Surrender to the flow #change #transformation #death #renewal

The healing we experience is life changing, transformative. It’s impossible to prepare ourselves for what will emerge and how the emergence will manifest.

For me, I know something essential is being thrust forward for me to accept and release when the tears begin to flow in the middle of a yoga or meditation practice. 

In the early days and months of practicing, I tried to hold them back, control them. I thought crying meant I was weak of spirit, and I didn’t want to be anything less than strong. Now, I understand my tears as symbolic of the powerful, natural, and organic process of death and renewal.

Surrender to the flow!

“Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. One who knows crying, knows spiritual practice. If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer. Crying includes all the principles of Yoga.” – Kripalvananda

A real victim of trauma vs. Oscar Pistorius and his pity ploy

“I will not look at a picture where I’m tormented by what I saw and felt that night,” Oscar Pistorius testified after the prosecution projected an image of Reeva Steenkamp’s dead body to the court. “As I picked Reeva up, my fingers touched her head. I remember. I don’t have to look at a picture. I was there.”

Pistorius is tormented by what he saw and felt, but not by what he did? He’s not tormented by his actions?

If we are to believe Pistorius, we must believe that he was absolutely terrified that night and was only trying to protect Reeva. He was, according to him, acting and moving from a place of extreme fear and vulnerability. He was traumatized by the assumption that a burglar had gained access into his home. In his eyes, Oscar wants us to believe that he shot through that bathroom door because, in the moments leading up to the gun “accidentally” firing, Oscar was a victim of an intruder.

Okay. Let’s consider that. Let’s consider that Pistorius was terrified and traumatized.

According to Pistorius, he was so terrified and traumatized by hearing sounds coming from the locked toilet stall that he blindly shot through the bathroom door at what he imagined was a burglar. Immediately after blindly shooting through the door, Pistorius then experienced a second trauma upon realizing – oh, my goodness! – that he had actually shot Reeva. Double trauma!

One would assume that a double trauma would translate to compounded shock, correct? How does one who experiences compounded shock respond?

First, one does not immediately proclaim to himself and everyone within earshot, “I am a victim. I deserve justice.”

Pistorius testified that he repeatedly asked the paramedics on the scene for help. He repeatedly said, “Help me, help me.” He also testified that he had asked a police officer, once in custody, if he could wash his hands, because the smell of the blood on them was making him vomit.

Is this how traumatized victims react in the moments and hours following such a traumatizing event? Do victims of traumatic events ask for help and ask to be cleaned up? No, they don’t.

As a society, we’ve seen plenty of footage and images of the aftermath of devastating traumatic events like 911 and the Boston Marathon bombing. With this collective understanding and knowledge, we can make a well-educated assumption that victims of trauma have no idea what just happened to them. Victims walk around dazed and confused, right? They move about in a state of shock and disbelief. Victims don’t recognize they’re injured. They don’t realize they’re bleeding or just lost an arm or a leg. They aren’t vomiting and retching. The last thing they notice is the smell of blood on their hands. They aren’t processing anything in the immediate aftermath. They are in shock!

When we experiences a traumatic event, our senses shut down. We actually become frozen from within. Although our physical body is experiencing a physical event, the rest of our body’s ability to function fails. We may be touching things, stepping on things, saying things, screaming things, being hit by things or even hitting things ourselves…none of these sensations are experienced consciously in the moment of being impacted by the traumatic event.

As a direct result of being temporarily disassociated from our sensations during a traumatic event, we have extreme difficulty remembering details of the event or how we specifically acted and reacted at the time of impact. Our behavior seems surreal to our memory, as if we were not present when the trauma event was happening.

Amazingly, although our mind may not have been consciously processing the trauma event, our subconscious was. Our subconscious becomes the temporary storage unit, so to say, for the sensations and reactions we experienced. Those sensations cannot be processed until they leave that storage unit as triggers. Triggers present themselves to victims in the forms of sounds, odors, images, flavors or textures that mirror the actual sensations our subconscious spared us during the traumatic event.

A victim can suddenly and unexpectedly experience a trigger at any time or in any environment following the traumatic event. These sudden and unannounced triggers catapult victims into a hyper state of awareness and panic. On trigger impact, victims suddenly become fearful when no real danger is eminent and go back to their mental and emotional state of the traumatic event. A victim may begin to sweat profusely and grab at their necks as they gasp for breath. They may frantically attempt to escape a crowd of people or a room. They might aggressively push a plate of food from the table. They might stop talking mid-sentence or mid-conversation and go silent and freeze and gaze off into nothingness.

In the eyes of those witnessing these trigger responses, victims appear crazy and unstable. But neither could be further from the truth.

When a victim finally experiences a trigger, the victim is receiving cues about what really happened during the traumatic event. Getting in touch with the truth about what was experienced allows a victim to move toward balance – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Triggers are our mind’s personal messages to us that we experienced something very real and very ugly and that it’s time to pay attention and accept it in order to move through it.

Once an individual understands the when, why and how behind triggers, the victim will finally realize he/she IS a victim. And once a victim realizes there is no shame in being a victim, the victim becomes a thriving survivor.

Only an individual who lacks a conscience and who lacks all accountability can immediately step away from a double-trauma (in which his actions resulted in devastation and death) feeling like the victim.

There is nothing Pistorius needs to move through. He is not experiencing triggers or trauma recall. In his own words he states that he was there and remembers, right? However, it is clear that Pistorius needs to get over himself, stop casting delusions and lies, and start telling the truth.

