My apologies — I had a technical glitch, and the site was down for about a week. All fixed now.
This video is a great discussion of PTSD related to the three principles of thought, consciousness and mind. Dr. Pettit clearly feels strongly that, in his opinion, his profession — psychiatry — has made things worse for people with PTSD, and actually increased our suffering.
I couldn’t agree more. I know that people go into those professions of counseling and psychiatry to help people, but I was not helped by it at all. I can’t even begin to count up the years I spent in therapy, with some terrible therapists and with some spectacular ones. But even the spectacular ones failed because they were looking at PTSD — and all other mental illnesses, in my opinion — from the completely wrong angle.
If I had understood the three principles earlier, if I had had the language to describe them and actually SEE where my anxiety, etc., were coming from, I could have eliminated my symptoms quickly. Because when I did begin to understand these principles, my life changed effortlessly for the better. I learned, most of all, that THERE WAS/IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME.
We don’t have to be afraid of our thoughts or memories, and we don’t have to fight them, as Dr. Pettit says. If we can learn to not be afraid of our thinking and recognize that thought flows like a stream inevitably toward better thinking, and we stop putting rocks in the way by being scared of them or trying to change them, we will feel GREAT. Well-being is our birthright. We are born happy. The only thing that keeps us from feeling it is our being afraid of our thinking.
When I found out I was pregnant, my doctor told me that he wasn’t exactly sure how far along I was. First of all, I had had what looked like a light period, so that date wasn’t all that helpful. And second of all, an exam was not telling him very much because of the way the uterus was positioned.
Back in 1987-88, sonograms/ultrasounds were not all that common. They usually only did them if the mother was at risk or needed more invasive testing. But my doctor said a sonogram was the only way to know for sure how far along I was.
At 20 weeks, I went in for the ultrasound and was very, very excited about it. I had already heard your heartbeat in the doctor’s office, but now, I was going to be able to see you! How amazing is that? I couldn’t believe I was actually going to see you, my child, before you were even born.
The technician ran the little scanner over my belly, and oh my gosh, there you were: a grainy, black-and-white image on a small computer screen. But I could see you.
I could SEE you.
I asked her if she could tell if you were a boy or a girl, and she said she couldn’t quite see but thought maybe, just maybe, a girl. The bigger news was that I wasn’t 20 weeks along. I was actually 24 weeks along. A whole month shaved off my wait time to see you in person!
I still have the picture of you: it’s your face, with your tiny hands up on either side.
When I got home, I went for a swim and thought about that little face I saw. I wondered how you liked the sensation of floating in water inside and outside of your mommy. As I swam my laps, I pictured your eyes, your nose, your mouth. I imagined you smiling at me as we played in the water, laughing and splashing together. I wondered if you’d have blue eyes, like mine.
You and I took a trip to Hawaii at Christmas in 2013. We went snorkeling and swimming in the ocean, and I saw your beautiful smiling, laughing face as you looked at all the fish. Blue eyes that match mine. Just as I imagined them the first time I saw you.
I’m going to create some posts that will become part of a book I’m writing to, and for, my daughter. This is one of those posts.
I don’t have a fear of dying.
Maybe it’s because I know it’s inevitable, so having fearful thoughts about it doesn’t help anything. It certainly won’t change my eventual outcome.
Knowing I’m going to die doesn’t necessarily make me want to “live more fully” because I already know that my life is beautiful and full for more reasons than I can count.
I do have one feeling about death, though, and it is this: I am sad that I won’t be by your side to comfort you in your grief.
Last night, I was trying to find something to watch on Netflix to help me relax a little bit. I noticed that the old TV show “M*A*S*H” — from the 1970s and 1980s — had been added to their streaming service. As soon as I saw the photo of the cast, I was thrown back into a memory from when I was about 11 or 12 years old.
At that age, I was living in Corona del Mar with my parents in a lovely home near the beach. One of my favorite things to do was roller skate. I was truly addicted to it. The only problem was, our neighborhood was really hilly. It didn’t stop me from roller skating outside, but there were times when I just wanted to practice my skating and try doing little tricks and things.
I asked my parents what I could do, and they said, “Why don’t we set up our garage as a mini skating rink for you?”
Wow, that was amazing! They moved the cars out of the garage, brought a record player out there and moved a few things closer to the walls to give me more floor space space, and there it was: my own personal roller skating rink.
My mom used a corner of the garage for one of her hobbies, wood carving. My father had bought her a lovely set of carving tools, and she made all kinds of things, like wall hangings and little toys. Over her carving desk hung a poster of the cast of the TV show “M*A*S*H.” It was her absolute favorite show, a comedy — as weird as that sounds — all about an emergency medical unit during the Korean war. She loved the star, Alan Alda, and she never missed an episode. I always thought it was kind of funny that my mom bought that poster and put it there, as it was a little out of character for her. As a contrast, she also watched the soap opera “Days of our Lives” every day but didn’t have that poster on the wall.
So I skated around and around in circles, listening to my records of Burt Bacharach songs like “Say a Little Prayer” and “What the World Needs Now is Love” — those are still some of my favorites — and I would see that poster on the wall as I made each revolution. Even then, I felt like I was getting some insight into my mom: like that she always wanted to be a nurse but got married, instead, and worked government jobs to help support the family. Then when I was born, I guess she figured it was too late, so she stayed home with me. Maybe in watching that show she imagined herself helping people, too.
I never asked her about that. I wish I had.
When I clicked the “play” button on Netflix to watch the pilot episode of “M*A*S*H,” I couldn’t make it through more than about 10 seconds of the theme song before I broke down into tears. Massive, heaving grief poured out of me for about five minutes. Over and over again, I said, “I miss you, Mom. I need you, Mom. I love you, Mom.”
My mom died in 1992, when I was 30 and she was 72. As I’m writing this, I’m coming up on 23 years of living my life without her physical presence. But I still have moments where the grief feels just as deep as it did the day she died.
I know that one day you’ll feel that kind of grief, too. Once it clears, there is a bittersweet happiness that comes in, too: an emotion that encompasses the pain of loss but the joy of feeling loved by someone and loving them more than you ever thought you could.
My only regret about having to die one day is that I won’t be there to hold you in my arms when you are feeling that grief, to tell you that it’s OK, and that I love you.