" I found The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle especially soothing. I wasn't ready for much of what he said, but his encouragement to live in the moment enabled me to enjoy my cat, my fireplace and the taste of toast and coffee. For the first time in a long time, I experienced my body in a positive way. I noticed when it was relaxed, warm or comfortable. I paid attention to my thoughts and feelings. Mostly I witnessed sad ones- my negativity, anxiety and, most of all, my relentless punishment of myself. I heard so many harsh voices in my head that I could barely breathe or think without critiquing myself. I believed myself to be the one person on earth not entitled to happiness." From the book Seeking Peace, by Mary Pipher, 2009. The chapter titled MELTDOWN
I could hardly wait to get to bed last night. I was so eager to get to my book. I seem only to be able to calm my mind to read once I have crawled under my electric blanket, put in my ear plugs ( hubby and cats snore) and have written in my LOA/gratitude journal. Which by the way, a side note on that....last night wrote a "rich list". Like writing down your gratitudes, this was a list of things that make my life rich, and do not cost a dime. was a very eye opening exercise; really urge you to try it. Make it a work in progress. I did.
But back to the book, Seeking Peace by Mary Pipher. I so hope she does not mind me using quotes from her wonderful book. I know I should write her and /or the publisher and get permission...taking a risk not doing so, but what is life without risk. At least I give her full credit. Plus, I am only using snippets, I urge you to buy a copy, just as I do with any book I share with you. I found mine at Dollar Tree, but am sure since it is dated 2009 you can still find it all over. If you are relating at all to yesterday's post and then today's, just from the quotes, then it is worth paying full price for it.
I am just so incredibly blown away at how I am relating to this book. I have never in my life had this happen. I know it seems I read a lot of self help books, but really they have been far and few between and most times I loose my motivation and put them away and forget about them. I really do not think this will happen with this book. I simply could not stop underlining and re-reading passages in the chapter that I read last night. It will be hard to not share it all with you...wishing right now I had a scanner pen so I could make it easier to do so !
So , last nights chapter, MELTDOWN. How often have you had one in your life. I have had my fair share that is for darn sure. In fact too many. Have had them most of my life. I did not lead the easiest of lives growing up...not the worst by far, but some things would make you shudder. With living such a life and also dealing with depression on and off most of my life ( a lot due to the fibromyalgia, apparently it is a factor of the disorder) and so meltdowns just go with the territory. Some are set off as I hit a wall, reach a breaking point. Some are fibro or hormone related and come at the drop of the hat....hate those as I have no real control when they happen. Dealing with my meltdowns have just become a fact of life, but it is a fact in my life that I wish to get a grip on and learn to deal with it constructively and quickly so that it no longer effects my goal of peace and happiness in my life.
In the chapter the author tells of her rise to fame with her book Reviving Ophelia, and how it thrust her into the lime light, a place she was not comfortable being. She became well known, and traveled a lot with book tours and speaking engagements. Doing so caused her deal with anxiety and panic attacks as well as to fall into depression, something she had battled on and off through her whole life.Now of course I can not relate to all of it, but there was points where I felt as if I was reading my own thoughts. I am not a famous author or a speaker, never plan to be; though if it happened to me, then I am afraid I would react even worse off than she. I can write, but can not speak in front of other people. I instantly start sweating, feeling sick and my voice quivers. Even when I was once in a collectors club, had grown up knowing the members as my Mom had been part of this club for years, I was asked to speak up to the 20 plus members and introduce myself and tell why I wanted to join and I nearly was sick on the spot! Church when I went was a nightmare if I had a prayer concern or was asked to lead a class. I did it, but it was torture! So when I read this passage it really hit home:
" I am a homebody who prefers one-on-one conversation to parties. I have a hard time setting limits with others and feel badly when I let people down. If I think I have disappointed someone, I can not sleep."
I can relate. Can you? First off I am a homebody, always have been , even though I do like to get out of the four walls, for the most part being in them is where I prefer to be. Do you struggle with being around a lot of people, does it cause panic and anxiety ? Does part of it come from being afraid of how others will see you, judge you. Do you worry you will not be all that they expect ? I know I do. I mean who I am on the computer can greatly differ from who I am in person. I come off as very shy and unsure of myself in person, especially in groups. It also happens if someone knows me on a one-on-one basis, and then says " you can do it" meaning something dealing with a large group of people , not knowing I am a wall flower the minute I get into one. But I am also a people pleaser and if I think I am going to let some one down I , like the author feel bad.
"When I didn't live up to my expectations for myself, I was filled with guilt and shame."
Gosh this has been something I have done to myself my whole life! I put so much pressure on myself to be the perfect daughter, wife, mother, friend, worker, it very often causes a meltdown of one type or another, be it outward or inward, and it certainly does effect my happiness level. I took a happiness quiz yesterday. I am only sort of happy. Yep, even when taking a quiz I was thinking of others, putting others ahead of me and it lowered my score.
