Sunday, December 18, 2011

On Learning to Fly

For most children, childhood is a magical time where anything is possible. From pirates,  unicorns, and  Santa Claus, to Mom not noticing the clothes and toys shoved under the bed, anything can happen.  Dreams are reality waiting to happen and summer days are filled with jumping on the trampoline and running through sprinklers. 

For these children, growing up means letting go of Santa and the Tooth Fairy, but still holding on to the hope that Mom won’t notice the mess under the bed. Dreams are whittled back into “goals”, but still doable. Summers morph into a break from school and hanging out looking for cute guys (or girls), while hanging with the guys, or giggling with girl-friends.  Mostly, growing up is exciting and fun.
These things are not the norm for every child.  For some instead of pirates and unicorns, their days are filled with terrible villians and nightmares.  Their foes that are all the more terrible because they are real, and they bear the name “parents”.   Their nights are filled with loneliness.  Confusion and fear fills their days and reaches into the center of their soul. 
For them, growing up means instead of hiding clothes under the bed, they push memories far into the recesses of the mind, for that is the only way to survive.  Coming-of-age means learning to live The Lie of Normalcy, smiling on the outside, while awash with pain inside.  I wish I didn’t know that pain; I wish no child did.
For children with magical childhoods growing into adulthood with all its hurts and bitter realities can be a jolt. This is the stuff coming-of-age stories are made of.  However, for children whose lives were waking nightmares, growing up can be a release, like Tinkerbell’s fairy dust that allows one to fly.
Flying is not easy.  There are some falls, some bumps, some harsh winds that force you back, but if they persist, they can soar.  I can soar too. 
For me, to soar means I must first feel the pain that I once repressed.  Once I feel it and mourn it, then I am finally able let it go.  As I am able work free of that old pain, I feel myself lifting off the ground.  The more I am able to heal from the past, the more I can trust the love offered me in the present, love from my husband, my children, and my friends.  This love brings magic into my life and bathes me in moon beams.
I cannot stay in the air forever though; landing is necessary.  Eating and sleeping are required.  Landing can be hazardous.  Old memories resurface, pain ignites, but the new memories of flying are still alive as well.  Like a clumsy bird that needs a running take off, I work through the pain and once again lift off.
While soaring, I can see others who are wounded.  I stop and visit them.  I can’t teach them to fly.  No one can teach another person to fly.  The fairy dust must come from within.  However, I can sit with them, and listen to their stories.  I can let them know that I care.  If they ask I will share my story.  I will tell them how I learned to fly.  Someday, when they are ready, they will fly too.  Like a flock of geese we will fly together, taking turns being in the lead, calling out encouragement to each other.  Most importantly, we will not be not be alone, we will face our fears and we will soar!
Through breaking free of the pain and learning to fly, we create magic.  The magic that we missed as children, but revel in now: our own magical healing place, our own Neverland.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


When I find a good thing, I just have to share.  There are a couple blogs that I love that, fall into this "good thing" category.  I admit (boast is more accurate) that these people are all friends of mine, but hey, whatever it takes to find the best blogs, right?

My friend Kristine is losing weight, and she is such an inspiration to me.  If you like people that are real (you know what I mean), then you will love this blog:

Overweight But Losing

If you are looking for a blog that is the literary equivilent of taking a nice hot bubble bath, i.e. you feel pampered and glad you took the time, then you must check out Cathy's blog:

Nibbling on Life

Sometimes you are in the mood for something funny.  My friend, Josh, writes a blog that is funny and sometimes a little insane.  He's a therapist, and I can't quite figure out if being a therapist pushed him over the edge or if he has always been this way.  Read his blog and you will understand:

The Weed

And last but not least...or maybe I saved the best for last...wink, wink, is my daughter's blog.  Today I helped her edit her most recent blog post, and well, proud mom moment aside, I think it's awesome.  You can decide for yourself.  The blog post is called:

A Homeless Man, A Ganster and Me
Nelo Writes

Enjoy!  And if you have a favorite blog (even if it isn't a friend's blog), post it and I will be sure to visit!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Wheel of Dissociation

Before you read this post...remember some computer glitch posted it before I was ready, and I was going to repost after editing, but guess what...the wheel of dissociation changed on me and I lost interest in the post entirely!  Man that is frustrating!

Also...I just want to add, I talked to my Therapist about this issue.  He says this is part of the trauma.  Trauma causes you to lose "fluidity of thought".  He says this is one of the reasons for therapy, to regain fluidity...that sounds hopeful!

For some time, I have been thinking that I need to discuss Dissociation with you again. I still like the Haunted Mind analogy, but I am afraid that in that post, I might have slightly misdirected you. The misdirection is that reading that post, you might think that in different rooms are all about emotion i.e. an angry room, a happy room etc. Or perhaps you understood exactly what I meant, and I'm just being happens (me being paranoid I mean!) Anyway...something happened last night that is still causing my thoughts to churn, and has spawned another analogy for Dissociative Disorders.

