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Posts tagged ‘feelings’

Say Hello to Grandma For Me

My mom is leaving in the morning for a trip to Denver, Co. For 26 years of my life I would travel with my parents to see my 2 grandmas and my various aunts and uncles and cousins for approximately 2 weeks. We would trade time between my dad’s mom and my mom’s mom, Grandma Waggoner/Summers and Grandma Shirley respectively. It was always a great time. Grandma Summers had a great tv and video collection and an amazing culinary skill. She made the best cookies and meals I have ever had, although most of what she made I cannot eat today.

Grandma Shirley had the amazing pool and all the little debbie’s you could eat. My grandfather, a man I never got the chance to meet, built the house and the indoor pool with his bare hands. It is a house full of memories and history and it means absolutely nothing without Grandma Shirley in it.

When we traveled to my Grandma Summers funeral in May we went to see Grandma Shirley at the home and to visit the house my grandfather built.  It was an empty experience. The first day we visited Grandma Shirley in the home she wasn’t herself. She didn’t make any sense and she kept playing with a doll. It was so hard to see. It is so hard to remember. It was really hard because even though she had no idea who we were there were still attributes that I recognized. When she was talking she used the same hand gestures and when she was trying to think of something, something none of us could comprehend she looked down and focused like she used to when telling a story.

The second day we visited her was a little better. When we got there she was lethargic which in my mind was better than the playing with the doll day we had experienced the day earlier. We were quite a bigger group so we went out into another area and after Grandma had a little nap she came to join us. She was so much better. She wasn’t completely there but she was more in the room than she had been previously. She and I had a conversation that I could follow and she asked my older sister why she was so sad. It was a great little moment and a truly saddening moment as well. Grandma’s here but she’s not and the moments that she’s here makes up for the moments when she’s not but it makes the moments that she’s not even harder to deal with.

After we saw Grandma at the home we went back to the house where I spent so many summers playing games, and talking with Grandma and walking around the lake across the street. The house was empty without her. Most of her things were still there but she wasn’t. It was the shell of what it used to be, just like she is.

My mother is leaving in the morning for a short trip to see her mom, a trip that will be gut wrenching, a trip that might not be any fun at all. As I hugged her good-bye (because she’s leaving before I get up) I wanted to say, “Say hello to Grandma for me” but then I rethought it. My Grandma may not even recognize her own daughter let alone remember who I am.

I try not to hate anything in this world but I HATE ALZHEIMER’S! I hate it with everything that is inside of me. Alzheimer’s has stolen my grandmother, a woman I love with my whole heart.

So I’m weeping again, what a joy (sarcasm). There are times when I live in denial about my grandma being for all intents and purposes gone. I live in that place and then reality slams into me like a bus and I have no choice but to stare into it and deal with it. I have no choice but to sit in the pain and let it wash over me. If I ignore it now, it will only get harder to deal with.

I learned that lesson the hard way. If you stuff your feelings, your realities, your emotions and never deal with it, it will explode all over you. So you have to deal with it when it comes up. I wasn’t going to write this post because I feel like I have written it so many times over the last few months but I decided that my need to process was more important than my need to write something interesting for my readers to partake.

Deal with your stuff when it happens because stuffing it doesn’t make it go away, it just makes it harder to deal with in the end.

So I’m sitting in my room, listening to a Third Day CD and weeping. I’ll live through this pain which is the triumph I give to you today. 8 years ago I never would have allowed myself cry. I would have had an anxiety attack, lying on the ground not being able to breathe, not feeling safe and all because I believed that if I started crying or if I sat in the pain I would never get out of it. The truth is that is not true. If you deal with pain it cannot overcome you. If you allow yourself to deal with the sadness or disappointment when it comes or anger when it hits or whatever emotion you shy away from, if you allow yourself to deal with it when it happens it cannot overcome you.

8 years ago I was on the highest level of depression meds you can be on and I decided to stop taking them. I decided that not feeling anything was not okay and I started a journey of feeling things when they happen and not being afraid of emotions.

Right now my heart hurts but I am dealing with it and not allowing it to overcome me. That is the good news. The situation sucks but it is not overpowering me. I am sad but I know that I will not stay sad forever.

Cornering A Cat

*the Science or psychology behind what I am saying came from Terry and Sharon Hargrave. I just adapted it to my situation.

Last night I had an argument, an argument over nothing and my reaction caught me by surprise. I haven’t felt this angry over nothing in a long time. It reminded me that heated arguments are rarely about the actual thing you are arguing over. Most of the time they are over the way the person felt, or how the other person’s actions made the person feel.

For instance, in this particular argument I felt like a cornered cat. There was no option for me other than to agree with the person. There was no where to go but to agreement and I was not ready for that yet. The other person even pointed out that I was overreacting to the situation.

So what about the argument was different or what made it more heated for me. I felt cornered. I felt like a kid getting a spanking for a dumb reason. When I feel cornered I protect myself and lash out, which is exactly what I did.

Each of us have our own reactions to be cornered. Some people will just agree so they can get out of the corner and other’s like me will lash out.

