The Quiet Descent to Tender Ground

Eight years of muscle straining, oxygen deprived, mind exploding, grief-laden work to manage the grip of the skeleton hands of the past.

The rocky terrain and deep crevasses that held the traps of programmed words ready to pull me down into oblivion were navigated at a snail’s pace of impatient mindfulness.

Deafening winds and echoes of the past kept knocking me down, pushing me sideways, making it hard to grip the rope.

After every storm passed
I took the time to rest in the snow caves of acceptance.

So many times, wanting to give up, give in to the beast of symptoms.
But trusting, knowing, that my Sherpa would guide me through the sharpest peaks and deepest valleys.

Summiting many times, thinking there were no more hidden mountains.
Then catching glimpse of the last, gnarly climb looming just around the bend.

Everything inside me screams, “No, leave it!”
I intuitively understood that climbing all but that last steep incline would leave me stuck, and breathless. Allowing space for the blinders to slowly creep back into place.

I push through. One last climb to release the locked, cold grip of the past.

Then quietly, I make a gentle descent.
The thick, foreboding, dangerously tricky mountain range emerging steadfastly behind me.

Scar tissue replaces open wounds.
I work to try and accept my abilities in the wake of my past.

A sense of accomplishment for not giving in to the siren call of hopelessness fills my fragile, resiliently strong whole self.

Committed to finishing that arduous climb and having trust in a committed therapist gave way to a quiet, gentle descent.

With calloused feet on the tender ground
I exhale gratitude every day.

Today, with the mountain range in the distance
I continue to heal on flat land with a warrior tiger as my teacher.

The quiet descent to tender ground holds fast and strong with truth,
with acceptance, and unwavering commitment to living in the light even on the darkest days.


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

©words and photo: Alexis Rose

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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      

Together We Will Dance In The Sun

When we hear I’m sorry, and we release each other from needless pain
I’ll help you color in your tattered soul with the colors of the rainbow.

Together we’ll run through the fields of flowers that we dreamed of when we shivered in the nights.

We’ll risk making a wish, and imagine that we break the chains
reject the monikers, and run into the sunlight
dive into the ocean waves, and laugh out loud.

We’ll forgive ourselves for the pain and suffering that we saw
and that we endured.

We’ll understand that being an object, a tool, a creature
is words that they said and that they are lies.

Then you and I will understand that we are real people.
Made out of the same star stuff as all the other people in the world.
With skin, and a heart, and a soul.

If we can learn to trust each other
then we can let go of the skeleton hands that try to pull us down.
The ghosts that visit our sleep
will dissipate and we can close our eyes, and exhale before sleep.

Although we may carry the scars we will be one, whole, harmonious, safe.

I don’t know how long it will take.
I don’t know how to trust you and have you trust me.
But I’m committed to figuring it out.
The faces of evil have not won.

I want to live in the light, blinders off, whole and peaceful.
You get to have the same thing.

And one day when we trust each other, and the rain has stopped
together we will dance in the sun.

©Alexis Rose, Photo by Tevin Trinh on Unsplash

From Protection to Art

Over an eight-year time span, I unpacked secrets hidden deep in my mind. Some secrets were repressed and some were just sitting in storage, never meant to be unpacked to see the light of day. But for me, I had to make the choice to face, process, accept, and resolve my past so I could continue to heal.

Throughout those eight years, I had given my therapist many, many things that I had saved from my childhood. Some of the items were pictures, a baggie of dirt, rocks, pieces of jewelry, gifts that identified places I had been, and a wooden baseball bat.

I saved all these things because I thought they were proof of what happened to me. I thought they were my smoking guns. My therapist described them as my breadcrumbs. He believed I unconsciously (and consciously) kept these mementos to help lead me back to my repressed past. When I would bring my “breadcrumbs” to him we would talk about them in detail. I got to a point with each one that I no longer needed them in my house. 

One day I brought him a heavy, professional grade bat that had been in my childhood home since the 70’s. This bat was my protection against the people I thought would come for me in the middle of the night. From the time I was young and for many decades since then, that bat lay under my bed.

The day I brought the bat to my therapist’s office I felt ready to relinquish it. I knew I had to learn to trust that I was safe in my home from past perpetrators. We talked a lot about the bat, and that day, feeling extreme anxiety, I left it with him and successfully learned how to fall asleep without that professional Brooks Robinson bat under my bed.

That was four years ago…

Last night I met with my former therapist for a quick post-therapeutic check-in. After 8 1/2 years of intense therapy, I still reach out from time to time. When we met he said, “I have something for you.” He handed me a piece of that old bat that he has sculpted into a wonderful and practical piece of art.

I was stunned! I just assumed he got rid of it. I didn’t think I would ever see any of my breadcrumbs again. They had met their purpose. I was able to give them to someone who completely “witnessed” my story and taught me the tools to feel safe.

Also, one day after giving him the last of my hidden items, (not the bat) he said, calmy but very assured, “There is your smoking gun.” That was the moment I felt free from needing anything to prove the what, where, who and how of my past.

Even though I felt immense relief when I gave up my squirreled away mementos, there were a couple of items that I still thought about every now and then. The things that I felt had empowered me. The bat was definitely one of them. I knew I needed to give these things up to release the hold they had on me, and their association with the past, but every now and then I had a bit of nostalgia for some of the things that helped me feel safe.

Holding this beautiful piece of polished wood in my hand yesterday I felt so many emotions. I felt cared about, I felt a safe connection to someone who knows my whole story, I felt elated that I could see this transformed bat for its new purpose, and I felt a little like I got a piece of my warrior super-power armor back. I don’t need it to protect me any longer, but it’s a wonderful feeling to look back with pride for how far I’ve come and to also acknowledge all the fabulous ways my mind helped me create a sense of safety during decades of living in fear.

From a hurt child’s object of protection into a practical piece of art, my professional Brookes Robinson wooden bat will continue to provide me with a sense of peace.

 

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