PTSD and Staying Grounded While Moving

Last weekend, I moved again. Third time in two years.

After Jack died, I moved three hours away to live near my uncle (who was in assisted living). He passed away at the age of 100 in September. How I miss him!

With my uncle gone, I decided to move to a bigger town and here I am four days in. My new locale is a few minutes from the mountains—but also a few minutes from great shopping, bookstores, tennis courts, yoga classes and so on.

This morning I felt uncoordinated and a little paralyzed. I’m used to feeling like I can’t move. It’s just a feeling. All I have to do is put on music, get in the shower and I’m good to go. But not knowing what direction I’m facing and having no familiarity with the neighborhood exacerbates this kind of stiffness.

I did improv in Chicago in my early twenties. It was a lot of fun and briefly gave me an uncharacteristic sense of well-being and connection to people. Unfortunately, I didn’t know I had PTSD and was baffled and depressed when I’d unpredictably wake up dissociated, numb, encapsulated, or triggered–and couldn’t snap out of it on demand. I eventually dropped out of the show–it’s hard to perform when you can’t feel–but it was great for a while.

This morning, I remembered my improv teacher advising me to walk all over the stage every night before the audience came in. He said it would improve my confidence and give me a sense of the stage as my territory. He was right. It made a big difference.

That’s what I need to do here. Walk, hike, run and drive around my new “stage” to make it my own.

I feel pretty grounded, though, which is fantastic. Someone recently brought up ways of getting grounded. I’ve often come across the idea of sitting and visualizing your spine rooted into the earth, but that never worked for me. I’ve always had to see myself as ready to move at a moment’s notice (fight or take flight as needed!) Someday, I may change and will really dig that kind of grounding imagery, but for now it’s not for me.

I feel grounded when I’m in touch with how I feel physically and emotionally. I was numb for decades. It felt like my body was shot through with Novocain. That changed, particularly after my meds stopped working. (I write about it in my book PTSD: Frozen in Time. See links below.) Doing a mindful body scan from my toes on up calms me down. When I do that, I’m checking out the territory, walking the stage, taking ownership, taking charge–and action when necessary.

If I push away feeling where I’m at, physically or emotionally, I get very anxious–and the more anxious I feel, the more frozen I feel.

When I put on music and dance, I’m glad to inhabit my body. If I’m not sure how I’m feeling emotionally, I can tell by how I respond to different songs.

Speaking of music, driving from the old place to the new on Friday, I heard Burt Bacharach’s “Nikki”. Oh my gosh, it gave me such a sense of where I was at in 1969. It was used as a theme song for one of the big three stations back then. I soaked it up unconsciously, so that when I heard it again fifty years later, I felt a tapestry of emotions I thought were permanently buried.

Music is miraculous and magical. Even though trauma may have shoved us out of a continuous sense of self and we lost time and a sense of safety, sometimes music gives us back what we thought was gone forever–ourselves.

***

Links:

Amazon: PTSD: Frozen in Time

PTSD Frozen in Time at Barnes Noble Apple Kobo Scribd Inktera 24S

 

 

 

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Meet My Favorite Tree and Future Dancing Partner

Pam Montgomery’s fascinating book Plant Spirit Healing (A Guide to Working with Plant Consciousness) inspired me, years ago, to invite the spirit of my first plant, Little Momma, to hop on my energy while I danced so it could dance, too. I’ll never forget that day. I was in the living room of our Chicago apartment. Jack had gone somewhere for a few hours. I put a CD on the stereo and was psyched to manifest joyful energy. (I was so happy living with Jack.)

I walked over to Little Momma, lightly touched my finger to one of her leaves, and said, “Feel free to hop on and dance with me.”

I started dancing and, within a few seconds, felt tendrils a foot long extending from the tips of my fingers.

I immediately stopped dancing.

That freaked me out!

Reading about the spirit of plants is one thing. Direct experience is another.

I did get up and continue dancing. I didn’t feel the tendrils anymore, but the visceral memory has never left me.