Like I said the argument was a silly one. One that over the time of about a half hour I was able to get over. My reaction was what surprised me. So I thought over the conversation. The person I was arguing with never said that I was dumb, yet I felt it. The person never said that was being a child, but I felt like one. The person never gave me a choice. The person did say I could run an experiment but it was said in a way that makes the other person (me) feel like a child. Had the person, or myself, stopped the conversation for a moment, googled the information and then shown me the webpage that proved that they were right things might have gone differently.

I may not have gotten so heated. But I was tired and when I am tired I kind of forget all the things I have learned and go straight to angry.

Terry and Sharon Hargrave taught that instead of going straight to the reaction we should try to first go for the feeling. When so and so did this I felt….

When so and so stated the information in what felt like a condescending way I felt small.

When so and so continued to argue their point without back up I felt angry.

When so and so would not give up I felt cornered.

Once you do three feelings then you are supposed to talk about your reaction.

When so and so would not give up I felt cornered and lashed out with words of anger.

I even had some cooling down and came back for round two. (I now know that I needed a longer cool down time.)

I came back with a reasoned argument but ended with the lashing out again in a semi-sarcastic manner.
What I should have done is come back with an explanation of what I heard (because sometimes what we hear is not what was said) and then explained how each statement made me feel.

The Hargraves also reasoned that you could use this system to find out how your argument partner (or spouse) fights or reacts to fights and how to best approach them to finish the argument in a way that has neither partner reaching for their flight or fight response. They cautioned that you were not to use the system as a way to manipulate your partner but instead to better understand them and yourself.

So my argument last night was not about the argument itself but instead about how the argument made me feel. I have a feeling that being away from my California therapist and California friends will teach me how to use all the different skills I have learned in a new way. I will get chances to put everything I have learned into use because no one here has taken the classes I have taken and no one here has been to all the seminars I have been to.

This might be a hard year because I might have to stop myself and figure out what is going on before lashing out and protecting myself.

Ahh new lessons, why do they have to be so hard?

The Complexities of Vulnerability

Thursday I got another lesson in vulnerability and it is has been something I have been considering for the past few days.

Since I was abused by people who were supposed to care for me and who I was supposed to be able to trust I have found it difficult to trust others.

I’ve been working on this because I know it is an important step in all relationships. Being able to share yourself with others is something that we all need. We all need to find a way to let go of our guard and really share who we are.

I have no problem being transparent with my life. I can share my hopes, dreams and desires. I can share my life story and how I process things but there are certain parts of myself that I hold back.

One part has been my feelings. For the better part of my life I thought that my feelings were bad and I had dissociated them. I would start to feel something and then immediately I would push it away. This happens to me a lot in therapy. I will start to feel sad and the moment I try to connect to it, it goes away and I am left feeling blank.

I have started to share my feelings. I have started to share my needs which is another huge step for me. I used to keep my needs to myself for fear that no one would ever meet them. I have gotten better at telling myself as well as my friends and family about my needs. For the most part, they seem to be able to handle and/or meet my needs but that doesn’t mean that they always do.

This is part of being vulnerable, you have to open yourself up to the possibility of either being loved or being hurt. You have to be wiling to take the gamble.

So I have been learning to be vulnerable with my feelings and that is hard enough but now I have to learn how to be vulnerable with my expressions.

I have this weird tick if you will. Whenever I am mad at someone or upset or even sad I will start to smile.

A few therapists ago, I had one who told me some upsetting news and then he asked me to read his face. It reminded me of a scene from Bones where Sweets is trying to teach Brennan how to read facial expressions and then manipulate people  into opening up to her.

My therapist showed me his face and asked me what I saw. They only thing I saw was anger. Then he started reading my faced and when he told me I looked sad I started to smile.

He asked me why I was smiling and I said that I didn’t want him to be sad that I was sad and I didn’t want him to see that I was sad.

I was vulnerable in that moment and wanted to end the moment by smiling. In this case I knew what I was doing but in some cases I will be smiling at the wrong time without even knowing I am doing it.

Thursday in therapy I was trying to tell my therapist how much him saying that I was a burden last week had hurt me. He explained that we had different meanings for burden. He didn’t want me to feel like I couldn’t take up space which is what it sounded like I was struggling with. And I realized that our definitions of burden were very different.

Anyway I brought up how upsetting that was for me and was inadvertently smiling while doing it. He asked me to try to show him with my face what that was like. So with my words and my face I showed him. I teared up and said that it was hurtful and that I didn’t like thinking that I burdened my friends and family that when he said that it felt like he was confirming the lie that I believe. The lie that no one wants to spend time with me, that they are forced to spend time with me.

While we were having this conversation I began to sit up and he began to scoot to the edge of his chair. By the time the conversation was over we were closer both in proximity and in intimacy.

And I began to realize that hiding my expressions from my face was denying myself and my friends the intimacy of seeing how I actually felt. He said he could actually see and feel what I was feeling. My feelings did not become his own but he could begin to see how much he had hurt me and in allowing him to see it I allowed him to get closer to me.

Of all my therapists this last one has really helped me relationally.

I actually said out loud, “Crap” (except if  you know me, you know I didn’t say crap 🙂 ). I realized that if I want all my relationships to be this close I have to let others see how they effect me. I have to let them see how much their influence in my life changes me and if they hurt me I have to let them see that as well.

Which just means I have to be even more vulnerable which is exciting and scary.

I am just now realizing all the complexities that are associated with being vulnerable and even though I know they are scary they are also worth the journey.

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