What’s the Big Deal?

There is not much more aside from what I have been sharing throughout this site to throw into a typical “about me” page. What I can say is that I spent many years choosing some unhealthy coping skills (some even dangerous), not because I found joy in doing so, yet because I didn’t have the knowledge of what else to do.

I remember in my first DBT class when we were introduced to Distress Tolerance. I felt like the heavens had opened. Suddenly, here were all these different things I could choose to do instead of hurting myself!! Now, it took a lot of practice and even after all these years, there are still moments I have to very aware of my actions, yet the very knowledge that there was something else out there was life-changing. You see, I didn’t enjoy making unhealthy choices, I just didn’t know what else to do.

One of the things I started doing again while going through DBT was journaling. Allow me to share an excerpt from that time when I was going through this “revelation” time.  It is moments like this that give you hope, and hope can go a long way when you are in distress.

So, who am I? Just an imperfect human who was lucky enough to learn healthy skills, fall in love with the program, kept taking sessions and desired to create a space to share a bunch of it with you in my own way.

November 2013 – DBT Crack

At some point, you just have to believe in yourself, have faith in your higher power, and go for it.

There are aspects of my life that seem to be moving at warp speed lately. I sit in class and soak in every word I can. Sometimes I concentrate so hard on something said that I actually end up missing things. When it was suggested I look into the class, it was said that I might find some tools in there to help me cope with life a little better. I believe the other comment made suggested that by the end of the class I would have the option to look at myself and my life in a different way. Walking in there with a lifetime of self-doubt and hate, I was up for it for the most part. What could it hurt?

Dude, this class is like crack. I cannot learn enough. Even when I don’t fully understand something, I can still tell the usefulness of its application. In between classes I am researching things online and dropping questions to the instructors. If I don’t understand it, I do by the next class. My mind runs on overtime. Thank goodness they stress breathing! I try to consciously practice skills daily and be aware even when I am not trying. I get asked how the class is going and I get all excited and it’s hard to shut me up.

There are a lot of factors combined for such success. Obviously, I have to be willing to “work the program” as we would say in Al-anon. My success or failure in this will depend on my attitude and my commitment. The way the class is taught plays a big part. If you would have handed me a book of all this and said “read this” then I would not be much farther than I was two months ago. There are also a lot of people aside from myself involved in the process. It is not a solo journey and I would never think of taking personal credit for the success of it. Everyone has a role.

Being a visual and hands-on learner, the interactivity and assignments along with a positive attitude from the instructors ace it for me. None of this “now I am going to read this power point slide, take notes, test next week” stuff. Might as well give me the book to read. We are shown, we practice, we give feedback, we ask questions, and we learn. For the most part, there are no wrong answers and there is no pressure to participate. Yes, outside of class I make a lot of quips in regards to mindfulness exercises, but if you actually listen to me you will realize that I am apparently paying attention. My nephew is my accountability partner. He gets to listen to what I’ve learned and I ask him lots of “what do you think about that” questions. We remind each other often to look for the “blue donkey” and have a deal to do “Peter Pan poses and half smiles” each day before he leaves for the bus.

At the end of the day, I understand the great value of all of it. This is not only because I have made it to the end of the day. but because I wanted to make it to the end of the day. I’m telling you, it’s crack.

As enjoyable the wins are, it has not been easy. Just like when I decided to get healthy physically, it had to be a lifestyle change. It would have to be a serious commitment. Options such as giving up, giving in, and quitting could not be available. At least with the weight loss, I had a general idea what I was in for, with this, I was in totally uncharted territory. At some level I would have to trust myself – the person I trusted the least. All I knew was that something had to change. When you can’t think back to a time when you did not deeply hate yourself (no matter what you showed the world), then it is time for a change.

I had a jump start on some things – my decision to start feeling emotions came out of the exhaustion of fighting them for so many years. I couldn’t keep them from happening, so maybe it was time to try and learn what to do with them. It was time to put names to them no matter how scary they appeared, and oh did they appear. If I would have thought a little more about it, maybe I could have come up with a way to slowly let the big wall down instead of blowing up the dam. Well, leave it to me – all or nothing!

I think my initial “ah-ha” moment with class came the first night we talked about distress tolerance. As we went through several things one could do, I got excited. There were several of these things I had done through the years. Could it be possible I really did have a tiny grasp on my life? The key was that now I was learning the how and why behind these things. I think this is where my brain went into sponge mode (crack alert!). I also was able to realize that some of the things I chose to do were either not healthy or I was unable to keep them in healthy boundaries. It was like God whispered in my ear “see, you have the power to do this.”

Learning and doing sometimes run parallel, sometimes intersect. As I was learning so many new ways to deal with things, I would find myself falling back into old habits. Unsafe and unhealthy, they were familiar. I knew they worked even though they were damaging. 

For those 90 minutes once a week, life is good. Isn’t always the best outside. I am changing, my mind is changing, I start to see life differently, and it is overwhelming. I am running faster than I can walk and expect way more than I can offer. In a sense, I guess this is a sign that I am ok – as this is how I generally go through life. The problem is, with all the new information coming in and the desire to change, it is starting to take a huge toll.

When God tells you He will not let you fail, He doesn’t. When you can’t stand up despite trying, He sends someone (or multiple people) to offer you a hand. Of course, when you struggle with accepting help, He just has them grab you and pull you to your feet. Then He “firmly” whispers “next time, just take their hand(s).” Ok, God. I will work on this one too.

Now, seeing that I have done great and marvelous things while dragging myself along rock bottom, just wait until I am at 100% again – I will move mountains!

Seriously, crack I tell ya. Crack.