A New Road? ~ Let’s Take It!

It has been four years since I began my blog. Wow! Time snuck up on me. Thank-You to everyone who has clicked the follow button or just stopped by for a moment for a quick read. I always appreciate a follow, a like and a comment, or even a pass-through. I have had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people here on WordPress. And even when some of them no longer choose to blog, we have remained connected through email and messenger.

I love everything about blogging. I love the connectedness; the variety of writers, the amazing group of survivors that have taught me that, not only am I not alone but that I can be a touchstone for someone at a time in their lives when they need to know they are seen, heard, and cared about. Peer support in our blogging community looks and means different things to all of us, but it can offer amazing and real connections.

About a year ago, I wondered if I could muster up some courage and begin to support survivors in a different way. I began to trust that I had come far enough on my healing journey, that I could use my voice in a more confident way to provide support and hope to survivors of trauma.

This past year, I’ve had several opportunities to speak about living with PTSD. Because of these opportunities, I have met some astounding advocates for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and trauma.  I have learned that there are many different and successful programs and support that are offered in conjunction with traditional therapy.

One of the biggest lessons I learned this year is the importance of peer-to-peer support organizations. For many people, a group where they are supported by thriving survivors after going through their own dark, ruddy road of healing can help bridge the gap between therapy sessions. Or for many, peer-led support may be the first time a person realizes that they no longer have to suffer in silence. They are feeling heard, have a safe place to tell their story, and can get help finding resources.

This past summer, after getting to know one of the local non-profit organizations I was asked to join their team. As they enter their sixth year, they found the demand for services has grown beyond what the director can manage on her own.

At first, I was reluctant to accept. Imposter syndrome and self-doubt came out loud and strong! I just couldn’t get myself to believe that I would have anything useful to offer this successful organization. Then, I stopped myself. I began to accept that there was no way the director of the program would ask me to join the team if she didn’t think I could contribute. So, I accepted. I joined the team of EmpowerSurvivors in September.

I have always used the metaphor of climbing a mountain when I speak or write about my healing journey. The more I’ve healed, the metaphor has changed to roads instead of mountains. I like to take different roads as they appear in the distance. Being a part of EmpowerSurvivors is definitely a new and wonderful road and…I’ll take it!

 

image source: madhu-shesharam-unsplash

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

Parenting with PTSD

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      

What Do Caregiver’s Need?

I am a person who has caregiver’s in my life. I’m extremely grateful for the support I have in my life. They understand that it is nearly impossible for me to carry the weight of the effects of my trauma alone, and they bring beautiful empathy and compassion.

Lately, I’ve been pondering the question, what do caregiver’s want and need when living with, caring for, or loving a person with a physical, emotional, mental, or chronic illness? This group is often left out of the care plan. They are our unsung heroes. The friends, family and support team who, without them, we would flounder.

When I was struck with PTSD  my whole world turned upside down.  As with any illness, it doesn’t just affect me, my illness affects my whole family. My symptoms can be challenging for my family, friends and support team.  They have taken the time to learn about trauma and PTSD and are right there to help me live the most “normal” life I can lead right now. No one, ever, makes me feel that I’m a burden. Feeling like a burden is my own personal demon that I fight on a daily basis.

But what do caregivers need when living with, loving, befriending or working with a person who has a chronic, physical or mental illness?

My husband loves it when I go out of town for a few days. He has respite. People ask why don’t we travel together? Well, really, he needs a break. When I’m gone his worries are less. He deserves all the pizza, binge-watching sci-fi,  just hanging out, no worry days he can get. It’s what he needs so he can recharge. He doesn’t ask me to go out of town, but when a situation arises and he feels comfortable with my traveling companion, he encourages me to go. When I’m gone, we stay in contact every day, and he’s thrilled when I come back home,  but he needs that respite.

He also belongs to an online support group for caregivers of someone with PTSD. At first, I will admit, I was fearful that he was talking to other caregivers. I soon realized that it was my own immense guilt I was feeling and transferring to him. I felt like, I drove my husband, who had no interest at all in computers or anything to do with social media into needing support from strangers online. I quickly got over that, because he needs support.  He needs to be speaking to people who get the day-to-day challenges of living with someone with PTSD.

When I ask my family, friends, support system what can I do? What do you need? The answer is always the same, and I think appropriate. They say, “you don’t need to do anything but keep healing. You’re doing great, you are doing exactly what you need to be doing.” I believe that’s the best answer to give someone living with an illness. Our job is to cope with, heal, and live a contented life within our deficits. We have to trust our caregivers will get the support they need so they can have the same kind of happiness in life.

So, my question is: If you are (or were) a caregiver, family member, part of a support system, or a friend of someone with a physical, mental, emotional or chronic illness, What do you need?

 

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

An Amazing Interview Opportunity 

I have never broken from using my pen name on my blog until this post. I was honored to be interviewed by this fabulous show a few months ago and I noticed it’s on youtube so I thought I would share it with you.

One of the reasons I agreed to be interviewed is that one of the hosts is a teenager who asked some wonderful, poignant questions about what to do if a friend is being abused.

