It began as a typical Friday afternoon, working at home on my books, breaking every so often for a workout, a stretch, some cleaning, or a meal. I finished lunch but the TV was still on, and when I happened to glance at it, notice of a tornado warning trailed at the bottom of the screen—in effect until ten p.m.
I always get nervous about these things. We’ve had them, but they are so rare here in New York that I still associate tornadoes with Kansas and Oz and okay maybe Texas.
My son, Jesse, would be on his way over soon, so I went on a detail-seeking mission, like what time exactly might this event occur and the exact percentage of its likelihood. The internet said it was a watch, not a warning. Still, I wanted to know how fast it could change from watch to warning. I was obsessed.
Once Jesse arrived, things just about returned to normal. I was making a honey mustard/barbecue chicken stir fry (always so delicious over couscous.) The place was lamp-lit with the a/c on, nice and cozy, and I was listening to the rain. Then, in my still “kind of nervous” rushing around, I managed to drop half a box of the couscous all over the kitchen floor.
I had another box—good thing. (I’m so prepared.)
But we have this thing about bugs. Jesse always had a slight phobia when it came to insects or rodents. As for me, well I just don’t want to see them crawling or watch them die. My place has been a pest-free zone. Seriously, I have not seen a bug since I moved in here two years ago. Jesse had always been appalled at the notion that they could casually stroll in like a guest, and I’d be all like oh, damn, the thing has to suffer a horrible death now. I can’t have that.
So I had to get every single morsel of that couscous off the floor because bugs. I thought it would be a quick vacuum, and that would do the trick, but it managed to get under the oven, so we had to move that. Still not a huge deal, but my son has this way of catastrophizing that is right on par with my anxiety. Every time I thought I had finished, he’d be like, no there’s a truckload more under there or a ton more under that thing. I was arguing there wasn’t even a truckload or a ton in the box to begin with! A lot of it did manage to get wedged under the cabinet on both sides, though, so I had to lay down and reach under with utensils and paper towels until every trace of it was gone. Meanwhile, Jesse managed to get a paper towel sucked up into the vacuum and had to take the whole thing apart to get it out. We laughed, and I cautioned him about getting the fork sucked up and confiscated it so that couldn’t happen.
This unanticipated ordeal took about an hour, but it got done, and soon after, dinner was on the table, which looked a lot like this:
Despite everything, it came out great, and after that, we sat down to binge watch “How I Met Your Mother.” I bought that whole series along with “Big Bang Theory,” because I love funny stuff, and laughter is everything.
So with the disk loading up now, my son turns to me with this really serious look on his face and says, “So now a tornado is coming to finish us off?”
I laughed for ten minutes.
Yes, now that we survived the zombie apocalypse, Armageddon and all—
And there was no tornado, but clearly, panicking and catastrophizing never really does any good.
© Copyright July 1, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.
Wizard of Oz 1939 photo by Insomnia Cured Here
Chicken photo by jeffreyw
And here is his recipe
This is the recipe I used except I add jalapenos.
Anxiety was a tiny flower that grew in the deep shade of my childhood’s fairy tale garden. As it curled open, its petals were an exploding snap of OCD, situational panic disorder, and slight claustrophobia/agoraphobia. I also exhibited signs of Asperger’s and, by my late teens, had developed BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) which peaked in the decade that followed.
I’ve read that people with BDD see themselves as ugly and obsess over perceived defects. As far as I’m concerned, that’s too broad. Since BDD is an obsession, it is an addiction, which means your perception concerning this issue remains distorted, and your judgment is impaired. It’s an ongoing narcissistic conflict of hating/loving oneself and disguising inferiority with superiority. You do convince yourself you are beautiful sometimes. Other times, you believe you are hideous, and it is all a distorted mess. Almost everywhere you turn, you come face to face with twisted, seemingly demonic mirrors that have no mercy.
