On the Flip Side of Hell: Closure for Self

My life is wonderful right now. I don’t say this to brag, I say this to inspire.

If you’ve read some of my poetry or a few of my previous blogs, my life has not always been this great. In the past, my life has downright sucked everyone and everything I’ve known into spiraling chasms of hopelessness, anger, fear, and overall negativity. However, after many years of climbing up out of the rock bottom I’d fallen to, I can quite truthfully say, “I am happy. Life is good.” Rather than it being something I’m trying to convince myself of, I really mean it. Life is good.

Finally.

This journey has not been easy.

It wasn’t until I started to experience the power of genuine love from genuine people that I began to understand just how horribly toxic the relationships in my past were. I didn’t understand that I thought myself fully incapable of being loved or giving love.

To be fair, when we’re younger, things like love seem like they should be so much easier. Right or wrong, we’re all given a general morality compass by the people who raise us, including how to love and be loved. If I would have followed the direction of the compass that was given to me, I wouldn’t be in the place I am right now. I would be so much more miserable if I’d kept stumbling along blindly. Once I woke up and took a look around, the path I had found myself on was terrifying and full of chaos.

I had to stop and analyze why I was behaving in such self destructive ways. There was a point in my late 20’s where I suddenly realized I hated myself, and the people around me were miserable because they didn’t know how to talk to me or handle me. I didn’t know how to talk to me or handle me. I’d been told I couldn’t have children and that information had devastated my already fragile psyche. That information also set me on a path to complete transformation of life, though I had no idea at the time.

Addiction crept into my life as I turned to prescription opiates to numb the pain of a complete mental breakdown. It took a near overdose to wake me up and make me see that my life was a mess and I was the only person who could fix it. Until that point, I hadn’t really taken the time to explore the things that broke me. Holding onto blame, guilt for my mistakes, and self-hatred became normal, even in self talk. I was too busy trying to push forward through life like a bull in a china shop.

I needed to change the trajectory of my life or I would have ended up dead.

I had to face the truths that I had been too scared to face. I needed to teach myself how to be a healthy person and how to love who I was instead of hating who I’d become. As I took a hard look at the behaviors that needed changing, I had to pinpoint where I learned each negative or destructive behavior and reprogram myself, reparent myself, and love myself through it.

Being diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder gave me so much clarity and gave me a jumping point from where to begin working. Work it has been. The hardest work of my whole life.

I’ve spent a lot of time in PTSD land. Flashbacks, night terrors, visions, and horrible vivid lucid dreams plagued my sanity on a daily basis for over a year (or perhaps longer). Through learning and discovery, they’ve slowed significantly- becoming weekly, then monthly, and now, 5 years later, I’m lucky if I get two flashbacks or visions in a year. I’m so proud of this progress I’ve made for myself. I get to be proud of that, because nobody else could do that work for me.

I’ve talked the trauma, my emotions, the lack of rationale for it all to death with therapists, friends,  family, and my journal. That time in my life when my brain kept taking me back to past trauma was, quite honestly, absolute hell. I couldn’t look at the people who hurt me without wanting to scream at them or hurt them or shake them vigorously. I couldn’t think about those people, my parents in particular, without wanting to rage and destroy everything I touched. It has been years of physically and emotionally reliving the trauma of sexual, physical, emotional, and psychological abuse again. And again. And again.

Do you have any idea how it feels to mourn the loss of parents who are still very much physically alive? Do you know how it feels to let go of  basic expectations you’ve had your entire life for the people who raised you? Do you know how it feels to learn that you hate yourself because your own mother told you daily as a child that your existence on this planet is an inconvenience to everyone, that you are a waste of space, and then proceeded to withhold love from you and abuse you? Do you know how disgusting it feels to continue yearning for that love, to continue trying even as an adult with choices, just to keep finding devastation? It’s agonizing, heartbreaking, and any other synonyms for painful you can find. It’s terrible. Words can’t even express the depth and level of pain that exists in that place.

Once I went “no contact” with my mother, all of the layers of brainwashing, all of the layers of grime that had been piled upon my back- it all started to fall off. Revealed beneath were layers with more and more scars. I do not, and will not, ever regret cutting out of my life something that was causing me such deep and prolonged harm.

