Three Goals

I went to the creative writing course at the VA today.  It’s not exactly a journaling. We have a topic we write about.  Some are more therapeutic topics than others.  Today’s topic was “three goals.”

Goals 

I have no goals; none at all

Look inside to find the call.

When there is no focused life

Heart and soul are filled with strife

Finding hope in darkness lost 

Breaking free from chains’ high cost;

Maybe I will a path find

From fear’s chasm to faith sublime.

To grow my goal is to try

To revive what inside died

To hold to the future fast

To leave behind what has passed.

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Goals come in all forms.  Mine are getting prepared to identity and strive after goals.  It’s funny: my goal is to have a goal.  

Quote of the Day- December 16, 2016

“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.” Dalai Lama 

It is so easy to lose inner strength and be  crushed by hopelessness.  I’m there right now.  I don’t see a meaningful life right now.  Yet, living though this requires inner strength.  There are days all I want to do is give up.  I spend hours, even days, wondering about ways to commit suicide that will be fatal- not just an attempt.  It’s been worse since November.  

For me, a self destructive habit is isolating and withdrawing from people and activities.  Discipline leads me to take to the road-or treadmill- to run.  The focus on breath, concentration on form, and losing myself in the passing miles is relaxing.  My feet striking the ground roots me to the present moment.  I am present in a manner I no longer have off the road.  I am connected to myself and my spiritual senses.  Running is still a solitary activity.  Recently, I connected to a friend I used to work with.  We run together a couple times a week.  We don’t talk about serious things but I am drawn out of my silence and the jangle of my own thoughts and attempts to make sense out of the unexplainable and unchangeable. 

 I have been experiencing more serious depression for about a month.  I spent several hours before Tai Chi yesterday  sitting in my friend’s office.  Being alone was not a safe thing for me at that moment.  Funny thing, a serious conversation ensued.  Inner strength manifesting in reaching out to someone.


Tai Chi is another acitivity that helps me find a sense of peace and grounding.  Movement, breath, concentration on form and poses- it’s easier to focus on something positive during class and be in the moment mindfully. I’m also around other veterans.  We may not talk much but there is a  connection.  

I do yoga at home. While it is a solitary activity it is another one that I find a sense of peace.  Breathing, form, focus, exercise.  My mind stills for that time. To a lesser degree, I find relief in strength training as well.

I wish I could be physically active 24/7/365.  

Physical activity is what helps me through the harder times.

Maybe one day I’ll find inner strength, my balance,  and peace without needing the acitivity at the same time. 

Grief and Bargaining 

Initially I thought bargaining was a stage that I either hadn’t experienced and probably wouldn’t.  Grief is different for everyone.  It is possible to skip a stage.  One can also cycle back to earlier stages.

I considered bargaining as quid pro quo from a spiritual standpoint, “Give me this and I’ll do that.”  While researching the Stages of Grief (Kubler-Ross), I found the Changing Minds website.  They summed up bargaining as seeking a way out of the situation.

It continues with  an in depth definition:

After the fires of anger have been blow out, the next stage is a desperate round of bargaining, seeking ways to avoid having the bad thing happen. Bargaining is thus a vain expression of hope that the bad news is reversible.

Bargaining in illness includes seeking alternative therapies and experimental drugs. In organizations, it includes offering to work for less money (or even none!), offering to do alternative work or be demoted down the hierarchy. One’s loyalties, debts and dependants may be paraded as evidence of the essentiality of being saved.

I actually experienced bargaining and denial at the same time; the behaviors and thoughts overlapped.  I kept working at reduced duties and kept trying to move to harder work before I was ready.  (denial/ bargaining) I was convinced if I just worked hard enough I would heal fully in time to deploy with my unit. I’d be an outstanding Social Worker and therapist, making a huge positive impact (bargaining). When it became clear that I wouldn’t meet that timeline, the goal  became deploying with another unit later.  I sought after every damn therapy under the face of the earth for years. I kept pushing. When all this failed, I fell into anger and depression.

While proofreading this entry, I realized that I did bargain with the Deity in a slightly different form. There was a lot of pleading for healing so I could return to my career.   I still ask for this.  I can use what happened to me to help others with a greater level of understanding and skill. Grieving can be subtle.

Expanded Stages of Grief

  1. Stability
  2. Immobilization
  3. Shock
  4. Denial
  5. Anger
  6. Bargaining
  7.  Depression
  8. Testing
  9. Acceptance


I’ll explore the rest of the expanded grief cycle during future posts.
Grief hurts but it’s the only way to find the “new normal” (acceptance).

Ferrets and Food 

Never leave a ferret alone.  Two are even worse.

