Friendship

So much has been written about friendship; from the trite to profound, but the truth is we (the human race) are a gregarious species. Our survival is dependent upon living in cooperation with others. Part of that living in cooperation is making and having friends, and that is sometimes easier said than done.

As I have been traveling down this healing path, 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, because they fed the fuel of my tendency to be taken advantage of by narcissists. 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.

I pondered 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?

When I really love someone as a friend I do not protect my heart, because I think to protect my heart means I’m not giving freely of myself. When I commit to a friendship, I share my thoughts, hopes, desires, and 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 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 passes. A non-spoken loyalty.

I also have 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. These are the people I know who are going to be in and out of my life, but they are still just as precious to me. Besides just hanging out and having fun, they may have quite a lesson to teach me along the way. In fact, I have learned numerous lessons from my acquaintances. They tend to look and react to the world through a different lens. And, I kind of like that, it can be interesting.

There have been times when a friend has become more of an acquaintance because over time we grew apart. When that happened, I felt a sense of loss, but I also knew the decision was a healthy one. The opposite has been true too. I have had distant acquaintances that have become a steady and lovely friend; the kind of friend that I can’t imagine not connecting with on a regular basis.

As I found myself dealing with the mental anguish of PTSD, I was consumed with shame. I was ashamed of what I was remembering, my changing financial situation and the roller coaster emotional ride I was a constantly experiencing. I thought my friends would think that I was damaged and ugly and if they discovered the “real me,” they wouldn’t like me anymore. In fact, some people did back out of my life. Perhaps they were really more acquaintances than friends all along. But I can say with unequivocal certainty that my true friends have not run away. In fact, they took many steps closer to me. And because I am more open and authentic I have also made some wonderful new connections in my life.

As I pondered the way I interacted with people in the past, I would say, I behaved more as 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. Now I have learned to show my vulnerability.

Now, I believe I present myself to the world from a place of honesty. I’m not ashamed that I have PTSD, but I don’t wear a banner across my chest that announces it either. When I have a bad day, I have a bad day, it doesn’t mean I’m a terrible horrible person that no one will want to be around anymore. I know the difference between a friend and an acquaintance and although I love to hang out and have a good time, I am recharged and at my best when I spend time with a true friend.

I have chosen to have very few acquaintances. I value a deeper emotional connection to the true friends I have in my life. My circle of friends has also grown smaller, which I love. The key word here is “chosen.” I thrive on more intimate relationships with those wonderful and beautiful people who have joined me on my journey.  Acquaintances can be fun companions and there for you in times of need. There is nothing wrong with having acquaintances in our lives. However, for me, the time spent engaging in a deep connection is how I keep my cup filled and how I hope I’m able to fill other people’s cup.

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

 

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As the year’s go by…

As the years go by
I think of the those
hands that courted me with flowers
put a band on my finger
held our babies
dabbed my tears as we walked through our empty nest
and now holds me close as we enjoy the twilight
and settle in for winter’s embrace

©Alexis Rose,  Photo by Wilson Sánchez on Unsplash

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

Beauty from Broken Pieces

I don’t hide in the shadows any longer. It was a conscious decision, although at the time I didn’t really know what that meant. When my memoir was published,  I went from no one knowing my story to letting the whole world know my story. It’s more than a story, it’s my life, my truth. It’s true that I don’t lay out all the sordid details of my past in my book, and very few people in my life have earned the right to hear all the details, but, I share enough of myself and the resulting struggles I have with PTSD that I’m comfortable with the volume of my voice and that I’m being heard and making some wonderful connections.

I still struggle every day. It’s the way it is for me. Fall is a particularly hard time of year. Now, instead of pretending all is well while feeling like my soul is being crushed into jagged shards, I’m honest with people. I have learned self-compassion. Instead of saying, “I’m fine” coupled with a thinly veiled smile, I say, “I’m triggered, I feel shitty, and I’m trying really hard to stay present.”

No one has shied away from me when I tell them I’m struggling this Fall. They still want to do lunch, meet for coffee, go for walks, and keep engaging.  While hiding in the shadows and always trying to be okay, I was unreachable. I was still social but it was different. I had a thick wall up, and my social circle was different. Aside from a core group of very good friends, I was surrounding myself with people who sometimes bordered on narcissistic. I was attracting those kinds of people because it was comfortable for me. I could navigate that personality. If fed my desire to hide. A funny thing happened when I emerged from the shadows after Untangled was released. The narcissists dropped me like a hot potato. I’m not sure why? But when that happened, it opened the door for some wonderful people who are also starting to emerge or have come from their own shadows to enter my life.

I was having coffee the other day with a friend who is just beginning her journey of openness. It’s tough, especially for someone like her, who is a bubbly, open-hearted, extrovert. She has had an extraordinary struggle in her life. Her truth is real, and it’s shocking, and it’s gut-retching, and it’s her past. My friend, like me, had to repress her past in order to have a life.  Until that sneaky past caught up to her and she knew that if she wanted a fulfilling present and a hopeful future she had to look at these things square in the face and deal with them. I don’t know if she has PTSD, I don’t ask. But I relate to and greatly admire the courage she displays in the face of such turmoil and growth right now.

