Integration

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The overhead projector is making its electric sound from above my head, spitting out black letters on a white board. The theme is affect integration in psychotherapy, the Ph.D. Project of my colleague, Nils. He’s moving to Oslo very soon, leaving us others behind in the small place where I now have worked for two years. It’s Tuesday morning, and we always have some presentation then. Last Tuesday I was in the spotlight, talking about trauma and the treatment of it.

Psychology, like other sciences, have a lot of jargon that sometimes need explaining. On of these expression is what I will write about now, which also is what Nils I talking about. Integration. It’s really not an especially pretty word, it gives associations to the sounds produced when you drag some item over a blackboard. It’s not like the pretty Italian words, rolling around in the mouth and room like it belongs there, caressing the target. But it’s not always the pretty things that matter the most, sometimes the glitter and glamour is just that, with no depth or meaning. Integration is so much more than that, when you scratch the surface its real beauty comes alive.

Two threads are not necessarily pretty themselves. One white, and one black on are just that, naked in their aloneness, longing for a partner. It’s first when they get twined together, the whiteness surrounding the dark places, that it comes alive. Think about the yin and yang. What would it be if not the other color stood by it? What would the magic scene of schindlers list, where the redness screams for attention in an otherwise colorless movie, be without the grayness? This is, as I see it, an example of integration, where the whole is more and better than its parts. It’s like making good food, the ingredient in themselves doesn’t make the mouth water, it’s the combination that gives extra flavor and meaning.

With a lot of real life problems, this also applies. It’s the people comfortable in their own skin, accepting their natural tendencies and integrating it with society, that feel complete. If a puzzle is not put together in the way it’s meant, the result won’t be right. Fitting the wrong piece into the puzzle, doesn’t work. For a human this could be inhibiting natural tendencies like joy and sadness, because the integration of preferences and logic, doesn’t combine. It’s like trying to shape someone into what you want them to be, but no matter what, the picture will not be anything else than what it was supposed to be. If forced long enough, the person will try to keep the picture together, using superglue on those pieces that doesn’t slide together naturally. It’s some integration, but not the one meant to be.

In my work I see this every day: People want to feel joy, but shame stops it from surfacing, boys want to laugh and talk, but the thoughts of somebody disliking them, abort the tendency of fun in its first trimester. It’s even more noticeable after trauma, when a lot of different roles develop that make them follow a script, often without vigor or satisfaction. It’s memories kept away, true selves locked in closed boxes and lives never lived. It always pains me to watch this in reality: The wonderful woman, who carries Everyone else’s weight in addition to her own, the man in a destructive relationship who thinks he doesn’t have the right to be happy, or the child quenching her own happiness because she doesn’t dare to laugh in a house full of gloom. The feelings, needs and tendencies, doesn’t fit into the picture someone’s trying to make, and therefore they are hidden, forgotten or forced into the wrong part, since it has to go somewhere. This is the point when the integrated system break down, where fast solutions have to be executed to compensate for the losses and keeping the organism functioning in some way. It’s when the flower shreds some petals to keep from being blown over by harsh weather, and like the bee delivering the deadly sting to protect its queen. Who of us hasn’t experienced being defensive, destruction the very same things we really longed for?

Hopefully it’s never too late. Even when a completed picture has scratches and left-overs from glue for the sake of getting everything right for the second time, the picture can still be pretty and important. Isn’t it a fact that it’s the worn and torn pics on a scrapbook page we fall for. The old photos that tell a history of a life lived? I believe in integration. In putting pieces where they belong, even when they weren’t right the first time. I think that each time we let somebody just be, whoever they are, we are helping them patch up the wrongs, and even adding the little extra that self-confident people spread without knowing it. We are all small saviors, plucking harmony and tolerance and watering others with it.

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The sound of the morning after dark

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The darkness from yesterday had for the time being been forgotten with the new morning coating over the bleary paint. An angel peering down from its sky of hope, would clap its hand delightfully and deliever a package of encourangement at my doorstep. I have already been outside and picked it up, delving in to the new day with vigour and a mild stroke of self-comfort over my cheek. A little joke describes some of what I`m feeling right now:

There is this guy who’s always been poor, and one day he decides to pray to God that he could win the lotto. He prays and prays, but doesn’t win. Every day, he prays to God that he could win the lotto, and it never happens.

One day, when he’s very old and frustrated, he gets on his knees and says, “Look, God. This is the last time I’m going to pray. PLEASE let me win the lotto, or at least tell me why you aren’t letting me win.”

Suddenly, an angel appears before the man and says, “Look, sir, could you do God a favor and at least BUY A LOTTO TICKET???!

