Nativica Spring WoodsWalk through Native Plant Art


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Welcome to Nativica’s Spring Woodswalk through the native plant (NorthWest) collection by Heidi D. Hansen (c2000-2017)!  Please feel free to order prints of the botanicals you love, and purchase using the Paypal button here (see the end of this blog for details).

PacificRhododendronbloom - CopyWalking in spring means Rhodies and Azaleas — but know that only a couple are native to the North West, the Pacific and the Western.  Direct sun will make them turn a deeper pink.Azalea - CopySalmon2The spring rain helps our salmon runs, and the native plants that grow on the banks of our rivers and creeks help keep the river soils secure, and arriated for the salmon eggs.salmon1

Trilliums are a deeply loved spring favorite.  The sessile has no “second stem,” and turns mottled with age.  It is a myth that if you pick a trillium it won’t grow back.  If the rhyzome is healthy, it will be back next spring.  Ants spread the seeds of the trillium when the seed pod bursts open and a delicious liquid pours out.  They go get that delicacy, and on their way home spread the pollen that stuck to it.  Deer treat trillium glens like salad bars!  Moles nibble on the rhyzomes underground and the rhyzome will bloom from that nibble.  I once knew a trillium rhizome that had 23 blooms! It takes about 7 years from seed to bloom, and then will bloom each spring thereafter if healthy.

Our native lilies, the Fawn and Tiger, grow in areas moist and partial sun, close to where one can find trilliums.

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The Kurabayashi trillium is rare, and a deep maroon color, which gives it the nickname “blood trillium.”  These are often found in clumps, because they grow in hiding spaces and tend to get old enough to house bunches of blooms.  An old horse I knew named ‘Star’ found a clump of these and had a delicious snack!
Wetlands
Wetlands are complex ecosystems, that are important to insects and butterflies and moths and algeas and moss and lichen, as much as fish and two and four-footers. Our native turtle is making a comeback from depleted populations, so enjoy looking at them, but please don’t take them home as pets! And skunk cabbage is bit ripe – smelling, but grows right in the water and is very useful to other water life.

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Our native strawberry grows just about everywhere, and is often used for parking lot ground cover because its leaves are shiny evergreen and is durable.  It loves to grow near river banks, where the complex root systems keep soil intact.  Has two blooms, one in late spring, one in late summer.  An important food source for insects as well as birds and animals.  Attracts butterflies and moths and people who love to eat strawberries, which are not too sweet, and smaller than commercial, but nonetheless a refreshing find.

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The Pacific Dogwood (tree) blooms have a distinctive curl to its petals, is a spring blooming tree, and has a tri-stem pattern to it’s flowering branches.
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March blooms include the yellow flowers of Tall Oregon Grape and Red Flowering currant which share the same habitat as Pacific Madrone.  Pacific Madrone is depleted due to its prized hardwood with its luscious orange tones and peeling bark.  It is an evergreen with shiny leaves, and the tap root goes down forever into the ground, which makes digging it up to re-plant nearly impossible.

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One of my most favorite places to woodswalk in Vancouver, USA, is Ellsworth Springs.  This is a special spot where native plants and wildlife teach me the charisma and diversity and pioneer beauty of native life.

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As an artist, I am captivated by the range of textures and shapes of native plants in the wild.  When I look at the greens, I see a palette of 5 shades ranging from blue – green to red-greens to lime-greens. When you look at native plants in the wild, try to see them as elements of a painting.  And, when you plant them in your gardens, use the color palette, textures and shapes of species and varieties so that your garden will look and feel like a well-constructed piece of art.

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Big Leaf Maple trees bloom out in spring, and their young leaves are as lime-green as the moss they are famous for housing over the wet winter.
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There are many Riparian areas in and around the suburbs, easy to get to and rich in native finds.  In NW suburbs,  willows and beavers just seem to find each other.
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Remember the Fawn Lily we talked about earlier?  Well, they come in pink, too — but it’s a rare find.

