I’ll give you something to cry about

More importantly most of us have been taught our feelings are wrong, inappropriate, inconsequential and our pain is not “enough”, …

Feelings. Emotions. They are the cornerstone of how we interpret, interact, and react to the world. And so many of us simply don’t know what our feelings are or what they mean. More importantly most of us have been taught our feelings are wrong, inappropriate, inconsequential and our pain is not “enough”, others have it worse, others are less sensitive, others have more control. etc etc etc. And we are subsequently taught we are fundamentally “wrong”. At least that’s been my life experience so far. And this makes sharing very very difficult. I was reminded of a story about someone’s reaction to the book “Eat Pray Love” during my morning pages and I think it exemplifies why so many people struggle with being emotionally honest. The world is pretty judgy.

Now however you feel about “Eat Pray Love” for a lot of people it resonated and for a lot it was a dream to be able to deal with emotional hurt in such a tangible and relaxed way. But that’s where I got the biggest kick from someone I thought of us a friend (this is where I remind you what you say about others can absolutely harm people you care about if they see themselves in you recriminations, food for thought) I was reading the book at work and was really enjoying some of what Elizabeth had to say, I was especially moved by her pain when to an outsider her life “looked great’ that more than anything struck me. We can have “things” that might seem like we have it all but we can still be hurting and feeling hollow and alone. And a woman at work went on a TIRADE.
“I hated that book what a whiny b*tch”. I was taken aback… Me: “Surely you can see that people can hurt deeply no matter what their outside life looks like and no matter what they have”? Her — “are you kidding she is just a selfish person who wants too much” …. this went back and forth for awhile until my relationship with this person was forever changed. I was never ever going to tell her again anything that I felt. Because I had felt that from so many people my whole life and here was more proof that people judged our pain and anguish and compared it. Did I realize that my loveless marriage was not the same as someone in a war torn country? yes OF COURSE but yet it doesn’t’ take away my feelings of emptiness, failure, and loneliness. But I was just shown that this was not a safe person to open up to and honestly I approach most people like they are just judgemental time bombs waiting to go off. I’m super sensitive and have an almost outsized sense of injustice and want everyone to be happy and be treated well. But that means I can’t compare people’s suffering. I do not ever want to belittle someone’s pain. But it happens so much how are any of us to ever be able to be honest. But I suppose that is what finding the right people is all about – finding the place where you can be real even if you to some your pain seems trivial or inconsequential, we don’t get to determine that for others.

But doesn’t it all start in childhood. Did anyone else here the phrase “I’ll give you something to cry about” — has it ever hit you as much as it did me recently how belittling that is to your feelings? Have you ever thought how much our faith in ourselves was beat (for some of us literally) out of us? How the hell are we supposed to understand our feelings when we are always told they are not the right ones. When our honest reactions to life are questioned and weighed. When tears are see has warfare?
I may not have the same trauma as the next person, objectively what some people experience is far worse than the next person, HOWEVER that does not diminish or negate the pain one person feels. This is why I am starting with self compassion. Because I want to store up enough compassion to understand that everyone is struggling and until we let them freely express their pain they will simply continue to lash out. Violence, depressions, anxiety, addiction, cultism all are the voices of the unheard, the misunderstood. If we want to change the world we have to start listening without judgment and hearing what people’s fears, hurts, and desires truly are. Start with yourself and go from there. No one’s pain or shame needs to be ridiculed it needs to be healed. As #brenebrown reminds us about the “Gifts of Imperfection” to be honest and to feel brings us #courage #compassion #connection and that is how we heal the world. I have something to cry about everyday and that is the suffering of the unheard.

Rediscovered Poetry – Come out and Play

This time I am not running away.

From a Facebook post from – Feb 2 2021 in our “The Way of Your Inner Voice” group, this was written during the very first go of “The Artist’s Way”. I think I’ve been here before, but I always panic and re-lock the door. This time I am not running away. I’m still trying to break free, still pushing on that door, battling all the blocks. Here’s what I wrote on the post – I’m remembering now that writing them is easy the work is the sharing. Because at the end of the day that’s what this is all about, being actually seen and heard. What are you holding in that needs to get expressed? Perhaps your Inner Voice is calling to you as well?

