a life script: earthquake

I find working with Life Scripts extremely fascinating. And here is why:

Picture this day, the 6th of May 1976, North Italy. I am 8 years old at the time.

I go to school during the morning; dad picks me up and we are having lunch together at the barracks were he works; when we finish and go out dad notices some dead irises along a narrow stream nearby, flowers which were alive when we got there before lunch; dad talks to me about the nature of things, and death, and the caducity of life… and as a kid I can only feel a sense of impending doom; we go home to get changed but I feel scared so I follow my gut feeling and hide my favourite doll under a desk; we leave home and travel 30 km south to meet with mum and my younger sister; we go shopping and buy some new uniforms for dad; we meet with granddad and uncle and have dinner all together in a restaurant; the evening doesn’t feel serene and I remember arguments.

At a certain point, around 9pm, an earthquake. A strong one. A bad one. A dangerous one. Everybody screams and leaves, but for granddad and me. He tells me to keep on eating. I remember being so scared I was shaking. I feel abandoned and desperate. But granddad repeats that ‘this is life, and you just get on with it’. Later on in the car mum cries, sister cries, and I can physically sense sadness and drama. But I have survived.

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The 6.5 quake was centred on the town of Gemona del Friuli; it killed 939 people, injured  over 2,400, and left 157,000 homeless. It killed also my best friend; and most of my school friends. My dad started dying that day.

I survived. I am a survivor.

And this is how it happens: I have always thought I was a survivor, and that I should be grateful for it. As a kid I could not understand exactly what was going on, but children create their own stories: I survived because this and this and then this happened.

I survived because this and this and then this happened. A series, a specific sequence of events.

  1. I go to school (good girl)
  2. I feel impending doom & ending & death
  3. I experience mysticism
  4. I feel attached to objects
  5. I spend money for other people
  6. Arguments with family / uneasiness / not serene
    1. earthquake
  7. Abandonment + fatalism + ‘get on with it’

And now I can see how the pattern repeated itself in most of my life:

  1. I am a Perfect Daughter, so I act as a Good Girl
  2. I feel impending doom, weird sensation that the status quo is about to end
  3. I turn to mysticism / religion straight away
  4. I get very attached to objects / the story / … attached in general!
  5. I start spending money to compensate / attract
  6. Arguments begin >>> end!
  7. I leave with the sense of ‘It would have ended anyway!’ (fatalism / self fulfilling prophesy)
    1. + life is hard / shit
    2. + I just have to get on with it
    3. + I will survive / make it anyway

So, while as a child, I subconsciously thought that I survived only because of the sequence of events of that specific traumatic day, as an adult I repeat the same sequence of events over and over and over again – so that I can continually prove to myself that I can survive.

At this point I have a choice, don’t I? What if I start asking myself these questions*?

  1. What changes do I want / wish for in order to enhance my life?
    1. I do not want to feel a survivor any more, I want to thrive
  2. How will I need to change to get what I want / wish for?
    1. I don’t have to leave, I have to stay and speak my mind with honesty. Because when I don’t either I leave (survive) or I go back to pleasing and being a Good Girl which then leads me back to the beginning of the cycle again.
  3. What needs to happen for me to make this change?
    1. I need to be courageous enough to speak up
  4. What am I willing to do in order to make this change?
    1. Be vulnerable and risk.
  5. How might I sabotage myself?
    1. I might say to myself that it’s not that important, that even if I speak things won’t change, people won’t listen, people won’t understand, I made it before so I can make it even now,…
  6. How will I and others know when I have made the change?
    1. I will be assertive and won’t compromise unless it really suits me
  7. How will I reward myself for making the change?
    1. I really have to think about it… I feel a hint of sabotaging creeping in just now (!) … I may give myself permission to journal and be artistic without judging myself 
  8. What will I do in my life after I have made the changes?
    1. I will have gained respect; and I will live and thrive ♥

 

… I will live and thrive ♥…

So, what’s your life script?

 

* http://www.ta-psychotherapy.co.uk/pdf/101.pdf – p.21
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Stoptober 2015 : my journey

Every journey through addiction and then recovery is very personal and I do not believe that there’s one way-fits all therapy or theory that can help.