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You’ll find a rich history if you woodswalk around Vancouver, USA — a complex and tragic and dramatic and exciting history for the First Nation peoples and early seed-gatherers who followed Lewis and Clark from England’s garden societies.  Our very own Spruce trees were cut here on the Columbia river to ship to England in WWI to make the first airplanes used in battle.  Our Spruce seeds were used in the 1800’s to re-populates the United Kingdom’s Spruce forests after a great blight there that took them down.  Still today, you’ll find many native plants in Europe around the 45th parallel that came from our NW native plants including Red Flowering Currant, ferns, berries, and evergreen trees and shrubs.
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My late father, Wallace W. Hansen, started his native plant nursery by discovering a trillium on a woodswalk. He asked me to find a way to paint the trillium in a fashion that captured its ‘Mona Lisa’ appeal.  What is really interesting, is that by chance one day, while browsing through an ancient dictionary that his grandfather and grandmother had brought with them when they settled in the NW from the eastern united states, I came across an old, old dry crackly trillium that they had pressed in between it’s heavy pages so long ago!  What is this fancy of the trillium that seems to run through this family’s genes?

 

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How many native plants can you identify in this painting?  Where would you go to find them, and this turtle?
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The yellow Iris love wet feet!  You can cut up a mature yellow Iris bulb into bits, put it in your kitchen sink full of water, and it will grow so fast you’ll be amazed.  This is a great teaching plant for young children just learning about gardening.  However, sad to say, while yellow Iris is often included in the native plants of the NW literature, technically, it’s not, it’s an introduction that goes way back in time.  I suppose on can make up one’s own mind on that, it’s an issue on the fence.

 

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Nativica is a place, a place to go to in your imagination through art, as well as when you take your two feet out on a walk or hike or exploration.  Please remember that our native plants of the North West have endured and thrived for millennia here, and we must do our part to make sure they are here taking care of our grandchildren long after we ourselves have become part of the ecosystem.

Thank you for taking this Nativica In Spring woodswalk here with my native plant botanical art collection.  You can purchase an 8 x 10 print of  any item you see here for $14.99 plus $5.00 shipping.  You my purchase the entire spring collection you see here for $89.99 plus shipping. Just use the Paypal button here, and contact Heidi to discuss your order in detail.  Call (360) 892-5218, or email  dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com.  Thanks, and happy woodswalking!

 


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And, I sincerely hope you can find a couple of hours on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, 2017, to join me in a Day of Climate Change Service.  I will give you this free Nativica Earth Day poster (8 x 10 on heavy poster paper, signed and numbered by the artist — me  –)  if you will do 2 hours of labor that helps our planet cope well with the effects of climate change.  I will be available all day Earth Day in my studio (Vancouver, WA), with free light refreshment and free posters for those who come over with a good service report. Thanks! — Heidi HansenNativica poster ad

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One New York City Block: A Panel Mural in Progress to Better Understand DID

Someone I know, who struggles with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and all the Selves that want to be heard and seen and also stay hidden and invisible, had a dream one night.

And again another night.  This dream kept coming back to her.  It was comforting, enveloping in its richness and warmth and welcoming nature.

She said the dream was that she was walking along one block, one segment of a New York City street, where there were shops that met her every need and want.  A shop for everything she needed, that all of her Selves needed to feel safe and loved and embraced and nourished.  Emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically.

So, with her permission, I’ve set about painting a panel mural that visually represents her dream about what it was like on that one New York City block where she felt she could live, really be alive, — something she cannot fully do in waking life.

(click on the Paypal button below if you would like to donate a bit towards supplies for this project, and my low-income/free advocacy service in general.  Or, use this button to purchase a meditation print.  For details, email me at dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com, or call (360) 892-5218. Thanks!) 

 


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This portion of my blog space will show the making of this panel mural in its progress.