Come out and Play – one shot poem written Feb 2021

There is a knocking

Inside my head

At first just a rapping

A gentle tapping

grows more insistent

Each passing day

a sense of wonder

trapped inside a box

Buried under fears

wrapped in layers of shame

it grows louder though

more insistent, consistent

let me out to play

becoming a banging

begging for attention

a chance to spread

its wings

I try to keep it closed

It’s very wild and

Unpredictable

It always wants to play

It isn’t very grown-up

And others say it’s wrong

But if this racket keeps up

My wall, my resolve

may not stay as strong

I wonder what will happen

If I let it out to play

Alexander Milov’s sculpture, Love, appeared in the 2015 Burning Man festival and is so much an image that makes me think of our Inner Voice work and this ongoing struggle to know and let the real and best me out to live, love, work, and most importantly….PLAY!

Is Aminda on the bus…childhood bullying memories

My morning writing spat up some memories this week and I realized I’ve been writing my “origin” story from the point of my husband’s death. But let’s be real this all started at the beginning and just because I don’t want to relive or think about (or honestly remember much) from my childhood doesn’t mean it’s not important to this story.

I started writing this a week ago. That first paragraph was all I got out and then I haven’t been able to write more. It’s amazing to think how much of my childhood I just keep in a box and all the feelings associated with it I try to distance myself from them. I can feel my breath catch. I can feel my body curl in on itself. When I allow it to come over me I can feel the helplessness and the gnawing sense of other.

Does bipolar happen because of brain chemistry? are we born that way? or do the events of our lives push us and push us until our brains are wired a certain way. As I think about it I’ve never felt safe. Well that’s not true, a few moments here and there with Rob I felt safe, for a moment and that is perhaps why there is a before and after Rob. That all my childhood fears felt put away when I was seen, but they came roaring back with a vengeance. I see now it’s because the feeling was external and conditional. So that’s why I’m here on this journey working on making that feeling internal, from within so that no one can take it from me. But since I have so little experience with it, it continues to be elusive.

But I digress.

I was not a healthy child. Think some 80’s movie where there was a kid who had an inhaler and was the weakling – that was me. Only I was just a side character so I didn’t get a makeover montage. I was just odd and sick. I’ve come to understand that what I experienced was being seen as a moral failing for not being hale and hearty. I never had the energy other kids had. So much so that I knew early on something was wrong with me, but I was born in ’68 and went to school in the ’70s, and catholic school no less, so we didn’t have any idea how to help a kid with food allergies and who was too tired to function, even at the ripe age of 8. I had terrible IBS even back then, I woke up everyday with a stomach ache. I had so many stomach aches that they were treated like I was always faking and that set me up for a lifetime of not believing my body signals, but that’s for another post. All that is to set up that I was bullied for being meek and weak. And to understand that my sickliness was also making dealing with life already difficult. At home it was my dad abusing my mom and drunken fights but at Church we were the perfect family. I may never know if I was born healthy and the abusive stress is what caused me to be sick but either way I was not well. A pale, scrawny, asthma having, eye glass wearing, book reading outcast. And that would have been fine if people could have at least been understanding or kind, but no as I said, moral failing. And it wasn’t just kids that were mean. I learned early that cruelty was not limited to a select few bullies and that even nice people will be awful in the right crowd. Sure I was bullied in school by the nuns for my left handedness and my general lack of vim, seriously berated for being pale and tired. Literally just made me laugh to think of it, how insane is it to make fun of someone for being ill, no wonder I have struggled with accepting it and now just want everyone to know. I want to heal that wound and feel like people give a crap. UGH again I digress. It seems so silly now, a trifling. Yet for me, in the first through fifth grades riding the bus was one of the greatest sources of trauma for me. It might be tied with my P.E. teacher but we’ll leave Mrs. Larimer out of this one and just focus on the bus driver. I’m not 100% sure what her name was, as I called her “bulldozer” in my head. Was her name Dozer or Dosier? who knows, the truth is lost to time. I only know she was not a happy person and she allowed me to be harrassed so much on the bus, even taking part on occasion. Like maybe Matt and Trey had a similar experience?