I will be staying “no contact”, a resolute silence to maintain peace and sanity in my life. Best. Decision. Ever.

As I’ve gotten answers and clarity about the past from family members, I’ve come to a better understanding about what happened all those years ago. I’ve come to realize that I was brainwashed to believe, feel, and act certain ways, and that nothing that happened to me as a child was my fault. I could not have changed it. In fact, I blamed myself for too many things that were not mine to take responsibility for, for way too long, including trying to find love where it never truly existed.

Getting to the other side of that pain and still being alive, still thriving, and finding happiness has been the sweetest reward. Finding love within myself and the true love of family has been beautiful.

Even better, the people I now have around me are happy, positive people. I love my family of misfits. It’s never a cake walk. We have struggles and mountains to overcome each and every day and we do. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes feelings get hurt. But no one in this new family resorts to violence or petty, catty behavior when things don’t go their way. We talk it out and address the issues head on. Conversations can happen without fear of being manipulated or made fun of. Honesty in self is what has become most important in attaining and giving respect and finding harmony.

Supporting each other, celebrating with each other, being real with each other, not sugar coating things but not intentionally hurting each other, protecting each other, defending each other, finding the positive spin on things- that’s what this new family I’ve been blessed to be a part of does.

I don’t know if I’ll ever find true, 100% forgiveness toward those who really screwed up my childhood and messed with my brain and took liberties with my body. And you know what, I think that’s okay. However,  I intend to let it go. Those challenges made me who I am today and so I have the tools to get through all manner of struggle because of the pain I’ve endured. It does not mean I need to be okay with the fact it all happened or have those people in my life ever again. I just accept that it’s one part of a larger picture and something I can’t change.

A blog post about closure wouldn’t be complete without addressing this, though. I was married to a man for almost 7 years that I never should have married. While things were okay at the beginning, we started to grow in different directions instead of together. Lacking the proper tools to navigate a healthy relationship, we were mean to each other and we hurt one another. Deeply. We’ve been divorced now for 5 years. I would have never been able to find the healing that I’ve found if we’d have stayed together. He’s happier, I’m happier, and it’s now a part of the past. Chapter closed.

What I have learned, and what I keep learning, is that I am my strongest defender of myself. I am the only person who can love me the way that I can and I’m grateful every single day to have found that for myself. I only hope I can teach my daughter how important it is to love herself so she can spend her time doing amazing things in this world rather than waste it feeling insecure or unloved.

Yeah, it turns out, I can have children, and, with the right person, I created a little one. I truly feel like I needed to make the journey I did in order to be blessed with the beautiful presence of my daughter.

There will be no book outlining the atrocities of my childhood. I’ve tried at least a dozen times to write it and put it together, but the idea of hurting people with my words, even if the characters in real life are toxic and horrible, makes me feel like I am less than what I know myself to be capable of. Hurting them will hurt me. Opening it all up to public scrutiny will just create a situation in my life that I don’t want to handle. My entire life would be consumed with the stories of the past and I would have a harder time than ever moving on.

I’m simply closing the book of the past, the one with the well worn, tear stained pages that I’ve read through a million times to find healing. It’s time to write chapters in the fresh pages of a new today and an exciting tomorrow. It’s time to embrace the wonder, magic, and positive beauty that has become my life.

Bring it on!!

 

Raising a Daughter: Hopes and Fears

After years of being told by doctors that I wouldn’t conceive or carry a child of my own, I’m happy to say that, at 34 years old, I’m 7 months pregnant. We found out in December that we’re having a girl. My entire life has been twisted and turned upside down. Change is not something that is or ever has been easy for me. Now, everything is going to be different than I’d planned. I get it. Life is always what happens when we’re busy making other plans. While it will be amazing to be a mom (something I thought I’d never get to experience), I’m also terrified on so many levels. My dreams are haunted with a variety of insecurities, driven by hormones and a brain preparing to launch into “mom mode”.

