“Wow, I had No idea!”

I spent a lovely evening with a couple of friends who I see, maybe, once every 5 or 6 months. The last time the three of us got together was the beginning of August. Our lives are very different, our day-to-day support system is separate, and we don’t stay in touch unless one of us sends out an email suggesting we gather for dinner and a chat.

Because we hadn’t seen each other for so long we spent the first two hours just catching up on what’s been happening. There has been illness, surgery’s, births, deaths, sold homes, new homes, and some other big life events to catch up on. Even though we are all probably FB friends, none of us really use social media for anything except to post occasional pictures of our families.

As we were catching up, there was a lot of exclamations of:

Wow, I had No idea!

I have written about friendship in the past. It’s a very interesting topic to me. The past few days, as I’ve been reflecting on the tumultuous year I’ve had, and the year of transition and change for many people I know, I found myself again re-visiting the topic.

When I think of friendships, I ponder four questions: What is friendship? How do friendships endure? What’s the difference between an acquaintance and a friend? And how much do we need to protect our hearts from the risks of true friendship?

The last ten years as I have been healing, growing, and changing, I have had to ponder the question of friendship more than once. Sometimes, I was trying to discern who was no longer healthy for me. I can be attracted to people who feed my tendency to be taken advantage of, or who belittle me. I know how to deal with that because of the way I grew up, so I’ve had to learn to catch myself when falling into that kind of relationship.  Other times, I was un-friended by those couldn’t deal with the fact that I was suffering from PTSD. They just couldn’t handle it.

When those relationships ended I felt a sense of loss, but I also knew the decision was a healthy one. I don’t do a lot of blaming on either side, because I understand that these things sometimes happen.

When I really love someone as a friend and we become part of each other’s inner-circle, I do not protect my heart. I believe if  I feel I have to protect my heart, that means I’m not giving freely of myself. When I commit to a friendship, I share my thoughts, hopes, desires, and (most) secrets without reservation. My friendships are based on honesty. My friends and I know the difference between telling each other what we need to hear rather than saying what we want to hear.

I also believe that a healthy friendship is symmetrical. In other words, both parties are equally committed to the relationship. I’m committed to supporting and encouraging my friends and being there as they grow and change. I’m committed to seeing them through the minutiae of life. And hopefully, I can do that without judgment. The symmetry is, I know my friends will do the same for me. That doesn’t mean that there are times when people need time, and space because of life circumstances, ill health, or whatever life happens to bring, but the underlying commitment is never wavering, no matter how much time or distance passes between us.

My circle of friends is small, which I love. I thrive on more intimate relationships with a deep emotional connection.  I may not see one friend for years, some I see once a month, some weekly, some I communicate via text several times a week. It doesn’t matter how often we see each other, as we have unbreakable loyalty and complete trust in each other.

There are some people in my lives who are more like acquaintances rather than friends. These are people that I sometimes meet for a meal or activities. They may be a constant person in my life, but I keep them at arm’s length. My conversation may be little more than scratching the surface, the idea of sharing something intensely personal causes me some anxiety, and I typically never bring up the fact that I struggle with PTSD.

Even though I know these people are going to be in and out of my life, they are still just as precious to me. Besides just hanging out and having fun, they have taught me quite a few lessons along the way. My acquaintances tend to look and react to the world through a different lens. I like that, it’s interesting.

As I pondered the way I interacted with people in the past, I would say, I behaved more like an acquaintance than a friend. I shut myself off from showing any feeling and wouldn’t let anyone get close to me. I was always the smiling, tell me anything, kind of friend who had no needs, just let me be there for You.  I have learned to show my vulnerability, and have learned to set healthy boundaries most of the time.

I’m going to gather with another group of acquaintances this evening. Some of these people I haven’t seen or talked to in over a year. That’s okay, it will be a pleasant evening with engaging conversation, and most probably a lot of exclaiming, “Wow, I had no idea!”

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

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Too Much On My Plate

A large (un)balanced platter filled with

stress
worry
money
kids
work
health
sick family
sick animal
doctors
lawyers
triggers
car(s) repairs
creating healthy boundaries
navigating PTSD symptoms
holidays
an unrelenting month-long illness

This plate just crashed

I think I’ll reach for a new and balanced smaller plate

©Alexis Rose, Image source: Google Images from source

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

 

The Waves

Surfing the waves…

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

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

I feel sick.

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

I feel hope, I feel calm.

I feel numb.

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

I am up, I am down, I am happy and I am sad.

I feel fear, I feel safe. 

I feel content.

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 of our mind and bodies, 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, I know that if I remember to breathe and sit for a moment that it will pass.

When I feel the intense emotions begin to rise, there are times I try for control. I want to balance perfectly and ride them to the shore with ease. But the reality of life is that 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 so small they are barely noticeable. That’s normal, natural, human nature. 

I feel grateful.

surfer-1034603_1280

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

Reflections From My Inner Spirit Mirror

I stand in front of a mirror. It is not the kind of mirror that reflects your outside self, but the kind of mirror that reflects your psyche. It’s the kind of mirror that reflects how you think, emote, or not emote, and feel. It is the kind of mirror that reflects back the years of psychological and emotional damage. I call it my inner spirit mirror.

It took a lot of courage to approach this mirror the first time.  I was terrified because I knew that if I had tried to stand in front of this mirror before, I wouldn’t have seen any reflection. I felt like a nobody with no-body. but something compelled me to look at the effects of the trauma and how it damaged my mind and spirit and left my soul in tattered ruin.

Countless times, I could only stand looking into that mirror for mere seconds before running away in shame, but I was determined to keep going back. Each time I went back, I began to have the courage to view my reflection and started to name what I saw. Even though it was difficult to see myself, I’m glad I was brave enough to stand in front of that mirror and look deeper into my spirit.