The beginning sketches, on a countertop panel 12′ X  20″, mixed media:

“One New York City Block” mural and writing is copyrighted to HeidiDHansenc2017.  Donations to help this project along (Paint, supplies, advertising overhead, etc.) are welcome and can be made via http://www.paypal.com.  Contact Heidi for details at (360) 892-5218, or email at  dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com. Thanks!

Is Meditation Right for You?

Wondering if meditation and contemplative practice can be of value in your health journey?  In your business organization? For your clientele?
Contemplative practice can help a person recover from both physical and mental maladies, including chronic pain, anxiety, depression, focused thinking, coping, self-esteem, and fatigue.  My name is Heidi Hansen and as a retired mental health therapist, now Mental Health Advocate, I can help your physical therapy company develop these tools as part of an integrative health package.relax restore reinvent
Meditation, mindfulness, and quality of life are focus areas of my writing, outreach, and artwork.  Here are a few brief notes on meditation.BREATHING MANTRAS — CALL and RESPONSE

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Deep, slow breathing in on the call phrase, exhale completely on the response.  Exhaling completely is vitally important to get out the low fog of co2 often left behind at the bottom of our lungs.
Getting into a rythm of breathing using a basic call-response patterns is more effective than counting.  Here are a few suggested rythmic mantras that also have reflective, inspirational value:
“Inhale peace, exhale joy”
“I am who I say I am, not who you say I am”  (the ‘you’ can be a person, an event, a challenge, a stress).
“May I be __________________ (happy, forgiving, a good friend, confident, full and content, brave with my pain, etc…)
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—Contact me for a packet of meditation pocket art reminders and mantras and larger room posters with meditative art.   Credit cards accepted via Paypal, and you can pick and choose the pieces and sizes that you like best.
BUILD YOUR PLACE OF PEACE
….and carry it with you like a collage crab, or snail, mentally.  The shell is your invisible place of peace.
— this can be a sitting space, meditation space, creative space, resting space, study space, or as small as a yin yang rock bowl on your bedside table. Something set apart from the regular context.222792_503384659712931_1746433728_n-copy-2-copy
— Use it often enough, and with enough respect and safe boundaries, so that you can access it often through the day regardless of where you are, whom you are with, or what you are facing.
UNDERSTAND THE NEUROLOGY OF CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE
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—  Access the clinical research centers that study how both brain hemispheres, and the neuron grid that connects them, are able to function more intently together through meditation.
Suggestions:
Mind & Life Institute                  https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/iscs-2016/
Center For Mind and Brain, University of California, Davis     http://mindbrain.ucdavis.edu/
Center for Contemplative Studies, WCU     http://wcupa.edu/HealthSciences/ContemplativeStudies/
—  Use biofeedback, such as a portable digital blood pressure monitor, to record “hard” data on how meditation helps you in your health goals.
—  Meditation is an area of focus for non-medicated pain management.  http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20100317/brief-meditation-training-brings-pain-relief#1
PRACTICE CONGRUENCE
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— Meditation and contemplative practice isn’t something you can turn on and off at scheduled times and expect intentional and long-lasting change.  Your meditative practice can become deep and rich so that you, in effect, become the meditation.  You bring it to other persons and tasks and contexts, business and social and familial, congruent in such a way that your contemplative practice is part of your character, your core behaviors, communication and leadership.
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Heidi D. Hansen, M.A., is a mental health advocate and meditation coach, freelance writer-artist in Vancouver, Washington.  Call (360) 892-5218 to discuss possibilities.
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“Inhale Peace, Exhale Joy” — order your FREE copy & FREE Meditation Posters

