Even though Stripping- My fight to find Me brings to life my experience, it is a story of many of us, those who suffer and those who feel shame.

My poems will push you to ask questions of yourself. The ferociousness of my battle will give you an exhilarating rush and invigorate you. My struggle and victory to give myself permission to love myself and seek a life of joy will inspire you. My discovery that we may be broken, but we are not victims, will empower you.

“Sunita Merriman demonstrates in this book what is at the heart of healing- courage. Whether you are a clinician or a client, this book can serve as a guide to the healing process.”

- Kristin A.R. Osborn, Author of Paraverbal Communication in Psychotherapy: Beyond the Words

“Sunita Merriman’s poems touched my heart. I read them and felt great compassion”

- Marion Solomon, Ph.D Author of Narcissism and Intimacy, Co Editor of Healing Trauma

“I am overwhelmed by the emotion and vivid imagery that Dr. Sunita Merriman has revealed in this remarkable book. Her openness, her intelligence, her willingness to bare her deepest thoughts and feelings- they almost make me want to look away at times. But of course, I cannot. And equally, I will read it again and again, taking new meaning and probing my own inner thoughts at a fresh level with each poem. It is a stunning achievement.”

- Lou Heckler, Professional Speaker and Speaker Coach

Friday, February 15, 2019

Emily Dickinson, Attachment Trauma and Love- It's complicated


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

Emily Dickinson said " I argue that love is life. And Life hath immortality."

I felt our society's fascination with love and relationships reached a crescendo this week due to the occasion of Valentine's Day. You know it has permeated our culture when the check out clerk at your grocery store wishes you a 'Happy Valentine's Day' while handing you your receipt.  I, out of habit, replied, 'you too'.  It was an automatic response.

But my relationship with love has not always been this uncomplicated. I, only now, am beginning to understand the historical mechanics of my brain in the department of love. The impact of attachment trauma affects every level of our being and every aspect of our existence. But nothing compares to it's effect on how we experience and look for love.

LONGING



Running towards you

Didn't bring you
Any closer



It just made me go away.

Longing is # 52 in the collection of poems that I wrote as I battled to heal from trauma. You can read the rest of my poems in my book  Stripping : My Fight to Find Me

Who hasn't felt a longing for someone or something that is unattainable? That's natural and actually has an element of excitement and thrill attached to it. But I am not talking about that kind of innocent and harmless longing. I am referring to the futile and dark longing that renders you invisible. It is a desire that is birthed from the deep emptiness and feelings of being lost resulting from attachment trauma.

One is invaded with the terror of not knowing where one ends and where someone else begins. A loneliness and desperation that is indescribable drives one to tolerate relationships that should not be acceptable under any circumstance. Least of all, under the guise of 'love'. It refers to one's unconcious agreement with another person to become invisible so they will stay and 'love' you. That's the longing that I write about in this poem of mine.

It took alot of hard work to heal my brain and create new networks and pathways in it. That restructuring now allows me to move away from it's primitive parts parts and use the more evolved structures of this amazing organ when experiencing life and responding to it's events.

It is still a constant process to understand my motivations that drive my choices. But it is no longer an unknown drive. This self awareness, gained through dynamic psychotherapy and learning about the damage that attachment trauma caused me has made all the difference in how I love and whom I love. The mad desperation to be loved evaporated when I found love for myself. That was the starting point for me to define how I needed, wanted and deserved to be loved.

It's simple. I must be accepted, respected, honored, cherished and desired for who I am. Not who someone else needs or wants me to be for their selfish reasons.

No exceptions to this. Ever!

Now I make my choices through the lens of Self Love Self Care First. I have not only a mental check list that I go through when deciding something but also rely on an entire committee of emotions and 'gut feels' that I pay close attention to. I respect my instinct and now trust it and actually act on it's advice, instead of negating and dismissing it.

As my brain healed, my heart healed.

