That Old Shoe

How do we give ourselves permission to be joyful? I mean really joyful.

How do we duck from under the weight of conditioning wrought by generational trauma that gets in the way of us finding our own joy?

Well, the truth is we can’t duck it, we have to deal with it. We have to look it in the eye and ask, “What are you holding on to?,” and listen to the answer with an open heart and an open mind. To heal from what was we must recognize and acknowledge it. From my experience it’s emotional pain that causes mental strife … it’s the stuff that stands in our way of experiencing pure, unmitigated joy, and it does not leave on its own. It needs to be loved away.

I have come to this conclusion after 24 years walking the healing path; a journey that continues because even now, after all this time and with all the healing I have done, I still find myself bumping up against generational trauma that limits my ability to find my own joy in the moment.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

The notion is that nothing good is given without something good being taken away. Or, that when something good happens it will be quickly cancelled by something equally bad.

This is the big one. This is the one that sits quietly in the background of my psyche undermining my joy.

This is really old stuff. This is my two tyrannical grandfathers reigning terror on my tenderhearted grandmothers and their children.

I’ve done a good deal of family history so I have a fairly basic understanding of the hardships, prejudices and world events that shaped my family’s lives. Some of them coped better than others. My grandfathers not so much. I know now that their actions were the projection of their unresolved pain. The thing is that in those days no one talked about, never mind dealt with, their hurt. Everything was covered in a shroud of secrecy and bravado and allowed to fester and explode on the people around them. Not surprisingly, their families took the brunt. Sadly, this is still too much our society’s truth.

These days there’s no reason not to deal with our pain. Oh, there are plenty of excuses, most of them based in fear or shame, but the fact is the resources are out there to help everyone when they have the courage to step up and say, “Enough is enough!”.

I had to do it, or my life was going to implode.

Happily, one of the magical things I’ve learned while walking my healing path is that it’s not just my own pain I’m healing, it’s that of the ancestral collective that lives in me.

Many years ago, after a painful divorce, I made the decision to deal with my emotional baggage. I distinctly remember writing in my journal at the time that, “The buck stops here.” It wasn’t that there was a next generation I had to save. As fate would have it my family tree stops with me. It was more a strong feeling that I had to provide some relief for those who had come before me. We know from the field of epigenetics that trauma and beliefs can be encoded into our DNA. This means that we bear the emotional wounds of previous generations and these are perpetuated onto future generations unless we gather our courage and get the help we need to stop it. Think about  it … how many family ghosts are dwelling in your family’s attic and pull the strings of your life?

So, I made a pact with myself, and my ancestors, that I would do what I needed to heal my life and their pain. Interestingly, the more I have grown in self-awareness and been able to remedy my issues, the deeper has become, in a healthy way, my connection to my ancestors and their stories. I fell empathy for their experiences, not angst. This brings me joy because I feel I am no longer constrained by the debilitating patterns of self-denial wrought by generational terror and waiting for that damn shoe to drop. Most of the time.

Blossoming in our own truth

Every once in a while, when I feel the light of something wonderful in my life, I feel the threat of that old shoe. Years of therapy have put me in a better position to recognize when it’s there and to know that it has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with my experience. It is old. It is the shame, guilt, disappointments, bitterness, and all other negative emotions that dwell in the cauldron of fear that have stirred for generations. And when I sense its presence, it takes every ounce of courage I have to surrender the need to be controlled by this old family shame and throw the spectre of that old shoe out the proverbial door.

We are fortunate in these modern times to have access to good mental and emotional health care. Trauma no longer has to rule our lives if we only open ourselves to a chance for healing. Once we can free ourselves from the chains of family trauma, we are free to blossom into our truth and share its beauty with the people who share our lives.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

I Rescued Me: The Healing Journey

Lost in my world of loneliness

I had to face my truth.

To find my way through emotions

That were making me feel so blue.

 

Now in the middle of life’s long years

There’s only one place to turn;

Inside where there lingers deflating fears

I’ll find the peace I yearn.

 

Cos I ain’t gonna run no more

My truth is standing at my door

She waits for me to call her name

So we can be one and the same.

 

Found in the debris of a broken heart

My soul is finally free

From the pain that always tore me apart

I am free to be me.

 

I am found

I am free

To be myself

I rescued me.

 

~*~

 

For the past several years I’ve traveled the healing path under the expert guidance of  a therapist. During that time I have come to realize that of all the journeys we will take while on this planet the exploration of our inner emotional and, by extension, mental world is, perhaps, the most profound; the most empowering; the most exciting, and the most liberating journey of all.

Recognizing, examining, understanding and releasing negative default programs drummed into us when we were too young to protect ourselves, is freeing. Essentially, we rescue ourselves from the lies we were conned into believing about ourselves (i.e. we’re unworthy; ugly; dumb; unlovable; not good enough; untalented … the list goes on) , and in doing so raise our self-awareness to make room for the possibility of living in a way that more accurately reflects our truth.