From the classics like tripping, stealing of items and playing keep away, and no available seat gaffs to the more upsetting gum in the hair, and ruined homework, riding the bus was a nightmare. Made extra so because I was beyond timid and being noticed was its own hell and somehow that was like a flame and all the bullies moths. Sigh. I will never understand the urge to pick on the weakest one. All that I suffered with as much dignity as a sad victorian child could. It was the bus stop fiascos that truly gave me the anxiety. Now I gave you all the lead up about being sickly and tired. Now put me in a stressful situation everyday and throw in my sensitive stomach and hypersensitivity to smells and my bus rides were like a fugue state. I could barely function I was always so overwhelmed. And more often than not I would fall asleep. (I presume it was the beginnings of a strong flight/freeze response to stress) Now my bus driver decided to punish me as often as possible. She wouldn’t help me procure a seat up front where I wouldn’t be harassed or get as car sick. No she would watch the kids block the seats until I was in the back. So many times. I stopped crying and begging for help that seemed to only make her angrier. She would call me pity party princess. LOL I just remembered that, huh. Anyway if I fell asleep sometimes she would just drive past my stop and make me ride the whole route and drop me at a different stop on the way back making me walk further. (realizing now how much she endangered me) Sometimes she would get the kids to chant – “Is Aminda on the bus” on the way to my stop and then they would jeer and thrown things and call me names as I exited. Good times.

Now I can look back and see how tiny those things were individually. I can even understand that Ms. Bulldozer probably had her own trauma and reasons for being a complete a-hole to small children. Yet it doesn’t change that those daily interactions were a constant stressor on my tiny little pathetic nervous system. There was no relief. You didn’t admit weakness to the nuns, that brought down more wrath and punishment than help. And ya know the few times my mom got wind of anything hinky she was quick to defend me but she did it in way that always mortified me and generally had a backlash of being bullied harder. Now there is so much more history from St. Gregory’s. come to think of it all the people that were the worst to me where all the women in charge. It’s no wonder it took me years to trust women. Recently I’ve been wondering why I’m so sensitive and reactive and reliving/remembering my childhood reminds me that I was trained to be wary. It’s wired within me to be protective and scared. And my digestive system never did figure out how to life all that well.
Bullying is a health crisis. And make no mistake the “grown-ups” have always been as bad as the kids.

It was always a lie – song lyrics

If you want to heal your soul
threaten the status quo

TW: I am a recovering catholic. I do not mince words when it comes to the harm that I feel the church inflicted upon me as a child with my parents as willing participants. If you have a love of the church I’d just avoid my blog.

I have come to forgive my parents and some of the people involved in the soul-crushing that occurred to me during my eight years of catholic school and the thousands of hours of guilt-laden, fear-driven, terror-inducing instruction and messages I received in that institution. I am always endeavoring to accept those that still have faith and still support the church, but it isn’t always easy. It’s like watching your friends forgive your abuser and it is not for the faint of heart. I think the church should pay for my therapy and medication that’s how culpable it is in the mental anguish I struggle with every day. I am just now beginning to unravel the damage and I hope someday to scream punk rock versions of my feels. My FAULTY EARTH SUITS band name is ready for the right people to make my punk dreams come true 😀

What a fucking Lie

The church, what a fucking joke
the first in duplicity
saying they are there to save our souls
but their aim is to grind our bones
into the paste of mediocrity
into something safe for them and
their mountains of fear

Don’t think that
Don’t learn that
Don’t feel that
Kill the you that you know

The church, what a fucking hell
the thing that birthed my anger
that rages from the scars and terror
the wounds of words 
at every turn the pain reborn
the way they killed our joy
beating us into the mediocrity of homogeny

Don’t think that
Don’t ask that
Don’t dream that
Erase your individuality

The church what a fucking game
a way to kill your spirit
replace it with a god of lies
the god of men’s control
subjugated to their ways
they’ll grind you down
make you into a paste
to mold into something
knowable, controllable

Don’t think that
Don’t want that
Don’t look at that
Destroy the light within

We’ll take your hopes and dreams
and teach you that you’re wrong
and then we will take your money
and expect your worship in return
God’s plan for you is dead
we killed those parts of you
so we could feel safe
secure and unthreatened.

You traded our joy
for your control
and comfort

Don’t think that
Don’t be that
Don’t become more
How dare you be yourself

If you want to heal your soul
threaten the status quo

woman kneeling in the shadow of a church

Halfway Home – Rediscovered Poetry Break

But like a tap on the shoulder… a whisper in my ear…” just start” ….