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Well, I thought that this is the perfect beginning; because I do not wish for anyone, after having read my experience, to think that they have to follow my journey. At the same time, whatever happened to me and the way I dealt with my addiction, might help someone. I really do hope so!

I started smoking at the age of 14 and as many of you know I work with people in recovery from addiction, I am a trainee counsellor and recovery coach. And I am the daughter of two alcoholic parents. Addiction run in the family!

I tried to quit many times: I remember already at the age of 19 (back in 1985) I was a guilty smoker and I wished I could simply stop. I didn’t. I didn’t until the year 2000 when I managed to stop for 4 years thanks to a new-found faith in Jesus. It did last only 4 years, and that somehow includes also my commitment to Jesus. But I recognised that having faith has been helpful. It simply wasn’t my faith; I somehow swapped one addiction for another: I went from being addicted to nicotine, to being addicted to the 12 Steps and the Church (at the time I followed the Jehovah Witnesses).

I smoked for about one year and then stopped again for a whole year.

Then something bad happened, and by bad I mean I had one argument. The first thing I did I grabbed a packet of fags and smoked it all, one cigarette after another.

When I moved to UK I tried to quit again with a 12 Step program, this time Celebrate Recovery and I did not quit, but I realised something else that was missing in my Life. That led me to my counselling studies, my self-development and now after a lot of practice, a different appreciation and understanding for the world of recovery from addiction.

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So, what’s different now?

I believe that I am different. Working with people who have been addicted to either alcohol or heroin, sex or gambling, made me understand how addiction works and how it worked for me. I took a step back and studied it. What am I addicted to? Because nicotine is just one of the things that I might be addicted to: relationships, attention… just to name two. I studied habits and how they work. I did a bit of CBT, I tried hypnotherapy, acupuncture, mindfulness… nothing worked as much as working on myself. I can only quit for myself, I can only quit if I want to and if I am ready.

And I think that this time I might be ready. Of course, the whole concept of quitting FOR EVER, as much as getting married FOR EVER, living in the same house FOR EVER and staying in the same job FOR EVER does not work for me. I quit one day at the time; and as of today 22nd October, it has been working fine. Smoking, as a practising Nichiren Buddhist (a happy practising Buddhist which means finding a faith in your Self first) did not suit with me: I thought I should have been more ethical. And working with people in recovery without having gone through recovery myself… well, where was my integrity? Bearing in mind that neither Buddhists nor people in recovery ever asked me to quit.

This time I started preparing myself a month before. I bough some fabric and made an emergency bag; I collected Stoptober material, I printed articles and papers I thought would have helped me, I created my own book, whatever works for me.

I booked myself with a nurse at the nearest chemist and I asked for help, assistance and for some patches, lozenges and spray. I could have started earlier (oh, I was so keen!) but I decided consciously to stick to the 1st of October: better not being too cocky and jumping the gun (which is an attitude that never helped me in any other situation!)

I could have gone cold turkey, yes. But I decided not to. Addiction is both physical and psychological. I wanted to study the psychological aspect while detoxing from the poisons in my body but keeping my mind at rest (I also do have clients whom I see and I wanted to be 100% for them instead of freaking out!).

And the journey understanding the psychology of my craving is mind-blowing: when do I crave the most? What is the cigarette trying to substitute, what’s my underlying need? I spend a lot of time by myself so boredom was something that I had to take into consideration: can I simply be… still, even doing nothing, with myself? Why do I need to fill the time and the space with a fag? Reward was the second major necessity: oh, I’ve hoovered the house, now I can sit and have a fag… oh, I’ve washed the pots, now I can sit and have a fag… no! I have been a good girl, done the chores, now I can sit and breathe. Simply breathe. I have also realised that when I get the odd text, or the annoying phone-call, or the exiting phone-call I would reach out straight for a fag: what were the fags trying to level out, strong emotions? Am I not able to deal with upsets, hurts and happiness without a crutch?

