Posts Tagged ‘healing’

The past 2+ years: what I’ve gained

I came back to my hometown in June 2014. Now, October 2016, I am preparing to move to a new city and state to join my love. I wanted to take some time to acknowledge what I’ve gained over the past two years.

DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy)

Then: When I came back to my hometown, I was convinced that I had no options and my life was over. I had heard of DBT because a close friend had gone through a program, but I had never considered it for myself. As my mom and I were packing for me to leave San Diego, she put in a call to a DBT program, and I got put on a waiting list. I was extremely nervous about starting with a new therapist, hesitant to trust, and felt like my connection to life and wanting to live was shaky. I started therapy in August, and group in October.

Now:  I had my final session with my therapist last Thursday. I felt a sense of completion, of accomplishment. I don’t think I need therapy, at least for the time being. I have skills, resources, and a strong support system. I have faith in my life and myself and hope for the future. I went through fourteen months of skills group, and two years of individual therapy. I also gained friends from group, women who I connect with and love. We’re different in many ways, and we’ve bonded over our shared experiences. Sometimes, I find myself using DBT skills automatically. The skills help me navigate every day, through interpersonal situations, regulating my emotions, with self-acceptance, and more. I am so grateful that I landed here and did the program – it was a huge commitment, and I worked hard and have come so far.


Then:  One of my dad’s friends told him about Nia and thought I might enjoy classes. I’d heard of it, and was curious. I took my first class while I was visiting my dad in June of 2014, and absolutely loved it. When I decided to return, I knew that Nia classes would become an essential part of my weekly routine. In a time where my depression made it challenging to get up and go in the morning, I got up three times a week and took myself there. There, I found laughter and joy and freedom of movement. The sense of heaviness that pervaded so much of my life lifted for a few hours afterward. That thread of joy and relief from anxiety helped me slowly tap into those experiences in other areas of my life.

Now:  My Nia practice has extended beyond my three times a week at the local studio, and I now practice routines at home. I have a White Belt, and have been teaching Nia for roughly six months (subbing, then consistently for two months). I’ve met some wonderful people through Nia and have gained a community. I truly love dancing, and teaching is a joy. And I will continue – on my own, and with other teachers. My hope is to start teaching a regular class by the new year. Nia has challenged me to grow, to become more in touch with my body, to integrate music and memory and movement to create an incredible whole. It’s also a great tool for sensory integration and emotional regulation. When I do Nia, I feel like I’m at home – with myself, in my body, and with those around me.

Occupational Therapy

Then: My DBT therapist suspected I had sensory issues, and referred me to an occupational therapist. At first, I was stubborn and didn’t take up her suggestion – I was concerned that doing sensory integration work would make me less sensitive overall.  Finally, I agreed to at least go for an assessment. I filled out the intake/assessment form with trepidation, wondering what my answers might mean. The woman who would become my regular OT looked over my answers and explained: I was, at the very least, tactile defensive. As we talked, more details came out, how exhausted I could get, how overwhelmed I got in busy and crowded situations. “Do you think you could help me?” I asked. “I think I can,” she replied. Through my first months of occupational therapy, I was amazed – and a bit horrified – as I became more and more aware of how strongly sensory stimuli affected me. It explained so much, from my energy crashes to times when I would shut or melt down. And slowly, the regular exercises – from the sensory diet to the regular brushing – she gave me to do began to help.

Now:  I have learned so much in the past year and a half. I have found a sensory adult community online, and I know I am not alone in being an adult with a delayed diagnosis of sensory processing disorder. I am generally less tactile defensive, except when I’m under a lot of stress – and then it’s good for me to resume brushing regularly. I’ve completed two rounds of the sensory motor iLS listening program. While I’m still sensitive to loud sounds/noises, I’m a little less so, I can filter better when there are multiple conversations going on around me.  I’ve learned about neonatal reflexes and am doing regular movement exercises to help integrate them; as a result, I startle less easily. I have so much more knowledge and awareness of my sensory issues, and I approach my life differently and respect my limits much more. I am much more understanding and accommodating with myself, and I have much more self-acceptance. Regarding my sensitivity: While I am less reactive overall, I believe that doing sensory integration work has actually enhanced my sensitivity. Things are less overwhelming overall, and I’m able to better focus on one thing at a time and sense in. Initially, I was afraid that doing sensory integration work would numb my senses, but instead I would say that it has made how I perceive things more accurate and more nuanced.

