The horrible person is my roommate… not me!

Last week my therapist called me a “horrible person”.

multiple times

I couldn’t deny it. I will analyze the shit out of a person. I’m a bloodhound and nothing will stop me from figuring out your intentions.

She said I was a horrible person because I always look for the worst possible outcome in every scenario. Our conversation was all in a friendly banter and she was showing me that I have a choice of being a “horrible person” or giving up that need to always feel like I need to have a contingency plan or have total control. The idea is to give up the tendency to look for the worst in people and situations. Her white board flow chart of my thinking always left me in the worst case scenario.

Over the next week, I began to break down this thinking and I feel that it is a protective mechanism to always be prepared. That’s part of PTSD. Or maybe it’s just a Boy Scout code of be prepared for shit. (Or something)

The “horrible person” ideal also brought up an inner dialogue. The need to tell my therapist of who I am. “She should have an idea of who I am by now. Haven’t we be talking about who I am for the past four sessions?” No. We’ve been talking about my domestic issues. My goal was to work on me, but really, I’ve been ruminating over the same shit about someone else this whole time. The conversation always turns to my deep hurt and trust being demolished and the depression, anxiety and pain that follows. Over. And over.

Get over it, and work on me! Right?

I came across this audiobook called “The Sacred Self” by Michael Singer during my week of rumination. Very honestly, this book is a Universe Nod (people, places or things that come into my life in a very timely fashion.) It’s an audiobook about exploring who we are and the ability to observe ourselves and the world around us by tapping into meditation and mindfulness and letting go of pain, thereby achieving happiness. It focuses on getting rid of the inner dialogue, opening the heart and achieving enlightenment. I’d love to quote most of the book, but to keep your interest and to avoid risking copyright violation, I’ll send you to the Google Book so you can read these few pages regarding opening the heart… start on page 44 where it talks about ” There are centers within that channel your energy flow. When you close them, there is no energy. When you open them, there is. Although various energy centers exist within you, the one you intuitively know the most about opening and closing is your heart. Let’s say that you love somebody, and you feel very open in their presence. Because you trust them, your walls come down allowing you to feel lots of high-energy. But if they do something you don’t like, the next time you see them you don’t feel so high. You don’t feel as much love. Instead, you feel a tightness in your chest. This happens because you closed your heart. The heart is an energy center, and it can open or close…. When you close your heart center, energy can’t flow in. When energy can’t flow in, there is darkness. Depending on how closed you are you either feel tremendous disturbance or overwhelming lethargy. Often people fluctuate between these two states. If you find out that your loved one didn’t do anything wrong, or if they apologize to your satisfaction, your heart opens again. With this opening you get filled with energy, and the love starts flowing again….” and read through 46.

But here’s the words that struck me the most regarding heart his description of heart energy…

“Humans have an innate tendency to close as a means of protection. But closing your heart is not really protecting you from anything; it just cuts you off from your source of energy. In the end, it only serves to lock you inside… do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it….”

Is there a connection to my chronic pain, depression and anxiety and my heart closing?

If you’re feeling The Universe Nod yourself, check out Mr. Singer’s description of inner dialogue… it truly hit me where I needed to be hit. There’s an analogy of your inner dialogue being your insane roommate that had me rolling.

I’ve been listening to an insane roommate (page 15-22) for the majority of my life! Maybe I’m not a horrible person, maybe my roommate is!
When I saw my therapist on Monday, I told her about the book and the roommate theory. I told her I’d been listening to this inner dialogue (the insane roommate) and believing everything I heard. Trust me, I worded this in such a way that she didn’t come to the conclusion that I was hearing voices… at least I hope that’s how it came across.  We did not do the slow march to the psych ward, so I think I’m in the clear. I explained to her that since I understood that all these catastrophic thoughts in my head were not all true, I could begin to apply the cognitive behavioral therapy worksheets that she kept giving me… and I kept ignoring.

In the meantime, I’ll tell the roommate to shut up when it begins to yell at me about lies, deceit and what happened in the past. It’s all about right now and opening my heart to discover that no matter what, it won’t be hurt. Soon, I’ll have to tell you about the incredible voice (that was not my roommate) which spoke to me while meditating at a yoga retreat in the Bahamas. It had to do with my golden heart…


Providence or chance?

I tried to cancel my standing psychologist appointment set for today.

Yesterday, I left a message along with an email to my psychologist letting her know that; “I’m taking a break this week. “I’m staying home as much as I possibly can. I’m avoiding any stress including the emotional stress that comes with sitting and discussing my deepest darkest troubles of yesterday and today.”

She immediately sent a bill for $50 via paypal for a cancelled appointment.

I emailed her right back and told her “nevermind, I’m coming in.”

