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Developmental tasks — 9 Comments

  1. What a terrific article! And, as always, very poignant – these messages and discussions appear “when they are needed the most.”

    I was talking about this with a friend of mine, and the “milestones” are fewer and further between, but for me, they are monumental. I’ve come a long way in 3 years and I can look back over my lifetime and actually recognize where I wasn’t really “living” in the present.

    You mentioned that we can lose our dreams and fantasies, etc., and that is very, very true. For the longest time, I kept telling myself that there was nothing left to dream ABOUT – nothing left to reach for. And, this was even before I discovered what the exspath was – it was 100% Trauma Talk, and I set myself up to just fade away.

    Today, I am working on living in the present – The Now – so that my dreams, goals, and other milestones can be realized, each day. If I make long-term plans, that’s fine, but I’m never, again, going to “count” on those plans coming to fruition. If they do, that’s great – if they don’t, that’s okay, too.

    I LIKE the idea that….”Each day we get another chance to ‘start over’ and march toward healing.” For every centimeter forward, that’s forward momentum. That step forward is one that I won’t have to take, again.

    Excellent article, and something to really contemplate. Thanks, Joyce – I always read what I need to WHEN I need to read it! 😀

  2. Truthy, I’m glad you liked the article. It is something I have been contemplating for about 10 years now, since I retired after the plane crash that killed my husband.

    Throughout my life I’ve had so many “dreams” for things I wanted or wanted to do, and very few of those dreams actually came to fruition. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have goals or dreams, but I do realize that we must not be so set on those “dreams” that we can’t enjoy today. To much of my life I realize I lived in the fantasy of tomorrow’s dreams coming true.

    It is “expectations versus reality” and if we set our goals and make them “reality” when they are really NOT real, and then if they do not materialize we are devastated.

    That expectation versus realilty component is interesting to me. If we buy a lotto ticket and truly EXPECT to win (though the odds are tens of millions to one that we would win) when our number is not drawn we are devastated because we EXPECTED and BELIEVED we would win, we had bought so many tickets over the years that it was OUR TURN TO WIN… LOL However if I bought a lotto ticket I would EXPECT TO LOSE because I know the odds (which is why I dont’ buy them)

    Too many times in my life I have had the expectation to “win” this or that dream…and like the lotto ticket buyer who expected to win, when I didn’t I was devastated. My world fell apart.

    Now I predict the future less and my goals are more reality centered. I look back over my life and try to come to acceptance of things both positive and negative. I know I can’t go back and get a “do over” because life doesn’t work like that, but I do try to find satisfaction in myself, my life and the future (whatever happens) to deal with it day by day.

    It isn’t always easy because I have some deep regrets about choices I have made in the past, but I can’t undo those choices or the consequences that they led to, but I can “forgive” myself.

    Maslow talked about the needs we have psychologically, here is a link to wiki about those needs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs and I think that when our basic needs are met for food, air, safety, and love by examining our lives we can reach toward self actualization. Maslow thought only some very high minded people like Mother Teresa and Gandi ever reached that plane, but I think that anyone can strive for that tip of the pyramid.

    • Joyce, in my recovery and healing processes, I’ve really had my eyes opened about how complete childhood trauma goes, and this goes along with “expectations.” For people like me, I would do the same thing, over and over, with the faulty belief that I could somehow alter the outcome and my “expectations” were always that things were going to be different. I had been told this, countless times, by my alcoholic mother, and non-alcoholic father. “It won’t ever be like this, again,” was the dysfunctional equivalent to saying, “Your life has been a living hell, and I’m responsible for it because you are too young to leave and live on your own, so you must rely upon me to meet your basic needs, which I have failed to do.”

      I always held this outrageously unattainable level of expectation – for myself, and for others. I wouldn’t take things one tiny step at a time – if I were going to make a change for myself, it would be accomplished in one fell swoop. Anything less was a catastrophic failure. I had the same issues with other people, like Victor and Mike, and everyone else. They were going to be OKAY, all at one time, or they were never going to get better.

      I “knew” this, for a long time, but I didn’t align this fact with my emotions to generate a balance of understanding until all of that business with Gretchen. By watching her behaviors and manipulations, I could clearly apply them to my own behaviors and reactions, and I came to understand that “expectations” is a future-based sentiment. Sure, we can generally guestimate that something will occur, but we can never really guarantee this. For an adult who experienced childhood trauma, this is totally unacceptable – there MUST be a favorable outcome, or pleasant options.

      So, it’s definitely an ongoing experience of healing and recovery, and I’m so grateful to be where I am, right this minute, than where I was even 6 months ago. Each day is a new day, and “time” isn’t so much of an issue, anymore.

      As a strict aside, I heard a discussion on the radio a long while back about science and building the most accurate atomic clock on the planet. Although we are able to measure the passage of time, science cannot EXPLAIN it. So………having typed that, living in the present – The Now – is the greatest blessing that I’ve ever experienced, and I intend to work on it and make it second nature. 😉

  3. A very timely article for the end of the year, Joyce. It gave me a lot to reflect about.

    One of my favorite quotes from Joseph Campbell is:
    “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

    It seems like I’ve never had much choice in the matter. The spath made sure that nothing I expected to happen, ever actually did. All disordered people will sabotage. This is so that they can experience the thrill of watching the pain and disappointment on your face.

