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…

View original post 208 more words

Guest Post…take a look!

Thank You, Alex, of The Never Give Up Institute https://nevergiveupinstitute.org/ for inviting me to be a guest writer on your blog.

I would love it if you checked out my post, Living with PTSD,  and take the time to follow The Never Give Up Institute’s blog. Alex does amazing work in the Twin Cities, MN area with people who live with chronic illness, cancer, and who are working through their trauma. She is inspiring in her wonderful humanness, and to read her story is to witness a true medical miracle.

 

Metamorphosis of a Healing Journey

The topic of transformation, metamorphosis, growth, change, (insert whatever word works for your personal journey) has been front and center for me lately. Most of us want to grow and change.  It’s hard; no one said it was going to be easy. But rarely do people talk about the absolute pain one feels when emotional wounds get ripped open in order to process, heal and grow.

It’s a lonely journey because no one else can go inside of you and heal those wounds or take away the rawness.

You have to be the one to do it.

However, it certainly doesn’t have to be an “alone” journey. We can find therapists, support groups, friends, family, books, even blogs so we are surrounded by the support we need. In fact, I think it’s imperative to find people who absolutely “get it” and can relate with empathy when we are in the process of transforming, and becoming the person we want to be.

It doesn’t have to be a shattered past that motivates a person to grow and change. Growth and change are important to do for the rest of our lives. Some people may find themselves in a spiritual crossroads, others may find themselves feeling empty after dedicating years to a career, and some people are simply unable to feel content, knowing that there is some road not yet taken that is calling for them to explore. Whatever the motivation, the transformation to a new way of being from the inside out is painful and sometimes scary.

I have said to a few people, that I believe if we could interview a caterpillar as they transform into a butterfly and ask them, how it feels, they would tell us it is excruciatingly painful. They are completely changing from the inside out. The end result is beautiful; Butterflies are beautiful!

I know what I had to do in order to heal the wounds of my past. I knew what I wanted my internal life to look like, and I made a commitment to myself that I was going to do it. I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness of the journey, but that’s okay with me. I understand it, and I want to talk about it. No one can fix it, it’s part of the deal.

When I feel that pain of loneliness, I remembered why I chose to dig up the past, process what happened, understand my PTSD, find others who are also on a healing journey, and remind myself, the metamorphosis of a personal legend begins when you accept who you were, who you are now, and who you will be.

alexis-rose-1

©Alexis Rose, photo: Shelley Bauer

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

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.

 

 

 

Victim Yes, Survivor, Definitely!

vic·tim/ˈviktəm/Noun

  1. A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
  1. A person who is tricked or duped

I don’t like it, but by definition, I was a victim. From the earliest of ages until I was twenty years old, I lived a life of unimaginable abuse, neglect, and terror. For years, I was threatened to stay silent or suffer the consequences. The message was always a simple phone call with a person on the other end saying, “Nothing has changed.”

My therapist worked hard to teach me that one of the nuances of a traumatized person is that they believe that they are somehow to blame for what happened to them. Whether it is the abuser’s message or a way for a person to try and make sense of what has happened to them, it is something that people who have been through trauma have in common.

The word “victim,” can be rather stigmatizing. It’s sometimes bantered about when we talk about someone who won’t or chooses not to change their situation. How many times do we hear someone saying, “she/he’s such a victim.”  It can be confusing, because we don’t want to be a victim by an abuser, and we don’t want to be a victim by not standing up for ourselves. Two very different situations, but still the same word.

I understand I was a victim. I understand how my many perpetrators victimized me. I have let go of the false belief that I had been a willing participant in the events that happened to me.  This knowledge doesn’t take away the facts of what happened or the feelings that go along with what happened, but it does assuage the guilt.

I was programmed (for lack of a better word) to hurt myself should I remember, tell and/or try to heal from all that was done to me. “They” were thorough in ways to protect themselves and make themselves untouchable. I know and accept that I was a victim of extreme and senseless abuse, neglect, and torture.

sur·vi·vor /sərˈvīvər/ noun 

  1. To remain alive or in existence.
  2. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere.
  3. To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after: survived child abuse.