Its only yourself who can grab the chance before you, which reminds me of a song from Natasha Bedingfield: 

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I also add a link to my last.fm page, for those interested in what a psychologist listen to (at least, THIS psychologist)

http://www.last.fm/user/ninaerikstad

Protected: Narrative part 3: The bridge of love

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The Big and bad day.

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Some days feel like being a vacuum-cleaner trying to get rid of all the snow, not knowing its not what it seems to be. That feeling when darkness is safer than this world, when the things that gave joy the day before are tinted and horrible.

I had a boyfriend. He made me laugh with my heart opened and tender, loving everything fiercely. When I thought about coming home, resting in his arms, everything could be endured. The beauty was in his every word, it sent chills down my spines and made air unnecessary. I went all miles worth going, without training or help, because the finish line delivered the smile of my life. I longed for it, devoured it and lost it.

He shall know that what I am, right now broken but still strong, came from him. I could be myself, I did not care what the world thought about me because I was fine, everything was fine. I put jealousy, my faithful warder, in his own prison and kept it at bay. I drowned poison seeping though the cracks with infectious care and forgiveness. I learned that to lose control is gaining it, even if I now stand here alone.

I lost this person, who gave me his water necessary for growing. I will love him for that, and true love sometimes involves letting go.

I see you running in the fields. Flowers around you, laughter and joy. I thought it would be me, there by your side, but I tripped and lost my chance.

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For norske lesere

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To everyone:

  • If you want to follow me on twitter, you find me if you search for @ninjafighter. I mostly write in Norwegian here, but sometimes I share articles or other things related to life and psychology.
  • I also have a facebook group and page called “aktiviteter in Førde”. The ideas is simple, just to find and inform all people from the town I come from, add them to the group and invite members to activities that I organize with help from other people. This because nothing much happens here, and I know several people who would like more to happen. If you think this is a good idea, start a group like it 😉 The page is: http://www.facebook.com/AktiviteterIForde if you are curious. Hope this can be an inspiration for people who want to do something for the community, the same idea as pay it forward; Do something good for others, and could get something in return

For people who read Norwegian, its possible to also read my native blog: La vita e bella (from my favorite movie, language and country)

the adress is: http://lifeisbeautfiul.blogspot.no/. You can alsofind pics there, but it will be hard to understand anything unless your from Norway. Will start on my Narrative part 3 ASAP.

    • Have a wonderful evening (the pic is from a dinner I organized in my group, we were 12 people at the most, and had a really good time, with tapas and socializing)!
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Narrative of my life: Part 2

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Some days just makes you think. Not just any thoughts, like ‘I wonder what dinner should be’, but thoughts of reflection. I’m not always sure if this is good, sometimes it feels like it would have been so much easier if I just cut the conscious part of myself, away for a while.

I have just come from a 2-day course about psychology. At the end of the day it felt too much, sometimes all this talk about anxiety, depression and stress just gets me, even when I am touched to tears by the compassion in certain people. I always feel lucky when I think of how far I’ve come, but eventually the other side of the equation kicks in.

I started on my narrative some days ago, and it still chills me a bit when I ponder why I don’t remember much from my earlier life. What would I be without the pictures, stories and memories that points to how it maybe was? I always get bit stressed when I see movies portraying this: How is it to form your identity from scratch? Like I wrote last time, many times when I think back its with shame. How could I be so self-sentered?

I used to live in the world of books and felt comfortable there. I really lived in the world where the characters were. I remember very little about the books now, it’s in a haze, and its like I never read them at all. In the start of school I loved reading, and I have kept that interest even when we started analyzing books and in my opinion cutting their magic away. It’s like eating a delicious meal and afterwards hearing that what you ate was a combination of something healthy and disgusting. A friend told me, before I went to China, to eat first and ask afterwards if I wanted to keep my sanity. This element was central for my well-being. The songs I learned and thought I understood were just childish miming far away from reality. That’s how you start believing in fairy castles and strangeness. In fact, after hearing some of my favorite songs later, I was kind of disappointed sometimes, it was always much simpler than once thought.

