Of Mountains and Unicorns

Under the stars
as the snow gently fell
we came together under a December sky

As the world shut down
we connected and soared
finding laughter, friendship 
and a secret garden of forever love

On a hope filled day
she said, Yes
and our steadfast love took on sparkle
hand-in-hand we look towards the mountains

Together, moving closer 
we see in the near distance
that every summit glistens 
with sunrises and sunsets
syncing in an infinite dance

And in our sleepiest dreams
filled with flying unicorns and swirling mists
when we open our eyes ~ with that hint of a smile
we turn towards, and know it will always be you

©Alexis Rose, image source: Pexels

Dedicated to A & C

The Silence

This is dedicated to all the survivors I’ve met, and the ones I’ve yet to meet along the way. For those who have found their voice, and for those who may still be finding it. Silence can mean so many things…This is what it means to me!

The silence was the worst sometimes

That moment when it ends

The silence is sometimes the most uncomfortable part of being hurt

It’s a strange feeling to see someone who just hurt you in abhorrent ways turn around and walk away

Watching them leave…It felt as if they were also taking a piece of my spirit…leaving behind another tatter, another rip in my already shredded soul. 

The palpable feeling of invisibility growing by the second

No yelling, crying, blaming, or scolding~they just finish and leave

They don’t acknowledge me 

Or what they did

I’m sure there were times when I had cried, but crying was rare

Most often I would just stare at them as they walked away

Watching them go, I sometimes asked myself, Why did that happen to me

But most times, I silently observed as they walked away, as if I didn’t exist 

As If what just happened didn’t happen at all

Their demeanor towards me was complete neutrality

It was as if I was a stranger who just happened to be in their airspace-detached in a way that if they saw me on the street in five minutes they wouldn’t even remember who I was

And in the after…in the thick silence

Alone with my mind ~I tell myself it’s over ~ stand up~cleanup

Unconsciously, I compartmentalize what just happened and move on to survive whatever comes next

No matter the lighting or the mood of sky, In the thick after, sometimes, the silence was the worst 

©Alexis Rose, Photo by Raluca Enea on Unsplash

The Flowers in my Mind

I got trapped in the shadow-side
the clouds enveloping me
the deep ice and snow
burying the flowers in my mind

For months I couldn’t find
the brand new day ~ I drifted
feeling so alone and lonely
grasping white-knuckled
to the real-
to the flowers in my mind

I wept tears of fear, pain & despair
and through the stony darkness, I felt the love
and the pull of light and hope

In the dark, before the dawn, I hear
this will pass~
the voice of a brand new day reassuring me
that the flowers will rise again

Today the shade went up and the sun pointed the way
bursting through the tangle of weeds
I entered the reflective garden
which grew out of friendship
trust, and tender care

The delicate petals that hold my secrets
gently swaying, urging me to remember
it’s safe, let go, it’s over
I breathed in
the colors of peace
and got lost in the flowers in my mind

©Alexis Rose, image source: Alexis Rose & friends

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

How Confusing!

It’s common for survivors to feel confused when traumatic events take place. Also, we can experience extreme confusion during the healing process as we learn to make sense of our past and live in the present. 

I typically don’t use the word confusion when I think about my symptoms.  What I manage is fear, triggers, anxiety, trouble with concentration, and hypervigilance. 

Recently, one of my perpetrators shared some information with me that caught me off guard. Unconsciously, I pressed “play” on an old tape and started to feel protective over this person. That’s when the confusion began.

Thankfully, It didn’t take long for me to catch the antiquated messages I was telling myself. I stopped believing that this person needed my protection.  I assumed that because I stopped listening to the old programming of, “protect your perpetrators” that I was fine.

But, I wasn’t fine. My footing was off. I became dysregulated in my thoughts and feelings. I was becoming fearful that I was losing control of my mental health. How confusing!

For six days, I was becoming increasingly agitated. Because I hadn’t told anybody, I wasn’t able to name what was bothering me. I started to notice the cold, dark, skeleton hands of the past begin to crawl up my spine, and a sense of hopelessness was starting to take hold. It was very confusing!

