Category Archives: Uncategorized

Me TOO. And Rape Culture

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Me, too. I have my personal stories of abuse, harassment, and rape. Today we call what happened human trafficking.  Most of my life I simply called it abuse.

When I was in graduate school, we were all required to give presentations to our class on our individual projects. My focus of study was treatment for adults abused as children.

This was the 1980’s, and I noticed the limited academic articles. Some of the ones I did find were hideous. Blaming the child. Stating that, “Yes, it happens, but it’s really okay.” That’s rape culture.

I thought a lot about that. I pondered the reactions of people to any discussion of child abuse. The ostrich reaction. That too is rape culture.

So, for my class presentation, I prepared this knock your socks off experience for my fellow students. As future mental health professionals, I wanted to introduce them to the feelings of a child who experienced early abuse. I wanted to reach them. I succeeded.

A woman jumped up, knocked over her chair, and ran out of the room sobbing. I’d gone too far. In today’s society, I’d give a trigger warning.

Now I understand that violence against women is pervasive and has so many incarnations that almost everyone in any group of women will have experienced some form of sexual violence. That is rape culture. A culture where sexual violence is so common it touches almost everyone.

In my mind, there is a continuum of sexual violence. Starting from the inappropriate comment or joke in a group, moving into unwanted hugs and escalating all the way up to rape, serial rape, battery, and sexual murder. There are so many different forms that this behavior is extensive and deep in our culture.

I’m a glorious 72 years of age. I’ve spent my life’s work on issues of childhood trauma, sexual violence, and harassment. Childhood trauma, sexual violence, sexual power games, and harassment are rampant in our society. I think it might be difficult to find someone who has NOT been violated in one of its many forms. Again, rape culture.

I’ve been proud of these women I don’t know who stood up now and told their truth. Their bravery impressed me. And the more women who stood up and spoke their truths, the more hopeful I became. If enough women spoke up, maybe, just maybe, things might change. Maybe our culture would teach our boys it’s not normal to violate women.

Then I read a scathing Facebook post from a man who scorned people like me who wrote “me too” in their status update. My face burned when I read his thought that women were claiming victim status without earning it. OMG, how does one earn something none of us want?

I know he misunderstood the purpose of the ‘me too’ movement. And thought he might be a perpetrator. I passed on that discussion. Although many people attempted to convince him he was wrong. None succeeded.

You cannot imagine my shock at my own reactions when people I like to watch on TV were themselves named. I didn’t want it to be true. Then I remembered Ann Rule’s book about Ted Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me. How he worked at a suicide prevention center. She, a writer of true crime fiction, had no idea he was a predator. All the techniques he used to appear harmless flooded my mind.

Okay, he was a serial killer. The cast on his leg, crutches, and removal of a seat in his harmless-looking VW were extreme. But the underlying reality was that harmless looking people, people we like, the friendly neighborhood whomever can all be predatory animals.

And then, well, then I heard the report on Former President Bush. First, I got angry. Inappropriate angry at the woman. I made up stories and reasons she’d make her accusation. I didn’t vote for either Bush. But I loved him jumping out of an airplane for his 90th birthday.

Then I made up a rationale for his behavior. Made mental excuses for him. POW! I am so mad at myself. Or was until I worked this out.

I remembered everything I’ve studied, seen and experienced. My task as a professional is to self-examine. So I did.

I thought about how often I’ve been in a group laughing at the idea of a ‘dirty old man‘ in a nursing home pinching the nurse’s butt. Chasing women around the facility in his walker.

Group laughter at these images. With a wink and a nod. Because everyone around me thought it was cool to go to the twilight of their lives as a ‘dirty old man‘ Or a ‘dirty old lady‘!

And I got angry. At myself, at you and you and even you. At our society which makes jokes out of sexual violence. Jokes that normalize it and make it seem okay.

The reality then becomes that it’s okay for poor old maybe senile former President Bush to grab women’s butts. Okay for the men who do these things. Not so okay for the women who are on the receiving end.

