February turned me inside out

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.” – Joseph Campbell

The above quote captures what the month of February 2012 was for me…challenge upon challenge.

Most of my readers know that on February 1 I started (and will be finishing tonight!) a 30-day Bikram yoga challenge. Honestly, I don’t think I could have completed it without the help of my husband and son, who complained only slightly about my stinky-ness, sweaty-ness, and tiredness. (I’ll be preparing a surprise for them this weekend. They have NO idea!! wink, wink)

Also this month, my readers were aware that I started the process of having my tattoo removed. It’s been bitter-sweet but fairly painless. If you missed any entries, get caught up now!

However, you, my readers, were unaware that I received a VERY disturbing email mid-month (February 13) that challenged my spirit, my faith in humanity, and faith in my ability to act and react appropriately.

The exact details of the email are unimportant. Just know that reading the email instantly destroyed my memories and understanding of my recent past; it had the potential to destroy my marriage and relationship with my husband; and it made me doubt my current and seemingly healthy physical state. (The emotional effects? Pfft! ENORMOUS!)

So, how did I act and react? I turned to my creative side and did what I would like to think I do best… I wrote.

I wrote to the sender (to thank her and to acknowledge I received her generous disclosure), I wrote to the subject of the email (to let the Douche Bag know that I now know about something he lied about in hopes he’d provide an explanation or more likely, an excuse), and I wrote to myself (which I shared with my dedicated readers and followers on my The Story of a Sociopath site).

I also coped through having conversations with my family, friends, fellow bloggers, and most importantly, my husband. I was overwhelmed with their love and support and encouraging words and care. My husband was angry with me for many justifiable reasons. However, we kept the conversation going and threw blame out the window. He is no longer angry with me, but I’m not certain if I am 100% forgiven yet. Time will tell.

As for a returned correspondence from the Douche Bag? NONE! So, I wrote some more…to his mother and his new girlfriend (yes, the contents of the original email contained information she was privileged to know, in my opinion). Still nothing. Until I received a threatening letter from the Douche Bag’s lawyer (who is also a douche bag, in my opinion), stating a suit would be pursued if I did not discontinue defaming him in emails and on the site housing The Birth and Evolution of a Narcissistic Sociopath.

So, like any good American who knows her rights, I chose to ignore the letter. (I did, however, stop sending the Douche Bag and his family emails. But the story keeps getting better and better each and every day, don’t you think?)

And, in my opinion, the Douche Bag’s lack of explanation or excuse for not disclosing “his little secret” to me long ago, simply affirms what I have been convinced of for months– The Douche Bag is in fact a narcissistic sociopath with zero empathy or conscience. 🙂

Thank you, Yoga!

peaceful yogaYesterday was the half-way point in my 30-day Bikram yoga challenge at Bikram Yoga Rockville. It was also my 4-month anniversary of practicing yoga. (Woohoo!) And to make the day even more significant, I had my first OB/GYN visit as a 40-year-old woman.

Second only to the doctors who delivered my son in Colorado, the providers at Capital Women’s Care are the best. I always see the nurse first. She asks the general questions about lifestyle and medications. She was very pleased to hear that I still don’t smoke (never did, don’t plan to start); I quit drinking alcohol; I practice yoga 4-5 times each week (this month it is EVERY day); and that I am having my tattoo removed. She said, “This is wonderful, Paula. So many positive changes and just in time for your 40th birthday.” Made me feel really good, especially after she took my blood pressure and discovered I am well within the normal and healthy range. (While pregnant with my son 6 years ago, I suffered pre-eclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. Since then, I have measured a bit high. I attribute my recent lower BP reading to my yoga practice.)

Thank you, yoga!!

Then the doctor arrives. (My doctor is a funny guy with bushy brows.) His first question for me is usually, “So, is this the year you’re going to have another baby?” (The baby business is VERY profitable. Hehehehe!) However, on this visit, his first question was, “Hmmmm, are you a ballerina or something? Your spine is incredibly straight and fluid.” I answered, “I haven’t done a plié in years. I do yoga now. I guess you could call me a yogi-na.” He smiled and said he should try yoga. (Apparently, many of his patients have been touting the benefits, which he has seen with his own eyes.)

Thank you, yoga!

I left his office clutching a referral for my first mammogram and feeling peaceful. Regardless of reaching the decade of increased health risks for breast cancer, menapause, heart disease, and osteoperosis, I drove home thinking I am probably in the best health [knock on wood] that I have been since running cross country in college 20 years ago. And I really do owe it all to yoga.)

Thank you, yoga!

Specifically, I would like to acknowledge the wonderful and caring crew at Bikram Yoga Rockville. Their warm attitudes, encouraging spirits and peace-induced guidance fill me with hope and remind me with each practice the importance of just letting go…letting go…letting go. Namaste!

The bad, the good, and the REALLY ugly

Who knew what an absolute headache this stupid lizard on my forearm would become? I certainly didn’t.

The Bad

It seems like the tattoo artist who branded me with the gecko mixed white (titanium) ink with red ink to create the pink color. As mentioned in my previous post, there is no laser wavelength equivilent to titanium that would make it disappear, so to say. The best the Art Erase laser can do is make it silvery, which is actually darker than the pink and NOT what I prefer.

