Archive for March, 2010

Lies. Damn lies and whoppers

March 26, 2010

In the last few years I have been turning my attention inward instead of  just concentrating on the physical.  For the first 35 years of RA, I spent my time looking at how to get rid of the pain and inflammation, then looked at causes other than virus or biological.  It hasn’t been an easy process because I have to take responsibility for much of it.  To quote Dr. Phil:  “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”.  It is so much easier to see myself as a victim sideswiped by RA for no reason – time to look deeper and see what has been going on.  One thing I have learned that was a surprise, my body is my healer, not my enemy.  All this time I felt she has betrayed me and made my life so much more difficult.    At last I am beginning to understand she has been shouting at me  to make me listen – too bad I have been deaf all this time.

For so long I felt my body was not really a part of me, more like a shell covering me and strangling me.   I often thought of myself as being trapped in a rusty suit of armor, that it wasn’t the real me.  If you looked inside you would see the real me trying desperately to get out.

I noticed a different train of thought one night when I couldn’t go back to sleep around 3, I had had a migraine and taken one of my bombers that leaves me wide awake until about 6.  I am not sure why I began to think about what is going on and what my body was trying to tell me, then  it hit me, she was trying to tell me Ego is trying to take charge and do her big pity party.  The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if that was the message – by golly, a while later I noticed the headache had gone.  When it happened again, I thought in terms of  my body as my alarm when Ego is trying to take over and I needed to be reminded I am not Ego.  Once again, it meant my headache left.

Hmmm, maybe I am on to something.  This morning I was  back in that boat – I have been having fewer and fewer headaches lately – but now a different train of thought.  If my body has been warning me with headaches,  has she been trying to tell me all these years that Ego is in charge and telling lies, damn lies and real whoppers about me and I have been believing them?  Has she been trying to get my attention with joint problems and pain?  Have I been so unaware of Ego that I just thought that was me living my life?

I have been unsure of myself most of my life – I started wearing glasses in the 3rd when no one else was; I have been Reubenesque all my life – the middle sister between 2 slender ones.  Did I only tune into the negative because Ego ruled and never heard the positives?  I was teased at school about my weight and glasses, last one to be picked for a team, feeling odd man out most of the time and not really a part of a group.  Boy, did Ego lap that up!

I will let it simmer on the back burner for a bit and see what begins to emerge.  I see there is a lot more to my early history as an influence on how I see myself – Carol Tuttle’s book “Remembering Wholeness” has really helped me see what is going on.  There is definitely more going on inside me and now that I have set an intention to know the truth about myself – sometimes a scary thought – it may be easier for me to be more objective than I have been in the past.  Maybe deep down my true self is an amazing woman – dare I hope so?

Who Am I?

March 18, 2010

Who am I?  Now that is a loaded question and one I have been trying to answer for the last 63 years.  Maybe it is more a question of Who do I think I am?  The first word out of the box is – I am a short, overweight girl with freckles and glasses with no discernible talents that no one likes.  Wow!  That sounds like a real case of Oh Poor Me!   I realize now that everything is perception even though it seems very real.  In the book “Busting Out of The Money Game”, he likens it to a hollowdeck program in Star Trek.  I wrote the script, my part and the parts of everyone else in the scenario.  It also means I can change it any time I want and rewrite it to be different.  But first you have to give yourself credit and appreciation for writing such a detailed and real script.  It shows real creativity and imagination.  So I can write another creative script that is much more loving and positive!

Wait a minute, that is a whole lot to take in at once.  Fortunately I read that after Eckerd Tolle’s “A New Earth”, so it didn’t seem quite as fantastic as it might have at first glance.  Let’s face it, everything is perception, based on your earlier experiences.  Everything seemed to be all about me when I didn’t understand what was happening since there was no frame of reference.  So the next question comes.

Who do I think I am?  That overweight, plain little girl who is the middle child of three girls and doesn’t feel she has any distinction.  She isn’t the oldest, she isn’t the youngest – what is she?  My older sister is a wonderful artist and I know I spent a lot of time in my very young days trying to be just like her – but I wasn’t and that made me feel like a failure, that I wasn’t enough.  Perception.  When I look back, I realize I didn’t look for things I liked and did well, I just decided I was not good enough.  My sister were slender and I seemed to have inherited a double dose of the fat German genes, so sport was not easy for me.  Hmmm, not artistic, not athletic, there didn’t seem to be much for me but reading.  I see now I had a very narrow view of myself and my life.

