Looking back and thinking forward

Month: October, 2009

High anxiety (Update)

On Thursday I realized that I was feeling anxious, manic, yes indeed, I would even call it high. I wondered about that for all I was doing at that moment was preparing to head out for work! I climbed into my car and drove off, humming a tune, noticing the glorious autumn leaves all around. No mistaking it – I was as high as a kite, because, at the same time, I discovered that my eyes were burning as if I had a fever, and there was an underlying anxiety at the core of my being. In fact, it seemed stored right underneath my rib-cage. "What could be wrong?" I wondered out loud to myself in the car. I turned off the radio and focused on the road ahead, allowing myself to hold still, and experience the discomfort of highness and anxiety.

And then it came to me. One of those small, delightful revelations, epiphany-types of moments that make the whole day seem clear and shining. I had started to take care of myself again: Eating right, working out, doing yoga breathing exercises, taking vitamins, having lavender de-stress type baths – but, mainly, and more specifically returning to therapy. 

As I concentrated on the feeling of anxiety throughout Thursday, I was yearning for my blog – I needed to write it down, explore the root causes and understand what was happening to me. For consciousness and awareness do not come often, and when they arrive, I like to be ready and open so as not to lose the moment – to explore the gift that I am suddenly giving myself. The day was way too busy though – meetings, advising students scheduling for spring semester classes, teaching, answering emails and phone calls – the usual self-exploration interceptions and distractions. However, this time, the moment did not get lost, or subside back into my sub-conscious. I have been thinking about it ever since – even managed to chat with a friend at lunch yesterday, sharing my thoughts and wonderings.

The enormity of the discovery for me is this: Inherent in the feel-good mania of taking care of myself is a sense of danger – Like, how dare I? Almost as if I am entering forbidden territory – a place I do not deserve to go. This is not new. I have felt it before. Each time I diet and lose weight, and feel and look good. When I completed my doctorate. After having my baby. When I got married. After a great lunch with a friend I love, who loves me back. When I sing in public. After a great presentation. The list is endless. It has to do with being successful. But, at the moment, the feeling of high anxiety is directly connected to the intentionality of taking care of myself. 

I must admit I have been doing a lot of that this past year. Owning my mistakes and apologizing to loved ones. Making time for pleasure. Allowing myself time to work out or meditate. Taking friends and family with me to celebrate my 60th birthday in Paris. Intentionally choosing to not allow work-stress to harm my peace of mind. Recovering the love for my family members, and allowing them to love me back.

However, there must be some things I still want to take care of, because I have chosen to return myself to therapy. These must be deep and seemingly dangerous issues. Ones that need my full attention, that might be reached only after clearing away all that other stuff I worked on before. 

Of course I have an inkling – a niggling suspicion – about what the issues are. After all, no one forced or required me to return to therapy. I chose to do that myself – for myself! Intentionally.

And, as scary as it may be – I am tantalized and excited too. So, I think I will just hold still and allow myself to feel the joy that bubbles alongside the high anxiety, and see where this new adventure leads me. 

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: America, we cannot turn back


Yesterday, I received this message from a friend, who gave me permission to print here:

I just read your blog about anxiety – and I thought I would pass on these thoughts …

You know that masochism has its own defense system … and one of the ways it puts up a battle, is to cause an internal ruckus that can often feel like anxiety when you actually take measures that counter the masochistic mechanism. Hence all the anxieties about steps of strength and empowerment that are good for you. I have it too – as I am a recovering masochist, who still has masochistic tendencies (every time I put some extra something in my mouth, I reinforce the negative charge I get from looking in the mirror and not liking what I see, etc.) There is pleasure in pain…. All this is courtesy of
[a] great therapist, Henriette T. Glatzer …

The other book I mentioned was The Dead Mother: The work of Andre Green. It has these wonderful chapters like The dead mother syndrome and the reconstruction of trauma and Dead mother, dead child. You know that every time you take these steps of empowerment, you are also betraying the narcissistic bond with your mother. You are going beyond her border. There is a ton in that … I am sure you have probably touched in this in your own work… but I mention it again, because I know THAT as well …

Anyhow, I feel your pain. I could also put an astrological spin on it, but I will refrain.

The great work begins

Ah, now I remember. All the different feelings associated with therapy: 

  • Anxiety as I pull up in my car, thinking about what I want to talk about
  • Amazement at discovering hidden pieces of my Self as the session unfolds
  • Bewildered and confused about how, in the end, what we talked about had very little to do with what I originally thought I would talk about
  • Stunned and emotionally moved, thinking, processing, mind swirling and whirling with ideas, and beginnings of new understandings, as I drive slowly back into my day
  • Energized but exhausted

The great work begins … again …

Therapy time again?

