JJ saved my life!

25 Jul

 

 

A little over a year since my traumatic event and while life is still hectic and full of chaos and disappointment at times, I thank JJ every day for the grace in which she taught me to handle this.

 

JJ was our couples counselor. He had suggested that we see one in 2010 and had found her on the internet. From the moment I entered her space, I knew that she was compassionate and kind but I had no idea that she alone would redeem my faith in humanity and the medical profession. We attended sessions regularly for several months before I lost faith in the process. She was certainly not the origin of this failure, he was. For seemingly when we were in that well naturally lit room, he listened, he acknowledged, and he promised improvement. But outside he remained in denial and delusion. She did everything that she could but some things are inevitably damaged and broken.

 

In her many attempts to salvage our relationship, JJ employed all kinds of tactics. I think my favorite was when she asked me to make a list of all his specific actions that I had found to be highly detrimental to us and me. This was preempted by his assertion that the majority of our issue was that I, “could not get over what he had done to me.” So, JJ in all her infinite wisdom decided to address the issue head on. It took me until our next session to logically list out all the different events that were still causing me pain and doubt. I was shocked to discover that it took both sides of a legal pad. I agonized over that list, reading it over and over again to ensure that I was not being “melodramatic” or “over-exaggerating” as I had been accused of this many times by my partner. After several revisions, I was ready to present this horrific laundry list of indiscretions.

 

On that spring day in March of 2010, he was wearing his long-sleeved, button down, yellow Polo which I had given him, and his favorite Khaki pants. He had let his hair grow out again, which I loved and again appeared as though he was grateful that we were in that room. I sat in the same chair in which I always did, as I am a creature of habit, wearing yoga pants and a pink tank top. JJ sat across from us in her usual black, shiny, artistic yet ergonomically correct chair. She gently moved her short, blonde hair behind one of her ears as she asked me for the list. I slowly and shyly removed it from my purse, unfolded it and handed it over shamefully. JJ took her index finger and pushed her glasses ever so slightly higher on to the bridge of her nose and began reading it. She normally maintained a clinical facial expression but as she read the list, a wave of emotion swept across that fixed face. Upon reaching its conclusion, JJ looked up at me and very forwardly stated,”I honestly have no idea why you are still in this relationship.” I was utterly shocked. I asked her what she meant and she told me that any one thing on that list would have ended most relationships in a heartbeat and that the fact that I had endured all of them and was still trying to make it work was unbelievable. My chest rose and fell with a great breath of relief. Finally, someone understood why I was so upset. Finally, someone acknowledged my hard work and resolve. And most importantly, finally HE  realized how truly harmful his behaviour had been. With her honestly and frankness, she had given me hope.

 

 

Fast forward to May 23, 2011. He left me. It was always going to happen that way. He was a runner and I was a fighter, not compatible in the least but we had both stayed true to our archetypes. I had recently found out that I was pregnant but in his mind this amazing gift was now a burden so he cut the cord and disappeared to the great Northeast and later to the far East of the globe. With the abruptness and callousness of his actions, I was in total devastation. I had also recently lost my job, so I literally felt as though I had just lost everything. Not knowing where to turn, I called JJ. She told me to come in immediately. Now, just to clarify, we had ended our sessions the year before and JJ had not heard from us or me since then. This fact did not matter to her in the least. She heard someone in pain and without hesitation offered her services. The first time I saw her again, I could hardly speak. I had not eaten or slept in days. Through the endless trail of tears, I attempted to describe the events of that day and the weeks prior. Even she could barely contain the horror she felt listening to this disturbing narration. At the end of that first hour, I knew that I was in for an extremely long process of healing and unfortunately, I did not have the funds to continue seeing her. I expressed my gratitude for that hour and that I could not come in again because I could not afford it. She told me not to concern myself about that and she also wanted to see me again next week.

 

I returned weekly for almost a year. Never once did JJ make me feel bad for not being able to pay her. Her only concern was in truly helping me to heal and be able to live again and she did!

 

The first several months, she gave me the strength and resoluteness to just take care of myself. Our sessions were mostly centered around me simply expressing the multitude of emotions which I was at the mercy of as well as the myriad of questions I had regarding his behavior. I was plagued by the hows and whys. I wanted to understand how this person that I had lived with for almost four years could do this to me. I wanted to know why he did not care about his unborn child or even what I was going through. All of this was made more difficult by his total lack of communication. But JJ taught me that it was not about him, it was about me. She instilled in me the idea that I was NEVER going to understand the why and the how, that those were his burdens to bear. My only focus was to be on how I could get through this and truly move past it.

