Whether it’s Daisy’s or Weeds it’s Still Your Life

There is a common expression that explains what it’s like to live with PTSD.  “PTSD: It’s not the person refusing to let go of the past, but the past refusing to let go of the person.”

One of the questions that people often ask is, “Are you sure you want to remember your past?” Or a common statement is, “Just let the past go.” Both of these are said and/or asked without malice.  I understand both the question and the statement. Most trauma survivors understand the intention behind these statements. They are meant to protect the person from suffering and bad memories which can be re-traumatizing. Also to remind survivors that it is okay to live in the present moment.

Going through trauma therapy, we work very hard to understand our symptoms so we can live in the present. We often have safety plans, distress tolerance tools, and grounding techniques that bring us back to the here-and-now. We learn to hear the birds singing, children playing, feel our feet on the ground, and though we may not feel safe, we begin to understand that we are safe, and no one can hurt us (like that) again.

We are empowered by the fact that we are survivors and celebrate resilience. And yet, with all that knowledge, and practice, and bringing ourselves back to the present moment, PTSD has skeleton hands that grab you and pull you into the past. It is the nature of the illness.

When I’m asked, “Are you sure you want to remember your past?” I say to myself, and sometimes to the person (depending on my mood), “How would you feel if you had big swatches of your life missing?” I’m not talking about little memories of places, or people that come and go, I’m talking sometimes years and years, blacked out. Imagine the feeling of knowing that you are alive because you are here, but you have no real congruent memories to make sense of yourself, your wholeness as a person. And, often when you do have flashes of the past, your emotions,  feelings, and a very protective mind stop you from remembering.

My mind wouldn’t let me repress my memories any longer. I knew intuitively that I needed to know my past. I needed a timeline of my life. I didn’t want darkness any longer. I wanted to live, not just survive.  I understood the truth would be painful. Traumatic memories are painful. But for me, in order to get some control over some of my most severe symptoms (flashbacks, fear, anxiety, hypervigilance, helplessness, and hopelessness) I needed to uncover my past, my truth.

It was hard, excruciatingly painful at times, but worth it! I still have symptoms, but now I can name them. I understand where they come from, and why they are happening and I can use the tools I have to cope and move through the waves. Sometimes, it’s easier than other times.

What I have now is awareness. That awareness makes it easier for me to stay in the present.  I don’t live in the past, but just like everyone else, I am partly who I am because of my past experiences. What I choose to do with that information is up to me.

I maintain that now, I live in the present because I know my truth. Before, I was too busy both consciously and unconsciously trying to bury, forget, and believe that I wasn’t worthy enough to have a lived life, whatever it looked like.

So when people care, and with love and affection innocently ask, “Are You sure you want to remember your past?” I can say back, with equal love and affection, “Yes, I do want to remember, because, Whether it Daisy’s or Weeds it’s still my life.”

 

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 Message

Meandering through
the crystallized mountains
my spirit awakens
with the message
of those who lived long ago
yet still, walk among us

They spoke to me of
kindness, respect
and the resolve to
stay steadfast
in hope and optimism

They showed me the
ability to ride
the tiger to battle
and to surf the waves
of emotions

I tasted the
tears of fear
of loss, of joy

I felt moments
that seemed unbearable
yet, still remained perfect

Hearing the laughter
Tasting the sweet kiss
Smelling the land
Touching the stars
Seeing the sun-rise
and set

Knowing
every day
every night
the times I fail
or falter
or act in the most human of ways
if I keep my heart open
and listen
the message remains the same

©Alexis Rose, Image source Pexels

Thank you for reading my books:  If I Could Tell You How It Feels,  and  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, by Alexis Rose, and photographer, Shelley Bauer

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

Self Doubt: My Unwanted (but invited) House Guest

A familiar knock on my self-esteem’s door seems to happen when I’m making a big change, taking a risk, sharing my writing, speaking in front of groups, or accepting another layer of learning to live with the limitations of PTSD.

I would like to say that self-doubt comes uninvited to my self-esteem’s house during these transition times, but that wouldn’t be honest. I don’t believe Mr. Doubt (as I call it) would come calling unless it was invited. It may be unwanted, but since it arrived with hat in hand, I ask it to come in for tea and tell me what it thinks of me.