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I am personally (and I repeat PERSONALLY) against eCigs and similar items which mimic the act of smoking. I’ll repeat myself again: personally. I have often noticed how people in recovery from alcohol abuse sometimes go out and buy non-alcoholic fizzy drinks in bottles which resemble Prosecco or Champagne… do you see the awkwardness? To me it shouts: hey, I have been told that I don’t have to drink alcohol but I still like the idea of what I’m missing, I still miss the drinks because I drink in social occasions with people who drink and bla bla bla… to me, personally, people who use eCigs are like telling me: I don’t want to smoke because it’s bad, but I miss smoking and I would still like to have a fag so look at me, I’m puffing away anyway! This to say that anyway, if it works for you, it works for you. So, when are you going to quit the eCig? Because you are still smoking. You might have worked on the physical addiction, but what about the psychological one? What does the eCig give you that you cannot give yourself?

While working with people in recovery I always tell them: *once an addict, always an addict… bollocks!* If you work on your physical addiction and then grab any other substitute to still feed your addiction, identify yourself and then feel safe (the recovery pals, the recovery centre, any 12-Step programme, AA, Jesus, the Church, your girlfriend, your cat or your car) you are not out of addiction. But if you work on the reasons why you went into addiction, what are you substituting with your addiction, what’s the desperate need you… need (!) to fill, why you need something else besides your Self to be content and fulfilled… well, there might be better chances that you won’t be an addict any more. And you’ll have a whole wonderful lifetime ahead of you to simply be free.

Really free.

Happy journey!

amazing session: check this out!

Amazing people, so inspiring!

Creating memory boxes during the FOLLOW YOUR heART sessions commissioned and for Juice SRG at INSPIRE Burnley.

*reprinted and published with permission*

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Check also the video below: I got so much energy and good vibes from them, I had to share! BTW, the Jennifer I mention in the video is the lovely & smart & inspiring Jennifer Pastiloff: please check her on http://themanifeststation.net

Thank you for watching, and if you want to know more & get in contact, please do!

an afternoon at Juice, Colne

Sometimes we get cocky… a bit cocky…

I often thought ‘I’m not in recovery’. Because it’s true: I’m a daughter of alcoholic parents and a trainee counsellor, which is different. Or isn’t? It is also true that I love working with people in recovery and if someone sees me with ‘them’, do I mind being associated with (again) ‘them’?

If people are not able to see beyond labels, to see me as a ‘never-addicted’ person, are they worth my attention? And, as much as that previous thought might be true, if I cannot see beyond their past addiction, am I worth their attention?

I have spent hours, days, weeks, months trying to understand my parents’ addiction and to come to terms with their deaths. On the other side of the barricade.

I’m understanding more now, spending an afternoon with these people I am so grateful I had the opportunity to take pictures of, while they are creating something great.

I just wish my parents back then had the same opportunity…

If you wish to know more, come and join me.

If you need a safe island, join them. You can find them at Juice SRG, The Citadel, Colne BB8 0HY.

Thank you, for the lesson I’ve learned…

Find your Voice at Mill Hill Community Centre

We all need to be listened to, to find our voice, to have time and space to clear our mind and make the best possible decision.

I will be at Mill Hill Community Centre from 4 March, from 2pm till 5pm every Wednesday, to listen to your stories.

These will not be counselling sessions since I am only a trainee counsellor, but still… I will offer you a safe island for you to be able to open up, vent out, talk or even be silent: a space just for you.

Please, reserve your space calling 07576 007363 (2pm, 3pm, 4pm) or call to discuss possible availability of other times and dates.

Fees:

  • 20min : free assessment
  • 1 hour session: £15
  • 10 sessions : £120

trt - FYV flyer

find your own voice…

We all need to be listened to, to be understood.

We need to be able to express ourselves, what we feel and think.

I am so very happy to introduce you the FIND YOUR VOICE listening sessions at Clean and Green Recovery in Accrington BB5 1HN.

These are one-to-one sessions: do come, sit, have a tea or coffee; and talk. If you need to vent out, express your emotions, or even ‘simply’ time and space to find the right words and your own voice… I will be there, for you.

Book now via email your 45-min session on Tuesday afternoons (3pm, 4pm, 5pm);

Fee: £15

ps: share this message! You might not feel the need to talk, but someone else out there just needs and wants to be listened to. Thank you!