From a Facebook post Jan 31st 2021 – Again I almost didn’t write. I wasn’t “in the right headspace” But like a tap on the shoulder… a whisper in my ear…” just start” the rules of the road say I don’t worry about quality…just quantity. And I’ll be honest I felt a little raw…(4 hours of improv class will do that) I was “drained”

but I opened up the page and just wrote… POEM. and well … here is another first draft poem

Halfway Home

There was a poem that as a child felt like home

Halfway down the stairs, it went

Not up or down

Away but here

It wrapped me in understanding

And made me feel less alone

I followed those words

To worlds made real

In chapters of mystery

In rhymes of fantasy

In the magic of fiction

Dreams seemed possible

The world felt welcoming

Each day I’d walk by that step

On the way to school

And I would lift my chin

Leave behind my sacred space

To battle with reality

But that step

It was always there

The words. The words were always there.

I’ve forgotten the words sometimes

But they, they have never forgotten me

The Princess and the Pea

As we say around here #BeYou #BeReal #BeExtra. Only when we are allowed to fully be ourselves can we find peace.

There are so many things that I have joked about in this lifetime that are turning out to be core truths about who I am and how I relate to the world. from “like all things I swing both ways” (hello bipolar/bisexuality) To “I’m a delicate f*cking flower” (Hello sensory processing sensitivity) It has also come into my understanding that the very things I feel shame over and have been ridiculed for are part of the very nature of my being. (OH wow self-worth much?) This is the basis for so many of our anxieties, for our depression, and certainly our unhealthy coping mechanisms. In the world of neurodiversity we refer to hiding our traits as masking (or camouflaging) . Coming to recognize that the stranger, the very things we are hiding away from others and ourselves, that is our inner truth, our inner voice. We’ve silenced so much of ourselves for so long, sometimes not on purpose but out of trauma, that we don’t even know ourselves, that is the feeling of unrest and discomfort that too many of us feel.

For me specifically this is my sensory/sensitivty levels. We didn’t have words for Sensory Processing issues when I was a child, heck we barely talked about ADHD or even spectrums of autism. Being born in the late 60’s I was in elementary school in the 70’s and to top it off I was in Catholic school – there was definitely no room for individuality in those halls. What I do remember more than anything is being bullied and teased for being shy, withdrawn, and SO SENSITIVE. It was said to me like a curse – you are just so sensitive. Too sensitive. And I learned to see it as a moral failing, a weakness, an assassination of my character. My mother gave to me a love of musical theatre and she introduced me to the fairy tale of the “princess and the pea” via “Once Upon a Mattress” and would call me Winnifred, later in life we have come to refer to me as a “delicate f*cking flower” because I can feel things, hear things, and definitely smell things that others can’t yet I’m tough and loud and brash. (spoiler alert I LEARNED to be those things to mask my too sensitive self.) Life has been, if nothing else, an assault to my senses from day one. It’s exhausting. Gee I wonder why I have chronic fatigue (my “shocked” face)

These days we also refer to my nose as the “super sniffer” (thanks Gus from Psych) but it’s not always cute in my life. It means when you use bounce on your clothes and I’m near you I get a headache and sometimes sick to my stomach. I am overpowered and smell things that others can’t,I’m like a canary in a coal mine all day every day, and honestly I thought I was losing my mind until an episode of castle taught me that hyperosmia is a real thing. (played by the ever glorious Stephnie Weir) Yeah I have genuinely lived my life presuming I was a bit crazy because no one else seemed to be troubled by the smells (sights, sounds, touch, emotions of others). I even inadvertenly self medicated as a smoker for years because that killed my smell and sometimes I still miss that part. Although once I got smoke free and could smell the smoke it is one of the most hated smells and I can smell it from 100 paces on you and everything you own – even if you have washed, breath minted, and spritzed. Sure the average person can smell strong smells, but I smell the faded ones and they effect me greatly. But the problem isn’t really the smelling or hearing that the TV is on, or the buzz of lights, or the way that lights hurt, or the fact that I can read a facial expression that no one else even saw – no it’s how people treat those of us who are more sensitive, that’s the real problem. Like we are making it up, or we need to “toughen” up. Knowing now that I literally feel different from other people is helping me get in touch with my true nature and rather than suppressing my feelings and reactions I’m learning to process them. (If you want to know more learn about HSP or SPS this person’s story is very similar to mine) I used to believe I was an “empath” but I now see that was just part of my sensitivity combined with hyper vigilance born of trauma. (spoiler alert a lot people are dishonest and think they are hiding their true feelings but some of us see that shit)