Pam Montgomery also suggested that when you go out into nature and are looking around and soaking up the good vibes, take a moment to see if any one tree or plant or stone is watching you.

Here is the tree I feel is looking back at me when I walk and do sprints along the path behind my apartment.

Tree1

Isn’t she beautiful?

Last week, I walked along this path listening to a favorite playlist with my Beats in and feeling optimistic about life and indescribably grateful my tummy pain was gone, (thanks to Diane Goldner, Energy Healer: Website). Aretha Franklin was singing “Sprit in the Dark” as I approached my beautiful tree. I thought, I sure wish I could dance with the spirit of that tree right now. Cars were going by, though, and would probably have slowed down or stopped to see what I was doing if they saw me dancing, so instead I put my hand on the tree’s trunk and invited her spirit to do sprints with me if she felt like it.

I didn’t feel any tendrils or branches extending out of my body. But my posture was extraordinarily good that day!! I didn’t have to put any effort into standing up straight, which I always have to do halfway through my workout when I’m starting to get tired.

Someday the spirit of the tree and I will dance to Aretha. Just a matter of time.

Energy Healing with Diane Goldner: A Follow-Up

Last time I wrote, I talked about having scheduled a long distance healing session with Diane Goldner. I’d read her fascinating book Awakening to the Light twice and was so inspired, I thought I’d book a session.

I’ve written about my tummy pain here before. Ultrasounds, x-rays, blood tests, etc. never showed anything irregular. I was diagnosed with IBS-C, but no matter if I was constipated, cleared out or uncharacteristically regular—I woke constantly every night with mini-explosions of pain in locations all over my stomach. It never lasted beyond waking. It felt so cruel. The worst was a violent wrenching as if someone was twisting my insides. (This only happened when I slept and it didn’t have anything to do with the act of lying down because I read my Kindle every night for an hour or two before sleep in the same lying-down position and had no pain.)

Meds and diet had no effect.

I’ve exercised since I was eighteen, so I always kept things moving. I added yoga and hiking these last six months and I’m glad I did, but that didn’t change anything.

Quitting smoking made no difference (but I’m glad I did that, too).

I worked very hard to clear out resentments and anger that had recycled endlessly for years. I am beyond thrilled that I succeeded in removing almost all of that, but it took a lot of work and persistence. It was hard to lose the irrational feeling that I was accomplishing something by remembering what happened when I was frozen (fight, flight, FREEZE, or collapse) and getting really angry about it. I did work off a lot of rage through exercise years ago, which was immensely helpful. Ultimately, I had to make a conscious choice throughout my days as to what I wanted to focus on in order to create a greater sense of well-being.

It is my belief that all our challenges are for the evolution of our soul, but this winter I was beyond frustrated asking God night after night how this pain was doing me or anyone else any good at all. It felt like torture.

At some point, I became much kinder to myself. When the pain woke me, I started feeling atypical compassion. I’d ask if there was anything I could do to make me feel better like have a treat and watch Casablanca or listen to music on my iPhone or download a great book or make a plan for the next day to go to a thrift shop looking for treasures.

I became my pal this winter, which, in retrospect, I find amazing. I’m 61 and never thought that would happen.

Then I discovered Diane Goldner’s memoir of becoming a healer.

I went into her website and filled out the form requesting a healing. All I said was I had stomach pain. She emailed me a few days later and we set up a time and date. I knew from reading her website that all I would need to do for the session was lie down and relax while she sent healing energy.

She called me shortly before our appointment and we talked for ten or fifteen minutes about what was going on with me. After we hung up, I laid down for forty-five minutes or so. I did feel a bit of tingling, but mostly I felt nothing. She called me afterwards and told me what she picked up. I found her delightful to talk to. There’s a really beautiful and positive energy to her person.

I knew it is not unusual to have an increase in symptoms for a couple nights after the healing, so I was absolutely thrilled when I slept that first night and didn’t wake up once with any pain.

I did have an increase in symptoms the next two nights.

And since then, no pain.

Night after night, absolutely no pain.

It’s like a miracle.

