Farewell, Bad-memory Lane

I took a drive down bad memory lane
and saw you looming on the street
You looked much smaller than I remembered
standing there alone and unfamiliar

When I turned my head to pass you by
I thought I heard you shutter and sway
quickly trying to shake the ghosts awake
saying, look, look who’s back

Did I take a wrong turn
or did I need to see that the power is gone
and the ghosts have long passed

I wasn’t back; I had to be sure

With a wry smile
I headed north on a twisted road
the air turning clean and crisp
north, where the sun dances with the sky
and the stars are thick with wonder
far, far away from bad memory lane

©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      

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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      

The gift of finding my voice; Happy 4th birthday Untangled!

Four years ago today, I anxiously waited for my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph to go live on Amazon. What a wonderful, unexpected and humbling four years this has been.

I took a huge risk by writing and publishing my memoir. 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 my book, I talk about my life and some of the trauma I experienced.  I write about how I repressed my memories and how I managed to raise a family and live a life where I mistakenly convinced myself, that my hidden past had no effect or impact on my life.

Although I don’t go into graphic detail of the trauma I survived, I do describe in detail the feelings that went along with being hurt, traumatized, abandoned, and neglected. I don’t shy away from feeling words such as fear, emptiness, loneliness, embarrassment, shame, etc.  One of the most humbling gifts I experience from Untangled is when people read the book, and they find it is relatable. The events that happened to me may not be relatable, but the effects, the feelings, the sense of no-self is something that a lot of people experience, or they know and love someone who has experienced those things.

We all have feelings, but we may not all be able to articulate them, we may doubt or judge our feelings, or experience that lonely/isolated feeling that no one else could possibly understand this kind of emotional pain. Up until the past four years, I lived with that terrible ache of aloneness. Now, because I’ve connected with so many survivors, I know that I am not alone. We are not alone!

Writing gave me the courage I needed to address the pain I was feeling. I would write even when I thought I had nothing to write about. I began to notice that I was able to write down what I couldn’t say aloud.  I thought it was providing distance from having to use my voice, but the reality was that writing was giving me the confidence to speak, to no longer hide in the shadows. Writing taught me to use my voice.

I discovered that writing was the gift that gave me a voice

Once I emerged from the shadow of silence, I found I became passionate about bringing awareness to help end the stigma of living with PTSD. I needed to find ways to best channel that passion. I had to decide how loud I wanted the volume of my voice to be when I write, do presentations, or speak one-on-one with survivors.

I’m comfortable with the steady quietness of my voice right now.  I feel that my low, steady volume is what suits me the best. I’m a believer that a ripple is what affects change. I want to continue to be a ripple. I want to grow and change with the opportunities that are presented to me, or that I seek out. I’m interested in exploring new ways to affect change, including becoming more involved with peer-to-peer support for trauma survivors.

I have experienced innumerable gifts since Untangled was published fours years ago. The gift of writing, the gift of remembering, the gift of a congruent past, the gift of trying to remove the stigma of living with an illness. I wouldn’t have started writing a blog if I hadn’t written my memoir. Never, in my wildest dreams could I imagine the world of connection that awaited me when I wrote my first post. Not only have I connected with survivors and mental health professionals, but I also have connected with poets, authors, thinkers, travelers, photographers, and fun-loving lets blog for the heck of it people all over the world. I’m a better person because of all these connections. There are some people I’ve met that have changed my life. I’m grateful every day for my blog.

I’ve been hurt, I’ve been threatened, I’ve been abandoned, but I wasn’t going to let the effects of what happened to me keep me from trying to have the life I wanted. I know what my goals are…to live with my past, live in the truth, and recognize and relish in the feelings of internal contentment. I didn’t realize that sharing my story with so many people would propel the trajectory of my healing in such a profound and sometimes ineffable way. Never does a day go by that I’m not grateful for the experience.

Happy 4th birthday, and thank you for reading, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

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

Road Tripping with PTSD

As summer begins to wane and the occasional cool breeze brings a hint of fall in the evenings,  I find myself packing to hit the road to participate in an art and authors festival in Northern Minnesota. It’s been planned since last winter, but I gave it zero thoughts until this week. I’m excited because I will be traveling with my bestie and we have always wanted to take a road trip together, but the driver is someone I don’t know. I’m a bit anxious about that part of it because it’s not easy for me to travel and manage my symptoms, especially around strangers. I don’t want to be the person who appears nervous, edgy or aloof as I navigate new places and different surroundings.

Traveling with PTSD takes a lot of planning on my part, and I have to be aware that this time of year can bring about triggers as the evenings turn a bit fall-like. I have to make sure I have some plans firmly in place so my fun little road trip doesn’t become a series of frightening flashbacks or anxiety-riddled days of being overwhelmed and hypervigilant.