Well-meaning compliments from others are great, but they don’t stick. I mean, people would tell me I should be a model. The funny thing about people is, they will admire something about you and say you should be this or do that. Then when you become that thing, it’s like, who do you think you are, and why do you think you’re good enough to do that? It becomes another source of rejection and shame.
Anyway, the preoccupation I had with body image led to excessive grooming. I wouldn’t even answer the door if I wasn’t wearing make-up. Without realizing, I had set an impossible standard for myself that didn’t apply to others— as though I were somehow superior. It was an inferiority complex turned inside out—two sides of the same coin. Then, after all the effort exerted in trying to look perfect, I didn’t necessarily have fun. I worried about how I looked. I made several trips to the restroom to check myself in the mirror.
Of course, I gave a lot of thought to how all this developed. Sure, in my life, there was trauma and emotional conflict, plenty of that. There seemed to be an unusual amount of criticism directed at me, including the plain silliness of other kids taunting, laughing. It would make sense that I’d want, at least, the delusion of control over everything. But it went deeper than that. I had a few narcissistic abusers that were a constant presence in my life. Narcissism develops over time in response to narcissistic abuse. You learn to hate yourself until you can create the ‘false’ self that you believe is more acceptable. Sometimes you create strategies that help you cope and enable you to survive until you no longer need them.
Awareness and acceptance helps. For me, it’s always been, oh, I didn’t realize that was an issue, but since it is, I’ll fix it. It takes time and requires ongoing maintenance, but I do feel, in the general sense, we are bigger than the obstacles that derail us, and we have much more power than we realize. I’m not talking about chemical imbalances or illnesses beyond anyone’s control. I’m talking about things that were only beyond my control when I didn’t understand them.
Hey, I grew up with people saying, oh you’re a Scorpio, you hold grudges. You can’t forgive. At first, I thought this was a free pass to punish everyone with mad vindictiveness. Then it occurred to me, I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t have to be anything I didn’t want to be. And today, I am ridiculously forgiving. People close to me find it mind-boggling. It’s nothing heroic. As long as we have empathy for others, we can rise above what weighs us down. Once you get to that point where you can no longer feel empathy, there is little hope for change.
Today, the constant need I had for reassurance and validation has dissipated along with uncontrollable urges to solicit compliments from others. I can go to lunch or dinner with someone and never leave the table. If I do, it’s strictly business. I may glance in the mirror while washing my hands, but I’m back at the table within five minutes. I’m able to stay in the moment, present for every precious exchange. I love, too, that I can run all over town without makeup. People seem just as attracted and accepting, but the important thing is, it doesn’t matter if they like it or not. I’ve managed to become authentic, and that’s everything to me! People who have always been authentic may sneer at that. Honestly, some people don’t want to understand, and that’s their problem. As an aside, I do still hate posting photos of myself. Praise triggers an uncomfortable reminder of needing validation in the past, being in bondage. It feels awkward. There is still the part of me, too, that hates any representation of me, so I haven’t been able to disconnect entirely from that obsession, but I’m working on it.
You know, most people dealing with this won’t talk about it, at least not publicly. Why would they? It’s another shameful thing. People all over the world are in far worse circumstances, and we seem preoccupied with the most ridiculous of the ridiculous. In part, that may be true, but the underlying fear is that you will never be loved for who are, which equates to you will never be loved, period. That seems to be one of the things people fear most in life, almost a fate worse than death, and many young people out there are killing themselves for that. So while I may be alright, there are many out there who have no idea how they’ll make it through another day. Whatever we can do to help them toward the light in the darkness can mean the difference between giving up and holding on.
© Copyright January 24, 2016 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.
Way before my parenting days, I had only one reason for never giving up. It was the simple fact that one moment or one day could change everything. In the toughest times, I never forgot that. As long as I could take a breath, there was hope.
It often happens too, that after much worry and upset, after coming to the most catastrophic conclusions, everything turns out okay. Either that or we realize we were mistaken or had misunderstood. Still we probably had a horrible day or a horrible week. Maybe the whole weekend was horrible because of how we felt. We had wasted time and energy and for nothing, a time we would never get back. We could have been making precious memories instead.