School was okay, for the most time. I was never one of the cool girls, and kept to the two same girls for the 9 years I went there. It’s like that in small places, the structure designs itself, and maybe I ,participated more in creating it than I ever knew. Again, I was the domineering queen. I decided a lot of stuff: that we should form a club where we wrote about the environment, without noticing the weak response I did get. I took the lead, and found it natural. I planned, organized and came with bright ideas. Must probably have been a real pAin, but I was blissfully unaware. I think I was 12 or 13 when I started in the scout group, after some sorry attempts at what we call 4h. I don’t even remember what the letters were for, just that I did not particularly like it. We were ‘forced’ to have meetings, do tasks, and have a party with sketches. I am a bad actress, and will probably never be happy in the limelight. It’s like all my flaws, and I felt I had more than most, suddenly got even more obvious. Like I remember it, response was seldom given at anything I did, no matter how hard I tried. When I think back now, my memories might have been colored by untruth, but now That I know my mother lived in constant depression (she said a black veil hung over her the moment she came home) it’s not completely unlikely. From my mother I learned that happiness should and could be measured in cleanness and how fast you cleaned it. I can remember that is was fun, though, especially when we did things together, like sorting socks.

My scout group gave me all I longed for, and more. I once again came in leader roles, but now in natural way that I thrived in. I can just sum it up: I felt great, just said what I thought, laughed, made up funny songs with my friend, and became the famous story-teller. I also began falling in love at that time. It was sweet and wonderful, and added a flavor that made the ingredients of life irresistible. Kindergarten has all been about playing; the bits of heaven consisted of time in the sandbox and on the swings. Higher, faster, better. The heavens in my teens was made of heart-beats, giggles and my first kiss. It’s not obvious to me why this was so important for me, my parents were not a particularly loving couple, but my mother and I used to watch dramas on the tv all the time, and romance and feelings was the meaning of it all. This I adopted easily, because love was all that is, something I still believe and live by.

There are so many small stories to tell about a life, but I can only choose some, and hope it represents my story in some ways. Sometimes I’m surprised when I talked with old friends and family-members and something new suddenly enters my consciousness. Some weeks ago, at a conference, I at herring, that I normally stay away from. At that time I thought: Why not? As the taste landed on my tastebuds and entered the smelling part of my brain, I memory suddenly came alive. I remembered how my grandfather always ate this, and this was so precious to me. He was an icon for love and care, and to forget our time together, or denying them access, feels like losing valuable possessions. A similar thing actually happened some ours ago. I was sitting in the bus taking me home, with my eyes sleepy and closed, when I suddenly remember the feeling of sitting behind the sofa, looking up. We had a red leather one, and I sat there, feeling small but also protected. When I think about it I’ve been the opposite of claustrophobic; Tiny or dark places attracted me: It was just for me and I owned the space there and then.

As I am Rolling back at fort on memory lade, in a nostalgic pace, I suddenly starting about you: The reader. Maybe it’s confusing to follow my train of thoughts, or even a bit tiring. I want to thank you for sticking to it so far, especially since my grammar probably has some hiccups here and there. I will also make this the natural way to end this part, and will as promised before, continue at a steady pace.

Like always, I appreciate feedback, especially constructive and concrete one like: don’t write so much, or detailed or I especially disliked/liked THAT part. I think I’m quite good at using feedback in a good way, even when it points to things I need to work with, so always feel free to say what you think!

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Protected: Narrative of my life

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the turtle

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Guiding a turtle away from the roead

Narrative of my life: Introduction

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Many people Ask: Where do I begin When they get the possibility to tell their story. Since I work with people every day, I have heard many variants, and I will no chose the overview variant to give you an idea of who I am and how I became that way. I am already, in the age of 26 (27 in two days) eager to share my story, and maybe that gives me many fascinating stories in return. I have always been interested in other people. I guess that explains hours spent on movies, reading and reality shows. Today I work with what I love, talking to people from 8-16 as a therapist. People usually Ask : don’t You Get tired of it? My answer still is: No! Even if I read hundred books, I never get tired of that either. Some books are better than others of course, but I love it when I find something that manage to surprise me, and humans never stop to amaze me. Every person has their own personality, that you usually grasp automatically based on intuition, that unexplained x-factor that make you love and hate, sometimes because of unknown reasons. To hear how someone became like that, is like opening a gift box. You may have inklings of what might come, but it never ceases to surprise me. It can be a touching description of somebody’s day, for example how they worried that their mother would be hit by a car, or a summary of their childhood. It can be how they talk, dress and behave, and even better, it’s changing every time a person experience something new.
I feel in many ways that I have my essence still, but outwardly and inwardly I have also changed a lot. When I look at video-camera footage of myself, I almost get a bit ashamed. Was that me? How could I be so obnoxious? The same thing happens when I look at my writing from back then. I could not understand what I did wrong, now it blinks and announces itself with great vigor, and I have to smile at my high hopes.

I hope my life story will be okay for somebody to read, too. It’s full of sad, happy and normal memories, but I know nobody out there has exactly the same story as me, in that case I would like to meet you very much! If you have questions along the way, please feel free to ask.

Will start writing my story as fast as possible, please stay tuned for more.