Author Topic: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale  (Read 11698 times)

sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2012, 09:20:44 AM »
Very long book. Lots of statistics - which at least the author doesn't claim are 100% accurate; that's different.

2/3 of the book is just the statistics, analysis... author making his case for "why it matters" - thoroughly. The picture he paints of how much and what exactly has changed in the US; well... it's kinda bleak. ESPECIALLY when you take that picture and set it right next to individual stories - our stories - because we exist within that picture... the landscape. That background "landscape" is really important to the context (and challenges) in our personal stories... and maybe more than that. Maybe there's an explanation in this particular study that explains some other things that have jumped up in my struggle-awareness lately... fingers crossed. We'll see. I have a lot more reading to do, even though I'm almost to the notes, credits, and appendices.

And I'm starting to question some of his assumptions about the 60s beginning data point he's using (because of my personal experience). Double-checking what I *think* I know from experience... against what the data shows.

It is giving me yet another way to understand my own story... within that landscape - background - context of society/life around me. Takes awhile for all the ahas... association-connections... and ideas to get processed in my head into the beginning of a pattern... (some times there is no pattern)... and then for me to fully digest what I think the significance is.

OH: and maybe it's premature... but lately I've been able get a couple more changes started - things on my list of goals. Micro-changes, really... nothing to brag about... but have been able to "remember" and follow through and start the repetition process... for the "new" habits I've chosen to replace the "old" habits.
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2012, 10:06:11 AM »
I had a weird observation this morning. It's the coldest it's been all winter here and windy too. My wake-up routine involves going out with coffee to smoke, regardless of the weather. I have the world's ugliest, rattiest, but warm robe that is my "security blanket"... so even for the short moments I'm outside, I'm freezing this morning. Had to put gloves on... and I rolled down the cuff on the left sleeve. It was some time, before I "remembered" to roll down the right one.

The thought: oh, my right hand automatically knows to take care of the left hand, but not vice versa...

is connected to the neuroscientific knowledge that the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right hand, etc.

Looks like I need to keep strengthening my right-brain stuff... or at least adjust my center of balance/awareness more to the right again. Balance things out...

which makes sense, since the work I've been doing with my self lately has all been left-brain planned & initiated. There are some inherent weaknesses with that source of motivation, too. Like my intuitive belief that the nasty critical voice comes from my LBrain. It seems to be a cruel dictator, assured of it's superiority sometimes... rationality rules all, that kind of thing. Rigid, inflexible, humorless, and capriciously without empathy... for the REST of my SELF.

The rest of my Self has a message for that nasty part of my Lbrain: go take a flying leap at a rolling doughnut.

The only reason that part of my brain retains all the mom-crap and spits it back out at me, is because of how clearly, in detail, and intensely Rbrain was aware and felt the forbidden emotions in response to the mom-crap, the first go-round. Rbrain "remembers" better than Lbrain... no matter how pompous and in control Lbrain thinks it is. It is still just the "Monkey Mind".

Rbrain doesn't have a context for being in charge, in how my brain functions, except in extremely emotional circumstances. But it's really the better "processing" part of my brain for what I've set as my goals. It needs more latitude of "action". I wonder what that will be?
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2012, 08:39:00 AM »
PHEW.

We've been busy around here the past few days... getting caught up with stuff we both have procrastinated over. My reading kinda went by the way side... the neuro book is a bit dull so far; partly because the beginning is going over the same stuff I've read previously. Just getting up off the couch took 3 lbs off my weight, I've found exercises to help ease the residual pain in my ankle & to help strengthen it and bought myself orthopedic flipflops for spring to try to avoid re-injuring myself. I can still do other exercises that don't require one-legged balance. I'm not always eating breakfast - and not always eating "healthy" - but I'm being a bit more mindful, and I'm fine with that microprogress for now.

I called a "vacation" yesterday afternoon... hubs is wiped out... I've been cranky... it's time to do something "fun" before the weather gets ugly Sat-Sun-Mon again. Have some major maintenance projects around the house scheduled to begin next week, that I postponed for 2 years.