These had been great reminders throughout my life, always helping me to bounce back, but how do we get to such a place? I recently stumbled upon this wonderful article by writer and motivational speaker, James Nussbaumer:
The James Nussbaumer piece is also another take on staying in the moment, and as important as it is, no matter how many times we’ve heard it, it’s so easy to forget. Egos get in the way. Attitudes get in the way. We let everything get in the way.
Another beautiful gift we have, however, is the ongoing ability to change our perspective any time we want.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.” -Charles Swindoll
© Copyright July 7, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.
I tripped over the uneven sidewalk on my block a month ago, twisting my foot twice trying to prevent the fall. I couldn’t flex my foot without feeling pain. I went home, got in bed, put ice on my foot and fell asleep. Then the building’s central fire alarm went off.
The sheer volume of that alarm is horrifying.
I got dressed in a panic, unable to lay my foot flat, and hobbled down three flights. A frail silver-haired woman carrying a birdcage appeared to be doing just fine and offered help. By the time I reached the bottom, everyone had wanted to help.
I thought the incident would have caused more damage, but the next day, my foot seemed better. I figured if I could hobble down three flights to flee a fire or an ear-shattering alarm, I didn’t need to see a doctor or get an x-ray. In fact, I should continue working out, cooking, cleaning—all the things my OCD tells me cannot wait. (As an aside, my ex-boss said she loved hiring OCD people because they get things done if it kills them.)
The thing is I am always saying you can’t get to the solution of any problem and stay in the solution until you accept the problem. But I didn’t want this inconvenience, this foot injury thing. Summer had arrived. Aside from that, I had deadlines, goals, plans. I said, a few times, this is a bad time for this to happen as if there are good times for it to happen.
It turns out, the pain from a stress fracture typically settles in after a couple of days, but the recovery process is just beginning. If you don’t take care of the injury, it gets worse.
I made the appointment.
An x-ray showed a fifth metatarsal stress fracture with the bone still in place. I didn’t need surgery, but they saddled me with this very expensive and hideous CAM boot.
They also gave me greasy Pain Stat cream. I don’t know how much that cost, but it is very messy, slippery stuff. I didn’t like it.
No one encouraged me to stay off the foot. In fact, the physical therapist said, “Hey if you’re comfortable walking twenty blocks, walk twenty blocks.” No one said anything to me about shoes either. Maybe they thought I would figure it out for myself, but I wasn’t thinking clearly in between all the stress and denial.
It doesn’t take long to figure it out. Walking around the neighborhood with legs of two different lengths and one heavy boot is not good. It throws your hip out of whack, and when you get home, everything hurts—calves, other foot, hip, back, everything but the foot in the boot. I started looking in my closet for shoes to match the height of the boot. I had nothing like that. I threw out my sneakers months ago when I moved. I never wore them.
My chiropractor said the imbalance consequences are common while being treated for this type of injury. She confirmed that the shoe you wear on the other foot, preferably a sneaker, must be the same height of the CAM boot. She also suggested Arnica Gel instead of Pain Stat. It does the same thing without the grease. She further explained that when something like this happens, it causes inflammation throughout your body. You have to eat things that are not inflammatory. So throughout the ordeal, you eat right, rest, ice, be gentle with yourself, and take good care of those other parts like your back. You must send lots of love to your body—TLC.
I went back to the podiatrist and told him about the imbalance problem. Well, they had a solution for that all along but never mentioned it. How do you like that? They gave me an adjustment for the other foot before I left. It was a flimsy rubber thing to put over a shoe. They didn’t seem to care what shoe I put it on or whether it was a close match, and it was another $50. I could have bought another pair of shoes.
I did buy sneakers, and then the boot was comfortable as long as the sneaker and adjustment gadget were on the other foot. That made it even. You feel kind of like a monster walking down the street and a little slow, but nobody’s going to mess with you.