Vision Therapy

Then:  Around September of last year, after several months of occupational therapy, I was describing my visual experiences with driving at night, how the lights seemed overpoweringly bright. My OT, who also does vision therapy, decided to try a visual exercise with me, one that left me disoriented and dizzy. She referred me to the developmental optometrist for an evaluation for binocular vision – how well my eyes work together. It turned out that not only did my eyes not work together well, but I also had poor depth perception. The news unhinged me a bit, and it explained so much – why learning to drive and driving in general had been so challenging and overwhelming for me, why crowded situations and fluorescent lights bothered me so much, and much more. I got on the waitlist for vision therapy with my occupational therapist, and started in January 2016.

Now:  I completed my vision therapy last week, and had another evaluation with the developmental optometrist on Monday. I now have greatly improved depth perception, and it’s now almost relaxing to see things around me in so much detail and dimension. Driving at night is so much easier; the lights no longer seem so bright and everything seems so much clearer and well-defined. I have a greater sense of how my eyes are moving, and my eyes generally feel more relaxed and less strained. I’m still having difficulty with divergence – comfortably bringing both eyes out to see at a distance – and I maintenence exercises that I’ll do several times a week for the next while. My OT and optometrist say that vision generally keeps improving post-program as everything continues to integrate. I’ll have another followup appointment during my next visit (likely in the spring or late winter) to see where I’m at.


Then: I felt betrayed by the community that I had been part of, the community I left when I decided to leave San Diego. It was a community where I had once felt such great love and belonging, and now felt out of place and didn’t think anyone understood what was going on with me. When I came back to my hometown, I was distrustful, and I was hesitant to get involved in community-oriented activities, especially ones that resembled ones in my past. But I started to realize: I felt so welcome in my Nia classes, and I started to connect with the other people there. I looked forward to my weekly DBT group and seeing everyone there. It may not have looked like it had in the past, but I was making new friends and being in community. When I took my Nia White Belt in July of last year, I had a moment where I started to laugh and cry at the same time, “I am self-healing from an acutely painful experience in community,” I told the group that morning. “And I feel so welcome here.”

Now:  I’m going to miss all the people I’ve grown to know and love, and miss seeing them regularly. I will keep in touch as best as I can and know that I have community here. I still am connected to a few people in the community I left. I am connected to the local and greater Nia community. I love and value the people in my life. I am open to creating and building community elsewhere, too – in my own way, and in my own time.


Conversation with my inner critic

I hear the voice, intruding in on my thoughts:

I am the one who minimizes your art
and tells you
I am the one that doubts your
dreams and drives you too hard in their pursuit.
I am what you do not claim.
I am the one who steals your glory
Keeps you small when you rise
Who convinces you
you are no one.

My reply:
Your voice can be so loud
I want to raise my own
so I can hear

– Spring 2014


Swirls of color in the sky
Light playing over the landscape
People dancing around the fire
Night sky full of stars
Pine trees, drinking from the stream
Trust and warmth flooding through

Sweetness and relief flowing over me
Thoughts wandering but not resting in between
In the sacredness of this, I feel my body, connected.

– February 2013

Visualization: creating presence.

Continuing to clear out my drafts folder. This was in the papers I sorted through earlier this summer.

From a wise woman visualization in a class on transformation:

She hands me a woven shawl that she tenderly drapes across my shoulders, a round stone with a spiral carved into it, and a map with a compass so I can always have a guide. The temple itself is made of tree boughs and logs, with stain glass windows that attract the light.

She smiles, such warmth and beauty. She wears long sleeves and a long, flowing skirt. She is so present and that is the main gift she gives to me, the vividness, the sharpness of what it means to be present.