I've been meaning to get around to saying something here about my ability to be a chameleon; to be a "shape shifter" of sorts... to camoflauge myself into whatever situation I find myself. I learned to be really good at this, when I was around my mother. It was a survival skill - and also part of the deal of being a parentified kid. Because I was mirroring/marking HER... I wasn't being me. Because I was always at her beck & call... meeting her needs... I wasn't learning to know my own, nor learn to give those needs (at least) the same weight and importance as hers. Worse - I came to simply accept that this transaction of give, give, give without expecting a return - was par for the course for all relationships. So I unconsciously "trained" people around me to expect this from me. It was what I had to give in "trade" for "belonging".

Other people aren't happy or overly comfortable when I shake things up and start having needs and expectations... the status quo is getting changed. But it's not my job to make people comfortable or happy at 100% expense to myself. If I want it to be MY TURN, I can - and am - starting to insist on that.


Something I wrote on Ales' thread about Estranged Parents needs expanding on. That's the idea of giving myself permission to live the rest of my life, guilt free about my mom. I know I felt it was "sad - bad - a tragedy - a personal issue - a loss" to finally accept that I wasn't going to ever have the kind of mom that I've tried to be for my girls; that I've experienced with other people even. But it really wasn't my fault... I bent over backwards and threw myself under the bus... to try gain that little bit of approval, affection, concern in return for all I did for her. For whatever reason - she couldn't be open to this; she was barricaded behind some wall and wasn't letting anyone in. And if you did get in - or needed something - you nearly always paid dearly for it.

And of course, I learned to be this way from her - because that was her attachment style. But I don't have to be this way; I can just be me instead. I also don't have to fear - and rely on my old defenses developed during that relationship - that other people are going to be selfish, always emotionally taking, or unpredictably cruel as my mom. That wasn't "normal" human behavior. I failed at "fixing" it or even modifying it - but not because of lack of effort. That failure really wasn't my fault.

I only felt guilty... because that's what I was trained to feel, when I "let mom down" by not meeting her needs. There are some things, that adult people need to be responsible for doing themselves, you know? Including the moms in our heads.
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2012, 08:20:15 AM »
More thoughts on that "attachment" dysfunction.

Without the basic boundary of self - in other words, ME and YOU as two separate beings - it's rather difficult to have a relationship, the way "relationship" is usually defined and as it exists in the "bigger world". Instead, there's sort of a dependency feedback loop that is CALLED relationship, but isn't because there is no  positive validation of the "other person" as being separate, different, and "not me". There is no nourishment from mom to child... because "mom" sees child as an extension of herself - and not a separate person. Child's "purpose in life" (or self) is then only existing to nurture mom... instead of the natural order of things.

Go NC with mom - and there's a hole. That hole is simply the validation & evidence that we are separate people and that we are lovable and that we are important, valuable participants in the family unit; we belong. It can be filled with lots of things... but there is also a sense of desperation; urgency... and well, one perhaps doesn't make the wisest choices because one is afraid there will never be another chance - JUMP! There is also self-disgust... self-distrust... and self-confusion because self-worth has been trained into us, in that environment, to be based on the success of fulfilling mom's enmeshment/dependency needs. And then OH... the guilt... because we weren't loyal... or we put ourselves first... or cared for ourselves like adults do. We self-condemn because, well - how "bad" is it to hate and disown our parents so much? How f'd up are we that we go to those to lengths... just to feel safe and comfortable in our own skins... to feel "me"... instead of "her"? Yet that is what we must do, to individuate, to separate from mom, to survive as individuals. Whole, autonomous, competent & confident individuals.

So we live our lives craving connection - deep, caring, compassionate connection. And we have a primal fear of it simultaneously. Because of what happened with Mom. We don't know any better... until someone with a lot of patience can get through our fear and begin teaching us how to connect with others in healthier ways. It's a struggle, a battle too. I'd guess that a lot of us who grew up with mom-attachments like this became strong and self-sufficient; seriously hard-headed, invincible warriors. But that strength and ability to go it alone... is still starving us of that emotional connection/nourishment we need. Instinctively, we sense something missing.

