The Antidote – Part 2 – Meditation

This is my second post on the book “The Antidote – Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking”. This time on its chapter on Meditation/Buddhism. I’m not Buddist but some of the stuff it teaches is interesting/useful.

If you are like me, for years you have been hearing people (therapist, parents, friends, doctors, etc.) telling you that meditation is the way to relieve stress and to become calmer, so you try it. And you try it and you end meditationup feeling like you are failing. That somehow you are just not doing it right. For me, with the multiples, meditation isn’t just about quieting one mind or part of it, it’s like a whole neighborhood. You have multiple houses all blasting their radios – heavy metal, polka, something Spanish, a talk show, etc. You have to spend time going around to each of these house and turn off the music. And when you think you’ve got them all off, they switch back on again, and you have to turn them off again. On and on it goes till you either give up or you have all of them blasting at once. Either way, it’s not a relaxing experience.

So you can image my thoughts when I got to this chapter. I was ready to stop reading. Then I learned something I HAVE BEEN MEDITATING WRONG. I thought I had to completely clear my mind to properly meditate. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I found out that, that wasn’t true. Meditation is not about emptying your mind, reaching a state of bliss or achieving a trance-like state of calm. It is not a way of seeking happiness, but a way to stop running away from things that we are either not aware of or don’t want to face.

Here’s what you do: You take the time to sit comfortably still, close your eyes and notice your breath as it flows in and out. One breath in, one breath out. Things will come up, sensations, emotions, etc. We need not be distracted by them but instead we need to notice them. We need not judge them but instead watch our thoughts and emotions, our desires and aversions, as they come and go. We need to resist the urge to run, fix or cling to them. Whatever comes up, good or bad all you need to do is stay present and you observe them, acknowledge them, then let them go. Always returning to your breathing.

The chapter goes on about practicing non-attachment, but i’ll leave some of the book for you to read


The Antidote – Part 1 – Stoicism

As I said in my last post I am re-reading The Antidote. It starts with the modern, popular approach to happiness. The simple technique of picturing the positive, seeing thing going right, and the by doing What's The Worst That Could Happen1this you can magically make what you want to happen, happen. The problem with this is that when things don’t turn out you end up feeling even worse than when you started.

Stoicism on the other hand has you picture all the things that could possible go wrong. It prepares you for the worst case, ever if the worst case doesn’t happen. In fact, most of the time it doesn’t. But it also doesn’t have you floating along on this rosy cloud of positive thinking where everything is going to be ok, only to have that cloud disappear and you find yourself plummeting to earth with nothing to stop you, because you were not prepared.

I’ll use an example of what I am going though right now. I fell a couple of months back and really damaged my left leg, foot, and ankle. I have been to an Orthopedic Doctor, a Podiatrist, and a Neurologist.  I’ve had X-Rays, Blood Work, MRI, EMG (electromyogram), and Nerve conduction studies.

Now I could have gone the “Positive Thinking” Route – which means that before each of these doctor’s visits or tests I’d be saying to myself “Everything is going to be just fine.” and “The tests are going to show nothing is wrong” or “The doctor is going to say I’m going to be better in no time”. As just standing on my left leg feels like someone running it over with a truck this was a little hard to do.

So I choose the Stoicism Route. After the fall first came the X-Rays and Orthopedic Doctor, so worst case broken bones, cast and maybe surgery which also meant hospital. 😦  You can image my happiness went I was told no broken bones, no case, no surgery, no hospital. Next came the Podiatrist and the MRI – worse case – torn tendons, surgery, hospital. This time I didn’t get as much happiness but I was prepare and relieved when it turned out that I had 5 pulled tendons, 1 partial torn tendon, and a bone bruise. Still no surgery or hospital but I have to stay off my leg as much as possible, keep it elevated, wear a brace and use a cane. I did get some happiness out of getting a Handicap Parking Permit so I can park in Handicap spots. Next came the Neurologist, EMG, Nerve conduction studies and next week a MRI of my spine. Since the fall I have lost feeling in my toes and skin, no Diabetes. But the EMG required them to stick me with needles – which brought up thoughts of blood and passing out – I didn’t. I went in to the EMG and the Nerve study prepare for nerve damage. While it wasn’t as bad as I was prepared for it to be – I have Neuropathy and damage to my sensory nerves in my feet and hands (I burnt my fingers with hot water and didn’t even feel it, it was scary). That is why I’m getting a Spinal MRI next week. Scary worse case there is more nerve damage in my spine, surgery and hospital, there is no fix and it keeps getting worse, or they don’t find anything but I’m still in constant pain. What ever it is I’m prepared, and I’m not coming out of all of this devastated because it was trying to think positively – basically every was going to be ok – and it isn’t. What's The Worst That Could Happen

This only one example of how if have been using Stoicism, there are more. It is amazing how much more you can cope with, deal with, do when you ask yourself “what is the worst that can happen?” and realize that you know what if that does happen you’re ok with it.

