The Power of Your Story

So much has changed since my memoir was published five years ago. Before I wrote the book, my entire life was focused on keeping quiet, not telling, protecting those I loved, or who loved me. It took me a long time to understand that by keeping quiet, I was actually protecting the people who hurt me in my life. Writing Untangled was a way to announce in a really big way, that I will not keep quiet any longer.

In the past two years, I began to fully understand the power of telling your story. Everyone has a story, and all stories are powerful. But many who have been through trauma cleave off their past, minimize their past, or live in fear of their perpetrators. Not acknowledging your story (even if its to yourself) can stunt a person’s state of being; keeping a person from living the life as a survivor/thriver.

The other day someone said to me, “I like your writing because it comes from an emotional place, it’s about the feelings.” That is exactly how I would describe my style of writing and speaking. I know that feelings are universal and relatable. Our stories may differ but feelings are relatable no matter what city, state, or country we live in. Those feelings of love, pain, joy, sadness, loneliness, fear, abandonment, hope, and sorrow to name a few are what connect us, empowers us, and gives us the ability to empathize with others.

Recently, I took a program to earn my peer support specialist certification. Part of passing the class was having to tell our story. We had 10 minutes to share our story. It was over Zoom and everyone had to have their cameras on. It was frightening to look out and see 16 people staring back at such a close range as I told my story. I usually take a wide brush stroke and focus on my healing journey without much context. This was a situation when I had to give more background. My other classmates also had to share, so I felt out of respect for their authenticity and vulnerability I had to share too.

My story was quite a bit different from my classmates, but I kept reminding myself to keep going, we all shared the same human feelings and emotions. When I was finished and took that final exhale, I felt empowered. I know that my story has power. It has power because each time I tell it I own my right to live, survive, and thrive. I lived, despite the efforts to silence me.

I’ve learned not to be ashamed of my past or my story. It is the truth of what happened to me. I didn’t choose it; the people in my life made those choices to traumatize me. My passion, my mission in life is to destigmatize PTSD and other mental health issues. I’m real and honest about what it’s like to live with the symptoms and the effects that prolonged and pervasive trauma still has on my everyday life.

There are times and places to tell your story. Not everyone has earned the right to hear it and you get to pick and choose what and how much you share. That’s the beauty of your story ~it’s yours!

In the last five years, I have become more vulnerable when speaking and writing. I’m able to celebrate my bravery and resilience. I know that my writing and speaking engagements will be a lot richer if  I’m not inadvertently shaming myself into silence. I’m grateful for all the healing I’ve done. It’s enabled me to share with others that a person can not only survive, but thrive in spite of a horrific past, and  PTSD.  As I become more involved with survivors and lend an ear and a supportive shoulder I want to instill in them that there is Power in Sharing Your Story.

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

Hello! Where Were You?

Hello! Where have you been?

That’s a question that I have asked myself many times the past seven months. Just like most people, my life changed dramatically during the quarantine, the unrest in the spring, and the continuing effects of the pandemic. One of the biggest questions (and there were many) I had asked myself during this time was, why did I stop writing? For over five years, writing has been my link to sanity, and connection; a critical part of my healing journey.

I write under a pen name, which at the beginning was to protect me, my family, and my perpetrators. That was the safest way I could share my story. My kids always said my pen name and my real name were the worst kept secrets, especially when my books began to sell and I was doing more and more local speaking. I love my pen name-Alexis is very much who I am. I don’t hide behind the name, I love that name~it wasn’t a random choice; there is great meaning behind it for me. I believe when quarantine hit our family and all the implications of what could happen to my husband if he caught COVID that fear led me to a full stop. I didn’t want anything to do with Alexis or writing.

That period of time was quite difficult. All the tools and distractions I used to manage my PTSD was suddenly gone. The stress of not knowing how to learn new tools as well as the hypervigilance of paying attention to the unfolding science took its toll. My extreme extraverted self needed to find a way to hunker down, settle in, and get some help. Apparently, my writing needed a quarantine too.  

I live in the Twin Cities, MN. In the spring, after the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests and unrest, I knew that I had to learn what it meant to be anti-racist. I have 14 nieces and nephews who are multi-racial. I thought I had it figured out, but I didn’t.

Between COVID and the unrest this Spring, I have had many uncomfortable conversations with people who are close to me. I have always been a person who gave others the space to be just who they were, without much judgment. That no longer serves me in this changing world. So what do I do with that information? I’m not sure! It’s a many-layered challenge and not something that comes with an easy answer. 

Then, despite my diligence-I got COVID-19! I was very sick for one month and then it took another couple of weeks to actually begin to feel like the illness was behind me and I could trust I was getting better. 

So a lot has happened existentially and physically to me in the last seven months. But where was I? Well, I believe I was right here. At least in spirit. 

I am very involved in a non-profit organization called EmpowerSurvivors.  http://www.empowersurvivors.net/ EmpowerSurvivors is a peer-led support organization for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Since the pandemic and ensuing quarantine guidelines, we began to offer on-line support. Which has been fabulous. Because now, through Zoom survivors from all over the U.S. and the world can participate in peer-led support groups and classes. It’s been wonderful!

