What I Learned About Healing from The Dog Whisperer

 Last year, when I was living in the warmer state with my brother, I watched The Dog Whisperer a lot. In one of his tv episodes he taught me how to relax my shoulders, be calm and in control. With my health issues, my body is always so tight.

I saw an episode where he was teaching a woman how to relax, be calm, and in charge and how to have that energy in your body, when dealing with a dog. It says, I am the pack leader. She had an anxiety disorder and was getting a companion dog, so that she could go out in public more. She said after what Cesare has taught me, I probably won’t even need a companion dog.

It helped me to remember to relax. Before I left my bedroom, I would just repeat the things that Cesare said on the show, thinking of him and his calm voice. Remember to relax, let your shoulders loosen up, let them lower, be calm, be in charge.

It was during that time period, a year ago, when I was living with my brother and having so many problems with him. My brother would sometimes get mad at me for nothing, sometimes because of the way I was walking or holding myself. I would tell him I have health issues, I am disabled, this is the only way that I can walk or stand.

He would find fault with me or find any topic to argue over, even on the news or fox. Even while I was in the kitchen for five minutes to get some ice water or heat up some food in the microwave. I had no peace in the house when he was there.

He would purposely try to start a fight over things like abortion, fox, or the President. He loved to fight. He had almost the opposite views than I have. He always thought I was someone to fight with, to win against, he enjoys that a lot. Like all the people in my family, they have all their own invented rules about arguments and what constitutes a win.

I’ve never understood why someone would want to mistreat others this way. I don’t think that I ever will. I’ve never treated someone like this. I can’t imagine abusing and exploiting a disabled person.

Learning how to hold my body and to relax and to have a calm and in control energy in my body helped me so much. It helped me to realize I don’t have to argue with him to win, I can walk away and win as well. I don’t have to be in his pack. I don’t have to stay in a room when someone is being verbally and emotionally abusive. I don’t have to settle for scraps from a bully.

My brother stopped yelling at me as much. Before I moved back to Minnesota, he told me you’re no fun to fight with anymore. Wonderful.

He thought he was the pack leader of the house. He tried to kick me out of the house, twice, once after I had only been there four days. He had told me soon after I moved out there to live, I rent the house, you rent the bedroom, that’s all.

I wasn’t going to fight over who was the pack leader, he was a rabid dog, he was unsafe. I just refused to be a member of his pack. I became the pack leader of my own pack. Thank you Cesare.

I am the pack leader.

We Are All Walking Miracles

I wanted to post about this wonderful concept. This morning I was dropping by some of my closest healing friends’ blogs. The second blog I dropped into was Butterfly’s blog Reasons You Shouldn’t Fuck Kids. Her most recent post is titled We Are All Walking Miracles.

First I want to say how much Buttefly inspires me, helps me along in my healing and in my life, a lot. In her blog she shows what kind of person and survivor she is. She is dealing with the aftermath of child sexual abuse every day, every moment. Her depth of humantiy, her life, her truth, her courage, it all shines through so strongly, so powerfully. Her ability to face and write and share about all that is involved in being a survivor, in living her life, in loving and caring for herself and her family, it is amazing, it is wonderful, it is a miralce. She is a miracle.

And today she made me believe I was a miracle too. I want to make a t-shirt and wear it around town. I am a walking miracle. So are you.

What Else?

Towards the end of this month I’m coming up upon my first year anniversary on my blog. I started my blog to reach out to others and hopefullly have more to say to more survivors. I hoped that I would find others to connect with, but I was not that optimistic that would happen. But it did and that is such a gift. Such a lovely gift.

I decided that it would be another venue to talk, but with a different type of voice, a more bossy one. I am usually very gentle, very sweet, very kind. I wanted to be able to be bossier, not necessarily to a specific person about specific incidents, because I don’t think that is appropriate.