I opened up to the right people. I put up shutters for those who were harmful, dangerous and damaging to my well being. In essence, my heart became my protector. It expanded in a way that I never imagined it had the capacity to. It led me to light.

My heart saved my life because it guided me to take the path of Love.

I knew I had healed when I wrote the poem 'The End.' I hope it stands the test of time and is around forever. Just like I will be. And you will be. If we give the experience of love and loving our entire being.




As Emily Dickinson said,

"Unable are the Loved to die
For Love is immortality,
Nay, It is Deity-"


Wishing you a week of love!
Be well Do well Live well,
Sunita
#selfloveselfcarefirst  #jointhemovement

PS- I write and post at www.selfloveselfcarefirst every Friday so I may hopefully bring light to the destruction that Attachment Trauma causes in our lives. And to share hope. Because there is treatment for it that is predictable and effective. I know that there are millions of us who have suffered as children and grew up to be tortured adults. This is a hidden but prevalent trauma in our society that takes many devastating shapes and forms of mainifestation. And is tragically is passed on through generations. If we talk about it, we will recognize it. If we recognize it, we can deal with it. And that involves fighting for a life full of peace and love and feeling whole. It can be done! I am proof of that. So please share this blog with someone who you suspect might be suffering from ACE's, Adverse Childhood Experiences. Better still, subscribe them to www.selfloveselfcarefirst.com
Sincerely,
Sunita




Friday, February 8, 2019

Valentine's Day- A Hallmark holiday, a mockery of relationships or a celebration of love?



Hello,
It's Sunita here.

There will be an estimated 145 million Valentine's Day cards purchased this year. (This astounding number does not include the cards exchanged by children in schools ) Women purchase 85% of those cards. That comes out to about 123 million cards...

This is not a case of a close finish where one has to look at the film of the end of a race many times over to determine who the winner is. Women clearly are the champions of buying Valentine's Day cards! That was evident to me years ago when I worked at Paper Chase at the Bay Shore Mall in Ottawa, Canada. It was a store where we sold greeting cards, paper goods and really neat gift items. Valentine's Day was the second busiest season after Christmas. Every year we started seeing people come in a few weeks before February 14 and browse the card racks. They would take their time to select cards. They looked like they were truly enjoying the process and it was obviously something they put thought into.

And then in contrast, there was the predictable mad rush in the store on February 14 that extended late into the evening. The last minute shoppers  rushed in frantically looking for a card. I remember one person offering to pay me $20 just to wrap his hastily purchased gift so he could beat the long line at the register and get out to be on time for his date that night. $ 20 was a lot of money in 1991...

Generalizations are never fair  but they usually convey some accuracy to a situation. So it would be safe for you to assume that most of the shoppers who bought their Valentine's Day cards early were women. And the mad dash was primarily made by men. And the statistics shared above clearly demonstrate the gender tilt of this Hallmark Holiday when it comes to volume as well.

Next Thursday there will be millions of restaurants filled with couples, friends and those who choose to mark this occasion with more than a card. Florists have been planning for this day since it passed last year. And is anyone willing to hazard a guess on the volume of chocolate sales this week?

Have we reduced the day to a rote of card-dinner-chocolate? Have we bought into the marketing messages and the masterful visual images that suggest that only those who are out celebrating in this fashion are the lucky ones that are loved? Are you without a significant partner in your life and feel the loneliness  highlighted by this day of kitschy amplification of romantic love? Are you annoyed by the hoopla of Valentine's Day? Maybe you're offended, hurt and manipulated by this universally granted opportunity for your partner to be able to publicly put on a show of love for you while they neglect, devalue or even abuse you the rest of the days of the year? Or do you look forward to this one evening where you can dedicate time to celebrate your relationship in a special way and pamper the one whom you adore?

Or maybe you have your own unique way of marking the day that is creative and different than what the 'norm' is?

I'm sure that there will be all of the above going on next week.

