The Mirrors in our Life

This past year has been a time of change. Some of it wonderful, healing, inspirational. Some of it sad, disappointing, shocking, leaving me stunned. That’s the beauty of understanding impermanence. Things change, everything changes and we change with it. Sometimes it’s been easy to let go of things, with a nod to the experience, other times it takes me months to process, understand, and accept. Sometimes the changes have been quite personal, other times on a national or global level.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned the past year is to acknowledge the mirrors in my life. Sometimes these mirrors were the ones that ripped the mask off and exposed the person I didn’t want to be. Discontented, bitchy, clinging to things that no longer serve me, or trying to please people who try to control me, leaving me feeling less worthy. The other mirrors, the ones I gravitate towards the most are the ones who reflect back who I want to be, who I am without any masks. The person I have been working hard to become, losing the shame, the perfection, letting go of the control and coming from a place of love and altruism. Both of these mirrors have been important in my life.

Another most important mirror I need in my life is the mirror that reflects my struggle with healing from trauma.  Sometimes the loneliness and pain from managing my PTSD symptoms feel unbearable. I ask myself what am I doing and why? I have to watch that I don’t go down the slippery slope of denial and convince myself, that my life was easy when I had my memories repressed. I was living an inauthentic and never allowing myself to be vulnerable life. It was awful, I was miserable on the inside. The only thing a mirror reflected back at that time was fear, shame, terror, and a vague sense of invisibility.

Now that I live more authenticly and allow myself to be vulnerable, I’m happier with the kinds of relationships I have in my life. I no longer surround myself with people who want me to act a certain way, act accordingly, hide any emotion except happiness.  I have kept some wonderful stood-the-test-of time relationships and formed new ones who are my mirrors, and I am theirs. It’s reciprocal and that brings a feeling of contentedness.

Some days, its still a lot easier for me to be someone’s mirror, then to accept the goodness that they reflect back to me. But I’m working on it.

When I get down, and the exhaustion of healing begins to get the best of me, I stop and acknowledge the wonderful mirrors in my life.

When I need reassurance on those really, really bad moments, I ask,  “What am I doing?” and hear mirrored back to me“Healing.”

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Image source: pixabay

 

 

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

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If I Could Tell You How It Feels…

From shattered oblivion, I crawled back from the depths of despair. Never knowing and always terrified that PTSD would be my demise.

It’s bullying way of hurling me from present to the past often left me winded and frightened. Triggers still happen, I’m still winded, but now I understand the fear and patiently, uncomfortably wait it out. Knowing, it will pass; symptoms are time-limited.

The loneliness on the journey of remembering, processing, and feeling has been eased by forcing myself to sit with the truth, which brought acceptance. It’s not an easy truth, but it’s mine. It’s my life, my past. I understand what happened.

Most days, the grief for a life interrupted is replaced by the solace of knowing the who, what, when and how. For me, it feels better to have a congruent timeline for my first 20 years. To no longer live under a “cover-story,” because of threats and fear.

Still practicing the independence of using all my tools to cope with the effects of my trauma. Sometimes feeling like a stranger with no purpose other than to heal. But then remembering that my purpose through this healing process was to live, so I can live, not just survive.

From shattered oblivion, I broke free from the choke-hold of silence. My open traumatic, psychological wounds are scarred over and I’m standing on firmer ground.

If I could tell you how it feels…I would say, today I’m letting myself feel triumphant!

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

 

The Pain in Someone Else’s Eyes

They look so serene sitting straight, hands slightly clenched, gently laying in their lap.

The cadence of their voice is slow, even, steady, and clear.

The conversation flows.

But, if you look into their eyes, the pain of hidden burdens echoes from the windows of their soul.

You lock in, trying to console the dark, deep pain that oozes quietly, insidiously trying to erode their dreams of tomorrow.

Giving comfort with a nod, a smile, and mirroring a silent acceptance of who they are.

Reassuring them that, they are seen, and as time passes, it will be okay. Seeing and respectfully acknowledging the pain in someone else’s eyes.

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

Self-doubt; My Unwanted House-guest

A  familiar knock on my self-esteems door seems to happen when I’m making a big change, taking a risk, sharing my writing, speaking in front of groups, or I have accepted another layer of learning to live with the limitations of PTSD.

I would like to say that self-doubt comes uninvited to my self-esteems house during these transition times, that wouldn’t be honest. I don’t believe Mr. Doubt (as I call it) would come calling unless it was invited. It may be unwanted, but since it arrived with hat in hand, I ask it to come in for tea and tell me what it thinks of me.

Outwardly, to others, it appears I have no problems learning, growing, changing, taking risks, writing books, writing articles, speaking in front of groups about living with PTSD, and working very, very hard on living with the deficits that plague my mental health. Outwardly, I look strong, and determined.

I am strong and determined; But as self-doubt sips its tea and begins to play the old tapes and drones the familiar chants of, you’re not good enough, not worthy, not well enough, smart enough, you’re a poser, and lists all the reasons I shouldn’t try or that I should give up, fear and rejection hang in the air between us.

