Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lessons Learned in Being the Wife of a Veteran with PTSD

Well, we have most of our garden planted.  We are trying quinoa and wheat this year!  Husband is at a meeting with the Veteran's Administration, and I am preparing to help him get ready to go on an overnight backpacking trip.  His nature walks and backpacking trips are therapeutic for him.  They help him to process all the emotional and mental things that swim around inside him from day to day.  Husband's "ailments" can be summed up by stating that he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and chronic pain from various combat injuries.  These are things that cannot be seen physically.  Husband's daily average physical pain level is a 5 on a 1-10 scale.  His emotional and mental pain cannot be measured.

If you are reading this and you have been diagnosed with PTSD, some content of this post has the possibility of triggering a reaction.  If you have not been diagnosed with PTSD and you feel as though you relate to anything mentioned in this post, I encourage you to seek help from a professional.  If you need help finding one in your area, please email me and I will do what I can to help you find someone.

My goal here is to provide those who need it a sense of support and information that I have learned.  One of the things that has helped me the most in knowing how to help my husband is to have a basic knowledge of what PTSD is.  I have read numerous articles and books on the topic (I will provide information to anything I have access to, just let me know what you want).  The two main books that I highly recommend to family members of those with military related PTSD are The Warrior's Guide to Insanity by Sergeant Brandi and A Mind Frozen in Time by Jeremy Crosby.  The first book gives a perspective of PTSD from the soldier's side of things.  Sgt. Brandi was a soldier in the Viet Nam War.  This book is about his experiences and his advice to fellow soldiers and their family members.  The latter book was recommended by my husband's counselor (also a veteran).

So, what is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?  The basic definition is after a traumatic event occurs, the mind gets stuck there causing a number of different symptoms.  The diagnosis of PTSD from a mental health professional looks something like the following (paraphrased from the DSM-V, 2013).

     A. Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence through        experiencing first hand, witnessing, learning of another's trauma,  or experiencing details of trauma as first responders.
     B. Presence of one or more of intrusive symptoms associated with the traumatic event: recurrent, involuntary distressing memories, dreams, flashbacks, distress when exposed to things that trigger memory of the trauma, significant physical reaction to triggers.
    C.  Avoidance memories, thoughts, or feelings and avoidance of triggers of memories thoughts or feelings.
    D.  Negative alterations in thoughts and mood associated with traumatic events; inability to remember significant aspects of trauma, persistent and exaggerated beliefs or expectations about oneself, others or the world.
    E.  Noticeable alterations in reactive behavior such as irritable behavior and angry outbursts, reckless or self-destructive behavior, hyper-vigilance, Exaggerated startle response, problems concentrating, and insomnia.

The reason why I am stressing aspects that have to do with military, (combat veteran, veterans with PTSD, books by veterans, etc.) is because to many veterans it matters.  The military is a sub-culture that offers experiences and knowledge unique to those a part of it.  These experiences and camaraderies cannot be fully understood by those of us "on the outside".  That is something that we have to accept.  Never tell your family member or loved one that you understand unless you have been in the military.  If you are law enforcement, you will not understand because law enforcement is its own entity, it is not military.  Also, NEVER ask about experiences or why they feel the way they do.  As spouses, friends, and family, it is not our job to counsel them.  Let me tell you, after almost seven years of educational training in mental health, this is a difficult one for me!  It has become my instinct to help by asking questions and offering solutions or advice to work through things.  I have to put all of that aside.

I think one of the most valuable things I have learned in studying counseling and social work is how to listen actively.  This isn't just sitting there and letting someone talk at you.  Active listening means you take part in what the person is talking about.  Let him or her speak without reservation and do not take offense at what is being said.  Active listening holds no judgment.  This does not mean that you allow yourself or your loved one to be in physical danger.  When I see signs that Husband needs to talk, I sit with him and let him rant away.  I do not confront anything that I dislike or disagree with until the next day, and only then if I felt that it was harmful to either of us in some way.  He just has to have the freedom to talk, it helps him to process things that he has a hard time dealing with.  The next day, I encourage him to go on an overnight backpacking trip.  If he feels the need to put it off, I speak plainly to him,  "If you go now, you'll feel better.  There's no point in putting it off."  I don't try to manipulate or sugar coat things.  I admit that he needs time away from me.  I try to give him a happy balance of alone time and family time.