I don't have an opinion on how Valentine's day 'should' be celebrated or even if one must mark the day. But I do see this day from my perspective of having a deep understanding from both our need for love and our desire to love.We are biologically wired for connection. Our bodies, minds and souls yearn to be touched and loved. We desire to be connected with others on every level of our exisitence. We suffer deeply when we are not loved. We inhabit dark places when our love is not reciprocated and when we are rejected by those whom we love.

Love is everything.

So I say, let's celebrate love at every moment and opportunity that we can.

Valentine's Day is one more day for us to honor love. Celebrate it anyway that makes sense to you. Make it an expression of who you are. In this celebration, include whomever you feel enriches your life. Reach out to your secret crush. Be crazy and take risks. Mend broken relationships by picking up the phone and calling someone to say you love them. Deepen friendships by mailing a Valentine's Day card. Gaze into you lovers eyes and express your innermost thoughts. Go out with you friends. Spoil your kids rotten by baking gooey chocolate cupcakes.

Or just let it pass by uneventfully.

What I urge you to do however, is not let love pass you by.

"Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there" says Rumi.

Celebrate love every day, every moment and every second of your life. Because there is nothing else that exists that is worth living for.

Wishing you much love this Valentine's Day and every day,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst #jointhemovement


Friday, February 1, 2019

Gracie Gold's battle to find herself- Is being successful a hindrance to seeking help for mental health?



Hello,
It's Sunita here.

I recognize the look on Gracie Gold's face in this picture. Gracie details her fall from figure skating champ to near suicide

I remember what it felt like when I realized that the only way out of the hell I inhabitated was to start fighting the demons that resided deep inside me. Intense feelings of shame, embarrassment, self hatred and a sense of failure invaded my entire being. Little did I know then that these emotions were a ploy of depression and the unconscious processes sabotaging my efforts to seek the care that I needed. I look back and thank my lucky stars that I kept fighting through painful feelings and persevered with therapy and self discovery to be where I am now.

Having a successful outside life was not a facade for me. It came about fair and square through hard work, tenacious efforts, dedication and discipline. And with the help and support of a wonderful family and mentors and of course, many lucky breaks. However, it also served as a diversion that aided and abetted me in avoiding the pain that I was feeling.

My success also caused me question the existence of my depression, anxiety and mental suffering. I learnt to negate and downplay my emotions by lying to myself- I'm feeling this way because I have an exam coming up- I'm stressed because I need more new patients in my practice- I have to learn more to be able to practice the way I want to...

It was a never ending list of I need to do more- I need to be more

There were not enough medals for me to win. There were not enough courses for me to take. The pursuit of perfection came easy to me because I am a born learner and am committed to self improvement. But my journey was accompanied by an unconscious thoughtlessness and hidden emptiness. The effects of Attachment Trauma, toxic stress and ACE's would reappear after the initial thrill of an accomplishment died down and would lay seige on my mind, body and soul. This would happen again and again. Predictably and consistently.



The other side of the success coin was massive guilt. How dare I feel down when I have the life I have. Others would kill for what I've accomplished. I'm ungrateful. I don't even really deserve my success. What do I have to complain about. Shame on me.

In the end, I had to battle the trappings of every aspect of my external life to seek help for my broken internal world. I had to leave my fake pride and ego at the door and acknowledge that I needed help. I had to refuse to wear the visible labels of my life to find out who I truly was.

So I had to strip. And ask for help.


HELP ME

It was scarcely a whisper
That escaped the long hush

A plea undiscovered
In a language unknown

It was missed all along
By the light keeper on call

Eclipsed by the storm
Oppressed by the calm

Some part of a delusion
Or a chimera
Perhaps ? 

#27 in the collection
Stripping:My Fight to Find Me



I wish Gracie all the luck in the world as she embarks on fighting her demons. I applaude her courage to stand up and say 'I need help'. I admire her honesty and her refusal to continue to suffer emotionally. I cheer her on as she honors her inside world and gives it the attention and tender loving care it deserves. I respect the seriousness she is giving to seeking professional help for her depression and everything that is connected to it.