The fear we have causes us to misinterpret other people - what they say; what they do. At the same time, we are also excruciatingly, agonizingly self-conscious. Each word, each feeling, each thought carries the high risk that we'll "betray ourselves" as being separate, different... and so every moment, every breath becomes hyper-important in that it would show that we believe ourselves autonomous from other people and that this completely negates the possibility - opportunity - to pursue that emotional connection. Talk about stress! This is why we don't "play" - each moment of life is centered on that battle to survive as "us"... sans "mom". It's a life/death situation.

That level of attention to ourselves - self-consciousness in the negative sense; different from self-awareness - insidiously sucks dry our energy, motivation, our life force. It is, in a sense, a very slow death by emotional quicksand.

I think one of things "Mama never taught us" is how to relax - to simply be - our Selves... safe in our individual self... secure in our boundaries... so that it is possible to enjoy, appreciate the real moments of being alive. To relax in confidence that "who we are" is just fine the "way we are"... and assimilate the knowledge that everything we say, do, feel and think... isn't under the microscopic analytical interrogation spotlight of all other people. We were "targets" and dumping grounds and emotional punching bags for our moms - but other people are too busy with their own thoughts & feelings & attention spans to turn that kind of critical, judgemental, gotcha spotlight on us.

We don't risk opening ourselves up to that kind of attack on our self, by opening ourselves up to other people. What we don't know is that their - and our boundaries - prevent that kind of risk from being real. There are lots more kinds of people in the world than Ns and victims. Our old primal fear colors our interpretation of other people -- most likely, unfairly -- and contributes to our own self-sabotage.

When I say "we"... "our"... it just a way for me generalize what I clearly recognize in myself and the echoes of it that I've noticed in other people. I mean "people"... and more particularly, people who grew up with any kind of mom that was a clear threat to our own mental/emotional health.

The storms that ravaged the midwest are here on the coast this weekend. Lots of rain; no storms - the energy was probably released on the mountains before it got here. Yesterday afternoon, our house was mobbed with red wing blackbirds and robins by the hundreds or thousands... as if they arrived "ahead of the storm". The blackbirds will stay for about a week before they move on and are a sign of spring. The robins generally sneak in, one or two at a time; I've not seen such huge flocks of them like this before. But they're on a mission! Darting and zooming and only stopping long enough to look for worms. They're probably just resting on their way north and west.

I wouldn't even have noticed, if I wasn't starting to relax in my own skin. That old fear/self-consciousness creates a type of tunnel-vision, too. It makes us blind to a lot of the fun, good, mysteriously delightful things that are around us each and every day... and that includes the people we have contact with, too.

Happy spring & bunny season!
« Last Edit: March 04, 2012, 08:26:05 AM by PhoenixRising »
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2012, 07:52:07 AM »
It dawned on me this morning:

The REASON that I have trouble feeling comfortable in my own skin, many times...

is precisely because I wasn't allowed to, as a kid. I was trained to be so "other oriented", I always thought about others first.

And it is also connected to great shame about myself... so I self-isolate... often rejecting those overtures to connect, to just hang out and get to know people.

That's connected to my rediculous feeling that people won't like me (and the silly reason is: because I don't know them, I don't know how to take care of them properly). I also misinterpret other people a lot of times.

These are the basic programming steps in a feedback loop... but there are places where I can push, pull, rewrite, and cajole myself out of it.

Other people have no idea this is the crap in my head. So they're also uncomfortable. I must "stop it".
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2012, 07:56:10 AM »
AH - it's spring and time for FOO-Follies again. The vultures returning to roost, etc. My bro had a minor heart attack and will be fine... but Mom's gearing up to upstage him and steal back all the attention again.

I've discovered that I can feel quite comfortable and competent and relaxed when I have a clear-cut role to serve the needs of others, or talk one on one with people... but I never had a chance to develop a social persona. The small talk, remembering names & faces stuff - all comes from my "work personality" - that Cinderella high-tech, lemme look at that & see if I can fix it... but being "just me" in a social situation??? That is waaaaay more difficult and uncomfortable for me. Sorta like an actor who's always in character and is highly self-conscious about who he really is. So, I'm still trying to blend into the wallpaper at social events... or as awkward as a fish out of water. But how can I be camoflauged - hiding in plain sight - and have any fun?  Hmmm.