I absolutely love the freedom of hitting the road. I love the spontaneity of it, and the possibilities of  “let’s take this road and see where it leads” adventure. I love to explore, I love new places, I love new people! These things appeal to my carefree nature but unless I’m planful, these experiences of joy can often be squashed by PTSD symptoms that lie just below the surface.

My trauma occurred over a 20-year period in many different places throughout the world. I can be triggered by certain smells, sounds, the way the wind blows, dialect, and many other things. Sometimes, that can start a flashback. Sometimes, I get disoriented and anxious, and sometimes it’s just a general feeling of knowing something’s off. When I’m at home, I can figure out ways to ground myself, get support or use one of my distress tolerance tools to ride out the wave. When I travel, things are unfamiliar and it takes longer to come out of a trigger.

Another symptom of my PTSD is that I become overwhelmed in busy, loud, places — restaurants, for example. It’s very easy for me to get flooded by too many menu choices and a voracious appetite can become non-existent. Before PTSD, I loved trying new food and going to restaurants that I wouldn’t have visited while in my hometown.

Busy roads while not necessarily triggering, can be overwhelming for me. The speed and crowded freeways can be overstimulating, and I tend to get anxious.  The same anxiety I used to feel in gridlock or driving at night with 18-wheelers whizzing by is now more pronounced for me. My anxiety is ramped up because my perpetrators often drove me to places across the country.

My support system is different when I travel. For my family, it’s often a good respite for them when I go out of town for a few days. It’s not an easy decision for them to let me go off without one of them accompanying me. So, a lot of moving parts must happen before I leave. My support works together to provide regual check-ins and remains available if I need to reach out. It feels uncomfortable for me to know that I require this support, but I’m grateful that I have this in place so I can do the things I would like to do and experience new adventures.

Road Trippin’ with PTSD is certainly a challenge, but not impossible. In fact, with a bit of planning and the agreement to tell my travel companion if I’m having any symptoms and their willingness to be fluid with plans this adventure is not only possible, it’s happening!

Photo by Madhu Shesharam 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    

It’s Okay; You’re Okay!

It’s okay to just be in the moment
of love, acceptance respect, and friendship

It’s okay to let yourself feel
love, acceptance, respect, and friendship

It’s okay to give
love, acceptance, respect, and friendship

You’re okay and worthy
of being heard, being seen, being loved

The squeeze of a friend’s hand
That reassuring knowing

that whatever version of you shows up
it is okay; that you are okay

Being in the moment
Feeling the love, giving love

It’s okay, you’re okay
And the world shines brighter
Because you are in it!

©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      

Crosswinds

Two 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

Misted crosswinds
fuel safety and trust

Possibilities are endless
in a circle of healing
breath, gratitude, hope
and a dog

©Alexis Rose,  Photo by Jack Brind 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      

 

Doubt

I see you standing, lurking behind the tree
I feel your presence, hear the shallow breaths
whispers that are prickly on my arm and neck hair

I smell the over-ripe coat and hat as you approach
and I think, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I last saw you
Then I hear that familiar knock on my self-esteem’s door

I would like to say that self-doubt comes uninvited
but that would not  be honest
most definitely unwanted
but I believe unconsciously invited

I open the door, and with its hat in hand
I invite doubt in for a cup of tea
and listen as it tells me what it thinks of me

Outwardly, to others, it appears ” I’m fine”
Outwardly, I look strong and determined

I am strong and determined

But as self-doubt sips its tea
it slyly presses play; spinning old tapes
that drone familiar chants of, “You’re not good enough
not worthy, not well enough, not smart enough, give up”
the smell of fear and rejection hang in the air between us
I feel a sinister dark-dread
creep up my spine trying to blacken and shred my self-esteem

The grasp of my thinly held mantra
that my inner beauty, strength, and talent
far outweigh any deficits that I have
begins to fade as self-doubt asks to extend tea time
into a meal and a nice nap

I’ve heard enough, felt enough, spiraled enough
I can’t entertain it any longer, I’m done
I clear the tea, thank it for its visit and show self-doubt the door

As soon as it’s gone the air is clear, fresh
and I take control of internal thoughts about myself
and how I’m navigating the world around me

I give myself room to breathe, change, and grow
emerging once again from the shadows of the shame of  PTSD

As this bout of self-doubt fades onto a distant shore
I understand that I may again, hear this familiar knock on my door
and when I do, I’ll invite it in for a cup of tea
and listen with a loving, compassionate ear

These days the visits are shorter, and farther between
but I know that although unwanted, 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