For me, each survivor does best and heals the most when they are in charge of their own life and their own healing, and taking charge of someone else does not lead to healing, nor is it desired by others or in my own life. I want acceptance, validation, compassion, empathy, understanding. So those are things I try to give. I also try to stand for the survivor in my blog, in every way, to let it be known I am on the survivor’s side. In the end I think my blog is more bossy than I used to be, more opionated, while still making a space for others to be whever they are. Making that space and being willing to step into it with the survivor, I think, is one of the bravest things that anyone can do for another survivor.

I was realizing yesterday and mulling this over that on my blog I created the kind of information and resource that I always wanted and needed at each stage of my healing process as a survivor. Sometimes I found those resources, sometimes I didn’t. At that beginning of my healing work I was reading books, going to support groups, going to therapy, writing. Going online when I started working on healing from mother daughter sexual abuse brought more resources and support into my life.

So as I wrote, I created my blog for what I wanted. It reflects a lot about the specifics of being a child sexual abuse survivor, healing, growing, and being more than just your abuse history, even while you are in the midst of the worst of it and the worst moments of it all and saying this too is healing, healing is happening even though you don’t see it, courage is obvious to others and growth and healing is happening, though you might be blind to it in yourself. I created a blog where I could stand next to survivors with a deep sense of respect and admiration. It has helped me to feel a deep sense of respect and admiration for myself. Nice side effect.

So the question I am asking is what else? I’m asking that of myself, what else do I want to do on my blog, where do I want to go with it in the next year, what else do I want to work on in healing this next year and address on my blog and what else would you my readers and support survivors friends like to read and be involved in here? I can always use suggestion and ideas. Sometimes I don’t write a post cause the mind goes blank. So let me know if there is something you would like me to address. My blog is for me and about me, but it is also for you.

Good and healing thoughts to you.

Resources: Art Therapy and Creative Healing

Art Therapy/Creative Healing Blog Posts

My Creative Healing Projects

The Survivors’ Ink Project

The Survivors’ Ink Project Facebook Page

Art Matters

How Creativity Heals

Art Therapy: The Healing Arts

Why Art Therapy

Home is Where the Art Is

The Alchemy of Art

Art Doesn’t Kill You, It Makes You Stronger

The Expressive Arts in Counseling

PTSD and Art Therapy

Trauma and the Benefits of Writing About It

Writing for Therapy Helps Erase Effects of Trauma

Words of War, Words of Peace, Writing As Therapy

Boost Your Body Image by Journaling

10 Ways that Writing Can Help You De-Stress

Writing Heals

Telling Without Talking: Breaking the Silence of Domestic Violence

Creativity isn’t just about art- it’s about Healing

Creating Mindlessly: Getting Out of Your Own Way

Creativity as Play

Creativity and the Shadow

Expressing Vulnerability with Creativity

Overcoming the Fear of Creative Risk-Taking

Keeping a Journal When Words Fail

Creative Journaling: When Words are Not Enough

Helping Children Drew Out Their Truama

When Trauma Happens, Children Draw

Drawing Against Depression

Women, Painting and Power

Finger-Painting: It’s Not Just For Kids Anymore

Photography as a Healing Practice

Dance Like Your Life– And World– Depends on It

Expressive Movement and Expressive Art Forms

Doll Making as a Journey

How Doll Making Has Been Transforming and Healing

Healing Doll Stories

Medicine Dolls

Creating Personal Shrines

Dolls as Shrines

Zen Garden

Website: Survivors Art Foundation

Website: A Long Walk Home

Website: Arts and Healing Network

Blog: Art Therapy Blog

Website: Arte Sana: Healing Hearts Through the Arts

Website: Art of Healing

Walking in the Sunshine

This month I have started trying to lose weight. I don’t have a scale to check on that, so that is not the focus, the focus is eating healthier and to keep trying. It is going good. I got some herbal teas and like to drink them. I am already planning getting several more kinds and some green tea next week.

Last week I started doing some sitting exercises.Those went well and I thought they were effective and helpful in toning some muscles that I have not been using lately due to lack of a bike to ride. I didn’t overdo them and that was important. I have a tendency to overdo things. So I am working on that.