Free Spirit

Part of the process involves being willing and able to relinquish debilitating personal relationships; removing ourselves from unhealthy emotional and physical environments, and slaying those inner egotistical monsters determined to keep us bound to the past which is their power. Working with a qualified objective third-party helps us to find the gentle strength we need to do this. He, or she, is the knowledgeable guide gently leading us to an informed understanding and awareness of how we are in the world and how the world is with us, and why. As well, they help us to heal and release what no longer works and bring into our experience the inner resources we need to gently traverse our mental and emotional terrain with compassion, forgiveness, love and awe. Yes, awe ~ for however far we have come and whatever price we have paid we have made it far enough to finally be able to see how beautiful, strong and enough we really are.

This post opens with the lyrics of a song I wrote recently to celebrate my own hike along the healing path. I’ve been on a multi-year, multi-faceted adventure, negotiating previously uncharted and frequently frightening personal territory searching for that elusive pot of gold … my truth. This treasure has been buried beneath issues of Complex-PTSD related to early childhood trauma that, to this day, still dogs me when it comes to having any confidence about putting myself out in the world.

Writing this blog post is a first bold step to sharing my story. I want to help blow away the stigma that working with a therapist is a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s the exact opposite ~ it’s an amazing demonstration of courage and strength. There are millions of compassionate, empathic well-trained souls in the world wanting to help people reach the other side of a life-time of pain to find their own peace.

We wonder why there is so much pain and suffering in the world when it can be so easily explained. It’s a projection of all the unresolved pain and suffering we carry around with us and dramatize “out there” because we haven’t resolved it “in here.” I only need to look at my own life and the healing progress I’ve made in the past several years, with help, to know this is truth. I entertain less drama because the drama I used to carry around with me no longer needs to be stoked to make me feel alive. I feel alive in the peace I have found while negotiating the healing path.

The choice is simple … if we choose not to take the necessary steps to heal our emotional and mental life we have opted to suffer. Suffering is then what we project into our world and what comes back to us until we choose to make it stop ~ either by seeking help or by opting for the unthinkable which, as we know, is a great public concern in our times.

One day I decided I just didn’t want to suffer anymore. I chose to take control of my destiny by seeking help. I rescued me, and if I can do it, so can you.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

(I’m presently documenting my healing journey in a book entitled, I Rescued Me: A Journey out of the Shadows of Complex-PTSD. It is my hope that by sharing my experience I can help others to find the courage to seek help with a qualified therapist, heal their lives and begin to thrive. Release date TBA.)

 

Punch the Monster

Be authentic;

know who you are.

Understand what’s

buried beneath those

mountainous feelings of

inadequacy,

fear,

suffering,

depression,

despair,

grief.

Be prepared

to walk deep into the

cave of your misgivings;

to poke the monster,

Vulnerability, and

hear its high-pitched

squeal that shuts you down

or sends you running.

Be prepared

to punch the monster

in the nose and say,

“No more!

No more will I be

ruled by the unseen

terror that lies

dormant within.

No more will I

allow it to undermine

my truth and sway

me toward the lies

that feed

its hungry belly.”

Be prepared

for the struggle that is

that step from the dark

pit of toxic unknowing

into the light of pure truth.

Be the David to your inner

Goliath; slay the monster

and rise victorious. It is

your right to be

authentic.

~*~

When we have no understanding of who we are, or what makes us tick, we cannot be authentic. It’s just not possible. All the fears, anxieties, and other negative feelings that keep us stalled in a debilitating life pattern are driven by what we don’t know about ourselves. It takes courage and shining a light of curiosity into the cave of our unknowing to unearth our truth, remove the obstacles that prevent us from living it and be authentic. It’s a heck of a journey and worth every moment.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Daily Prompt: Authentic

 

 

No Rush

Rush …

A fast word.

Adrenline-fed.

Exhausting.

~*~

I learned the hard way to change my life-long pattern of being “in a rush.” Years of adrenal fatigue the rude wake-up call.

Let me give you a tip ~

S-l-o-w d-o-w-n.

There really is no rush.

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

No Return

To churn

is to change,

our life

re-arrange.

Like butter

from cream,

to rise from

a dream.

A process

profound,

turns our lives

upside-down.

To change

is to churn ~

one-way ticket;

no return.

~*~

When we make desired changes in our lives or take steps to live a dream we often forget that for a time there will be some discomfort; some churning of our inner world as we move into a new level of consciousness. Every transition brings uncertainty as we process and let go of what has been and make room for what might be. And once we’ve made that shift in awareness there’s simply no going back.

Be well,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Daily Prompt: Churn

Forgiveness …

The pain is deep ~

You put it there.

Not that you knew it,

You were simply sailing

Your oblivious sea

And I, being an innocent,

Was caught in your toxic

Wake; my life line

The place in my Soul you

Could not reach.

*

I forgive you.