And that, my friends, is rape culture.

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Holiday Quotes for People for Whom the Holidays Are Difficult

This page of quotes is for everyone who finds Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day an unhappy experience. I looked for quotes that go against what most people say and think about the holiday season.

Most of my life’s work has been spent with people who experienced abuse, trauma, grief and tragedy. I worry that someone with unhappy, abusive, and traumatic histories might feel isolated and alone during the holidays.

I picked quotes that seemed to me to express something other than the giddy happiness you see over the airways, on the net, in restaurants, stores, and so on. The pressure to be happy is everywhere.

This page and the following pages of holiday myths and self-care tips are all designed to help you handle this year’s season.

Holiday Quote 1

This quote just appeals to me for the feelings of Halloween. If you feel it’s all “toil and trouble”, consider trimming down your celebration. Or eliminating it altogether.

Holiday Quote 2

I was considering how scary Halloween could be to people who have been traumatized early in life. My cousin babysat for me early in life and told me the story of her first day taking care of me. I was an infant and naturally have no memory of this. She was five and not told it was Halloween. No candy to give out. No preparation for the costumes ringing the bell. I still feel the anxiety I felt when she explained this to me sometime in my twenties.

I still feel the anxiety I felt when she explained this to me sometime in my twenties.

When I was searching quotes, this quote reminded me of that feeling. And it’s okay to feel scared. Just also think of ways to comfort yourself.

Holiday Quote 3

“I definitely do not like Halloween. I don’t like masks, creepy clowns, dark things, goblins or witches. They’re not just my thing.” Tyler Perry. If you feel like this, know that you are not alone.

If you feel like this, know that you are not alone. You don’t have to like “masks, creepy clowns, dark things, goblins or witches.”

If you can acknowledge this without judging yourself, you can find ways to take care of you. You matter.

Halloween-Quote-4

To me, this quote also says it’s normal to feel scared at Halloween. Some people enjoy this. Some do not.

I don’t like scary things. They do remind me of my early childhood abuse. I don’t watch scary movies, go to costume parties where everyone gets to scare everyone else.

It’s my hope that you will take this to support and encourage you to accept any feelings you have at Halloween.

Halloween-Quote-5

And yes, that is the way it is. Try to figure out what exactly spooks you. Then, you can also figure out ways to plan your night that make it easier for you. And that idea does also apply to all the days up to Halloween too.

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“I’m not fond of a tradition that requires people to open the door for strangers. Or for kids to take candy from strangers.” ~Megan Erickson.

She’s a comedian and is making fun of the idea of Halloween. I thought about how irreverent this comment is making your opinions about Halloween perfectly okay. This quote seemed comforting to me.

Holiday-Quote-7

This sounds funny and people can laugh as if it’s silly to take care of yourself. But really it’s not silly to honor your personal history. It’s not silly at all to do whatever you need to be okay during Halloween.

Holiday-Quote-8

It’s okay to be frightened. The strategy to manage this during your holiday season involves owning your truth about your fear. Then you can make plans to comfort and soothe yourself. You can make decisions what to participate in and what to say, “no” to.

Holiday-Quote-9

As I was searching for Halloween quotes for people who have difficulty with the holidays, I stumbled across this one. I like it because it speaks truths that some people think but do not say. If you can think and feel how you really feel, you can participate or not in whatever parts of the holiday season you want to participate in.

Your feedback is important! If you have holiday quotes that are meaningful to you, please add them to the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the page.

If you wish to say more, e-mail me at agentledrlaura@mail.com or by using the contact me box below.

If you like my writing and are interested in applying some of these ideas, subscribe to my newsletter.

Watch this space. I’ll be adding a quote daily. There are 2 other holiday pages: Myths and Self-Care Tips.

email: agentledrlaura@mail.com                                         Telephone: (615) 464-3791

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Do Holidays Make You Think You Have Fallen down a Rabbit Hole?