A pocketbook of meditation art and mental health strategies by Heidi D. Hansen, M.A.c2017. I have a limited stock of free copies that I can, upon your request, mail to you or you can pick up.  Also, with my compliments, you may choose two free meditation art posters ( 8 x 10 full color on poster paper), posted at the end of this blog.  Enjoy the book here, and get it in print while my supply lasts.  Afterwards I will be happy to print more for a price of $24.99, which includes five (5)  meditation posters.  Call me at (360) 892-5218, or email at dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com. Thanks, and please enjoy and support this effort by spreading the word! — Heidi
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1.  Allow The Creative
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The art speaks. So do you.  You are the artist of your mental health. Allow the creative, which is your natural state, to see opportunities while the rest of our parts cry, “broken!”  We are children of creation.  Creativity is our natural state.  Mental health problems deserve a richly creative recovery.  Select a name for the brave creative healer in you.  The one who will respond with a broad palette and see your mental health as a fresh canvas.
While you discover this creative healer’s name, I’ve got a few suggestions for mental health strategy…
2. Tether To Your Day
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On Depression.  For when the lightbulb inside goes out and joy goes dark and motivation draws a blank.  In some small but tangible way, tether self to your day.  Commit to your day with an action that has an observable, countable result.  Perhaps it is cooking with a new ingredient.  Or making a craft from the coffee filters.  Changing the water in the fish bowl.  Putting on your good clothes even if you’re not going out.  Keep in motion.  Do one thing, then wait..  But keep in motion.
3.  Practice Comfort
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On traumatic stress… Practice comfort.  Comfort is not a luxury, it is a necessity.  It’s not a reward, it’s a cog-wheel. Practice self-care comfort until you really receive it in a changing way.  Body reconciliation.  Which means becoming a wise teacher to the sensory body responses that are ragged and zig-zagging from harsh experience.  Gentle but noticeable body teaching using intentional sensory lessons found in breathing meditation, stretches, yoga, gardening, hiking, swimming, acting lessons, sculpture, eating foods that you know will change your moods.  Your body and mind are continual learners.  Help them learn something new about comfort.
4.  Little Things Matter
Little Things Matter
Little things matter.  Small pebbles tossed in the pond create ripples that reach the other side.  Invest in small actions.  Set yourself up for a win, a small win, but real win that you can see, hear, touch the result.  Let that win get traction.  Let the ripple set up another win.  When you get some momentum going, just wait.  Don’t pressure out about doing more or gaining perfection, just don’t go backwards. Sometimes our best success comes from just not going backwards.  Learn to wait.  As they say in baseball, “wait for the good pitches.”
5.  Own It.
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Own your mental health issues.  Claim them.  The act of ownership will set you free.  Your inner shaming device will get bored and stop.  Once you own your recovery, you are able to be the director of play, the author of your recovery story, the driver of your recovery strategies.  You’ll have a sense of choice in how you gain wellness “wins.”  You’ll own your setbacks, too, in which, by the way, there is great dignity.  The knowledge you gain in setbacks will become the wise lesson manual for others who struggle.
6.  Let It Be.