People are well meaning in their advice when it comes to mom worries. I get a lot of “worrying is normal when you’re a mom and a sign of being a good parent.” I hate that my brain ruminates on certain things almost to the point of obsession. I feel insane sometimes with worry, and rather than feel normal, I’m scared, uncertain, afraid. Underneath the worries of how I’ll care for my daughter financially, how I’ll make sure she has medical care, a good education, opportunities I never had, etc., are the worries of raising a mentally sound daughter in a world that is harsh, cruel, and mean. How do I raise her up to love herself and value herself if I still have a difficult time with that for myself? How do I help her socialize when I mistrust the world so much? How do I give her a good, healthy example, let her be true to who she is, and protect her from the evils of the world without overly protecting her or, worse, alienating her? How do I stay true to my beliefs while instilling in her that she can discover her own way, her own path?

There was so much violence and anger in my childhood that I worry it will spill out of me and onto her in some way, even though I’m not a violent or angry person generally. I’ve been known to spiral out of control with rage, sadness, or desperation, though it’s been a couple of years since I’ve had an episode. I worry that certain milestones in her life will trigger certain things within my mind and will influence my actions somehow. I worry that she will inherit a genetic disposition toward anxiety, depression, addiction, or other mental illnesses that run in my family. These are all things I take so seriously.

My greatest hope is that she will never have to endure the things I had to endure. I hope that no evil person takes advantage of her sweet soul to gain access to her body. I hope that she will never know physical, emotional, or mental manipulation or violation. Ever. I also hope that she will be better, do better, and want better for her life than I ever thought myself deserving of. I try desperately not to project too much onto a little life that I haven’t met yet, but it helps to think of how loved, cherished, and protected she will be. This little girl is coming into a world where there are no preconceived notions of who she should be. Rather we’re all anxiously awaiting to see who she WILL be so we can help her to cultivate the best version of herself.

I know without hesitation that she will have my love. The overwhelming love already bubbles up into my throat and into the tears that flow down my face at times. Recently a friend told me, “She already has more than you ever had as a child.” That made me cry because of the truth involved. I was not loved by my parents. I was used, abused, hated, resented, degraded, and treated like an inconvenience the majority of the time. This little girl will not experience or know that feeling. Not with me protecting her, guiding her, and loving her daily the best way I know how.

In the end, no matter what my insecurities or fears may be, I know that by trying my best, she will know happiness. I know that I will sometimes fail to reach my own expectations. I know that I am imperfect and sometimes (oftentimes) a mess. All I can do is try my best to be a person that my daughter can be proud to call “Mom”.

Somehow I know that it will be good enough, that I will be good enough and strong enough to deserve this rare and precious gift of love.

IMG_7809

The force is strong with this little one. (Me at 28 Weeks)

 

 

 

Life Truth: Fears and Lessons Learned

I am afraid…

Of not being ENOUGH, but of also being TOO MUCH

Of a stale and wasted life

Of my mind and what it does to me without my permission

Of the darkness inside that threatens to consume me

Of making immature and foolish mistakes that will cost me dearly

Of being mislead, manipulated, and violated again by someone I trust

Of failing myself when it comes to personal goals

Of hurting or disappointing people that I respect and love

Of being unlovable, uninteresting, unintelligent, uninspiring

Of having or wanting anything tangible, anything that can be taken away

I have learned (sometimes the hard way)…

That codependency and mental differences run in my gene pool and are the result of things that are not and were not my fault

That I struggle with forgiveness of myself and others

That though people will hurt me along the way, most people have good intentions where a few do not

That I am not a fragile, but strong woman who has survived horrible things and lived to talk about it

That I have a voice and perspective unique to me that forms my contribution to this world

That I need to be patient with myself in a way nobody has ever been or ever will be

That healing is a journey that takes time and I need to respect that

That living life being honest with myself is THE hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s also the most rewarding

That, sadly, finding other people who are also living life honestly is a rare thing indeed

That it takes time to overcome the above fears to live a fruitful and wonderful life

Anxiety: The Jerk Who Never Leaves

Anxiety, you little devil, you.

You creep into my head and crawl into my body at the most inopportune times and in the most random places.

I’m aware of your sneaky little ways of demolishing my confidence: the racing heart, the frantic mind, the shaking hands and queasy stomach that settle in as unexpected panic clutches on to my chest.

