Friday, February 22, 2013

True Confessions II

Uh oh!  There was no school this week, yay!  But being away from my normal schedule (and weathering a bout of nasty stomach bug that plowed through my family. . .) I almost forgot to blog this week!  Yikes, we can't have that!  So I'm pulling a busy blogger trick and presenting you something from the archives...but to assuage my guilt (yes, I have guilt about everything), I will add something new.

You've heard stories about harried parents leaving a child behind right?  I think we have all heard those and swore to ourselves that we would never do that--until we do.  Well, I confess I have done it a couple times, sigh.  It was usually just a matter of leaving one behind at a friend's house while loading up the others...but once, horror of horrors, I actually left my daughter at a stranger's house!

A post about "confessions" needs a fun picture.  Isn't she adorable?

That needs explanation, right?  Here's what happened.  She was 13, and had plans to spend some time with a girl, whose family our family was well acquainted with.  The father was/is my husband's dentist.  I knew the mom and other some of the children from our homeschool co-op. My daughter, Vienna, and my teenage boys were friends with the girl, Vienna was going to hang out with.  So I felt very comfortable with Vienna spending time there.

The trouble resulted because neither Vienna or I had ever been to their house.  Vienna googled their address, and I drove her over.  I work graveyard shift and it was my bedtime, so I just drove her up to the house and waited while she went to the door and knocked.  She was invited in and I drove away.

The battery on my cell phone was low so I turned it off to save energy for emergencies (like if I was in an accident and needed to call 911.)  Meanwhile, Vienna had been invited into the house and told by the dad that "the girls are outside swimming".  So Vienna went outside and found the girls...trouble was, she didn't know any of them!  There was a misunderstanding, and she was at the wrong house.  When she told them who she was trying to see, they said they got the same mix up with mail and packages all the time. 

So she borrowed their phone and called me on my cell, which of course was turned off--for emergencies.  Oh my.  When I got home, my son met me in the driveway and told me that Vienna had called and explained the situation.  I was mortified.  I got the phone number and headed back to pick her up...a 15 minute drive.  I was scared to death, and yet I was exhausted too. 

Someday when I am on my death bed, Vienna will probably still tease me about our phone conversation.  I asked her if she was alright, was she scared?  I assured her I was on my way and then said, "I am so tired." 

She says, "I was stranded at a stranger's house and your response is you're tired?!"   

What can I say?  One of my less stellar parenting moments all the way around!

Now, for my other confessions...I hope they bring you a smile...

I have gone to Dairy Queen, right after working out at the gym (I know, I know)

I love Jane Eyre but I'm bored by Jane Austen.

I would give a stranger the shirt off my back, but I wouldn't give my last piece of chocolate to my own child...

I have a thing for rogues...I particularly love Captain Jack.

I hate the color orange. My Bishop has an orange tie and everytime I see him sitting in front of the congregation wearing it, I just want to have Dart Practice!

Sometimes I listen to my music louder than my teenagers do. They are very embarassed by this...they say it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't do it while driving a mini-van...

Don't leave me hanging...share one of your embarrassing moments, or a confession.  You'll feel better!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Jaws of Hell

It recently occured to me that of all the things I have talked about on my blog, during this healing journey, one thing I have not really talked about is how it has affected me spiritually.  I have alluded to it a couple times, but never really discusseed it.  I don't know why.  It's not that I was intentionally holding back.  Maybe it is just an unspoken feeling I have that one's relationship with God is a deeply personal thing. 

Yes, that is likely what prevented me.  It's kind of like this....a great piece of advice I received when I got married was: when you are upset with your spouse, don't talk to other people about it.  The rational being that later his awesomeness (as you see it) later makes you inclined to forgive him, but your mother (or friend...), who doesn't see him as quite so adorable is less likely to forgive him.  I guess in that same light, it was hard for me to talk about the difficulty I have been having with God, because I don't want to pass on my frustration to anyone else, and then have them not 'bounce back' when I do.

Fortunately though, my relationship with God was strong before all this healing stuff started, and though the relationship has been rocky, I am mending the wounds.  In fairness, to myself, I must say, that DID has played a big part in the seperation I have felt from God. 

I don't really want to get into that right now, suffice it to say, that some how, some part of me decided that the Spiritual aspect of myself was much too precious and too pure to be subjected to all the filth that was about to come forth.  So the Spiritual One was whisked away to a far, far room of my Haunted Mind.  It took me a long time to understand what had happened and why.  Then to develop some inner co-operation to bring her back.  I know that probably sounds really strange, but rather than thinking of it as strange, I hope you can see that it is actually a testament to the amazing power of the mind. 

Perhaps, I will write more about that another day, but today it feels like a side-trip, so back to my main point.  Even though I haven't really talked about the spiritual aspects of my healing here on the blog, I am writing a book about it.  The book I have wished for to help me, but couldn't find.  Good grief, as I write that it sounds maybe a bit egotistical, but here's hoping you know me better than that.

My intent is to help others navigate this rocky path any way that I can.  That's all.  So, the first chapter of the book is about the spiritual divide that has been part of the process for me and why it happened (aside from DID).  The rest of the book is about healing that divide.  The first chapter is tenatively called, "The Jaws of Hell"  from Doctrine and Covenants section 122...". . .if even the jaws of Hell should gape after thee. . . (paraphrased because I am too impatient to look it up right now). 

As I pondered and later researched "the jaws of Hell", I learned that the phrase has been used at least since medeival times, likely longer.  It was very common in their art.  I just have to show you a picture I found. 

Photo Attribution:  HERE
Isn't this picture great?  I showed it to my daughter, Vienna, but she didn't share my enthusiasm. I don't get it.   And yes, in case you were wondering, this whole blog post IS just so I could share this picture.  I think it is perfect and I am wondering if I can get permission to put it in my book!