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No matter how much progress and success you have, there will still be bad days.  There just are.  And will be. It is the nature of it.  Accept them quickly, chalk it up to “oh well, that’s life, it happens, whatever…”  and allow yourself to move on when you get your second win. Let it be what it is.  Things change.  Let it be.
7.  JoyWork
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Do your joywork, even if you don’t feel like it.  Joy is a cure, not a fancy. Notice 5 things of beauty right around you, right now.  Even if you can’t feel joy right now because your depression or anxiety has turned off the lights, remember what you used to do for joy, and just go through the motions.  Or, learn something new.  No matter how helpless we are and no matter how bad things get, we can always learn something new.  Charge up the little gray cells in your brain with new things that are interesting, a reason to call and tell a friend, and perhaps even possible.
8.  Words Change Things
Words Change Things
Words change things.  Check the self-talk going on inside your head.  We become what we say to ourselves. Write a new and better script and read it over and over until something sticks.  Practice with post-it notes.  Say new and better things to yourself, things you would say to a best friend who is suffering or imprisoned.  Write, draw, speak, use your words.  We become the words we use.  You can choose what they are. Mental illness does not take that away unless you give it the permission to.
9.  I Am Who I Say I Am
I am who I say I am
Say,  “I Am who I say I am, not who you say I am.”   (The “you” part can be a person, a situation, an event, your mental health problem or anything else that is trying to define you in harsh or negative ways.)  Do anything you can to create and secure your own sense of Self.  If you have a strong sense of Self, you’ll be able to handle so much more.  And you’ll do it in a way that is unique to you, a way that makes sense to you.  That is the creative part of your recovery, of personal growth, towards being happy.  The Self is one super powerful gift, but it is a gift we have to work for.  Even with mental health problems, you can have a good quality of life.  The stronger your sense of Self, the more these strategies will provide the quality of life you want, need and deserve.
10.  On Responsibility
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You are responsible for your mental health.  You are responsible to learn and change and get better as you can.    You are responsible to ask for the help you need and deserve just like anybody else with any other kind of health problem.  You are responsible to learn and use the skills and insights you gain. You are responsible to set a good example so that the binding stigma of mental illness lightens up for others who endure discrimination, prejudice, stereotype and abuse because of mental illness.  The more you act in self-responsible ways, the more you will respect yourself.  The more others will respect you.  And when you act as a  good educator and ambassador of mental health, the more you are advocating for the larger population of those trapped by invisible disability.  That pride and power will give you a better quality of life and protect your creativity in recovery.
Speaking of which, have you found your name for the creative healer in you?  Let’s get to know that person and see what they can do.
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Available Meditation Art Posters (8 x 10 full color on poster paper):
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________________________________After this special free offer, this book is available in full-color print form with the set of five (5)  8 x 10 inspirational posters that you see posted here.  Cost:  $24.99 plus postage.  Credit cards via Paypal accepted.  Call Heidi at (360) 892-5218, or email her at dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com to discuss and arrange an order that fits your needs.  Otherwise, these materials are copyrighted and use is prohibited.  Thank you! — Heidipayment-icon