There are two parts (both really short). Please Take a listen. I hope you enjoy it.

Behind the Voices – w/ Alexis Rose (part one).  https://youtu.be/SPzLnyNkJyQ

Behind the Voices – w/ Alexis Rose (part two). https://youtu.be/M_z75TW7SWE

What do the Caregivers Need?

I’m currently collaborating on a new book. As we were outlining the chapters, we added a chapter addressing the question, What do caregiver’s want and need when living with, caring for, or loving a person with a physical, emotional, mental, or chronic illness? I think it will be a wonderful addition to the book. This group is often left out of the care plan. They are our unsung heroes. The friends, family and support team who, without them, we would flounder.

When I was struck with PTSD  my whole world turned upside down.  As with any illness, it doesn’t just affect me, my illness affects my whole family. My symptoms can be challenging for my family, friends and support team.  They have taken the time to learn about trauma and PTSD and are right there to help me live the most “normal” life I can lead right now. No one, ever, makes me feel like I’m a burden. That’s my own personal demon that I fight and live with on a daily basis.

But what do caregivers need when living with, loving, befriending or working with a person who has a chronic, physical or mental illness?

My husband loves it when I go out of town for a few days. He has respite. People ask why don’t we travel together? Well, really, he needs a break. When I’m gone his worries are less. He deserves all the pizza, late night t.v., just hanging out, no worry days he can get. It’s what he needs so he can recharge. He doesn’t ask me to go out of town, but when a situation arises and he feels comfortable with my traveling companion, he encourages me to go. It’s just a couple of times a year, we stay in contact every day, and he’s thrilled when I come back home,  but he needs that respite.

He also belongs to an online support group for caregivers of someone with PTSD. At first, I will admit, I was fearful that he was talking to other caregivers. I soon realized that it was my own immense guilt I was feeling and transferring to him. I felt like, I drove my husband, who had no interest at all in computers or anything to do with social media into needing support from strangers online. I quickly got over that, because he needs support.  He needs to be speaking to people who get the day-to-day challenges of living with someone with PTSD.

When I ask my family, friends, support system what can I do? What do you need? The answer is always the same, and I think appropriate. They say you don’t need to do anything but keep healing. You’re doing great, you are doing exactly what you need to be doing. I think that’s the best answer to give someone living with an illness because our job is to cope with, heal, and live a contented life within our deficits. We have to trust our caregivers will get the support they need so they can have the same kind of happiness in life.

So, my question is: If you are (or were) a caregiver, family member, part of a support system, or a friend of someone with a physical, mental, emotional or chronic illness, What do you need?

 

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

 

Do You Have a Corner Coach?

“You’re a hard stick.” I hear those words each time I have blood drawn. Yesterday, after four sticks, for five tubes of blood, and a very upset phlebotomist, I found myself cheering her on, telling her she can do it, she’ll have a great day once she’s found a vein, all you need is confidence. I was determined to have her shake it off and find a vein because she was the only one working yesterday; she couldn’t pass me on to a co-worker and I was not going to come back another day, to hear the same words, “You’re a hard stick.” That’s the kind of stress I prefer to only have once a year if possible, not two days in a row. She finally found a blood-giving vein and off I went, hoping to never lay eyes on her again!

I love the term corner coach. I used it with my kids growing up. When they were nervous about a test, activity, any kind of fear before the unknown, I would encourage them on, telling them, I’ve got you, I’m your corner coach. It’s a term I’ve used with my kids, but haven’t asked for it in my own life until recently.

I whole-heartedly believe that learning to live with a chronic illness takes support. Support can come in many forms. It can be family, friends, pets, therapists, a supportive blogging community, whatever feels safe and supportive. Making changes, transformations, living with an illness, healing from trauma is a lonely journey, but as I’ve said many, many times it doesn’t have to be an alone journey.

I work very hard to accept that I’m living with an illness, I’m living with PTSD. It doesn’t define me, but it is part of what I cope with on a daily basis.  With this acceptance comes doubt, nervousness, sometimes feeling defeat and extreme exhaustion. There are times when I just want to sit down in the middle of the ring, have the referee give me an 8-count and quit the fight. That’s when I need a corner coach.

There are times, when I look at my therapist and say, “I just need you to be my corner coach right now.” He gets it, says all the correct, “I’m proud of you, you can do it, you’re doing great, you’re kicking-ass kind of things. I’m then able to stand up and can get back into the ring of life again.

There are times when I say to my friends, I need you to cheer me on right now. It’s easy to trust my therapist and ask him to do that. It’s been a steep learning curve to ask my friends and family. I always had that role. The happy, you can do it, I’m right there beside you role. But I’m learning that I have to ask my friends and family for that kind of support. To infuse confidence, to see me, hear me, rest with me, hold my hand, go out and play a bit.  It’s what I need right now.

I’m exhausted from eight years of complex-PTSD, but I’m stronger and determined to feel times of contentment and peace more and more in my life. One of the reasons I’m stronger is because I know I need to have corner coaches.  Do you have people or animals in your life who will get you back in the ring, or sit down beside you and rest with you, letting you know that you’re okay? Do you have a corner coach?

image source: pexels

 

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