After the Story

A few years ago, I conquered my metaphorical mountain. It was hard. The pain was emotionally, physically, and spiritually excruciating at times. Because survival was my imperative; my beacon, I didn’t give much thought to how I would feel once I processed my repressed memories. Intuitively, I knew that in order to live, I had to discover and accept the congruent timeline of a dark and deeply buried past, and then learn how to manage the triggers that sometimes rendered me feeling helpless and hopeless.

At times, I wondered, when my story is told and I am standing in my truth…What will happen next? How will I feel? How would I incorporate living with the effects of my trauma, and the resulting PTSD? Would I go from a person with “no past” to a person who was just a mental illness?

I knew I wanted to live my life with my eyes wide open, to let go of the person I was not! I had a desire to own my story, my truth; to work through the torture and come out with a thick gnarly scar that proved to my inner child, my soul, my mind that I made it through.

I learned to reach out and ask for help. I learned to be vulnerable, and attach. I learned that my life will probably be learning and relearning coming back to the present when the ice-cold skeleton hands begin to creep up my spine and rock my sense of safety. It was all about healing, surviving, and distress tolerance tools.

I’m deeply proud of the courage it took me to conquer my mountain. I white-knuckled it to the top and back down. But didn’t learn the soft skills I needed to comfort and love my inner child, my soul, and my mind. I found that I was in the place of, After the Story-Now What?

In the initial phase of my healing journey, I was working on letting go of who I wasn’t, but it did not help me discover who I am? I was in the throes of survival and didn’t have the capacity at the time to leave room for hopes, dreams, maybe’s, affirmations, peace, and contentment at the deep soul level.

Today, I was reminded of a wonderful talk by Arthur Brooks at the Aspen Ideas Festival, titled: Strategies for happiness in life. I remember feeling so inspired by the points he made in his talk. In summary, Don’t rage against change, teach others what you know, take away the parts of you that aren’t really you, and surround yourself with love.”

After the Story, while standing in my truth I can incorporate the wise suggestions of those who I look to for support, I can trust the difference I can make in the world around me, with the hope it has a ripple effect. I can live a content life, knowing that strong feelings and emotions about my past will come and that they will also go. I can surround myself with a like-minded and loving family and friends. Most importantly for me (presently) is that I can continue to learn and practice compassion and enjoy my insatiable curiosity about life, people, and how we’re all connected.

I don’t have to turn away from the mirror ~ I don’t have to run away from the mirror that is held up to me by others.

Before I shared my story and lived in my truth, I courageously survived. After sharing my story, I courageously live, and dream, and hope, and affirm that the statement, “I am ____,” is fluid with growth, change, and resilience.

photo: Janet Rosauer

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      

 

 

 

 

 

Owl’s of the Past

A little fiction…

Looking back, she realized it may have been her secret intention to leave her known world behind all along. She had been dreaming of the ocean. The diamond-glinted turquoise waters, and the sound of waves comforting her restless soul. She wanted to find some peace, some quiet, some insight into why her life had unfolded into the daily grind of never-ending responsibility.

Knowing that an ocean adventure was well out of her budget, she set her sights closer to home, and thought a little weekend away at a cabin in the woods was just what she needed.

The advertisement for the cabin had been benign, but enticing. North woods rustic cabin with expansive views of Owl Lake. Firewood included. That was the draw, she was willing to go without indoor plumbing, but cut and available firewood was the luxury item that sparked her interest. There were photos of nearby labyrinths to walk, and a telescope ensconced in a grand old gazeebo pointing to the stars that called to her desire to connect with nature.

The name of the lake also caught her attention. She felt at peace with the sound of the owls. They brought her comfort. Never quite knowing why she was drawn to them, just knowing that the call of the owl always relaxed her and made her feel safe. She began dreaming of sitting by the fireplace; reading, writing in her journal, snacking on simple meals and resting. She made reservations and was on the road the following week.

The drive was uneventful. Miles of cows, forest, big blue sky, and puffy white clouds. The radio-gods were with her, playing song after song of beloved classic hits of her teens and twenty’s.  Each song bringing back memories of unabashed fun with long-ago friends. The time of life when she was invincible; a free and easy spirit. For just a moment, before the next song played, she began to think about how it all went sideways. How did she end up, in a life that was unfulfilling and stagnant? She shuddered and left the thought behind as she belted out the next song.

Her GPS indicated that her turn off was a mile away. As she drove the twisty turny dusty roads she noticed how thick and foggy the woods were becoming. Not the thick impenetrable fog that you can’t see through, this was different. This fog felt almost enchanted, full of dancing colors of green and blue. She laughed to herself, thinking that she must really need a vacation.

At last, she arrived at the long narrow driveway. Parking her car and looking around she felt a sense of electricity in the air. The trees were a dense dark green, the ground was lush and moist with the dew that hadn’t dried off from the morning sun. But there was something else that had caught her eye. The sparkle of Owl Lake that expanded from the back of the cabin was stunning. It almost looked like the ocean she had been dreaming about the past few weeks. Closing her eyes for a moment, she thought she heard the sound of waves crashing against the shore. Shaking her head, she got her bearings, grabbed her backpack and unlocked the door to the cabin.