The Science of Grit in Mental Health Recovery

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Angela Duckworth, Macarthur Award – winner for her research on Grit, was recently challenged by the article, “Much Ado About Grit: A Meta-Analytic Synthesis of The Grit Literature,”  by Marcus Crede and his research team, for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Here’s the link:

https://www.academia.edu/25397556/Much_Ado_about_Grit_A_Meta-Analytic_Synthesis_of_the_Grit_Literature

When I first heard Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk on her Grit research, at:

 

https:/www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_grit_the_power_of_passion_and_perseverance
 I immediately thought of two things, and these remain questions which I put forward you, the reader:
1.  How does Grit science relate to Resiliency science as a personality dimension/skill set?
2.  How does Grit apply to persons who struggle with recovery from mental health problems?
It seems to me that Duckworth’s research is somewhat elitist in that her study samples were largely comprised of persons who were 1.  Mentally healthy; and 2.  Persons who were already in situations of high – achievement or where excelling over their peer group was already a committed goal.
I’ll leave the question of wether this is a sampling error (self-selection or skewed sample populations) to Marcus Crede and his team.
I believe that Grit, like Resiliency, is a key factor in mental health recovery.  But mental health is not a competition.  Is there such a thing as “excellence” or “high achiever” in mental health?
Should there be? Can there be?
In one way or another, persons with mental health problems are going to have difficulties with personality functioning.  Maybe coping with symptoms consumes all the individual’s energy and concentration.  Or perhaps as a result of the biological or environmental compromises that caused or resulted in their mental illness. repair1
Perhaps personality is the core of a person’s mental illness, as we see in Borderline Disorder. Which causes me to wonder how Marsha M. Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy could be used to enhance an individual’s capacity for accessing their Grit, or perhaps, opening inner venues for learning Grit as a cognitive-behavioral skill set in therapy.
For example, DBT talks about “practice, practice, practice..”  Grit talks about the “10,000 hour of practice.”  Basically the same thing, eh?  People who practice get better at the skills they want to achieve.  Mentally ill persons want to achieve wellness skills. Persistence and determination seem to work.
Grit science says that having a passion or burning desire in a certain field or area is necessary for success.  Is this not similar to DBT’s emphasis on “meaningfulness” in one’s life?
Can a mentally ill person have a bona fide passion for and burning desire for wellness?  When the illness itself works against progress?
In short, can a mentally ill person be said to have Grit as defined by Duckworth?  I can’t find Grit research using sample populations of persons with DSM diagnoses.
If Resiliency means, “find a way,”  is Duckworth saying that Grit is, “find a way that outstrips everyone else?”   There is no Carnegie Hall competition or performance for mental health.  No Special Olympics or medallions for recovery.renew1
How can Grit be taught, much like the resiliency skills of DBT (Radical Acceptance, Mindfulness, Emotional Regulation) are taught in therapy?
In a nutshell, can Grit itself be harnessed in a form that speaks the language of the mentally ill?  Or, would that be a set-up for failure, low self-esteem, resistance to therapy, and social isolation?
I am posing these questions to Angela Duckworth and Marcus Crede.  Grit isn’t just for the people who are already successful or already have the basic skills and capacity to get on the achievement road of their choosing.
Mentally ill persons don’t have that same kind of or degree of free will.  Free will is not equal to all.  This is the elitism of Duckworth’s Grit theory that I believe needs a reformed focus.
I encourage you, readers, to think and discuss these issues and access the research and advocate a more just band of knowledge as matters of definition and application.
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Thanks!
Heidi D. Hansen, M.A.
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— Heidi D. Hansen, M.A. is a Mental Health Advocate in Vancouver, Washington and is dedicated to serving economically challenged persons by offering a sliding fee scale. Donations are also appreciated in this regard.  Call (360) 892-5218, and visit her free and robust mental health website at http://www.heidihansenadvocacy.wordpress.com.payment-icon

Toxic Families and How To Survive Them

protectyourlight-copyToxic families are those that put you through the blender, so to speak, and then smile and carry on sunny and bright like nothing ever happened.  It’s the abuser who, while staring at the bloodied nose acts like, “Well if I’m happy, everybody should be happy.” Only it’s not a bloody nose.  Toxic family members cause wreckage that is not in plain sight.

Toxic families cause you to feel dirty, unwholesome, shame just for being there.  Fear, run-away anxiety that has no visible cause.  And you can never quite put your finger on how and why and even a sense of “WTF just happened?”

Maybe you get these sensations by just thinking about the toxic person.

That head-spinning, stomach-knotting sense of dark shame and overriding dread is not your fault.  It’s not even about you.

Borderline personalities and sociopathic personalities are really slick about getting others to carry their load for them.  All their inner violence and lack of empathy gets shifted onto you within minutes of interacting.  It’s a rehearsed and slick manipulation that these two types have gotten away with for so long they no longer see any other possible way of relating.

And they get very angry when these patterns are revealed or challenged or, heaven forbid, accountability and consequences are required.  Their punishments can stick with you for years.  Even make you stay away from relationships or intimacy from that toxic residue. Or, cause you to gravitate to new toxic people to try and figure it out and get some control back.

Borderline and sociopathic personalities require specialized mental health therapy.  The awareness of how they hurt others is not a motivator for personal change, but rather, feeds their self-pity, low self-esteem and sense of entitlement to act-out.  People in personal relationship with them can do little to help them change and grow.  Talk to a mental health specialist about some kind of intervention.

People who are married to or dependent on these types, like say a child, or a spouse, have typically learned NOT to challenge or confront or hold the borderline/sociopathic person accountable out of fear.  The punishment, the emotional fangs and daggers that they have finely honed and how they have come to find your unique soft spot to target is an amazing feat. These are highly intelligent observers who can read you in a minute and know just how to play you based on that personal demographic they have just exhumed.