I'm wondering if I'm allowed to not LIKE social events and still find connections?? Where you only hear snippets of conversation, egos are crashing up against each other - the oneupsmanship and snide, catty girl-games... or the dirty looks as I hang out with guys because they talk about more things that interest me???  And in the back of my mind I'm hearing my inner professor: well - you never could trust your mom and your dad always saw "you"; a separate person... he made you feel safe when he could end-around your mom. It makes sense... even if you think it's a limitation. You're not wacky... you're just who you are.

SIGH.
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2012, 08:52:53 AM »
So: today is 44 years to the day of Twiggy's first experience of what happens when the SHTF. Hell of an anniversary. I'm celebrating by surrounding myself with people... letting down my guard... letting people into my safe "space"... letting them set the agendas, the rules... and going with the flow while setting some limits for myself (to take care of myself).

All this time, I've had an absurd phobia of handguns... so in a couple weeks a kindly old gent (who's fully trained & certified) will attempt to teach me basic safety and basic shooting skills. I don't have the same fear of long guns; I was attacked with a handgun. Go figure. The phobia was the same one that made me reluctant to work on push-hands in tai chi... I was terrified that I would hurt someone. And yet I was fine... and my teacher wanted me to begin saber... which moves on to the sword form. Yes, they use real blades. I did try fan - because I falsely assumed a fan wouldn't be lethal. I did warn the instructor I'd had an unfortunate incident happen many years ago. I will also warn him F2F that I suffered PTSD, because of it. I do believe that most of that has evaporated... still... that wariness, fear is still right there uncomfortably close enough to touch.

I figure, if I haven't developed an aggressively violent streak in 44 years - both not knowing & knowing what happened to me - then I'm probably not going to all of a sudden become Rambo and go off the deep end now. So this is a safe way to conquer that last fear... take back a bit of what was taken from me by force... and move past that whole episode. And maybe... I'm seeing signs now... maybe I'm also getting past that tendency to hurt myself, too. The plus side of this - the extra gravy, if you will - is I might also start to feel confident that if I'm ever shot at again... I'll be able to shoot back.

Many, many thanks to "Certain Hope" - Carolyn - for clearing up my misunderstanding of the scripture and the societal inhibition of violence. It's taken me years after that, for it feel comfortable... I can now feel we ARE allowed violence to defend ourselves in life/death situations. "Turn the other cheek" won't save your life... but it's useful in so many other situations; it's the right thing in those situations. Obviously, no adult ever explained that to Twiggy and I went through life thinking I was bad, for defending myself... for all the aftermath that followed... and felt I deserved whatever awful things my mom insisted on in her attempts to deny the reality of what I experienced. I will do my best to keep Twiggy from being a victim - to that degree - again... and hopefully I'll never have to go that extreme.

I felt I was "bad" for being a survivor... in a thousand different ways, surviving enmeshment, the Cinderella syndrome, parentification, the domestic violence, the 60's (my least favorite era)... and for saving my own life. I surely didn't deserve the self-imposed punishment of this misunderstanding, for 44 years. It was what it was - and I think I'm finally going to be able to let it go by confronting the fear hands-on, in a structured, safe environment. Took me 3-4 months or longer to make up my mind to even sign up for the class!  LOL... it's a big deal for me.

My company this weekend begins to show up in an hour or so; I'll be AWOL here - though my guess is a lot of 'em will sleep in and I'll still be able to check in briefly - over the weekend.
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sKePTiKal

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Re: Epilogue: Twiggy's Tale
« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2012, 11:40:05 AM »
Ah. Fear. The way fear manifests inside of us... and gets all tangled up on the way through our brain on the voyage to being able to say and know someone will hear: I'm scared. It's funny-odd how we never really talked directly about fear in therapy. Yet each session was a gentle opening and straightening the kinks out in that pathway... until there was an experience of being with a person to whom I could trust to hear me and care that: I am/was afraid...