Trying to fit in is literally killing people. Want to understand the rise of auto-immunity, chronic fatigue, mental health issues? Take a look at how a faster, louder, brighter world is effecting 15-20% of us. It’s a evolutionary gift in the right circumstances but in a modern world it can be a real curse. Finding your place has to consider what works for you! Everyone has a sensitivity, I truly believe this and we beat it out of our children (especially our AMAB children), we cookie cutter it out of us in schools, we lose our super powers by seeing them as inconvenience or as wrong and “not normal”. But it’s our sensitivities, our uniqueness that guides us that makes us, well US. So the next time you feel you have to hide who you really are ask if that person, place, or activity is worth it. As we say around here #BeYou #BeReal #BeExtra. Only when we are allowed to fully be ourselves can we find peace. We are killing the very things that are our gifts. The world needs your love of your special interest (Hello Greta Thunberg) it needs your sensitivity. When we get in touch with that Inner Voice we can change the world and find happiness. Let’s stop chasing other people’s happiness and find our own. (spoiler alert you may need to unlearn some BS and you may need help, but that’s OK, listen. you know your truth. We just have to find a way to accept it and embrace it) End the epidemic of self-loathing that fuels so much hatred.

Motorcycle rallies and Grand Canyon stopovers (as the origin story turns)

Bottom line? I was a grieving, masking, pretending, smiling, joking MESS. To say I was sensitive would be laughable in it’s understatement.

UGH. Just ugh. My therapist assures me that feeling these feelings is what I need, but dear lord it is painful and difficult. I feel like I’m crawling through mud. But let’s maybe do a quick and dirty run down.

After my suicide attempt (which I’ve come to learn was less about death and more about not having enough emotional coping mechanisms this is food for thought for everyone) I rallied like a proper bipolar, celebrating with some great unsupported, unexplained bouts of hypomania wherein I declared I was cured and took off to “Thunder on The Tundra”. A motorcycle rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin to “clear my head” and “get back to normal”. Now remember I was on a BRAND new prescription of Seroquel. But hey hypomania/mania is not know for its logic. That rally was where I got my lip pierced. Rode a three-wheeler for the first time. And continued the tradition of spreading Rob’s ashes at a new body of water on the 9th of every month. There was actually a beautiful moment where many of the other bikers rode in formation to a waterfall and were with me when I left a little Rob there. It was symbolically, for me, experiencing things with him that we would never get to do on this plane of existence. At one point I had the poem, picture, and place for each month of that first year burned into my memory, but even that has faded and now just a few of the more memorable ones remain. (hey would you just look at this, I started writing and it got easier.) The rally had it’s ups and downs, I was struggling to be “normal” and those times were filled with booze, the worst self medication tool I had. (I sometimes wonder how different my life would have been w/o alcohol or w/the same kind of access to cannabis as an alternative) Bottom line? I was a grieving, masking, pretending, smiling, joking MESS. To say I was sensitive would be laughable in it’s understatement. So at the end of the rally feeling keenly the loss of the distraction and having a group of people leave without me because I over slept sent me into a bit of tailspin. I dumped the rest of seroquel down the toilet and took off solo to “explore” (IE drive aimlessly and seek some questionable distractions until the money ran out) I came home and quit my job and decided to move and leave my kids. At this point I had decided that maybe me dying wasn’t great but certainly being in my children’s lives was not helping them so I arranged for the twins to go live with their dad and his new wife, and for Lyra to move with her dad as well. It seems when I need to get my life on track my first instinct is to slough off anyone or anything that relied on me. The truth is I felt unreliable. I often felt that people would be better off without me. I am sure it seemed selfish and narcissitic yet it came from more than any one single straighforward reason. In hindsight I see it for the Flight and Freeze response that it was. I have been overwhelmed so much of my life. I’m learning now about sensory issues, autism, HSP, c-ptsd and so many other ways of understanding how life can truly effect each of us so differently. But back then? I just panicked, I just reacted purely out of a survival mode coping mechanism. At this point in the story I think a lot of people felt the kids would be better off without me, again. So it seemed reasonable to move close to mom and “start over fresh” (what a ridiculously naive sentiment LOL) and so it was that I packed up my belongings for one of the many times I ran away in life, and took off on my motorcycle to move to Arizona. On the way I stopped to visit my younger brother, who was living in the Grand Canyon at the time, aka the island of the misfit toys, and there a whole new f*ed up chapter of my life could begin. The infamous brief “stopover” that would turn my life into a new brand of self destructive behavior. I think we’ll start there next time, because this is leaving me a bit depressed. To really and truly examine the drama created by self defeating behavior is not an easy pill to swallow.