I still wake up frequently, but I’m happy when I wake up because there’s no pain and I’m with my pal. (Me!) It’s just my darn old hyper-vigilance, plus I’m wound up with a lot going on now.

Anyway, energy healing works. I just finished another riveting book by Diane that explains how (to the extent that something ineffable can be explained) called How People Heal. How is not a big issue for me because, as I wrote in my book PTSD Frozen in Time – Amazon, PTSD Frozen in Time – Other Than Amazon, when I got off meds I could see auras around people and had a lot of non-ordinary reality experiences, which blew my mind wide open as to what’s possible.

I just wasn’t sure my soul contract would allow the healing.

But it did.

Hooray!!

Dr. Brian Weiss Many Lives, Many Masters Seminar – My Experience

I didn’t believe in reincarnation until I had a spontaneous past life regression about six years ago. That experience is as clear and vivid to me now as it was the day it happened. I was lying on the couch in the den of our apartment in Chicago, reading a book by Eugene Gendlin called Focusing. It detailed a method of self-healing and had nothing to do with reincarnation.

After a while, I grew tired and closed my eyes. I cleared my mind, putting all disconcerting issues on a figurative shelf nearby. I did a methodical body scan, beginning with my toes. I got all the way up to my stomach when I fell into a state of deep relaxation.

Suddenly, I was in a dark kitchen in a house in late 18th century Padua, Italy. I was a young man and the housemate sitting across from me at the kitchen table was Jack, also a young man. We were both university students. We looked nothing like our present-day selves, but I knew the who/what/where/why/when. I flipped back and forth between inhabiting my young male body and watching him/me from a few feet away. The whole scenario played out like an involuntary video. The clarity was mindboggling.

I was terribly afraid of the dark metaphysical energies I saw appearing in the house we shared. Jack, confident and handsome, laughed off my fears as imaginary. He was my best friend and only hope for support and help. As we left the house and walked the narrow cobblestone street, I was crestfallen, feeling alone and hopeless.

(In my 21st century life, I met Jack when I was hallucinating terrifying images as the result of sleep deprivation. I was burned out and  my meds no longer worked. He was the greatest support I could’ve hoped for and never left my side until I recovered.)

I found Dr. Brian Weiss’ books (see links below) not long after my spontaneous regression. He was educated at Ivy League schools and became a psychiatrist. He was an atheist and had no belief in non-ordinary reality. When one of his patients wasn’t progressing as expected, he used hypnotherapy to uncover any early-life trauma that might’ve been preventing her from having a good life. To his surprise, in session after session, she regressed to former lives. He didn’t believe she was actually remembering previous incarnations, but saw that she was getting better with this process. Then one day, she regressed to a state in between lives and gave Dr. Weiss intimate information she couldn’t possibly have known that convinced him something extraordinary was going on.

He’s written several fantastic books and I’ve read every one at least twice. When I heard he was coming to the Phoenix area, I bought a ticket.

When I arrived at the Doubletree Forum in Paradise Valley, I asked one of the staff if she had any suggestions as to where I might sit given my hearing loss. (My hearing aids help, but reading lips is vital.) She cheerfully escorted me to the front row. Evidently, another hearing impaired person had called ahead to have two seats held and then her friend cancelled. I was thrilled.

Dr. Weiss came on stage at ten o’clock. It felt so unreal to see him a few feet in front of me. All those years reading his books in Chicago, I never thought I’d see him in person.

He was a natural on stage—super relaxed, funny, smart, kind and quietly charismatic.

He told a lot of stories I was familiar with as well as stories I didn’t know. After a while, he led a group regression. Some people, including me, brought yoga mats or something to lie down on. Most people remained in their chairs. The lights were lowered, soft music played and Dr. Weiss led the meditation. I knew the instructions from his books and watching him on YouTube. (I recommend anyone with hearing loss consider familiarizing themselves with his regression scripts before they come. Then, even with eyes closed, they’ll pick up enough words to follow along.)