After weeks of compliance, the foot only bothered me when I took the boot off—muscle atrophy.
I got to replace the monster CAM boot with a small ankle/foot brace after only three weeks. My foot was back to normal except for the atrophy. Considering, too, all the footbaths and “physical therapy” they keep giving me without asking… this little mishap was costly. That’s a good incentive for me to pay attention and watch where I am going.
I know that a fifth metatarsal fracture is not the worst thing that can happen to someone. In fact, it’s very low on the list of awful things that can happen. I hope it never happens to anyone reading this, but if it does, I hope sharing some of my mistakes will help.
I’m a happy camper now.
It’s funny, though, realizing what you’d taken for granted—like when I’m listening to music, and I want to dance. You begin to do it, forgetting. Soon I will, though. Be ready.
© Copyright June 12, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission. e/mail
It’s easy to judge the impaired, to walk away, make fun. It’s easy to take advantage of their vulnerabilities. What’s not easy is acceptance, and that’s unfortunate because acceptance paves the way to learning and understanding. Without it, there can be no solution or resolution. What’s not easy either is helping to heal those wounds.
Unfortunately, the afflicted/addicted are often in a cycle of narcissistic abuse. Caught up in that dynamic since childhood, they remain surrounded by narcissists who lack the healthy self-esteem and empathy to love them through their imperfections. Narcissists are too busy burying their shame and inadequacy, so instead of accepting, they punish and reject. They never put themselves in another’s place. Instead, they feel short-changed, embarrassed and inconvenienced.
I’ve heard arguments like, well we all have anxiety now and then, or nobody likes to do that, but we saddle up. I understand this logic. Maybe some refuse to test their limits. I don’t know. What I do know is we don’t have any idea how hard something is for someone else, or how hard he or she tries.
That doesn’t mean you don’t set boundaries or that you should tolerate anyone crossing the line.
At a time when I couldn’t understand an irrational source of anxiety, a therapist told me, “Think of anxiety as a hat. You can hang it anywhere, put it on anyone’s head, and wear it for anything.” It’s transference of deeper fears, and you can find a number of ways to throw them out into the universe.
I adopted the mantra, “Life is an adventure” to help me through the toughest moments. I’d picture myself as this tiny being inside a vast, fascinating universe… a being no better than any other, given opportunity after opportunity for experience and adventure. I knew I wanted to hang in for the ride rather than give up. For whatever reason, that grounded me.
So acceptance has been the key to learning and understanding for me, too, and essential to managing the afflictions on a day-to-day basis. Everyone I have met who struggles along these lines is fighting every day to manage, to test their limits, and to survive. My feeling is, if it doesn’t require as much effort for you, then whatever is going on with them is not going on with you, so this comparison is pointless. Sorry for your inconvenience, your expectations, your disappointments, and that you can’t get what you want when you want it, but I guarantee a little acceptance will go a long way.
I saw a quote once, something to the effect that, people who don’t have their stuff together are judging us all. Yes they are.
Stevie Nicks once spoke about her addiction and use of benzodiazepines to treat her anxiety. She said, in an interview, “People don’t forgive you.” It’s true. Some people will never forgive or forget the past transgressions of the afflicted or the addicted no matter the circumstances, and no matter how far you’ve come. It’s another hindrance, but we go on.
Someone I love dearly has almost all the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. Aside from having some of these symptoms myself, I care about this person more than I do anyone who would judge. I can see the world of difference it makes when you accept, love unconditionally, and play even a small part in helping a person in these circumstances to not only survive but to thrive.
If everyone could resolve their personal bias and issues, they would see individuals who are just as lovable and beautiful as they are, every bit as worthy, and strong enough to have survived the most oppressive and unrelenting pain.
Here is another thing I learned. Everybody is trying to feel good about himself or herself, from those with afflictions and disorders to the people who love and cherish them—and yes even the people who seem to have it all together. I just don’t want to make that harder for anyone.
Interesting reads –
© Copyright May 15, 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon at kyrianlyndon.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without permission.