My parents tell the story of how I made such a racket to get on the bus with my sister to see where it went.  She is 4 years older  than I am and  I ended going to school a year earlier than I should have so I could see where she went.  I may have had an easier time if I had waited a year.   So everyone was always a year older and I didn’t do that well in school, had C’s and a few B’s but math was such a bear.  How many times in Math, Algebra and Geometry did I feel so lost and confused because I didn’t understand it.  It was explained but it didn’t sink in or make it clear and that just gave me that scared, panicky feeling.  I wanted  to burst into tears but of course that wasn’t acceptable.  I didn’t feel I fit in anywhere and recess was no help because I didn’t do well in games.  I felt quite alone, especially when I was made fun of because of my weight.  I remember in 3rd grade when I had to get glasses so I could see the board – I was the only one who had them.  Overweight, freckled, glasses – what a target for teasing.

Junior high and high school were even worse, never asked on a date and I began to feel there was something wrong with me, that I was missing something the other girls had.  Yes, I did a number on myself, yet it felt so real.  I was very glad to graduate from school.  The big question as I was in 10th, 11th and 12th grade was “What do you want to do?  What do you want to be?  I hadn’t a clue.  There wasn’t anything that really hit me and the scary things was the implication that I had to decide now because it would be for the rest of my life.  What if I chose something and didn’t like it?  I was stuck with it.  Maybe that was why not much appealed to me – though in the mid 60’s girls didn’t have a whole lot of choice – teacher, nurse, secretary.  I just told them I wanted to be a teacher just to get them off my back.

I spent 2 years in junior college, 2 years in commercial art school and a year working at Boeing as a tech illustrator before going to Australia to be married. In all those years I have never found my passion – many things I was intrigued by for awhile but nothing that has stuck with me.  Well, I have carried my quilting over several moves but in the last few years there hasn’t been time or energy to continue.  At 63 I am still wondering what I want to be when I grow up.

Now, after reading Eckhart Tolle, I see I was looking at externals, at form to find out who I was.  I was looking at how I looked, what I did, who my friends were because I didn’t know there was any other way to look at it.  According to him, that is Ego, my false self who loves negative, the more the merrier.  She is the one who compares me to others – usually to my detriment – sees lack of things, nothing is ever enough and everything is about me.  She has to be right and anytime she thinks she is being diminished, she get angry and that really revs her up.  She hold grudges and keeps track of all the hurts, slights, resentments, angers, etc. – the little me with the unhappy story.   She thrives on the negative, the more there is, the better she likes it.  It’s all about her.

It’s a relief to begin to see what is going on, that isn’t the real me at all.  It is the me I have been living with for a long time and it has taken awhile to understand and accept it.  Since I have, it has made things a little easier.  Now it is time to find out who I really am, while being more conscious of Ego and what she is doing to undermine it.  She wants the status quo and this threatens her very existence.

Anger

March 11, 2010

Anger is a waste of energy, along with resentment, irritation, fear, hurt.  It is really Ego taking control, making me feel diminished and need to defend myself.  As Eckert Tolle write,  there is no diminishment, only a perception by the ego.  He  has a spiritual practice to consciously allow the diminishment of ego when it happens without attempting to restore it.

“I recommend experimenting  with this from time to time. – when some one  criticisezes you, blames you, or calls you names, instead of immediately retaliating or defending yourself – do nothing. Allow the self image  to remain diminished and become alert to what it  feels like deep inside you.  For a few seconds, it may feel uncomfortable, as if you shrink in size.  Then you may sense an inner spaciousness that feels intensely alive.    You haven’t been diminished at all.  In fact, you have expanded.  You may come to the amazing realization: When you are seemingly diminished in some way and remain in absolute non-reaction, not just externally but also internally, you realize nothing real has been diminished, that through becoming “less”, you become more.”

I will admit I am still working on that – I know it in my head but not quite “know that I know” deep down.  What I finally do know is that getting angry is giving away my power to someone else and after spending years feeling powerless, I am determined to quit doing it.  Not an easy goal or intention, but definitely worth it.  I now know I have held that anger inside of me all these years, hugged it to me  as proof I am put upon and  a victim.  It is now lodged in my cellular level and a good part of it has contributed to the RA.  I have personalized it, when it is not really about me at all.

