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Archive for the ‘healing journey’ Category

A Flying Dream!

Something happened a while back that hasn’t happened for many years. I didn’t say anything about it to anyone for a couple of days, because I just wanted to absorb it for me.

2-5-17

Last night I had a flying dream.

It was unlike any flying dream I’ve ever had before.

I haven’t had one since the ‘80s.

Back then, I only had a flying dream a few times.

Most of the time, I was flying low to the ground, and having to dodge telephone lines.

Once, I had a dream where I was flying high and smooth. It only lasted for a moment.

Once, I had a dream where I shot off the ground like a rocket, straight up.

Then the flying dreams stopped.

The dream last night was totally different.

I was able to fly freely.

High, low, it didn’t matter.

I soared around just savoring the experience.

Gravity didn’t affect me.

There was a lightness I had never experienced in my flying dreams before.

I flew incredibly high into the sky, into a sort of city in the clouds, like the one Lando Calrissian managed in The Empire Strikes Back.

It was so high you couldn’t see it from the ground.

It was on the edge of space darkness, like when Chuck Yeager took the X-1 up where he could see the stars, in the movie The Right Stuff.

There were luxurious rooms, and apartments and hallways.

I was able to float through them freely.

At that point I was more levitating than flying.

I had no fear of falling.

I knew I could fly as long as I wanted.

The dream went on for a long, long time.

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In 1988, I gave up alcohol. That was a struggle, but I haven’t had a drink since. Alcohol was a feeling stuffer in many different ways.

In 1994, I gave up tobacco. My parents had both smoked since I was a baby, and I know I had an associated smoke addiction from the time I was a small child. I haven’t had tobacco since. Tobacco was my feeling stuffer for anger – as I dealt with my anger, I was able to let go of tobacco.

In 1996, I gave up caffeine. it just revved me up too much, and fueled my sleep deprivation. Caffeine was a big feeling stuffer for fear.

The common thread in all letting go of those addictions – when it was time, I was ready, and I could really stick with not doing it again.

The one that has always stumped me is sugar.

I’ve been trying since about 2000 to let go of sugar. I’ve tried a lot of things, and even gotten support, but evidently it wasn’t time. I just wasn’t ready.

Well –

I didn’t want to say anything, but I have been off sugar now for almost three months, and this time it feels real. (Note: this was originally posted on another site a while back. It has now been over a year that I have been off of sugar!)

I didn’t realize how big a deal it was until I started looking back at the PTSD issues I’ve dealt with, especially the ones with my grandmother. She was always feeding me ice cream and lots of sugar.

I remember as a teenager coming home and having half a bag of Oreos and a glass of milk, and calling it dinner.

So sugar has been a constant in my world, not to mention it’s a primary ingredient in alcohol and tobacco.

Then one time I sent an email to my good friend Carl, and said “I’m letting go of the feeling stuffer for my core issue.” He picked up on the power of that statement.

My core issue – the abuse by my grandmother that defined my world since I was 8 years old.

I typed that in very big letters “I’m letting go of the feeling stuffer for my core issue,” printed it, and taped on the wall next to my computer.

It became real why I had struggled all those years. It was back in 2000 that I was starting to become aware of the PTSD and abuse issues by my grandmother. It took a long time to deal with those issues – it just took as long as it took!

I have started to accept over the past several months that I have dealt with the abuse by my grandmother, and it doesn’t limit my world like it used to. (Not perfection, just a lot of progress)

I have finally begun to believe that this is real, and this time – it’s going to take.

I have let go of sugar.

Wow!

 

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Since I was 8 years old, I have existed with a sense of bad things on the horizon.

I know exactly where that came from – abuse by my grandmother, which led me to believe that my lot in life was to suffer, and if I tried to succeed, she would guarantee a horrid ending to my existence.

I could not change this reality – the expectation of doom was deeply embedded in the fibers of my soul. I reflect back on my actions over the years, and they now make a lot of sense – why try to be happy when disaster would be the outcome?

I have spent a lot of time in the last several years working on the abuse by my grandmother, which was the most core source of my PTSD. I have been committed to root out that dysfunction, and do all I could to recover from that trauma.

Last week, my writer friend Randi said something like “be open to embrace the blessings of what is about to happen in your world.” I was ready to act on that new truth – that blessing could be mine! For me, it’s best to just leave it at that – if I try to define the blessings, I limit how wonderful they could be.