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References for Your Name Is Not Hurricane

These are the resources used for Your Name Is Not Hurricane:

Aburn, G., Gott, M., & Hoare, K. (2016). What is resilience? An integrative review of the empirical literature. Journal of advanced nursing, 72(5), 980-1000.

Delamater, A. M., & Applegate, E. B. (1999). Child development and post-traumatic stress disorder after hurricane exposure. Traumatology, 5(3), 20-27.

Denham, S., & Kochanoff, A. T. (2002). Parental contributions to preschoolers’ understanding of emotion. Marriage & Family Review, 34(3-4), 311-343.

Dray, J., Bowman, J., Wolfenden, L., Campbell, E., Freund, M., Hodder, R., & Wiggers, J. (2015). Systematic review of universal resilience interventions targeting child and adolescent mental health in the school setting: review protocol. Systematic Reviews, 4(1), 186-214.

Gottman, J. M., Katz, L. F., & Hooven, C. (1996). Parental meta-emotion philosophy and the emotional life of families: Theoretical models and preliminary data. Journal of Family Psychology, 10(3), 243-268.

Havighurst, S. S., Harley, A., & Prior, M. (2004). Building preschool children’s emotional competence: A parenting program. Early Education & Development, 15(4), 423-448.

Havighurst, S. S., Wilson, K. R., Harley, A. E., Kehoe, C., Efron, D., & Prior, M. R. (2013). “Tuning into Kids”: Reducing young children’s behavior problems using an emotioncoaching parenting program. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 44(2), 247-264.

Houston, J. B., First, J., Spialek, M. L., Sorenson, M. E., & Koch, M. (2016). Public disaster communication and child and family disaster mental health: a review of theoretical frameworks and empirical evidence. Current psychiatry reports, 18(6), 54-63.

Jaycox, L. H., Cohen, J. A., Mannarino, A. P., Walker, D. W., Langley, A. K., Gegenheimer, K. L., … & Schonlau, M. (2010). Children’s mental health care following Hurricane Katrina: A field trial of trauma‐focused psychotherapies. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23(2), 223-231.

Kilmer, R. P., & Gil‐Rivas, V. (2010). Exploring posttraumatic growth in children impacted by Hurricane Katrina: Correlates of the phenomenon and developmental considerations. Child development, 81(4), 1211-1227.

La Greca, A. M., Silverman, W. K., Vernberg, E. M., & Prinstein, M. J. (1996). Symptoms of posttraumatic stress in children after Hurricane Andrew: a prospective study. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 64(4), 712-723.

Lunkenheimer, E. S., Shields, A. M.,& Cortina, K. S. (2007). Parental emotion coaching and dismissing in family interaction. Social Development, 16(2), 232-248.

Masten, A. S. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist, 56(3), 227-268.

Madden, W., Green, S., & Grant, A. M. (2011). A pilot study evaluating strengths-based coaching for primary school students: Enhancing engagement and hope. International Coaching Psychology Review, 6(1), 71-83.

Oaklander, V. (1988). Windows to our children: A Gestalt therapy approach to children and adolescents. Center for Gestalt Development.

Oaklander, V. (2006). Hidden treasure: A map to the child’s inner self. Karnac Books.

Shaw, J. A., Applegate, B., Tanner, S., Perez, D., Rothe, E., Campo-Bowen, A. E., & Lahey, B. L. (1995). Psychological effects of Hurricane Andrew on an elementary school population. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34(9), 1185.

Sheldon, K. M., & King, L. (2001). Why positive psychology is necessary. American psychologist, 56(3), 216.

Swenson, C. C., Saylor, C. F., Powell, M. P., Stokes, S. J., Foster, K. Y., & Belter, R. W. (1996). Impact of a natural disaster on preschool children: Adjustment 14 months after a hurricane. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 66(1), 122.