As I have explored and grown in changing my perceptions, my attitude and also learning about who I truly am – that’s a whole different subject – I am realizing that it is about the other person.  For some reason that person has to have the upper hand and only by diminishing me does that work for him/her.  It is my choice to let it affect me and make me feel diminished – then I give away my power.  I love the play on the Bible quote “Love your enemy – it will drive him nuts!”

I have a limited amount of energy with RA and it seems foolish to expend it on things like anger, hurt, resentment and fear.  Yes, easy words to say, but not so easy to  practice.  What helps is understanding better what is happening rather than just reacting.  I set an intention of just saying “Interesting” when someone criticizes or gets mad at me.  Someone suggested saying “Thank you for sharing”.  Whatever works for you to be non-reactive in that situation and experimenting with going within.  Because if I keep doing the same thing over and over, I hear Dr. Phil in my head saying “How’s that working for you?”.  Guess what, it isn’t working for me and never has.  The difference is that I am more aware of it.

What is the purpose?

March 6, 2010

I was checking email today and came across a newsletter I receive regularly.  There was a post from Wayne Dyer about his book and movie “The Shift”.  He shared a poem about the Kalahari Bushmen and it  really hit me.

The Bushman in the Kalahari Desert talk about two “hungers.”

There is the Great Hunger and there is the Little Hunger. The Little Hunger wants food for the belly; but the Great Hunger, the greatest hunger of all, is the hunger for meaning. . . .

There’s ultimately only one thing that makes human beings deeply and profoundly bitter, and that is to have thrust upon them a life without meaning. . . .

There is nothing wrong in searching for happiness. . . .

But of far more comfort to the soul . . .
is something greater than happiness or unhappiness, and that is meaning.

Because meaning transfigures all. . . .

Once what you are doing has for you meaning,
it is irrelevant whether you’re happy or unhappy.
You are content—you are not alone in your Spirit—you belong.1

(Sir Laurens van der Post from Hasten Slowly,a film by Mickey Lemle)

I realized I have been wondering about the purpose of having RA, the reason for it because sometimes things are a little easier to deal with if there is a reason or purpose.  I have been wondering for a long time what my purpose is here in this life; so far there hasn’t been any light bulb moment where I  suddenly understand it completely.  I have been exploring and in many ways my whole life and dealing with RA has been a journey – very long, slow journey.  It is  as if I am on a wagon train out west and every day the train makes 5 to 10 miles.  It is progress to the goal but often the mountains don’t seem any closer than they did when I started in the morning.  I began to see that I had been looking for that one piece that would suddenly make everything fall into place and make perfect sense, all would be completely clear to me.  Instead, it is a wagon train and  there are different trails to explore if I want to,  or keep on the beaten path.  I am also still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

I asked a medical intuitive the other day “What is the purpose of RA?”.  She gave me a very unexpected answer – it could be preparation for the next life.  Or it could be the results of a past life.  It I am paying for something I did in another life, I had better have had one hell of a good time!   She explained that in her case, she had a very, very difficult time in her last life, the beginning of this life she was encased in a cast from the waist down.  As a result, she is able to help other people through seeing what  the underlying cause is in their condition.  I will admit, I wasn’t quite sure what to think – it has been simmering on the back burner of my mind ever since. I know that things come along when I am ready for them, maybe now I am more open and receptive to possibilities I might have thought were crazy or off the wall a few years ago.  Yet I still want to know “Why me”, though maybe it is more a matter of “Why not me?”.  It continues to simmer on that burner.

A little history Part 2

March 4, 2010

Since my parents, nor his, would be able to come to the wedding, I asked my Mom to make my wedding dress – you should have seen her jaw hit the floor!  I still have that dress and my veil in a white pillowcase.  Finally it was time to leave and I stopped in San Francisco on my way to Sydney so I could see my aunt and uncle – they had introduced us.  Plus my cousin’s wife was from Hawaii and she arranged with her parents to meet me in Honolulu for a 9 hour lay over before heading on to Sydney.

I will say, on that Sunday morning I arrived in Sydney, I looked like I had slept in my clothes.  He had brought the whole family with him – his Dad’s first cousin – and all I could think was I was with him again.  Unfortunately he left the next day to give finals and then would be back a few days later.  So there I was, everyone had left for school or work and I was left with Angel who didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Armenian or Arabic.  But we did really well making the other understood and those few days while he was gone, I finally found out about Armenians.  It didn’t really occur to me I was in a strange country, with strange people speaking a different language, eating unusual food – I only knew I was without him again.

