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    Body Addiction (part 2)

    It wasn't that I couldn't identify my positive qualities; it was that I had trouble owning them. I struggled with internalizing, and sometimes even believing, that I had an awful lot to offer. I didn't know it in my heart. How could I, when my core belief was that I was a defective model of humankind? There were plenty of times that I felt good, or even great, about myself; but, like clouds of smoke, such self love was fleeting and ethereal. I was operating on a wispy foundation instead of a solid one. I had to become my own rock. 

    Residential treatment felt like a warm, loving soup with many ingredients, some of which I could taste, and some of which, although I knew they were there, could not. Whenever I was asked by the staff what was working for me, I would reply "All of it". I wasn't being smug. Truth is, I wasn't exactly sure what was happening, but I sure as shit knew something was. The mix of group therapy, individual therapy, Integrative Therapies (EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Acupuncture), learning about my Central Nervous System's maladaptive stress response, Depression/Anxiety Education, Trauma Education, Meditation, and the the loving support of an amazing community, (to name just some of what I got) all worked synergistically to start moving mountains inside of me.

    Most important was my absolute commitment and dedication to the work. I put everything I had into everything that was offered.  At lectures - there were lots, and I never missed one - I took lots of notes, asked lots of questions, and often shared about my own experience. It felt like I was back in school, which I was. This time, I was going for a PhD in Me. 

    My approach from the get go was that of a rabid student, starving for knowledge. I always did well in school, especially in higher education, and I ate the whole experience up like a ravenous wolverine that hadn't eaten all winter (which kinda describes how I looked, and felt). I applied myself as if my life depended on it. Because it did. 

    I said "Yes" to everything, even stuff I didn't understand, thought was useless, or didn't particularly want to do. I let go of resistance and jumped in the deep end, even if the water was freakin' frigid. I got something out of everything. I surrendered to the process, figuring the people running the place knew more about this shit than I did. I trusted. And then I worked my ass off; although when I entered treatment, down to 159 pounds, I didn't have much of an ass left.

    I didn't like how I looked; my other coping strategies had been removed from my environment; and I was absolutely determined to leave treatment in a better place than I had ever been. Because of all that, things started shifting in me right away.

    The one thing I didn't have was hope. Well, my heart had hope, because the heart's hope is eternal. The heart can be so much smarter than the mind. My mind had grown very cynical of ever being able to let go of the negative self talk that was railroading my life. But my heart remained as optimistic as ever. My biggest problem was my mind; and for years I had been going to my mind for the solution. I mean, Duh. That's like pouring gasoline on a fire to put it out. 

    That said, my mind does play a big part in my healing. I found the lectures fascinating. The information provided a solid mental and intellectual container for all the work I was doing. Learning about all this stuff helped my mind let go. Everything I was hearing about trauma, depression, anxiety, the central nervous system, stress response, and mindfulness, made so much sense to me, and was so very representative of my own life long experience, that my mind bought it, completely. Once that happened, my head only played ball when it had to; the rest of the time, it stayed on the sidelines. It stopped working overtime to protect me.

    That's an absolutely critical point. I'm what's known, clinically, as "Hyper-Vigilant". That means I'm subconsciously always diligently scanning the environment for potential threats, for danger, even when I'm in safe environments. We all do this to some degree, as part of our natural survival instinct. But for some of us, that activity has become maladaptive; it's literally in constant overdrive. Brain wave activity is a tell tale indicator, and they can see that in Bio-Neurofeedback (another modality I received in treatment). It's like this: all kids are active. But some kids are literally, hyper-active. And that causes problems.

    Growing up, I was surrounded by bullshit. I was surrounded by lies. And my environments often didn't feel emotionally stable. At home. In school. Unstable environments and bullshit often ended up hurting me. Being a very intuitive and very sensitive kid, I picked up 'lots of channels", and I could smell bullshit. And it always felt like the proverbial other shoe could always drop at any second, and often did. But when that bullshit isn't validated as bullshit; when I'm told I'm safe when I don't feel safe; when I'm told that the lies are the truth, I start questioning my own experience. I stopped believing myself. And I stopped trusting that I'm ever emotionally safe (not to mention I stopped trusting anybody, period). Then, when I constantly got burned by lies, half truths, bullshit, and emotionally unstable environments, I became overly concerned with protecting myself from all of that. I experienced life as dangerous. So I adapted, or maladapted, to feel safer. I learned to always be on guard. That creates an over active mind and an over active central nervous system. And that creates chronic stress, anxiety, and some other dysfunctional behaviors.

    As I write this, I realize that there's a "Part 3" here, so I'm gonna stop now and ask you to join me for it. 


    ©2017 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.

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