Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Donuts and Friends

Monday I decided to take donuts to several friends. It went mostly well; I failed my timing in getting CK something special as well as forgetting to even stop at the bakery. Since I had picked up something especially delicious for dinner, she wasn't too sad.

Seeing friends, albeit briefly since the weather shifted to cold, windy, and hailing or sleeting, and the super special treat of fancy donuts, was pretty delightful. I also got to exchange presents with a friend; she gave me topographical maps, old library catalog cards, and a few computer punch cards!

I started listening to an audiobook called, "Laziness Does Not Exist" by Devon Price Ph.D., and it talks about how so many of us who come from poverty, blue collar families, or are queer, are even more likely to be pulled into the lie that we're lazy if we're not spending every waking moment producing. I absolutely see myself in this book; all the times I'm up at night half convinced I haven't done enough to deserve rest. I call it the "Productivity Trap", the author calls it the "Laziness Lie", which is pretty powerful!

Last night, realizing I was tired but hadn't made a blog post yet, I decided it was ok to skip it and just get to the restorative yoga pose that would help me sleep.

Tonight my mind's still buzzing a little, so it's post time!

Had a therapy session today where I kept being struck by how alone and lonely I am as a 6-7 year old kid. The memories of the specific instances of trauma weren't as present, so much as the aftermath. I realized how largely absent my Mother is, she shows up in brief explosions of anger, but I'm often so isolated and longing for connection.

None of these memories will ever be transformed into something beautiful, but as I integrate them I am discovering my child self. I'm seeing how creative and inventive I am, how tenacious, and how I find or create, cultivate resources that help me feel safe, comforted, and nurtured. Sometimes it was actual people, more often than not finding adults who cared for me in ways both small and great. Or just making a part of my bedroom really soothing.

I love my child self and appreciate her. I'm proud of what a clever, resourceful, resilient human she was and I remain.


Expressive Writing

I made an effort to spend all my accumulated Audible credits today. It's a step in getting rid of my account. Next I need to have CK show me how to get all my books downloaded into our NAS. Then the account goes away and that's one more monthly expense that's reduced. When I want a book, I can give money to CK and she'll get one and put it into the NAS.

Yes, it's more overhead, but having 2 accounts isn't really cost effective. I don't listen to one book a month. I am also happier to get some books from the library anyway. It's a step towards less money being spent.

Along the way of doing this I found a book about the "Laziness Lie", as the author puts it. It's an excellent look at what I've called the "Productivity Trap". It's an excellent listen for someone who's often up past midnight worried that've not done enough to merit going to bed to rest, resenting that I need to rest when I have so much to do.

In it the practice of Expressive Writing is mentioned and it piqued my curiosity. It's an approach of writing non-stop, without editing, for 20 minutes about your feelings. Then, at the end, you've the option of just throwing it all away. It's been used a lot with vets and populations that have often struggled to connect to emotions.

It made me think about some of the ways I'd try to "trick" my brain into letting me express to another person some of the things that had happened to me. Using my touch typing ability and making the font too tiny to read or/and taking my glasses off and just typing as fast as I can. Printing it out and giving it to my therapist. I wouldn't really look too closely at it myself and often I'd not save the file.

In another kind of expressive writing, I find myself thinking more and more about poetry. Perhaps I've taken enough of a break from writing it that I'm yearning to return.


So Smart

I don't remember the number at the end of all the interviews, tests, and meetings where the adults talked around me, but not to me.

I do know at the end of it all I was treated awkwardly by teachers who either expected too much out of me, wanted me to help run the class, sometimes they felt a need to make sure I knew who was in charge and they were the smart one. A few wanted me to explore intellectually, but provided to support or guide rails to set me up for success.

Perhaps they assumed I got that at home.

At home it was never the same. Out of the meetings where my Mother was told again and again how remarkable I was. The message to encourage and nurture, provide support and new outlets for my voracious curiosity, was there. Suggestions for additional outings that would encourage me, museums and more books.

The thing is, my Mother already want capable of doing that. All along she gave me the childhood she had wanted. I got a little wiggle room in colors, including bright yellow linens for my bed in highschool. I got to make choices within tightly closed sets.

The sets all taken from an idealized notion of what my Mother wanted her childhood to be.

Out of the IQ testing arose a new, hateful thing to say to me.

"You think you're so smart."

"You think you're better than me/us."

The thing is, looking back over it all, I am better than them.


Celebrating my Healing on my Mother’s Birthday

I got through my Mother's birthday, sheer would have been 78, without falling apart. Might be the first one in 7 years that hasn't included a meltdown.

And I had a hard week and a busy day! Honestly, I did fill the week up a bit so I couldn't get stuck in a wallow of anger and grief. I told my therapist it could either help me get through the week or be terrible.

It's turned out positively. I got sushi and tempura takeout for us (yes, did my Mother didn't like) and made the fancy cocktail I made up. We played our video games and watched summer Netflix. Ursa was a delightful good.

I know some of this success is from therapy and my commitment to keep going during these times. I don't fully grok why facing and integrating the horrors of my early childhood makes it easier to be present and start the challenge of moving to another country, but it does. I'm just grateful.

Our realtor came and we reviewed the bottom floor today. Really, it's more of the same; get rid of stuff, pack, and get out of the house. Then more serious work to repair, clean, and present can be done without us in the way.

My first project is to clean up the yard a bit in preparation to get landscaping folks hired. I'm hoping to be to this point by April.

I also want to have a goal of getting rid of things weekly. Maybe a daily task too. I'll find some way to use those habit tracking pages in the calendar!