The other morning, I woke up and thought “I’ve made it.” It signaled a deep feeling.

I’m not going to claim that I’m free of symptoms, or that I have fully recovered. The nature of the C-PTSD I have struggled with is too deep, and I still expect to feel its effects at times. But my world has shifted in a remarkable way.

I woke this morning and had to chat with my friend Carl, because I was just aware of a new reality in my world – the expectation of blessing!

Good things are coming my way, and I am ready to embrace them.

That is mostly a head statement right now, and I think it will take a while for it to sink in. So for now, I’m smiling a lot and basking in the glow of this new reality.

I’m just letting it sink in.

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Here’s a very interesting book I just found out about. The author candidly shares her story, to help break the cycle of abuse and the damaging effects that result from that abuse. Kindle-Wounds-of-the-Father-High-Resolution-188x300

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In the bestselling tradition of Smashed and Glass Castle, this raw, eye-opening memoir tells the powerful story of Elizabeth Garrison’s fractured childhood, descent into teenage drug addiction, and struggle to overcome nearly insurmountable odds. Elizabeth invites the reader behind the closed doors of a picture-perfect Christian family to reveal a dark, hidden world of child abuse, domestic violence, and chilling family secrets all performed in the name of God under the tyrannical rule of her father. Like countless teenage girls, Elizabeth turns to drugs and alcohol to escape. With smack-you-in-the-face honesty, Elizabeth chronicles the dark realities and real-life horrors of teenage drug abuse, living on the streets, foster homes, and treatment centers. She paints an unsparing portrait of scratching and clawing her way out of the grips of child abuse, addiction, and betrayal to find the strength within herself to save her own life.

 

Elizabeth Garrison has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and works as a researcher for the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. Her research focuses on the effects of childhood abuse and developing interventions to help children recover. She also is a well-known celebrity ghost-writer. Given her talent in helping others to tell their stories, Garrison decided it was time to tell her own story. Visit her at www.elizabethgarrison.info.

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I have been working on final edits for Healing The Writer – A Personal Account of Overcoming PTSD for the last month. An editor gave me tremendous feedback to help tighten the manuscript, and I’ve been making great progress on making those changes.

I have known that it would be a big deal to finish and publish this book, because it would directly expose the lies of my grandmother to the light of day, thereby robbing much of their power. It would also contradict her messages about being a writer. I will reclaim a lot of power by publishing this particular book, because of the subject. Even my doctor said “this book is a big deal.”

When I was 8 years old, my grandmother told me if I ever became a writer, they would “call me crazy and lock me up.” She reinforced the message in pretty hideous ways, which included saying the doctor she worked for could have me committed to an asylum, and then showing me what it would be like.

In one section, the editor suggested I might need to dig further down to get in touch with my experience of the worst abuse. I thought I already had, but as I worked on editing that section, I wrote additional content that was the how that little boy felt, at a deeper level than I had ever gotten to it. Later I had a “feeling memory” where I got in touch with what happened to me on a very visceral level.

I feel different about it now. A therapist I worked with for many years emphasized that we had to expose the lies. He used an analogy several times – he said it was like the old movies where Dracula could never face the light of day. If he did, he would wither up and die. I have experienced that effect a number of times, where facing an abuse will suck a lot of power out of it.

I’m in an interesting place. I feel lighter. I am more ready to publish this book. I’m astonished by how healing this process has been.

It feels like a huge victory, and I’m letting it sink in.

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I’ve known for years that I don’t write on a daily basis. It’s better for me if I let thoughts and ideas percolate, and they fall onto paper when they are ready. That is especially true with the next memoir I’m writing, Healing The Writer. I recently posted that I had sent the manuscript to an editor in New York City for a critique. She came back with two major areas I needed to refine. I saw what she was saying, and just leaned back.

I didn’t try to force ideas to the surface for how to handle these manuscript issues. I let them percolate, and didn’t see anything for about a month. Then in a short time, how to handle both issues came to light – and it was easy.

Issue 1 – This book contains several inner child exercises. I write from the adult perspective, and answer from the viewpoint of the 8 year old child who got so badly damaged by my grandmother. The editor pointed out that I needed to make greater distinction between the adult and the child when they were speaking. The child sounded very adult in the ways he responded. I needed to hear the voice of the child more clearly.