Something minor to me, but monumental to him is that I take over tasks that stress him out too much.  Finances, paperwork, and dealing with people are the main things.  I don't like doing them either, but I would rather do them and know it is helping him.  Since Husband is a veteran we do a lot of interaction with the Veteran's Administration.  Before we got married he had to deal with everything himself and he was in a perpetual state of frustration and depression because of all the different processes he had to do.  Now he has the freedom to dismiss one more thing from his mind and it makes him proud to know he has a wife he can trust with it all
Husband does some building as a hobby.

Another thing that I've learned and have to remind myself constantly is that everything that he is going through doesn't have to do with me.  Nothing is my fault.  When he is angry, even at something seemingly small that may have to do with me, his issue isn't me or what I have or haven't done.  Anger is part of PTSD.  If he is feeling depressed, it isn't my fault.  The best thing I can do for him is to love him through it.  Support him, and maintain positivity.

A positive attitude is something I have a hard time with.  I tend to naturally be negative, but I didn't realize it until Husband told me that my negativity was making it difficult for him to deal with the stuff he deals with.  It was bringing him down more.  It is difficult to try to be positive because there are real stressors and negative emotions, and I cannot just dismiss them and consider them invalid because I have not gone through what he has.  When either of us is having a difficult emotional/mental time (I deal with depression and anxiety from time to time too), we try to be open and honest with one another.  That means, I tell him, "I'm feeling emotional/depressed/stressed so I'm sorry if I become negative, just let me know if I bother you."  And he does the same.  "Hun, I'm sorry, I have a lot going through my mind right now.  I'm going for a walk, I'm not mad or anything."  I often ask him if there is anything I can do to help, most of the time there isn't.  So I will do small things like fix him a glass of peach tea or put on the music/movie that makes him happy.  I'll make him cookies (there is medicine in cookies.  Many things can be solved over tea and cookies).  Usually when I'm feeling bad he will buy me chocolate and pick flowers for me.   Little things to let each other know we are there for each other.  Point: we have to take care of ourselves too.  We cannot dismiss our own needs because on some scale somewhere what we deal with isn't as hard/bad enough as what they do.  It's just that sometimes we need to find ways to deal with our stuff without bringing them into it.  It isn't easy, but it helps everyone in the long run.  I have some people close to me that I talk to.  I have a mug that says, "Keep calm and call mom" because that is what I do.  I make Mint Medley tea and call my mom.  I ask her to pray for me.  She is patient and kind and my voice of reason.  She lets me vent the way I let Husband.  I journal about things when I'm emotionally heightened.  For me it helps to write things in story format because then I can see how I'm feeling from a different perspective.

I think that this last one is probably one of the most important for maintaining our own health when we are working hard to help our loved ones maintain theirs.  Remember that you are valid.  How you feel is valid too.  Sometimes you need a vacation from everything just as much as your loved one does.  When Husband goes on overnighters I do something just for me.  I try to incorporate something on a daily basis that is just for me, usually it is my walk, other times it is time spent doing crafty things in my office.  I hope that you can learn the best ways to help the one(s) you love who continue to experience the horror of their traumas over and over again.  I hope that you realize that you are valuable too.   Maybe something I've written here or in previous posts will help.  If you need someone to talk to, message me on here or in one of my other forums.

