Sunday, October 14, 2012

Opposite Action & Radical Acceptance

I'm so sorry about being MIA. Part of me likes the absence and part of me misses writing here.

My two year Auburniversarry happened on Friday! It's funny, when I told some non-local folks that, their responses were pretty similar. Either. “I'm sorry” or “that's unfortunate.” I disagree. As you well know, I've made a lot of bad choices in my life. As we all have. I've fucked up and had regrets and wished I could change a gazilliion things I've done. But you know what? Moving to Alabama was the best decision I've ever made. Which is something I never expected, something I could have never foreseen.

This last year has been a hard one. My mom's death and everything that led up to it. Basically having a complete breakdown. Being put into a hardcore, maximum security, lockdown psychiatric unit for nearly two weeks. Going through so many fucking medications. So many mixes and cocktails just hoping they'll finally work. And then being disappointed and scared. Again and again. Pain reaching epic levels. Being rejected romantically and sexually waaaaay more than I ever was back home.

On the flip side, I've found wonderful therapists and doctors who hear me and help me. One of which got me into the psych unit that kept safe when I was seconds away from killing myself. I started physical therapy. I finally found a pain specialist who is helping me immensely. I've made new friends and acquaintances. I've had some dirty fun times. Lots of books. Socializing a bit more. I've improved my cleaning and general domestic stuff. I'm getting better at self care. I've started a slow baby stepping plan to become the person I hope to be.

I feel safe here. I feel loved and protected. For the first time in my life, I feel like I'm home.

My DBT group started over on Thursday. I'm really happy about being able to go through it again. Though the woman who called me an “infidel” for being an Atheist has joined us. Ehhhh. I'm trying to focus a lot on Opposite Action and Radical Acceptance. Here's my completely untrained explanation as to what those two things are. Paraphrasing what I've learned as best I can, mixed with my own interpretations.

Opposite Action
Actions and emotions are connected. They're a cyclical pair. Your emotions affect your actions just as your actions affect your emotions. So the way to change your emotions? Is by changing your actions. Forcing yourself to do the things you naturally shy away from will change the way you see yourself and situations.

Example: I hate socializing. It scares the shit out of me. I'm afraid of judgment and having a social phobia breakdown. So, obviously, I avoid social situations. But the thing is? I hate that aspect of my personality. I hate feeling imprisoned in my home and I hate missing out on fun and adventure. So, instead of hiding out, I would need to do the opposite. i.e. forcing myself to go out, no matter how much it makes me want to cry.

In order to change the way you view situations, you have to change the way you react to them. And even though that's terrifying and painful? If you truly want to change, you need to act in the opposite way to your natural instinct. If you're pissed off, your natural reaction might be to throw shit and scream. But if you make the decision to do the opposite, like talking it through, taking deep breaths, walking away from the situation, etc, slowly these healthier reactions will be become our natural instincts. It's, basically, about retraining our brains by fighting against the unhealthy immediate reactions we engage in. It's hard as fuck. And you'll fall and give in to the unhealthy shit constantly. But making a conscious choice to try to act in opposite way will, eventually, change things on a larger scale.

Radical Acceptance
Radical Acceptance is accepting something fully. With your entire mind, body, heart, and soul. When you accept something, that is not the same as saying you think it's good or something you approve of. Accepting something horrible that happened in your past is not the same as forgiving your perpetrators. It simply means you accept that it's reality.

Reality is reality is reality. Everything is as it should be because every thing that happens is the consequence of something else. By staying in a place of “why me” or “how could this happen” or “this isn't fair” you will never heal or move forward fully. When you fight reality, you will suffer. Because you'll continue living in the past and continue being passive and stuck, incapable of moving forward.

The thing that struck me most is: Pain is inevitable but suffering is not. Suffering is pain without acceptance. Once you accept the past as reality and something you cannot change, you're capable of fully experiencing your emotions and begin your healing. Once you accept the present as reality and something under your control, you're capable of making changes.

So, yes, I'm loving DBT. I'm also loving my new therapist. God, she calls me out and asks really good questions. Like, how I laugh and minimize and blow off my trauma/abuse. I told her I'd never dealt with my abuse in therapy before; it had always been crisis management, trying to survive the present. And now I feel as if I'm in a healthy and stable enough place to deal with it. I told her, “I know you're going to take me to a dark place. But I also know you'll help me get back out of it.”

I don't see my past as anything that bad. Whatever, I should be able to shrug this shit off. But I suppose the fact that, when I talked about a couple of aspects, one therapist couldn't control her tears, a group of molestation survivors stared at me with their jaws open until someone said, “That's the most horrible thing I've ever heard.”, and my new therapist told me she had chills means I should stop minimizing and start dealing. I'm scared. So scared. But positive I'm ready for this. Especially because lately I've been dreaming about my parents constantly, some dreams are neutral, some are horrific.

I saw my pain specialist last week. We ditched the second painkiller and the muscle relaxant, kept the Lortab, and got back on the Fentanyl patches. The patches send the drug directly into your body on a constant basis. Because surgery left my absorption next to nil (meaning pills effect you way, way, WAY more than they do me since my body isn't capable of extracting all it needs) I'm hoping that the patches combined with the Lortab will make me higher functioning. I hadn't brought them up because Fentanyl is...a big deal. It's 100x stronger than Morphine. (NOT a typo.) Which should give you some idea about my pain levels. I'm baby stepping my way back into exercise and physical therapy. I also have a couple of friends who said they'd be happy to give me massages. Which would help a lot.

Not much exciting has been going on these days. Being a bit more isolated than I'd like. The biggest joy in my life was finally checking out the farmer's market! The produce is so much better and so less expensive than WalMart. I'm devouring fruits and vegetables like a mad woman. Current obsession is steamed yellow squash with some salt and margarine. Also avocados cut in half with just a sprinkle of salt and a spoon. I could live on them.

My new roommates start sleeping here as of tomorrow. We're all interested in seeing how quickly Patty cat swats their pup into submission.


  1. I say it every are an amazing woman. I am so glad that you moved and have found good doctors and friends. You explained the different therapy terms so well...and it all makes so much sense. You really should think about writing a memoir and trying to get it published. I do think it would sell....I know that is a scary thought but I know there are people out there who would understand and relate to your story.

  2. This is all so good to hear. I actually think the nightmares are a good sign -- as horrible as nightmares are, and I'm so sorry you're having them -- I take it to mean your subconscious knows you're safe now, and that it's time to start processing this stuff.

    I am so happy to hear that you've got support and resources, and you're making such big strides (and they *are* big strides), and I send you lots of love.

    You're doing a really good job.