I went through all the emotions. Pissy because she sent me a bill. “I’m sick for goodness sake!” Understanding: “Well, this leaves a pretty expensive space in her calendar just dashed.” Anxiety: “She’s going to be pissy because I cancelled then reneged” Worry: “She didn’t reply, maybe she won’t be there or maybe she filled my spot.” Essentially, just cancelling the appointment induced a source of worry that didn’t need to happen.

This morning on my way to the not-cancelled session, I was craving hot tea. Hot tea is not something that I crave, but there’s a Starbucks along the way to her office and I had time to stop in.  I was feeling out of sorts all morning. Still processing my worried feelings, going on little sleep and a total body pain that I can only explain as a horrible hangover after dancing all night long.  Absolute exhaustion.

I threw the old red Toyota truck in a parking space as close to the front door as I could. I climbed out of the truck and immediately became hyper-vigilant. Observing people sitting in their cars, walking to and from businesses in the small shopping center around me. I’m hyper aware as I walk through the coffee shop; watching each person lounging from the corner of my eye. I caught fragments of conversations as I avoided eye contact and skittered straight to the cashier.”Hurry, hurry” my brain says. “Watch, watch” my mind screams.

The cashier’s name was Ahmed. As soon as I approached him, a female barista sweeps in and whispers in his ear. They both giggle and he tells her to get back to her station. He quickly turns back to me ready to greet me for the first time. I turn to the barista and easily say, “You’re bad, I can tell.”  She easily quips back “It’s the red lipstick.” Sweetly, I say “and, you wear it well.”.

I feel self conscious as I am about to ask Ahmed a stupid question. Since I’ve worked in retail, I know how questions can become repetitive and irritating.  I’ve known many employees to become irritated at when-my-wife-sends-me-on-a-starbucks-runthe general populace because they don’t know what size “grande” is. So, I prepare myself for some ‘tude as I pose my question.  Because it’s important dammit. I don’t even order tea!

“Is a chia tea latte just chai tea and milk?”

Cringing, I await for the sigh, the eye roll or something.

There is none, easily Ahmed says to me “yeah, you can get it with syrup or you could actually get one with the tea bag.” I’m relieved that I was right about the chai tea. I’m kind of feeling confused and anxious and I fumble for a second because my choice of teas isn’t registering. Essentially, when my brain disconnects because of anxiety, I toss a familiar question out. “which would you prefer?”

I watch him as he eases his voice and tells me his choice. I say “that sounds great!” I begin to fumble with my iphone so I can open the Starbucks app so I can pay with it. My fingers aren’t working well. I look around as the line grows longer and I believe that Ahmed is stalling for me. He’s telling me all of the choices of milks that I could make it with. My app finally opens and I drop my phone on the counter. My fingers gave out and my mind darts to coconut milk. “Stay focused” I say to myself. Ahmed quickly, without a moments hesitation grabs my phone and places it next to the scanner for me. I immediately notice that there’s not enough money loaded on the app. So I grasp for my credit card. I feel the people behind me groan. Ahmed smoothly takes the card and sticks it into the chip reader. I apologize and make excuses that I’m not awake yet.

And I say, “You’re so easy going and kind, you could work in a psych ward.” and I immediately realize what I said. Ahmed pauses and looks at me. “What did you say?”.  “I mean, not that I would know anything about a psych ward…” I say quickly, eyes wide looking around the room. I cover my mouth, with my hand. Embarrassed and suddenly feeling very small. “Why did I say that?” I say to myself.

Ahmed looks at me and said “I’m going to work in a psych ward next week. You just spoke to my heart.” as he places his hand over his heart. I relax and reply “The people in the psych ward were the kindest people I’ve ever met. Where will you work?” He told me, but I quickly forgot. It didn’t sound familiar. I told him where I was and he beamed. I thanked him and walked to the pick up counter.

This is not the first time I’ve had a conversation like this. The subject is always different, but the reaction is the same. I’ll say something so random and I touch the heart of the receiver. This happened in the pharmacy in which I worked at many times. It happened so much that I cannot go near the pharmacy without someone stopping me and loving on me. Each time, I introduce the person to my husband. My husband is surprised that I have met so many people. He talks about how I’ve touched so many lives. I say, I just talk to people when the words come. 

Is this providence or chance? My feelings about God these days are difficult. He is who He is. He has made the choice to let me live with the pain and suffering. He will use me as He wants and no amount of praying will fix that. Has God used me once again, given me the experience of the psych ward to touch this young man? Encourage this young man that he’s doing the right thing? 

I felt his response. I felt his heart swell, and mine did as well. I almost cried when his emotions welled.

Providence or Chance, my friends?

Had I not reneged on my appointment and had I not craved tea (If you knew my absolute love for coffee you would know the chances are crazy), I would have not stopped in to Starbucks today.

 Providence? Chance?

