With a Smile and a Wink

Sometimes the climb to the top
of the mountain
is rigorous and uneven.
Rest and gather strength
on the summit.
Look to the person next to you
who never strayed from your side.
Then with a smile and a wink
set off together
for the next adventure.

©Alexis Rose, image source: Pixabay

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

 

 

 

 

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A Reservoir of Left-Over Feelings

I once felt I was an object walking around, keenly disguised as a human. A thin veneer of skin covering the hurt, pain, and sorrow that lay underneath. Now I know that I am a whole person who was objectified.

I love this feeling, this knowledge, this acceptance. It took me nine long years to get to this point and I make sure I acknowledge my hard work.  It’s a hard-earned, middle finger to my perpetrators that they couldn’t take my humanity, my person-ness from me.  Where I once had no memory of a past, I now have a congruent, truthful timeline and, even though it’s an awful truth,  it’s mine, it’s my past, and for me, it’s much better than living with blinders on. 

However, learning to live with my past has left me with a large reservoir of left-over feelings. It’s been very gratifying to have worked through all the memories and the feeling/emotions associated with the memories, but I found that there are feelings associated with living with the truth of my trauma. The feelings that can occasionally bubble up at different times are anxiety, depression, desperation, fear, numb, violated, insignificant, grief, alone, unloved, neglected, shock, pain, confusion, anger, afraid, dirty, sadness, rejected, confusion, disgust, small, loneliness, ugly, abandoned, disappointed, hopeless, betrayed.

The feelings can be more prevalent some days, especially when I get triggered and have flashbacks or the anniversary times of the year. They are there, even though I have dealt with and processed the memories. I have dealt with the traumas but these feeling are byproducts of the abuse. The feelings don’t just leave because I have talked about them, written, used art, or emoted over them. It’s okay, I have learned that feelings are time-limited and are like sets of waves, and I have learned to ride them like an expert surfer.

I  also feel lots of love, hope, happiness, contentment, support, and trust, and for that, I am grateful. It makes me smile.

I used to tell myself that if I could take a strainer and scoop out the byproduct of my past I would.  I thought scooping them away meant more room happiness, contentment, hope, and love.  Those feelings are what drives my desire to live. But then I realized that it’s important to have and feel those left over feelings. I wasn’t able to experience them the first four decades of my life. They were repressed, never to be taken out. Now I know that it is a very important part of my healing process, and they cannot be talked, or drawn away. They have to be felt.

I no longer expect that I won’t have feelings about what happened in my life. I’m much more whole, living without the denial of my past. I continue to accept that sometimes the reservoir will get stirred up and wavy, while also remembering to rest and enjoy the calm waters when the waves are still, and peaceful. I will let the byproduct of my past continue to come to the surface, knowing that eventually that feeling will spill over and float away, taken by the currents. Yet I stay firmly grounded, living with blinders off, owning my past, my truth, flying free of the silence that held me hostage. 

image source: Pixabay

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

 

Surfing the Waves of Emotions

So much emotion!

I feel thankful, I feel happy, I feel stunned.

I feel tired, I feel confused, I feel scared and sometimes terrified.

I feel a sense of peace and connectedness to the world around me.

I feel hope, I feel calm.

I’m full of anxiety, fear, doubt, restlessness.

I am up, I am down, I am happy and I am sad. I feel fear, I am content. 

I feel so many emotions that sometimes I’m not sure how to deal with any of them. So instead of trying to deal with them, I let each one pass through me as they come.

Emotions; We all have them, and they come and go like waves. Some of them are little sets of gentle ripples and some are as intense as a tsunami. Waves come and waves go, each breaking on the shore and each is time-limited. 

I have learned to sit with the emotion, to understand that even the most intense feelings will soon ebb, even though it sometimes feels like they take up all the space in my body, mind, and soul. There is even room to feel more than one thing!

When I feel the intense emotions begin to rise, I sometimes try for control. I want to balance perfectly and ride them to the shore with ease. That’s not life, even the most eloquent and prophetic surfer wipes out. It’s okay, another set of emotional waves will come soon enough.  Sometimes gentle, sometimes stormy, sometimes hardly noticing the fleeting feelings. That’s normal, natural, human nature. 

I feel grateful.

surfer-1034603_1280

image source: pixabay

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

Beautiful in Life’s Garden

Take a moment, rest, be proud
of who you are.
You are beautiful, as perfect
as the flower growing in the earth.
You are part of nature’s bounty of vast colors.
Possessing the beauty of secret strength
that at times is only visible to you
but who is equal in life’s garden.

©Alexis Rose, image source: Pixabay

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

 

Mindfulness and My PTSD

I titled this post, Mindfulness practice, and My PTSD because I think both a mindfulness practice and an illness can look different for each individual. While the list of symptoms may be similar when it comes to being diagnosed, I have come to find out that the severity of the symptoms, the severity of the trauma, and how each person experiences living with their PTSD can vary greatly. My therapist taught me that, the wonderful group of survivors I have contact with taught me that, and the sometimes unrelenting choke-hold of some of my symptoms have taught me that. I imagine it’s the same for most chronic illness’s but I can only speak to the one that I deal with on a daily basis.