 

Around month six, we both came to the realization that I was plateauing and in fact stagnating. I was stuck in several negative thought processes that were hindering my growth. These ranged anywhere from, I deserved what happened to me, to grief and shame over having lost my children, to questioning whether or not I was good enough to be loved. Again it would be JJ’s insight and wisdom that would be my saving grace. The thing was, we had focused so much on him and the relationship aspect that we had never really touched on anything else. She asked me to make another list. Only this time it was to be of anything that I deemed traumatic that had happened to me throughout the course of my lifetime. Again, I sat down and hesitantly recalled events from my past that had caused me the same sort of emotional response. There were several. My mom leaving my father when he and I were away, only to come home to a half empty house when I was thirteen. Several years later I was shipped off to a “therapeutic boarding school” because my parents,who were now back together, could not “deal” with me anymore. It turned out to be a sham and was full of medicated zombie children. My ex-fiance leaving in much the same manner, no real explanation and out of nowhere, only to return a year later and beg forgiveness. During that same year, I was violently sexually assaulted by someone who I thought was my friend. And lastly the loss of my children, which I had begun to think was my fault and had left a cataclysmic hole in my heart. All of these with the exception of the last two, I had been told were just part of life and you just deal with them and move on. But even though I thought I had moved past them, really they were like buried treasure waiting to resurface and after the hurricane that was my break up, there they all were, washed up on the beach and littering my soul.

 

JJ told me that she had done trauma work before with great success but that it would be a painful and altogether difficult process. At this point, I was willing to try anything to get rid of all of this emotional garbage. The process consisted of addressing and reliving each trauma and using tappers in both of my hands while doing so to discover the negative constructs about myself that were attached to each one. And she was right, it was awful. We began with what I deemed the worst and also most recent, the breakup and all of its moving parts. Then one by one in each session, we addressed each one. I remember just crying and crying, almost to the point of disillusion. How much more could I possibly cry? And as I was in that trance like state reliving these terrible events, every now and then I would hear JJ sigh. It was if SHE could barely stand to hear the pain, it was this human-ness and never-ending compassion and sympathy that made her the most amazing person and therapist, I have ever known. We never quite made it through every single one but I am here and I am okay and I am healthy, solely because of her.

 

I used to joke with her that I wished that she could hypnotize me in to forgetting him altogether. That I wished on a daily basis to have no recollection of him or our life together. But she did one better. Because if I did not remember him or what he put me through, the lesson would be lost. As would the knowledge that I survived him and all the other things that I had endured. Because of JJ, I hardly ever think about him and when I do, there is no emotional attachment whatsoever. Because of JJ, when I think about any of those events, I can think of them without punishing myself. Because of JJ, I am free.

 

I will never be able to thank her enough. My only hope is that one day, she opens an envelope with a big fat check in it and nows that I have never forgotten what she gave to me. I also hope that she knows, she saved me. I was adrift in an endless ocean of suffering and she selflessly threw me a life line. She did not have to, she was under no obligation but she did. And with her time, expertise, and heart, she saved another human being.

 

Although, I have tried in this blog posting, words can never express my love, admiration, and appreciation for her. If you appreciate someone, tell them today. Give them a hug, send them a text, or hell blog about them. And if you have gone through anything like this, please do not feel ashamed to ask for help. I could not have done this alone and no one should have to. Somewhere out there JJ’s are running around being real super heroes and yours may just be around the corner.

“And now these three remain:Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love.” I could not have met a better example of this, thank you JJ! You are a model of what I hope to be. I love you. – J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my Mother

13 May

A force of beauty

rages beneath a veil

of elegant intellect

A fearless woman

inspires my own

desire for perfection

A fatidic mère

mused by artisans

and angels

She is the jewel in the crown

She is the strength of my sound

Blessed is the daughter

that has a mother

with more heart than any other

My gratitude is ever-present

even if hidden from

your gaze

I admire that you are able

in that which I am not……

Class in every situation,

Eloquence in all relations,

Goddess of my creation.

All my love,

J

E is for Enthusiasm

10 Apr

 

“What’s up, Jamie Girl? How are you doing today?” N squared Erinn was the only person who could get away with calling me by my birth certificate name other than my mother.  The enthusiasm with which she said it was her only saving grace. This wonderful enthusiasm eventually began to make me actually enjoy my once loathed name. I had nicknamed Erinn, N squared Erinn for the obvious reason but the less obvious reason known only to me was that she was truly a person, squared.  She was amazing squared awesome and I would rearrange my schedule just to take her class.