Thursday night he came back from the small town and we prepared for the wedding Saturday afternoon.  It was a lovely sunny, Fall day and I remember being ready before anyone else – I looked out the front window thinking “This isn’t how I pictured my wedding day”.  We had about 20 people, that included us and the minister.  That evening we took a slow train 450 miles west of Sydney to go to the little town where he was teaching.

We had a very small flat, no heat or air conditioning and where everyone knew everyone else.  To be considered 1 of 2 American couples, we definitely stood out.  We were both really home sick for the States, it took us a year and a half to save the money to come back here.  I had never been that far away from home but because we only had each other to depend on, we developed a closeness we might never have had if we had stayed here.  Being in a third country made it easier because we both were dealing with a strange place rather than only one of us.

There was a lot of stress all the time we were in Australia, then stress coming back because of immigration – he had applied for and received a permanent residency visa, but I didn’t relax until we were several miles from L.A. airport.  We settled in San Francisco Bay area and about 2 months after we were back, I was putting my coat on after working 12 to 9 at a department store.  My shoulders hurt so much and that night I couldn’t get comfortable, it was as if someone was boring holes in my shoulders.  The next night the same thing happened and I knew something was wrong since I couldn’t raise my arms higher than my waist.

I went to my aunt’s doctor and was fortunate to be diagnosed right away.  He told me I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and I said “Fine” as I went along my merry way – I had no idea what it was.  In the past 38 years I have learned a lot more about it than I ever wanted to know.  I am blessed with a really great husband, I know he could have left after I was diagnosed – we said for better or for worse but didn’t expect worse after just a year and a half.  There have been husbands who have left; I can’t imagine how that would feel.


A little history

March 2, 2010

As I mentioned in my last post, the back story has something to do with the “why”.

I was born in Los Angles area and when I was 7, my parents moved here to Seattle.  I graduated from high school in 1964, then went 2 years at junoir college (that was the term in the old days) and then 2 years to commercial art school.  Just as I finished art school and before I went to work for Boeing as a tech illustrator, my aunt in San Francisco invited me down for a 2 week holiday.  I met a young man and stayed three weeks.  He was a foreign student, an Armenian, born and brought up in Jerusalem when it was Palestine, carried a Jordanian passport with a student visa.  He had been in the U.S. for 8 years working and going to school – after 8 years and a Masters, he had had enough of school.  Unfortunately in those days, when one stopped being a student, one had to leave.

He didn’t want to go back home because there were no opportunities for a Christian there, but it was too expensive for England and not enough time for a visa to Canada.  He was able to obtain a good conduct certificate from Amman, Jordan through a cousin and was set to leave for Australia.  I met him 5 months before he left and while I was in San Francisco, we dated a lot.  He later came to visit Seattle and just before he left, I went down to “visit my aunt” again.  We had written back and forth after I left the first time – he was so different from anyone I had ever met.  he could have stayed another quarter in school, then we could have been married here – he didn’t want me to think he was marrying just to stay here.

He must have been very sure I was going to say yes because he bought my rings before he left but didn’t ask me to marry him until he had been in Australia for a month or so.  He said we would be unofficially engaged and in December officially engaged.  But it would be the following December before we would be married; a very long time to wait.

He sent my rings to my Dad with instructions to give them to me on Christmas – it wasn’t until 1 minute after midnight that I saw my engagement ring.  Even so, he didn’t show me the wedding ring until he had received instructions.   It was a lovely emerald cut, not huge but I loved seeing the rainbow colors from the sunshine.

It turned out he couldn’t wait until the following December, so we planned to marry at term break.  That meant I had some things to do before leaving – a passport, smallpox shot, polio oral vaccine, etc.  The other item was a bit of a puzzler – I had to prove I was a spinster.  I had plenty of time to think because that January it snowed over 3 feet, very unusual here.

When it was finally clear enough to drive, my Dad drove me  to the County/City building in downtown Seattle. When we walked in, I’m sure the guy behind the counter of the Marriage License Bureau thought “He’s old enough to be her father”.   Then when I explained what I needed and asked if he had any suggestions.  He said he would write a letter on their letterhead that they had never issued a marriage license for me in King County – that left 38 other counties and 49 other states.  Then I asked my minister to write a letter for me to say he had never married me to anyone.


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