Aunt Baby and Alvin Wesley

Aunt Baby and Alvin Wesley
Reasons I Smile...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

To Forget if for But a Moment

Allow Your Mind to Be Still and Rest

I remember telling my therapist that all I wanted was to be able to have one day when I did not think about the worst 46 hours of my life, in June, 1999.                                                                

For years, I handled myself fairly well, on the surface.  Those in my immediate circle knew how easily I startled at any noise sounding like a gunshot.  I shied away from violent movies and television shows, even the subject of violence disturbed me.  Both crowded scenes and tight, enclosed spaces were avoided as much as possible.

I had difficuly sleeping, experiencing frequent and intrusive nightmares.  During the day, I had an aversion to anyone who remotely looked or behaved like the perpetrator. Heaven forbid, if he had the same first name!  I even had difficulty driving past the expansive hospital where I worked, which, at the time was less than a mile from my home. 

Thankfully, these signs and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have, all but, subsided.  I sometimes notice, when thinking of another stressor, I tend to remember the incident. I remain grateful that it has always seemed manageable in comparison! 

I have been honored, to date, to have presented three Forgiveness talks to students, in a Theology elective .  I speak primarily about forgiving myself in my perceived role.

When I last spoke for the Instructor in February, 2011, I was asked when I was able to actually let go and forget for awhile?  It dawned on me, that Mom's death, a year ago today on May 7th, 2010, was the first time that I realigned my priorities into their rightful place. I was able to completely focus on my family and forget about the events that had stemmed from a madman.

My Mother's sudden death has clearly had the most profound impact of anything now in my life. So unexpected!  I now appreciate that death does not send a calling card. Ironically, I remember Mom telling me she would "not have gotten over it if I hadn't made it in 1999".  In some odd way, this has given me the strength, despite this loss, to keep going.

With Mom's death, I have finally and totally freed myself of the pain and self-imposed guilt from 1999. I know she left me words in her Journal that "my worst days were behind me and to be happy".

"Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does."  (Epictetus, Greece)   

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Worry Buckets

Worry or Curiosity?

There is nothing like a control freak being held hostage to put worrying in proper perspective.  Simply put, since 1999, I don't "fret much over much". 
At least, I try not to dwell on any one issue for too long.

I have always prided myself on being very organized. I think I always will be, whether about personal or professional matters. However, I used to become overly preoccupied with the importance of being orderly with this organization.

For 46 very long hours, I focused and stared at work that was yet to be done on my table, still in neat and ordered piles. At the end of the hostage seige, my desk and the table were overturned, with papers strewn everywhere. Who knows when and if those all - important matters were ever attended to? They certainly weren't by me. Yet, only hours before, they appeared to be matters of the utmost importance.

What a lesson! And what a way to have to learn it! But it is a lesson that I will never forget, and I sometimes take the time to remind some I care about. Life goes on. No one ever has an empty in box in the game of life.

And, today, almost 12 years later, I will honestly always fret about a little something.  It seems to be an inherent part of my hyper-vigilant nature.

But, now, I tend to view worrying as more of little red lights along the highway of life.  Worry has the ability to stop us in our tracks but should never last for very long. At least, I will not allow it to in my life.

This does not, however, translate to careless, hasty or insensitive behavior.  Sleeping on it is a prudent strategy that has saved me from many an ill-thought decision.

Weighing all options in a non-reactive manner is key. Asking several objective people for their opinion is also smart, not necessarily commiting to anything.

It is really healthy to recognize when you are on overload. You may have  way too much in your glass. And this latest worry is causing a great spill!  And it is YOU that needs to be mopped off the floor!

Of course, at these times, it is impossible to really listen to even the best of advice, even your own! You need to take some time to heal. Only you know how long you need and how often.

I have a dear friend who told me about her worry bucket.  When she has had enough, she puts all her cares in a mental worry bucket.  Only she has the power to decide when to worry and when the bucket needs to be emptied.

  • It might be after a walk with your dog.
  • It might be after a nice soak in the tub.
  • It might be after you have dirty hands from gardening or weeding.
  • Or you may decide you can put off the worying for awhile...
Some days we are barraged with the sadness of life, especially when those we love have so many awful things happening to them all around us. In no way, is this meant to minimize any of our inner angst.

Yet, in my darkest days, to focus on the simplest positive act, behavior or detail on this glorious Earth, including the inspirational people I have met along the way, greatly eases any worry over things I cannot control.

"Now I think my point is that I have learned to live with it all... with being old... whatever happens... all of it." (Edelgard)