How I Learned to Give Up Fighting the Moment

live in what is happening

I find that this is where most of my anxiety comes from:  thinking things should be a certain way, and being unwilling to accept that they are actually the exact opposite.  I fuss and I tussle and I tumble with “the way things are,” trying every day to bend it to my iron will.  Newsflash to those who might need it — the world doesn’t work that way, and it probably never will.

The way I see it, the way DBT teaches it, we really shouldn’t be trying to bend any thing or any person to our own will.  Life is meant to happen, and it is us railing against the facts of the world that make us so unhappy.  In many situations (not most, not all, but not just a few), there is very little we can do about any given situation, other than control our reaction and response to it.

For example, I may or may not have a small road anger (it’s not true RAGE, I mean, c’mon) issue, but I have been trying to practice radical acceptance in most matters, and have recently been applying that to driving.  It has been interesting.  This morning, someone honked at me because I didn’t move at a green arrow a half second BEFORE it changed.  Normally, I would have flown the bird high out the window, but today I gritted my teeth and thought, “gee, I wonder what that guy’s problem is…he must be having a hard day…thank you baby Jesus, that I am not that impatient or angry, amen.”

I felt pretty good about not flipping the angry man the bird, and felt so good about it, in fact, that I let some cars in front of me at a construction site.  My grandpa taught me over two decades ago that this was common courtesy.  Grandpa would be shocked at how people drive today, but that is besides the point.  After letting in three cars (and then moving because the light turned green), I couldn’t help but notice that I had invoked a spitting-mad, yelling tirade in the woman behind me, ,because she had to wait for the light to turn green again.

A few months ago, I could totally have been the pissed off honking man or the cursing impatient woman.  Thanks to DBT, ahem, the PRACTICE of DBT skills, I find myself no longer trapped in anger at situations where I have no control.  My mind is open and willing, and my patience for *most* people has greatly increased.

Practicing accepting situations beyond our control, as a matter of distress tolerance, is a mighty valuable tool.  I do have to turn things over in my mind repeatedly to get there, but I have been able to better manage my hostile, off-the-cuff reactions to other people’s inadequacies.

I have learned that I do not control the world around me, and I do not control the people around me, so what is best for me is to roll with the circumstances, and when things get too heated or when I start getting upset and to the point where I feel like my values have been stepped on, then I remove myself from said situation.

I really do think that radical acceptance is the hardest thing to practice in DBT, but I also feel it is most important (or at least as applied to my life).  When we can accept things for what they are, and not struggle and fight, life overall becomes much easier, much less painful.  I wish this is a skill I could stick in my back pocket and just pull out when I’m feeling like putting out the effort, but it is something that is best practiced daily, along with a heaping dose of nonjudgemental stance (and yes, I mean nonjudgmental stance toward oneself, as well).

Permission to Be Happy

your attitude


Or how about this — how about stop giving the dark side of Rosa the power to control smile, worth, and attitude?  To shame and to increase self-blame and to think ever-so-lowly of oneself?  To stop giving the dark side of Rosa the power to make all of Rosa so damn miserable?  To stop all the self-doubt, the self-loathing, the negative string of tapes that play inside the head?  To just stop it?

I am my own worst critic — always have been, probably always will be.  My mom has been saying it for years, as well as Goddess of Mindfulness, and I get that comment in this blog often.  I let the dark side of me rule the rest of me, until I am all dark, nothing I do is right, and I am a failure at everything.

Now, sometimes I can rise above all this.  Sometimes I can see that I’m being too hard on myself or that I need to give myself some credit.  I’m not always miserable, and so much of me has become accustomed to that negative tape in my head, that it’s not always so unbearably loud.  But it’s always there.  I don’t think any amount of medication or therapy will ever make it go completely away.  I just have to keep learning how to silence it slowly.

I want to give myself permission to be happy, and I think I am doing that more and more these days.  I am letting myself have friends without that deep fear of rejection.  I am connecting with my sister in such a strong and profound way.  I have Baby O and all his amazingness in my life — he makes me want to be a better person.  I am letting myself be open and honest with my parents, about my needs, my wants, my wishes.

It is a work in progress, but more and more I cede control to the side of Rosa that is standing in the light.  To the side that is resilient and beautiful and happy and hopeful.  Deep in the darkness, it is hard to find that side, but she is there all along.

When He Won’t Seek Help

We’ve probably all been there.  Had a significant other, going through a tough time.  Perhaps they have a mental illness, or a serious physical illness.  Perhaps they don’t have any sort of illness, but life has them flailing.  As a concerned significant other — what do you do?

The first step is probably to wring your hands and worry about it a a bit first, before acting.  It’s quite possible that, while you’re wringing your hands and doing the “polite” thing and not saying anything, their situation is getting either better or worse.  If the situation is resolving itself on it’s own, then your boyfriend is lucky.  If the situation is getting worse, you tell yourself that they will surely seek help.

