You’ll know when it’s time to share your story

So much has changed since my memoir was published nearly four years ago. Before I wrote the book, 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 have been in a poetic place with my writing lately. It’s been easier for me to express myself in poetry. It’s a way to get to the meat of my feelings. I absolutely love the creativity of poetry. It feeds my soul, it takes me to places where I say to myself, “If I could paint a picture, this is what it would look like.”

The other day someone said to me, “I like your writing because it comes from an emotional place, it’s about the feelings. That is exactly how I would describe my style of writing and speaking. I know that feelings are universal and relatable.

When I have speaking engagements, I focus on feelings, and how I’ve learned to live a purposeful life while struggling with PTSD. But, aside from my typical sentence of, “I’m a survivor of unimaginable abuse and neglect for the first 20 years of my life, followed by threats to stay silent for the next 17 years,” I have not shared much of my story while speaking in public.

I’m not ashamed of my past. I’m not ashamed of my story. It is the truth of what happened in my life, to me. I didn’t choose it; the people in my life made those choices to traumatize me. What I believed was, if I shared my story, maybe the audience would compare their trauma to mine. I was fearful that they would minimize what happened to them and how the effects of their trauma impacted their lives.  If I kept the conversation about feelings, emotions, and symptoms then survivors of trauma could relate to myself and each other. 

I’m real and honest when it comes to sharing what it’s like to live with my symptoms and the effects of my trauma, but that comes without much back-story. My PTSD is from prolonged and pervasive trauma. That’s as deep I get when doing presentations.

Recently, I began to ask myself, am I shaming myself back into silence because I feel my story is so unrelatable? Am I sharing enough of myself?

A few weeks ago, I heard a speaker at my son’s school talk to the kids about the choices he made in his life. His past was the stuff of movies.  I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, he’s so resilient and brave.” The audience was listening with respect. I keep in perspective that there may have been plenty of times in that speaker’s life where people have doubted his story. People have openly disbelieved me.

Tomorrow, I have an amazing opportunity to speak to a group at EmpowerSurvivors which is a peer-led organization of healing support and education for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and trauma. Elizabeth Sullivan, founder of the organization came to hear me speak to a college class a couple of weeks ago. At the end of my talk, the instructor asked Elizabeth if she would be willing to tell the class about her organization. With no notice, and nothing prepared Elizabeth got up, shared her personal story and told the class why she founded EmpowerSurvivors.  Just like the speaker at my son’s school, I had tremendous respect for her resilience and bravery, and for sharing her story to this large group of people.

Then it hit me! I’m in a place where I am ready to share. I’m ready to be vulnerable and celebrate my bravery and resilience. I know that my presentations, interviews, and events will be a lot richer if  I’m not inadvertently shaming myself into silence. I’m grateful for all the healing I’ve done. It’s enabled me to share with others that a person can not only survive, but thrive in spite of a horrific past, and  PTSD.  I instinctively know that tomorrow as I prepare to speak with a group of survivors that it’s time to share my story.

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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Thank You and Be Free, My Insecurities

I packed my bag of insecurities
and sent it floating down the river

I watched it hit the rocks
and get caught up in the swirling current
clinging; begging to stay
for just one more day
one more week
a few more years

I gently called to the baggage
“let go, move with the current
find open water
and be free”

My insecurities
have served their purpose
keeping me cocooned
in a place of quiet and fear

Until the day
I began to practice
setting boundaries
and showing my strength to others
instead of silently resisting
the fear of being alone

Then came the day
when I trusted; I knew
that I could take
those insecurities
those fears of saying, “no”
and send them down the river

I started with a few silent
notes on the current
until I grew stronger

Today with feet firmly
rooted on the ground
I packed those insecurities and thanked them
for all the ways they protected me
and brought them to the river

With an open heart, I watched as my baggage
let go of that last craggy branch
and floated gently on the current
to the open sea

I may run into that baggage again
as I move with the current of life

We’ll have a chat
and then just as old friends do
who live on different and distant shores
we’ll bid each other farewell
until we meet again

©Alexis Rose, Photo by Nathan Anderson 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 Gratitude of Friendship

When we get-together
and our first thought
is to give each other big-smushy hugs
because we are filled with the gratitude of friendship
it feels like the down of a favorite comforter.

