The Monday after posting my last blog I went to see my family Dr and told him its time for me to go into the hospital and work on what I need to work on. I gave him an updated copy of my care plan that I give the hospital staff and let him know what was going on, as if he couldn't see it. I was emotional, crying, just in really bad shape. He, had no issues with me going in and he let the hospital know, and then it was just a matter of waiting for the phone call.
Someone I know mentioned to me.." so your going back in to deal with your demons." My reply was, " They are not demons, they are lost very fractured parts of my self and I need to go in to honor their and my story, retrieve those parts and bring them home to me. It's like shadows, when you think you see something in the night, or see a shadow and you think its something really scary, but in the morning light you realize it was the bed post or something like that. This is the same, it may seem big and scary, but like a shadow, if I shine a light on it, I see it for what it is. For me, its very lost and scared parts of self, that are stuck back in time and need to come home-( to the present).
As I have mentioned before, I feel these moments coming and am aware of the signs, and know when I need to go in and process what I need to process. And because I know the signs I can go to my Dr and let him know its time, and then he can advocate for me. At one time I was so disconnected from myself that I would not realize I was in trouble until I hit a full blown crisis mode and would end up in emergency seeking admittance.
Now I know when I need to go in, and can get my Dr to advocate for me, and knowing, that at some point in time in the next couple of weeks I will get in, helps take some of the pressure off of me. Knowing that help is coming helps stop the "all or nothing" thinking.
Until I got that phone call, I called on family and friends- and they also volunteered -to help me through this time. This consisted of going for walks, having coffee or tea with me, and checking up on me. I have an amazing support system and I love them all.
This past Christmas my husband had got me tickets to go see Matt Anderson perform up in Campbell River- a town 45 minutes north of here. This guy is an amazing blues singer,songwriter and player and has won many awards, as he should. He is from Perth-Andover, New Brunswick and is amazing. I debated on going to see him, but my best friend Laurel came with me. I knew I was safe with her. We have been friends for 18 years and she can read me like a book, often noticing when I switch or am triggered before I even know it. I debated on going but thought that the break would be good for me. It was, it was an amazing performance, and Laurel did a great job checking in with me to see how I was doing and yes, there was a moment I got triggered and she spotted it as was there to check in with me, to see how I was doing, support me and this stopped me from dissociating. It was a lovely evening.
The next afternoon I got a call from my Dr's office telling me I had a bed on the pshy unit at the hospital.
Now, I NEVER make my decision to go in lightly. This is a very serious decision and as I state on my care plan, I have done everything in my power, used all my supports and done everything on my safety plan to stay out of the hospital, but there does come a time when I have to realize that everything I am doing is not working and I need to go in. I also put the following on my care plan
"...Some people have asked me why I cant put this on the back burner and move on. This has been on the back burner for years and years and it keeps coming back to burn me. I explain it like this…
If someone had an accident and their leg got hurt, they healed and were only able to walk 1 mile a day, they would be limited by that. Sure, the good news is that they can walk, the bad news is that its only a mile a day.
If they were told that they could have an operation to improve that,. The surgery would be painful, it would take some time to recover, but they would be better then before the surgery, chances are they would have it done. And, after the pain of recovery they could walk further then they had before.
Coming here and processing what needs to be processed is my surgery.
The good news is I survived overwhelming life events that no one should ever have to endure, the bad news is that it limits me and interferes with my life.
By coming here, into this contained, supportive space, I am able to let my guards down, not worry about what I should be doing, ..... I know I am safe while on the unit. This allows me to focus on what needs to be processed. By being here, I know that if I dissociate during the day or night, I am safe. .... By knowing this, I can put my energy into getting better.
This work takes an amazing amount of energy and it is very painful, physically and emotionally, but it is a break through, and not a break down. Like the surgery, I know it is necessary and will allow me to have a better quality of life, and allow me to do more.
Your help and support during this time is received with much heartfelt gratitude."
This is part of my care plan, the rest goes on to explain what is happening and what the staff can do to support me.
So with care plan in hand I go, with trepidation, to the hospital. The trepidation is not because of the hospital, its was because of the work I knew awaited me. I was right.
It was a very intense two weeks of hard work! It was gut wrenching, soul searching, going to the very core of who I was. Going to the very core of what happened to me and why I split, and having to look at that terrible truth, not run from it but, stay present, accept and acknowledge it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.
I told my friends and staff-( and 2nd year nursing students that were doing their practicum)- That I felt like the Goddess Psyche, who had to swim down into the underworld to retrieve part of herself, that's what I was doing. I knew I needed to make this inward journey, to find those lost parts of self, recover them and bring them back up to the surface. And, like swimming in the ocean, or any body of water, the further down you get the harder it is to swim. The buoyancy, pressure and currents are against you. The deeper I swam- meaning the closer I got to the truth and recovering of my fractured parts- the harder the swim.
It is so hard to put into words the energy and gut wrenching work this takes. At one point I told my friends and staff that I am at the point where I don't want to do this anymore. Like when I -( and I think pretty much every women gets)- when I was giving birth to my son. There was a stage where I was exhausted and didn't think I could go on. I didn't want to do this anymore and just wanted go home. But, I also knew that, if I hung in there, kept up with the work, give it a final few pushes,( swimming strokes to the bottom)- I would recover this amazing part of myself. So I called on my nurses and Dr, friends and family for support,like never before and I wrote and wrote and wrote.
I would perform a smudge every day, sometimes more then once and their never was an issue with it.