Light and Love,


** If you need more resources on PTSD, feel free to contact me.  There is great material out there.  Including a book for children to explain what their parent(s) may be going through.  Why is Dad so Mad is a book written for children by a veteran with PTSD.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Health and Wellness: Maintaining Positivity

I have a confession, I'm not a positive person.  I think I usually have a negative inner dialogue.  I like having the freedom to be grouchy and give that intimidating LOOK to those who irk me.  I'm not precisely sure why this is, but it's true.  Perhaps it makes me feel powerful, perhaps it's just reality that sometimes we are grouchy and negative and I enjoy freedom to be me.  This is one thing I haven't psychoanalyzed.  Being grouchy every morning is definitely different from being a generally negative person.  I can spot the flaws in anything and can dwell on them to the point of obsession.  That isn't healthy.  At all.  It can be difficult to keep a balance between allowing myself the freedom to be grouchy and trying to let go of negativity.  This is one balance that I have to work on all the time because it is very easy for morning grouchiness to turn to depression and anger.  My mornings are almost always a rough transition because I'm trying to move from my morning grouchy-ness to a good mood.  Sometimes this is extremely difficult and I need outside help.  Yesterday I put a playlist on Pandora (nature sounds with music) and decided to meditate.  I measured my feelings, weighed the reasoning behind them, and let my emotions flow as I acknowledged them and worked to move on from that point.  It is one of the many things I have learned over the years that help me to maintain a positive outlook on life.  Acknowledging negative emotions, allowing ourselves to experience them, and then focusing on positive things is one healthy way to gain emotional and mental health.  It doesn't bother me that I wake up grouchy, it's when I can't seem to snap out of it and begin to feel like I'm in a rut that bothers me.

One of my dad's cactus blossoms
When I was working on my bachelor's degree, I had a class over a summer called Positive Psychology.  This class is what changed my view of negativity and positivity.  What is Positive Psychology?  Peterson (2006) states that, "Positive psychologists study positive traits and dispositions--characteristics like kindness, curiosity, and the ability to work on a team--as well as values, interests, talents, and abilities.  They study social situations that can enable the good life: friendship, marriage, family, education, religion, and so on" (p. 8).  What does that mean?  It means that psychologist who study those things do not focus on "the problem".  They acknowledge the problem and focus on positive aspects that can help build better health for the individual.  In social work this method is called "strengths based".  I love these methods of helping people, and I love being able to use them for myself.  It takes some time and self-awareness to train your mind to look at things positively instead of negatively, but it is doable and worth it.  Let me share an experience I had in my teens.

I was in art class with a group of girls during high school.  One of them told me and another girl that we claimed to hate a lot of things.  I remember feeling a bit appalled at myself that somebody noticed something like that about me.  So, to challenge that, me and the other girl decided to make a game out of it by saying that we loved something opposite of whatever we hated.  Being teenagers, it came across as sarcastic from time to time, but it helped to change my mindset.  I started to think of things that made me happy or joyful instead of the things I disliked.  As I got older I learned how to finely tune this and become more and more aware of the things I focus on.

In one of my social work classes, the professor showed us the following video.  It reminded me of another thing from my past, but also of the impact that focusing on positive things can have on our wellbeing.

The story from my childhood: I have two younger brothers and I was a TERRIBLE big sister.  I was mean, very mean, to my brothers.  My parents were always trying to find ways to get me to be nicer to them.  One way was to write things to learn to do differently.  I think I must have said something extremely hateful to the older of my two brothers because my mom had me write a Bible verse 200 times to learn to think and say positive things.  It is the Bible verse mentioned in the video above.  As an adult, some 20 years later (or so), I can still remember that verse.  It is a good principle to live by regardless of spiritual/religious belief.

"Finally brothers, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

What would our lives be like if everyone we were around focused only on these things? What would our lives look like if we changed our own mindsets to think of things that are lovely and good and true?  Our lives are inundated with negativity from every corner.  We almost have to live in a bubble to weed out everything.  While we cannot control the things that others say and do, we can control the things we allow to take residence in our own souls.  It is difficult to maintain a positive outlook on life when we are surrounded by hatred, bitterness, and negative energies.  If we do not protect ourselves from the negativity from others, who will?  My husband and I go out of our way to protect ourselves from outside negative influences.  We do this as a method of helping him through depression and anxiety because of his PTSD (a future post talks about this in greater detail).  Here are things we do to help ourselves and each other.