When it is said, “seek help”, that means help of any sort.  Perhaps they will come to you with their problem, their struggle, and ask you to listen.  You may have some knowledge of what they are going through, having gone through it yourself or having someone close to you  who has struggled in the same way.

Perhaps the problem is out of the bounds of what a layman can do, and they seek professional help.  A therapist, their primary care physician, an internist, a specialist, a member of their ministry.  Someone, hopefully the right someone, who can  help them with this problem.

What is more likely is that your significant other, or whatever  he is to you at this point, does not seek professional help.  Instead, there is denial that there is a problem, and you get your head bitten off for suggesting a call to the ol’ PCP is in order.

There may be Googling of symptoms and WebMD may lead your boyfriend to self-diagnose.  No one should ever diagnose themselves from WebMD.  It is a very bad idea, and they have a disclaimer on their website.

Perhaps your significant other has no insurance.  Perhaps they are unable to take a sick day to go see a specialist.  Perhaps the driveway is blocked with snow and they are unable to receive this much-needed attention.

So you, the significant other, has resorted back to a wringing of hands and worry mode.  Your mental health might start to suffer.  You might start to take those Klonopin PRN’s and find yourself wanting to stay away from home, because there is so much tension with this person who refuses to seek help.

He gets sicker and sicker, in body, in mind, in spirit.  You almost don’t recognize him anymore, for all the pain he is going through.  Your back and feet and head are killing you for the constant waiting on hand and foot, all the while working your regular job and trying to run your household.  The stress is breaking you.

It gets to a point, that he is so sick, even he has to admit it.  He admits it, but does not seek help, choosing instead to wait and see if things subside.  You are a party to all of that because, well, you live together and you are taking care of his every need.  Anticipating things that might go wrong and trying to veer things onto an even course, which he doesn’t let you do, because control is always his, even in this.

He has so many physical symptoms, and they’re getting so much worse, that you start waking up at night to make sure he’s still breathing.  Your mind turns over and over, with the thought that he is getting ready to die, and probably will, in your bed.  With the certainty that what is going on could kill him, you tiptoe around on eggshells, but you are never allowed to say what you are thinking, because you don’t poke spears at a sleeping lion.

The day comes, when you realize you have memorized his entire (quite lengthy and involved) medication schedule, because you know you will eventually break him into going to the ER.  And you know that he will not know these things, along with the fact that he might not physically be able to do so, due to severe pain or shortness of breath or general malaise.

You take charge and you make sure the nurses have the right information, the information that will get him admitted, because that’s where he needs to be.  Of course, blood tests and chest X-trays and CT’s are ordered, because it is very clear, even to your partner, that at this point, there is a very serious problem.

He tells you that he should have gone to the doctor “a week ago.”  It is not in your best interest to point out that you have been suggesting such for the past three.  In fact, it is not in your best interest to do much of anything while waiting for tests to come back.  Including going out to smoke a cigarette, because, well, you know, HE can’t, so why should YOU?

He asks you to go dig for change in your car so he can have a Pepsi, although the closest vending machine is worlds away through a complicated maze of the hospital’s basement floor.  He doesn’t take no for an answer, and when you bring him one from a convenience store, because that was, well, more convenient, he is enraged.

It is not his money, but he cares how you spend it.  In trying to explain that you perhaps spent 20 cents more, he yells at you.  For no reason.  And mutters to himself, “I should have just taken care of this shit myself.  I should never let you do ANYTHING.”

While you try and tell yourself that he is in pain, and that things will be better soon, you are faced with an awful truth.  This is round six in the ER in the past two years, and things are the same as they always have been.  In fact, it’s round two in the past month.  You start to realize that this is not going to get better.

Of course, they admit him, mostly because  you have provided a wealth of information, and then the hospital stay starts.  You shouldn’t smoke while he’s in the hospital, because he can’t.  You shouldn’t eat fast food or do anything “fun” while he’s in the hospital, because he can’t.  You dutifully bring him requested items once, twice, sometimes three times a day.  He is miserable and in pain, he can’t breathe, there is always something and he takes it out on you.

They are ready to discharge him, for the sixth time.  You know he will be coming home to a fairly clean house, because you begged your mother to come help with the mess.  When he arrives, he is critical of how things look, and especially how things smell.  You think it smells clean, and he accuses you of using chemicals to poison him.

You realize, with this sixth hospital admission, that something inside of you broke a little bit.  You realize that you aren’t sure how much longer you can hold on.  You continue to wait on  him hand and foot, but you don’t care as much.  You continue to listen to the ranting and raving when you want to go do something, and still, you’re not able to break free.

And then on the 30th, he’ll tell you about all the plans he has for his money, and none of it include anything for you, including groceries.  Another month in a two year relationship rolls by, in which, you’ve had help with groceries a handful of times.