Bikram was a hate love relationship for me. I hated motivating myself to get there but I loved the level of consciousness that I reached because of it. I commenced practicing several months ago and have never felt so at peace or centered as after one of those intensely challenging 90 minute classes.  I am a firm believer in the practice as it has not only changed my perspective on life but also because it was a much-needed friend throughout an extremely difficult period of my life.  I have always had favorite instructors from the very beginning but no one compares to Miss Erinn.

“I am fine, thanks.” I mumbled as I checked in, still wearing my sunglasses to hide the puffiness of my eyes.  She looked at me, smiled and waited for the lobby to clear out before she said,”Are you sure? Because your feel kind of tense.” Damn, I didn’t fool her.  How could I have? She was a true Earth mother.  She was extraordinarily in touch with all those around her and she observed the slightest shifts in their energy.  Compassion and love radiated from those sweat drenched pores. Normally, I would have assured her that I was okay and left it at that but as the warmth emanating from her surrounded me, I was put me at ease and I shared with her the origins of my mood.

Laying in the 107 degree room, waiting for N Squared to walk in, I recounted verbatim the wise and kind words which she had bestowed upon me in the lobby as their beauty and poignancy resonated in my heart.  My body was exhausted and my emotions were shot.  Just I began to question whether or not I could even make it through the class, that pint-sized, faux-hawk rocking, beautiful ball of spunk bounced in and turned on the lights. “Good afternoon everyone! Are we all ready for this today? Well even if we aren’t, here we go!”

She strolled through the land minds of people in her bright magenta tights and her dark ebony tank top to the podium in the front of the room. She glanced over at me before she began and raised her eye-brows as if to reassure me.  As I dripped sweat and contorted my body, I felt her strength encourage and support me.  She was one of the only instructors that walked around the room instead of merely standing on the podium and carelessly abandoned the standardized Bikram script in favor of telling stories of her own struggles and triumphs within her own practice.  She would also ensure the sanctity of the room and that all of its inhabitants felt the lack of judgement and the promise of evolution.  On this particular day, she reiterated in class the very phrases that she had used to comfort me before class.  They floated through the room and penetrated my psyche as I transcended all the grief that I had felt prior to our conversation.  I entered a meditative state in which emotions became thoughts and thoughts became bubbles that burst almost at their very inception. At some point I was simply listening and following her instructions without any attachment to my body, or the heat, or the outcome. I just listened and did.

I have never told her what that day meant to me.  But in reality it was not just that day that touched me, it was every time I saw her and everyday that she filled that space with her joy and enthusiasm for life.  I often observed her conversations with other students and the only similarity was her genuine care and interest.  Our conversation before class will always remain one that is too sacred to share and too remarkable to forget.  She has shown me a new standard for which to strive and when I feel like I just can’t make it to class or I just can’t do whatever it may be, I remember everything she has said and even in her absence I am moved into action. To me, that is the sign of a true teacher and a great human being.

I can’t wait for tomorrow night!

“Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Miss M and Her Infinite Optimism

5 Apr

As I reached for her door, I felt the same level of anxiety, excitement and apprehension as I always had. One would have thought that these feelings would have subsided with as many times as I had reached for that same door handle but they had not. She gestured me in with a move of her hand, and introduced me to her previous client. She always did that. It was both cute and refreshing that she ensured that we all acknowledged each other as well as the fact that she would throw out something anecdotal about us to the other.  The large, jovial, grey-bearded man shook my hand as he looked at me with a Santa-Klaus like warmth. He then wished me a good lesson and departed.

As I sat down in my usual seat, I asked her how she was doing. I knew that a week and half prior she had oral surgery for the third time since I had been coming, which was only a couple of months. She sat up very straight in her beautiful red frock, accessorized by a shiny gold necklace and matching earrings. Her lips were the very same hue as her dress. There was a certain authoritarian quality about her but when coupled with the genuineness of her smile and the sparkle in her eyes, it was less frightening and more deserving of respect. It was usual for her to say something like,”Oh I am fine, it went well. Now, let’s get down to business.” But not today. Today I knew something was wrong. I felt it and saw it as the light drained from her eyes and the corners of her permanently fixed smile turned ever so slightly downwards. I was completely unprepared for the facts that were to be laid out in the following minutes.