Williamson, V., Creswell, C., Butler, I., Christie, H., & Halligan, S. L. (2016). Parental responses to child experiences of trauma following presentation at emergency departments: a qualitative study. British Medical Journal, 6(11).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearls in My Soul

 

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Photo attribution at bottom

A few moments ago I answered the phone. I was writing this posting on positive thought and stopped. Oh, yuk, that was unpleasant! Not what I wanted to hear. Not at all. My mood evaporated, and I brooded. A full on stomp my feet, yell and express my unhappiness tantrum. It’s tempting to roll around in negativity. It’s difficult to shift into an affirmative frame of mind.

I closed the program and shut my computer off. It took a few minutes for me to find my inspiration again. It was an uphill battle against falling mud thoughts decorated with negative rocks of ugly, painful feelings.

My experience today sheds real light on positive thinking.

Life spits on all of us to greater and lesser degrees. Things happen. Abuse, crime, poverty, discrimination, and much ugliness. People die, others get sick. Cancer. Oh, cancer sucks!

We don’t get the job we wanted or the partner we lusted after. We stub our toes, fall down and have automobile accidents. On and on, I could fill this page with the anguish inducing events in life.

I don’t want to live inside the painful events of my life. I’m kind of a big baby. I want pleasure in my life, not pain. And what I focus upon is what I experience. My most important environment is inside my heart and head. What I concentrate on is where I dwell. I can view pain or pleasure.

I cherish the spiritual power of positive thought. I’ve been working on this skill for the past 43 years. I believe our lives conform to what we hold in our minds. If we can change our insides at a deep enough level, we can also influence our outside experience. An ongoing dedication to this process makes a huge difference. I trust this.

I have confidence in the psychological power of positive thought. We can make or break our days in our thoughts. It’s an effort sometimes. Like today. I had to put some mental elbow grease into my mental processes. After that telephone call, I was tempted to watch television, read a book, or something mindless. After all, I deserve it! Because, because, well, just because. There is the pull of whining and “it’s so awful!”

I wanted to write about my experience of yesterday’s (8/21/17) total eclipse. I was joyful in my ability to sit and write in spite of chronic illness and my history of abuse. Yet, I almost let one telephone call derail me.

So, here, this is me. Deciding once again to take the positive path. Maybe even the “road less traveled” (Frost, Robert, The Road Not Taken, 1916).

I collect memories. I think of them as lustrous and finely colored pearls. My memories are gems of great value. Large pearls, small pearls, fresh water pearls, deep from the ocean pearls, black pearls, perfect ones and misshapen gems. Each memory added to a strand residing in the center of my being. I look at them often.

Memories of delight, pleasure, triumph, happiness, rebellion, and freedom. I pull them up and review them at will. Rejoicing in a long ago event. Pearl memories inside me that cheer me up, make me smile and enrich my life day-to-day. With friends. Laughter on the telephone with other friends. Intimate sharing conversations with people I like and love.

That sunny day I mastered the high diving board at the swimming pool. Climbing the ladder, walking to the final third of that board, striding the board and launching. Flying in the air for that few seconds before I hit the water.

My defiant friends in high school. Smoking on the corner, slouching with great attitude. Hours on the telephone. Walking and walking all over town, talking and thinking of mischief.

My first day at college, feeling free and grown up, walking across the campus of Kentucky blue grass. It’s not an authentic blue, but a beautiful blue-green in the summer.

The births of my sons, holding them in my arms first the first time. Different boys, different years, and different experiences, each one a memory pearl that adds to my inner necklace of warmth and happiness.

My small weddings, surrounded by loving people and simple dresses.

The day my husband, Keith, got on his knees to propose. We’d already agreed to marry and I still smile as I remember him asking again with the ring.

The day I walked across the stage for my Ph.D. diploma, hearing my son yell in the crowd, “There’s my mom!”

Or the one year we celebrated Christmas twice. So like children, we were, opening our presents too early until there were none. We decided to do it again.

The eclipse on August 21, 2017, is one of those pearls. We planned and prepared. I couldn’t explain the sense of need and urgency I had about this. I wanted, needed. I live with somewhat debilitating chronic illness, so we had to plan and prepare.