After disclosing what had happened to my therapist, she (as always) helped give me perspective; the root of why I was feeling so off. As we were talking, I experienced an initial A-ha moment, then confusion set in.

I was confused that I could be caught so off-guard by this person. I was also shocked (as I always am) at how my brain and body can often go spiraling in a myriad of ways when the past sneaks in. 

I’ve regained most of my footing, and the icy cold hands of the past that were crawling up my spine have retreated once again. I know there may be times when I feel those metaphorical hands again. That is the nature of what I manage and I’m learning to take it all in stride with an open heart and self-compassion. 

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

image source, Pexels

Parenting with PTSD

Precieved vs Real

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with extremely challenging PTSD symptoms. I have learned how to manage the everyday symptoms that just come with living with this mental health condition by employing a whole lot of tools from my self-care tool-box.

But since the attempted break-in of my home (read about it here: Don’t Open That Door )I have experienced an increase in some very distressing symptoms including; fear, panic, extreme hypervigilance, and sleep disturbances. All of these leave me exhausted, a bit confused, and rather lost at the moment.

So what is happening? Right after the perpetrator was arrested, I felt like I did what I needed to do for my body. I stayed present, I let myself shake, move, sit, shudder. Whatever my body needed to do right after the event, I honored that. I walked outside in the neighborhood so I knew I was safe and that this was My space, not some random thief’s space. I didn’t alter my routine as far as daily living. 

I spoke about the incident with family, friends, neighbors, my acupuncturist, and my therapist. I sought support, and even though this happened in the bright sunshine of the morning, we installed four new security lights. Importantly, I understood how random this was and that I was safe in my house.

About a week after the attempted break-in something felt amiss. I began to have hellacious, screaming nightmares every night. The same nightmare every night; sometimes multiple nightmares in one night. My anxiety is increasing and I notice I’ve become even more hyper-vigilant coupled with full-blown panic attacks or crippling fear.

I began to keep myself tuned in to the part of the house where he tried to break-in and my eating has become a bit disordered. Also, the comforting settling noises of my house have now become a constant ask of, “what was that noise?” These are huge, uncomfortable, and exhausting symptoms. I was totally caught off-guard by them and I could not figure out why after being so purposeful in getting good, solid support after the event that this was happening.

My therapist has been working with me to catch myself with my increasing avoidance behaviors. She is trying to encourage me to take back the parts of my house I’m now avoiding. We’re working on new sleep tools and she is working hard on having me acknowledge the fear, accepting it, hearing it, thanking it, and letting it know we are safe. Good, good things that are helping me find some control, self-compassion, and grounding.

Yesterday I was speaking with another survivor who had similar pervasive trauma like I did. She suggested that I have lived with the perceived threat of my perpetrators coming to hurt me (or insert threat here) for decades and that this attempted break-in with the drama and the intensity around it was indeed a real threat to my safety.

This was a real light-bulb moment for me. Real vs Perceived! It made absolute sense in my mind.

Most people would be upset and a bit traumatized by confronting a person actively trying to break into their house. For me, it had activated all the times in my past that I had felt scared, unsafe, violated, and feared for my life. Days after the event, I spoke with a woman who lived in the senior-living apartment building where he broke-in and vandalized before he came to our house. When  I heard how violent he was, and that he was indeed trying to find a place to hide, in my mind he became even more dangerous to me. A real threat in real life.

I know logically that this person will not be coming back to my house. I know that this was random and not personal, and I know that this triggered an avalanche of PTSD symptoms that had laid dormant for a long time.

All these things are true, and I will find my way back to the middle. But for right now-after all these years of learning and repeating that I’m safe and that my fear was because of a perceived threat, I have now (again) in my life felt the fear of a real threat. This may be a small part of the healing process of the intrusion, but to me it’s an explanation and a jumping-off point for understanding how my mind is working and why I am, again,  working through the oh-so-tangled web of PTSD.

Photo by Mathilda Khoo on Unsplash

Would you like to be a guest speaker?

