Monday, January 28, 2013

Living Outside the Bubble

George Hodan
Once upon a time, a friend of mine (it’s always a friend, right?) related this story to me.  I will tell it in her words as if, you know, as if they were my own, but of course they aren't.  Maybe this sister lives in your ward. . .
When Church Hurts
On Sunday, I went to Relief Society.  Something I do tentatively because it is often painful for me.  I went because I wanted to feel like a “part of things”.  Part of a larger group, you know?  During the lesson they talked about the scripture, “mourning with those who mourn, and comforting those who stand in need of comfort.”  They shared stories of how they had helped and been helped. 
I sat in the back all alone and thought, “Wow, that sounds amazing.  You are all so lucky to belong to a church like that.  I wish I did.”
The odd thing is, we belong to the same church.  The last few years have been the most difficult of my life.  I have mourned.  I have hurt.  And I have never felt more alone.
I tried to tell myself that it is just that they didn’t know…surely if they knew, things would change.  So I told them.  I told people personally and I wrote on my blog a few times about how to help when you don’t know what to say.
And yet nothing changed.  I still feel utterly alone.  In Relief Society, they still shared the same stories.  They talked about how sometimes it is hard to know what to say or do…but also talked about a situation where they had overcome that and done—something. 
People tell me, “we do care about you [Leslie’s anonymous friend], we just don’t know what to say.”
Well I don’t know what to say either except--I don’t believe you.  For a couple years, I have said, “I just need to know that someone cares.  I want people to look me in the eye and say, ‘How are you?’ as if they were really willing to listen.”  I have said this over and over…and yet nothing changes.  So…yeah, sorry, I don’t believe you.
You’ve heard the saying, If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  And I wonder, if you say you care, but do nothing to show it, do you really care?


My friend is looking for a new church to attend….somewhere that won’t be so painful because living outside the bubble hurts.
Photo attribution...this photo like many I share on my blog is from George Hodan.  You can see more of his work here:  George Hodan

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Betrayal of the Mind--OR--Embarassing Moments with Art Therapy

Very Basic see something better check out the google link below

Awhile back, when my therapist was going to be on vacation for a week, which at the time felt like forever, I decided to give myself some homework.  I got some books from the library on art therapy.  I've been doing it on and off ever since.

ON--I do it because it helps bring things from my unconscious mind forward, and can be helpful in therapy.  Kind of like dreams.

OFF--sometimes I don't do it because it helps bring things from my unconscious mind forward, and I don't always like that.  Kind of like dreams.

In my on again, off again way, I have filled about 7 sketch pads with my randomness, some of it revealing, some mysterious, some dull.  Each sketch pad is more personal than a journal simply because I have more control over what I say in a journal. 

If you haven't tried art therapy, that may seem like an odd thing to say.  But I will give you an example of a time art therapy took me by surprise.  Part of the problem was that I had not intended to do art therapy at that moment, but the subconscious doesn't care about little things like proper timing.

So, I was in my son's Kindergarten Art Class.  They were learning Notan.  It is a form of art that uses contrasting colors and paper cutting to make designs.  Some notan is really intricate and beautiful.  You can see some google images of notan HERE

As I often did in that class, I helped my son with his project and then I made my own.  (I had so much fun in that class!)  After we all finished our pictures, the teacher had us hold them up (parents too) and show them to each other.  So I held mine up for this class of Kindergarteners and three or four other moms.  Then we sat them on the table and started on a second one. 

That is when I looked down at mine, blushed furiously and turned it over so no one could see it.  This happened on a therapy day, so I took it to therapy.  My therapist burst out laughing when he saw it.  Then said, "Can I take a picture of it for your file?"

"A picture?  You can have the horrid thing.  I don't want it!"  I said.

He just smiled, took a picture with his cell phone and told me he would email it to me.  Much later, I was glad that he did.  But it has taken me a year to overcome my embarrassment enough to post it here on the blog.  I'm sharing it to show you the power of the mind, and of art therapy.

So....what were we talking about?  The about that fog we've been experiencing in the Seattle area. . .

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: Miss America By Day by Marilyn Van Derbur

Talia Felix

Ok perhaps you are thinking, " Leslie,  Miss America By Day doesn't sound like your kind of book." And you would be right.  I don't think it sounds like my kind of book either.  I think this book is mis-named.  I never would have picked it up on my own, but it was recommended to me.  And I LOVE it. 

The reason I don't like the title is that I feel it is misleading.  It makes it sound like a girly-girl book.    Since I am not a girly-girl, it's not the kind of book I would normally pick up.  But the author Marilyn Van Derbur says she's not a girly-girl; she's a tom-boy.  And a very competitive one at that, which is how she somehow ended up in the Miss America contest, and won. 

What the book is really about is in the subtitle: A guide for parenting. . .resource for professionals. . .handbook for survivors of sexual abuse. . .love story.  It truly is all these things.  The first part of the book is a memoir.  Don't worry there is nothing graphic about the abuse.  Survivors may find it triggering though.  She talked about things I have felt, talked about and written about here on the blog. It was so validating! Here is an example:

(note-Larry is her wonderful husband, and Jennifer, her daughter that she shares a close relationship with.)

"A dear friend stopped by one day.  She couldn't have been more loving but her words cut me to the bone.  'Lynn, its a beautiful day.  You have Larry, Jennifer, this wonderful home, an increidble career, you need to let this go now and move on with your life.'  Not one word had been said with malice.  She had always been supportive of me byt her words were so hurtful.  If only she knew how desperately I wanted to move on.  The feelings and emotions had become more than I could suppress or control anymore.  The recovery process has nothing to do wtih willpower or choice.

"I wish I had known that many--if not most--adults sexually violated as children, are in their 40's before they begin to deal with their childhoods.  Just knowing that this is 'normal" for many survivors would have helped me cope with friends and family members who were saying, 'This happened a long time ago.  Just move on with your life."

I didn't realize 40 is a common age either, and yes, I have gotten the "move on" message from well-meaning friends. 

The second "half" of the book is a "guide".  I thought I knew a lot about this topic--not only from living it, but from my study and work.  But I learned a lot of new things from this portion of her book.  Chapters titles in this portion include: How Common is Forgetting; Do Babies and Toddlers Remember?, Seven Things You Should Never Say, Why Don't Children Tell?  etc. There is some wonderful information about protecting your children that will enlighten and empower you.

I want to fill this post with tons and tons of quotes, because I love her book so much.  But, you know, they have copyright laws about that sort of thing. So I will limit myself to one more that I feel highlights my favorite thing about her book.  She is so very encouraging and positive.  She gives me hope.

"The good news is that the pain can end.  The bad news is that recovery is an indescribably agonizing process."   In another part of the book she says the pain can end, but you have to do the hard work.

I think anyone: survivor, friend of survivor, parent etc could benefit from this book.  Read it!  You won't be disappointed.  That is a money-back guarantee (money back that you spent on this blog post-- that is!)

When I "grow up", I want to be just like Marilyn. 

Photo Attribution:  Talia Felix