This morning was my third visit to my shrink.  What a cool person she is.  She’s very to-the-point, very professional.  As I talk, she looks at me and scribbles into her notepad.  It’s quite disconcerting, watching her watch me.  All the time her hand scrawls madly across the page, back and forth, as though it’s pet of some sort, lying on her lap and coloring in its coloring book while it waits for us to be done with our session.  I’ll say something and watch from the corner of my eye to see if she increases or decreases her scribble rate.  It’s unpredictable when she will find something of interest.  I’ll say something that I think is rather racy and will notice that she doesn’t write a thing.  And then I’ll say something rather innocuous and the beast will begin its coloring again.

Today we mainly talked about my itching, and whether life truly does exist after itching.  That question has been at the forefront of my thoughts lately.  Having slept on a sleeping bag and camping pad for the past few nights, I think I’m coming to the conclusion that the problem has not been bed bugs after all.  My mother claims to have had bed bugs when she was a little girl, living out in the boonies on the big island of Hawaii, no doubt in some shack with 10 other children and not much for parents.  I definitely don’t live in the boonies, and Mom says that bed bugs are visible creatures, not invisible.  So my current strategy is to stay in the sleeping bag even though I no longer believe it’s bed bugs, and cut out the 15 various vitamin and herbal things I take every day.  Maybe I’m allergic to something I’m ingesting.

It’s been quite an experience, watching the bumps appearing on my body, waking up in the middle of the night “GAAAK!!!  I’m scratching, DON’T SCRATCH!!”, and jerking my hand away from whatever insidious evil bump it’s been absent-mindedly scratching at while I’m dreaming away.

So….  my blog is consumed with my itching talk as well as my shrink sessions.

But back to my shrink.  The last time I talked with her, I mentioned how I start screaming at John when I get into these irrational fits of anger and how I make up a bunch of things to accuse him of just to make him feel belittled.  She said “well, just something to think about…  sometimes people do things like that because they know deep down that they’re wrong, but they NEED to win the argument, so they pull out non-issues or unrelated issues for the sole purpose of adding fuel to their side of the argument to guarantee that they will win. I’m not saying that you do that, I’m just saying, it’s something to think about.”

I went home and thought about it.  She was so right on the mark on that one.  That’s a revelation to me.  Maybe it’s not to everyone else in the world.  I’d never been able to figure out that one.  Why I pull out all manner of untrue accusations and resentments and throw them at John has been a behavior of mine that I’ve never really understood.   Like my shrink words it, it’s a “call to arms”.  The battle inside me has begun.  I’m mad, goddamned mad, fuckin’ pissed off to the max.  About what?  Well, usually about… well, stupid shit.  Like when I told John I wanted to have the weekend to work on my writing homework, and we ended up having an unavoidable social engagement.  I lost my precious writing time and I lost control over something that I had reserved for myself and planned on having for myself.  I was so inexplicably furious, that I was on the brink of exploding before I decided to come into my office and do my tai chi — which turned out to be amazingly successful at dissipating my anger.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t explain why my first and natural inclination was to stand in front of John and just let loose with the screaming about everything under the sun.

A couple of weekends ago something happened that put me in the exact same position.  I lost control over something where I discovered plans were getting made around me, without my knowledge.  I felt left out, pissed off, generally ready for a tantrum.  I told myself “ok, just focus on the thing that you’re pissed off about, don’t start bringing the entire universe into the picture.  If you want to be pissed off and furious, fine.  Just keep remembering to keep the subject of your anger confined to just this situation.”  I couldn’t believe how the very act of keeping my mind focused on just the thing I was angry about and not letting it go all over creation kept my anger under control.  I could have made the entire day really a nasty, unpleasant, hurtful, stressful one for both me and John.  But in the end, it turned out to be a stressful day for other reasons — reasons I’m happy to report that had nothing whatsoever to do with me.  I can look back on the whole experience and laugh at the ridiculousness of how I started off feeling like I was being left out, and it turns out a bunch of people were out of the loop that day.

Life is just one amazing perspective revelation after another.  We all think things revolve around us.  People are scheming just to piss us off.  We’re intentionally being left out of the loop.    I need to remember that probably 100% of the time that’s just not the case at all.

Bed Bugs!

April 11, 2008

Itchy, itchy, itchy, itchy, itchy…..  if you were to ask me how I was today, I’d say “itchy”.  If you were to have asked me that a week ago, I’d have said “itchy”!  How can something so relatively minor as a constant, nagging itchiness so consume a life?

So…  I have this all-over itching.  Itchy mosquito-bite-like bumps all over my body.  I’ve begun to have a spiritual relationship with my itchy bumps.  One day I swore I would not take my sleeping pill any more, thinking that maybe that was causing the itching.  The week after a course of mind-bending prescription cortisone cream and prednisone, I swore off doctors.  What was life like before itching?  I can’t remember.  What will life be like after itching?  Will I blossom into a spectacular, incredible writer?  Will my right brain pop out of my head crying, “I’m free!!!”?

Last night at midnight I crawled into bed.  John was just dozing off.  I turned over onto my right side, like I always do, tucked my right hand under my pillow, and hugged my body pillow, right leg underneath, and left leg and left arm on top.   “Wha……??  Goddammit, that’s it!”  I jumped out of bed.

John opened his eyes, orange earplugs sticking out of his ears, and blinked at me.