At first, all I could name was the lies that were told to my soul. The lies that perpetrators tell their victims to legitimize what they are doing or have done. At that time, all I could see was the hurt, pain, fear, and wretchedness of the first twenty years of my life.

Then to my amazement, as I stood steadfast in front of my spirit mirror, I began to see a light emerge from my core. My reflection of who I am, who I want to be, and what they couldn’t take from me, started emitting a stronger and stronger beacon of hope. At first, it was hard to trust the truth of the mirror. I could have turned away and continued to believe the lies, or I could believe my truth and trust my reflection.

Today when I stand in front of my inner spirit mirror, I see my reflection. I acknowledge the courage it took to stand there, to refuse to look away in shame. Now my inner light shines through, giving me hope that I can face each day, to stay the course, to continue to heal and grow. To trust, to believe that although at times, I’m still experiencing symptoms, what I see is the true reflection of me.

Excerpt from the book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels

photo: Janet Rosauer

Thank you for reading my new book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels, available in both ebook and paperback from Amazon.

 

 

 

The Strength to Keep Growing

Acknowledge and be humbled
by the teachers, we encounter along the way.
They give us our strength to spread our wings
and fly.

Notice the lessons of nature’s bounty.
The colors, the beauty, and secret determination
that at times may only be visible to you.

Display your strength.
Shout it from the highest mountain
or silently persevere and grow.

Reach towards the sun, while staying
firmly rooted to the ground.
Hold fast during storms and remember
that you will live the life you seek
proud, and fully in bloom.

©Alexis Rose, Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

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

Shaming myself into silence?

I have been in a contemplative place lately. I’ve stepped back from a lot of things to organize my thoughts, needs, wants, and realities. Part of it was an intentional rest from years of writing and marketing my books, part of it was because I found myself falling into old patterns of not having good boundaries by not speaking up for myself when it was appropriate. And part of it was because I was trying to figure out how I wanted to continue to use my voice to de-stigmatize living with PTSD.

I have been in a poetic place. It’s been easier for me to express myself in poetry vs journaling style. It’s a way to get at the meat of my feelings. I absolutely love the creativity of poetry. It feeds my soul, it takes me to places where I say to myself, “If I could paint a picture, this is what it would look like.” But, I found that I was holding my feelings at a bit of a distance, and it caused me to pause.

I wondered if I was falling into a place of shaming myself into silence. If I was becoming fearful that some of the messages of  (let go of the past, it happened a long time ago, can’t you just get over it, you can decide to be happyyou don’t look sick) were beginning to seep in, and I was pushing play on my tape of shame that I live with complex PTSD.

I’m not ashamed of my past. I’m not ashamed of my story. It is the truth of what happened in my life, to me. I didn’t choose it; the people in my life made those choices to traumatize me. 

What I find I struggle with, is living with the effects of the trauma. It manifested in ways that affect my life, probably for the rest of my life. I have found the past four years when I began to speak publicly that I am not alone. A lot of people struggle with mental health issues directly related to trauma.

The good thing is that there is a tremendous amount of research being done to help trauma survivors right now. There have been some fantastic treatment options to help alleviate or extinguish symptoms. But, not all symptoms can be extinguished. They can be managed, and quality of life can improve to a level that wasn’t thought possible even five years ago. Some people depending on their symptoms of PTSD can absolutely be cured. Some of us may struggle for many more years to come. 

I had to re-evaluate that if I’m one of the people who have persistent and pervasive symptoms do I stay silent?  Do I watch as I see people struggling, repeating the lines and trying to live up to the many memes of, just do (or think) this and your life will be better? No, I just can’t do that. It goes against my nature because of all the survivors I’ve met along the way. Yes, there is a place for the feel-good memes, but it can shame us into silence if we don’t self-regulate.

I’m the most obnoxiously optimistic person I know. I love affirmations, I love mindfulness, I love yoga, meditation, dharma talks, and I really do get out of bed and say, “Today is a brand new day.” But I also have to make sure I am living with my feet firmly on the ground. When I’m sick, I’m sick. When I have symptoms I need to talk to my support system about them. I do not want to shame myself or watch others feel shamed into silence.

The other day one of my most trusted friends said to me, “You seem to be very calm about everything unless you aren’t telling me what’s really going on inside.” The reality was, I was calm and at the same time, I wasn’t being completely honest about how I felt. I was calm, I was numb! I didn’t realize it until I went home and thought about how I was feeling. Right now, numb is an okay place to be. My brain and body are resting after being very ill, and experiencing a recent trauma.

I will continue to use my voice to bring awareness and help de-stigmatize living with PTSD. I think it’s extremely important to create a community where people can relate instead of hiding and feel ashamed for having an illness. I continue to work on creating boundaries and will keep learning to speak up for myself, and I will not allow myself, to shame myself into becoming silent again. I’m grateful and acknowledge how far I’ve come in my healing that I recognized that may be happening and reaffirm my tenacity to stay the course on the long, winding road of healing.

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

Those Days

Those days
when
you know you are
okay
but you don’t feel
okay

those are the hardest
days
to navigate.

Nothing is wrong
but
everything feels
overwhelming
exhausting
scary
unsettled.

Those days
are the hardest
to just breathe.

Just be…
Just be what?
calm?
relaxed?
grounded?
trusting?

How in the present moment
when there is nothing wrong
can
I exist in a state
of uncomfortable
wobbliness?

Because those days happen!

Because that is the nature of my PTSD.
©Alexis Rose, Photo by Duangphorn Wiriya on Unsplash

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