In a couple of weeks, since CK's current manger had a health need scheduled, she'll ask for us to be connected with the relocation manager. Then we might start sharing the news more.

While this is public, we discussed it and this diary isn't well known, I haven't really shared much that I've been doing this, so the only folks seeing it are making a point to do so and/or an old RSS feed started sending it to them again! Those folks have heard the rumblings that we're slowly doing a big thing.

I heard from the Oregon Health Authority; no, hospice volunteers, even if they're actively working with patients, after not eligible for the vaccine. June it is, still. I got is both in the system though!


Emotional Detachment

Our amazing realtor came over with an N95 mask and walked around the property and the upper floor of the house. I have a plan to move us towards vacating for sale. I know what clean up to prioritize, what contractor to get going first; landscapers.

There's so many things happening for CK at work, including her manager taking a few days off for a health need. When they return CK will ask them to connect us to the relocation support folks so we can start to get a timeline.

Since we're with the same amazing realtor, he recalled leaving us with this great house that we were moving my Mother in. When is mentioned her upending our life and then dying a year later, her assumed that was recent. I gave him a high level and noted that within a year of our doing everything to move her in, she had a massive temper tantrum and left.

I told him we had a lot of shame over not taking better care of the house. He told me that from now on we work to emotionally detach from the house, the yard, and all the dreams we had for it. From now on, it's a business to get it ready to move us on to something that's better for us.

I definitely made up a cocktail tonight! It needs work, but it wasn't bad.


Soothing to Avoid

At therapy today something that came up, likely brought on by the proximity to get birthday, about my Mother's inability to soothe herself.

I am often uncovering how I taught myself emotional regulation of a kind, like finding outlets for the anger I was not allowed to show. I also found ways to soothe myself beyond just venting the anger through physical exertion. Comforting myself when no one offered comfort that was safe or without strings attached.

I struggled to even call my Mother's use of shopping, romance novels, soap operas, gossip, food, and pills "self soothing".

My therapist noted that my Mother found these things soothing, bit perhaps the difference I was looking for was that she soothed to avoid being present or taking responsibility.

I soothed to comfort and encourage myself, to get rage out of my system since letting it be seen was dangerous. I soothed to compartmentalize, lock away incomprehensible horror so I could live.

Animal Crossing remains a favorite soothing past time, nearly a year into playing it! Ursa likes to "help" me play.

Tomorrow will be a long day with my respirator mask and airing out again after having someone in the house. We'll be doing this a while since it might be July before were BOTH vaccinated.

I'm firmly focusing the positives, knowing what we need to prioritize doing, and how much CK and have gone through since buying the house.


Ghosts of Storms Part

We didn't lose power for long, but I've felt so turned about by it!

I have hazy memories of terrible winter storms during my childhood. Huddling under blankets, sleeping bags, and layers. Boiling water in pans to wash up dishes, teeth, and bodies. My Grandmother having some type of oil heater that was (supposedly) safe indoors to warm her manufactured home. Using the flat top to heat canned soup and boil water.

The memory of needing to heat water to do anything is so deep rooted that I always start to do this each time we've lost power here at the house. CK noted it over the weekend, that she reminds me we have hot water every time, usually after I've boiled water to do dishes. I don't even think to turn on the hot water, I just "know it's not there".

I was saying to CK that while I don't have specific trauma memories around storms, I also find it easy to assume that it was very stressful being trapped without heat, power, hot water, or easy ways to make food with a parent who time and time again took little to no responsibility and was unable to self-soothe. It was probably confusing, frightening, and physically uncomfortable.

That's enough. I don't need to hunt for terrible memories. If there's something that needs attention, that story will come up. I'm slowly learning to trust the process.


Wall of F.I.N.E.

My Tuesday/Thursday classes are different, the students are more accepting of connection and philosophy. We've had a great discussion this week about being honest with people about how we're doing. I'm ultimately going to record a video about it, but this is a side note.

My friend HMP is open about using AA as a support for her life. She shared that she thinks in recovery people she knew would say "fine" stood for, "Fucked up, insecure, neurotic, and egotistical".

I thought about this and said a better way to say it would be, "ego driven". There's a lot of behavior that covers besides arrogance.

It works well. When we're feeling any of those ways we put up walls to keep people from seeing what's going on.

"I'm fine.", we say to people.

It's a good reminder, what is not ok for us that a wall of FINE is going up?

Insomnia brought on by the usual mind stuff about this unsafe country and a brutal storm that's covering us in snow and ice. COVID and warming shelters; I hope people are safe.


Small Delights

My physical therapist encouraged me today to keep focused on the progress being made and reminded me that most countries are having fiascos around getting vaccines administered. Last month we'd compared gratitude practices and this is a kind of extension of that.

She mentioned it because of shared that I'm feeling down this month. It's just felt like so much, too much for too long. I'm sad and angry.

I'm also still practicing gratitude. I told her about the practice of small delights or wonders I've been sharing with students. Next week I'll share her suggestion about having a progress focus.

Today I'm grateful I could shop for the friend who's done it for me recently. The weather was sunny when I needed to wait outside before I could enter the store. There were only 2 people in line ahead of me to enter; there were over a dozen when I left! I found nearly everything both households wanted and a few, yummy extras.

I'm especially glad that CK slept through the night. I was hypervigilant, worried any move was her waking, but she rested! We repeated Tuesday night's order tonight; she hasn't woke up yet!

My special delight was being able to score the last loaf of walnut bread at Ken's Artisan Bakery, the best bread ever.


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.