“Look!  get up, look!” I screamed going around to his side of the bed and turning on his light.  I pointed to every single itchy bump on my body, turning around and making sure he caught sight of everything, top to bottom.  “Look at my bumps!  Look at the pattern!  The right side of my body has about 10 times more bumps than the left side.  See that?  Those over there on my arm?  my back?  That’s the side that I sleep on.  We must have some sort of bugs on the bed biting me.”

John grunted his acknowledgement with polite interest and mumbled “we should fumigate”.  He turned over and went back to sleep, apparently confident that this revelation had nothing to do with him and his side of the bed.

I’m sitting here with my Dunkin Donuts coffee and donut hole.  What a treat, to take the day off and be sitting here with too-sweet, too-creamy, yummy coffee, a donut hole, and a beautiful vase of tulips!  The world is at my feet Shazaaaaa!!!!

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the concept of “healing”, and what it’s all about.  I’ve been browsing through a book I have called The 12 Stages of Healing by Donald Epstein, founder of the Network Chiropractic principles that my chiropractor uses.

Today I had my 2-month chiropractic progress report, and she found that my head, which was 2 1/4″ out of alignment with my spine, had moved back to 1″.  All of the other parameters in my neck, shoulders, and spine, were improved by various degress.

I’m fairly certain these improvements are not because of just the chiropractic work.  I think everything that I’ve been doing with the tai chi, qigong, Alexander, meditation, writing, etc. have all contributed.  I can sense the changes happening to me are deep, and that’s why I’ve been thinking and wondering about this concept of “healing”.

When I look back on my past, I can see that over the course of my life, I’ve been broken and then “healed” so many times: spiritually, physically, mentally.  It’s been a sort of cycle that I’ve gone through time and time again.  Something breaks, I go find something/someone to help, I finally find some sort of miracle “cure” or spiritual leader, become overly-elated and religions about the person/thing/concept, drift away for some reason, and the cycle starts again.

I were to diagram life, is that what it would look like:  a series of peaks and valleys where, perhaps some peaks are larger than others and some valleys lower than others, and then, hopefully as we get older, the average peak increases and the average valley decreases, and then at some point in life, we end up with a fairly steady series of gradually undulating peaks and valleys around some steady state that’s relatively high?

If you could diagram life like that, then what sorts of things would trigger that gradual rise to some relatively steady state?  Wealth and power?  Peace?  A sense of purpose and fulfillment? Love?  Being loved?  Giving love?

What sorts of things would cause that picture to not happen?  Stress maybe?  Death definitely.  Disease and illness, probably.

Just Doing It

April 2, 2008

I have to write about a friend in my tai chi class.  She and her husband are in the software industry — high stressed, intensely left-brained jobs.  She’s been telling me about how, since she began her journey to tap into her creativity, she’s been writing poetry and songs.  A couple of weeks ago she brought a notebook of her songs and poetry to class, and I was floored with the beauty in what I read.  She told me that she and her husband began the journey into finding their creativity a year ago, and now they go to open mics and perform the songs and music that they compose.

Last night her husband brought his guitar and they performed a song that they co-wrote over the weekend.  It was a wonderful, thoughtful piece.  As I listened to them I thought to myself “they must have had music in their background”.

After their performance, I asked them what sort of music experience they had had.

“None, really.  I was in the chorus in high school.  She played at little piano…  neither of us has done anything since high school.”

“How could that be?” I asked.  “How do you know what notes to write down when you’re composing your songs?”

They each showed me their sheets.  On his sheet, above the words, were just the chord letters:  “C, G, F, A, etc.”  On her sheet were numbers:  “1 2 3 2 5 4 3 2 1…”  The increasing numbers said to go up the scale, and the decreasing numbers said to go down.  That’s all they had for the music.

I have, on one of the index cards taped to the wall in my office, the words “Just Do It”.  Maybe that’s all creativity is….  just doing it.  Not agonizing about how to get the words onto the paper, not fretting about doing it the “right way”.  Those two people inspire me, because this is exactly where I would like my journey to end up.  I want to open my brain so that my creativity breaks rules and conventions and finds a way to “just do it”.

Wait a Day

April 2, 2008

They say if you don’t like the weather in New England wait a day.  Same goes for life, actually.  We humans have a strange sensation of time.  I remember as a child going through a learning process where, if something was going to happen next year, it was insignificant;  because next year was so far into the future, it may never come.  Or I’d be dead.  Or someone else would be dead.  Or the world would have come to an end.  Anything could happen in a year.   Time was like a fuzzy concept that I couldn’t really grasp.

I’m thinking about time today, because just a week ago I was wondering how I was going to make it through the next day.  Stopping the course of prednisone I was on for my hives so consumed me with some sort of physical withdrawal depression and dizziness.  I even, momentarily, entertained the thought of suicide, and then decided to try to sleep on it first.

This past Monday I broke down and called my dermatologist and explained about the hives coming back.  He told me to add Zyrtec to the Alavert that I’m already taking.  I did a google on Zyrtec, and read a lot of reviews about it causing nasty symptoms like depression, that last thing that I want to have to tackle right now.  Still, I decided to try it.  First day, I felt paranoid and depressed (no doubt because I expected to).  I wondered if I’d have to live the rest of my life feeling depressed and sleepy.   Second day I felt a bit better.

Today is the third day on Zyrtec, and I don’t feel quite so bad.  And the itchiness is beginning to feel tolerable.  There’s one spot that might actually be disappearing (Yes, when you have hives, every single spot becomes a project whose status is monitored on a minute by minute basis throughout the day.  If only work projects would get this sort of attention).  I feel that I have a life today.

God, I’m so glad I didn’t kill myself last Wednesday when I thought about it.  All I had to do was wait a day :).