No stretches, those tend to be something I way overdo leading to injury. If I work my muscles, they relax. My muscles really doesn’t need stretching exercises, they need work and any little bit of work helps them to relax.

A really great thing happened last Monday, I was going from a car to a store and walked without anything to lean on for about a half a block and had no pain. That was so terrific. I think that the exercises were the reason. It made me feel so happy.

I used to love to walk. A two mile hike was a great little walk for me, though that is long in my past now. I used to run. At one time I used to run three miles a day. I really miss those things, so very much. Due to health issues I can’t really do either of those things, but I still want to.

I have low back, right hip, and neck and shoulder long-term health issues that contribute to my limitations. Last February I injured my right hip all the way down to my ankle. It took a long time to recover and I am still dealing with right hip pain from that injury when walking, in addition to the other issues.

Two summers ago I had joined a gym and had really good results with walking around the track there. I used a stationary bike  as well there and used the jacuzzi and walking in the swimming pool as well. But I thought that the most effective activity for me was when I walked on the track. I was able to lose some weight. My shoulders, arms, and neck were much more relaxed and so I felt better, slept better, and was more calm, relaxed and in less pain as well.

I am working on walking this week.  At first I was very daunted by the idea of walking. I need to sit down a lot and if I can’t I make my back and right hip so much worse if I keep walking and have no where to sit down.

Today I overdid the walking in the backyard. Old patterns asserted themselves. I started counting my steps and pushing myself to walk with the pain further than I should, making for a longer pain recovery time each time I walked. And I ended up with more pain in my right hip, even after a couple of hours has passed. I took some aspirin and hope that helps.

I walk at a slow level, which is really all that I can do right now. Sweating or exercising more than my skill level tends to be very triggering. I want to make my activities fun and full of enjoyable things. I have decided that it is okay to acknowledge the triggers that are a part of “exercise” due to my mother’s abuses of me. I was programmed and I just can’t eliminate them, as much as I want to and as much as and as hard as I have tried. So I am a survivor with triggers who is going to walk.  And that is okay. Tonight I thought of a name to call what I am doing; walking in the sunshine.

Tomorrow, if I am up for it,  I will go back to the walking in the sunshine as much as I feel comfortable interspersed with sitting in the sun, listening to music, and reading from a mystery book. Next week I will finally be able to buy a cheap bicycle and start being even more mobile beyond my front door. I am so excited.

Body Love: My Body is My Temple Part 4

Something happened. I think it is related to my body love work. A guy I barely know touched me and I pulled away and told him not to touch me. That is huge progress in my life. Usually I am so consumed with rage when someone oversteps my boundaries it is hard to say anything. I feel all shut down. I feel scared of my rage at the person. I feel as though I can’t express anything I am feeling appropriately. Not this time.

He was talking and walking towards me and I told him before he got near me that I did not need or want his help. He still did. I was expressing anger in my words and voice, a lot of anger. His concept of personal space is inappropriate, so unfortunately he had gotten too close to me. He reached out and touched my upper arm while he was talking to me. I pulled away. It was one of those touches that men do to women when they are trying to control them, trying to put them in their place. I hate that. I hate men like that.

I told him, “Don’t touch. I don’t want to be touched. Don’t touch me” He stared at me like he thought I was crazy.  I was enraged. I was angry. And I wanted him to see that.

In our short acquaintance he has impressed upon me with his casual mistreatment of his wife, his lack of parenting, his judgmental treatments of others, his awe of ministers who focus on being rich in their sermons, his awe of television evangelists who spew racism, sexism, and hatred. He saw how repulsive I thought he was to touch me. He is repulsive. I loathe him.

I just can’t believe that someone who met me less than a week ago could touch me like that. I am an older single woman and he is a married man. I don’t let married men touch me unless we are very close friends. There is nothing about our interactions that has led him to believe that would be okay. I only hug three of my brothers and mostly they don’t use their hands to hug. They use mostly their arms, shoulders, and that feels safer for me. I wouldn’t let one of my brothers touch me like he did. I certainly won’t let someone like him touch me.