My sense of awe and raw pleasure sitting on our front porch, surrounded by an all around sunset. Then totality. The full eclipse. Our one country street light went on. The earth dimmed. The universe lowered the lights an increment at a time. I watched birds fly west in a group. A few birds flew back east as the lights came back a little at a time. Words fail me to describe this memory and the feelings it produced inside me.

A once in a lifetime experience. A pearl in my soul. A new memory on my smiling necklace of happiness.

Today is my 72nd birthday. I’m writing, cheered at the freedom to sit here and share my thoughts. Keith came home with smiling flowers. Sunflowers, red carnations and something yellow. Another smile, one more pearl.

Now I’m finishing my medical treatment. A once weekly infusion of immunoglobulin to build up my failing immune system. The disease is called Common Variable Immunodeficiency. The treatment is an elixir full of gems, energy, and bullets aimed at bacteria and other beasties. This, too, is a pearl.

I can sit in my chair, sometimes almost unable to move and pull out that necklace. My memory necklace is long. Pearls too long to lift if the necklace was manifest in this world. Inside me, it’s just the right size.

Contact me if you’d like to create your own set of inside pearls.

Email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

*By Abhinaba Basu (Flickr: Laad Bazaar Pearls, Charminar) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Attack on Congressmen Sheds Light on Veterans Unemployability Debate

 

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I want to express my concern for the well-being of every member of Congress who experienced a harrowing 10-15 minutes under weapons fire. I recognize that this event was difficult and tragic for many reasons.

As I watched the news today, the impact of this trauma was showed clearly on the faces of those present. Congressmen are in shock. The experience shows in their eyes and their speech is affected. Some men will tell their story to everyone who will listen. Others will clam up and slowly show signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Many will experience the impact of this tragedy for the rest of their lives. A few changed congressmen will leave political life. Still others will find themselves so unable to concentrate they may never be able to work again.

With this in mind, I wish to mention the proposed budget plans that cut the unemployability benefits to older veterans. What happened today was an outrage as well as an excellent way to explain the problems of Korean War and Vietnam Veterans. These men and women experienced repeated and extended durations of days, weeks, months and years under weapons fire. Not 10-15 minutes.

Many veterans returned home unable to work due to an exaggerated startle effect, experiences of increased anger, and out-of-control reliving experiences known as flashbacks. Most have severe sleep disturbance and a driving need to avoid crowds of people.

The outrageous error in logic behind this proposed cut has to do with the assumption that someone who is unemployable earned enough social security credits to live on Social Security. Think about this for a moment. Several lawmakers known for public speaking appeared on television today unable to gather their thoughts or engage in their normal activities. It was obvious as I watched.

Today’s tragedy was the impact of 10 minutes. Imagine living under that kind of pressure for years in a war zone. And then picture someone returning home trying to work on their normal job or any employment at all.

Vietnam Veterans returned home to people spitting on them. There were no parades, no honor, just jeering crowds berating their service. This action against those brave men and women who served their country is seems like another act of spitting on them years later.

I hope our lawmakers remember this backdrop as they vote on this budget. It is a true betrayal of our elderly veterans. Younger veterans should take note. If the government can betray a small selection of veterans, they can betray anyone. Any veteran at all.

The Veterans Administration plans to use the money they take from older veterans to pay for the new “Choice Program.” This is a program that does not work due to the inability of the VA to pay medical contractors in a timely manner if at all (private conversation with a service provider).

Should this egregious plan go through, it’s a safe bet that within 3 months people will lose their homes and then their lives. Can our lawmakers live with that?

If you’d like to contact me further on this topic:

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©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

PHOTO By Hu Totya (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Smoking as an Addiction

One in a series on addictions. You can see my different writings on the topic here.

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I had my first cigarette when I was eight or nine years old and was addicted to smoking from the age of 14 on up. I used to smoke three packs of cigarettes per day. I have quit smoking 5 times, once for fourteen years. I quit this last time fifteen years ago.