So, know this:  It’s not about you, but you will be punished by the toxic family member for refusing to accept their game-playing, mind games, manipulations and how they try to live through you, hijack your personality,  or get you to carry their pain and confusion for them.

Hand in blender sensation?  They’ve got you carrying their pain.

Head spinning?  They’ve got you carrying their confusion.

And this transfer happens in minutes.

Borderline personalities need and feed on constant chaos, crisis, conflict.  The intsensity is what rewards them.  Sociopath personalities have an arrogant sense of control and of being above deep or complex emotions.  Empathy and a conscience make them uneasy because these cannot be controlled so easily.  Smug satisfaction of control is what rewards them.

In a nutshell, don’t try to fix these personality types at home.  Find a skilled and experienced mental health professional to do that, emphasis on skill and experience.

I have heard these two types say to the people they have hurt, “But I love you.”

I challenge that.   Is need really love?  Is control really love?

Are these personality types capable of love?  I don’t know.  What I have seen over and over re borderline personalities displaying strong sociopathic traits.  When I see that combination, I really doubt it and I recommend self-preservation.

The problem is that on the surface, these two types can be living a really normal – looking life, and be rather good at a number of things such as their job, or a hobby. And that is deceptive and causes those around them to question their reality.

I have seen a family punish an abuse victim for speaking out against her mother’s abuse:  “She loves you! She loves you more than anything in the world!”  they all ganged up on the victim, mocking and shaming the shambled victim of an untreated borderline personality.

I have seen a judge and a lawyer refuse to grant a restraining order to a beaten wife because her husband was a successful computer software programmer and wore finely pressed Ralph Lauren button – down shirts everyday. “He doesn’t look like ‘Joe Six Pack’ they both laughed at her in court.

If you are being affected by these abuses, you are not alone and I encourage those who have been through it and come through intact to help those who remain trapped by these two personality types.

So, in the meantime, how does one survive the borderline or sociopathic toxic family member?

  1.  Get yourself to a safe place both physically, and emotionally.  Stay away from them.
  2.  From that insulated space, set boundaries and limits so they cannot invade or use or abuse that space. You do not have to answer their phone call, or reply to their texts or emails.  You can unfriend them on social media.
  3. Make a place of peace for yourself and celebrate the beauty and joy of calm, comfort and conflict-free people and places and things.
  4. Use really pointed self-care.
  5. Invest your time, money and work in your talents, skills, hopes and goals.  Both philosophically and tangibly.
  6. Be around normal people.  Normal meaning people who may have problems but still manage to be self-responsible and safe and appropriate and who do not violate you with emotional abuse, extortion or manipulations.
  7. Be around people who raise your self-esteem and recognize your ownership of your Self. Be around people who are truly interested in you just for yourself,  without invading you.
  8. Get angry that you and your personality have been used and stolen and abused.
  9. Use that anger to respect yourself and protect yourself and your future.
  10. Grieve the loss of what could have been, the family you would have liked to have had.  It is truly sad to have that vast wasteland of sharp, barbed and broken bones instead of the safe, warm, inviting family life we all deserve.  Don’t put lipstick on the pig — accept reality for what it is.  Don’t pretend it’s better than it is. Be sad for it.
  11. Move on and don’t look back.  Don’t go back to the toxic relationship.  Don’t set yourself up for a new toxic relationship. Be creative in building the better adopted family life you really want and can, in creative ways, have.

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_______________________________Heidi Hansen, M.A. is a Mental Health Advocate in private practice in Vancouver, Washington and is available at a sliding fee scale for those who struggle economically.  Heidi Hansen believes that everyone, regardless of their economy, deserves quality mental health care and this is the core of her practice.  Call (360) 892-5218 or email her at dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com to discuss. Thanks!bizcardpic