I think it might be important to note that at this time I had gone on to get my teaching certification in several forms of yoga and had even briefly run my own studio, before I had my suicide attempt this will later matter to the whole picture of recovery. So when you hear me get super agro about the cult of positivity and the harm of repressed emotions you’ll understand the depth of my experience.

Previously On…Bipolar Days

I’ve felt it my whole life. This slightly asynchronous feeling coupled with that feeling that I really was just more trouble than I was worth. I used to agree.

When last I left off telling my partial “origin” story I had just left the psyche ward in Aurora, Colorado. It left a lot of people scarred and further divided me from people. I get this feeling that I’m just too much to handle for most people. That can wear on a person. I’ve felt it my whole life. This slightly asynchronous feeling coupled with that feeling that I really was just more trouble than I was worth. I used to agree. It made me so very needy. With absolutely zero boundaries and a chip on my shoulder that helped me with my self-fulfilling prophecy of being a burden that someone would eventually dump, like that fixer-upper project that took more time than you realized. BUT I see some things now that I never saw while I was kneck deep in all my trauma. I kept people at arm’s length while simultaneously lying to them. Not lying on purpose, but lying through masking.

When I’m in an up mood I can seem AHHHHMAZING. Fabulous. The life of the party. But sadly this wears off and one is left with a husk, a dried out, sad, and very difficult person to get moving again. I start out seeming to be this optimistic bright shiny star, that is independent and strong, and caring, and OH so giving. (PS I am all those things it’s not a total lie it’s just NOT SUSTAINABLE) and I spent my whole life trying to hide a complete side of myself. It didn’t help that when that side comes out most people cut and run further embedding the “truth” that I had to hide in the first place. I think I read too many books or saw too many movies because deep down I wanted to be rescued. I’ve waited my whole life to be rescued. But instead, I rescued others my whole life. (MAN I’m getting emotional writing this. Guess it’s a good place to be working but when I get like this I feel like I want to come out of my skin and it is SO hard to keep going)

Grrrrr—- See I felt unworthy so I drew to myself people who I thought were like me. Struggling. Figuring they would understand but time and time again what I got was someone who wanted to be rescued and had NO interest in mutual rescuing. In hindsight, it was a little unfair. I didn’t mean to present people with false hope. It’s just literally getting 2 people (at minimum) for the price of one. as I type though I realize I was also generally masking almost all of my true feelings and emotions. There’s the manic me, the depressed me, the REAL me and then the amalgamation I would present to people in an attempt to seem normal. Big air quotes on that “normal”, I still overwhelm and irritate a vast majority of the populous. I’m awesome when I’m teaching my enthusiasm and kookiness are great in that arena. I’m super duper in short doses…but over the long haul, you gotta really love the roller coaster ride. The difference now is I know I’m worth it. So I stopped looking to be rescued (but I’d still take a monthly stipend LOL or a lotto win :P) and that was the first step to true life change. Sure I still sometimes look at people and think HEY someone takes care of them. Someone stayed by their side and was kind when the going got tough, but I know now that so much of that is an illusion. I had the kind of love that someone accepted me fully so I know it’s possible, to honour that love I’m trying to remember what that felt like and be the one to give all that forgiveness, acceptance, support, and love, to myself. OH, but we aren’t there yet. We have yet to live through the total regression. We made it through the first year post-Rob – when Sh*t Got Weird – That year was topped off by the “Cuckoo’s Nest” story but I was just getting started. I guess next up is motorcycle rallies and Grand Canyon stopovers. What a ride indeed.