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Showing posts from September, 2017

Tell Me About Your Background...

So, I've had a rough week. It started with a near miss accident, which I wrote about, here. As a result, all my symptoms of C-PTSD flared up, which I wrote about, here. So, understandably, I was already feeling tender when later this week, I started a new job. I work in an extremely competitive field, and my colleagues are all brilliant, highly respected, and accomplished people. So, you know, no pressure to fit in. Blerg.

I am not worried about the work. I'm more than qualified to be there. I'm worried about how sensitive I am.  By reverse-engineering how I relate to the world over the last year or so, I feel particularly raw and vulnerable. I don't want to fall into my old ways of overachieving to prove myself to some uncaring, never satisfied, construct in my brain. I want to be real. But, being real right now comes with a lot of anxiety. Having to prove myself to others comes with a lot of traumatic emotional memories that I'm in the process of unraveling. I w…

Bracing for the Second Wound

I imagine most of my posts this week will be about processing the almost-crash we experienced, here. I've been doing my best to manage things as they come up, and I am realizing just how much extra time and space I need to allow myself right now. The tension, exhaustion, and nightmares are back. I feel like much of the progress I've made in recent months dealing with the realities of complex trauma have vanished and I'm back to where I was when I started. It feels like a setback, but I'm trying to see it as an opportunity to better understand how to better care for myself.

In many ways, re-experiencing these symptoms is an indicator of growth, and I know by honoring the process, I will heal. But I also know that a big part of that healing is acknowledging where I'm at. It's not helpful to pretend to be mentally tough and pull myself together. Healing lies in acknowledging that what happened was scary, and allowing myself to feel that. My ego would so much rath…

A Trauma Milestone

I just spent the last few days on retreat, where my family later joined me. It was some much needed self-care away from the trappings of life. Over the last several months, I've grown more aware of how necessary self-care is for someone like me facing the realities of complex trauma head on. 

Speaking of head on, on the way home I had a very close call. On a twisty mountain road, I drove my daughter and two cats, while behind me, my husband followed with my other children. In the other lane, a Jeep and a truck careened toward us, side by side, vying for the same spot in their single lane. One second sooner, and the Jeep would have hit me head on. One second later, and the Jeep would have hit my husband. Instead, it slammed through the guard rail between our two cars, flipped over a boulder, and rolled down the hillside.

My husband, a trained trauma nurse, was the first to reach the driver. He helped her crawl out of her overturned car, and miraculously, with my husband's as…

Unless They're a Psychopath...

I love reading spirituality and self-help books. I am always looking for ways I can better understand myself and others through a lens of empathy and connection.
On a long drive, I was listening to BrenĂ© Brown’s latest book, Braving the Wilderness.It’s a well-articulated book about when integrity encourages us to stand alone rather than belong. I can relate to so any of her points, and a beautiful quote from my all-time favorite, Maya Angelou, ties it all together. I love Brown’s work, and I love that she is educating so many on the importance of empathy. As an empath, I already do so much of what she describes, but there’s always more to learn and be reminded of.It makes me feel like I have kindred spirits in the world knowing that so many others are learning and resonating with her work.
That said, something has been bothering me, and it struck me in the middle of her book. She was talking about the importance of leaning in to disagreements, asking more questions to understand oth…

Lifting the Burden

From a very young age, I learned how to take care of myself, physically and emotionally. I had to, because no one else was going to do it. I have early infant-toddler memories of being raged at if I cried for any reason, but the reason usually being that I was left alone for hours, cold, wet, and hungry. I eventually learned that if anyone was going to soothe me, it had to be me. Instead of my parents, I bonded to my blanket and my cat, because they were what helped me calm down. I started to cook and do dishes while standing on a step stool when I was five. As a young child, I was expected to do all the housework, and I did. Starting in first grade, I walked home from school, let myself in to an empty house, and did my homework while avoiding my abusive brother. I was expected to do well in school, and I did, completely and entirely on my own, without even so much as a "What are you working on?" from either parent. I essentially raised myself. And I did a pretty good job, …

Hate Couch, Part Four

*If you would like to read parts one, two, and three about hate couch, go here, here, and here.