It is time to find a therapist. It has been five
years since Buffalo Bob. When I left
him to relocate to Philadelphia, I had much to process and confront on my own.
I had reached an important period in my analysis, and encountered some
challenging and, even painful, self-alteration work. Much of it I explored with
memoir-filled reflections, as I walked through Valley Green by the Wissahickon, writings through blog posts and in my last two
books. I must say that I seem to have made peace with some of my toughest inner struggles, and now recognize them as the old childhood wounds that they are. They do not terrorize or shame me nearly as much as they used to.

But, recently, I am challenged again.  Indeed, the issues I am facing are making me think of writing a book called: "A Handbook of Guilt for Parents." But, while I set about exploring this topic and learn to make peace with my own enormous guilt as a parent, I want to find a therapist, who is able to accompany me and bear witness through it. For, at times the pain of my guilt is too heavy to bear alone. 

And so, I am asking friends I know and people I trust and looking around for a therapist who is not only intelligent and non-judgmental, but who has a sense of humor. I need to laugh when the pain gets too tough. I do not want to take myself or my life so seriously as not to see the joy and humor in it too. 

It reminds me that this past week I joined a group of people who work with life partner, for a scary Halloween gig at: Terror Behind the Walls. And terrified I was. Screamingly, roaringly, shaking with fear and sobbingly – almost fainting and throwing up with fear! In fact, I could not make it all the way through although I was proud that I managed all but the last section called, Night Watch. Life partner held me as I sobbed into his chest and shook with fear when we came out. All his colleagues gathered around to see if I was all right. And, then, on the drive home I started to laugh at the whole experience. I guffawed and shrieked with laughter, tears rolling down my cheeks once more as I realized the humor of it all – including my own horrific fear. I wonder if my old friend Janna will read this post … for it reminded me of how I might feel on a roller coaster ride. Which is how life can feel at times … yes indeed … like "terror behind the walls" or roller coaster-ing up, up high – then with whooshing swiftly, surprisingly, shockingly down low … 

I wonder … if I might find a therapist who will see the humor in all that – as I do?

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Shedding the shame for good

Morning glory

Found on Facebook, this early morning …  from Marion …

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: I dedicate this post …

The nature of power

Quote of the day

Quote from Women’s Rights Leader Bella Abzug:  ”Women will change the
nature of power rather than power changing the nature of women
.” From Bonnie Neugebauer's new blog!

Dream visitor

Last night, while I was sleeping, my dear old friend Charlie came to visit. He looked well and we hugged each other long and hard. 

I remembered how, when he was alive, he was always pleased to see me, and how proud he was of me. 

While I was sleeping, he quietly entered my dream, and told a group of us that there was nothing more important than the nurturing of our minds.

When I awoke, I lay for a long while and remembered him. 

Indeed, it felt as if he had just been there – that moment – visiting me while I was sleeping.

A “self-understanding” meme

Photo 9

Quote of the day:

The important thing for us is to move forward with humility. [David Axelrod heard on Morning Joe today, in response to President Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize]

One nagging thing I still don’t understand about myself ["a potential meme for bloggers as well as psychologists," writes my brother, Norm]

So, here goes mine (in 150 words):

“Why is it,” I ask myself
over and over again, “that I cannot believe people when they compliment,
applaud or acknowledge something, anything, positive about me?” After years of
successful, professional achievements, including a doctorate, authoring three
books, and numerous presentations nationally and internationally, and after
much hard work at self-alteration through different therapies and education, I
still do not believe anyone who praises me, or shows me love through words or
gifts! It could be admiring colleagues complimenting me after successful
keynote speeches, students writing glowing evaluations of my class, or
expressions of love, acknowledgement and appreciation from friends or close family
members. Indeed, I find myself becoming numb, disbelieving, tongue-tied, and,
even, anxious and uncomfortable. I almost always denigrate myself or apologize
in response, and afterwards I shake my head in disbelief and dismay at how
badly I reacted – which, in turn, naturally, makes me feel even worse!

Changing seasons

Quote of the day:

It's pretty to look at, but I hate putting on socks. [Said my colleague chatting with me about the chill in the air on the way back from our morning Chairs' meeting]

Driving to work this morning in the dark, watching dawn break across the skies, on the radio I hear about a terrible typhoon devastating Japan.

As I drive along listening to the news, the sky is brilliant in color, and along the sides of the turnpike leaves are changing from green to glorious red and orange hues.

A beautiful morning between PA and New Jersey, but over two million people are trapped waiting for subways home or on their way to work in Japan.

How strange, I thought to myself. How globally aware we are, and yet how disconnected at the same time. I hold Japan in my heart for awhile, as I drive down the road.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Fasting

Getting older too …

Found this on Facebook. It feels like a good way to start my week …

[Thanks to Beth Edberg]

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: That looks good to me