The Good

The M.D. who worked on my arm on Tuesday recommended that once the laser works its magic on the black ink (which is easy to make disappear), I should consider a new tattoo to cover up the remnants of the pink.  Awesome idea, I thought! I’ve already started to think of meaningful replacements, which I’ll share in a later post. Now on to the REALLY ugly part of this post.

The REALLY Ugly

After numbing the area with injections of lidocaine, the doctor zapped along the perimeter of the tattoo, hitting the black ink with amazing precision. But wow! It left behind the most hideous results. ugly geckoIt takes up to 8 weeks for the light to be absorbed completely by the body and break down the pigment.

My next treatment is scheduled for April 6.

Tattoo, what tattoo?
Tattoo removal: The first steps

Day 5: A (yoga) pedicure’s life

Day 5 yoga toes

Day 5 yoga toes

I made it through the first 5 days of my yoga challenge, and my pedicure still looks pretty good, huh?

Day 3 of my challenge, my sister joined me. She’s a few years older than me and had never done yoga before. Her “thing” was running. Unfortunately, she broke her ankle over Thanksgiving and has been desperate to do something to get active again. Over a text on Tuesday afternoon, I suggested she join me at Bikram Yoga Rockville. She said yes!

After she said yes, I wrote that if she liked the class, I would buy her a mat as an early birthday gift. (Her birthday isn’t until the end of June. Bribes help motivation, what can I say?) After Wednesday’s class,  she really liked it. She’s gone 3 times in the past 5 days and has a nicer yoga mat than I do!

Another highlight from the weekend: I did a double. I attended the 8 a.m. AND the 10 a.m. classes on Saturday morning. About 30 minutes into the first class, I was having doubts about attending a second class in the same day. My left thigh was sore, and the room seemed hotter than usual. (Yes, you CAN feel the difference between 100 degrees and 105 degrees.) Then my mind started wandering. I started thinking about the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. What a tragic film! I could feel tears welling up inside of me as I remembered the scene when Benjamin and Daisy were both the same age (roughly 30) and they had their child and then Benjamin leaves.

“Jesus, Paula! Stop thinking about that movie. And please don’t think about the end of the movie, okay?”

And then Daisy at age 60 caring for toddler Benjamin… and then tiny infant Benjamin…and then his last breath. The tears were flowing but easily camouflaged by the sweat dripping down my face. It felt good, the crying. I refocused my breathing and realized a second class is just what my body and mind needed.

The second 90 minutes was better than the first, and luckily I didn’t drift into thinking about the Button movie or Pan’s Labyrinth (gotta write about THAT film soon). I finished on a high and drove home feeling like I had accomplished more than I imagined I could that day, and it wasn’t even past noon yet!

Tomorrow is my second date with the Art Erase laser. Hopefully, I’ll have a bitter-sweet image of my right forearm to share. To catch up on my tatoo removal journey, read the following posts and laugh at my expense. Namaste!

  1. Tatoo, what tatoo?
  2. Tatoo removal: The first steps

Tattoo removal: The first steps

The "Thing"

The dark spot indicates the higher-powered laser zap.

If you read my previous post (Tatoo? What tattoo?), you are aware that yesterday was my first date with the Art Erase laser. Instead of having the entire surface zapped (as I anxiously imagined), the laser tech performed two patch tests. Why? Well, here are a few reasons why it’s important to do test patches.

  1. Everyone’s skin reacts differently to lasers and various laser settings. (Read: The technician was looking out for me and my delicate skin.)
  2. I could not answer the technician’s question about titanium (found in white ink). At the time I received the tattoo, I didn’t know to ask the tattoo artist if he was using a pink ink or a red ink mixed with white ink. It seems titanium reacts to lasers in the opposite way other non-titanium inks do. They get DARKER!!! Don’t want that. (Again: the technician is looking out for me, this time it’s my sanity she’s concerned about.)
  3. Sun exposure of the area can play tricks with the technician’s eyes, and therefore decrease the quality of the removal. The technician wants to be certain that the treated area matches the normal tone of the surrounding non-tattooed skin. (Again: a sign that the technician is skilled and cares about the results and keeping the customer happy!)
  4. We all have different thresholds for pain. The technician used the patch test as an opportunity for me to ease into the pain instead of thrusting me head on (in this case, forearm on) into agony. (Again: the technician wants me to have a pleasant and fulfilling experience.)

My tattoo is not much bigger than a quarter, as you can see from the image above. Regardless, the process to have it removed is just over $1200.00. (I was able to get a deal and am only paying $600.00.) At first, I thought this was a bit much. (Hell, I didn’t even pay for the thing in the first place!) But after visiting the technician yesterday, I realized that I am paying for the skills of an expert team of health professionals. I want zero remnants of this “thing” to remain and am confident that my wish will be granted.

(By the way, there was little pain involved. Because it was just two zaps of the laser, I declined any numbing cream. They just felt like a rubber band being snapped across my arm. A few minutes later, the skin raised and warmed in the two spots. Nothing a little bit of Vaseline and band-aid couldn’t soothe. My next visit is February 7.)

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