Reflections

Reflections of those we love

shimmer upon the water

bringing comfort and strength

even as they soar beyond this moment.

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©Alexis Rose, Image source: Pixabay

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

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If I Could Paint a Picture

I’ve decided to promote my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph one more time, before my next book releases in January. Thank You to everyone who has read Untangled. I’m so grateful for the feedback and the positive reviews on Amazon. An appreciative pre-Thank You to those who may decide to read it after seeing this post and reading the introduction to Untangled below titled: If I Could Paint a Picture.

From the introduction of, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

My body is streaked with sweat and dirt from my desperate search to find safe shelter. I’m barefoot, in a grimy torn t-shirt and shorts; my hands and feet caked with dirt. My hair is filthy and matted. My mouth is dry; I can smell and taste the gritty dust that hangs in the air. I sit down on a curb at the side of the road, and I know it’s over.

I’m unbelievably weary, all my energy spent in the act of sitting down. I’m devastated…emotionally, mentally, and physically, and the worst of my wounds are invisible. My eyes fill up, but no tears fall. I can only sit amid the rubble, trying to trust the safety of the gray, silent sky.

Six years later, the scene has changed. I’m no longer living in fear of the tangled web of sadistic people who use threats to keep their victims terrified and questioning their sanity. I feel grateful. The therapist that I call my Sherpa is sitting next to me. He’s listened to and witnessed my entire story, and never deserted me. He understands my journey and sometimes shares my grief. He’s helped me honor my resilience; taught me the value of telling my story and the importance of just sitting with my truth. So we sit here together, quietly resting in that truth.

I’ve fully remembered and told the story of my first twenty years, of surviving the abuse, neglect, abandonment, and fear. I’ve left behind those who terrorized me. I’ve untangled myself. My courage has set me free, and now nothing can keep me tied to the past. I can truly live today with blinders off and eyes wide open.

 

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

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 memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

Learning the art of saying, “no”

Before I was diagnosed with PTSD, I had been pretty good at saying, “no.” I was working full-time, raising a family, and was extremely busy. If I was invited to an event or asked to join a committee in the evening, it was easy for me to say, “I would love to do (that), but I just can’t fit it into my schedule right now. ” I didn’t feel that I was being rude, or isolating myself, or not participating in society at large. If I wasn’t interested or couldn’t do something,  I said, “no.”

Getting easily overwhelmed, and triggered is one (of many) symptoms that is front and center of my PTSD. I love the idea of going to new restaurants, concerts, plays, monthly writing gatherings, trying new classes, and attending house party celebrations. I’m interested and I’m grateful for the invitations.  I want to say, yes and sometimes I do; but I’ve noticed that I’m having a hard time saying, “thanks for the invitation, but no thank you. Now when I say no, I find myself feeling guilty and anti-social. Those feelings are triggers and old self-destructive messages. I need to be careful that I don’t press play and begin to listen to the tapes of, all the reasons I’m a failure and can’t control this illness.

I’m not sure what changed. My family and friends do not put any pressure to accept or decline invitations. I appreciate that they ask me to participate in events and gatherings. They don’t forget me or assume I’m going to say no.

In the meditation part of a yoga class the other day,  all I could think about (when I wasn’t supposed to be focused on thinking) was how I didn’t want to go to another class later that day. I was afraid I would hurt someone’s feelings if I said, no. Before my illness, I would have said, “no thank you, I already do a yoga class on Tuesday mornings, so I don’t want to do another one in the evening.

Now, I find myself stumbling when asked to do something.  In recent years,  I ‘ve had to cancel some pretty significant commitments, or have had a really hard time coping once I’m at an activity. I have had to leave early, or I have had to say, “I’m really overwhelmed and don’t feel safe.” When that happens, I feel terrible and very disappointed in myself. I feel like a burden to my friends and family and I feel so…mentally ill.

Intimate gatherings and going to familiar places are recipes for social success for me. If I do go to places that have the potential of becoming overwhelming or triggering, I make sure to go with a good support person. I have some really good coping tools that I employ on a regular basis, but sometimes all the tools and good intentions don’t work as well as I hope when my symptoms begin to ramp-up.

I need to relearn how to say, no without feeling guilty or shame. Recently, I said no to an invitation and the person was quite taken aback. I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t participate in that, I’m doing the best I can, and I just can’t do that right now.” She stopped, for a moment, and said, “of course you are.” All was fine as we continued our conversation, but I felt intense shame for saying, the words, “I’m doing the best I can.”

Since that day, I have been watching what invitations I have been accepting, and paying attention to how I feel when I say, no. I’m sure this is all another layer of accepting my PTSD and learning to  live with, not fight against my symptoms, but I find I need to relearn the art of saying, “no.”

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

Take my Hand

Take my hand to hold
your thoughts, fears
dreams, and wishes.
I will hold them while you rest.

Squeeze my hand
when the tears run down
your cheeks from the pain
of life.
I will squeeze back so you
know you are heard.

Grab my hand
when you feel like you’re
slipping into the abyss.
I will hold you steady
as you step back on solid ground.

Take my hand in friendship, love, and support.

Your thoughts, fears, dreams, wishes,
pain and unsteady gait are safe in my firm and steady grip.

©Alexis Rose, Photo by Natalie Collins on Unsplash

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

Why I Write

I’m in the (almost)  final steps of getting my next book ready for release. My final edits should be here this weekend. After making those edits, sending the last pages to my beta readers, having my proofreaders take a go at it, and meeting with my artistic collaborator I believe I will be ready to release it out into the world this January.

My movie-writing partner and I are in the pitching phase of selling our screenplay. We are getting little nibbles from production companies and receiving lots of support, to keep going. That continues to be a wonderful experience. We have learned to grow very thick skin while trying to stay in a beginners mind and keeping our sense of humor.