Fear is the primal reason I had for not trusting my own self, I think. And that broken trust was at the core of my self-care, habit change, communication issues with hubs even... difficulties; obstacles. Pardon my "french" - but I was a fucking long way from OK, no matter what I said just to get my Nmom to leave me alone. And it came out in all these self-sabotaging... self-harm... ways. And it even, in some cases became part of "who I am"... because the fear can create a "taboo", an "I can't", or even an "I'm bad if I _________." I learned early on to not trust my parents to take care of me -- not even the basics -- because the war they were in with each other was all-consuming... other people weren't like them, but I had no reason to trust them either - to really mean what they said, or promised.... and so the opportunity to "learn by example" ... to internalize that into a general characteristic about myself ("I can be trusted; I can trust myself") turned into some convoluted, double-bind-like, bugaboo. On the one hand, because I was an insatiable reader, I learned that trustworthiness was held as a positive virtue. I saw it over & over & over in popular media as well. The cavalry ALWAYS rode in to save the day; it would be possible to "go on" even after the worst possible experiences... but I didn't experience much of that, growing up. And poor Twiggy's SHTF day... was the absolute "end" of a lot of things. It simply wasn't possible to go on from that point, and in fact it went downhill from there - in reality.

44 years later:

I've finally gotten something of Twiggy - and what she lost - back. And the "poison arrow" that dripped fear in my sense of self for so long has proved the explanation of "FEAR" that I learned from a tai chi master, correct. He turned it into an acronym: "Fantasized Experience Appearing Real". It always made sense - intellectually. But it took a long time for that to slowly work through my brain's twisted mess into how I felt.

My T explained, in the process of prepping me to continue healing on my own, that the most difficult thing to resolve, or let go, or get past, would be the dissociation I experienced during the rape/assault. Because of those gaps in my memory - my mom was successful in planting the fear-button (for control) that she could use as she liked in me. To the point that I even questioned what bits of memory were REAL versus my mom's blanket denial that any of it was real. I was more successful at piecing together a chronology; documenting facts; than I'd initially hoped. It didn't do a damn thing to budge the old fear that my mom planted - that like some programmed time-bomb - I could "go off" and not remember later on, what I'd done.

Along with the fear, was her prohibition of any and all expressions of anger - except for herself. No one else was entitled to that. And to this day, she firmly believes in the "way of the victim" - that this is always and in every circumstance complying with the biblical admonition to "turn the other cheek" and to eschew completely - violence. Violence was defined in the extreme - as anyone's beliefs or wishes that contradicted hers, too. "I don't like you" = violence. She completely knew that I disagreed with her, before I was silenced and turned inward. I believed that it wasn't fair to only draft young men - there was absolutely nothing about women that would get in the way of women being good soldiers. I didn't believe that it was fair, to give them a pass - being they could bear children. Kinda need men around to complete that process and protect the vulnerable ones, ya know since they are physically stronger, in general, ya know? (not that I personally wanted to experience combat and could fully understand why any woman wouldn't; but they COULD and did in Switzerland, Isreal...) That was her absolute hate of all men, showing - peeking out from her holier than thou hem and her belief that all women, everywhere were powerless victims of the evil men and crazy, powerful, independent women too.

To stop dancing around - my mom believed that I was capable of great violence; even murder because the first part of Twiggy's SHTF day. Because there were sequential details that I just didn't have anywhere in my memory... I had no "proof" to refute her "big lie" of denial about what happened. I had no "body" to prove that I'd been attacked, raped, shot at during the struggle... and the brass casings I found later were easy to claim as my Dad's. He didn't own a gun of that caliber and he definitely didn't shoot that near the house. And I was afraid - because of the inability to remember absolutely what happened as jerk-rapist and me, the skinny 12 yr old, struggled over where he was pointing the gun - when it went off. So, all these years, I've been afraid of the WHAT IF... what if my mom was right? what if there is some awful thing inside me that can be unleashed in a life/death situation? did that make me as bad as any other murderer? SIGH. I was a pretty difficult teenager, having to deal with that - all stuffed into my sub and un-conscious. And I really didn't do myself any favors after that, either. It's no wonder that anxiety attacks I had were severe enough to get me referred to a T, huh?