Both of us present, talking authentically
about the stuff that matters
as the server quietly takes our plates.

Shoulders relaxed
we both exhale fully. We breathe…because
it’s safe
we get each other without judgment
total acceptance of who we each are.

When the tears well up in our eyes
and sometimes spill over because of life’s pain
or life’s happiness
it’s met with
open-heartedness and sweet empathy.

When the fear or suffering of illness
for ourselves or loved ones
comes sneaking into our lives
rest assured dear friend
that we are walking together, holding hands
on our sometimes dusty paths.

©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    

Dancer in the Sky

She moves through the sky
pirouetting on pointe

Long sinewy arms
gracefully stretching
the expanse

Flowing skirt billowing
and swaying
she moves effortlessly
through the air

So tall, so beautiful
she opens my mind
and soothes my soul

The wind shifts
and I watch her float away
dancing, morphing
into someone else’s picture in the clouds

Overhead
the deep blue stage stand empty
and bright

As I turn to walk away
I catch the white
of another dancer in the sky

©Alexis Rose, image source: Google

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

She Becomes A Lotus

Rising from the mud
Shaken by the moon that shines behind the shadow trees
She tenses and listens.

Hearing the leaves rustle in the wind
the cicadas hum, and the birds
flapping their goodnight wings
her mind feels tricked by the sounds of the night.

The humidity in the air creates
a slow-motion dance of fog
circling the dark shapes on the ground.
A chill, a shudder, and it’s over.
The night is over.

Now the sun hits her face, drying the mud.
Slowly, she turns around and walks away
knowing that without the mud
a lotus would never rise.

©Alexis Rose, Photo by Christopher Campbell 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    

Comfortably Uncomfortable

I am comfortably uncomfortable in this place of “knowing.”

Listening to the certainty that after a year of stasis, positive change is happening.

Trusting; comfortably uncomfortable resting in trust.

Pressing the pause button so I slowed down.  Uncomfortable as that is.

After stepping into a vortex of pushing beyond what’s healthy for me, hearing the words of lifelong friends truthfully saying to me, “you know your limitations and it’s okay.”

Knowing that it takes a long time to practice acceptance and self-compassion. That each day that I uncomfortably go there, I rewire my active lizard brain, contracted muscles, and tattered soul.

Mindfully taking the time to be active, to rest, to play, to listen, or to just be with no judgment.

I have developed a great amount of patience. I welcome the reality that right now I really do trust that all will be okay, and the season of stasis is coming to an end. And in that trust, while waiting, I am comfortably uncomfortable.

The angel who rests in the arms of the tree

Frozen in place by the chill of the night
the snow angel rests in the arms of the tree.

Gazing at her I wondered
Is she cold like me?
Are her insides in knots?
Does she worry if the sun will release her so she can fly away free?

Then I noticed that she was relaxed
trusting in the strength of the tree.
She lay there, face open, aimed at the sky
soaking in the beams of the sun.

I internalized how mindfully this angel rests
knowing she is protected
by the deer, the fox, and the tiger
protective and kind
gentle yet fierce.

In an awakened instant
I understood
that although she is frozen by the chill of the night
this is her time to rest.

I knew that just like the intense springtime sun
relief is actively occurring
melting my gridlocked existence of powerlessness away.

I hear in the depth of my soul, “All will be okay, soon!”

Walking away I knew that the time to trust is now
that the freedom to fly is just a snow-melt away.

Turning back to the angel who rests in the arms of the tree
I thanked her
for the gift of hope
a moment of peace
of unveiled clarity.

I think I saw the light shine brighter on her upturned face…
or was it the light shining brighter on me?

©Alexis Rose, photo: 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