Suicide Prevention Day

I don’t usually reblog something written by someone else, because my blog is for me and what I am going thorough. But this post, its words are so touching and they mirror my thoughts so much that it I had to post this on my blog. Thank you for putting into words thoughts I think almost every day.

Another Hope Entirely

To be perfectly honest, I dread and resent this day.  I know that’s a very unpopular opinion, but I’m not sorry.  I just can’t embrace it and write a tearjerker post about my close calls with suicide and how glad I am that I didn’t succeed.

I’m not glad I didn’t succeed.  I’m not actively suicidal right now, but my life is difficult and painful every day.  If any one of my suicide attempts had succeeded, I wouldn’t have to drag myself through that every day.  I wouldn’t have to worry about whether I can find a doctor who will give me medication to manage my chronic pain.  I wouldn’t have to worry about becoming homeless because my disability check isn’t enough for anyone to survive on.  I wouldn’t have to worry about how to get therapy when no one thinks I need help.  I wouldn’t have to worry about…

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Positive Thinking – Oh, How I Hate Thee!

The Antidote - Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive ThinkingI don’t know about the rest of you but when my therapist told me that I needed to start thinking positively, that it would lead to me being happier, all I could do was cringe. But then I got to thinking about it and I started to wonder do I even know how to ” Think Positively”. I really didn’t so I took myself off to the library to find some books on the subject. I ended up with books like The Power Of Positive Thinking and Everyday Positive Thinking. If these books work for you, great! In fact, more power to you, but after about 20 minutes with them, I wanted to scream. I can’t stand in front of a mirror and tell myself everything is going to be alright, when I KNOW it’s not. I could be hit by a car, struck by lighting or have something else equally horrible happen to me. Besides I HATE lying, and that is what I felt like I was doing with myself.

Fortunately when. I was picking those other books, I also grabbed “The Antidote – Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking” (I guess they couldn’t call it ” Happiness for People Who Think Positive Thinking is Crap).

If you feel the same way about positive thinking as I do that positive thinking often is used by mental health care providers to take the place of actual logically thinking, then this is the book for you. It talks about how our constant search for happiness is making us miserable, especially because we can’t even decide what will make us happy – what happiness really means for us individually. Let’s face it what makes me happy or what I see as happiness most likely is not your idea of happiness.

There are many wonderful things to discover in this book. I’ve already read most of it and it has been changing my view of life. I’m going to start it over because there is so much I want to remember and share, so I’ll be writing about them as I go though it again. Stay tuned for my post on Stoicism.

The Little Golden Books

Most of my childhood is a mystery to me, I know that it is there somewhere. But it is like coming to a locked door and knowing what you seek is just beyond it. The issue is that you don’t have the key and no matter how hard you knock there is no one there to open it for you. One of the things I do remember from childhood are the cardboard covers, shiny gold spines and colorful pictures of The Little Golden Books. I still own (Kit loves to have them read to her, or to just look at the pictures) a whole collection of them. They are a prized possession – The Saggy, Baggy Elephant, The Gingerbread Man, The Little Red Hen and so on. My favorite was always The Poky Little Puppy.The Poky Little Puppy

So you can imagine my surprise when I was checking out the new self-help books at the Library to come across the book “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book”. I, of course, immediately grabbed a copy. While it doesn’t help with the Big Issues, it does remind you of some things that we have probably forgotten about since childhood like: frolicking, singing, daydreaming and believing in the impossible just because it makes us happy. So if you get a moment grab a copy and remember a time when all you wanted was to know how the Poky Little Puppy was going to get back home once the hole was filled in or if the Gingerbread Man would get away or get eaten.

Farther Then I Thought I’d Come

I had my friend (the one with a similar background in abuse as me) over the other day. Usually it’s me that needs to talk and Stepping stoneshave someone listen and help. This is something that I feel guiltily about because I don’t want our relationship to be one-sided with me doing all the taking and her doing all the giving. But on this day, she was the one that was in need of help, and for once I got to be there for her.

Without going into a lot of detail, since this is not my story to tell, both her and her child needed a helping hand. And I was able to help her by giving her some of my collected information on the following things:

Talking to a family member who hasn’t been abused and doesn’t always get what is going on with you. Someone who thinks if you just try harder you can do more without realizing that what you are doing now in the very best you can do. I read to her some of my post “Letter to My Family“. I recommended the book Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One’s PTSD”, because let’s face it when you’ve gone through what we’ve been through you most likely have PTSD. It really helps when those around you have a guide to living with the fall out of it. It also helps if they know where you are coming from. I know we all wish and want them to be about to look at us and read our minds and know exactly what to say or do. But they aren’t mind readers, they have no special powers, they won’t know unless we tell them. Sometimes this requires repeating ourselves. Just like when you get poison ivy you have to repeatedly apply calamine lotion for relief, sometimes you have to reapply what you need the other person to hear. That’s why I’m a big fan of the letter. It doesn’t have to be confrontational that way. You can just print it up and leave it for the other person to read and think about.