I was talking to my husband the other day about hate couch, and how I feel I am ready to let it go. It has been sitting in our garage the last couple months, with the usual garage clutter accumulating on top of it. My husband told me the largest black window spider he's ever seen had taken up residence on it, which seemed to me to be an appropriate metaphorical home, but still. There are some things in this world I hope not to invite closer in to my life. Hate couch's transformation into its dismantled state has served as a reminder of my own transformation. Every part of transformation is important and necessary, from start to finish. I felt it was important to not be in a hurry to jump ahead to the resolution and get rid of hate couch too soon. It's my way of honoring and validating each stage of the journey.

But it's time. So today, I went out to the garage to start the …

Why #PurpleFriday Matters

Tomorrow, September 15th, abuse survivors and their advocates with be tweeting with the hashtag, #PurpleFriday to raise awareness around child sexual abuse. Supporters are encouraged to wear purple and initiate a conversation wherever they are about the importance of abuse education.

It is estimated that one in three children experience sexual abuse. I was one of them. Like many others, I was silenced for a long time. I was made to believe that it was my fault, and I (correctly) assumed that my parents would have ignored me or punished me if I spoke up about it. I had been groomed and taught by may parents since I was an infant that my body and my boundaries were not worthy of respect. In addition to their abuse, I was molested by a family friend for several years. I had dissociated the experience throughout my adolescence, until it came flooding back to me in my twenties. When I finally told my mom about it, she shrugged and said she had always suspected it, but didn't want to …

Someday, I'll Have to Deal With That

I consider myself to be fairly self-aware and introspective. I've always been willing to look at my life and my life choices from every angle and make adjustments when necessary. And yet, there was this one area of my life that I felt, instinctively, was too big, too dark, too scary for me to face head on. I knew my parents weren't "normal" and that my childhood was lacking certain things, like, say, love. I knew enough about the dysfunction to go no contact over ten years ago. There was quite a bit I had already figured out and gained perspective on. And yet, there was this compartmentalized part of me that lurked in the shadows. I found myself thinking, fearing,  someday, I'll have to deal with that.

Someday came. It came in the form of chronic illness, exhaustion, and collapse. It came in the form of feeling empty in spite of success. It came in the form of feeling responsible for burdens that weren't mine. It came in the form of nightmares. It came in th…

Flag Watching

I recently took on a new gig, which was a big step for me. My employment is mostly freelance and project-based, and I often work with many repeat clients whom I've known for a long time. Most of my referrals are from the same network of people. But this job is all new. It's not the usual freelance. It's new, unvetted people, a new boss, a new supervisor, people completely unrelated to anyone I've worked with before. They don't know anything about me, and I don't know anything about them. Given what I've been processing as a survivor of abuse, it's both liberating and extremely scary.

I have no doubt in my ability to do the work. I have all the confidence that I will rise to whatever challenge is placed before me and handle it well. I have proven to myself many times over that I am good at what I do. What terrifies me is what kind of people I will have to work with. How toxic are my co-workers and supervisors? Will all my energy go into pleasing an unpl…

When Hope Looks Like Grief

Lately, whenever good and meaningful things happen, I burst into tears. They aren't happy tears, they are the tears of grief. And yet, this grief is mixed with gratitude.

It's the simultaneous recognition of two profound truths: my past was indeed horrific and that I have already survived my past.

For too many years, I held back, not allowed to feel my feelings or really admit what happened. Everything I should have expressed back then was frozen in time, along with my sense of dignity and self-worth. My way of coping with abuse was to first endure it, and then get far away from it. But even though I got away and made life choices completely opposite from my abusers, I was still bound up by all that was unvoiced. Instead of patting myself on the back for my accomplishments, I felt hypervigilant and guilty. I had not separated all the negative messages I was told by my abusers about who I was from the reality of who I was. My logical brain knew better, but my body still held…