And then a fight starts.  He screams at you and tells you that you are the most self-centered person he has ever met in his life.  He tells you that your family treats him like dog shit on their shoe and that they are trying to ruin your life.  He tells you that he could have made it through all of that, without your help.

A few more angry words, more yelling on his side.  You ask him, if you really feel that way, why are you still here?  He says, fine, then I’ll go.  And you scream at him, “please motherfucking do!” and cuss  and yell your way out of the house, leaving behind two dogs who are used to the drama, so you can go to your mom’s and get away for awhile.

While at your mom’s, you text him to please plan on sleeping on the couch, and all items need to be removed and him gone by the end of the next day.

Best text message ever sent.


I have been rather annoyed with myself this past week, for not blogging more.  I told myself that it was okay, that I was taking time out to do things that would improve my mental health and lessen the loss of DSB.  I told myself that starting new routines was what I needed to do in order to move on with my life, and, in some ways, that is true.  In some ways, it isn’t.

Not being on a structured schedule, where I have to be home at a certain time, get dinner on the table by a certain time, spend a certain number of hours at home, and so forth — that’s not structure I need, and it’s structure that I’ve kissed goodbye.

I realized that I have really no reason to wake up at 6:00 a.m. every day, or even 7:00 a.m. for that matter.  I therefore do not have to go to bed at 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m.  What this means is that I can stay out (yes, OUT!) later, enjoying the company of my family, nuclear and extended.  It also means that I can stay up until 10:00 p.m. to watch a tv show or watch a movie.  It means that I can go to bed at 10:00 p.m. and it’s ok to  read for another hour or two, if I’m really into my book.

I mainly feel like, before I had all of these contstraints on me and on my time, and now those heavy chains have been unlocked and I have shed them, leaving them far behind.  Doing what I want to do, unfettered by anyone else’s agenda, is lovely.  Being where I want to be, eating what I want to eat, driving where I want to drive.  It’s all quite freeing.

In some ways, I feel like I’m a bit free-floating, and could possibly use some more structure, but I just feel so HAPPY with the way things are going right now, that maybe that part of me that has always held such tight control over having a schedule and having things PLANNED out, is releasing it’s grip a bit.

Regina asks, “if I kissed you where it’s sore, would you feel better, would you feel anything at all?”  The answer is, yes, I have actually already been kissed (by family, by freedom, by living life, by my pup!) where it is sore, and I do feel much, much better.



Radical Acceptance of Fear

My inner self-critic has been working overtime lately.  It has led to a lot of anxiety, leading to tummy problems, sleepless nights, crying spells.  Granted, life has been a bit stressful lately, but DAMN.  I hate feeling this way.

Of course, I need to start doing something about this — panic attacks are just no fun at all.  I saw Goddess of Mindfulness last night after work and she suggested that I need to be practicing mindfulness.  We talked about my “all or nothing/black and white” thinking and how this creates a chain of anxiety that doesn’t end and is hard to interrupt. 

I spend so much time obsessing about life, wanting to CONTROL my life and experiences, instead of just experiencing it.  I have recently acknowledged that I need to start living life, taking risks, stepping outside my comfort zone, accepting friendship and happiness that is being extended to me.  Life is about more than survival, a lesson that Dr. Love is trying to teach me. 

My thinking can be so rigid sometimes.  If even small things don’t go the way I want them to, I panic and have extreme anxiety.  Sometimes it gets to the point where I can’t leave the house because when I leave, I know things will be out of my control.  The unexpected, the uncertain terrifies me.  I have let small anxieties about life turn into major phobias — friendships, spontanaity, anything that is out of my control is completely out of the question. 

This turns into an issue at times with Dr. Love.  He hates to plan anything, likes to do things at the last minute — and I just don’t roll like that.  I have come a long long way as far as being less rigid in my thinking and having the even momentary ability to accept change for what it is, but I’m nowhere close to being able to really LIVE my life.  I am having absolutely no fun at all, I’m just surviving. 

The pity is that this is what I’m comfortable with.  I avoid happiness and things that I enjoy like the plague, because it means that I might have to relinquish control over my feelings and my circumstances.  I have a specific protocol for almost everything in life, and when circumstances vary from how I think it should be, I freak out.  And I don’t mean a little bit.  I freak THE HELL OUT. 

So what this all comes down to is that I need to practice mindfulness and living in the moment.  In my mind, everything is very much not okay if things aren’t perfect.  I let every little thing get to me and then I obsess about it, leading to anxiety, leading to panic attacks, leading to an inability to function — when really, everything in the bigger picture is just fine. 

And now I think I should post this because my inner self-critic is telling me that this post is a piece of crap, that it rambles and rambles, is uninteresting.  I wish I could leave myself alone, cut myself a break, give myself the benefit of the doubt.