Even With The Daisy’s and Weeds, It’s Still My Life

I went to the doctor the other day because I was hoping she would tell me I was suffering from some sort of vitamin deficiency or a thyroid problem. I made the appointment after some revelations I had in therapy the past few weeks. Not new memories, just a new awareness of how much I minimized, squashed down and refused to process some pretty epic feelings.  In a vague attempt to sidestep working through this, and to find a comfortable state denial, I went to the doctor wanting to hear I would feel better with a regimen of vitamins.

My doctor is fabulous. I’m extremely lucky to have a medical doctor and a therapist who understand the nuances of PTSD. She listened calmly as I anxiously rattled off all the reasons I thought I was sick. She agreed that it’s better to come in and make sure everything is okay, but she really didn’t think anything was wrong. To be sure, she ran the blood tests anyway. Good news, everything came back normal. All my numbers were nicely in the middle range. That was actually a huge relief, although there was a tiny part of me, that wished that everything I was feeling could be resolved with a boost of vitamins each morning.

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 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. And it turns out that I also have some feelings that I wasn’t ready to process before now. I understand where they come from, and why they are happening. I feel confident in the tools I’ve acquired and know I will be able to move through the current waves.

But in all honesty,  I took some time after I went to the doctor and asked myself, “Are You sure you want to delve into these feelings and emotions?  To poke around healing the inner child? And I say back, to myself with  love and affection (and a dash of denial), “Yes, I do want to do this work, and 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

The Gifts of Writing a Memoir, Happy 3rd Birthday Untangled!

Three 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 three 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.

I literally went from telling no one but my therapist about my past to throwing my arms up, and saying, okay….what the heck, let’s go for it, and tell everyone at once. My husband and children read the book before it was released to the public, but close friends, acquaintances, and long-lost friends learned the truth of my past when they read the book.  Were there big reactions? You bet there were! Of course, they reacted. The biggest reaction was sadness that they didn’t know what was happening at the time, and that helpless feeling that if they knew, they could have helped. I understand that reaction, I would probably have felt the same way upon hearing of a friend’s brutal past. But, they couldn’t have helped me, and it was imperative to my safety that I kept quiet. I used to feel guilty that I somehow hurt my friend’s feelings that I didn’t share my past, but I’ve learned to let go of that.

In the 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. The last part of the book is what my healing journey looked like at the time. Untangled isn’t about naming names or the horrific specifics of what happened to me. I don’t feel people, especially those of us who have been through trauma need to read and be triggered by another’s specific tales of horror.

I do, however, explain in detail the feelings that went along with being hurt, traumatized, abandoned, 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 feeling that no one else could possibly understand this kind of emotional pain. I lived with that terrible alone feeling until three years ago. Now, from the feedback from the readers of Untangled, I know that I am not alone. Admittedly, the validation is a bit of a paradox..I’m so relieved to be validated by relatability and so sad to be validated by relatability.

One of the questions I get asked the most is why did I write my memoir?  At first, I was writing as a way to incorporate another healing tool. For me, using the keyboard as a way to write, instead of using paper and pencil, provided a way to get down my feelings, thoughts, and emotions without becoming overwhelmed. I was taught that for some people, using the keyboard was a way to incorporate bi-lateral stimulation. This method provided a way to create a bit of distance from the subject matter I was writing about. The first gift was while writing, I began to discern the difference between the truth vs my truth. For some, they are the same, but for me, being able to say My truth had a profound and healing impact on me.

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.  It provided distance from having to use my voice. What I discovered was that writing actually gave me a voice.  When I still couldn’t speak a truth, I found, if I read what I wrote out loud to my therapist, that I WAS speaking the truth. The bonus for me as that He didn’t freak out or go away. The gift of Untangled is that people also don’t freak out and run away. The book has been a tool for conversation.

I am frequently asked if I was afraid for my safety when I released the book?  To be honest, I felt a lot of fear for my safety and took as many precautions as I could, but in the end, I just really wanted to share my story. I wanted to share what it looks like to live through unimaginable circumstances for twenty-plus years, with continued threats to stay silent, and still, be determined to be live not just survive.  I knew that this was my truth, and by publishing my story and continue to talk about the effects of trauma and the resulting PTSD that no one could ever take my past, my truth away from me again.

There are so many gifts from Untangled. 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. I was told that I had to start a blog in order to market a book. I never, in my wildest dreams knew 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, 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.

Even though I released another book last January, I’m not ready to leave Untangled behind. I’m excited every time someone purchases the book, I wish I could personally thank every person. I don’t ever take it for granted. I love getting good reviews on Amazon, I love hearing the feedback. I hope that the readership continues to grow each month.

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 experice.

