Category Archives: healing

Books & Reading: Legacy & Healing

My parents met because of books. Mom was a bookseller, Dad a book collector.

Books saved my life. For decades, I read compulsively first thing in the morning and last thing at night. They were my only constant: no matter how bad or good the day was, the words on the page remained the same.

The abused, wounded little girl I was to the young woman I became, desperately needed a constant. God had been blocked from me, and any belief system or group of people, as part of the abuse.

Then I met this quiet 6’1 man who decided he was going to take the person he said was, “the most cynical person I’ve ever known,” and be the rock she needed. It worked, but it took years.

During those years, I still read compulsively. I opened the shop, in part to thank the literary world for saving my sanity/life. Then, at 45, I was diagnosed with PTSD, and the therapist, DH and I slowly but steadily unpicked the knot of my abuse and traumas.

My therapist said that when people get PTSD, the first thing which eases the pain becomes the addiction. In my case, I was 3 and it was books and reading.

stack-of-books

(Not sure where I got the image, I’ve used it before, sorry!)

More years, more books, more healing. The store closed in 2005. Sometime afterwards, about the time I started knitting (2015), I stopped reading compulsively first and last thing every day.

I’d gotten to where I almost resented books. I had too many, they cluttered up my life and were a continual reminder of how wounded I’d been.

I count people who write, illustrate, publish and edit as some of my dearest friends. There are 6 books with my name on the cover, and two more scheduled to come out late this year or early next.

One of the future books is the memoir and that’s the period, for me, on the end of the abuse/PTSD sentence. If one person, just one, doesn’t commit suicide or tries again, just once, the ten years it took me to write the memoir will be worthwhile.

Behind that 10 years are hundreds of hours of therapy, both effective and not. Also behind it are thousands of hours of reading: recharging my batteries, giving me hope, giving me respite, and telling me to try again and again.

Recently, I plucked a copy of Helene Hanff’s Q’s Legacy from a box. I was completely prepared to get rid of it, and will, but I hadn’t read it. I’ve read everything else she wrote, except her text books, and I skimmed those! So I picked it up and started.

In the course of reading about how she became the person associated with the Marks & Co. bookshop and all that happened to her because of that association, I found a new way to adjust for my past. Having books and reading is fine. It’s no longer my refuge, safety and salvation, it’s a pleasant way to spend some time.

I still have way too many books — but somehow, it’s hard to resent it.

 

 

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I Have Been

Working hard — on the house. I’ve been following my cleaning plan.

It seems to me that a major shift is in order. Instead of trying to sell the memoir as a psych. program auxiliary piece, maybe what I need to do is sell the cleaning plan and make the memoir the back piece to that.

It would solve the problem of the memoir just not having a plot, being first-person, too short, and a mess of other issues. Of course, I still haven’t heard from my publisher, but my feeling is that I will not. Not now and not in the future. It will be as if it dropped into a black hole and vanished… poof!

This has completely stopped the work I was doing on the memoir. I had even talked to a friend about coding it for an ebook. Okay, fine.

I can’t sell the cleaning plan if I can’t use it, right? I can’t set myself up as an expert on anything unless I can actually DO whatever. (Well, that’s not true. These days the woods are full of blow-hard know-it-alls who make pronouncements about any and everything. EVERYONE is an expert, about anything they feel strongly about!)

But I was raised by someone who genuinely was an expert in his field. My brother is. My husband is too. I have been surrounded my entire life by men who are really good at their jobs, and became “experts.”

So I have standards about about what it takes to BE an expert:

  • You must know what you’re talking about.
  • You must be able to do something rather than just talk about the subject.
  • You must have some sort of track record, that is a history, of successfully being able to do whatever it is.

My dad taught aeronautics  and designed airplanes for 40 years, my brother has worked in his field for the same amount of time and he’s still teaching and writing about it, my husband has been in his field since the field started, about 30 years now.

Me? The only thing I’m expert in is the inner workings of my head. The memoir is 50 years of life & learning and took me 10 years to write. The cleaning plan started in one way when I started this blog in 11/2011. I’ve been whacking away at the problems since.

I couldn’t do the memoir until I did the trauma work.

I could write, but not use, the cleaning plan until I did the memoir.

So, we’ll see if the next step is what I want/hope it to be? That is, using the cleaning plan, make it  a habit, and a book and/or app is the next step. (Habits take 90 days to be established.)

I sure hope so! I don’t know that I have the patience to spend 10 more years on this project.

So, I’ve shifted gears. I was all set to publish the memoir, whack away at the cleaning plan, then when I finally got it to work, get it ready for publication.

Nope.

Doing it the other way around. Going to get the cleaning plan working,  finish up the writing related to it, get DH or someone to make the app I have in mind, then publish the CLEANING PLAN, with the MEMOIR as back material.