Solution – I have been writing freelance articles for the last 2 and a half years, and a while back the client said they wanted some of them written from the perspective of a woman. I found a way to make that mental transition. I wrote a little more from an emotional construct and not as linear, and had a warmer perspective to how I constructed sentences. Suddenly I realized – if I can write from the perspective or a woman, I can sure hear the voice of that 8 year old. “Cool! That’s really neat!” I’ve already rewritten the first inner child passage, and know how to hear the rest to make sure it’s the child speaking.

Issue 2 – The editor said there were a LOT of characters in the book. She said it was hard to keep track of everyone. Part of that is because the book covers 30 years, and there were just a lot of people who came through my life and had an impact – enough that they needed to be in the book. I cut down on the number of people where I could, and then leaned back.

Solution – I decided to differentiate the more important characters by describing them more vividly. It would bring those people to the front in people’s minds, and make them more memorable. The who only had a brief part would be described less.

Instead of: My friend Barry

It became: Barry was one of the most multi-faceted people I’d ever been around. Though he was big, bearded and looked like a mountain man, he was very well read and extremely intelligent – he could speak knowledgeably about a wide range of subjects. He filled his time with a variety of interesting pursuits, like working as a river rafting guide on the weekends. He had just told me about his latest trip down the Guadalupe River, which sounded like a wild adventure. One raft tipped over and they had to rescue the occupants.

I still have a some polishing to do in other areas of the manuscript, but the major issues brought up by the editor have been resolved.

I’m closer to the finish line!

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For the last few weeks, I have been developing an outline for the next book I plan to write. At this point, it will tentatively be titled “Healing My Anger – Defusing A Time Bomb.” It is about my journey to unearth and resolve a terrible well of anger and rage I discovered. One of the pivotal points of that book will be about a bizarre event that happened to me – a group of people came over to my apartment late at night, and performed a bogus group encounter with me.

I used to call it an intervention, but I realized that gave the misimpression that what happened was somehow legitimate. It was not – it was an exercise in the power of a group in dysfunction, incited by a strong and charismatic leader. I’ve written about that evening before, in a post called “The Betrayal.” That event led to a whole series of events which propelled my growth in astonishing ways, because it forced me to deal with anger that I hadn’t been able to access previously.

This will be a powerful book – I can tell that already. But for the past several weeks, I’ve had the feeling that I was missing something. I just couldn’t think of what it might be. Then yesterday I realized – I had left out one major event. Then I realized that this would have to be the end of the book. I needed to get it on paper, so I wrote it all down.

It’s the first time I’ve ever written the ending of a book before I wrote the beginning. But it was absolutely the way the book had to end. For a number of years, I had not been around the individual who stirred up the event that night, who I renamed Rob for purposes of the book. We happened to end up at a party together.

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So here is what I wrote:

In 1996, I decided to move to Austin. I went by a party that was being held by one of the people in the recovery program. It had been a fun party for a number of years, and a source of fond memories for me. Rob and Nancy were there. It was the first time I had been around either of them for quite a while, and naturally there was some awkwardness.

After a few minutes Rob came up to me and said “Dan, can we go outside and talk for a minute?”

“Sure, Rob.”

We stepped outside, and I wasn’t sure what he wanted to talk about. I had gut checked my anger before agreeing to go, and there just wasn’t much steam in those old issues. At most, I felt a little edgy – because of the unknown.

We sat down on a bench outside the party, and Rob lit a cigarette. He sat for a moment, and it looked like he was gathering his thoughts, so I didn’t say anything.

“Dan, I want to apologize for my part in what happened the night we came over to your apartment. That was totally wrong, and nobody deserved to go through what happened to you that night. I am sorry. Genuinely sorry.” He looked me directly in the eyes as he spoke, and I could hear the genuineness and sincerity in the way he said the words. His words were simple, elegant and direct. I was so deeply touched I didn’t know what to say. I was quiet for a moment.

“Thank you for saying that, Rob. I do appreciate it – probably more than I can express right now.”

“Can I give you a hug?”

“Sure, Rob.”

We hugged, and then walked back inside the party.

I lost touch with Rob when I moved, but after that night, for the two of us – we were at peace.

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