Riding the Winds of Change

I experienced a profound and precious moment the other day. My kids are grown and have flown from the nest. They are making their way in the world and creating their own lives as adults with a lot of fortitude and grace. My youngest lives in a different state and is back for a few weeks this summer. From another room, I heard my kids talking to each other at the table. The easy cadence of siblings who had become friends brought a smile to my face. I closed my eyes for a moment and realized that lately, I have been riding the winds of change.

Change is a fact of life. Our bodies change, as do our cognitive abilities. Our circumstances change, the weather changes and so do the seasons. We change our minds, our clothes and our cell phones. Sometimes we embrace change, but sometimes change can feel daunting. The fear of the unknown and the anticipation of what might be can be paralyzing; the feeling of vulnerability can prevent us from moving forward.

But change is inevitable. I have been through an enormous amount of change in the past two years. Some of it was unanticipated and frightening, while some of it has been purposeful and has brought about a sense of freedom and peace.

Typically, when I enter a new decade I think about the goals I want to achieve for the next ten years. I am approaching a “big” birthday in August and instead of thinking about goals, I find myself thinking about what wonderful possibilities will open up in the next phase of life.

As retirement gets closer for some, and we experience the natural cycle of parents and in-laws passing away, the conversations I have with my friends has changed. Sometimes turning to the inevitable health scares we may be experiencing, as we collectively hold our breaths for one another until we hear the results of the test.

And still, many of us, including myself, feel ageless. We feel more confident about our bodies, and claim that confidence with the ease that alluded us in our younger decades. No longer trying to live up to society’s version of what size is beautiful.

I noticed that I’ve learned to embrace my ability to say, “no.” I’m calmer and much more confident in my writing and when I’m asked to speak to groups. I’ve learned to discern what is a fit for me as I continue to help support survivors of trauma and bring awareness to living with PTSD.

Change has brought the gift of new friends and has deepened the roots of long-time friendships. Change provides perspective. It has prepared me to understand when to let go, and when to fight. It has also taught me a great deal about self-respect and self-compassion. Beautiful, painful, and thought-provoking lessons.

I realize that nothing stays constant; there is always change, and that brings a sense of freedom and empowerment. Of late, that freedom has brought a sense of calmness. I’ve realized that part of experiencing a very lived life is catching the current and riding the winds of change.

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      

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The Shadow-Side

The shadow cocoons us
with the promise
of flat light and invisible details.

Sometimes looming ahead
sidled up next to us, stretching behind
living inside us all; The Shadow-side

It’s not necessarily a dark, dank
scary place to be ignored.
It is simply the Yin to our Yang.

A place where peace is felt from
the adventures of yesterdays
or a spark is ignited
for the risks of tomorrows.

The whispers of things we think
we don’t want to do or hear.
Patiently waiting for the light
so we can hear the things we need to know.

It can cloak us in a protective incubator
or feel as if it will swallow us
in the depths of grief, and despair.

Bending, changing, pulling, letting go, dissipating.
Its fluidity is as impermanent as all the other quirks
and talents that make up the whole of who we are.

We can learn to befriend, listen and hear
the messages whispered from our shadow-side.
Listen
Can you hear?
It’s time to turn your face towards the sun.

©Alexis Rose, image: Pixabay

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

 

 

She Listens With More Than Her Ears

She listens with more than her ears.
The light from her soul
and the joy
in her heart
illuminate the world around her.

Silently saying a prayer
she feels the comfortable beat of her heart
as she flows to the music within.

 

©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      

 

 

 

 

 

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

Hope from the Flowers

Buried
feeling as if I’m suffocating
thinking that it’s just a season
it’s long, it’s hard
but time-limited, like the seasons.

On guard from the howling, swirling wind
sounding like echos of the past
sinister laughs
then silence
dark, deep silence.

It could be worse
It’s only weather…weather the storm
I’ll forget the destruction
bury it deep, make it smaller
Until I discover it wasn’t
a storm that passed
it was me!

Invisible to the pain
the ruination of a person
a body, mind, soul
a girl, a woman
who wasn’t allowed to own her body.

Anxious, panicked
crying to myself, and asking
What do I do?
Why won’t this go away?
Why must the skeleton hands of the past
grab me and keep trying to pull me down?

Suddenly; it’s quiet
a lull in the blizzard winds
a pause in the crackling trees.

Looking down I see
bits of green making their way
through the snow.

The crocus and tulips
know to bloom again
they are determined to ignore
the storms, the cold, the wind
It is their purpose to bloom and grow.

I realize that I can take this lesson from the flowers.

I can persevere and grow
to speak, and speak again
to feel
to heal
to breathe in the gift, this gift of hope
hope from the flowers.

©Alexis Rose, image: Pixabay

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

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 walk through 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 continue to do for the rest of our lives. Some people may find themselves at 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 can be 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 knew 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 whatever it took to heal; continue healing. But I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness of the journey. Now I understand that without self-compassion, acceptance, and support it would be impossible to continue healing and growing.

When I feel that pain of loneliness, I remember why I chose to face 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

Image from the collaboration: Of Earth and Sky by Alexis Rose, 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      

You’re Not Invisible, I See You!

Do you see me?
Yes, yes I 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!

The injury of a frayed, and tattered soul, repaired
by being seen, being heard and loved.

Reminded and mirrored
that the truth of who
you are at your core
has always been there
it just needed acknowledgment
and tender loving care.

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!

The pain and suffering
eased by a witness who
listens with respect
with belief, sadness, and anger
at the injustice of what had been.

Learning to trust that your
frayed and tattered soul
is safe, and it’s okay to mend.
To cease inserting that second arrow.

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!

With compassion, tenderly nurture
your present and future self.
Connect and attach
begin to feel whole.

Breathe…rest in it as long as you can.
Let yourself be one.
Exhale, knowing that injuries heal
frayed edges become softer, and the light will begin to shine through.

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.

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