  • Limit the people we are around.  We are both introverts, me more than him, so this isn't difficult for us.  However, extraverts can do this as well.  Simply ask yourself, "How do I feel after being around this person?"  If you feel icky, physically ill, exhausted, or grouchy almost every time you are around someone, try to be around him or her in small doses.  One of the things I have noticed about myself is that the more I am around people that make me feel that way, the more I become someone who is that way as well.  Some people's attitudes are toxic.  It is sad, but true.  
  • Limit our exposure to negative media.  We don't have satellite or cable television just because we don't see the point in paying for it.  We have a lot of movies and we can watch any type of tv shows we desire either on Netflix or Hulu, or our tv isn't on all the time.  Generally, we watch a movie in the evenings, and more often than not (and not necessarily on purpose) we choose happier movies.  Last night we watched The Muppets.  We avoid things like regular news.  We are aware of some current events because we have friends and family who talk about it.  From time to time I will look up what is going on in the world, but we don't start or end our days out with all the negativity the news brings.  This is something that some will have an argument against, but really, our lives are better for not dwelling on it the way a lot of society does.  We do not pretend that bad things don't happen, nor do we look at the world through rose colored glasses.  We simply do not allow it to make an impact in our lives.  This also does not mean that we don't care, it just means that we are aware of the things we can and cannot control.  
  • Social networking: here's the thing.  We are friends with people who have widely differing world views.  There are those who are conservative to the extreme and those who are liberal to the extreme.  If we are on a social networking site that is a platform for those who like to share their view on anything, from day to day life, politics, or religion, and it negative or critical, we limit what we see from them.  It is no secret that I have some people on a "restricted" list because I do not want negative comments on my posts.  I also have certain pages and sites blocked from showing on my newsfeed.  On Facebook, I created a list of pages that I like.  They focus on positive things, or things that make me happy, so I have a dose of "happy" whenever I go on.  It has really helped me out.  Instead of going on Facebook and experiencing all the drama and pissery that many people experience, I see uplifting quotes, pictures of nature, prayers, and other things that put a smile in my heart.
  • Do things daily to help weed out the negative.  Husband goes on nature walks almost every day as a way to process his thoughts and emotions and to get alone and enjoy something beautiful.  He wrote, "Well, I have met brother bear, Seen the eyes of the great eagle, saw the cowardess of a bobcat, The sheer power of the puma, and the thoughtlessness of the wild boar, The slithering of snakes, and the slowest of snails. My hikes are wonderful and surprising. The black bear is the newest I've seen."  He has also created a type of oasis in our backyard.  I go for walks and try to do something spiritual everyday.  I also look at my environment and try to be grateful for things instead of complaining.  (I'm a good complainer, so I work on this one).  
An iris in our front yard
I have a friend who recommended a book to me called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  I haven't read it yet, but it is on my list.  From the summary of the book, it is about learning to express gratitude for everyday things.  In my positive psychology class, making a list of things we are grateful for was one activity that we did to measure our mood at the end of the week.  It makes a difference when we begin to measure the things that are positive in our lives and begin to focus on those things.  

These are all things that I am remembering today because it is the end of April in southern New Mexico and we have had snow and sleet where we usually have 60+ degree weather.  Usually by now our squash, beans, and tomatoes are well on their way to growing, but now we have hardly any sprouts.  So, instead of complaining about the weather, I'm telling myself, "I'm grateful for the moisture because we live in the desert.  I'm grateful for the time indoors husband and I can spend together today."  I've learned to love the beauty around me that can be seen in the ordinary and mundane things.  And these things help with maintaining health and wellness within my body, mind, and soul.  I challenge everyone to make some changes in your lives, just some small ones, that will help you look at things more positively and see how different you feel after a week, a month, half a year.  May you find positive things to encourage your health and wellness within.

Light and Love,


Look at my pages, I have a book list and some links to other ways you can follow Eclectic Peanut. 