I know how hard it is to strip every layer of protection we build against feeling the pain of the reality of our lives. But once we do, we learn of our intrinsic value as a human being. We no longer have to incessantly achieve to be worthy.

I now know that

I am enough

I wish Gracie the feeling of being one with herself at every level and cannot wait to see what she does next in her life. Because she is a true champion.

As am I.

Let's inspire each other by celebrating our true selves and encouraging each other to do so as well. I invite you to make Self Love Self Care First a commited way of life. I promise you, it will change eveything for the better. Not only for you, but also for everyone around you. And that will change the world.

Wishing you a week of honest self reflection,
Be well Do well Live well,
Sunita

#selfloveselfcarefirst  #jointhemovement
SunitaMerriman.com

All photograhs of Gracie Gold are courtesy previously published articles on the internet


Friday, January 25, 2019

Winter Blues- My top 5 Proactive Self Love Self Care Tips to Feel Better


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

We experienced the first severe winter temperature dip in New Jersey this week. Mercury took a dive down to the single digits. I, like most other people took sensible precautions to prevent myself from suffering any serious damage from the extreme cold. I filled my car with gas. I made sure there was a blanket and some emergency supplies in my car. I dressed with warm layers. I had gloves and a hat. I made sure my phone was charged. Basically, I did everything I could to make sure I would not suffer from hypothermia and frost bite in case I were to be exposed to the brutal cold for an extended period of time.

But what about our mental health? You maybe familiar with the term Winter Blues. SAD, Seasonal Affect Disorder, is a recurrent type of depression associated with the change of seasons. It typically starts in fall and persists through the winter months.

There is no equivalent of reports of a weather channel for our mental health. We must be the ones who monitor how we feel.

This week's blog is inspired by a good friend of mine who just recently connected her mood swings, anxiety and depression to the weather. After some candid self reflection as she looked back, she realized that she had probably suffered from SAD for some years. She courageously said No to suffering any more and took proactive measures.

My Top 5 Proactive Self Love Self Care Tips to combat the Winter Blues

#1   Seek professional help if you are having a tough time moderating your mood.  If you already have a therapist working with you, discuss the option of increasing the frequency of your sessions during the winter months. If you are working with a psychiatrist, discuss how your medications are working for you. There maybe need for adjustments.

#2  Exercise. Get up. Move. There is compelling evidence that exercise improves our mood. How Exercise Might Keep Depression at Bay- NY Times

#3 Call a friend. Schedule time with close friends just like you would schedule a doctor's appointment . It is imperative that you stay connected with those that love you and support you. That connection is balm for your brain and soul. We are wired for connection for a good reason. It makes us feel good, safe and secure.

#4 Plan for your Heart Bliss. Focusing on what you love to do is a wonderful way to combat the blues. When we struggle with our mental health, we often times neglect to draw from the things that give us pleasure. That's part and parcel of depression and anxiety. By proactively scheduling time for what gives you happiness, despite feeling like you don't want to, you can fight this urge to withdraw from joyful stimulus.

#5 Eat well A balanced diet with minimal amounts or no processed foods will work best for you. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and added sugar. Increase your fresh fruits and vegetable intake. Consult with a nutritionist to see what would be the best food plan for you.

My friend did all of the above and in a few weeks showed remarkable and noticeable improvements. As a matter of fact, I had to be on my toes to keep up with her energy :) and cheer! It was infectious and contagious. And exciting!

You have to have the will to feel better. And you must be committed to doing the work it takes to get better. But the fact to remember is that you can feel better!

Be proactive! Practice Self Love Self Care First! Join the movement!

Wishing you a week of energetic happiness,
Be well Live well Do well,
Warmly,
Sunita


Friday, January 18, 2019

What is Self Love? A Leading Researcher Explains




My daughter Nina and I- a few hours after she was born
Hello,
It's Sunita here!