I heard a crash and went into their room to see what it was.  I see two ferrets munching down on the food spilled from the storage container they knocked over.

A bit of the backstory.  When the ferrets are out of the cage to play I pick up their food.  My cat, Bridghid, is on a diet.  She climbs into the ferrets’ cage for a snack if I leave the food down.

Needless to say Bridghid was also quite pleased as she joined them for dinner. 

Sigh 

My ferrets are smarter than I.

Look Within

There is the tendency to look outside ourselves to find acceptance, love, happiness, even spiritual direction or experiences.  If we are not comfortable in ourselves whatever we find outside won’t meet what we need.

Seeking to fill the the outside ourselves causes us difficulties.  Relationships can be ended or damage becaus the need leads to disappointment as other people can’t meet the need.  Attending church or other religious experiences feel like going through the motions.  Sometimes we seek objects and/or money.  In short, nothing fills that feeling.

 And thou who thinketh to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou knoweth the mystery; for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning  and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.   (Charge of the Goddess- Doreen Valentine)

I went down the road of seeking outside myself for many years.  I looked to churches, careers, music, even running.  I sought identity.  I was vaguely that this was not enough.  I found that I was most content when I sought identity inside.  It’s been an ongoing process and journey.

A problem with identify outside is things constantly change. I lost my career and performing music outright.  While I still run, I am not able to run marathons.  The loss of identity after the brain injury crushed me.  With identity outside myself, what is left when those things are gone?  Nothing but what is within.

Spiritually, it’s been the same thing for me.  I sought connection in churches of all kinds.  Being told what to believe and how: doctrine and dogma, left me unsatisified.  I morally couldn’t embrace teachings where I disagreed.  The foundation itself of Christian faith just didn’t make sense.  As I looked inside, I found it was not a religion I could embrace for several reasons.  My spiritual journey led me to a way of believing that requires inner reflection and a connection to Deity.   I am responsible for my own actions, my own journey.  The exact beliefs really aren’t relevant here.

“For if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.”

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Reflection

I mentioned yesterday that I felt a draw to the prayer/ chant that I posted.  During meditation today, anger kept coming in- both the emotion and thoughts around it.  You know, it’s possible to be angry about being angry?  I don’t like where this form of anger is leading me.


Anger can be healthy and helpful.  It’s basically telling you that there is something in your environment needing your attention.  It’s what you do with it and how it impacts you that matters.  For example, is the anger harming you or someone else?  Do you carry it and can’t release it?  Do you know what’s causing it?  These can be signs the anger isn’t helping you.

Feeling anger, acknowledging it, and figuring out what to do about why you’re angry is where it can be helpful.  It’s motivating change.  Trick is to not respond in the heat of anger.  Great phrase.  Heat.  It’s ok to take a break and let the anger cool before you make a decision or take action.

My anger isn’t good for me right now.  It’s there- about everything and triggers easily.  I suppose I’m angry about the brain injury and what it did to me.  Angry my life isn’t what I want it and I’ll never get what I had back.  It’s a dark anger.  I withdraw, I swear at people, I just want to be alone. I’ve hit stuff and blown up verbally at people and situations.  Anger goes hand in hand with frustration.  Anger makes it hard to enjoy anything.  It is darkness.  Like a black hole that draws me in.  I’m struggling to release anger over something I can’t control and can’t fix.  I’m certainly not at peace very often.

Love: wow.  Now there’s a concept.  I’m starting to really hate people sometimes.  Hate drama.  Hate people hurting each other.  Hate people trying to push morals off on others.  Angry about political candidates running on hate and fear.  Hate abusers.  Sadly, hate people for being “normal.”  Hate that they don’t understand what people with disabilities experience, especially when they’re “invisible.” People can look “normal” and still have some serious issues going on.  This is broken.  This isn’t who I was.  I’m not sure if this is who I will be now.  I suppose I don’t totally hate people. I still care about people and what happens to them.  I’d still help if I could.  Maybe it’s just the drama and actions that piss me off.  Back to boiling anger. 

This anger isn’t serving a purpose anymore.  I know there’s shit in my life I need to do something about.  I’m just not sure what or how. And it’s hurting my life. 

Maybe it’s grieving.  I’ve spent the last few years trying to “fix” myself and be who I was that I never really considered it could be long term.  I have lost so much.  

I  need to make a conscience decision to release this. It’s a process.  It takes more than once to really totally let go of anger over situations.    Or I could just avoid drama and people and frustration… And try to figure out how to numb myself totally again.  

Heal what’s broken.  Broken isn’t totally physical.  Enlighten the darkness.  Restore peace and love.