I have had a very steady and intentional mindfulness practice for the last twenty years. I started it years ago when I needed to change the way I was dealing with tremendous stress and hopelessness. I had two very young children at the time and needed to find a way to stay present when all I wanted to do was run away physically, emotionally, and mentally. Twenty years ago, mindfulness was not mainstream, but that didn’t matter to me. I quietly sought out teachers, read books, and practiced what I learned. It became a way of life for me and I found in the silence of my struggle it kept me steady and fairly calm.

Eight years ago, when my brain/mind/body/soul could not hold in my repressed past any longer and I was diagnosed with complex PTSD my mindfulness practice went to hell. I could no longer sit for more than one or two minutes without my memories, distress, fear, and shame, kicking in and sending me into a panic. It seemed the more I told myself, breathe in-breathe out, I would follow that up with a panic attack that lasted much longer than a short meditation practice would have lasted. So I gave up the idea of meditating. I also had a strong yoga practice but felt a surge of anger course through me every time I tried to settle into a resting or restorative pose. I was fortunate to have a wonderful teacher at the time. He pulled me aside one day and told me that sometimes in life yoga tells you to take a break. It’s about listening to what your mind and body are telling you. He assured me that one day, I would be able to come back to it and that I hadn’t failed. He was correct, I did come back to a yoga practice.

My task right now is to learn to live with my flashbacks, becoming overwhelmed, triggers, and sense of fear that still are very much part of my day. But, I also want to live mindfully and intentionally. This seems so incongruent and at odds sometimes, a paradox. I wonder if the desire of how I want to live will always be shadowed by how I have to cope day to day with my PTSD. Can the two of them find a middle ground?

I try to honor being awake. The connectedness we have to all things, the impermanence of the moments both perfect and non-perfect, the beauty and wonder and power of being present. Except that my symptoms bring me back to the past. It’s what PTSD does, it’s the nature of the illness. So trying to live in the present and being flashbacked to the past is quite uncomfortable and very frustrating.

Many people have said to me, let it go, it’s in the past, you are safe now, etc.  I get it, I understand what they are saying, I understand the place from where those words of encouragement come from and still that isn’t what this is about.  The nature of PTSD, the nature of how the illness affects me, is that it won’t let me forget the past. In my mindfulness practice, my mind doesn’t just acknowledge it and let it go. Although I can let it go after I have experienced the symptom, that’s after it causes quite a stir in mind.

When I try to ignore my symptoms, I often end up in a state of mind I would rather not participate in any longer. It brings me to the brink of crisis, which is a place I have worked hard and developed many skills and tools to avert. I’m trying to come to terms with working with my symptoms instead of fighting them and also living the mindful and intentional life I choose.

I feel that I’m finding my way, I’m working diligently to have both. I’m learning to acknowledge that this is not an either/or situation. I have relentless symptoms that I deal with on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean I can’t live in the present. Even if my present is uncomfortable, I’m not in a situation where I am physically in harm’s way any longer. My mind and body forget that sometimes, but if I continue to practice staying present and being mindful of my thoughts when I’m not being triggered I find it’s easier to come out of that out-of-control feeling when I do get triggered.

I will continue the practice of mindfulness and pay attention to the present. I will continue to learn and grow, but I’m also going to acknowledge that sometimes it’s a struggle to stay present when my illness catapults me to the past. Perhaps that’s part of being mindful.

 

image source: Ashley Batz on Upsplash

 

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

I Seek to Feel Content

I have conquered my metaphorical mountain. I kept telling myself I can do it. It was hard. It felt emotionally, spiritually and physically excruciating at times, and I did it.  I asked myself, when I conquer this mountain, have a congruent past and the tools to live with PTSD,  is that when I will feel content?

It’s my goal to live life with my eyes open, to let go of the person I am not, to own my story, to have worked through the torture and come out with a gnarly scar, not a soft scab over an oozing past. I met that goal.  Did I feel content?

I learned to reach out and ask for help when I feel so vulnerable that I can’t move left or right. To ask “will you take my hand and hold on to it until I feel steady enough to walk beside you again, unaided?” When I have done that, I ask myself, do I feel a sense of contentment?

When I accept the changes I have gone through, releasing and gently letting go of the protective barriers because they no longer serve me.  To “just show up” even when I can’t remember how to be okay. To accept that sometimes I won’t be okay. Knowing that I’m safe, and to trust the safety. To let the safety permeate my body, mind & spirit. Is that when I will feel content?

Am I content? Understanding that to feel a sense of contentment is as involuntary as breathing. I don’t have to seek it. I don’t have to be free from the symptoms of PTSD to understand that I’m enough. I was always enough, and that, not only am I okay now, I was always okay. I understand that feelings and emotions are fleeting and impermanent.

Yes, I believe, yes, most days (maybe not all 24 of those hours), but mostly, I am Content.

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