Somedays I listen, with respect, compassion, and a loving ear because I know self-doubt doesn’t  come uninvited. But, there are other days when I’m tired, or triggered and have a lot of symptoms, that I can feel the sinister dark-dread begin to blacken and shred the self-esteem I have worked so hard to foster. The grasp of my thinly held mantra, that my inner beauty, strength, talent, and goodness far outweigh any deficits I may have, begins to fade as self-doubt tries to extend tea time into a meal and a nap.

I’ve eventually heard enough, felt enough, and acknowledge that this is a pattern. Self-doubt comes when I’m on a precipice and I can choose to entertain it longer or thank it for the visit, tell it we’re done and show it the door.

As soon as it’s gone, it’s easier to take control of my internal thoughts about myself and how I’m navigating the world around me. I give myself room to breathe, change, grow, share my experiences with others, emerge from the shadows of shame of living with PTSD. It’s not comfortable a lot of the time, but that isn’t because I’m the terrible (fill in the old-tapes) person. It is simply because that is where I am at this time in my life.

As this bout of self-doubt fades onto a distant shore, I understand that I may hear this familiar knock on my door again, and if I do I’ll invite it in for a cup of tea and listen with a loving compassionate ear. For, I know, self-doubt does not come uninvited.

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©Alexis Rose, image: pexels

Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856

Therapy Ends; Now What?

Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph (very special sale today)

After eight years of intense therapy for my PTSD, the past two weeks have me settling into a positive, new phase on my healing journey. To celebrate, I am offering a special sale today on the ebook version of my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph. 

Enjoy this excerpt from the first chapter…if you would like to read the book follow the link at the bottom of the post to download it from Amazon. Thanks, Alexis

What’s a house got to do with it?

Most of us remember the nuances of the houses we grew up in. We know the nooks and crannies, and the sounds the house makes when it settles and groans. We know the clicking noise of the furnace kicking in, the whistling sound of the wind blowing through the windows, and how the gate slams as someone makes their way to the door. We can trust our way in the dark during power outages or to sneak food from the refrigerator at midnight because we know where the furniture is and where the stairs begin and end.

I lived in three different houses growing up, the first two in Michigan and the third in Minnesota. Each move brought more carpeting.  I lost the early warning system that wooden floors and creaky steps gave me as the carpet grew wall-to-wall.

The first nine years of my life I lived in Grant. I remember everything about that house. I could draw it in great detail; actually, I could draw all three houses in great detail. I liked this house the best, not only because the floors and stairs were wooden and creaky, but because I shared it with all my siblings at the same time. My parent’s attention was divided between the four of us children. When I was nine and we moved to the suburbs, the attention shifted away from my siblings and the spotlight fell directly on me.

Inside that first house, my bedroom was my refuge because of the windows. My sister and I had beds beneath the two windows looking out towards the front of the house. There was another window with a window-seat on the side of the room that faced the neighbor’s house. During the day, I would sit on the window-seat and read. Most nights as I lay in bed, I would turn my head towards that same window and imagine fire consuming the side of the neighbor’s house; intense bright orange flames licking high into the air. I was young but I was already finding ways to externalize the pain that was coursing through my body.

The living room was large and filled with gray furniture covered in thick plastic that you stuck to in the summer and froze on in the winter. The dining room had a fireplace along one wall, double glass doors leading to a porch, and a swinging door leading into the kitchen. That swinging door would make an earsplitting banging sound when an angry parent would smack it open when coming into or going out of the dining room. The kitchen had ugly dark green linoleum and two steps leading from it that either led you outside or if you turned right, led you down a steep set of stairs into the basement. The basement had a large room where the boys would use their wood burning sets and a corner where my father had his easel set up, a place where he would draw charcoal portraits of the family and neighbors.

Aside from the linoleum in the kitchen and the concrete of the basement, the rest of the house had hardwood floors and stairs. A few area rugs covered the center of the rooms but they did nothing to mask the sound of people walking or climbing the stairs.

The backyard seemed huge to me as a little girl.  We had a few apple trees, cattails growing behind the garage, and a round swimming pool. I remember the wild raspberries that grew against the chain link fence.

I played alone in that backyard for long periods of time. My refuge was behind the garage in a corner along the neighbor’s fence. There I stayed hidden, out of sight from all the windows on the back of the house and the porch. Standing behind the garage, hearing my heart beat like a hummingbird, I petted the cattails that grew by the fence. I picked the tiny purple violets to make bouquets that I would grip as tightly if they were my last friends in the world. I didn’t care that they wilted with the heat of my hands; I just wanted to look at the delicate petals and drink in their color. It was a solitary existence but solitary was far better than any kind of attention that I received inside of that house.

The energy inside our house was super-charged. Tension crackled in the air like electricity, no matter how many of us were inside. If there wasn’t some kind of abuse going on, there was a silence that hung so thick and heavy that I would find myself looking down at the floor, or fidgeting, not knowing what to do with your hands. Opera or classical music sometimes blared from the stereo, a macabre contrast to the silence. At other times the volume of the music would alert us to what was going to happen next; the rising crescendo seemed to egg my parents on and steel us for explosive abuse.

excerpt from chapter one, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

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https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856