First, let me clarify or remind you (meaning simply I can't remember if I wrote about this before). Dissociation occurs on a spectrum. You have like heard how Autism is a spectrum disorder, and the same idea applies here. For Dissociation, on the less severe (or in this case: normal) side is daydreaming. Everyone daydreams and this is a form of dissociation. It is also perfectly normal. Where dissociation becomes a disorder is farther along the spectrum. If you follow the spectrum all the way to the most severe end you will find Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) which used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder.

SIDE BAR MOMENT: Maybe I should call this soap box moment, but I have to take a moment and say, there has been a lot of interest in the media lately about DID. From comedies to crime shows, they love to throw in a character with DID, and of course this person is always extreme...either a brunt of jokes in a comedy or a murder in the crime shows. Dear readers, don't believe everything you see on TV. We all know, though we don't think about it consciously, that writers and directors embellish things to make them more interesting. DID is real, but in real life it is a lot less "flamboant" than is portrayed in the movies. Now back to your regularly sceduled program post.

I have a Dissociative Disorder, in other words although you and I both dissociate (you daydream, right?) my dissociation is more developed, and can be a detriment in my daily life. Now where I fall on that spectrum...well, you read my blog, I'll just leave it to your imagination. Back to the Haunted Mansion...changing "rooms" or dissociated states, is not just about changing moods. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First I would like to tell you about last night and we'll work our way back to how dissociation applies.

November was National Novel Writing Month, and my local library was hosting a class on writing. The teacher  was a New York Times Best Selling Author. I love writing, and though I usually stay in the nonfiction area, I thought this sounded like a great opportunity. I went and I was so inspired. The class was about developing characters that your readers will love and think about after they put down the book. I was on fire! I kept thinking, "I could do this! I have enought life experiences, and writing experience, and, and, and...." I was jazzed. I was mentally trying to figure out what my daily writing goal should be and what I might write about...

POP! Suddenly, like a balloon popping in my mind, a thought deflated me. Leslie, you know you won't be able to stick with this long enough to make it work. I slumped down in my chair as I deflated emotionally and physically. Because I knew it was true. I listened to the last of the lecture with a weak version of tog of war going on in my head. One part of me saying, "but, but, but...maybe it will be different this time." At the same time being pulled by, "you always say that..." Still as I went home, I couldn't stop the brainstorming in my mind about characters. I got out a paper and started writing...I couldn't help myself! I have an idea I think people would love. An idea people would read. A character people would cheer for, and cry with. All I need is to spend some serious time working it out. And THAT is the problem.

It is not the problem in the way you might think. When I say time, you likely think of your own very busy schedule and think, "yeah, I couldn't fit it in either." But that is not the kind of time I mean. I work overnight shift...I love the quiet! I work in a residential treatment facility so my main responsibility is to stay awake and check on the residents periodically to be sure the haven't run away or harmed themselves...what I do the rest of the time: read, knit, watch movies, play video boss doesn't care. Or I could write. I have plenty of time to write. So what it the problem then? It's the dissociation, the wheel of fortune.

Previously, I explained my dissociation like rooms in a Haunted Mansion. Today I would like you to think of a huge wheel, like the TV show "Wheel of Fortune" or in vaious children's games, and sometimes at carnivals. It is mounted in the center so it will spin, there are pie shaped pieces with something written on them, and a little arrow that points to the "selection". My mind is like that wheel. The pie like sections have not only different interests like reading, writing, knitting, chess, spanish, sociology, ect, but each pie like section can have a different world view. Spin the wheel and see what Leslie will be most interested in today.

Sometimes it will happen in the middle of the day. I have this sensation that feels like waking up, though I might be walking when it happens and I think, "Why haven't I been practicing chess lately? I love chess. I'm going to go to the library as soon as I have a minute and check out a book". Then for a time (the time always varies and I have NO control over it) I will be completely obsessed with chess. Perhaps you've read the phrase, "God, Family, Country"...well on those days, those "pie pieces" or room in the Haunted Mind, it's "God, Family, Chess, and chess, and chess...". Then without even realizing I've done it, I lose interest and focus on chess and start thinking about blogging. "Geez, it's been a month since I last wrote on my blog? I'm going to lose readers," and a flood of ideas for blog posts will start coming to my mind. If you are a blogger you may be thinking right now, "Leslie, we all do that. I go through spurts on my blog too." My answer to you is, I know. That is because dissociation is something everyone does to some degree, but I am farther along that spectrum than you are. So last night I excited about writing, and I am focused on that this morning...I swear I have an idea that would work! But sadly I know that before too long, I will get distracted. The reason I use the wheel analogy is because these things my mind is one wheel, one house...and I move about within it. I am in a writing phase at the moment, but chess will be back, and then another day art. I find some comfort in that. The things I really love don't disappear, they just move to the back burner for awhile.