Then the lack of “plot” or “arc” or sex, drugs, rock n’ roll won’t matter. I’m not selling the memoir; it’s explanatory material, I’m selling the cleaning plan. Want to know why I set the cleaning plan up the way I have? Read the memoir and you’ll find out.

street signs

Image is not mine, not sure where I got it. Sorry!

This Week & the Neat Muscle

This week is going to be centered around the upcoming flea market. (If you’re local and want info, let me know!)

Afterwards, I hope to have a hole here AND a hole in the storage. As with April’s flea market, I’ll set aside a wadge of the unsold items to donate, hopefully to the thrift shop down the street. If we can’t donate it there, I’ll put it in storage to donate it elsewhere or take it to the dump’s swap shop.

A major purge: a box of books and 10 bins worth of leaves, that’s 260 gallons were taken to the dump! There remains 2 small leaf piles I missed on the lawn and a larger pile next to the compost heap, I just had to get them off the grass!

Today’s work:

  • The bean trellis needs to be anchored further and the beans planted. That’s the next step in the veggie garden. Of course, more leaf raking.
  • The dryer is acting up, so clearing the porch under where the clothes line is getting put up for the summer is another. Moving the dryer away from the wall and see if the drain is plugged? DH did this. The dryer is back in place, hopefully usuable — I had a large load of rags, kitchen towels, etc. to wash and did so!
  • The living room also needs to be cleaned, amongst other things, our chimney will be swept Weds.

Other projects:

Dining Room & Rug:  The rug effort made great progress yesterday. I got the 3 rugs stitched together and started on the first border. I need to do 2 sets of border stitches. Then I need to clean up the stitching, knot and tie off the ends. THEN I’m done! Still several hours away, but definite progress!

The rug effort required the dining area be cleared out a bit, which it was. Still more to do there as well, quite a bit, with the furniture move I have in mind, but it will happen, eventually! We are loaning our old table to a gallery, that will help, but the table top detaches from the legs, so that’s only 2 pieces in what is an overcrowded room. Still, every bit helps!

Electronic Purge: Re the electronic purge? I have about 2800 emails in my email’s trash folder. They are purged automagically when they’re there for 30 days. That leaves approx. 25,300 in my in box.

We went to the dump THREE times yesterday, so aside from the 10 bins of leaves, there are definitely fewer items here!


Much of this process, which now has gone on for years, has seemed futile. I keep relearning what I’ve happened on every once in a while. That is, that the people with neat houses make it a priority. To them, the mess is simply unacceptable. For me, for years it was inevitable and another sign of how “flawed” I was.

kristian-seedorff-149178-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Kristian Seedorff on Unsplash

I’m not flawed, I just need to learn to think in new ways. The bins being used in the leaf effort is an example.

The bins were bought to hold twigs and other kindling. Fine. Most of them were empty on the porch this spring, making a bit of a mess, but not much, they stack. However, I’d run out of trashcans, used most of my reusable leaf bags, and still had many piles of leaves in the yard. A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that a summer use for the kindling bins could be holding leaves before hauling them to the dump’s leaf pile! And the yard became instantly more attractive as the full bins were stacked in front of where the cars park and the leaf piles disappeared.

I just don’t have the “neat muscle” yet.  But I’m working on it!

 

 

For my overwhelmed friends. . .

and to remind myself: just because you don’t have a job or regular schedule doesn’t mean you’re not BUSY or REMARKABLE.

I reread this every now and then. I recommend it!

Busy or Remarkable but not Both!

J

Going Back and Not

This past week found me working on pieces I haven’t worked on in a year or so: my might be a novel and the buying used stuff website.

Both are things that I hope to sell someday, so I guess I’m feeling like I need to make some $. Both are pieces I have a lot of time and energy into (the website data is 45 pages, for example).

Both got stalled last year. Okay, both are on my queue again, now.

Other things which have been dropped recently:

  • Food plan & food waste tracking – not so much dropped as forestalled. The farm food glut starts the end of this month . . . .
  • The cleaning plan – also not dropped as set aside because of the cold.
  • The absolutely final house purge. Also not dropped, but before the flea market last month I had gotten to all the pieces which were easily accessible here. So a major movement of boxes o’ stuff needs to happen. I have cleared off a bookcase in my office, almost entirely. But the other counters, etc. are heaped high with uncategorized stuff. There’s a crafters “maker space” (a commercial one) in the nearby college town. My idea is to take some of the materials there and USE them or donate or SELL them? We’ll see.

So, things haven’t stopped entirely, but yes, they slowed down a lot. The first major goal was met, that is we did the flea market in April. We donated a lot of the unsold merchandise to a thrift shop on our way out of town. There was a hole in the storage unit. There still is, although I’ve taken 1 load of new flea market gleans to the storage (and I have the beginnings of another).

x

The next flea market is the beginning of next month.

Hopefully, I will NOT stay sick the entire month, like I have the past month, so this will be much easier!