I’m involved with a non-profit organization called EmpowerSurvivors that supports survivors of childhood sexual abuse and trauma.

EmpowerSurvivors is a peer-run nonprofit organization operated by survivors of childhood sexual abuse for victims of childhood sexual abuse.

We support survivors through individual peer support meetings, classes, workshops and since the pandemic began, we now offer Zoom meetings on Monday evenings at 6:00 pm central time called, Conversations With Evey & Elizabeth.

These interactive conversations focus on topics of interest to survivors of trauma and sexual abuse, no matter where they are on their healing journey.

Our hope is to periodically have a special guest that will volunteer their time to discuss topics such as childhood sexual abuse, healing trauma, types of therapy, what to expect in therapy, suggestions on how to find good therapists, survivor stories of hope & healing, adverse childhood experiences & resilience, victim laws, mindfulness, grounding, PTSD, mental health diagnosis, healing strategies, etc.

We would love to have professionals and survivors of childhood sexual abuse to lead conversations that help survivors better understand themselves, the healing journey, and subjects pertaining to early childhood sexual abuse and healing.

If you are someone with a heart for survivors, helping others heal, or have a skill set that you would like to share please consider being our guest via Zoom.

Together we can help people find hope & healing.

If you are interested in leading a conversation or have any questions, email Elizabeth Sullivan of EmpowerSurvivors at EmpowerSurvivors@gmail.com

Find out more about EmpowerSurvivors at http://www.empowersurvivors.net/

And of course if you are interested in joining the conversations on Monday evenings via Zoom, you are welcome to log on. All we ask is that you keep your camera on since these support meetings are designed to be interactive.

Conversations with Evey and Elizabeth

The Dirt Underneath My Nails

The bright flowing energy of life
that courses through
those oft talked about chakras
aligning my body, mind, and soul
sometimes feel clogged.

They say it’s normal
to have places that are stuck.
Let’s start there!
Let’s open it up so you can breathe, unfold, flow, feel whole.

But it’s clogged…with dirt.

Those life-force channels
sometimes get mired in the sludge of messages and beliefs
from a long ago past.
Enmeshed in the lies that were told to my soul.

The truth of their lies evidenced in the
dirt underneath my nails.

Wait; This is a triggering time of year
I’m being pulled into a vortex of memory and shame.
Name it
Feel it
Change the narrative
Get help!

My life-force begins to circulate again
with bright colors and free-flowing qi
I feel the power of being in the now ~
the wind, sun, heat and throat clearing water.

Looking down, scanning, grounding
I see the dirt of the earth underneath my nails
and go and wash my hands.
©Alexis Rose, image source, Pixabay

Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

 

Don’t Open That Door!

How many scary movies, thrillers, and mysteries have we seen where we find ourselves saying out loud, “don’t open that door!” And then joke because of course, they were always going to open that door, answer the phone, or look under the bed.  Often after we scolded the protagonist, we would add,  “I would never do that!” And then real life happened, and I Opened The Door. 

This past Monday morning at 7:15 with the sun shining brightly, someone was actively trying to break into our house.

I heard a noise and was walking to look out the window, thinking that something was going on across the street. As I was walking towards the window, my dog bolted past me to the locked deck door, where I saw the screen was open and a man was peering in the bedroom window where my husband was sleeping.

It was as if something went primal in me. Without any thought, I unlocked and opened the deck door, went out, and started screaming at this robber. I was yelling, “Who the f**k are you, and What the f**k do you think you’re doing?” I was wild and aggressive, approaching him with so much anger and fear that I didn’t even realize what I was doing. This was not smart for So many reasons.  

First, I opened a locked door and entered a small space where this perpetrator was leering into my house after trying to get into the door. As I’m yelling, I put myself within six inches of him, with the door wide open behind me.  I’m not even 5 feet tall and the only thing I had on at the time was a sleep shirt. No shoes on the snowy, icy deck just me in a t-shirt yelling and becoming more verbally aggressive. I must have scared him because he turned around and started going back down the stairs. He said something to me, and I mom-scolded him, wagging my finger yelling “I’m calling 911.”