Suddenly, anxiety, you become my primary focus. You make yourself the priority of thought and awareness without my consent.

My life has become a list of simple checks and balances, to ensure that you and your close pal depression don’t stand in my way. Along this journey, the two of you have done quite a number on me and my friends, you big bullies.

After a lifetime of battling you, I recognize you for what you are and I am able to stop you most times before you manage to completely ruin living for me.

I know you well and I know your weaknesses. I’ve come to realize that there are things I can do to push you away, albeit with much resistance.

You’re not a fan of oxygen, I’ve come to find after numerous incidents of barreling my way outside to gulp it down as though suffocated during a panic attack. The fresh air rushing through my lungs always brings me back to present.

You really despise my support system. Encouraging words and confidence boosters from those closest to me tend to make you shrink down in size and comically shake your fist. You’re nothing in the face of self-esteem.

You’re not too keen on mantras and meditation, as I find that I can be rid of you with the power of concentrated positive thoughts alone after years of working to perfect the art. You no longer have a presence in my comfortable zones of life and that is as a result of growing in my own strength of self.

No, you choose to assault me when I least expect it, when I least want or need you around, and when my defenses are down.

You like to bury yourself as a seed in irrational anger, fear, and an imagined, heightened sense of danger. You like to take control of my thoughts so that I seemingly self destruct as you grow in size and become drunk on the power of your presence. I sound crazy when I try to tell people it’s all your fault, because they can’t see you. That’s why your plans work out so well.

When I’m excited about something new, you take the form of “what if” and “why bother”.

When I go out into public, especially large groups of public, you do your best to make me appear insane. I need to find a quiet place to pause and breathe to regain my center and that is not easy to do casually, without seeming frantic.

Muddling my brain, you make natural disasters totally seem imminent and I panic. You press upon me the potential chaos of being in a space with so many other people. After all, the IQ level in a crisis is zero when there’s mass hysteria. Damn the psychology classes for reiterating that as fact to you, who soaks up catastrophic details like a sponge.

Oh, as well as I know you, anxiety, you’ve come to know me too.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever be completely free.

A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime

“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you’ll know exactly what to do.” – Michelle Ventor 

Reason 

There was a point, in my younger days, where it would really upset me to “lose” people who I took the time to get close to. I now realize that fear is what lead me toward relying on people who were not good for me. Several of the friendships I’d obtained through the years were not healthy. They bordered on co-dependency and were based on a skewed sense of security. Tough as that was, I also had this habit of holding onto people who needed me in some way, to the point of becoming a complete doormat in the process.

Looking back, the loss of those relationships was a necessity, as they were based in toxicity, false identity, and a need to have control over everything.  I saw a reflection of myself in the people I’d befriended that I did not like or understand. Though it was a time of my life full of turmoil, constant fighting, and pain, I’ve come to find the lesson in why we became friends in the first place: to know what NOT to do.

Season 

I now understand that people go different ways in life and sometimes have to take a different path that can’t be followed. It doesn’t mean that the time we shared together making memories, or the moments where we spilled our deepest secrets was all for naught. I’ve learned a lot of valuable things from each person I let inside my heart and I hope they learned a thing or two from me. That’s the way friendship is supposed to work. True friendship will never be lost, no matter where the road leads any of us.

Some people really are just in our lives for a short period of time to touch our hearts briefly. I’ll always cherish those who have taken a few moments of their time to poke their heart into mine to make life a little brighter or more manageable.

Lifetime  

Upon reminiscing, I find that I still occasionally speak to friends from the past, though we’re not as close as we once were. I still meet my best friend from Jr. High for lunch with her horde of children once or twice a year. I catch up with one of my closest childhood friends via Facebook every few months. I hear from a few others every couple of years. Those blasts from the past remind me of more innocent times and keep me aware of the changes that life can take.

I also have friendships where we dropped contact and picked right back up, years later, practically where we left off. These friendships have grown over time and, as we’ve learned more about the world around us, they have blossomed into something wonderful. I can’t imagine not being friends with these people who empower each other and create a better, more accepting place. Although the number is few, the blessings are many.

We all have lifetime friends that we’ll never, ever give up on. They teach us about loyalty and fighting and pushing each other to be better people.

That’s what friendship means to me. 

A History of Running Away

One of my favorite movies is “Runaway Bride” starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.

In the movie, Maggie (Roberts) has a history of running away from each fiancee moments before she’s supposed to walk down the aisle to get married. Eventually after much introspection and self exploring, Maggie discovers that she runs away because she never truly revealed her actual nature, instead being a version of herself that each man wanted her to be. She ran away to avoid them discovering that she was being a watered down, fraudulent version of herself.

By finding a person who saw right through her in Ike (Gere), Maggie had to take time to seek and discover just what she had been running from. She ends up finding that the person she actually is happens to be totally lovable.

And they live happily ever after. *awwww*

Oh if only real life worked that way. I totally can relate.

The truth is, after years of being a chameleon and pretending to be what I think the world wants me to be, it’s not easy or simple to change into a place of acceptance of self.

It’s a lot of work undoing years of stomped down self worth and images falsely presented to others around me. While the acknowledgement that something needs to change is like this immediate “ah ha!” moment, the actual change takes time.

How much time depends on the individual. My journey is still ongoing, although I’m more at peace in the truth of who I am now than I’ve been at any point in my life.

I run away when I can’t maintain an image that others hold me to. To be fair, that image is one I’ve let them have of me or even offered up as a version of me. I run away before a person gets to know me fully because I’m afraid they won’t like the real me.  I run away when I lie and I’m afraid to get busted. I run away when I’m scared. I run away when I feel unaccepted. I run away when I can’t hold on anymore.

I’ve run away when the situation warrants it, and held on to things I’ve shouldn’t. Mistakes made, lessons learned the hard way.

Lately I’ve been learning to stay, to face the mistakes I’ve made and fix them if I can, and learning to accept when there just has been too much damage done to go back and repair it. I’m learning that staying is not such a bad thing, and people should get to know me… because I’m actually quite awesome.

All I can do is live for now the best way I can, and that’s to end my cycle of running away from every gosh darn thing out of fear.

The journey has been about learning to love myself, accept myself, and understanding that the real me is good enough, no matter the circumstances. I dig the person I’m getting to know inside… and she actually happens to be totally lovable.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is this: When faced with adversity, we can do one of two things. Fight or flight. You would think flight would be easier, but no. It’s equally as hard, if not harder than fighting. At least with fighting, there’s a chance of winning with timely evidence and discussion. Fleeing, while a temporary and sometimes necessary escape, just prolongs the inevitable backlash for which time and pain has taken away the ability to be heard and the validity of argument. Sometimes flight is essential. Sometimes flight is best.

But I’ve found a history of running away to be a most difficult journey.

Scary Truth: Feeling Alone

There’s a loneliness in struggling with mental illness and the healing process that is little talked about, little discussed. Ruminating thoughts, stuck places, out of control spirals, rages, arguments with yourself- It’s so difficult to keep going when the demons won’t let you.

Writing my novel is bringing a lot to the surface that I’d previously refused to acknowledge within myself. The more I see my mistakes glaring back at me from the pages I’ve written, the harder it is to keep going on and keep pushing myself. I want to hide under a rock and stay there until I’m merely a memory to others, so I can’t keep inadvertently hurting them.

There is this societal ideal that’s instilled in us all. I can see it, I can touch it, and I understand that ideal. I feel like a failure because I lack the ability to fulfill the expectations placed upon me. Traditional expectations of give and take in friendship are often lost on me. I feel I don’t have any place I belong. I’ve even created my own places to belong, just to find I don’t belong there either.

My friendships and relationships suffer. I begin to wonder if I’m simply a narcissistic psychopath or sociopath just like my parents. It would be easier to accept than this crippled shell of a good person I see inside. All I start to see is the bad within myself when I can’t be what everyone wants me to be. Eventually, everybody leaves, and I’m left to wonder what I did wrong, which ball I dropped in the attempt to juggle far too much. The self blame becomes a deafening, screaming argument in my mind, so I drop all the balls and just stand in place, a look of confusion permanently fixed upon my face, sadness heavy in my heart.