The staff all commented how they love that I brought in a care plan so they can understand why I am there, whats going on and how best they can support me. They reminded me, and I asked them to keep telling me, that there was no pressure on me to leave, to honor this process and let it take its natural course. Many of the nurses there have seen me in before and seen how the process works. They kept touching base with me and checking in and when I needed to talk I did, and boy did I talk. And they were there with me, through all the long nights, the tears and sobs, body wrenching pain and memories. They sat beside me, held my hand, reminded me- and the kid I was that this happened to- that we did nothing wrong- and some even made us cups of tea, all while doing their nursing duties. They all told me they knew I was working hard, and that I had made the right decision to come into the hospital. I even had one nursing student who said.." I have never met anyone before who had complete control of their care plan while they are on the unit, this is very unique."
I had amazing support from family and friends. I e-mailed one of the instructors form my outward bound course-she was also one of my instructors on the 2005 course and we have kept in contact throughout the years. She wrote.." What grace you demonstrate within the courage to step into your work. So beautiful to know that you held space for your self and your soul to smudge-to clear and protect you for these next several days! I am honored to be with you through these times...and know that the mountains that held you through your women of courage week, the blue bird skies, the grizzly bears, grasses and trees are with you too, supporting you to release what you need in order to create the space you speak of.-( I had mentioned that I needed to process the old stuff and let it go to create space for anew)- All the medicine you gained in that journey resides within. I know you know this-but sometimes gentle reminders with loving kindness are good :)
I had taken some of my pictures from my Outward Bound course in the Rookies, and taped them to my wall, to remind me of what I can and have done. I also took my postcard of Ireland, that my Dr brought back for me, from his last trip to Ireland, to remind me where I am going to go!!!!!
When I was in an especially tough spot my best friend wrote....It's -( this work)- is so tough but you are invested in the life of today, and amaze me because many of us would have pulled out of this exploration. But, you keep going, knowing intuitively that the answers will make you more of what you want to be as a whole being."Yes, she got it and I showed that to all the of my nurses and my Dr, because I could not have put it better.
It was a grueling two weeks, but I also know it is what I needed to do. And, as I said I asked for and received amazing help, from the staff, my Dr and my family and friends, I had visits and e-mails every day and my friends were and are amazing, and it touched and still touches my heart to see and know how many people love me and how many people held me loving in their hearts more then ever at this difficult time. And whats even more amazing is that I could and continue to feel all the love they have for me.
One night my nurse and I were talking. She remembers 10 years ago when I first came into the hospital, they didn't know what to do with me, and I could not yet articulate what I needed for support or what was going on with me. It did not "just happen" that I have what I have now. It took a lot of hard work and it took a lot of "pushing the comfort zone" and taking chances, especially when asking for help.In the beginning asking for help was terrifying for me, as my upbringing had made me believe the world was not safe and that I could trust no one. Man, where they wrong! And am I ever glad that I pushed the comfort zone and took a chance.
And as I said I did a ton of writing. I have a 8x12 inch hard cover blank journal, its a sketch book that I use for a journal and I filled half of it, and had to get another one to write in.
Once I got down to the bottom of the underworld and recovered those lost fractured parts of self I started to come back up to the surface.The forces that were a hinder on my descent, where now supporting me to surface, the buoyancy, pressure currents are helping me to come to the top, but like any deep sea diving surfacing to fast can cause the bends, broken ear drums etc. And just like real diving I need to surface slowly and in control. I need to take my time coming back to the surface and getting back into my life.
I was on the unit for two weeks and once the work was done I started to feel, and look better.I realized I had not brushed my teeth in a week, and I could feel that now. That morning I wrote in my journal...." It's interesting how- its not usually some huge monumental things that is an indication I am getting better-its the small, everyday things that people take for granted-but when you are down in the deep dark bowels of your soul, doing your work-doing the everyday things are just to much- and take to much energy-energy you don't have. And, when you are that deep into your work it doesn't even occur to you!!!!!
So, I have surfaced, and I am being gentle with myself. I have seen my therapist and I saw my Dr yesterday. I told him I am struggling, its hard work I am exhausted. Like he and my therapist both mentioned, I have done an amazing amount of work and worked for two weeks straight, no wonder I am tired. I told him that I am emotional and teary and I believe this is grieving and that I do need to grieve what happened to me. He totally understood that and supports me. I told him that I need to lovingly hold what happened to me, and those parts of self that it happened to, hold them close to my heart and support them, grieve what happened. I also know that, like I tell the groups that I present to, I am not my experience. Meaning I am not what happened to me, its part of my history, it happened to me, I need to acknowledge and grieve that, but it is not who I am.
This may have happened to me, but it is not who I am, it did not touch my essence....as in one e-mail my therapist sent me during this time she wrote.....the untouchable core of each child/person-essential self no human can touch or harm.In each of us is a transcendent core- Wise Mind, essential Self, Soul,..what ever each spiritual tradition wants to call it, it is the same...pure, incorruptible, connected to the universe....you survived because of this core....
Yes, this happened to me, BUT it is not who I am, it did not touch my essence.
It was a very tough and painful journey, probably one of the toughest and most painful ever. It took a lot out of me, but I can see where all my training -(therapy and hard work)- had prepared me for it. I am now in recovery mode, and like any surgery, it will take time before I am back into the swing of life with full speed.
I told the hospital staff, my Dr and the nursing students that if I had not gone into the hospital last year, and done the work I did then, I would not have been able to go on the Outward Bound course I took in September.
As I was sitting in my doctors office yesterday I told him.."I am looking forward to seeing what my life will be like now that I have recovered these lost parts of self and see where my life leads me."
I know it will take time. I know I need to honor and grieve what happened to me, I know I need to be gentle and kind to myself and most important I know that what happened to me is not who I am, and that I have amazing love, kindness and supports in my life. And, that it is safe to ask for help.
I will keep you all posted on this next leg of my journey.
May all your journeys be safe.
Cheers and be well