Peterson, Christopher. (2006). Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press, Inc.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Health and Wellness: Depression

It is another beautiful Spring day.  Today my husband and I are going to plant some more seeds in the garden. The tomatoes I started inside are just about ready to be planted.  With the coming of warmer weather and Spring, I've felt the need to be busy with things within the home.  One of my goals for life is to become more self-sustainable.  I want us to produce most of our own food, clothing, etc.  So, I've been working on creating.  I've been cleaning and designing our garden.  We took a drive to a lake northeast of us. It's been under construction and we wanted to see what's going on with it. Spring is beautiful in the mountainous regions of the desert. We had a wet winter so everything is greener than usual. The wild grasses are growing and the ground is peppered with wild flowers in yellows, whites, and purples.  As I write this we are on our way to a lake northwest of us to go fishing. Along the Gila River the soaring cottonwoods stretch their branches, now full of greenery, and let their cotton fall and collect like snow in the middle of summer. Getting out is a good feeling after a season of "winter blues" and doldrums.
Bill Evans Lake

I've thought long and hard about my next topic.  I thought maybe I would discuss sinus issues and allergies because it's the season for it.  One thing keeps coming back though.  Depression.  It is a difficult topic, but it is even more difficult to deal with.  Severe and debilitating depression should be discussed with a licensed professional such as a psychologist or counselor.  For more mild cases, there are things that can be done to help.  Or, you can use the information I provide here to discuss things with your mental healthcare provider.  (Please see my disclaimer).

One of my favorite books is Prescription for Herbal Healing.  It has an innumerable amount of valuable information in it.  I am providing a link to the edition I have, but there is a newer edition available.  This book contains information on all manner of herbs, how to prepare them in different ways, and a number of different health concerns.   Most herbs can be found at Mountain Rose Herbs. I have ordered from them and find quality herbs for good prices.  In the section on Depression, some herbs and herbal formulas are described.  There are two main herbs that have featured in research, St. John's Wort and Kava.  Both of these have shown to be beneficial in treating depression.  They are definitely something worth checking out with an herbalist or psychologist/counselor that specializes in natural remedies.

Another thing that this book has is a list of considerations and suggestions.  Balch (2002) suggests that getting at least 20 minutes of sun exposure a day can help with depression, and exercise helps as well.  I've talked about this before because being outside and going for walks are passions of mine, but it is definitely something that has shown to help.  This is usually my go-to for my doldrums and seasonal depressive feelings.  Sometimes I need to step out of the normal walking routine and get my husband to take me away to some place in nature to just soak in the clean air and peace.

Another thing that can help with depression is combining different practices such as meditation with the use of aromatherapy or essential oils.  DoTerra has essential oil blends such as Balance that promotes relaxation and feelings of peace and balance.  Serenity is another calming blend and PastTense is for easing tension.  Also, Elevation is a blend that elevates the mood and vitality.  All of these can be used in a diffuser for aromatherapy, or just open the bottle and smell.  They can also be used topically, rub some on your wrists or your neck.  If you do some these things combined with meditation, you will promote your own mental and emotional wellness.  I like to use nature sounds to help me focus on drowning out other things.  There is a wide variety of apps for computers, phones and tablets that help with nature sounds and white noise.

I think that one of the biggest things that can help with moods is to stop whatever is going on to encourage it and take time for yourself.  Take a steaming bath by candlelight, put a few drops of one of the essential oils listed above into your bath.  A friend of mine uses aromatic shower crystals.  I like to take a few minutes and journal what I'm feeling and thinking.  I also like to spend time in spiritual practice.  Say a prayer, light a candle, listen to spiritual music (I like Jason Upton for this purpose).  Life in today's society gives us a lot to handle and many times our natural responses are that of depression and anxiety.  While depression that is life debilitating should be discussed with a licensed professional, there are things we can do to help ourselves not feel overwhelmed.   Next time it hits you, try one of the things mentioned here, and if you find that your depression is so overwhelming that you cannot cope with life, please seek help with a counselor.

