Updated: Sep 28, 2020
For the past 72 hours I’ve been living with an intensity that flushed my cheeks and honed my attention like a well sharpened pencil. It feels like I have blown out my carburetor, cleared out all the gunk that’s been hanging around my walls. I’m not done yet. I can still feel the burn.
I lived years on the edge of life and death with my youngest daughter not knowing what’s next but something monumental. Sometimes I feel like I’m wandering through a fun house with deformed images looming in and out. Other times I hit a dead end with no possible solution in sight. I never want to go back there. It’s an intolerable place to live and yet I survived.
This week, my living daughter had a breast cancer scare and I found myself back in the funhouse. The dark looming images resuming their presence in the heat of crisis. It’s all so familiar. I am deeply grateful to say she’s fine. She’s cleared – no cancer.
As a parent and post-caregiver, I have medical PTSD. I have been recovering for five years since my daughter’s transition, and yet PTSD reared its ugly head again. I’ve made progress though. Usually I cry for days and feel helpless and listless about life. I’ve graduated to anger.
The idea of my living daughter suffering with cancer sent me into a controlled panic. I’ve learned to live with panic. It’s not easy and wears on my insides. With over 160 days of meditation practice, I am grateful for my breath and use it mindfully to manage my control. Images of this meditation community hold space in my silence and is again my anchor.
My old solution was to be busy with distractions to blur my experience and numb my fear. I would berate and bully myself into believing I was less than. The practice of silence is strong against the backdrop of panic. I hear my screaming and feel the shaking of fear and I practice silence because I trust in its presence.
I breathe. My mind tells me it’s impossible to find comfort in this space, but still I remain in silence and lean on practice. I grow more trust as I sit in silence.
My inner child is paying attention. My inner reservoir continues to refill. I continue to heal. Every time I demonstrate my practice, my trust bank increases. I am paying attention to my intention to be here. If I engage with panic and fear, I don’t deserve punishment. I’m doing the best I can. I am one step closer to saying enough! I choose another way. There is always another opportunity down the road to practice again.
When anger is ignored, it’s a fuel that burns uncontrolled. When anger is unacknowledged, it turns inward into self-loathing, depression, anxiety, self-sabotage and much more.
Writing my feelings always helps me let off some rage. Being creative helps me use my anger fuel. Talking to a therapist or counselor helps me lessen my anger mountain. I am standing on the side of self-care instead of self-harm. I am grateful.
Mother Mountain by Shirley Riga
My strength I carry in my tall
thick walls of stone.
I weather the hottest heat and the chilliest cold.
I stand as witness to the lives of people,
animals, energies that pass by me,
Over me and on me.
I reach high to heaven and am made
up of the very essence of Mother Earth.
I am majestically beautiful and
starkly abundant in my stature.
I carry within me memories of days
long past and futures to come,
yet represent the presence of what is.
Thank you for helping us build up our strength. We don’t know the future or what is going to happen, but being strong really helps.
What I heard as you were reading was that “I’m doing the best I can.” Those are powerful words for a lot of us who have been hard on ourselves. Those are freeing words. And I translated that into a forgiveness prayer as I approach my mother’s birthday. She’s been gone a long time. She died at age 39 years old. And there were a lot of things that I think were not ideal, but that prayer and that thought or intention that I am doing the best I can. She was doing the best she can. It’s very healing for me.
I performed yesterday and usually afterwards, when I’m not performing up to my expectations, I beat myself up royally about it and feel humiliated and didn’t do good enough. During the meditation, I reflected about it and I was more curious in thinking about my performance. I didn’t do it as well as I wanted but instead of beating myself up, I had my curious ears on to review it. And after 166 days of meditation, I got it. I just have to center my body, my content, my thoughts when I’m going to approach something.
What I got was the filling of my reservoir. I love that image. That’s what meditation does for me, it fills my reservoir.
You gave me a new thought. medical PTSD. I recognize that I have been coming out of work PTSD, having had experiences that humiliated and shamed me. I’m going to contemplate that. What do I have to learn from them? The other thing that came up strong for me was connections with people and my motivations. Are they clean and pure? Especially when I try to control the outcome. What I do says something about me. What you do says something about you. I don’t have control how you choose to take it. I’m sure I’ve learned this before. But today, it has a new meaning. So my part is to figure out what I do says something about me, and what is it saying about me. And is my attention there for what I am really doing.
I think being aware of PTSD, for me, it helps me step back and have compassion for how I act, and step back instead of getting the hammer out and saying, “you should, you should.” Because it is intense. There is an extreme intensity. We deserve to recognize that.
I want to pray for the people and animals involved in the hurricane. What you said rang true for me. I’ve had a son who’s been suffering for many years, in a lot of pain. Every part of his body is affected. I tell myself, if I could have known more about that or taken him somewhere else. The medical PTSD is certainly there, with many doctor’s not believing me, saying we have psychiatric problems. I’m doing the best I can. I’ve kept trying, I’ll never gave up. It helps to hear everyone’s voices and to know that everyone is so caring.
During the meditation, I imagined the hurricane hitting the coast and a huge hand coming down and holding the states and blocking the impact so it is lessened. It was a nice image. I hold all being affected by the hurricane in prayer. I’m glad you are here, the silence ripples out in your space to create more support.