The Bear Cloud

MESSAGES OF HOPE

The Bear Cloud is a symbol of hope for me. May these messages bring you hope as well.

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ESCAPING THE CONTROL OF OTHERS THROUGH NATURE AND BOOKS

A friend In Jacksonville, Florida told me she had traumatic experiences in her young life with an abusive, alcoholic uncle that lived in her home in Central America.  While she knew her uncle had control of her situation, she decided she would not let his behavior have control of her or her mind. She realized at a young age of eight years that she had a choice, and she chose to block him and not let his words, rage, or actions affect her.

Even with the realization that her circumstance was frightful, she decided she would live without fear and she would find joy.  When she looked upon a tall, dark volcano outside her back door, she compared it to him and saw its erupting potential but found beauty in its structure and its function. She decided she would put her focus on the beauty around her and not on her uncle’s behavior. The following words are hers:

“On one dark, cold winter night, a ray of sparkling moonlight guided me out of the dark labyrinth where I was stuck as a young child.  I had been finding and enjoying beauty in nature, books, and stories, and both nature and reading provided the route for me to escape the blocked passageways in which I found myself.  The harsh reality of experiencing the ugly ups and downs of the emotions of an alcoholic uncle and his destructive behavior made me appreciate simple things in life, such as enjoying a sunrise or a sunset. The magnificent sight of the rising and setting sun made me realize that life was bigger than dealing every day with a controlling adult.  I saw clearly that he was making poor choices for himself, but, yet, he ‘pretended’ to make decisions for my life that didn’t agree with me.  I was determined to find and hold onto beauty in everything around me, and reading provided the open window for me to escape.” –February 23, 2019

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LIVING WITH AN ALCOHOLIC

I heard from a friend today that I had not talked to in ten years or more. Carla told me her husband had not always been a drinker; he had occasionally had a drink (maybe once or twice a year on holidays but no more than that) until 2001 when he tried Smirnoff Ice. Someone told him about that refreshing concoction, and he found it quenched his thirst better than water after he mowed the yard, after physical labor that made him sweat, and at any time he was thirsty. Over time, he added vodka to the Smirnoff, and he gradually increased the number of drinks. When his drinking became excessive, and he drank every evening and every weekend, his family decided to do an intervention. After a thirty-day treatment program and a year of sobriety, however, he started drinking again and the frequency and volume again increased as the days passed. Carla has been reluctant to suggest a second treatment intervention as she feels it is a lost cause; she had first-hand knowledge of the alcoholic recidivism rate when she was involved in his treatment at the rehab center.

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Sadly, or fortunately (however you see it), Carla indicated her husband had always had a sweet disposition, and he was one who would never want to hurt or cause pain for his wife or his children.  “Even now,” she said, “he gets upset with himself after an episode of heavy drinking.” She told me he was remorseful four nights ago after an episode in which he was seized by alcohol’s grip, and he has been sober since then. She is thankful but afraid to get hopeful, as she knows this could be a temporary blessing. What does Carla do to cope? She stays busy. She has her women’s groups (thanks goodness for women), and she has included him in activities for couples: card-playing, Mahjong, dinner club, and church group. She and he are active at the athletic club, and she exercises beyond that and is an avid hiker. While he remains his sweet self, and he does not directly impact her sense of well-being, he does get that “look” on his face when he has too much, and his voluminous use of alcohol has her concerned and worried about his physical and mental future. –February 11, 2019

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DIVORCE

“Divorce is damaging to your self-esteem and your sense of who you are. Divorce seizes your identity, and it tosses it around in a whirlwind of emotion and lost dreams.” –from Married to Merlot 

One woman inked this tattoo three weeks after her divorce was final.  It is the Finnish term/cultural identity for perseverance in the face of adversity—a constant reminder of the power within.  Karen told me she sometimes finds herself rubbing it, as if for good luck, when she is feeling down.  Her husband had said to her more than once during their marriage that if she ever obtained a tattoo, he would divorce her—and he was not joking. Getting her first tattoo was Karen’s final ink on the divorce papers.   She is of Finnish descent, and a counselor had told her a number of years ago about the word, SISU, and its meaning.  She kept it close to her heart for years and when the divorce was imminent, she was inspired to put that inside piece of her on her outside.  For Karen, it was a fitting finale to a rough year. She knows she will continue to be strong and resilient despite any rough patches or dark times.  Resilience and strength are her core.  Grievous events may happen and knock her about, but they can’t knock her down. Her core keeps her upright and enables her to move one foot and then the other, as she takes the steps toward a happier future. –January 19, 2019

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PHYSICAL ABUSE

The first message is about coping. I spoke with a young girl earlier today whose father was a police officer. Amanda was abused by her mother. Wearing turtle-neck long-sleeved knit shirts in the summer (in Florida?) did not key anyone into thinking she might be hiding her bruises? Her father did nothing about it. Pride and community status prevented him from allowing this to be brought out into the open. How could Amanda tell anyone when her own teachers told her she lived with Officer Friendly and that she was lucky as her home was always safe? How did she cope? She escaped as best she could.

Amanda took a job at 16 and became a cheerleader. Cheer practices along with the required participation at football and basketball games took her out of her abusive home. Amanda also started writing. She wrote about the worst of it; she wrote about her anger, her hate, her feelings. If you are so despondent and feel helpless in your own situation, please pick up a pen and write. Let your thoughts flow through you and let your feelings flow out onto the paper. You will soon know how therapeutic it is. –January 5, 2019