Last installment, I mentioned my phobia of handguns. It was so severe, that even some movies would get the old adrenalin going pretty good... and the only thing that helped was pausing the movie and smoking... to help it level out. My dear sweet gentle hubby has quite the collection of guns, being a southern good ole boy. 12 years of marriage and he kept them locked up and never went shooting -- because of me. He's a damn good shot and really enjoys target shooting. He recently took a class and impressed the instructor/expert marksman with the level of his skills. Yesterday, it was my turn to take a class - the Basic Handgun orientation. When asked why I signed up, the closest I could get to the truth was that I wanted to make sure I was safe around hubs' guns -- that I wouldn't do something stupid out of ignorance; that if we needed to defend ourselves I could back him up -- reliably. The truth was I was trying to detect if there was anything valid to the old fear my mom planted in me... I imagined freezing up; dropping the gun; waving it around - loaded - like an idiot and taken off the line. I didn't sleep well, either. All of hubs' encouraging and instructive comments that morning almost brought on a full-fledged anxiety attack, so he quickly changed the subject when I asked him to.

But I was well-prepared for the class anyway. Over-compensation has been my way of coping with fear. I read a lot of stuff, started to learn how guns are designed and engineered - how they work. I asked as many "dumb" questions as I could. And as it turned out, I was the only student in this class. Just me and a certified instructor. So we got to the point, where it was time to lock & load. The gun jammed on the first shot. Hubs had warned me this particular gun had to be held firmly, the slide pulled quickly and with intention - and it took a lot of strength that I don't have that much of, in my hands and wrists. But we sorted that out, loaded the bullet and I actually hit the target on the first shot. (I do know how to aim.) Everything I'd learned in tai chi was also very, very helpful. My verbal response after that shot was that it really was loud. DUH... but inside, my response was: IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. Whatever crazy, what-if stuff I was afraid of... didn't happen. I followed instructions, kept shooting, tried his gun... and almost all my shots went into the paper plate, with a couple bullseyes. (at 15 ft... I'm not sure I see well enough to aim larger distances) It was 40 degrees with the wind chill - and the wind was 20-30 mph - so I only shot a dozen rounds before we were both ready to call it a day. Instructor said I shot better than some of the people in hubs' class (and they're supposedly more experienced). I told him in short, nutshell version about why I was afraid of handguns. And his wince was enough to tell me, that it's not the first time he's heard things like that. But he said several times, that I had the right attitude about learning. I guess he gets a lot of big-ego cowboys who talk better than they can shoot.

On the way home, I had a big stupid grin on my face. I'd confronted my fear - in a safe controlled environment and the big life-long fear that I was some closet, violent, crazy wacko was forever and F I N A L L Y GONE. I wish I'd been ready to do this years ago, but it's only been in the last few months that I felt I was ready. I even second-guessed it a couple times... and finally decided that I could stop at any point. I could shoot 1 and stop. I could even pay for the class and say I'd changed my mind. I gave myself every conceivable permission to back out, if I needed to. I needed that to "commit" to pulling the trigger that first time. It definitely got easier and even potentially (if I continue shooting) fun, after the first one. Target practice suits my perfectionistic bent... and since my ankle injury means I won't be able to run away in a dangerous situation and even limits what I can do in the tai chi form... and shooting requires that kind of meditative, proprieceptive, "in the flow" concentration... I might just continue. We'll see. I don't "have to"... but I'm no longer afraid of my own ignorance... or of becoming some awful person... simply because I know how to shoot a gun. I don't freak out anymore at the sight of one.

Finally confronting that one, sort of core fear about myself... feels like a complete new lease on life. Like a whole bunch of the other things I've been working on over the years... just got a coat of final polish. No self-limitations; no self-doubts; no "I can't"... no "I can't trust myself" anymore. I might've been ready sooner than 44 years after the fact; but I can accept that it took this long... all these other steps first. That's OK. It's finally over now.
Success is never final, failure is never fatal.