Happiness Project

“I feel like I am so very close to being admitted.” I say, through tears as I sit in my psychiatrist’s office, staring at her…. But through her. We just sat down, I get right to the point. “We can, if you feel like you are anywhere near close…” I stutter… Shake my head no… Because I’m scared of what will happen in my real life that will faulter if I admit the truth. My dogs? What will happen to them? My husband? He would be crushed…. ‘But not as crushed as he would be if I really, actually did it. Skip admittance and right to the deed of “checking out”‘, I think to myself. My ego won’t let me. I have a tiny bit of pride left, so I say “no, not yet, I know there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel, I can’t see it, but it has to be there.” My psychiatrist, the woman that has truly given me the best advice in years and really cares, is really concerned… Deeply. “I am confident that I have a solution. I have a ton of options. You have to know that we have lots of options and you need to give it a chance to work.” “I know, that’s why I’m here.” I say, heavy heart, sadness emanating. I’ve held these tears through many days and now they spill over.

By the time the hour is up, she’s increased my Cymbalta and added folic acid, fish oil and something else to my long list of prescriptions. She’s convinced that the problem is within the brain barrier and we have to get through. “It’s not your fault.” She repeats many times.

“I wanted to talk to you about something you said last time we talked. Now, I’m not a Chaplain but I’m deeply religious…” She says, with a deep crease in her brow. He face is freckled and round. She wears glasses and her light, natural red hair is in a lose ponytail laying on her back. She looks like a child. I know she is not. I know that this woman has seen far more than her innocent face portrays. To my right, is a shadow box with a dozen medals, a picture of her platoon in a sandy place on top of an M1 Abrams tank. And she, is concerned about ME.

I know she doesn’t have to talk to me about anything. She’s not my counsellor. She’s my psychiatrist. She is to assess my mental condition and prescribe meds. But, she has chosen to counsel me when she can and for that, I am deeply grateful.

“Do you want to talk about how you feel about being abandoned by God.” She said it, right out there… In the open. Like a spider hanging by it’s silk in the middle of the room. I stutter again. “I do, I mean, I just…” I don’t know what to say. What is there to say? I have studied psychology. I know what can be said about this in a psychological point of view. The view of God is or can be a direct reflection of a patient’s view on their parents. And I tell her I know this. She slowly shakes her head but doesn’t say anything. She’s waiting for me to begin.

“I cannot hear Him anymore.” I vocalize without thinking. Oh crap, does she now think I hear voices? What do I say to make her not think I’m schizophrenic. I haven’t felt this uncomfortable in her presence and I have told her almost every dirty detail of my life. “I mean that I can hear God. Or… I could hear Him. When I was at peace and my mind was open, He would guide me.” Surprisingly, she didn’t write frantically in her notepad, but she looked me in the eyes and said, “I understand how you feel about God abandoning you. I’ve talked to many people who’ve gone through the same thing. Even I have felt that way.” And we look at each other, the hurt in her eyes was there. She was tearing up. I could see it. She knows the abandoned feeling of reaching out to the the only one that completes her and have complete and absolute silence in return. “I don’t know why God does this. I can’t explain it, and it happens to all of us. First He’s there and then, silence. I don’t want to say that He does this on purpose. God is not cruel. I truly believe this. I don’t want to say that it is for a reason, but maybe in the vast scheme of things, it is.” She’s talking so fast that I can’t get a word in. She’s passionate about this. And I love it. I feel connected to her. “You have to believe that there are miracles, but they are not common. Maybe God intends your healing to come through doctors and health care providers…” She sighs, “I don’t have the answers, but I feel your pain.”

“I wanted to say that I’ve been journaling and I’ve prayed about, you know, God’s promises.” I squeak in between her rambling, through tears. I eye her, because she may not know about God’s promises.  “I went to a Christian College, I’m a Jesus freak… I believe He can heal me. I believe that He must fulfill His promises.” So I told her about my prayer about giving us happiness and how, since then, I haven’t been made happy. But all kinds of information about happiness has been coming my way. “Does God use email?” I think to myself. She flows into a new conversation just as easily as water over a cliff. “You’re on to something.” Because she knows and I know that happiness is not tangible. She mentions something about childhood and the brain being formed by trauma. I look at her, tears beginning again. “Yes, ok. There are meditations that you can do. And the body scans will help and…” I snap out of my deep sadness for a moment and grab my phone… Yes! “I have an app! It has body scans and meditations on happiness..” I open the app and she scrolls through them. “Even a whole section on veterans.” This is when she grabs her notepad.. To write down the app name. See: Meditation Studio

It was a tough session, for both of us. “I made my psychiatrist cry.”, I say to my husband later. He asks why as he reheats lunch, “because I’m pathetic.” I quip, walking away, embarrassed. He laughs, I laugh (tear ducts swollen and closed for business).

Happiness is not something that I can just be or do. The pain took that from me and rearranged my neurons over the past year and a half. The Nothing Has taken over, like Jericho. But, I do have the tools and the encouragement from a trusted friend and incredibly smart psychiatrist. So… I wasn’t admitted and #thehappinessproject has begun. Firstly… We must explore #mindfulness. Onward!