So can any of you reading this relate?  If you would like to tell me about your "jaws of Hell" experience (meaning that you felt separated from God due to anger, shame, DID, or another reason).  I would love to hear YOUR story.  As always you can share here, or privately by sending me a PM to lesliesillusions at gmail.

Oh, and have I told you lately...thanks for reading and sharing this journey with me.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Coming Home through Centering Prayer

The other day on the radio, I heard a country song-- STOP-- Side Bar -- my daughter is going through a brief country music phase (let's hope it's brief). So I blame her for my few moments of listening to a country music station. Bleh. Something good did come out of it though.

So, I heard a song about a woman visiting her childhood home. Some strangers now inhabited it, but she talked about the bedroom upstairs in the back where she did homework and learned to play the guitar, and her favorite dog that was buried under the big tree in the backyard. She expressed the need to come "home" because perhaps that would help heal the brokeness that had occured since she had left. I was touched by it. I thought it would be nice if I had a place I could go to, somewhere before I was "broken".

Yes, I still feel broken in so many ways. There is hope though. I had a really great month which included Christmas. Since my oldest son is 18 and looking forward to leaving home this summer, this was our last Christmas "as a family." I am grateful for that reprieve. The drawback, and I suppose in comparison it is a small price to pay, is the disappointment I felt at coming back to the pain. Still it did give me hope in a future where there is less pain and sorrow than this place I'm in now.

While I can't go "home" to some physical place with healing memories, I have found a few things that give me "coming home moments".

The first is contemplative or centering prayer. I'm LDS/Mormon so this has really not been a part of my faith tradition, but I see no conflict with it.  Centering Prayer is a form of meditation with the goal of bringing oneself closer to God. I think of it as the "listening" portion of prayer. It is a mantra-based meditation. I'm really new to it, so likely not the best person to explain it, but I'll try anyway. If it peaks your interest, I'll share a couple resources at the end of this post.

First, I want to clarify, when I say "meditation", I don't mean deep thinking, I mean meditation in the Eastern sense of attemptling to clear your mind of thoughts and be still.  I start with a short "traditional" prayer. Much like the way we begin church meetings with prayer. Then I sit quietly and focus on my breath and repeat with my breaths a "sacred word" that I have chosen. The "sacred word" is whatever you chose. At first I used, Atonement, because I wanted to emphasize being one with God again. Later another idea came to me and I am using that now. I want to keep my new word sacred, something that I only share with God, but you get the idea.

During Centering Prayer you try to keep your mind quiet. As you can imagine, that is difficult to do as thoughts creep in and before you know it, you are in the middle of a "mental paragaph" before you remember that you were meditating and return to focusing on your breath, and your sacred word. That's ok. I heard a story of a woman who went to a retreat for Centering Prayer. After one of the sessions, she approached the leader and expressed her feeling that she had failed because she got distracted about 80 times. He said, "How wonderful, 80 times of returning to God."

Father Thomas Keating who has taught and written books about Contemplative Prayer recommends two sessions a day, 20 minutes each. I have not been able to make that much time in my day yet. And in fact I don't dare. It is hard for me to sit quietly. Quite frankly, I am afraid of the repressed emotions that will use that time to come forward. This is not unique to me, Fr. Keating talks about this sort of thing happening in his seminar "Contemplative Prayer" (available on CDs). My therapist is encouraging of my meditation practice. He says if I can only start with 5 minutes at a time, that is fine. It's a start. And so I do.

So far, I have found it to be amazingly refreshing and soothing. So much so that when I am in public and I start to feel stress or anxiety, I will take a couple deep breaths and repeat the sacred word to myself and it helps. It is powerful, and it is more than relaxation.  I have used relaxation techniques before that were helpful, but didn't affect me in this same way.  It's hard to explain how it works, different people have different ideas about this.  I will just share how I understand it.  I believe that I lived with God before I came to earth, I don't remember it, but my Spirit does.  When I meditate, I believe it is a way to connect with my Spirit, that part of me that remembers God.  It is like reaching towards the Divine within myself and at the same time reaching toward Heavenly Father. 

Another way I have found to come home is another form of meditation called Mindfullness. I feel even less adequate to explain it, except to say that we live much of our lives either thinking about the past, or the future, mindfulness is about being in the moment we are in. And again in a way that is difficult to fully explain, I find it very healing as well. Though I had been introduced to the idea before, my interest really began with a book by Geneen Roth called Women, Food and God. It has really been influential for me.  Another proponent of this form of meditation is Jon Kabat-Zinn. He has a PhD and works with patients, teaching them mindfulness to help with chronic pain and stress reduction.

Women, Food and God is about compulsive eating, and Jon Kabat-Zinn uses it to help people with chronic pain. The Buddists and some Christians (myself included) use it as part of their spiritual practice. And so I wonder, is there any part of our lives meditation doesn't affect in postive ways? My experience so far is no. It is truly a form of coming home and working to heal the brokeness.

Here are some resources if you would like to learn more:

Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth  I love this book.  I found it immensely helpful and healing.

Mormon Matters: The Kingdom of God is Within You--   In this podcast Dan Wotherspoon interviews two LDS men who have a meditative practice.  This podcast and Geneen Roth's book both resonated with me, partially because what they talk about is similar to things I have learned/experienced through therapy. 

Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Keating is available on CD (I borrowed it from the library) It is an a recording of a Seminar he gave on the topic.

Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault I am reading this now, I haven't finished, but I am enjoying it so far.

Jon Kabat Zinn-- He has written so many books on Mindfulness it is hard to know where to begin, but he is next on my list of "must reads".

Photo Attribution:  George Hodan again.  I love his work.  See more of it here.