However, they could not touch the core of who I am and my innate need to remember and heal. They could not anticipate that I would eventually figure out the more I stayed silent and crouched in terror, that I was only protecting them.

They never realized that I would learn that when I began to talk, I was safer because if I were to suffer the consequences that they had threatened me with, then it would only bring to light that what I was saying was the truth. They could no longer hide in the shadows of my mind and strike.

My perpetrators can write me off as a liar and/or crazy, but that doesn’t have any effect on me. I know my truth, and being called crazy is just sticks and stones.

So yes, I was a victim, Now I am definitely a survivor!

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

Photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash

 

 

Listen to the whispers, before they become screams

I have become this oddly worried person the last few months. My children and my husband have all gone through tremendous life changes since November. Some exciting and joyous, some scary and devastating. As with all crises and life-changes, things eventually even out. We begin to operate on a new normal, and what was once scary and heartbreaking morphs into something that may be better. We know for sure that everything is impermanent and things change constantly. But when the changes happened in a matter of six weeks, it was easy to let the day-to-day worry seep in and take over.

I suddenly became that person who worried her hands, was anxious all the time, wondering if the snow would be too much, or if my husbands cold was something more, or if the kids would find happiness if they felt stressed for an hour. I was catastrophizing everything and it felt terrible.

I could tell it felt terrible, by how my chest was constricted, I felt on the verge of panic attacks, obsessively cleaning my house, and worrying, worrying, worrying all day long. I couldn’t stand to be inside my body. I was becoming a person that I didn’t want to be or live with, and my self-esteem was tumbling. Something had to change!

Late last Fall, I knew I needed to find a new therapist. I had been “graduated” from therapy for about 8 months but I felt I needed someone to help me continue to learn to live with my PTSD symptoms. Even using all the tools in my toolbox, I found myself still fighting them and being angry at them every day.  After a long search, I found a new therapist and had my first appointment in January.

Last week during our session, I told her how I had become this worried, anxious person who felt terrible in my mind and body. I had an understanding where it was coming from, and I knew why it was happening. I didn’t need that kind of insight. What I needed was to learn how to put things in perspective so I could begin to feel better, and to stop any downward spiral into crisis.

After I described how I felt physically, emotionally, and my thought patterns, she taught me this: Listen to the whispers in your body. (the fatigue, the need for rest, the need for peace and quiet, the way the body wants to exercise (does it need yoga or aerobics). She explained that my body and mind were whispering to me. If I could stop, and listen to those whispers, then my body, and mind won’t have to begin to scream at me.  Screaming at me may manifest into crisis.

I stopped and aptly listened as she was teaching me this technique. It sounds so easy, and of course, we hear (and I say to others) just stop, don’t forget to breathe and rest. But when it comes to myself, those are often just words. There was something about the lesson of listening to the whispers that make sense to me and felt doable.

With that lesson learned, I have been practising listening to the whispers of my body and mind and trying to hear and honor what they are saying. I’m not perfect at it, I’m still trying to metabolize what that really means for me. But, I’m going to use it as a daily practice. I hope a lifelong practice.

Do you listen to the whispers in your body and mind before they become screams?

Thank You for reading my new book, If I Could Tell You How It Feels.   Available in both Kindle and paperback.

If I Could Paint a Picture

I’ve decided to promote my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph one more time, before my next book releases in January. Thank You to everyone who has read Untangled. I’m so grateful for the feedback and the positive reviews on Amazon. An appreciative pre-Thank You to those who may decide to read it after seeing this post and reading the introduction to Untangled below titled: If I Could Paint a Picture.

From the introduction of, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

My body is streaked with sweat and dirt from my desperate search to find safe shelter. I’m barefoot, in a grimy torn t-shirt and shorts; my hands and feet caked with dirt. My hair is filthy and matted. My mouth is dry; I can smell and taste the gritty dust that hangs in the air. I sit down on a curb at the side of the road, and I know it’s over.

I’m unbelievably weary, all my energy spent in the act of sitting down. I’m devastated…emotionally, mentally, and physically, and the worst of my wounds are invisible. My eyes fill up, but no tears fall. I can only sit amid the rubble, trying to trust the safety of the gray, silent sky.