In my fantasies, I enjoyed smoking. In reality, I coughed in the mornings and all day long. As the cost of cigarettes increased I resented the money I spent. As an addict, I gave up the power of choice and spent money on cigarettes that I actually wanted for other areas of my life. I burned holes in my clothes, and I was forever chasing the elusive pleasure of that first cigarette.

Frequently you hear smokers talk about wanting to quit smoking. I personally do not know one smoker who actually wants to continue smoking. If you are a person for whom smoking is simply a bad habit, you simply need to find the smoking cessation program that matches your usual and natural way of doing things.

There are many approaches to quitting smoking. You can purchase over the counter products, go to your physician for assistance with prescription medications, use programs at your local medical group, contact the American Heart Association, or Google the American Cancer Society. All these approaches have value and work for people.

If, however, when you honestly want to stop smoking, you find that you cannot, we will talk about the addiction model as it applies to your inability to quit.

If you are addicted to smoking, you will find that the normal approaches to quitting will not work for you long term. You can quit. And quit again. And then quit once more. The problem is staying cigarette free. For the true addict, there will always be one more tempting situation. And eventually, once more justification to pick up smoking again.

The disease model, instead, suggests that you have a high risk for addiction to the chemical nicotine based upon your personal heredity. Instead of a bad habit, you have an allergy to the nicotine that causes you to feel better when you smoke. This is an abnormal reaction compared to many other smokers. Some people have a bad habit, others are addicted.

The story of how I started smoking after fifteen years of not smoking illustrates many aspects of addiction. My late husband was in hospice care at home. This means I stayed home to take care of him twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. My windows were open to the cool spring and summer air California air. Open windows unknowingly left me vulnerable to the second-hand smoke of my neighbor. My neighbor, who only smoked outdoors on her property directly underneath my windows. This exposed me to the chemicals related to addiction.

I began to think of smoking. Dream about smoking. My hand would lift up as if I had a cigarette in it.

Enter the fact of tolerance.  Her second-hand smoke was impacting me as if I was smoking myself. And tolerance meant that after a time, I needed more and more of my drug of choice to reach the same effect. Eventually, I gave in and bought cigarettes for myself which led to the progression of consequences.

One day, I began coughing, choking, and having trouble breathing. Finally, I was smoking like I did when I quit the last time.

And social consequences: People don’t like it when you smoke around them and they are rather vocal about it. You cannot smoke in their homes, at work, or even most places. You are required to stand outside in the rain, sleet, snow and heat.

Now there is denial. Denial is a mental defense against reality. It’s both the way you protect yourself from harm and the way you prevent yourself from solving your problems. For me, this took a form of defiance.

“I can smoke if I want to”, I thought.

“There are worse things I could be doing!

“After all, I have just lost my husband!”

I justified my behavior.

And then there was the flying in the face of all evidence to the contrary, “I can handle this. I can smoke and quit.”

Finishing with the whistling in the dark defense, “One day I’ll quit.”

These days there are 12-step programs for most addictive behaviors. Smoking is one of these. You can visit Nicotine Anonymous. They have face-to-face, internet and telephone meetings available to anyone. They have a program for living without cigarettes.

Once you’ve learned to live without your drug of choice, Recovery Wellness Coaching can help. This type of coaching will help you focus on the rest of your life, your goals, dreams, and plans.

Contact me to grow your life:

Email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

Available by Skype and Conference Call.

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Abuse, Chronic Illness, and Positive Thinking

 

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Photo by LPHR Group

I study positive thinking books.
Take in and apply what they say.
Using affirmations as an eraser.
Obliterate the ugliness of my past.
I work hard at this laborious task
believing I can change my thinking
and change my life.
Holding fast to the idea that I am capable
of washing my past right out of my mind.

 

Naysayers assert that affirmations
are useless
a fantasy
an illusion
prevent real action
create a blame game
and all manner of other proclamations.
I do disagree.
Then I think, “So what if they are right!”
Affirmations help me cope.
Positive thinking gives me a sense of control.
My past was overwhelming.
My present does not have to be.