I’ve also been writing. Well, that comment is a bit of a stretch. I have a story in my head that has its first lines and the very last line with no middle. To me, that is fascinating as I know the story will unfurl and find a way to my blog for all of you to read.

I have also been learning new ways to cope. Not being able to hug, touch hands, and hang out with my friends and kids has been lonely and excruciating. It’s been quite a challenge, but this week, I could tell that things are starting to come together on the self-care end and I’m in more of an acceptance mode.  Just in time for winter to hit MN.

I knew this morning that I was ready to come back to the wonderful WordPress community. I knew that when my fingers were itching to get back to the keyboard, and words were bursting out of me that I am ready to write again.

Where was I? Well, all over the place inside~figuring out where I stand and what is important and how I will move forward as a person in this world. I will continue to use my voice and write about mental health, particularly living with PTSD, and as always there will be a  little bit of poetry sprinkled in along the way.

Thanks for all your fabulous support for the past five years. Without the wonderful community here, I would not have had the courage to come back and say, Hello!

 

 

Across The Winds

Many souls and a dog
create a circle of healing

Encompassed with compassion
and empathy
the misted space is safe and authentic

Words, hopes, and dreams
for a gentle life become
more than an inaudible whisper
to the stars in the shadow of the night

Possibilities are endless
in these circles of healing
pain, fear, and anxiety
become breath, gratitude, and hope

Misted crosswinds
fuel safety and trust
a mantra of peace and calm that transcends a cozy space

All take turns as teachers
creating the connections

Many souls and a dog
create the circle of healing
as wide as our universe allows

©Alexis Rose, image source: Pexels

Two Roses

Two roses stand strong
within their protective thorns

Entwined by years of friendship 
they share secrets, thoughts, laughter, and tears

They sway with the whispering breeze
as they bloom and grow
mesmerizing all with the wisdom of their ageless beauty

 

2-roses

©Alexis Rose; image: pexels.com

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Desperation

That dark-haired little girl
wants to run away to the cliffs surrounding the ocean
washing the dirt from her feet and hands
watching as the dirt bubbles to the surface
emptying the soot from the bottom of the boxes

She wants to be free
free to see the stars, hear the crickets
smell the ocean waves
and listen to the call of the owl and
the songs of the loons

But she’s bent over holding herself in a ball
The pain in her chest, her heart, her biceps
and the hollowness of her soul
writhes in fuzzy fear and loneliness

She’s trying to grab a hand
a metaphorical lifeline
that provides the hope that this walk will not be alone

It’s not dead girl walking
it’s tiger slayer trying, once again
to navigate the world where her past
doesn’t define her

Fear keeps her from asking
the skeleton hands of the past in for tea

Can she ask them in
Can she ask them why they crawl up her spine
and try to pull her down the rope of the past
Can she ask them to release her – to set her free
Does she set them free with a thank you or a f**k you or both

She doesn’t want to fight them anymore ~ She’s tired
She wants to set them on a raft and send them down the river
free
She wants to set both self-doubt, and fear on a leaf
and watch them take flight with the wind
free
Or maybe put it all in a balloon and set it alight
to become stardust

And when that’s done
she’ll sit for a while
breathe, say thank you ~ and rest
free

©Alexis Rose

I Woke Up This Morning

I woke up this morning and felt….

that maybe I’m allergic to having too many sweets in the house

encouraged that this leap-year I have 366 days to practice self care

resolute to actively work on my happiness project

excited about deepening new relationships while tending to my many precious time-honored friendships

calm as I cheer on my kids as they continue to figure out their niche in the world

apprehensive but curious to take leaps of faith as new roads appear

I woke up this first day of the new year/new decade and knew I would continue…

to love

to breathe

to be present

to heal and grow

to have hope and gratitude

to live

blinders off-face towards the sun

©️Alexis Rose; image: Pexels

Always in our Hearts

As the rain gently falls
we remember those who are 
with us in our hearts

They will always be a part of us

We honor their heart and soul
surrounded by their essence
as we tend to the flowers of the earth

©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    

 

 

 

‘Tis the Season

For many ’tis the season
of
places to go
things to do
friends and family

For many ’tis the season
of
loneliness, painful memories
hunger, grief, and sadness

Breathe in joy, gratefulness, and thankfulness
breathe out compassion

Compassion for the many
who look at the calendar
and silently say Jan 2nd can not come soon enough

Joy for the many
who love everything about this season

Room to feel compassion, joy, and understanding
so the many, the few, and the silent
are seen, heard and understood

©Alexis Rose. Photo by Aaron Burden 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    

Until the Promise of Spring

The words dried up
and stuck deep in my throat
before they blew away

I watched them swirl
like the dry autumn leaves
before they were swept up
and dispersed by the winds

Maybe its the season
or a fluke
a phase, the moon
or a moment in time

I’m sure there’s more to say

But for now
the words lay quiet
silenced by blankets of snow
still, resting, waiting
until the sun shines warm with the promise of spring
©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