I forgive because

Drowning in the pain

Of you hurts only me,

I forgive because

The power is within me.

I forgive to be the peace

I want to see.

I forgive to be

Free.

~*~

Personal freedom begins with forgiveness.

May we all be the peace we wish to see in the world.

Be well,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2015

Freeze and Thaw

Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

~*~

As someone who’s spent her life surviving the slings and arrows of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the point of almost burning out my adrenal glands, I suppose I could speak volumes on this subject.

To the overwhelmed nervous system almost anything can trigger the heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness of the adrenal rush … and not in a good way.

My adrenalin responses have rarely been justified, but when you grow up  feeling constantly under threat of something you lose sight of what constitutes an appropriate adrenal response. Not that you’re even in control of it. It just is, stimulated by whatever trigger pokes its way into a painful point of subconscious memory.

A life time of living in chronic survival mode is hard on the adrenal glands. (As is a life spent chugging down energy drinks, but that’s a discussion for another day.) They do burn out, and chronic anxiety is one of the results. Until I became aware of what was happening beneath the surface of my anxiety there was no way I could change it.

This awareness was finally raised during a trip to Sarajevo in March 2009, when the war-wounded city reflected the incredibly deep wounds of my own emotional trauma. Anxiety attacks in benign circumstances triggered three flight and freeze reactions during our one-week stay, reactions over which I had no control. Since we were travelling with a group of virtual strangers there was the added stress of shame attached to it.

Yes, you need to know that freezing is also a response to trauma.

In simple, primitive terms, this is when prey under pursuit will drop to the ground and play dead so the predator will lose interest and leave them alone.

My freeze ~ the clamp of anxiety. The desperate need to getaway without knowing where is safe to go. Stuck. Immovable. Traumatized. Invisible. On a continuous playback loop.

Since Sarajevo it’s taken years of therapy to get my frozen emotional core to finally thaw. The experience is a bit like the sensation of regaining feeling in your hands and feet after a bout of frost bite. Years of frozen feelings melt into a stinging liquid form. The pain all too present … but it must be felt to be acknowledged and, ultimately, released.

I’m reminded of the time I attended an NFL game in Buffalo with my ex-husband and his family, maybe 20 years ago. It was December, 15 below and snowing, and I was not dressed properly for the occasion. By the fourth quarter I was in the first aid room with thermal blankets wrapped around frozen feet (and a husband angered by the fact he’d had to miss that last quarter).

The agony of the thaw was indescribable. There were a few moments there where I felt like I’d rather die than endure the grief of feeling my limbs come back to life. However, once the worst of it had passed, and I could feel my feet and hands again, the pain of the experience became nothing more than a passing memory. I can recall the incident now as the source for a funny story or, for that matter, a teaching moment.

Feelings that come up while thawing are painful, but they must be felt in order for us to be completely free of them.

The first step, however, is awareness.

I learned ~ through psychotherapy, naturopathy, hormone therapy, equine therapy and other important sources ~ that the freeze response, which had become my go-to place when overwhelmed by circumstances beyond my control (rooted in early childhood trauma), had created a debilitating life pattern affecting mind, body and spirit.

I learned that what we harbour in the way of resentment, fear, jealousy and the like becomes our master and we its slave, and that this plays out in our lives in unhappy and insidious ways. Panic/anxiety attacks, addiction, lashing out or anything else that numbs the mind, body and spirit are all manifestations of the freeze response triggered by overwhelming events.

As horrible as those anxiety-ridden moments in Sarajevo were for me, they taught me it was time to be honest with myself and seek help. The kind of help that would allow the thaw, the healing, to begin and bring to life again the parts of me that had been playing dead.

Freezing was how I’d made myself invisible. If I was invisible, no one could see me; no one would abandon, reject, abuse or hurt me ever again. In the process I had become stuck in the pattern of abandoning, rejecting, abusing and hurting myself. It had to stop.

It’s been almost six years since my rigorous, sometimes hellish and incredibly cleansing journey began. A veritable trip through the refiner’s fire. Still, if I had to choose between who I am now and who I was before the thaw began, there’s no doubt what I’d do. Even knowing how tough it’s been I’d go through it all again to unearth my truth and free myself of the pain that had frozen me in chaos.

My heart and mind are open; my adrenal glands are functioning more optimally and thus my nervous system is becoming more robust. I’m finally able to live my life more on my terms. I’ve learned to live in the moment; to leave the past behind and to allow the future to be what it will be.

Finally, I feel free to be me.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

Useful resources:
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The acclaimed guide to stress, stress-related diseases and coping ~ Robert M. Sapolsky
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma ~ Peter A. Levine
Riding Between The Worlds: Expanding our Potential Through the Way of the Horse ~ Linda Kohanov
In An Unspoken Voice: How the body releases trauma and restores goodness ~ Peter A. Levine
Mindsight: The new science of personal transformation ~ Dr. Dan Siegel
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome ~ James L. Wilson

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015