Happy 3rd 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 Resilience, Courage, and Triumph    

Feeling Fragmented

This is a fantastic post from a wonderful mental health blogger. Check out this post and give I Walk with a Limp a follow. https://iwalkwithalimp.com/

I Walk with a Limp

Feeling Fragmented peter-sjo

How can I describe the feeling of being fragmented to people who have always felt whole? Perhaps none of us feel completely whole. Perhaps we all feel that we have lost a part of ourselves along the way.

As a victim of violence, incest, and rape it took a while for me to become truly lost. My survival instincts were strong. But, over time, the damage inflicted upon me pushed me further away from myself, until I found that I was drowning in a sea of alcoholism and despair, staring at a stranger in the mirror.

It’s as if I had been a beautiful, vibrantly colored stained-glass vase, and my perpetrators a chisel. Each punch, each belt lashing, each touch of violation, tapped a crack in the delicate glass of Light and innocence until, finally, it shattered into a thousand tiny shards. Their razor-sharp edges cut deep wounds into my…

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Silence

Dedicated to all the survivors I’ve met and the ones I’ve yet to meet along the way. For those who have found their voice and those who are still working on finding it. Silence can mean so many things…this is my interpretation of how the silence felt. 

The silence was the worst sometimes.

That moment when an abusive event ends.

The silence is sometimes the most uncomfortable part of being hurt.  It’s a strange feeling to see someone who has just hurt you in ways that are abhorrent just turn around and walk away.

Watching them leave. It felt as if they were also taking a little piece of my spirit with them leaving another tatter, another rip in my already shredded soul.

It wasn’t very often that my abusers would say anything when they are finished.

The feeling of invisibility was palpable.

No yelling, crying, blaming, scolding; they just simply finish and leave. It’s a rather powerless feeling because they don’t acknowledge me, or what they did.

That spirit shredding powerlessness left me with a dark heaviness.

I’m sure sometimes I was crying as they left.  I know I was certainly in enough pain physically, emotionally and psychologically to cry. But often I would just stare at them as they walked away.

Watching them go, I sometimes asked myself, why did that happen to me?

But other times, I silently observed as they moved away from me as if I didn’t exist.

As if what just happened didn’t really happen at all.

Their demeanor towards me was complete neutrality. It was as if I was a stranger who was just in their airspace, detached in a way, that if they saw me on the street in five minutes, they wouldn’t even remember who I was.

There was always that little while, no matter the place, the who, or the when something happened, that the “after” was accompanied by a thick silence.

Alone, with my mind now telling me, “okay, it’s over; stand up, clean up, unconsciously compartmentalize what just happened, and move on to survive whatever comes next.

The silence can be the worst sometimes.

image source: Pixabay

Thank you for reading my new book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels, available in both ebook and paperback from Amazon.

A Wonderful Podcast Interview Experience

I had the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by Matt Papas of Surviving My Past. (https://www.survivingmypast.net/tools-and-insight-on-living-with-ptsd-with-author-and-survivor-alexis-rose/) I have been listening to Matt’s podcasts for a while, and find his interview style very interactive, relatable, and real.  He has a wonderful way of putting you at ease, and the conversation flows.

Surviving My Past exists to validate and encourage all who have survived the trauma of abuse. Matt is a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Narcissistic Abuse, and Bullying.

On his site, you will find blog posts written not only by Matt but also guest bloggers who have decided to share their story and let the world know that they are not ashamed! You’ll also find podcasts where he interviews Therapists, Life Coaches, Mental Health Advocates, Bloggers, and others who have a passion to help raise awareness and do their part to help erase the stigma of mental health challenges and survivors of trauma.

Check out his website and when you have some time, I would love it if you listen to my interview with Matt.  You will definitely be able to hear my very Minnesotan accent come through loud and clear.  https://www.survivingmypast.net/tools-and-insight-on-living-with-ptsd-with-author-and-survivor-alexis-rose/

 

Thank you for reading my new book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels, available in both ebook and paperback from Amazon.

 

 

 

Parenting with PTSD

Try the new Yahoo Mail

PTSD Awareness Month

 

My PTSD

It doesn’t matter if it is cold, hot, sunny, snowing or raining.

There is no telling when it is going to strike.
Are they alive or dead?

Is that pain real or echoes from pain long ago that resurface with a memory?                                   

It’s like being held hostage by your mind

Thinking today would be the day I am free.

I look like everyone else.

I know the difference between right and wrong.                                                                                              

Yet sometimes in my head, I can’t remember the last ten minutes of my life, or what day, year or time it is.

Are those smells real or is that a smell from a place and time when I was being held against my will?

Am I really hearing the sounds of helicopters, planes Cicadas, and birds?

Or is that the sound coming from a place that no longer exists and should never be talked about?

I want so much to be like everyone else.

So I will keep pulling myself up the rope.

Out of the clutches of PTSD and all the skeleton hand of the past that keep trying to pull me down.

I am like everyone else only my job is to live so I CAN live.

That is all I can ask of myself if I am going to have a future.

©Alexis Rose

 

image source: google images

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