Healthy Thoughts

I don’t feel like writing today. 

I’m not sure I have much to say. I feel good these days. Not too good, because that is a thing that happens to me. Just the right amount of goodness. 

I have that niggling sensation in the back of my mind that something will happen to screw up this goodness. I’ve tried ignoring it, but ignoring is not something I’m good at. I’m one of those people who  literally can’t give the cold shoulder. 

So I’m just acknowledging that its there. I don’t need to grasp it and hold on. I can just let it go. 

Maybe this is the sign of a healthy person – letting go of unhelpful thoughts. 

Am I healthy? 

I’m not sure its helpful to worry and agonize over that one…

Candidly, 

Ash

The Community Chalice

I have social anxiety. 

Not the disorder or anything that official. It’s just any time I do something social, then I have anxiety. 

I think that some of this comes from my childhood. As a child, I missed nothing. Though people tried to keep their pain from me, they could not see it was pointless. The same went for judgements, inferences, the way adults spoke in undertones about other people. 

I understood it all, but without the filter, the lens of maturity. 

Now, even as an adult, I hear their whispers each time I walk into a room. 

Did you see that she isn’t wearing makeup? How did she gain so much weight? I hear she tried to commit suicide. Well, I heard it was because her son is mentally retarded. No, I think it was because of their finances. You know, they once went through foreclosure. 

I’m a juicy piece of gossip, for sure. The truth is that those conversations may or may not be happening. Maybe they are just other people’s thoughts or maybe they are just my thoughts about other people’s thoughts. 

Here’s the thing. 

Its hard enough to manage my own thoughts, let alone trying to figure out those of other people. I’ll take the cup that is mine and pass on the communal chalice. 

My thoughts. 

I don’t have to believe them. I can step away from them and discern what is beneficial and what is not. 

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll discover a way forward that doesn’t include recalling all of my past failures and faux pas. Maybe I’ll have the courage to embrace new thoughts. Thoughts of how I am loved, how my story has meaning and purpose, how my vulnerability can set others free. 

Candidly,

Ash

Small Hurts, Big Lessons

I scratched my eye.

It hurts and waters and, in general, makes life miserable. Who would have thought that something so small could make such big waves in my life?

This reminds me that even our smallest hurts, pains and fears must be recognized and felt. Like the splinter that is never removed, they can become infected and an even larger pain.

I think this is part of what happened with me. I never attended to the small hurts and pains in life. I think of the disappointment I’ve often felt in myself, how I didn’t want to feel it. Instead I became angry with myself as a way to mask the pain, but this only made the pain greater.

My therapist once described it as hurting myself, then taking out a hammer and hitting myself again.

Pain on top of pain.

I think disappointment with myself has been the most difficult small pain in my life. The hardest thing to sit with and feel.

I’m still learning, but I need these reminders. Reminders not to belittle myself, to feel the pain and let it guide me.

Because pain can be a guide.

Pointing us toward change, showing us our sensitivities, teaching us what works and doesn’t work.

Yes, the scratch may hurt, but I’ve learned not to wear my contacts for months on end. I’ve learned to give my eye a break so it can be healthy.

Maybe I can feel the scratches to my heart, but learn to take care of myself in a greater way.

Candidly,

Ash

I Need Not Flee.

I love to watch geeky TV shows. I’ve written about superheroes, but now I’m going to take my geekery a step further. BUT there is a purpose for it, so hang in there…

I watch the show Westworld on HBO. Westworld is a theme park of sorts. Its set in the Wild West and there are tons of characters with whom park goers interact. There is just one catch – the characters are androids. Androids so sophisticated that you cannot tell them apart from humans. Androids programmed to think and feel. In fact, those feelings are so realistic that they include pain.

During one poignant scene, one of the androids signs up to have part of his brain extracted so that he can interface with the main server. Appalled, the human says, “We don’t have ANY anesthesia.” The android responds….

The pain is just a program.

These words had my brain turning immediately, because as humans our perception of pain can vary greatly. Some people have pain tolerance that is higher than others, while some people literally can’t experience physical pain.

I surmise that emotional pain is much the same way. Some people are more tolerant of it than others. I’ve written before that I think I might be one of those people who is more bothered by emotional pain. Yet, I have learned to cope with it in greater ways since my stay in the hospital and subsequent therapy.

You see, through therapy, I was able to view my thoughts and resulting pain from a new perspective. For weeks, I would say something negative about myself or discuss suicidal thoughts and my therapist would respond, “But that’s just a thought. You don’t have to believe it.”

It annoyed me.

I was annoyed, because while it was just a thought – my body and my heart had a response to that thought. It was weeks before I finally widened the gap between my thoughts and my emotional response. You see, once I was able to slow my emotional response to the thoughts, then I could choose to acknowledge the thought and then believe or disbelieve it. Slowly, very slowly, I was re-programmed.

Re-programmed Pain

I’ll never forget how it felt to disbelieve a suicidal thought. Everything within me relaxed. My spirit exhaled. I had been afraid of myself, my thoughts, for so long that I did not know what it was to experience something besides self-hatred.

Self-love was a very far way off. I’m still working towards that one. Each day, I re-program pain or, rather, my response to it. You see, now that the gap between thought and feeling exists, I am able to experience pain from a new perspective.

Pain is just a program.

Pain is a program that our body and spirit run when we need to learn something, remember something or yearn for something. It is there to tell us that things are important.

“Take note!” Pain says.

It is the fleeing, avoiding, suppressing of pain that causes it to be insurmountable, because there is a truth about pain that few accept.

Pain never goes away.

Think about it. Do you remember the first time you lost someone? Or maybe the first time someone made fun of you? In one instant, you can bring all of that back to your mind and experience it again. And this is only looking at pain from a past perspective. In the present and the future, pain exists too.

I cannot run from it, because it will come in one form or another again. If there is a constant in the universe, then it is that people experience pain.

While this is sad and grieve-some,  I can accept it. Once accepted, I can begin a reprogramming of my response to pain. Since I can never get away from pain, then I must deal with it, process it, learn to experience it.

Yes, pain is a program I cannot outrun, but it is also re-programmable. I can experience pain, learn from it and watch it pass.

For as constant as pain can be, it does pass. There is a reprieve. I need not flee.

Candidly,

Ash