As we were having coffee, she brought out a package wrapped in netting and a ribbon. It was the beautiful rock that is pictured in this post. Rocks are extremely important to me. I started connecting with them when I was alone and being tortured in a country far from home. I picked up a white rock, put it in my pocket and knew that if I died and no one found me, I at least had a solid connection to something; a rock, the earth. I still have that rock in my jewelry box. Since then, I pick up rocks from everyday random and also wonderous places. I give rocks as gifts and use rocks as an activity when I do creativity workshops.

Coming out of the shadows is still a new way of life, and sometimes it still feels like an enormous risk. I feel broken, mostly from having to live with the symptoms of PTSD, but when I put that beautiful rock, with the pieces of glass, the double spiral beads and felt the solid heft weighing in my palm, I felt overcome with tears of gratitude and connection. Connections are what ground me. I found it was a constant struggle to let people connect to me when I lived in the shadow of fear.

My friend, who had no idea what rocks meant to me, said that she loves to create things from broken glass. She calls it Beauty from Broken Pieces. To me, that is a beautiful mantra for all us. You can’t get through adulthood without having some broken pieces, but we can find some beauty in our shards.

 

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

 

 

Trust the Jouney

She connects with the world
through her heart.
Tending to one flower, one smile
one child at a time.
As she walks through the woods
the trees remind her
to find peace and trust the journey.

 

alexis-rose

©Of Earth and Sky by Alexis Rose, photographer: Shelley Bauer

 

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

She Listens With More Than Her Ears

She listens with more than her ears.
The light from her soul and the joy
in her heart illuminate the world around her.
Silently saying a prayer
she feels the comfortable beat of her heart
as she flows to the music within.

©Alexis Rose, image source: Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

A Cloudy Week of PTSD

I want to wrap my mind and myself in a soft, comfy jacket, cover it with honey and hang out in a room with puppies, feeling the happy, drooling puppy breath that brings smiles from oozing love.

I want to naturally exhale after taking a deep breath, not having to consciously remind myself to breathe, as I come out a flashback or feel contracted from getting triggered.

I want to ease the pain in my body that I know is not really there.

I want to be able to have a conversation with someone and not feel like I’m standing behind a scrim of safety because, at this time of year, trust is at a premium.

I have to remember that this week is just a glitch and sometimes I will find myself sliding into the abyss of PTSD.

I know that even though I am waning in the strength of mind, body, and emotion right now, I am still (and always will be) mega-tons stronger than any perpetrator that harmed me physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually!

It’s been a cloudy week of PTSD!

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

Enter the Garden

Enter the garden
which grew out of friendship
trust, and tender care.
The delicate petals hold our secrets
gently and safely urging
us to let go, grow, and breathe
the colors of peace.

©Alexis Rose, image source: Pixabay

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

2nd Draft Jitters

Yesterday, I completed the second draft of my new book and I have the, “what-if-NO-one-reads-it jitters.” I get this way every time I write a book. I was like this, with the poetry books I collaborated on, and I was convinced no one, except my close friends and husband, would read Untangled.  Gratefully, I was wrong! Untangled, has grown some beautiful little toddler legs and is selling nicely each month.

I belong to a writers group, and I know the angst of releasing a book is a mixture of excitement, fear, and hope. The excitement of sending your work out for the world to read, the fear of rejection and the hope that your words will touch someone, and perhaps, that moves them to recommend the book to another, and the chain reaction of selling your book begins to unfold.

I play a lot of mental gymnastics with my book sales and what I deem successful.  With the poetry book, I set a goal of selling 250 copies. If I sold that many then I would feel okay. That many sold and more, and I did feel okay, then I allowed myself the luxury of getting my beautiful lotus tattoo. I continue to set goals for Untangled. I have reached all of them and more. I’m blown out of the water by the response.

So why is it so hard for me to call myself a writer and author? Is it because I do not see my books on the best seller list? Is it because I haven’t entered it into book award contests and therefore don’t have stickers to put on the front cover of my book? Or is because I’m a self-published author and don’t have a big publishing house logo on my cover? No, none of those are true.

I have many, many friends who are artists. Many are painters, photographers,  writers, or awesome crafters. Many of them, like myself, are their own worst critics.   Perhaps that keeps our egos at bay and keeps our creativity flowing.

I have no answers as to why I have the 2nd draft jitters. Well, I have a little bit of an inkling. The 2nd draft now goes to my very competent editor. She is red-penned ready and so am I! Of course, the thought of having to do a 3rd and 4th draft is not enticing. The dread of the editing process is what has stopped me from moving forward the past few months.

I’m ready to shake off the jitters, go to my aerobics class and sweat for an hour and know that I’m one draft closer to releasing my next book.

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

I’m Not Flying Solo…

It may look as if I’m flying solo
but I’m remembering to lean
into the wind, find comfort
in the safety of the clouds
and soar into the shadow light of the sky. 

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©From the Collaboration, Of Earth and Sky, Alexis Rose, photographer, Shelley Bauer

 

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

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856