Outwardly, to others, it appears I have no problems learning, growing, changing, taking risks, writing books, writing articles, speaking in front of groups about living with PTSD, and working very, very hard on living with the deficits that often plague my mental health. Outwardly, I look strong and determined.

I am strong and determined; But as self-doubt sips its tea and begins to play the old tapes and drones the familiar chants of, “You’re not good enough, not worthy, not well enough, smart enough, you’re a poser,” and lists all the reasons I shouldn’t try or that I should give up, the smell of fear and rejection hang in the air between us.

Somedays I listen with respect, compassion, and a loving ear because I know self-doubt doesn’t come uninvited. But, there are other days when I’m tired or triggered and have a lot of symptoms. I can feel the sinister dark-dread begin to blacken and shred the self-esteem I have worked so hard to foster. The grasp of my thinly held mantra, that my inner beauty, strength, and talent, far outweigh any deficits I may have, begins to fade as self-doubt tries to extend tea time into a meal and a nap.

I’ve eventually heard enough, felt enough, and acknowledge that this is a pattern. Self-doubt comes when I’m on a precipice, and I can choose to entertain it longer or thank it for the visit. It usually doesn’t take me too long before I  tell Mr. Doubt that, “We’re done” and show it the door.

As soon as it’s gone, it’s easier to take control of my internal thoughts about myself and how I’m navigating the world around me. I give myself room to breathe, change, grow, share my experiences with others, and emerge from the shadows of the shame of living with PTSD. It’s often not very comfortable, but that isn’t because I’m the terrible (fill in the old-tapes) person. It is simply because that is where I am at this time in my life, this day, or even for this moment.

As this bout of self-doubt fades onto a distant shore, I understand that I may hear this familiar knock on my door again, and if I do I’ll invite it in for a cup of tea and listen with a loving, compassionate ear. Because I know, self-doubt does not come uninvited.

Artwork: Janet Rosauer

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

 

 

Fearless Butterfly

Across the decades
she lived fearlessly
with silent
fear

She trusted that the dry
strong muscles
of her wings
would keep her safe
as long as
she looked over her shoulder

Until the day
she decided
that the words
Fearless Butterfly
was a title of strength

A badge to print over
her heart
A re-frame for
peace of mind, body, soul

The Willow provided
a feathered nest of safety
to breathe
A landing pad for practice flights

And on those cold and windy days
when the sky is grey
and the Willow settles
under winter’s embrace

The butterfly
quietly grows
stronger
loved
free
fearless

©Alexis Rose, Photo by Luca Huter 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      

I See You ~

Did you sit across from me on purpose?
Yes, yes I did!

I was afraid you were going to see me
I do see you, you are a beautiful light!

I feel like I’m invisible, I want to be invisible
I see you. You are worthy of being seen, being heard!

Do I have to stay strong? Do I have to stay silent?
Your strength is in speaking your truth!

Will it ever get better, will the pain stop?
It does get better, the pain changes. It ebbs and flows!

Is it okay to ask for help?
Yes, it’s important to ask for help. You’re important!

Will I be okay?
Yes, you will be okay…you Are okay!

As I drive away, I spend the day thinking, that one of the most important gifts we can give another person is to be their mirror.

To understand that to be a mirror for someone is not just a concept, but that sometimes a person’s reflection is non-existent. That sometimes our own reflections may be non-existent.

To be lucky enough to engage with a person who at that moment needs to see the essence of who they truly are, to be their mirror so they can see themselves.

Yesterday, a lesson was etched deep into my soul. It is a true gift to be able to say to another person, “I see you, I hear you, you deserve to be here, you matter!”

Photo by Jovis Aloor 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      

My Tender Circadian Rhythm

My tender circadian rhythm
does not like to Fall back
or Spring forward.
It feels confused and lost
in the fog.
My usual disturbed and restless
sleep now has an assistant of
early a.m. risings; 3,4,5,6
oh, forget it, I’ll just get up!
I know it’s just for a few days
and mine is not the only complaint.
But it’s 3 a.m. and I’m wide awake
feeling that irritability song rising
to a crescendo.
I’ll stumble as I wait for my
tender circadian rhythm to remember
that it’s all okay
and part of this is
the November gray.

©Alexis Rose, image source Pinterest, visualizeuscom

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