Friday, November 22, 2013

I hate myself no more

A month ago, I began reading Dr. Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One. It explains how our thoughts and feelings affect our physical and material state. He basically says that with focus and meditation you can change anything about yourself, no matter how entrenched, and reinvent yourself on a fundamental level.  If you read his book and truly want to do this, on his website for five bucks you can download the meditation that accompanies the book.

At the end of October I began the meditation exercises, committing to meditating every day. Dispenza says to start by choosing an emotion that you want to be free from. I chose self-hatred, the emotion at the bottom of every one of my depressions. Doing some research on self-hatred, I learned that feeling hatred toward anyone will feed hatred towards the self. Oh, great, I thought, Now I’m back to my mother issues. I knew my lifelong anger towards my mother was part of this, but I felt at a loss as to what to do about it.

By Saturday night of the IMPACT weekend (an intense self-defense course I took), I felt desperate. I was sick of the critic in my head that hated me, but beating up self-defense instructors wasn’t going to help. I did my nightly meditation that Saturday, but also ended up tapping (EFT), crying and begging my subconscious to please help me stop hating myself.

The following night I dreamt about a mother being forced against her will by an employer to abandon her children. When I woke up, my anger and hatred of my mother had left me. The dream gave me the clarity to see that my mother had loved me with all her heart and had been forced to abandon me just like the mother in my dream. But instead of a job or another person taking my mother away, her personality disorder did (I believe my mother suffered from borderline personality disorder but since she was never diagnosed I can’t say for certain). My mother had no control over her emotions and reactions and never even realized she needed professional help. By the end of her life she had driven many family members away including me, but that wasn’t her intention. She was as much a victim of her disorder as anyone else and was never able to see that her relationships were fractured because of her own destructive patterns. For the rest of the day, I remembered my mother’s loving side and good moments, and I realized she had never hurt me on purpose. I marveled at the change, but had to face the truth: my hatred towards my mother was gone!

I wish I could say I continued to feel better and better that week, but Dispenza’s right: once you undo the old emotional pattern you were stuck in, a part of you will fight to put it back in place. Not upset with my mother anymore, my hatred turned back on myself worse than ever. For the rest of that week I felt self-loathing and self-disgust. I felt like I was moving backwards in my emotional growth and it scared me. I kept tapping, meditating and journaling and white-knuckled my way through the week.

Last weekend I managed to break through the self-hatred and went on to the next part of Dispenza’s meditation. After that I reached another level of peacefulness and have been feeling better than ever. I can’t explain it nearly as well as Dr. Dispenza, but I am freeing myself from the anger and hatred I’ve felt my whole life towards my mother and myself. I am doing this by accessing my subconscious so I can stop my old destructive behaviors and begin new, healthy ones.

It’s so exciting to feel good about myself every day. It’s so nice to relax into my body and know that I’m just fine just the way I am. This has been a great week and I believe that if I continue the daily meditating, the new behaviors and working with my subconscious, I will reach a new way of being. I will effortlessly love and accept myself completely, in every way. I will be kind to myself and everyone else. I won't need my old addictions like sugar and drama. Maybe. Maybe I will really do this.

P.S. Remember this story I wrote just a few weeks ago? This was an anger-driven story and I don't think I could write it today. I don't know if it's good or bad that I managed to get it out when I did.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I prefer physical to emotional pain

I had my usual dental checkup last week and my dentist told me to see a periodontist. I've had no pain, sensitivity to hot or cold or discomfort in my teeth whatsoever, but he said my gums looked dangerously receded, so I made the appointment.

The periodontist identified only three teeth that are in danger, so those are the ones that will get the gum grafts. That means he'll take flesh from the roof of my mouth and tuck it in around the exposed teeth, like tucking a blanket in around children.

I'm not worried about the pain or the two-week mushy diet. Compared to major depression or other emotional trauma, I'd MUCH rather deal with physical problems. This kind of agony will be finite and easy for others to understand. I'll get lots of sympathy, a day off work and my life will be interrupted only temporarily. I'm sick of isolating, endless emotional struggle so go ahead, dig into the flesh of my mouth, no problem.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

IMPACT Self-Defense for Women

You can take the IMPACT Core Program in a weekend.
This past weekend I spent Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday attending a weekend workshop on how to defend myself against an assailant, even though I don't live in a lot of fear about that. I've been taking public transportation in Chicago for 20 years and apparently I carry myself in a way that does not invite harassment. Still, the nightmare scenarios live in the back of my head that I might come home to a stranger hiding in a closet or wake up to find an intruder in my bed. Now that I live alone again, it didn't seem like a bad idea to take my second self-defense workshop in 27 years (the first time was in 1986 when I was in college).