Six years later, the scene has changed. I’m no longer living in fear of the tangled web of sadistic people who use threats to keep their victims terrified and questioning their sanity. I feel grateful. The therapist that I call my Sherpa is sitting next to me. He’s listened to and witnessed my entire story, and never deserted me. He understands my journey and sometimes shares my grief. He’s helped me honor my resilience; taught me the value of telling my story and the importance of just sitting with my truth. So we sit here together, quietly resting in that truth.

I’ve fully remembered and told the story of my first twenty years, of surviving the abuse, neglect, abandonment, and fear. I’ve left behind those who terrorized me. I’ve untangled myself. My courage has set me free, and now nothing can keep me tied to the past. I can truly live today with blinders off and eyes wide open.

 

Featured Image -- 1269

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

Beauty from Broken Pieces

I don’t hide in the shadows any longer. It was a conscious decision, although at the time I didn’t really know what that meant. When my memoir was published,  I went from no one knowing my story to letting the whole world know my story. It’s more than a story, it’s my life, my truth. It’s true that I don’t lay out all the sordid details of my past in my book, and very few people in my life have earned the right to hear all the details, but, I share enough of myself and the resulting struggles I have with PTSD that I’m comfortable with the volume of my voice and that I’m being heard and making some wonderful connections.

I still struggle every day. It’s the way it is for me. Fall is a particularly hard time of year. Now, instead of pretending all is well while feeling like my soul is being crushed into jagged shards, I’m honest with people. I have learned self-compassion. Instead of saying, “I’m fine” coupled with a thinly veiled smile, I say, “I’m triggered, I feel shitty, and I’m trying really hard to stay present.”

No one has shied away from me when I tell them I’m struggling this Fall. They still want to do lunch, meet for coffee, go for walks, and keep engaging.  While hiding in the shadows and always trying to be okay, I was unreachable. I was still social but it was different. I had a thick wall up, and my social circle was different. Aside from a core group of very good friends, I was surrounding myself with people who sometimes bordered on narcissistic. I was attracting those kinds of people because it was comfortable for me. I could navigate that personality. If fed my desire to hide. A funny thing happened when I emerged from the shadows after Untangled was released. The narcissists dropped me like a hot potato. I’m not sure why? But when that happened, it opened the door for some wonderful people who are also starting to emerge or have come from their own shadows to enter my life.

I was having coffee the other day with a friend who is just beginning her journey of openness. It’s tough, especially for someone like her, who is a bubbly, open-hearted, extrovert. She has had an extraordinary struggle in her life. Her truth is real, and it’s shocking, and it’s gut-retching, and it’s her past. My friend, like me, had to repress her past in order to have a life.  Until that sneaky past caught up to her and she knew that if she wanted a fulfilling present and a hopeful future she had to look at these things square in the face and deal with them. I don’t know if she has PTSD, I don’t ask. But I relate to and greatly admire the courage she displays in the face of such turmoil and growth right now.

As we were having coffee, she brought out a package wrapped in netting and a ribbon. It was the beautiful rock that is pictured in this post. Rocks are extremely important to me. I started connecting with them when I was alone and being tortured in a country far from home. I picked up a white rock, put it in my pocket and knew that if I died and no one found me, I at least had a solid connection to something; a rock, the earth. I still have that rock in my jewelry box. Since then, I pick up rocks from everyday random and also wonderous places. I give rocks as gifts and use rocks as an activity when I do creativity workshops.

Coming out of the shadows is still a new way of life, and sometimes it still feels like an enormous risk. I feel broken, mostly from having to live with the symptoms of PTSD, but when I put that beautiful rock, with the pieces of glass, the double spiral beads and felt the solid heft weighing in my palm, I felt overcome with tears of gratitude and connection. Connections are what ground me. I found it was a constant struggle to let people connect to me when I lived in the shadow of fear.

My friend, who had no idea what rocks meant to me, said that she loves to create things from broken glass. She calls it Beauty from Broken Pieces. To me, that is a beautiful mantra for all us. You can’t get through adulthood without having some broken pieces, but we can find some beauty in our shards.

 

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

 

 

Feeling Relevant While Living With a Disability