DISCLAIMER: although these might look like counselling sessions, please be advised that they are not. I am not a Counsellor. At the same time, as a trainee Counsellor (L4) and trained in Listening & Counselling Skills (CPCAB certified – L2 and L3), I will still follow the ethical principles that make this a wonderful profession. If, at any time, I will feel that you will benefit from or need a professional advice, I will assist you in finding the best option for you. I can only walk with you for a part of your journey and I can only promise that I will be present and that I will listen to you. The Resting Tree sessions and workshops are not a substitute for Counselling and Psychotherapy. By the nature of The Resting Tree itself, we do not endorse nor promote any type of particular therapy.

the wonderful Perfect Daughters…

I am very proud to announce that the new series of the PERFECT DAUGHTERS sessions will begin on Tuesday 27 January at 7pm, at Clean and Green Recovery in Accrington: 9 Warner Street BB5 1HN (m. 07813 701716)

These are 8 session plus an introductory one; please, see this note (click on the link) if you want to know more about who the Perfect (and wonderful!) Daughters are.

So, contact me via email to therestingtreelancs@gmail.com in order to request more information and / or to confirm your presence.

Fee: donation only
Notes: 1) minimum 5 women per group; 2) your participation / commitment is requested for all the sessions

Julie; and her story

She left the hospital after 5 hours. She left her there, all by herself, in pain, but these are the rules.

So, she has decided that she would have taken her miserable self, deluded and offended self, her angry self, out for dinner. She chose a quaint Indian restaurant, sat in a private corner, lit her candle and ate her food while trying to read a book. But she couldn’t. The two young waiters understood and left her by herself.

She thought about a 50 year old woman alone in a bed, scared and in pain, who checked in this morning by herself, whose brother could not come to visit because he has found love in the far east and there he has flown; and a father who came for half an hour, selfishly talked about himself, and left to get his tea ready.

She stayed there with this soul, by her side, holding her head while she tried to drink, taking her to the ladies when she needed, caressing her hand and her forehead hoping she could find, somewhere inside herself, some rest. But she kept repeating: I can’t believe m’dad…

 

After 11 months they haven’t spoken (because, in her words, she was ashamed) Wendy called her. Because, she said, she is reliable.

 

And then there is this woman, alone in an Indian, eating some food prepared by someone who doesn’t know anything about her, this woman who is by herself reading a book while outside it rains and it seems that another Christmas is just round the corner and she should be somewhere else, with someone else, doing something else, talking about anything, or even back to that ward but not here, not now.

Sitting behind her, a couple. She laughs too loudly and he has asked to have the TV on. At another table, a birthday party. The girls giggle and drink while the men watch the match. In this Indian, lit by candle lights, with a scent of spices and a subtle music from the bar, they are all about the same age. They have all turned that corner, they are all descending.

 

What has happened to all of them?

What will happen to us, tomorrow, she asks me.

 

She shouldn’t be there. She eats her food, she drinks her wine, she looks at the book and she shouldn’t be there. Not like this.

Images of women just floods my mind: that lovely friend, back home, who one night called, glass of wine in her hand, because she just went and fiercely slapped her husband’s lover on the cheek; my mother, always dancing, in tears, in her living room, dying alone; that friend here, in this foreign land, who went home one day to her partner and simply said: have you got anything to do on Saturday? No? Good. Coz we are getting married; that woman who doesn’t know me but knows a lot about me and who ended her letter not addressed to me with: what a pity you lost her; this woman today, cold and frightened; my grandmother who waltzed, me in her arms, every night, for her husband’s eyes; my two old aunties who daily threatened to killed each other and lived shouting and laughing well in their 90’s; my mother-in-law, ashamed of her own son, and who, in the end, was right; another mother-in-law-to-be who died, alone, in a cellar, silently, not to disturb anyone; another friend, back home, who is still in love, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, with a man who is married and lends her handfuls of minutes whenever he can steal them; or that other perfectly beautiful woman who, married, betrays her husband with whoever rents the house behind the fence and feels offended when her husband, actually, falls is love with someone else, and leaves her.

 

I think about all of them, and their daughters. And her, still sitting there, eating her dinner.

You can have lunch, alone. But dinner? Oh, your table knows you, when you are living alone.

 

When she gets home, she dances and cries. And the whole of her body cries that night.

For all the women out there, for all the men out there, for all the lost opportunities, for all the only if’s… 

She dances to a symphony with the sound on mute.