Suicide was other thing we discussed. I have personal experience with the driving need to end it all. I have a couple of plans on how I do it and everything. I know what it feels like to think that it wouldn’t matter to anything or anyone if you did it. I’ve written a couple of post on it for my “Legacy of Child Abuse” series. I highly recommended the Boggle the Owl site, since reading some of the posts there have gotten me through the bad times. Sometimes something as little as an anonymous person telling you that they care and that it’s going to be ok care help. Sometimes you just need to hear those words even if you are only reading them to yourself.

Then we talk about my all time favor topic (being ironic here) panic attacks and anxiety, and how to deal. I got out my therapy binder, where I keep all the printouts that my therapist gives me. The one that works best for me is “Overcoming Anxiety: 5 Quick Ways to Relieve Anxiety“.

1. Making yourself comfort, and reminding yourself this will pass.
2. Use calming self talk.
3. Acknowledge and accept
4. Distract yourself
5. Use relaxation techniques

Lastly I talked to her about accepting and acknowledge my “others”. Till you do that they can really make you feel insane. I showed her my dress up drawings that each of my others did. And how they had their own Pinterest account where they each had boards and expressed the need to not get angry when they express themselves in ways that we normally would think is weird, insane, shameful, etc. I also showed her my post-it with the rules for living in my body (or house, as my therapist and I call it).

– No one makes the rules except “A”
– There are no other rules but the ones “I” make
– No one can bring harm to anyone else in the house.
– If you don’t take care of the house or you try to harm it you don’t get to come out.
– If you don’t follow the rules you don’t get to come out.
– You can’t make changes to the house (ex. Haircut, color, etc.) without a majority ruling in favor of the change.
– All decision made by the house have to have a 75% in favor ruling to be done.

When we’d finished talking, and she left; I got to thinking about all I’d said and the wisdom I’d passed on. And it hit me. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do this; I wouldn’t have been able to help this way, because I hadn’t done the work. In the last three years, I have been slowly but surely doing the work and learning what I needed to do this. And while most of the time I feel like I haven’t gone anywhere, that I’m exactly where I was when I started. That’s not true. I’ve posted over 200 post on my blog. Each of them are stepping stones. They maybe baby steps . I have been taking baby steps to getting better. This day helped me to remember how far I’ve come.

Vacation Then Chaos

I’ve just return from a two-week vacation where I went to see my sister’s family. I felt like it was time since I haven’t seen my sister’s youngest for almost a year. Also I’m skipping out on the whole, big family vacation thing this year (my family and my mother’s brother’s family – Lots of people), so I thought this would be a nice compromise. I have to say I was very apprehensive about going on this trip. The kids, my sister’s husband, the whole not being in my house aka safe place had me worried. I was able to take my dog (big help) and this time we (my mom and I) where able to stay with my sister at her house since she has a new one instead of staying with her in-laws. This help because I was able to feel more at home and not like I always had to be “on”.

I was actually surprised with how little my “others” felt the need to make an appearance while I was gone. Instead of them constantly in my head chattering, they seem to take a vacation too. It was almost peaceful. I did have a visit from Becca and a couple from someone else that I think is coming into the light. I use to say it was Sonja but now I’m almost sure that it isn’t, its someone hiding behind her, trying to make me think its her. Ring Bracelet combo

Becca’s visit was rather tame. I went into a jewelry store that sold very cheap stuff, and when I came out I had a bag and no clue what was in it.  It was kind of funny – I walked out with the bag and my sister ask me what I bought and all I could say was I had no idea. I’m now the owner of a pair of feather, chain and heart earrings that hit below my collar-bone, and two (one gold, one silver) bracelets that web up and connect to a chain and a ring on my middle finger. (see pic) I have no idea where we are going to wear them, they are so 80’s. But as my friend pointed out yesterday, that was when we were actually Becca’s age, so that maybe were her style choices are coming from.

The other’s visits were more of a switch snapping and a need to throw my sister’s kids against the wall. (I DIDN’T!!!) They wouldn’t get off me, stop touching, clinging to me even after I asked them nicely a couple of times to stop. Physical contact is a big thing for me and if I don’t initiate it I can’t handle it, especially when I can’t make it stop. I ended up having to shut myself in my room there to decompress.

This was a quiet two weeks for me, usually I have them popping in and out a couple of times a day, or at least I have a constant background track of their chatter going in my head. I think it was the lack of stress I felt. Of course when I got home everything went to pieces all at once. I got super stressed out and Damian (The Shadow) made an appearance, and I ended up having to have two therapy sessions in three days.

Damian was out for almost three days straight before we could get him to go back in. It was not a very fun three days and we came very close to going back to the mental hospital. Actually we came very close to WANTING to go back. While he was out Damian took the time to name himself and update his page. Be warn it’s dark.

Genevieve was the one that was finally able to pull Damian in. I find it strange that it was her, but she is the light to Damian’s dark. She also has updated her page, since she was out.

I feel weirded out by all this. I especially am having a hard time with them updating their page into first person viewpoint, even though acceptance of them is something we are working on in therapy. It’s scary what they are letting out on to those pages and yet so far when they are out they want to do it, they want to be heard.