Light and Love,


** If you want more information on the research I have mentioned in this article, message me and I can give you the research.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Health & Wellness: Being Female

It's another lovely Spring day.  I've been thinking lately about publishing some other things I have written.  Almost everything I've written that wasn't specifically for school is geared toward children.  So, I have to find an illustrator for those.  A friend told me that I could learn to do watercolor painting via YouTube, but I haven't started that yet.  I have some other things that I am thinking about submitting to a magazine for publication.  Today, I saw a rhyme that made me suddenly have an entire outline of a book in my mind.  I started writing right away.  I usually get pieces or general story ideas, not entire outlines.  It makes me suspicious that I have heard it somewhere before, so I have a lot of research to do to make sure I not only write well and accurately, but to make sure I am not inadvertently plagiarizing someone else's story.  I'm beginning by talking about writing because it is something that I have wanted to do since I was very little.  I think I was 10-12 years old when I wrote my first short story.  There is only one other thing that I remember ever wanting to do, and that was before I learned I was creative in written word.  I wanted to be a carpenter like my dad.  I couldn't have been older than eight years.  I remember when I told him, he was flattered, but bothered too.  His reply wasn't harsh, though at eight the disapproval seemed harsh.  He told me that I couldn't be a carpenter because I am a girl.  I think this is my first memory of definite gender roles.  I knew the difference between male and female; I had two younger brothers by that time.  But, it never occurred to me that I couldn't do something because I'm a girl.  I don't blame my dad.  I don't know why he told me what he did, maybe he was thinking about his experiences as a carpenter and didn't want his daughter to experience the same things.  Maybe he was thinking about the gender roles that had been placed on him.  He was a carpenter because he was male, and at age 14 in our hometown, that is what you did.  Girls did other things like babysit.  Although I didn't always know, since then I have been confined by what others thought being female entailed.  For me it was society and religion.  My family was confined by the same ideals as I, so I do not blame them.  Growing up I loved to be outside, I wanted the typical home and a family thing that many other girls wanted, but I wanted to be outside.  I wanted to play in the mud.  I wanted to be considered tough and hardy.  I was a "tomboy" who didn't like sports, but loved frilly dresses and nail polish.  I loved camping with my family and I never understood why I couldn't be part of the boy scouts.  I shunned girl scouts because, lets face it, who wants to sell cookies when you can tie knots and camp in a foot of snow.  I would have made it to Eagle Scout, earned the Order of the Arrow, and showed up ALL the boys, especially my brothers. But, I couldn't.  "Girls work in the house.  Boys work outside."  My brother would taunt me.  I was outside as a kid, freer and able to shun others' ideologies for me, but as a teenager and into my young adulthood, I felt as though I had to be different than I felt I was naturally.  I had to be girly and become the "proper" woman if I wanted to win a worthwhile husband.  I didn't know that as an adult those same desires would come back to life.  Today, I still love being outside.  I still wear nail polish, but my feet are almost always grubby, today they are stained green from walking in the mown grass barefoot as I collected the cut clover and grass for the compost.  I'm always eager to get out and dig and turn over the ground for the new garden and I get mad when my husband does it without me.  But, I also love to knit and crochet, cook and keep my home.  And, my favorite of all, I married a man who actually likes to include his wife in things.  He takes me camping, hiking, and fishing, and is just as likely to cook dinner and clean the house as I am.  I am finally able to be me.  Female, in the role that feel like I fit in.   I define my femaleness.  Just as each woman should have the freedom to do.

In this freedom, I have been studying women's health; mental, physical, and spiritual. I didn't realize that there are so many books on women's well being. In this post I am going to share books, thoughts, and other things female.  I'm in the first half of Women Who Run with the Wolves and Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom.  I use Herbal Healing for Women as a reference guide for different things as they come up.  And finally, I have read Captivating three times.  The first book helps women to understand themselves emotionally and mentally.  So far, it has worked to reveal to me that we really do live in a world where everything has become defined by the male ideal.  It has taught me how to nurture my intuition and trust in myself.  The second and third books listed are about physical health. I haven't begun to delve into specific disorders or illnesses that women suffer from in either of these books, but I am learning about optimum physical health.  This isn't about a size or weight, it is about feeling well.  In the Herbal Healing book are herbal teas, one that I have been drinking regularly is called Female Tonic Tea.  It helps to balance a woman's chemistry.  I consider the last book I listed as a spiritual focus for women.  It is Christian in basic belief system, but it is NOT like other religious books I have read.  This one focuses on the woman as being woman.  I think it is safe to say that most Christian books for women focus on being servile, wives, mothers, or how to be perfect as a single woman to catch the right man.  This does none of those things, but focuses on women as women from a Christian perspective.