I can’t remember if it was before the hour-long lunch break or not, but he asked everyone to pair up and, after leading a short relaxation meditation, had us give each other a small personal item to hold. We were to pay attention to any images, feelings, etc. that came up. After two minutes, we shared. (I felt the pain in my partner’s foot. She gave me a message that could only have come from Jack.)

Dr. Weiss led another past life regression in the afternoon, told more stories and ended the day with a healing meditation from Elizabeth Stratton’s book Seeds of Light.

The seminar ended at five, after which Dr. Weiss signed books.

It was such a great day. It took me out of myself, I met interesting people, my regressions were thought-provoking and the healing meditation gave me an epiphany. I’ve felt inspired ever since.

So that was my day with Dr. Weiss. If you are into past life regressions and Dr. Weiss comes to your neck of the woods, go and see him!

These are my two favorite Dr. Weiss books:

Many Lives, Many Masters

Miracles Happen

***

After I got off PTSD meds and was in overwhelming physical pain, Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing was one of many methods I used to heal. Focusing was very powerful for me, but I suggest anyone with a history of sexual abuse to approach with caution. As you know, the body remembers!

Check out my book PTSD: Frozen in Time (Adventures in Releasing Buried Energy) for my story. You can find it on Amazon: PTSD: Frozen in Time or from other online distributers here: https://www.books2read.com/u/m0zzRl

PTSD, Eczema, IBS-C, and Thoughts of a Thursday in December

First off, a follow-up on the application of apple cider vinegar to the eczema on the bottom of my feet.

It didn’t help in any way.

Please don’t take my experience as universal. A lot of people on earthclinic.com said it worked for them. Maybe the nature of my eczema, which looks like a big red burn on the middle of each of my feet, isn’t conducive to that kind of remedy. The skin is extremely dry, peels and burns. There are no – sorry to gross you out – pustules. Maybe it would work better for that kind of condition.

I had this kind of dream of life planned after Jack and my uncle died. I’d get up early and hike in the mountains or do my walk/sprints nearby on pretty landscaped streets. I’d meet someone to hit balls with on a tennis court. I’d do yoga regularly at a place a few blocks away. I’d attend my support meetings and meet new friends. Maybe I’d volunteer at a stable and curry horses or volunteer at a hospital.

But the Universe has given me a big fat NO to these ideas.

Ever since my uncle’s memorial mid-November, my stomach has been killing me. It’s IBS-C and wakes me all night. Sometimes I can’t sleep at all. I might go four nights with little or no sleep, which is a total drag. I do not want to ever be so sleep deprived again that I hallucinate as I did years ago. (See my book PTSD: Frozen in Time or the short-read Startle: A True Story of PTSD and the Paranormal on Amazon or https://www.books2read.com/u/m0zzRl for other online stores.)

Interestingly, the inflamed area on my feet correlates to the stomach/GI area in the reflexology chart.

As far as the body-mind connection goes, if it’s anger trying to erupt, if it’s that simmering beneath my skin, I wish I could feel it, so I could release it.

Sadness, I release every day.

I wonder if it could be feelings of horror at what Jack and my uncle went through since I had a nightmare last night of a family having been horribly murdered in a camper outside my bedroom window. There was often no time to absorb, process and release trauma energy in the hospitals last year. Ditto with my uncle this summer.

Anyhoo, as a result of the pain and increasing exhaustion, I haven’t left the house much, but I do go to the post office almost every day of the week because I have a little business selling products on the internet.

Last week, I stood in line at USPS and started talking to the guy in front of me. He emanated such an incredible healing energy, he practically glowed.

When he told me he was 78 and a Viet Nam veteran, I said, “Forgive me for asking, but did you develop PTSD?”

His face clouded a moment. “Yes.”

I said, “You have such a healing energy around you, it’s tangible. Do you still have PTSD?”

He said, “No.”

I said, “How did you heal it?”

He smiled big and pointed towards the sky.

Our conversation soon ended as it was his turn next at the USPS counter.

I have no doubt he experienced a miracle.

Unfortunately, we don’t all get them. Although, when you think about it, if all of us did get miracles on demand for disabling conditions or difficult scenarios, what an absurd world it would be.

