love poem to the monsters under my bed

I am trying to wrap my mind around an aspect of Adverse Childhood Experience Scores. Ace scores.

Raised in war or chaos or an addiction household or a crazy household, kids do their best to survive and thrive. I acknowledge that first. “You survived your terrible and terrifying childhood. You are amazing. You have crisis wiring in your brain. You had to wire that way in order to survive.”

And what does that mean? High alert, high adrenaline, high cortisol, reactive. One veteran says that the military loved him being able to go from zero to 60 instantly.

“Yes, and how is that serving you now?” I ask. “Do you want to change it?”

“No.” he says.

“Why not?” I say.

“Because I know I can protect myself.”

He can protect himself, as I can too. But being on the alert for a crisis, being good in a crisis, being able to fire up like a volcano, is that what I want and is that what he wants? If not, how do we change it?

I think of it as being able to see monsters. Other people’s monsters. My crisis childhood wiring is to pay attention to the non-verbal communication: what people do not what people say. The body language, the tone of voice, what the person is not saying in words, when someone is being polite but the body language is a shut down, a rejection, a dismissal, posturing, aggressive, they don’t like me no matter what the words are, belittling. But if I or my high ACE score patients respond to the body language and emotional feeling, we have named the monster. And the person is being “polite” and will not admit to the monstrous feelings. Those feelings are unconscious or at least the person does not want to admit if they are at all conscious.

In clinic I have learned to dance with the monstrous feelings. I don’t always succeed, but I keep leveling up. It’s a matter of delicacy, inviting the person to admit the monstrous. Some do, some don’t, some don’t the first time or second or third, but the fourth time the monsters are brought out. And they aren’t monstrous feelings after all. They are normal. All I do then is listen and say that the feeling sounds normal for what is happening. It’s like letting off a steam valve.

So how do I and my high ACE score folks learn to do this in social settings as well? When someone is talking to me with a monstrous feeling, meanly, I challenge it. Because I am not afraid of that monstrous feeling. But I have then broken a social contract and the person will like me even less then they already did. And maybe that monstrous feeling is not really about me at all. It’s about their own current life events and the feelings that they try not to feel, are ashamed of, are afraid of. It’s not polite of me to challenge that feeling in a social setting, I am not this person’s doctor or therapist and they didn’t ask me. It’s hard because I feel so sorry for the monstrous feeling and for the person feeling it. I am moving to compassion and love for that feeling rather than taking it as directed at me, taking it personally.

That is my intention. We will see how well it goes.

A natuopath told me to have the intention to release old grief. It’s not old grief though. It’s ongoing grief. Grief for all of the monstrous feelings that swirl around daily and the monsters that are not loved. Most people try to ignore them. I don’t. I love them, because someone has to and because they are so lonely and sad. They are crying. Don’t you hear them? That’s what love is, when you can love your own monstrous feelings and other people’s too.

And our own are the hardest.

ACE study: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/acestudy/index.html

I took the photograph in the Ape Caves, the lava tube at Mount St. Helen’s.

places in the world

I am thinking of the phrase “Places in the world a woman would walk.” I know it’s by Grace Paley. A short story? A line in a story?

Do you feel safe walking in your neighborhood? Or on a beach near you or in a forest? If you are male, do you thinks it’s safe for a woman to walk alone in your neighborhood? Do you feel differently about a male? And the same questions to woman.

And is there an age limit? Is it safe for me to walk the beach alone because my hair is mostly white? What about my son and daughter, both in their 20s?

Safety is relative. One of the unsafe things about our beaches is the warnings about an earthquake and tsunami. We have sand cliffs that will most certainly collapse. I walk the beach and eye the cliffs. There is some luck involved and I accept that.

new again

I get to start again

I have always seen the monsters under the bed
I have to
to survive

you don’t tell people about their monsters

I learn that early

they get angry hit punish send away
and anyhow they leave you even if they love you

when I am alone
we play
the monsters and I

they are so happy to be seen

they cry often
why doesn’t he love me?
why won’t she hold me?
why does he throw me out?
why?

I hold them
dry their tears
cuddle them
wrap them warmly

they cheer up
and play

they never forget
they alert
their person is near
they rush back

sometimes one rejected
returns with seven friends
hoping to storm the person

that doesn’t work

the monsters never lose hope
never

sometimes I see
a person see their monster
let it be conscious
the person is grown enough
to love

I am so used to the monsters
I work with them in clinic
visit after visit
the monsters weeping on my lap
while the person refuses refuses refuses
and sometimes a crack opens
like a portal light blinding
and the monster
is loved

that’s why I am here
what makes it worth staying
Beloved

now I think
I am new again
it’s hard to date
when the monsters are yanking at my skirt
crying howling distracting
and I am hopeful
but it is not my role
it’s not ok
it’s antisocial
to ask about the monsters

I am new again
I won’t date anyone with monsters
that I can see

they must love them first


mountain effect

Mount Tahoma, Mount Rainier, the mountain effect on the clouds. The sunrise last week revealed a cone shaped cloud above the mountain. The interaction between the earth and the sky is so beautiful…. and from this distance the mountain is small against the sky.

class

For the Daily Prompt: laughter.

A class on public speaking at the Rotary District 5020 meeting last Friday… a wonderful class!

Who knew that there are over 35,000 Rotary Clubs world wide with people working on ending polio, clean water, efficient and inexpensive stoves, projects locally and internationally? And having fun too….

Happy things

This is for the Blogging from A to Z theme reveal:

I choose my theme today: Happy things.

When we first moved to Port Townsend, my mother had recurrent of ovarian cancer. My husband was very unhappy and my son had to switch schools in January, leaving a teacher that he loved in Colorado and all his friends. I was working and finding learning all the new phone numbers, specialists, acronyms and patients difficult.

After a while, I instituted Happy Things. At bedtime I told my son that we each had to say three happy things.

“But mom,” said my son. “I am not happy.”

“Well,” I said, “They don’t have to be very happy.”

“What do you mean?” he said.

“Just a little happy. Like, only three patients cried today and not four. No one died today in my clinic. I didn’t forget my lunch like yesterday.”

He thought about it. “We didn’t have the awful pizza at lunch today.”

“Good job! What else?”

“I only got yelled at by the teacher twice.”

“Great! How about the other kids?”

“I only got hit on the playground once.”

“Good job. Yeah, stuff like that. A meteor didn’t hit the school and destroy everyone.”

“I’d get out of school then.”

“If you survived.”

So we did happy things every night and sometimes they were very dark and gradually they got better. I will do happy things from A to Z and some days they may only be a little happy….

The rat is for my son. He has pet rats. This rat is loose on Hawaii, which is not a happy thing for the native birds, but I think the rat may be happy. It came down the tree and was then holding very still, trying to convince us that we couldn’t see it. Be careful, rat, because we saw a mongoose there too.

For the Daily Prompt: toxic. Is the rat toxic? An immigrant? I would immigrate if I had to, so how can I scorn others who do?

It is a small picture, because I had my phone zoomed all the way in. Hello, rat. We see you.