You might be thinking, "Leslie, we all do that, really." So let me take you one step the wheel turns, or I go into different rooms in my mind (and remember I have no control over that), it is not only my moods or interests that change, it can be my whole world view. Please stop for a moment and think about that. Think about your own world view, what is important to you, the values that are close to your heart, your feelings about religion, about the other people...all those things that form your "world view". It is normal for people's world view to change over time, but with dissociation mine can change rapidly. For me one world view, or place on the wheel, can last a few months or a few minutes.  If that sounds disorienting, trust me it is.

There is one place on that wheel that rarely seems to come "up", but I know it's still there because I do feel it from time to time. And that is the point here, I have not simply "grown and changed my world view" in the way you can and do. I slip in and out of different world views. For example, in the place I rarely visit anymore, I am very spiritual, optomistic, loving, at peace even in times of stress like finanical difficulties or health problems. Another place on the wheel I am less sure about religion, less optomistic if not a bit cynical, I'm not depressed, but I wouldn't say I am happy either. I feel frustration about many things and especially about relationships. Sometimes I find myself very logic, anlytical and detached. The world and the people in it may not be what I hope, but I don't concern myself with that. I'm more interested in learning something new. I think I will check out a book on algebra so I can re-learn that and help my teenagers with their math.

At this point, you may be starting to feel a little dizzy on my behalf. Yes, it is frustrating for me, and can make day to day life difficult. Fortunately whatever "space" I find myself in, I love my husband and children...but everything else is subject to change. I think this is the reason that people with dissociative disorders are often misdiagnosed as having bi-polar disorder...those rapidly changing places on the wheel can make a person appear very moody. I assume that is how people that know me well rationalize my behaviour...moody.

This brings us full circle...I want to write. Suddenly I want to write a novel so bad I can taste it. I know I can do it, and yet I know I can't. Someone stop this merry-go-round, I want to get off. I'll start writing that novel anyway. I'll write as much of it as I can until the wheel spins on me again, then? Well, then I guess it will wait for an unwanted toy on the shelf, until I come back to it. If the spinning wheel of my mind doesn't get me to discouraged, I'll finish it. It might just take me about 10 years.

Just Three Words...

A long time ago, I think even before I started school, children were taught to read with Dick and Jane books.  Even if you aren't old enough to remember them you have likely heard of them.  They went something like this: 

See Dick run.  See Jane run.  See Spot.  Spot runs with Dick and Jane.

I mention this because I am taking an on-line writing class about journaling and memoirs.  For the class I had an assignment to write about a 10 yr period of my life, but each sentence could only have three words.  Just three words.  It's hard!  Four would have made all the difference, but phew, three was tough.  I was struggling with it until I got the idea to take some liberties with grammar.  After all that is what the writing books say, "Experts sometimes break the rules, but they know what the rules are."  That means it's ok to break the rules as long as I know I am doing it, right?  Ok, maybe not. 
Anyway, this is just silly, but I thought it would be fun to share.  Can't let things get TOO serious around here!

Leslie's Life in Three Words

I move Winslow. See friend Charice. We work prison. We are officers. We talk inmates. We work hard. We date boys. We have fun. We get bored. Want more money. Want to date. Want more boys. Think, think, think. Move to Nevada? Nevada pay more. Think, think, think. Move to Alaska? Alaska pay more. Alaska have men. Lots of men. Think, no...move. Move to Alaska. 

Live in Anchorage. I love Anchorage. We meet boys. We have adventures. We are tourists. We find jobs. We work half-way-house. Happy, happy, happy. Job offer Bethel. What to do? Good job. Good money. Boring, no men. Think, think, think. Think some more. Don't want move. But money good. Career move good. Think, think, think. Sigh and move. 

Bethel is cold. Bethel is dark. Bethel is Hell. Don't like Bethel. Bethel is lonely. Job is good. Job pay well. I like job. I hate Bethel. Bethel hates me. Below 80 degrees. Winter is cold. Summer is mosquitoes. I hate Bethel. Met ONE guy. He very handsome. He was jerk. Probably still jerk. Yes, jerk always. Lonely, cold, miserable. I hate Bethel. 

Met nice woman. She have son. He single. She say meet. I say ok. One problem. He live Oregon. We laugh. Snow, snow, snow. Cold, cold, cold. Dark, dark, dark. I hate Bethel. I need vacation. I fly Oregon. See my friend. She say meet. Meet my son. I say ok. Why not?

Meet son. He is handsome. He is nice. I like him. He like me? Maybe, probably yes. He say write. Write letters. I say ok. I return Bethel. I write letters. He write one. Maybe two. Bad boy. I move Oregon. We date. Much better.

We date. We kiss. We date. He is happy. I am happy. I ready marry. He thinks. And thinks. And thinks. I wait. Wait, wait, wait. Then he thinks. I wait. Then he proposes. I say maybe. Not. I say yes. I happy. He happy. His mom happy. We plan wedding. We marry April. Everyone happy.

Soon I pregnant. He thrilled. I thrilled. Pregancy long. Finally baby come. It's a boy. We are family! Everyone is happy.

P.S. This does not actually cover a 10 yr period, I cheated on that too.  BUT my teacher said I did "a great job", so maybe cheating isn't so bad after all?  Shhh! Don't tell my kids.