It’s my belief we choose to incarnate to evolve our souls (or contribute to the progress of mankind) through various challenges. We don’t necessarily see the details of how we might suffer or be challenged, but we know the issues we will work through as a result.

In Ram Dass’ Polishing the Mirror, he talks about being aware of our storyline in this incarnation, of being a witness to the soap opera or melodrama in order to get distance and perspective on it. I like that.

As for pain, he says, “Once you start to awaken spiritually, you reperceive your own suffering and start to work with it as a vehicle for further awakening.”

He admits when he had a stroke, he was overwhelmed for a while–I think for a few years–but eventually he saw it as a vehicle that pushed him into his soul.

He said “I am inside, and I live with the pain—not as the pain, but with the pain.”

Whatever we believe about this mystery of life we’re in the midst of, when we experience pain and suffering, we have a choice: to find a way to benefit from it or give up somehow, push it away, numb ourselves, get lost in blame and the details of the soap opera.

I certainly numbed myself for years, inadvertently with PTSD meds and, later, purposely with painkillers.

I’m not numb anymore, that’s for sure.

I wish I was as evolved as Ram Dass and felt my pain as grace, but I’m not that refined a soul at this point.

I do try to find a way to make periods like I’m going through work for me. I have plans ready for when the pain wakes me at night like working on my novel or writing to someone. Sometimes I’ll plug in my earbuds and listen to Binaural Beats while doing mindful mediation. I pray for others when I hurt, too.

When I do get quality sleep, oh happy day!! I’m appreciative of everything–the clear blue sky, the fresh air, the delightful palm trees, the comforting mountains surrounding the valley. Yesterday, I felt almost unreasonable joy dancing around my kitchen to The Isley Brothers’ “Harvest for the World”.

I went to the post office and started talking to the woman behind me. She was a 71-year old black lady named Fannie Mae. I was so grateful for her warmth, openness and kindness. The pain has isolated me. She told me a little about her life as we stood outside later and I told her a little about mine. She told me she sang. I asked her what kind of songs she sang. She said, “I’ll sing two.” And right there and then, outside the post office, she sang me two gospel songs. She had a beautiful voice. The first song made me cry–in a good way–and the second made me smile inside.

The Universe said YES.

Can’t Connect

I know it’s probably a common feeling for people to feel they aren’t connecting with anyone when they basically don’t know anyone in a new town.

Without Jack here, it feels like no one “gets” me. It feels like no one hears me or understands what I’m really saying.

It’s a lonely, disorienting feeling.

That new-girl-in-town feeling is glommed on top of a couple years of the stress of taking care of Jack, then him dying in May and finally my uncle dying a few weeks ago.

I know I won’t always feel like this.

All things pass.

For the first time in over ten years, I wanted to just sleep and sleep today. I didn’t want to be me. I didn’t want to feel sad anymore.

When I ignore my sadness and refuse to cry (because I’m so darn sick of it), my body/mind will wake me at 3 in the morning.

So I woke at 3 in the morning.

I still wouldn’t cry.

I ate a buttered, toasted Bays English Muffin with a Coke, finished a book on John of God, and started a memoir by P.D. James. (The latter quite good.)

I went back to sleep at 7 a.m.

I didn’t want to get up at 11, but the room was drenched in sunlight.

I didn’t want to do trauma releasing exercises.

I didn’t want to listen to the usual songs that elicit tears, even though I knew it would make me feel better.

I sat on the couch and drank two bottles of water, plugged in my earbuds and checked what playlists Apple had for me today. (I signed up for the free 3-month trial.)

The 70’s playlist had a song I never heard of by an artist I never heard of. The singer/songwriter was Judee Sill.

She has the voice of an angel. The harmony in her music is out of this world, the lyrics and melodies incredible.

I checked out the original album. Eponymously titled, it was from 1971. How did I never hear of her? I was 14 and 15 years old that year. All I did was listen to music.

Her big influences were Bach, gospel and country.