Opposing ideas roll around in my psyche.
I’ve always believed in life itself
a rich life full of love
friendship
music
dancing
laughter
success
much more than my history
would grant me.

Deep within me are beliefs
planted by mom and bullies far and wide.
Destructive and dark thoughts
leftover from a childhood that haunts me
with its awfulness.
“Don’t let your light shine”
“Don’t let people see you happy”
“Stay invisible”
“Fail because failure is easier than her wrath”
A pratfall is a better idea
than facing mom’s most positively creative acts
of psychological violence on my personhood.

When I’m in a medical crisis
an illness flare up
I use Louise Hay’s Heal Your Body
looking up the symptoms I experience
then I say those affirmations over and over
hoping to take some degree of control over
things that feel more powerful than me.
As always, there is a theme to my condition.
A mental script that heralds my past again.

Research shows that childhood pain
can come out in the body.
It’s pain I reject
ideas I don’t want
a history I wish to re-write.
Different parts of my body all saying the same thing.

I want to change these ideas
wash them right out of my being
I’ve spent my life dedicated to this task
getting rid of mom
and the influence of her feelings toward me.
And those bullies
all those bullies
whose motives are unknown.
Let’s erase them too from my world.

So, I wake up each day
open the book of affirmations
look up each and every current yelling body part
and say the affirmation corresponding to it.
In extreme situations throughout the day
with pain beyond measure
I turn to the book
and chant the affirmation on pain
over and over and over.

Body memory is deep
and bites back
As I laugh and love and enjoy my life
my body remembers what my mind wants to forget.
But my body is mistaken.
Mom was wrong.
The bullies were stupid.
Life is to be lived.
We all have value.

And so I repeat:
I lovingly release the past.
They are free and I am free
All is well in my heart now.“*
Believing firmly that I can erase
the impact of my history.
I cannot go back in time
nurture the girl I was
I cannot prevent or erase the past.

I can throw the past backward into history.
Not allow the past to intrude on today.
I have to work diligently at this task.
It takes effort to have a life worth living
experience success
reach my goals
laugh
love
be happy.
I think that effort is worth it.

*Affirmations from Louise Hay’s Heal Your Body

Contact me if you’d like to change your thinking.

Email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

My Broken Vase

A dream has haunted meStillleben_mit_Schachteln,_1941
for days and days.
A nuanced dream
with many layers
all singing me a message
that I am refusing to hear.
Covering my ears
closing my eyes
an ostrich head in the sand.
A teenager fighting the world
resisting and rolling my eyes
fluffing my hair
in a posture of outrage.

My late husband bought me
a dusty teal colored vase
with a crochet flower bouquet
full of memories of fun
laughter
sunshine
and freedom.
I often look at that vase
with fondness
of my life well lived.

I gasped in my dream
as the vase dropped to the floor
breaking into pieces
too small
too many to fix.
Grieving, I awoke.
Mourning, I think, the vase
and the life that is no more.

But, wait, look, think.
The crochet flowers remain whole
sitting there on the floor
In the middle of all those broken pieces.
Whole flowers
needing a good cleaning
and some tender loving care.
Undamaged flowers making me think.

The only sure thing in life is change.
As long as I breathe
live on this side of the dirt
life will happen.
When the sun shines
rain will eventually fall.
And back again to the sun.
With laughter, prepare for tears
and tears for laughter.
Vases we love will break.
Maybe the flowers within
will survive.

We live in the middle of life’s changes.
I’m here
alive
and not always well.
I will adapt
adjust
accept
flourish.
I can live a full life
no matter what happens.
I’ll be the flower that remains.
Yes, I will.

Contact me for life coaching about the changes in your life.

Email: agentledrlaura@mail.com

Telephone: (615) 464-3791

©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

Painting by Felix Nussbaum (https://www.tumblr.com/search/Felix+Nussbaum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons