Tag Archive | survivor

An Agile Survivor

I was fine
Then it seems I wasn’t

What happened?

Seems I forgot
Then I remembered

Okay – now what?

My quirks began to make sense
to me, my family and friends

Am I irreparably damaged?
No, no I’m not
but there are limitations

They don’t define me
but it’s hard and confusing
to understand what that really means

Acceptance, self-compassion
understanding

So now what?

I work on healing
exploring new ways to live
within my limitations

Knowing the skeleton hands
may come and go
stress and health
ebb and flow, sometimes taking away hours
teaching me to notice the gift of perfect moments
of  breath, peace, and exhaled contentment

I wasn’t fine
Now I am – at this moment
I recognize and I’m grateful for impermanence

What happened?

I live the potential
embrace the possibility
and embody compassionate healing

I become who I am ~ who I always was
not broken, not fragile
An Agile Survivor

©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      

 

My PTSD – A Poem

Like so many others who live with PTSD or other chronic illness, people often ask me, “What does it feel like?”

My PTSD 

It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, hot, sunny, snowing  or raining

There is no telling when it’s going to strike.

Are they alive or dead?

Is that pain real or echoes from pain long ago that

Resurface with a memory?

It’s like being held hostage by your mind

Thinking that today would be the day I am free.

I look like everyone else

I know the difference between right and wrong.

Yet in my head, I sometimes can’t remember

The last ten minutes of my life, or what day, year or time it is.

Are those smells real or is that a smell from a place and time

when I was being held against my will.

Am I really hearing the sounds of helicopters, planes, cicadas or birds

Or it that the sound coming from a place that no longer exists and

Should never be talked about?

I want so much to be like everyone else.

So I will keep pulling myself up the rope,

Out of the clutches of PTSD and all the skeleton hands of the past that

Keep trying to pull me down.

I am like everyone else only my job is to live so I can live.

For now, that’s all I can ask of myself if I am going to have a future.

my PTSD

©Alexis Rose, photo: pixabay

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

 

The Woman Sitting in the Dark

Who is that woman sitting in the dark?

A mom, wife, friend

She is a survivor.

A reader, writer, hiker, dreamer

She is struggling.

A hopeful, helpful, optimistic. compassionate light

She is too weary to turn on the lights
or care about the monsters in her dreams.

A woman who works tirelessly to embrace her life
live in the truth, recognize joy. 

Where did she go? 

That’s her, over there, sitting in the dark.

Waiting…just waiting for the light of dawn.

sorrow-699608_960_720

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

image source: Pixabay

Whether it’s Daisy’s or Weeds it’s Still Your Life

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 (flashbacks, fear, anxiety, hypervigilance, helplessness, and hopelessness) 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. I understand where they come from, and why they are happening and I can use the tools I have to cope and move through the waves. Sometimes, it’s easier than other times.

What I have now is awareness. That awareness makes it easier for me to stay in the present.  I don’t live in the past, but just like everyone else, I am partly who I am because of my past experiences. What I choose to do with that information is up to me.

I maintain that now, I live in the present because I know my truth. Before, I was too busy both consciously and unconsciously trying to bury, forget, and believe that I wasn’t worthy enough to have a lived life, whatever it looked like.

So when people care, and with love and affection innocently ask, “Are You sure you want to remember your past?” I can say back, with equal love and affection, “Yes, I do want to 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

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…

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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.

Learning to live with, not fight against my symptoms

I’m in the throes of fighting against my PTSD symptoms. I’m extremely angry at them at the moment. There are some things going on in my life that I want to change and my symptoms are preventing me from making the changes in a way that makes me feel useful.

I want to stop the flashbacks, hypervigilance, anxiety, depression and other assorted symptoms of my PTSD. When I finished therapy last spring, my therapist helped me understand that I was still going to be living with symptoms. He felt that I didn’t  need therapy any longer because I had reached a point where I had processed the memories, worked through the feelings, and emotions, and had mastered the distress tolerance tools I had learned over the course of the 8 years we worked together. He did the best he could to help me understand that I would still be quite affected by symptoms, that it was okay, that I was okay, and that it was because of the effects of the trauma. I didn’t like hearing that but was determined to find a way to live with my symptoms. Maybe we could form some sort of symbiotic relationship?

I want to work! I want to be able to work more than two hours a day without my brain getting overwhelmed and shutting down. This is a symptom that I fight against continuously. I have the wonderful opportunity to do some marketing for two wellness centers. I’m extremely grateful for this work and the very generous owners. Most of the time, I can accept that this is what I’m able to do right now. It’s not much, but it keeps me employed in a way that helps them, and brings me contentment. The other day,  a friend looked at me and said, “you’re underemployed!” Immediately, I felt the tapes of worthlessness, laziness, can’t get better, begin to play and my fragile balance of living with my symptoms turn into a self-esteem fight.

I’m also fighting against the fact that for me, there are triggers, triggers everywhere. I was asked to go on a night hike in a beautiful snowy field the other night with a friend who I know always has my back. The sky was clear and it was one of the serene landscapes. I saw the dark woods surrounding the field way off in the distance, and my heart and head panicked. I wanted to go, to ignore my symptoms, but my panic took over, and I heard myself saying, “no, I’m scared” over and over again. I was so mad at my symptoms.

These are just a  couple of examples that have been front and center this past week. These incidences put me into a fight-zone with PTSD. It’s not useful, nor helpful and really all it does is exasperate all my symptoms.

Recognizing that I’m frustrated right now creates some space and gives me the room to name it, rail against it for a moment (if I really feel the need) then rest and move back into acceptance. I’m still a work in progress and rarely lose hope that things will get better. They are already better (different)  than they were six months ago.

But right now…I’m in the throes of fighting against not living with my symptoms.

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

Seeing the Pain in Someone Else’s Eyes

They look so serene sitting straight, hands slightly clenched, gently laying in their lap.

The cadence of their voice is slow, even, steady, and clear.

The conversation flows.

But when you look into their eyes
the pain of hidden burdens echoes from the windows
of their soul.

You lock in, trying to console the dark, deep pain
that oozes quietly, insidiously trying to erode
their dreams of tomorrow.

Giving comfort with a nod, and a gentle smile,
mirroring a silent acceptance of who they are.

Reassuring them that they are seen
and letting them know that as time passes
it will be okay, that they are okay.

Please don’t turn away; look deep
see and respectfully acknowledge
the pain in someone else’s eyes.

Image source: Pixabay

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