As I continue to live, learn and grow through the lens of Self Love Self Care First, I am begining to understand it from the perspective of many dimensions.

Today, I want to talk about the foundation of self love.

What is self love?
Self love is a virtue that entails bonding with yourself.

It sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Well, it's not. There is an intricate complexity to how we see ourselves in our mind's eye. Researchers in the field of Attachment  have shown that the earliest learning ground we have for self love is in the womb, and immediately therafter with our primary caregiver/caregivers. 

Attachment theory states that a strong emotional and physical attachment to at least one primary caregiver is critical to personal developement. John Bowlby first coined the term as a result of his studies involving the developmental psychology of children from various backgrounds.


Since we do what we know, if a primary caregiver did not develope a strong sense of self in their childhood, they will be less than optimal in doing their job as the person imprinting their offspring. So attachment patterns are passed down through generations. I obviously, am oversimplifying a very complex cascade of events that shape us, but you get the drift.

Dr, Jon G. Allen, a leading researcher in the field of Attachment speaks of self love in this way, 

"Self-love is embedded in an attachment relationship, more specifically a secure attachment relationship with yourself."

Dr. Allen explains how self esteem and self worth is not something we possess, but rather something we do to value ourselves. He connects it to our inner dialog with ourselves and explains how the tone of how we speak to ourselves and the content of that conversation was determined long before we even uttered our first word. Our primary caregivers determined that voice.

We can be very harsh in our treatment of ourself. That is active self harm and self hate. He goes on to cite how 'failing to do' also significantly contributes to self neglect and self sabotage.

love/http://saynotostigma.com/2010/11/attachment-is-the-cradle-of-self-love/

We develope self love when someone loves us. When that does not happen, or occurs in a deficient or broken manner, then we suffer greatly. But, the great news is that we can learn to change these deeply embedded, damaging patterns.  I know that personally for a fact. There is hope!

I leave you with this question today.
What is the tone of your conversation with yourself?

Be well Do well Live well,
Sunita

#selfloveseflcarefirst  #jointhemovement

I invite you to read Sovereign as a post script to today's blog. It is the last in the collection of the 65 poems I wrote as I was healing from trauma. My book Stripping : My Fight to Find Me is available at SunitaMerriman.com

Please be sociable and share.



Friday, January 11, 2019

Glenn Close Wins Best Actress, Drama - 2019 Golden Globes- What she has to say about Heart Bliss and my #3 Tips to get there




Hello,
It's Sunita here.

I remember driving into Manhattan with my husband on a crisp Saturday afternoon last November. It was our 'just us time together' and we had plans to see The Wife at the Angelika Film Center. I didn't know anything about the movie. All I knew was that Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce were starring in it. That was a good enough invitation for me.

Once having experienced the story through their incredible performances, I left the theatre with a whole lot of emotions that were complex and thought provoking. It was obvious to me that Glenn Close had given the best that she had to offer to this role and I was delighted to see her recognized at the Golden Globes last week.

However, what has been even more exciting to me is the response she is getting to her acceptance speech. It was from her heart, authentic and deeply moving. It did not seem that she expected to win which gave her words a kind of sponteneity and honesty that comes from being put in the spotlight without any anticipation of having to make a speech.

Glenn Close's tribute to her mother (at 1:22-1:39 of the clip) is touching and poignant.

And sad.

She speaks about what her mother shared with her at age 80. 'I feel I haven't accomplished anything'

Glenn goes on to passionately promote the right to be able to do what we love to do. She says, 'We have to find personal fulfilment. We have to follow our dreams.'

I couldn't agree more with Glenn.

Self Love Self Care First leads us to being able to recognize, understand, and then nurture the gifts and talents we have. I speak of Heart Bliss. To me Heart Bliss is what we feel when we do things that make our heart sing. Being able to pursue what gives us Heart Bliss allows us to create a life of acheivement that is meaningful and honors our uniqueness.