She signed with David Geffen, was critically acclaimed, opened for legendary rock groups, but never became a big name herself–even though the legends she opened for recognized she was way ahead of everyone else in terms of her songwriting.

Her second album came out in 1972 and there wasn’t another.

She had a terrible childhood and eventually became addicted to drugs, having to resort to prostitution in the end to feed her habit. She died of an overdose in 1979. She’d been forgotten by then.

I couldn’t get enough of her today.

Music can make me feel connected to myself and then I feel grounded and somehow recognized. I need to remember that.

Check out the fabulous artist, Judee Sill.

 

Eventually I flipped through other playlists. Guess which was the song that did the trick, got me crying even though I didn’t want to?

Mel Torme’s “That’s All”.

Ach! I’m such a romantic.

Anyway, I sobbed and sobbed and felt better. I didn’t feel as tired. I took my shower and did some errands, made a couple phone calls and scheduled my first yoga class for tomorrow.

 

 

Ode to the Cotton Bug VI

 

Oh Cotton Bug, Oh Cotton Bug,

Hello.

What’s happening?

Remember when we watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians together?

Or I imagined us watching it together anyway,

you in your glass bubble

me on the couch in my human container.

Good times.

I think you’re the only one I’ve connected with out here,

besides my uncle.

That doesn’t mean I want you back.

You go your way and I’ll go mine.

That’s the way it’s got to be.

Still…I’ll never forget you, Cotton Bug.

So long.

 

PTSD Teeth

I’m putting off working out so I thought I’d write a quick blog about PTSD teeth.

I wrote a short essay about them in my book PTSD: Frozen in Time (That’s an Amazon link. Elsewhere: https://www.books2read.com/u/m0zzRl)

One of the things I said was that, statistically, people with PTSD clench and grind their teeth more than the general population. Surprise, right?

I clenched my teeth while I slept for decades. Sometimes when I woke up, I’d have to pry my teeth apart with my hands. I only sporadically went to dentists so I didn’t have one watching my teeth slowly deteriorate over the years. If I had, theoretically s/he would have suggested I wear a tooth guard. Unfortunately, this wasn’t suggested until I was nearing fifty and my front teeth had become so thin at the bottom, they were breaking off into little square chips that cut the inside of my mouth. That hurt, so I’d take a nail file and try to smooth the jagged edges. You can see the result of my fine work in the before photo below!

 IMG_0698 (3)

Anyhoo, I got a tooth guard, some implants (ow!) and began seeing dentists regularly about twelve years ago. I didn’t think there was anything that could be done to fix my raggedy teeth. Then about a month ago, I went to my new dentist in Arizona and he said he could bond them.

I don’t know why my Chicago dentists didn’t come up with that idea, but I was thrilled and immediately booked a bonding appointment.

Here is my after picture. Yay! Isn’t it nice that some things can change?

 IMG_0700 (3)

Looks like I smoked two cigars between the first and second shots, but it’s just the lighting. Those two pics were taken within an hour and a half of each other.

I also wrote in my book that according to peeps on earthclinic.com, black walnut tincture can strengthen teeth. I used it regularly after I was 50. My teeth seemed to get better. They didn’t get any worse, for sure, and they stopped breaking off. I didn’t get any cavities for a decade either, so it didn’t hurt.

 

***

So…

…I guess I’m going to have to work out now. Wah!

Here’s a tip. If you increase your workouts to two hours a day (weights, aerobics, core, balance), you will not lose weight if you eat a lot more. As in Milano Cookies. Lots of Double Chocolate Milano Cookies.

 ***

Ode to the Cotton Bug II

Oh cotton bug, oh cotton bug, where have you gone?

I know you’re still here. I feel your cotton-bug spirit.

Perhaps you’ve found yourself a cozy nest in the millions of fibers of my living room carpet.

You seek warmth for you are in tune with the seasons.

You sense the winter coming.

Well so are the carpet cleaners.

This Friday.

Unless you leave my space in the next forty-eight hours, you will die.

Goodbye cotton bug.

Goodbye.