I imagine he doesn’t even take the anti-depressants prescribed to him. That his accounts of waking up to the smell of blood are real, but that he’s rather annoyed and inconvenienced by the memory of the putrid smell than triggered. That his crying and vomiting are only because he is mourning the life he once lived and not the woman he murdered.



Ambiguous Loss: Grieving the Sociopath

griefOften associated with losing someone due to death or a debilitating disease/condition like Alzheimer’s, ambiguous loss is, well, ambiguous.

It’s not clear when the feelings of ambiguous loss begin to creep into our psyche in relation to our toxic relationship with the sociopath. These feelings more than likely begin while still in the relationship as we slowly, over time, witness the slipping and transformation of the sociopath from a person we once loved into a person we no longer recognize.

Once outside of the relationship, these feelings become even stronger. We realize that although we accept the sociopath for what he/she is, we fail to quickly release ourselves from and let go of the false person we once believed the sociopath to be.

Although we no longer love, honor or respect the sociopath, we still grieve the loss of the person we thought the sociopath was. We fell in love with a fantasy person, someone who we allowed to affect us deeply. And the pain and overwhelming feelings of desperation of losing this fantasy person may cause us to get stuck in our healing and recovery, paralyzing us from moving forward.

So what can we do about it? How can we overcome this loss? I’ll leave that to the experts at The Wendt Center for Loss and Healing to provide possible solutions. The following is taken from their site:

1. Seek out support from others. Surrounding yourself with people who care about you and who understand what you are going through can help validate your feelings.

2. Look for support groups that address the type of loss you are experiencing.

3. Allow yourself to take time to feel and express whatever emotions come up for you. Ignoring your feelings can prolong your feeling of being stuck.

4. Try to create a structure in aspects of your life that you can control, such as dinner and bedtime at the same time they usually occur, regular exercise, and family meetings as necessary.

5. Continue to strive to find meaning in your life that includes and acknowledges the loss you are experiencing.

6. Seek professional help if you find that the loss controlling your thoughts and behaviors and/or causing marked distress for an extended period of time.


(image source:

I will always think of him and cry because I love him

Today is the one-year anniversary of my stepfather’s death. I created the embedded slideshow for his memorial service last December. I have been too afraid to view it today. It’s true what they say: everyone grieves differently; there is no right way.

John was much more than JUST my mom’s second husband. When he married my mother, he also “married” her four daughters. We were 11, 12, 19, and 20 at the time. Not easy ages for a biological parent to handle let alone a step parent!

I grew to love him. He loved me. He loved us all. He took care of me and my sisters and treated my mother as she was always meant to be treated: with love, thoughtfulness, and care. I miss him. A lot. And think of him nearly every day.

The following is his obituary:

CUMBERLAND —John P. Fanelli Jr., 74, of Cumberland, Md., passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011, to be with God, after a brief illness.

Born Sept. 14, 1937, in Altoona, Pa., he was the son of the late John P. and Mary N. Fanelli, Sr. He was also preceded in death by his only sibling, Robert L. Fanelli.

Catholic by faith, John was a student and alter boy at St. Mary’s Grade School and graduated from Altoona Catholic High School in 1956. John received his Bachelor of Science in Education from Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania in 1960. While studying, John worked as a road inspector for the State of Pennsylvania.  After graduation, John earned his first job as a high school science teacher. His next job as a chemist for Seagram’s Co. took him to Baltimore. He soon found his niche as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Pfizer later moving to Allegany County, Maryland in 1969 where he called on physicians and pharmacists for Merck as a drug representative until his retirement in 1999.

John enjoyed many hobbies during his life on earth. He was an amateur radio operator (HAM) and had friends across the globe. He often spent many early Sunday mornings contacting and speaking with other HAMs. His call sign was WA3WSW (W3JPF). As a HAM, he was a member of the Mountain Amateur Radio Club (MARC) in Cumberland, Md. and helped in emergencies and trained future HAM enthusiasts. John also enjoyed flying and was an active member of the Mexico Farms Experimental Aircraft Association (MFEAA) and the Cumberland Soaring Group (CSG). His passion to pilot his own plane became a reality in 1994 after building an Ultralite aircraft, making his first solo flight. John also enjoyed traveling across country in his Motorcoach RV with his wife Mary Kay. They traveled up and down the east coast from Maryland to Florida. Accompanying them over the years on their trips were their loving dogs, Cinnamon, Gus, Gabby, and Maddie. Maddie, a little Shitzu John and Mary Kay saved from the shelter in May 2011, died just a few weeks before John on November 26, 2011.

John is survived by his wife, Mary Caroline (Mary Kay). Also surviving are his two sons, John V. “John Victor”, of Gerradstown, W.Va., and James “Jimmy” R. and wife Maureen, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; his six daughters, Jeena M. Tyler and husband Richard, of Hagerstown, Joanna Murray and husband Glenn, of Roanoke, Va., Rebecca Tufano and husband Joseph, of Stewartstown, Pa., Caroline Reeves-Novotny, of New Market, Md., Paula Carrasquillo and husband Jorge, of Rockville, Md., and Rachael Reeves and long-time partner Mark Wigfield, of Frostburg, Md. He is also survived by his fifteen grandchildren, Connor, J.T., Elizabeth, Tim, Jessica, Mary, Claire, Paige, Fallon, Brian, Will, Andrew, Amanda, Anthony, and Armando and seven great-grandchildren.

John and Mary Kay would have celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary on December 29, 2011.

%d bloggers like this: