Resting Between the Waves

I worked extremely hard the past nine years to understand that emotions and feelings come and go. I learned not to run from them, or try and cleave them off as if they were not happening.  I know that feelings and emotions are like waves on the ocean. Some of them are gentle ripples, and some feel as intense as a tsunami. The waves come and the waves go, each breaking on the shore and all are time-limited. 

So much emotion! I feel thankful, happy, I feel stunned. I feel tired, confused, scared and sometimes terrified. I feel a sense of peace, and connectedness to the world around me. I feel hope, and calm. I’m full of anxiety, sadness, doubt, and restlessness. I am up, I am down. I am content. 

I have learned to sit with the emotion. I understand that even the most intense feelings will ebb even though it sometimes feels like they take up all the space in my body, mind, and soul. 

I have found that I became an expert in riding the waves of emotion. In an almost automatic way, I can now say, “Yep, I’m feeling right now, I know it will pass, just sit with it, and it will be okay. I’m okay.” This is a hugely important skill that I had to develop for my health.

Admittedly, there are still times that when I feel the intense emotions begin to rise, I sometimes try for control. I want to balance perfectly and surf 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. 

But what happens between the waves?

That place where the waters are calm and it presents the option to rest.  To Just Be. The place where it’s okay to think, (just think), to let myself be open to opportunities instead of actively seeking them out. To try and not focus on filling time; thinking that if I’m not working on something, or towards something, that I am lazy, or irrelevant.

I’m beginning to learn to intentionally focus on the rest times and give myself a break. To let the wisdom of noticing, understanding impermanence, and to mindfully acknowledge the teachers who walk through my open doors, whatever their form.

Yesterday a friend was reading an article to me. She came to a line that had an incredibly profound effect on me. The line in the article read: When our heads are filled up with too much, too soon, there is no way to just be.  This exactly summed up my struggle with trying to conceptualize the concept of resting between the waves.

With a sense of calm, honoring the lull, with the wind creating a gentle breeze, I can say that at this moment…I feel grateful.

 

Photo by Jeremy Bishop 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      

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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 when 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
and a gentle smile, you mirror
a silent acceptance of who they are.

Reassuring them that they are seen
and letting them know
that as time passes
it will be okay, that they are okay.

Please don’t turn away
look deep, see and respectfully acknowledge
the pain in someone else’s eyes.

©Alexis Rose, Photo by Kat J on Unsplash

 

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

A Tiny Tale of Two Friends

Grace and I have been friends for 41 years. We were roommates for four years, we got married around the same time, our children are fairly close in age, and we have always lived within ten minutes of each other. Although we look nothing alike, when we go out people often ask if we are sisters.

Our story began as two crazy party-all-the-time teenage roommates having adventure, after adventure, which means we have a vault of secrets that we keep safe for each other. A vault with a combination so locked down that it could never be cracked.

Then we settled down. Both of us married, had careers, children, houses, developed interests apart from each other, and navigated the nuances of life. We even collaborated on a beautiful inspirational book. I wrote poetry set to Grace’s watercolor paintings that we printed and sold locally.

As life would have it, both our daughters (who are also good friends) are getting married within months of each other. Grace helped me pick out my mother-of-the-bride dress, and in turn tomorrow, I’m going with Grace to help her find the perfect dress. We never sat around and mused that one day we would be buying dresses for our children’s wedding together. But here we are, 41 years into our friendship and this is where we’re at in our cycle of life.

Ours is one of those friendships that have weathered many storms. Not the storms of strife and arguments, but the storms of life. We have been there for each other through great joy and deep sorrow.

When we are old and live next door to each other in the assisted living home, or a tiny house community, blasting Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and all the other bands of our youth, I’ll still look at her, and with a wink and a smile say, “A good friend will bail you out of jail, A best friend will be sitting next to you saying…damn that was fun.” 

image source: google

 

 

How Are You? “I’m okay, I’m fine, I’m hanging in there.”

Talking about an illness. When we ask someone we know is struggling or living daily with an illness and we ask, “How are you?” Do we really want to know? Are we looking for an answer of, “I’m okay, I’m hanging in there, some days are better than others.” Or do we really want to know?

When we ask, and the person really begins to share how they are feeling, do we tune out, thinking, here we go again, the litany of ailments, or do we try to steer the conversation away with a nod and a change of the subject?

If we are the ones who are dealing with an illness, do we tell people who ask how we’re doing? Or do we give the answer that we assume (but don’t know for sure)  people want to hear?

Lately, this has become a hugely interesting topic for me. Not only because I’m introspectively noticing my own behavior, but because I write and give presentations on what it’s like to live with PTSD.

I’m passionate about writing and speaking to try to end the stigma of living with a mental illness. But, I, too, find myself second-guessing friends, and family when I’m asked, “How are you feeling?

Wow! Well, that was a bit of self-disclosure!

Right now, at this time of year, I may say, “I’m triggered and struggling a bit, but hanging in there and doing okay.” Really, I could be falling apart inside but I either don’t want to go there at the moment (which is sometimes very good distress tolerance tool), or I simply assume the person asking wants that answer.

But am I doing it to also end the conversation, and divert the attention away from me? I might be doing that at times. If that’s the case that would be an old coping mechanism of not letting people in, wearing the mask of I’m okay, and not letting myself be vulnerable.

But is that fair to them? Or me? I don’t require someone to fix me or my problems, just like other people wouldn’t expect me to fix them or their problems. Most of the time, we just want to be heard. If we are honest about how we are feeling, and not feeling shame about it, then that makes for a more authentic conversation. Otherwise, all the non-verbal gobbledygook can be misconstrued as something aimed at us. When really, both people are just trying to move forward after hearing the answer of, “I’m okay, I’m fine, I’m hanging in there.”

One of my besties asked me how I was the other day. I said, ” I’m fine.” I could tell she didn’t believe me. I was probably acting anxious, distracted, or a bit off. I completely shut down that part of the conversation. If I would have been honest and said, “I’m super triggered, I’m anxious, my lizard brain is trying to take over and have me live in a constant state of flashbacks,” she would have responded with great empathy, and our conversation and lunch date would have moved on.

Over the last week, I was extremely honored to be a guest blogger for a site that is bringing awareness to May Mental Health Month. I  was just hired to give a presentation to a group in June, and I spent some time with people who also, gave the answer, “I’m Okay” when clearly they weren’t.

Since my goal, my passion is to keep the conversation going, and my message is, one of the ways to break the stigma mental illness is to ask questions, I am going to be much more honest when a friend or family member asks me how I’m doing. There are days when I may just say, “I’m okay, I’m fine, I’m hanging in there,” but hopefully there will be more days when I’m honest and say, “I’m having a really tough time right now, and I could really use your support.”

How are You?

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      

Embers of the Afterglow

Turning around to see
where I had been
I noticed the sun tending to
the embers of the afterglow.
Etching the memory deep
into my mind, spirit, my soul
I walk away, gently inhaling
filling up with strength, and courage
knowing, that this, is a perfect moment.

 

©words and photo: Alexis Rose

 

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

 

 

 

 

My feelings about the Word forgiveness and trauma healing

My caveat: I understand that we all have our own histories and beliefs. These are my personal feelings about the word forgiveness. They are not meant to sway anyone’s way of dealing with their perpetrators or their belief system.

The conversation surrounding the word forgiveness came up again for me last week when I had a meeting with someone who was looking for ways to increase their client base, in an extremely crowded therapeutic community. It was going well until this person became adamant that the only way a client can heal is if they forgive their abusers. When I interjected that I believed that there may be other ways to look at forgiveness, the meeting went downhill and became uncomfortable for both of us. To be honest, I’m not sure how we went from talking marketing strategies to this topic, but it happened.

Forgiveness, what does that really mean in terms of healing? That word can be a hot-button for me and for many people I know that have been through trauma. There was a time I thought if I heard someone say “you can’t fully heal until you forgive your abusers” one more time, I would explode all over them. It sounded trite, and for me, increased the shame storm that was always brewing inside of me.

My perpetrators would never expect forgiveness. Why? They didn’t and still don’t think they did anything wrong. To them, I was an object, not a person.  Some abusers, torturers, and silent watchers do not deserve my forgiveness. In my situation, there is nothing that keeps them accountable. They don’t need or want forgiveness, as they move along to the next person, and their feeling of omnipotence grows. 

I came up with this thought: Forgiveness in healing does not have to be about forgiving my perpetrators. For my mental health and well-being, I changed the word forgiveness, to “understanding.”  The concept may be the same, but for me, it is emotionally less charged. I don’t forgive some of my sadistic perpetrators, but I do understand.

I understand what they did to me, and I understand it wasn’t about me personally. I could have been anyone, and in fact, I was one of many. I have learned to understand it is an absolute fact that I had no control over what happened. I’m learning to let go of the guilt, shame, humiliation, powerlessness, and the hopelessness.  

I have worked hard in therapy to understand that I didn’t do anything wrong and that I wasn’t to blame for what happened to me. Still, sometimes I  need to be reminded that it wasn’t my fault.

When I first started thinking and verbalizing that  I forgive myself for the grief, shame, or any other emotions, or feelings I had surrounding my past, I would get confused. Was I forgiving myself for being hurt? That didn’t make sense. 

That word, forgiveness was just too super-charged. The concept was getting mixed up with the definition of the word and it was becoming too convoluted in my head.  I needed to have a better understanding what I was forgiving myself for.

I learned to understand, that I forgive myself for believing the lies my abusers told my soul. That works for me! I believe that! Sometimes with a lot of reassurance, but, I believe that. Understanding that concept helped me take huge steps in the process of acceptance and healing. Forgiving myself for believing the lies my abusers told my soul is a simple concept for me to internalize and accept. 

I have healed enough and understand enough about my past that by now,  I don’t really think about my perpetrators as individual people. If I see them on the news, I hear their names, or someone brings them up, my mind creates more of a concept of who they are/were, not the ugliness of what they did to me.

My biggest coup was when I could let them go emotionally.  For some, that is what they would define as forgiveness. For me, that is what I define as my mental-health victory!

I understand that we all have our own paths to healing. Our belief systems play a large part in keeping us safe in our mind, body, spirit. I respect the language each person needs to use in coming to terms with their abusers. What matters most, is that survivors learn to accept their past, shed the shame and learn to live (and thrive) in their present.

 

Rising From The Mud

Rising from the mud
frightened by the moon that shines
behind the shadow trees.
The leaves rustle in the wind
the cicadas and birds hum
tricking her mind with their songs.

The humidity in the air creates
a slow-motion dance of fog
circling the dark shapes on the ground.
A chill, a shudder, and it’s over.
The last vestiges of sorrow hit the ground
morphing into a cleansing drop of water.

The sun hits her face, drying the mud.
Slowly, she turns around and walks away.
For she knows that without the mud
a lotus would never rise.

©Alexis Rose, image source: Pixabay

Thank you for reading my latest book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and for reading my memoir Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph available in both ebook and paperback from Amazon.