– November 2012

Lessons in observation, healing, strength


Spirit rising, 2012

The sycamore and little birds crying,
felt moved
dappled sunlight

Moved by divine calling
feels like a lot.
also: enough.

Nature connection, touching
base with Spirit, “just want to know you’re there.”
I hear the answer: “Yes.”

so much
feels like a weight

Comparison, judgments
still there to some degree –
sometimes discouraging.

Resilience, this great resilience is
I have faith.
I have faith.

-September 2013


I am ready.

Sunrise awakening

Sunrise Awakening, 2013


Ready is awakening within me
Bright colors swirling
consciousness growing
I see, acknowledge and claim
my power so much more.
Speaking out and up, up, up
Strongly rooted to the earth
I stand, dreams ready:
I believe in this and
more and more each day.

I wake up to a new kind of clarity
wrapping myself in light wholeness
breaking my heart open
This is what I came for –
knowing I can do this
I can do more than I ever imagined

I give myself permission
to open to my gifts,
to feel deeply, emotions expressing without

Knowing this, being this, holding this
Every day a practice of surrender
I open up my hands
to prayer
to joy
to healing
to what is

I am ready for

– February 2013

Note: In retrospect, I think I was ready, but I didn’t know exactly what I was ready for. I was definitely willing and determined…and the next act of my life turned out differently than expected. Standing where I am now, I appreciate where my life has taken me.

Three Julys, and the broken beauty of what we choose to do

Last night: I close my eyes and allow singer Karin Bergquist’s vocals to wash over me, her voice rich, lilting at times. As I listen, I realize that this is the third time I’ve seen the musical duo Over the Rhine in the past two years. They comes to Albuquerque nearly every July – they teach an annual songwriting workshop in Santa Fe, so they also play concerts the area as well.

Over the Rhine, a wife and husband duo, plays something close to folk or Americana music, sometimes with a hint of rock. Many of their songs have narratives. Husband Linford Detweiler often plays the piano and guitar and Karin sings and sometimes plays guitar. Sometimes they sing together and harmonize. Some of the most stunning moments during their shows are the pauses where there is no other sound but her voice.

Some of my memories from the past three Over the Rhine shows:

July 2014:
I remember some details of that concert: the stage, some of the stories. I was likely somewhat distracted, somewhat stressed, and feeling on edge. I was grateful that I was in town to see one of my favorite bands. However, I was struggling with major depression and anxiety and every day felt like a struggle. Still, going to hear music reminded me of how much I had missed seeing live bands, the way the music could lift my mood for at least a few hours. The way someone else’s story could make me forget the incessant narrative of my own, even if just for a moment

July 2015:
At this show, I was definitely in full integration mode. It had been exactly one day since my Nia White Belt training ended. That week had been the first time in over a year where I had consistently been around a group of people. Going to a concert, even in a small, intimate setting, felt like a lot after being so active for a week. My mind wandered at moments, thinking back to all the new experiences I’d had, and then I would bring myself back to the music.

July 2016:
I dropped my best friend from childhood off at the airport, and then went straight to meeting my dad so we could go to dinner and then to the show. It was at the same venue where it had been two years ago. While somewhat distracted at moments- my mind going from the Nia class I would teach the next day, to the conversations I’d had with my friend – I mostly stayed present, savoring the words and melodies with a new appreciation. I found myself tearing up a few times. I had the thought that I would likely not be here next year for their show, since I will be moving after my wedding this October.

3 different Julys, and so much change. I have gone from feeling like I’d lost my dreams to gaining a vocation through art and dance, putting pieces together to create a life I want. The pieces may not always fit together perfectly, and there are many unknowns. As I anticipate my upcoming transition and the things on my to-do list, I also feel a sense of calm and right-ness in this moment.

I leave you with lyrics to one of Over the Rhine’s songs:

All I wanna be is a thousand black birds
Bursting from a tree into the blue
Love – let it be not just a feeling
But the broken beauty 
Of what we choose to do. 

— From the song All Over Ohio