"....guilty that I cannot be better, smarter and more energetic person"
" I could never be smart enough, energetic enough or kind enough to satisfy my own conscience. In my own personal court of law I tried and convicted myself for failing to meet the needs of others, of being a physical and emotional weakling and of possessing the worst kind of moral turpitude- ingratitude. "
Boy OH Boy! Do I relate to this one. Living with chronic pain , going on nearly 20 years now on and off and with it being worse in the last 10 does this hit home. I live with self imposed guilt over what I can not do. That I am not who I used to be, that my husband and family had to and still has to chip in to do the job that is mine, that I agreed to when I said I do and then wanted a family . Very often my husband works very long hours, six days a week and then comes home and cooks his own supper and cleans up and then takes care of me. Instead of being grateful ( well until recently, working on that) I was angry with myself and often with him for stepping in and up. OH and then let's not forget the "smart enough" . Having brain fog from the fibro often makes me feel dumb and slow on the take so to say. I also struggle with that feeling when I get criticism or corrections for things I say. Oh and then with the emotional ups and downs of the on again off again depression ...well the "emotional and physical weakling" really comes into play.
I again put so much pressure on myself to be "normal" over the years I had never really discovered what that is. I do not know the real me. I am always searching, making changes, to my appearance, how I dress , what I do with my hair, what interests me ...I have been so many "me's" over the last 24 years, always convincing myself "this" was me , how could I know what normal is? Yet daily creating this pressure filled existence, priming myself for more melt downs and more guilt...all self imposed. How can one be happy with all that going on ??? Funny how one or two passages from a book, a book about someone elses life that is following a different , yet so closely the same path can open the flood gates!
" I have only two speeds: on and off. Many days were intense beyond my capacity to cope. I would try, try and try to do everything well, and then I'd switch off."
With the life I have lead and always following the old adage "what does not kill you.." , or believing " God never gives you more than you can handle." is often what got me through. I go through a meltdown, then my inner voice/strength tell me to knock it off and pull myself up by the boot strings and get on with it , meaning life. See it through to the other side, this is life and you must DEAL, COPE and be strong. So that is what I have always done. I powered through , and I did this over and over. Till one day a few years back I found myself sitting in my closet , in our beautiful home in Texas crying, NO, sobbing! I did not know why exactly. I mean I know what set me off , caused the melt down, turned the switch off, but I had never really sobbed like that since I was a teen and then I KNEW why, or thought I did. All I kept saying was " I want to go home. " I was home sick for California, the life I knew, even though for the most part it was not a happy one, and I wanted to go NOW! I just simply could not cope with life. Again have no real idea what set that all off, cause for the first year we were very happy with our life there, not one complaint!
It happened again once we were back in California though, yep I helped , pushed really to make that happen, now a regrettable thing on so many levels. My husband came home and told me he had been let go. We had a mortgage. Enough said. I instantly clicked the switch off for a few days, was a tear stained zombie. I could not cope. Even though my husband had been given another job, I knew what was going to happen. I know now that perhaps I willed it to happen ( well if you believe in LOA) . That lasted several days and then I snapped to. Flipped the switch and talked myself into coping. I did that for a year until we faced reality and moved to an apartment. However I still can not cope with driving down our old street, past our house. Do not know if I ever could.
I spent the last year in a weird place. I was coping, being my husbands rock, dealing with my fibro being worse, and our finances being worse than the fibro. Seeing my husband depressed, feeling the need to fake happiness, only to see in black and white all over Face Book, and this blog that I was really not happy, not coping and was in a long term meltdown...not a classic one with loads of tears and staying in bed... but one all the same. Inside I was a blob of negative energy. Being so was also drawing all that towards me ( yes another LOA theory) . Then one day a new friend , who unlike ANYONE else who had tried, pulled me out and gave me a shove and in less than a month things started to turn around. I am still wobbly on my new legs that have me on the new path to peace and happiness/positivity, but I am on the path and that is what counts.
I still only have two speeds, I am hoping to find a neutral area and learn that it does not have to be all black and white or on and off...you know like a dimmer switch LOL!
" I had always seen myself as a person who could cope with anything. But slowly I realized that one person's walk in the park is another person's journey to the dark side."
I relate to this passage in a different way than what I talked about above. Part of my mush this past year was we also became empty nesters, then our oldest and her boyfriend bought a house and started to nest. I felt alone, isolated, often judged ( save that for another time) and very lonely. Did not matter how many online friends I had. I had no one here that I could simply have a glass of wine with, take my walks with, go for coffee or window shop, no one to chat with in person that was not related , and that did not happen often either. My hubby working so much, the kids having their own lives. I was left with myself, my thoughts and the cats. Still am. As our finances started to prevented me from putting a band aide on in the form of entertaining myself with shopping and eating out, going to movies I got even worse.
My Mom, and well many online friends are joiners. So suggestions of clubs, going to free adult ed classes, perhaps going to find a church family ( um can we say HUGE panic attacks just seeing the size of churches here???) piled in. Or suggestions to get a job ( between fibro and this economy and not a single job reference!....) What worked for so many, the walk they often took to ease loneliness would in my life lead to a journey of further darkness. Hard to imagine I am sure. I know many of you can not grasp the concept that I would rather continue on this path, that may hinder my happiness , when that is one thing I seek along with peace, but it is who I am . I am not isolating myself to torture or hinder myself, truly. I know that if I do not "get out there" the odds of finding that elusive friend that I can connect with, bond with and well get along with are slim. I do get that. HONEST! But for now I simply can not cope with what it may take, so will need to work around that speed bump.
There is so much more to this chapter, and I know that some of you would continue reading no matter how long I make this post, but there are others....so I will close here and pick it all up tomorrow...promise!