    All the same, I’ve accepted that this is the life that was waiting for me and my only option was to learn all that I needed to learn from it. Since we start life with very narrow perspectives anyways, it’s impossible for us to imagine everything that there is to know or experience.

    In retrospect, if my life had been exactly as I had hoped or imagined it would be when I was little, I wouldn’t have learned or grown at all. I would have stayed a child, like the spath did. And that would have made for a very boring life.

    • Sky………..what a poignant insight. No, we could never have imagined or invented the experiences to come, and I agree that it’s all been a “learning” thing.

      Expectations and predictions can be very disappointing. So, I’ve been really working on remaining open and living within the present, as much as I’m able.

      100% spot-on, Sky.

  4. Guys, I like Joseph Campbell very much…a lot of insight.

    Too many times my “plans” were based no fantasy, LOL They were reactions to events not actions. After my divorce, I think I had PTSD, and that first 6 months afterwards (I didn’t see it coming) I was on auto pilot, but some how, I found a place to live, enrolled back in college, and managed to get through that first semester with good grades. I hardly remember it, but somehow I managed, and all through the years in school to get my advanced practice license, somehow I managed 2 kids, poverty, and school…I actually had a PLAN and I worked it day by day. I wasn’t just reacting I was ACTING. Sure it was stressful, REALLY stressful, but I managed because I knew there was an END IN SIGHT, and a goal.

    About the time I got all my “sheet in one sock” the problems with Patrick’s adolescence hit and I REACTED instead of acting. So back to the “knee jerk” responses rather than making a plan and acting on it.

    It’s been a long road up from the bottom of the abyss, and I still have a ways to go, after all it is a journey, not a destination, but looking at the way that I have lived versus how I could have lived, and coming to realize that it is what it is, was what it was, but tomorrow is another chance to live in the NOW.

    Tonight on 20/20 one of the well known men who teaches mindful mediation was interviewed. He taught Anderson Cooper and then did a brain scan of him meditating and one of him being anxious and it was very interesting how the meditation calmed his brain chemicals. I have meditated off and on for years, but I am going to see if I can be more regular in meditation.

    We’ve all come a long way if you ask me…and sure there have been some set backs, and some melt downs but over all I think the paths are upward rather than spinning down into the abyss.

    Of course our childhoods have an influence on us…and there is also the natural DNA card that we are dealt, but neither early environment or DNA is DESTINY, we do have some control over how we ACT…no matter what the situation is we can make healthy choices, within the scope of what choices are available.

    The past may not have been what it could’a been, but we can’t change that, only the NOW and how we act NOW. And, without the hard lessons we learned we would not be the people we are today. We don’t have to please anyone except ourselves, and that’s the thing we do have control over.

    • Joyce…………..awesome. 100% spot-on, on every level!

      Absolutely, DNA and/or environment doesn’t have to be DESTINY, and all of the “regrets” in the world cannot go back and alter my past. What I have, right now, is what I have. I can either make the “right now” to be okay and manageable, or not.

      Meditation. Yes, yes, yes……….I truly, truly believe that meditation, mindfulness, and calming the mind is an imperative to emotional AND physical health. I really do. I used to think that the daily practice of meditating or simply “being mindful” was all a bunch of New Age Hocus Pocus. Well……….it isn’t.

      My mind has always been a frenzy of fear, regret, and overblown expectations. Once I started to work on living in the present, and letting go of the past and future, my life actually became richer. I don’t worry about what other people might think of me, anymore. I also don’t worry about Ebola, earthquakes, or what the exspath is doing. I am actually experiencing a space where “worry” is no longer a theme. Am I concerned? Yep – sure, I am. But, being “concerned” isn’t the same thing as fretting over something that hasn’t happened, already happened, or may NEVER happen.

      What a beautiful testament to recovery and healing, Joyce. Honestly……….for everything that you have experienced in your lifetime, it could have gone a completely different way, and you’re a true inspiration.

  5. Thank you Truthy, I’m not sure about the “inspiration” part as so many times I have failed to make good choices, or started to “worry” about things that I melted down. I preach a good sermon, but I don’t always LIVE IT. LOL Oh, and BTW “all I have been through” is NO WORSE than what anyone else has been through. ALL losses are TOTAL (remember the part in Dr. Viktor Frankl’s book?) My life has been no more difficult than any one else’s because my pain was total, and your’s was total and Sky’s was total, and DShakana’s is total, etc. The purpose of this blog is not just for others, it is for me. Because in order to write about something I have to think about it, look for the lessons and realize they apply to ME as much as anyone else. I do hope they help others, but mostly I want them to help ME. If that makes any sense.

    Mindful Meditation has been scientifically proven in many studies to not only calm the brain but calm the body.

    When we are stressed and in “hyper” mode, the chemicals that are released actually kraps out the immune system and we get sicker, or some germ that normally our body would have fought off infects us. Selye proved this over and over in his first experiments with rats and it has now been shown in fMRI scans and EEGs and other more scientific studies, but old Hans was the first to study it at all.

    The 20/20 program on mindful meditation made a believer out of Anderson Cooper and even Google which provides all kinds of perks for their employees provides classes and time for meditation at work. But you don’t have to have an employer or time, you just DO it.

    Too many times I let it slide and get pulled into the spin cycle, but meditation pulls me out of it WHEN I DO IT. So I am going to make a more concerted effort to meditate every day.

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