That is a life well lived.

Don't wait another day if you have not yet found your path to your Heart Bliss.

Here are 3 tips to get started on your amazing journey,

STOP! Pay attention to what makes you happy, engaged and excited. Think about what makes time stand still for you.

START! to write down what you were doing at those moments (playing an instrument, writing, helping someone out, writing code, gardening, etc. It could be anything. Don't assign value to the activity based on what others may say. Remember, this is your Heart Bliss. It is your experience of it that matters. That is your truth.

STAY! the course of pursuing your Heart Bliss. In the end, it will be the journey that is your reward and achievement.

STOP!           START!             STAY!

Remember it took Glenn Close 45 years to get the opportunity to be on that stage last week. And it took The Wife 14 years to get made. But she wouldn't change anything because all along she was doing what she loved to do and was meant to do. She was lucky that she knew that acting was her passion at a young age. But whatever your age is today, it doesn't matter.

There is no expiration date on living your truth.

In the end, never pusuing your dream will hurt much more than the effort to get on 'your' track.

Trauma, depression and anxiety robbed me of living my truth, despite the outside world success I had acheived. Now having been healed, my mind, body and soul work differently. They are all integrated, inspired, peaceful and calm. And focussed on guiding me to live my best life and be my best self.

If I can do it, so can you!

Be well Do well Live well,
Sunita
#selfloveselfcarefirst  #jointhemovement




Friday, January 4, 2019

The Secret to Making Lasting Changes


Hello,
It's Sunita here.

It is the start of a new year again...

We are bombarded with headlines and blogs about making New Year Resolutions. Photographs and posts of people sharing their new year resolutions are plentiful on social media. Conversations usually center around the question, “So, any new year resolutions?

I had to cut my workout at my gym short on January 1st because it was too crowded for me to focus. But I know that things will change by February. And then by summer, usually it’s only the ‘regulars’ and new members who are still slogging it out.

The complexity to human behavior patterns is beyond the scope of my expertise and cannot be discussed in a single note, even if it was. However, I know firsthand that the only motivation that drives us to succeed to make healthy lasting changes comes from within us.

No one else can motivate us to make choices that result in us being more, doing more and having more of what we desire. That drive is internal.

But that’s not the secret that I am talking about...

I’m talking about what makes us get up when we fall. Because success is not a straight ride to the top. Ask anybody that has achieved anything meaningful, significant or noteworthy. They will tell you stories of the many failures they suffered through to finally get it ‘right’.
So, what’s the secret?
It is having infinite love for oneself.
That drives the ambition to go beyond where we are today. Self-love is the foundation upon which we can have the courage to say- we deserve more. It is the place from where we say, I am strong enough to do whatever it takes to achieve my goal. But more importantly, if I fail today, it’s okay because I will succeed tomorrow.

Self-love prevents us from taking a punitive direction of thoughts when things don’t go the way we had planned.

So, you couldn’t get to the gym today. You have 2 choices of looking at that. One is, “Boy, what a failure I am. Can’t even keep my New Year resolution for a month. I’m a loser”. The other is, “I’m disappointed that I couldn't work out according to my plan. I don’t feel good about that. Let me see what happened with my time yesterday. What can I do to make sure I stick with my exercise program because it sure feels good when I do, and I deserve that?” Looking at the reasons for not being able to carve the time for exercise does require honesty, but that’s another discussion.
We must be our biggest champions in order to succeed. The reminder to love ourselves must always be a conscious thought . The compassion required to forgive ourselves when we fall short is critical for us to be able to get past failures and forge ahead with optimism.
We must believe that we deserve to be more, do more and have more of whatever it is that we desire.
For that, we must love ourselves unequivocally and unconditionally.
And that is the secret.
So why not start 2019 with a commitment to Self Love Self Care First?
Try it. I promise you that it works!
Be well, Do well, Live well
Sunita