a little tickle of irritation and turned it into a bullhorn. Robot yelling, "Danger! Danger!"

The past couple of days were shopping days. I often come home from them and just lay across the bed for a little while. What was once something that could be a pleasant diversion and has made it an exhausting chore fraught with strong emotions.



This morning I found out a friend has COVID. A good friend I've had a relationship with for close to 30 years! A friend who is at high risk for Long COVID fallout, who has a yet to be fully understood heart condition.

A friend who was by for a visit 20 days ago. She's roughly 10 days into it and the most likely contact point was from someone who'd isolated, tested negative, and came down from Seattle to visit after she had seen me. She's very mildly affected, in large part because she's been so diligent about isolating and wearing a mask.

It was a driveway visit and I wore my respirator/mask combo, but it is still the closest exposure I know about. It rather upset my apple cart, as CK says. That's on top of a truly lousy trauma body freakout the night before.

This led to me not being as prepared as I like to be for my Saturday Yoga of Freedom class. I wanted to talk more in depth about Larry Ward, but I just didn't have it in me.

So I talked about all this and less about Larry Ward's work. I still included it and I focused the physical practice on how to care for knees, since a friend who comes regularly has been having a lot of knee pain all week. It was a small group of students, so it worked. We all felt the support of community.

This all helped me, although I've felt significantly tired all day long. We're going to press hard tomorrow to get several things prepared for me to mail on Monday. I'm very aware of how late it is and how much I want to do tomorrow!


Body Freakout

It happened. It was only a matter of time. Someone peed on the new sofa.

Dora is getting a little incontinent as she ages and this shows up when she either gets so relaxed that she just releases or she licks too much when she's needing to go. Anyway, she was snuggled up against me while I played on our Switch. When she got up to investigate what CK was doing in the kitchen I was suddenly very cold!

Upon inspection there was urine on the sofa and along my side! We dealt with it quickly, but as I came to realize how much urine was on me I began to feel really anxious.

Buy the time I got into the shower it felt like the area that was affected was so gross. I felt shaky and it seemed like I couldn't get the affected skin to warm up or feel clean. I was flooded with the maelstrom energy from the therapy session.

When I got out i explained to CK what I was experiencing. She asked what would help then went to turn on the kettle and brought be back fleece to put on. After some ginger tea and digestive biscuits I'm starting to feel like I can make art.

What a perfectly miserable way to end the week. I'm staying focused on how supportive CK was, how I articulated what was happening, asked how grateful I am she turned up the thermostat for the water heater! I'm also grateful for the long cat and all his shenanigans.

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