Miss M was an entertainer in the truest sense of the word. She could belt out any song at any time while hitting every note with an accuracy and strength that I only fantasized about. Her voice resonated in your ears and encouraged you to be appreciative for having the auditory sense. And when she opened that disproportionately large mouth of hers a joy welled up from her soul and was released upon the world. As if my envy for her vocal talent was not overwhelming enough, she could play virtually any instrument.  Often we would sing while she played piano and perhaps mid-song she would decide that the guitar was better suited for our endeavor and she would casually walk over, pick one up and continue playing with such ease that I could only laugh a bit. More impressive yet was that normally these were songs that she was unfamiliar with and she had maybe looked at the sheet music for five minutes! Hers was a talent and a gift to be enjoyed and admired.

I noticed my posture had changed and that I was now sinking into my chair as she recounted the events that had led to her current health.

In 1999, Miss M was performing four-hour sets, seven nights a week at a local posh hotel. When someone saw her performance she ended up landing a gig to perform for a large party in the ballroom of one of Austin’s most famous hotels. Excitedly she and her band agreed to play for the 300+ person event. They began the performance and five songs into it, she began to feel hoarse and nauseous. Soon she realized that the band was suffering as well. She apologized to the crowd and asked permission to take a brief intermission.  As she and her band walked outside, suddenly they were able to breathe again and their mysterious symptoms appeared to lessen.  Minutes later, they all felt much better and decided to return to their stations on the stage.  But as soon as they resumed their song set, the discomfort returned. In fact, at this point some of the partygoers were exhibiting the same issues. The party soon broke up. People left confused and feeling ill.

For months after the gig, Miss M had a severe case of laryngitis and felt an excruciating pain in her teeth and her jaw. Her doctors were baffled and merely tried to treat the symptoms, which included several root canals and multiple other oral surgeries. For anyone this would be painful and inconvenient but for an artist whose instrument is located in her mouth, it was devastating. After a year of appointments after appointments, the origin of her ailment was finally discovered: an industrial chemical had sadly been pumped into the ventilation system at the hotel. While she was relieved to finally have an answer, she soon learned that every oral surgery that she had been forced to endure was unnecessary and that her exposure to the chemical was the least of her worries. It was the bacteria that had begun to invade the cavities in her mouth left by numerous tooth extractions that was the real danger. For the years to follow this horrific incident, Miss M continued singing, continued fighting the overgrown bacterial infection and continued being the source of light that she had always been.

But on this Wednesday at 4 o’clock pm in 2012, she was living with the discovery that upon having her latest oral surgery, over 25 pathogens were found in one of the latest extraction sites, all of which were antibiotic resistant. “James, this could kill me.”

I now felt as if I were not sitting at all but rather existed as a puddle on this chair, this same chair that I had sat in so many times before. I half way expected to disappear through the tiny holes in the seat and land on the floor drop by drop. I nervously asked her what the plan was to attack this bastard infection. She told me that she was looking into a specialist in Seattle and that there was hope that they could control the bacteria but that it would entail taking various hardcore antibiotics, switching every couple of months for the next five years. As she continued telling me all of the different options that she was looking into, I realized that I was no longer actively listening. I was lost in the disbelief that this woman, this elegant, talented, exuberant woman was dealing with something so traumatic and if it were not for her sharing it, I would have never known. Nothing in her demeanor, nothing in her level of passion, nothing in her appearance was any indicator of her reality. The only words able to formed amongst the cloud of incoherent thoughts floating aimlessly in my mind were,”How do you stay so optimistic?”

“What else can I do? Lay down and die? That is why everyday, I put on a beautiful dress, do my make-up, put on my favorite jewelry, and invite all of you into my room to share your voices with me in a celebration of music and of life. Now let’s get down to business.” – Miss M

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use to be anything else.”    ―      Winston S. Churchill

Hello world!

4 Apr

Hey y’all! This is my new blog and it is going to be dedicated to all the people who inspire me and have shown me that love IS the only way. That phrase actually came from a set by one of my favorite DJ’s the one and only Mr. Paul Van Dyk, but more and more I am finding that it is true. I survived an awful event last year that severely changed my life and I blogged about it in-depth but now I want to share all the love that has come my way! Kind words from strangers, encouragement from friends, compliments from lovers, stories shared by others of their tragedies and triumphs, they have all touched me and aided me on my journey and in my evolution. Everyday I hope to write something in appreciation for these blessed gifts that I have been lucky enough to receive! I  hope to do them justice with my words and with my heart. Namaste! :*)