I went into the house and called 911. Almost immediately two squad cars pulled up in front of my house. The person was standing there taking off his jacket and dropping all his stolen goods as the police pulled up. Apparently, this person had gone on a robbery spree at some senior-living apartments and the police were down the street when I called 911. I watched him get arrested and taken away.

One of the police officers checked our house and cars and made sure we were ok. I told him how I confronted him, how I just didn’t even think about calling 911 at the moment when I saw him on the deck. I told him that I was so shocked because I acted exactly the opposite of what we are all taught to do and I understood how much danger I put myself and my family in. 

The officer listened and then sternly said to me, “Don’t ever do that again. This guy is so high he doesn’t even know what planet he’s on and that could have turned out very badly.”

I understand that he could have had a weapon, or he could have easily moved me aside and walk through the door that was now wide open which would have put us in a potentially very dangerous situation. I’m so grateful and relieved things turned out okay.

So whoa! The after-effects of that event has been a roller coaster of processing. First, the physical and emotional dump of adrenaline was exhausting and confusing. I made sure on Monday to take lots of walks around my neighborhood so I understood that it’s a safe place to live and that this is the first incident we’ve had in 22 years.

I reached out to people to get some good support. I needed to tell people what happened; to talk about it. I knew my PTSD triggers were activated but didn’t quite know which symptoms or memories were going to come oozing out.

And ooze out they did. Every fear of being hurt again was front and center on Tuesday and Wednesday. That feeling of not being safe anywhere in the world was right there; front and center. My hyper-vigilance, fear, nightmares, anxiety were all front and center for two days after the event. 

Today is three days after the incident. I’ve settled down, we installed 4 more security lights, I’ve received wonderful help processing this with my therapist who had some good ideas and grounding tools for symptom management, and I have wonderful support from friends and family. 

Unlike those first twenty years where there was no support and no resolution, this incident had both. Although still feeling violated, I do hope that person gets the help he needs and perhaps chooses a life of no drugs and no crime.

For me, I learned that I had the capacity to fight-not just flee or freeze. I could never fight any of my perpetrators in my past. It wasn’t an option-ever! It appears now I can and will. There were many lessons on Monday morning, and the ability to fight for my safety was one of the takeaways. But by far,  the biggest lesson I learned is, Don’t Open That Door!!!

photo image: Pexels

You may feel Fragile, but you’re still Capable

I had the pleasure of connecting with one of my wise teachers the other day. Our conversation turned to the topic of how wonderfully strong and resilient survivors of trauma are by nature. For some survivors, just getting up in the morning is an incredible feat of resilience and courage.

We also talked about how fragile survivors feel sometimes. Without missing a beat my companion said, “Just because a person is fragile does not mean they are incapable.”

Think about that statement for a moment; It’s pretty powerful!

For me, it’s powerful because there have been times that I could not figure out how I was going to take the next breath, let alone be okay in the future. But because I have been supported with the truth that even during those times when I’m the most wobbly, I was still capable, I believe I have been able to ride those tsunami waves of pain and fear.

There have been times when I thought, am I irreparably damaged?
No, no, I’m not but there are limitations. Those limitations don’t define me
but sometimes it’s hard and confusing to understand what they really mean. When those thoughts begin to rule my state of being, I have been met with acceptance, compassion, and understanding. In my most fragile state of mind, I was seen, heard, respected, and supported.

I know the skeleton hands of my past will come and go. Stress and health ebbs and flows, sometimes leaving me feeling fragile. I try to live the potential, embrace the possible, and embody compassionate healing. I’m able to do that not only because of continuous healing but also because of the extra support I still need and learning from other survivors I meet along the way.

Learning that it is okay to show up just the way you are. Knowing that the amazing resilience it takes to survive horrific trauma, and to learn that a person is worthy of living the life they envision for themselves is the gift that healing presents.

It’s hard. The path of healing is tough, twisty, gnarly, and sometimes feels insurmountable. But those times when a person feels the most tenuous, remember that, just because you feel fragile, it does not mean you are incapable!

image source: Unsplash