As I sit at my desk and reflect over the whirlwind of the past two years. Releasing Untangled, emerging from the shadows of silence, blogging, speaking to groups,  pitching a movie project, and now preparing to release another book, I ask myself, Why do I write?

When I speak to groups and open it up for questions, I’m almost always asked, what made you write a book, or have you always been a writer? The answer to both is, “no!” I never wrote anything beyond copy for ads or random newsletter articles for my jobs before 2011. I didn’t keep a journal, never was a huge letter writer, I really never gave writing a thought.

When I began therapy my therapist suggested that I journal. Most of us have been told by our therapist’s to journal our thoughts and feelings. I despised journaling. I would become so emotional because often, the pages looked like one big opus for wanting to end my life. I would literally tear up the pages after I wrote them, despondent because I couldn’t separate my feelings from what I wanted to write about. It was all emotion and no substance, no thoughts, no depth and it felt destructive. So I refused to continue to journal.

But, I found myself writing emails to my therapist and we would talk about them at our next session. It was becoming evident that I was looking for a way to write down my thoughts. My therapist went to a conference on PTSD. At the conference, he learned that when clients journaled on a keyboard, (not pen and paper) that it was easier for them to keep journaling. The act of using a keyboard was incorporating bilateral stimulation which helped put some distance between the terrible trauma and intense feelings and they were able to keep writing longer. That made perfect sense to me, so I began to use writing as a healing tool.

Writing gave me the courage I needed to address the pain I was feeling. I would write even when I thought I had nothing to write about. At first, I strictly used it for bilateral stimulation. I would write and send what I wrote off to my therapist. I started to find that I was able to write down what I couldn’t say aloud.  At first, I think it provided distance from having to use my voice, but then I found it actually gave me a voice.  When I still couldn’t speak a truth, I found if I read it out loud to my therapist, that I was speaking the truth.

Eight years after that first assignment to journal on a keyboard, I have written four books, have a number of published articles and enjoy engaging on my blog. I reflect on writing from a different perspective. Now, I write because I love to share what I’m thinking, feeling or musing over. I write because I’ve had feedback from others, to help give them a voice, to put feelings into words that they may be unable to describe. Writing is a way to be seen and heard, especially by a group who suffers from mental illness and are often marginalized.

I write because I will no longer be shamed into silence. But, I also control the volume of my voice. I want to be effective in destigmatizing mental illness, invisible illness, for me, PTSD. I know that I’m a quiet word of mouth writer. It fits my personality. I love the writers who are more vocal and speak with confidence and often, they know the volume of their voice and can reach a much wider audience.

I write because it fills my cup, it satisfies my creativity and it keeps me connected to the world. I care deeply about what I write and share, hoping that the connection between us continues to grow. Sometimes that starts with a simple written word.

Why do you write?

 

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

 

 

 

Unmasking the Shadow of Fear

The shadow of fear
disguises itself as
a branch without leaves
waving in the dark of night.
Or the touch of the wind
grazing my cheeks when I turn a corner.

It’s the sound of a car
rolling slowly to a stop
behind me.
Or the person I see walking
in the distance who morphs into
a threat from long ago.

The shadow of fear at times
leaves me doubting
if breaking my silence was best.
Or if the truth was better left
in the dark, unsaid, silenced
in the protective bubble that
perpetrators depend on to thrive.

The Shadow of fear often brings
the past soaring into the present.
But then, the sun shifts.
I hear birds singing, children laughing
and a friend recounting their weekend.

The shadow retreats; withdrawals
to the edges, lurking, waiting
to see if the past will preside
or the cleansing exhale will bring
me back to the present, to the safety
of the here and now.

The shadow of fear has many disguises
and with time, I will eventually
unmask them all.

©Alexis Rose, Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

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

Inner Landscapes; A Place of Refuge

An inner landscape is a life you lead inside of yourself; a place no one else can go unless invited. Although it looks different for each of us, all inner landscapes have this in common: they are a place of refuge. If you look deep enough, you will be able to find the images in your mind of your inner landscape; your own place of power and peace.

Today is a day where being able to tap into my inner landscape and find peace is how I need to stay grounded.

My inner landscape is multi-dimensional and serves more than one purpose depending on how I need to restore, rest, empower and breathe. One part of my inner landscape is a field of flowers. That’s where I go when I need to feel at peace. It’s a place where I can rest and restore my inner resources because I feel safe and protected there, with very little noise coming from my busy monkey-mind that tends to nag at me during the day.

Mostly my inner landscape is peaceful, warm and sunny; although, I also have a cliff I go to that is rugged and barren. There is one leaf-less tree there with a few wisps of grass growing up around it, but otherwise, it is bare. The cliff is jagged, gray and very rocky with the sound of a turbulent sea splashing thunderous waves against the rocks. That’s the inner landscape I go to when my life is stormy and I’m dealing with challenges that I’m not quite ready to confront.

When I’m there, I hear my inner voice of self-doubt, self-judgment, and shame. It’s a place I go to when I know I need to look at things about myself that are comfortably uncomfortable but I’m not yet ready to change. I sit on the edge of my cliff and listen to the water crashing up against the rocks. Even though it is a place I go to when my life is stormy, I love my rocky cliffs and the crashing water that surrounds me.

My inner landscape is different from my happy place.

My happy place is where I go to help me face the typical stresses of daily life. Sitting in a traffic jam, going to the dentist, standing in a long line sends me to my happy place. That quick take a deep breath to stave off the frustration place that we go to. My inner landscape is a place I go to for reflection. A place where I go deep inside of myself.

Can you visualize your inner landscape, your own place of power and peace?

Photo by Sergei Akulich on Unsplash

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