Immediately she was drawn to the sliding back door. Drawn to the deck as if a siren song was playing in the distance; as if she was being called to the aft of a ship to look for mermaids. Dropping her backpack on the floor she slid the heavy door open, stepping onto a thickly wooded platform she found she was suddenly floating on a vast ocean.

Stunned at the sudden jolt of being adrift on the high seas, she began to scream for help. She was steady on the deck, but as she turned around the woods had disappeared, there was nothing behind her but ocean. Not knowing what to do, she threw open the sliding glass door, and stepped back into the cabin, hoping that she had just experienced the most intense hallucination of her life.

Back inside, she closed her eyes tight and said a quick prayer that this was all a dream. She prayed that when she opened her eyes she would see the dense woods through the front door and her car at the end of the driveway.  But all she saw was the waves of a turquoise sea lapping against the cabin that had suddenly transformed into a boat.

The realization that this wasn’t a dream brought her to her knees. She sat down and with her head in her hands wondering if she had died. Was she in heaven or hell? Was she dreaming? What was happening?

The boat seemed to be on a course, somehow steering itself. Was she on a ghost ship? As fear overtook her, she curled tight against the wall and fell into a dreamless sleep.

She woke up to the rhythmic rocking of the cabin on the sea. A bit disoriented, but with steady sea-legs she opened the deck door and stood in the clear starlit sky. Breathing in the sea air she suddenly developed a knowing and trusting awareness. She decided to quell her fear and not think about what was happening until the morning.

As the pink sky appeared over the horizon she noticed the unmistakable outline of land. Her heart quickening, she found that the fear that had overtaken her when the cabin became a boat was again tightening her chest and constricting her throat. Where was she landing and who would be on that island?

The current brought the cabin to rest on the island. In front of her lay a beautiful white sandy beach and a green, steep mountain range. Getting off the boat and nervously looking around she felt a strange sensation; electric shivers coursing through her body. Looking up towards the highest mountain peak, she noticed a black owl totem, with piles of firewood neatly stacked in front of it.

Hugging herself, she looked back towards the turquoise sea, the sun glinting like diamonds upon the water. Behind her the call of an owl high on the mountain reminded her she was home. Walking up the mountain, she turned around once again, and remembered!

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photo:pixabay

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

 

Evolution

I could longer
run
hide
deny
because it ate away my soul

I could longer
fight
pretend
act invisible
because it eroded my identity

So I learned to
see My-self
accept who I am
have self-compassion
embrace growth and change

I slowly evolved

Now, even on those darkest days
there is light in my soul
dancing in the sun
and hope in my heart
©Alexis Rose, image: Pixabay
Thank you for reading my books: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, and Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph      

 

Whispers of Autumn

Whispers playing off the breeze
entice us to look closer
at the bouquet of life
rising from summer’s warm hands.
We catch our breath
watching the spectacular
V-formations of birds
readying for their trip south.
Together, we ease into autumn.

 

©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    

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      

Reflection in the Mid-afternoon of Life

I have a habit of making three or four big goals when I reach a new decade in age. I tend to do a lot of reflecting, and anticipate what kind of adventure I can write for myself for the next ten years. I started doing this when I turned 30. I believe it is because the first twenty years of my life were controlled by others in terrible, sad, and tragic ways. When I broke free of my perpetrators, I understood that I own my life, and I get to decide who I want to be. That revelation and freedom have been an intense/unrelenting driving force for my life since the age of 22.

With this most recent birthday, I’m now (as my friend beautifully described it the other day) in the mid-afternoon of my life. So, with that mid-afternoon sun shining gently on my face, I began to reflect: Did my passion for writing, speaking and trying to destigmatize living with PTSD help others? What was the impact on myself for learning, growth, and change? How can I continue to be a support to this community of survivors as I venture down a different fork in the road?

As I was reflecting, I recalled a wonderful talk given by Arthur Brooks at the Aspen Ideas Festival, titled: Strategies for happiness in life.  In very brief summary, his four points were, “don’t rage against change, teach others what you know, take away the parts of you that aren’t really you, and surround yourself with love.”

I’ve stopped raging against change a long time ago. l respect that change is life. Everything is impermanent, including the feelings I encounter when change happens. I have taken away the parts of me that weren’t authentic, and definitely surround myself with love. My children want me to rest more; to relax, to not be so driven and hard on myself. I heard them; it landed, and I will be more mindful about the message I’m giving myself when the negative self-talk tries to sneak in.

As I hang out and look deep inside in my spirit mirror, I believe this will be a time of deep personal growth, a bit more rest, and a lot of self-acceptance. I’m looking forward to reflection in the mid-afternoon. There is a lot of daylight left, and the evening is still decades away.

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    

Fly free little bird; Remember the lessons of the flowers

Stretching and flapping her strong wings
this is the eve of our youngest bird
preparing to fly far from the nest.
Across the country
the hallowed halls of law are ready to take our bird
on her chosen path; her next life steps.

I know that as she embarks
on this  journey that our little bird will
take with her the lessons from the flowers.
She will persevere and grow
Silently displaying her inner beauty and strength
She will reach towards the sun, hold fast during storms
and live life fully in bloom.

Fly free little bird. Enjoy, and remember the lessons from the flowers.
©Alexis Rose, Photo by Chloe Si 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