My IMPACT self-defense for women workshop was damned impressive. The techniques they taught fit into two categories: 

1. Take a hard part of you (heel of hand, knee) and slam it into a soft part of him (nose, groin).

2. Leverage, which is used in basic wrestling. That's the basic wrestling that girls rarely learn.

Unlike other self-defense I've learned, IMPACT doesn't teach you how to break a guy's grip on you so you can run. IMPACT teaches you how to take a man down so he can't get back up. The techniques they teach can be used by any woman -- no matter her size -- against any man -- no matter his size. The idea is to incapacitate your attacker so you have time to safely walk away and call 911. 
It turns out that incapacitating a man isn't nearly as hard as we think it is. One of the most valuable lessons IMPACT teaches is that a big unarmed man against a small unarmed woman does not have the advantage. Girls are brainwashed to believe that boys are bigger, stronger and more powerful. As women, we grow up in fear of men for their size and muscle mass alone. We perpetuate the powerful myth that men are strong and can be dangerous, while women are weaker and more vulnerable. Because we believe that myth, 80% of assaults on women are done by a single man with no weapon at all.
Maybe it's more correct to say that the main weapon used in such cases is the man's penis, but guess what? Penises are actually very vulnerable and testicles even more so. Who knew? Well, probably a lot of women who might be reading this thinking, “Yeah, if I’m ever attacked I’ll go for the groin or the eyes. I already know that.” Fair enough. But what an IMPACT weekend gives you is the opportunity to actually practice – over and over again -- physically slamming your knee/hand/butt into another person so you get these moves in your body memory. You can’t get that kind of kinesthetic programming off a page or from a video. If a man grabs me from behind or I wake up to find him sitting on top of me, how do get my knee in the right place to slam it into his crotch? IMPACT has shown me exactly how. After the training and drilling I've been through, I have no doubt that I’ll be able to throw a man off of me if I ever find myself pinned. Sure you can research defensive moves on the Internet, but actually doing it in a workshop with an actual 250-pound male instructor gives you the confidence to know you can do it anywhere.
Besides in Chicago, IMPACT has chapters in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Washington DC and Oregon. This is good stuff and if you don't have $395 lying around for the protection of your life and peace of mind, IMPACT offers scholarships and payment plans. I'm doing a payment plan that allowed me to pay $100 to hold my spot, and after that I'm doing $50 a month. But you can also apply for a scholarship because they DO have money for that. They want everyone who wants it to have this information.
I don't believe taking this course has changed my life hugely in terms of my physical safety. Men don't mess with me. But IMPACT has given me the confidence to stop worrying when my office building empties out when I work late. If I'm attacked in an empty building where no one can hear me scream and I can't outrun an assailant, I now know how to take him down all by my 5-foot 2-inch self.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


This is why divorce won't lead me back to my spinster name: "REGINA MARIA RODRíGUEZ:"

This graphic is from Slate's article Why Aren't There More John Smiths in the U.S? Do you see that name that's sixth from the top, "Maria Rodriguez?" Two thirds of my given name is among the most common in the United States. I can't stand it (but at least "Regina" doesn't show up in these statistics). Changing my last name was one reason I was glad to marry Bob Martin in 2008.

Later the article lists the 20 most frequent American surnames: "Rodriguez" is in there at #11. And "Martin" is #15. The commonness of my husband's last name is why I didn't change to "Regina Martin." I didn't think that would solve the problem of having a name that can be confused with thousands. But if you google "Regina Rodriguez-Martin," hardly anyone comes up besides me. That's better.

The rest of the Slate article does a bunch of number crunching and analysis to figure out why the name "John Smith" is far less common that it used to be. I'm not sure what that hand-wringing is about, but it makes me hopeful that maybe one day "Maria Rodriguez" will decline in popularity, if Mexican Catholics can get more imaginative in their baby-naming.

Monday, November 04, 2013

I'm perimenopausal

And now a word about menopause. According to Christiane Northrup's The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change, women with emotional issues they haven't faced yet often have more uncomfortable physical symptoms during menopause. She tells story after story of patients of hers who came in with physical symptoms, who turned out to have marital problems they were ignoring or an unhealthy family relationship they weren't dealing with, etc. Women with unresolved emotional pain seem to struggle the most with unpleasant physical symptoms in our middle age.

This gives me yet one more reason to work on my personal problems and painful emotions. I'm perimenopausal now, at the age of 47, and the big change is coming. I'm guessing it's maybe four or five years away. Menopause is the time at which someone STOPS menstruating. Perimenopause can last any number of years leading up to that, during which a woman can feel her body changing, but still gets her period.

For three years now I've been in perimenopause and for me it feels like this: I feel too warm all the time. They aren't hot flashes because I constantly feel this way. My apartment -- where I live alone fortunately -- is permanently several degrees cooler than most people would want. I keep the temperature in my bedroom below 68 degrees (Fahrenheit) when I sleep and in the morning as I rush around to get ready for work, I throw open windows and doors, trying to bring in the 50- or 40-degree (F) air. As I type this I'm sitting in the crossbreeze of two open windows, with windy 44 degree air blowing through. And I'm naked. I'm not kidding. I just took an AM shower and no matter how cool I make the water, I always come out of those perspiring. And no, I never get sick from doing this kind of thing.

With various kinds of therapies and support groups, I'm constantly working through personal issues, improving my relationships with others and finding the routines that make my body as healthy as it can be. I feel confident that my menopause will be quite comfortable, except for maybe this perspiration problem. It's annoying and embarrassing (everyone I know is used to me wiping my face and waving a handheld fan around), but I can live with it. There are far worse symptoms to suffer through, so I'm grateful for mine. It means I have to be careful about not offending others, but at least I don't need a winter wardrobe yet. It's autumn in Chicago, but I'm still wearing my summer tops and feeling perfectly comfortable.

Friday, November 01, 2013

The cycle of Halloween candy

Happy Day of the Dead! It's November and I love November because it's the last month before my absolute favorite month: December.

Over the next week Halloween candy will flood into workplaces all over the United States. This is the cycle: grown ups buy candy, give it out to kids, then their kids come home from trick-or-treating with pounds of candy, the grown ups drain their kids' candy bags, bring the candy into their workplaces, and end up eating it themselves. And that's the American way.