I have dropped the following:

Early planting of the vegetable garden. Some of it should have been planted last month. Some of it should be seeded RIGHT NOW. I’m not because I feel wretched. Too bad!

What has been planned for this month is to scheudule the chimney sweep coming and  also replacing the chimney’s cap. That will do us for another year for that.

Backslid

I had a fire in my belly. It’s gone, or dampened anyway.

A bad night coupled with speaking out loud where I was ? 

 I described that being able to write the memoir as well as I had changed things:

I had done it, survived, figured out what I did well and royally screwed up. I’d written it down for others to judge. I’d written my defense, vindication, apology, and the narrative of my healing (and not). It is time to move on.

The house cleaning has to be done before I can move on. I can’t do whatever else it is that I do, even if it’s just try to make pie crust or can veggies, or anything else. The excess stuff is in the way, and it’s a symptom that isn’t real any more. In many ways, I have no idea how to be whoever it is that lives without the camoflauge or need for it. I have no idea who this person is, but apparently I need room and less clutter to find out.

And DH who enabled 4 decades of growth and change? He needs and deserves a cleaner house. It’s not much of a thank you, but it’s something concrete and now I can do it, where I couldn’t before.


Well, there you go, stopped me cold.

The PTSD person is a total wimp. Anything which looks like it will make me more visible or actually is movement towards healing? — it’s suspect! (hissed)

Makes me really *MAD*. It’s damned near impossible to get anything finished. It’s hard to get anything even 1/2 way done without slamming into that wall.

I do what I just did. Have a bad night. Think Okay, that was terrible.

Then have an okay night. Think, Fine, we go on.

And somehow, for some reason, or many reasons, or I just forget or I have sudden onset ADD… time goes by and the project(s) are dropped and I’m doing other things.

More time goes on, and then one day I realize that the chart I had filled out religiously for 2 months hasn’t been touched for 30 days, and so on. It’s like I enter a cloud of “forgetfulness fog” and become an amoeba. Makes me nutty when I realize I’ve done this, again.

And I just did.

Believe me, I KNOW why vets with PTSD drink. Yes, what they went through was horrific and certainly should not to be diminished. But dealing with the demon which is PTSD is just not fun.

paper piles
The image isn’t mine, I’ve used it here before. But it is a great symbol for being overwhelmed, disorganized, and with a huge amount of work ahead before things are cleared out!
J

Amazing

Years ago when I was writing regular articles about retail stores, I would be writing about a certain kind of shop on a given road or in a certain area. I’d walk into a shop and say, “Tell me why you’re different. Tell me what’s different in your shop from the shop down the road?” And almost always, the owners or managers would tell me exactly the same thing. (To the point that I would tell them NOT to say exactly that after I’d been doing it a while.) I never knew how to clearly state why it mattered  that they distinguish themselves from other stores in the area selling similar merchandise.

Today? Today I was looking for commercial cleaning proposal templates I could print. I wanted to: 1) Perhaps generate commentary or something to talk about here. 2) See what commercial cleaners do differently than the housework books I have. 3) Try to locate the number I found once about how much more a certain commercial cleaner charged for each piece of furniture in a room,  I wanted to look at the house and see what it would cost. . . .

While researching, I found a discussion about why a business has to know why they’re different. A discussion by Simon Sinek, it’s an 18 minute video, but it starts with WHY, when most businesses talk about WHAT or HOW. Even the short version, in the write up here, makes the point. (The video is available from the link too, I can’t get the share to work here, sorry!)

I wish I’d known about Sinek before, would have saved me a lot of trying to get people to see that it didn’t matter how long they’d been there, how much merchandise they had, how diverse it was, etc. NONE of that is the real selling point, esp. if your competition says exactly the same thing!

I stopped being able to sell books easily when I lost the fire in my belly about books. I lost that because they were no longer the only place I didn’t hurt, they were pleasant diversions, but not necessary for sanity. I lost my passion, the why I loved books so much, and my ability to sell them easily, simultaneously.

In the same way, I lost my entertainment “muscle.” I used to be a superior hostess and was known for it. But I was continually on stage — felt like I was a performing seal. When I stopped being hypervigilant and immersed in the life PTSD had left me, I stopped the dog-and-pony show. Somehow I just can’t get it in my brain again that I need to be able to be entertaining: tell stories or do schtick occasionally.

There are people who put up with my low energy, non-performing self. And I’m not exhausted all the time, which is wonderful! Somehow, I just can’t summon the care to go back. I lost my WHY there too. I thought I had to be a performing seal or I had nothing to offer. Again, it was necessary for my survival.

I regret these changes every now and then, but not often. It’s weird not being able to do things you had done easily, but I just don’t have the goad, the terror shoving me over and over any more. I sure don’t regret that.


Weird blog, ‘eh? Cleaning proposals to business acumen to PTSD to what’s lost with healing. Not an arc I would have thought would work at all. I guess you, the reader, get to decide if it works or not?

j