We had our first couples therapy session last night and I think it went really well. I’m really glad John and I are starting couples therapy together. I took Savannah for a walk earlier today, and I barely heard a single voice. I heard a brief shout once but that was about it. It was wonderful! One person asked me to put Savannah on her leash, and I also saw a green VW Van with the side door wide open that I’d seen once before at the trail-head entrance farther down the street. I’m not sure why someone would leave their van parked with the door wide open. It looked like they had left electronic equipment in it, but I didn’t investigate.
I returned from a visit with my parents in Colorado. I spent one week with my mom and dad to help take care of my mom during her surgery. Now she seems to be recovering well after suffering from nausea and dizziness caused by the pain medication. As soon as she switched to ibuprofen, she was ok. I enjoy spending time with my parents. I still wish that they hadn’t sold their house and moved away. It makes it harder to visit them! I do like Colorado though – in spite of it being two states away.
I’m continuing to make progress. I still focus on challenging my weaknesses – my shyness and my reclusiveness. I get angry at the voices occasionally, but I continue to work on this and keep my mind occupied. I find encouragement in my Buddhist teachings, on my friend’s Facebook posts, with Savannah, my friends & family members, and of course, my husband. I continue working on my memoir, although sometimes it is difficult. I think it’s really coming together and I’m planning on attending a writing conference in San Francisco in April. I look forward to completing a draft manuscript and sharing my experience with others.
I’ve had a bad headache since Sunday. I keep taking Advil, but it doesn’t help. This morning I sent my doctor an email to see what she recommends. I am hoping that these periodic headaches don’t worsen and become full-blown migraines. My dad suffers from migraines, but I never have. When I get headaches like this, everything becomes harder to deal with. I feel pressure on my eyes that makes me want to close them, but if I take a nap, I don’t feel any better. Headaches like this also make it more difficult to ignore the voices. Occasionally I will feel sick to my stomach. The voices will affect me more, like an incredibly toxic disease. I find them repulsive and disgusting anyway, but when I don’t feel physically well, it makes them seem that much worse.
I’ve often viewed the yelling, harassing voices as a highly contagious, extremely toxic disease that is capable of contaminating others. They’ve often disgusted me so much, that I’ve been at a loss for words. I’ve thought of them as leeches because they sapped my energy so much in the past, and because they stick to my life so tightly and are so unwilling to leave me alone. I’ve also compared them to vampires because of their ability to drain me of energy and hope. I used to worry that their sickening diseased voices would infect other people, and I felt responsible. They are like a cancer. Fortunately, I have John. I have my Buddhist practice, and I have my family to help me fight back. I will never stop fighting their wretched misery. I will win.
John came with me to my Buddhist study meeting last night and during the last half of the meeting, we had an open discussion. I was able to share a little bit of my experience from the past few years and I was very glad that I did. I wasn’t quite sure what to say or how to explain what my experience has been like, but I mentioned briefly about how the voices that I hear used to threaten me when I chanted. I also told about how they threatened my husband and my dad, as well as other family members, but that now the voices don’t threaten me anymore. I had stopped chanting for about a month and after my mom left, I decided that I would start chanting again. This was in June 2011 and I’ve been chanting regularly ever since.
This morning I really chanted for our happy marriage and better communication between us. I also chanted to challenge my weaknesses and to live each day with joy and appreciation. Buddhism is very encouraging, so every time I read an article, chant, or attend a meeting, I leave feeling better than I did before. I really want to encourage other people, especially with my memoir. I am writing my memoir to share my experience, and to inspire and encourage other people – especially women. At this time in our society, we really need to focus on inner change, especially me. I have a tendency to figure out everything that’s wrong with the disembodied voices that I hear in my head. Nothing that they’ve said has ever made sense, but sometimes I still get angry about what has happened in the past. If I focus on myself, and challenging my own weaknesses and negativity, then I am less worried about the voices and what other people say. This year, I’m looking forward to finishing my memoir.
Happy New Year! John & I had a terrific dinner in Capitola on New Year’s Eve with grilled mahi mahi and rice. Delicious! We walked back in the chill night air counting stars along the way. I invited a friend to join me for New Year’s prayer at the Buddhist center and afterward John and I lifted weights at the gym and picked up a few groceries. This morning I made a list of a few of my goals for 2013. My priorities are to work on my marriage with John in couples therapy, publish my memoir, and participate more in Buddhist activities with the SGI (Soka Gakkai International). I have more specific goals as well, but I haven’t written these down yet. I still have my list of goals from 2012 on my altar, so I will type up my new list and replace the old one. Goodbye 2012!
I believe 2013 will be a great year for me. I’m much happier than I have been over the past few years, and I will keep doing everything that I’ve been doing to advance in my life, win over the voices and be a successful writer. I still need to work on communicating more, especially in public and in front of groups of people. At the New Year’s prayer yesterday afternoon we had the opportunity to share our experiences and determinations during the last part of the meeting – kind of like an “open mike”. I hesitated and didn’t volunteer to share, but later I thought that sharing my experience (or anything really) in front of a roomful of people is great practice for me. It’s just the type of thing that I don’t like to do because I’m self-conscious and it makes me extremely nervous. This is precisely what I should be doing. Volunteering to spontaneously get up and talk in front of a large group of people will help bring me out of my shell and develop my communication skills so that I am not so hesitant to talk to other people.
Here’s to 2013 – the Year of Communicating!
I’ve noticed over the past few days that the voices (the yelling male voice & the quiet male & female voices) have been less present. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with John’s family and enjoyed an excellent prime rib and ham dinner, courtesy of our brother-in-law. I realized late in the day on Christmas that I hadn’t heard much from the voices that day. Yesterday and today were also much less bothersome in terms of hearing the voices. I’m not sure exactly why. I really believe that the more I’m able to ignore the voices, disregard them, and even refrain from insulting them (this is sometimes a challenge!), then the less I hear them in my head, and the less intrusive they are in my life.
I still remember what my therapists always told me in the past: Don’t give the voices power. This has been so crucial for me in many different ways. That simple statement contains within it a variety of meanings. Not giving the voices power means:
This is obviously easier said then done. It’s taken me quite a few years and many hours of therapy to get to the point where I am now in the sense that the voices are no longer a major part of my life. Now they are in the background, and although I am still aware of their existence, they do not scare me anymore. They don’t threaten me, they don’t make me feel like I’m a terrible person, and they don’t intrude into every aspect of my life like they used to in the past. In other words, because I no longer give the voices power, they no longer have any power over me.