What is so important about femaleness?  I know from some of the things I have read and talking to other women that my experiences with gender roles and not measuring up to an ideal of what it means to be female is not a solitary experience.  Dr. Pinkola Estes states, "The modern woman is a blur of activity.  She is pressured to be all things to all people" (1992, p. 4).  This specific statement made so much sense to me. Stasi Eldredge (2005) states much the same about women in Christianity, they are exhausted, shells of what they could be.  Women everywhere suffer from so many things, whether it is a genuine unhappiness, severe depression, debilitating anxiety, or physical ailments that have no logical explanation, there is some type of "problem" that society says needs to be "fixed".  In reality, society needs fixed so that women can feel free to be themselves, define who they are without outside expectations or ideologies.  Dr. Pinkola Estes explains, "A woman's issues of soul cannot be treated by carving her into a more acceptable form as defined by an unconscious culture, nor can she be bent into a more intellectually acceptable shape by those who claim to be the sole bearers of consciousness" (1992, p. 6).  She continues by stating that the only way for women to truly become "well" is to learn about who we are naturally, to retrieve and nurture our inner wild selves.  Her specific way of helping women is to use fairy tales, myths, and folk tales to help uncover these aspects of wild womanhood.

I like the book The Mists of Avalon because it has perfect examples of wild women versus women bound by society and religion.  In Captivating, Eldridge tells us to think about women in books and films that appeal to us.  What do their characters say to us about ourselves, who we want to be, who our inner selves are dying to be?  I love stories of strong women.  I like movies that portray heroines rather than heroes and I like when women fight against all odds to figure things out and strive to live the lives they desire, outside of others expectations.  I love how Terry Goodkind portrays strong protagonist women in his books.  I suggest starting with Magda Searus: The First Confessor to get an idea of what I'm referring to.  I also like how he portrays the character evolvement of a group of women who have been abused and tortured to become fearsome weapons.  They start out as young girls, going through a horrible process to make them into creatures who delight in torturing others and end with finding delight in beautiful things in a way that they were never allowed to.  It is an accurate symbol of how some women feel today, of what society and life experiences have done to them.  All they need is someone to come and show them love and forgiveness, acceptance and understanding, the way the Mord-Sith did in this series.  I like to see women become free from the things that bind them to become the wild and free spirits we were meant to be.

I could write about this for the rest of my blogging career.  As it is, it has taken me several days to fully put into words the things I would like to present.  It has been a difficult post for me because I feel as though the things I am writing here go against the things I was taught in church and school.  I think the gist of this is that we need to come to terms with who we are, without societal and religious ideologies pushed on us.  We need to love ourselves and love one another.  We women can be so judgment of ourselves and other women.  I am the same, if we do not learn to love ourselves and support one another, who will?  This post isn't about female being better than male, or any type of man-hating.  Being male has its own hangups and hardships because of societal and religious ideologies.  But I don't know about the male experience.  I might get one of my brothers to write something about that.  But, I do know about my female experience. I know that I'm meant to be free, that we all are.  I know that this isn't about pay wages and clothing or anything like that.  It is about the deeper sense of self that women have not been allowed to feel or explore.  Fortunately we live in a time that is becoming more open to female-openness.  It is a perfect time for us to discover ourselves, who we are within, and learn to express ourselves openly and honestly.  It is our turn to fight against all odds to figure this thing out.  It is our turn to have the courage to say, "I will only live up to one ideal, and that will be defined by me."  I wish you Light and Love.