People who don’t even know me, only the bare bones of my story, are afraid of me. You would think after all these years, I would be accustomed to that feeling, of folks not wanting me around them or their children, of people viewing me as toxic to their psyche. I have tears in my eyes as I write this, because it just adds to the feeling of being so purely, utterly alone.

A part of me sees what they see. I feel their fear and it feels very real, no matter how irrational it seems. I’m afraid of me too. I often believe I’m better alone because then, I can’t prove anybody wrong or right. Then the world gets to believe that people like me don’t exist, and I’d rather they feel that naive innocence in their lives than be poisoned by the reality of what some people have to deal with, what some people have to do to survive. I hate that I can’t live naively. I wish I could. I’ve tried. It just makes the psychosis angry to be pushed down.

Worst of all, I hate the stigma that comes with honest emotion, honest feelings, and truth. Every. Single. Day. Is a struggle. To get out of bed. To face friends and family ready to judge if I’m ill or not. To motivate myself to be something other than a pile of crud. To not cry or rage out of control just because my brain dictates that I should. If only others knew the amount of strength it takes to exist, they would stop viewing me as weak and fragile.

Rarely are days full of sunshine, rainbows, and happiness. Those kind of days are truly an exception, not the rule.

I hold onto the gift that is a good day and I piece it with the next and the next. Believing that another good day is on the horizon is the only thing keeping me from ending it all right now. I have to believe that something good is on its way, because otherwise all of my struggles to hold on another day, to push through and own this life, to seek and find healing, would be pointless.

I have to believe there’s a reason I’m still here that I just haven’t discovered yet. Or maybe I have and I just don’t realize what it is. All I know is, after a long period of struggle, the sunshine seems brighter and the days seem a whole lot sweeter, as long as I just hold on.

Learning what it means to be genuine

 

Genuine (def):
1:
a : actually having the reputed or apparent qualities or character
b : actually produced by or proceeding from the alleged source or author
c : sincerely and honestly felt or experienced
d : actual, true
2:
free from hypocrisy or pretense : sincere

 

I’ve been having this internal battle within myself during moments of what should be quiet thought. Why should I have this inner turmoil, if I am true to what I stand for in all that I say or do? I can think of a few reasons for it and it all boils down to being genuine.

For at least the past 7 months, I’ve questioned the motives of others when I should have been taking the time to question motives within myself. Meditation, normally a quieting sort of friend, has become almost torture and agony as my depressive mind refuses complacency by jogging around the same old battered issues.

Ruminating thoughts plague my mind as I wade through the ending of another dark depression. Due to the fact that I refuse to deal with things in my waking life, my dreams then begin to show me the outcome of the attitude I’ve been taking toward life and wrongs I’ve made within it.

The dreams are sagas of movie-like intensity, well remembered long after vestiges of sunlight pierce through foggy vision. Scenes, filled with action and suspense, drama and romance, are always, always carrying an underlying message that quickly gets to the root of my fears, the root of my pain. 

I’ve learned to listen. I’m waking up. 

Lately, I’ve encountered so many people who are super fantastic at playing games. It’s gotten to the point where I find myself questioning, constantly, where are all the genuine people? Do they exist or have they all been wiped away by cynicism and pain, hatred or greed? It’s gotten to the point where I’ve shriveled a bit within myself because I’ve seen so much of it lately and it’s sucked the pure energy through a straw which leads directly to my soul. 

Through it all, I find myself becoming that which I accuse them of being. I find myself feeding into the conversations of “I absolutely cannot stand (so and so)”, rather than just changing the subject or moving on to something more positive. I find myself feeling miserable for wanting to feed into the thoughts of others that I should take a stand, so I continue to refuse to be a part of everything, of anything that has to do with conflict and irrational drama. 

Eventually though, something is going to snap and I can feel it. The tension is an ooze in the air, breathed through the lungs to fill the heart and bloodstream. 

I can’t blame anyone for how I react to tension, stress, and pain. 

Call it a wake up call, call it a snap back to reality, but recently, I had to acknowledge that, while I was entitled to the pain and the hurt, the statute of limitations has expired on the pity party throwing possibilities. The pain train has to stop. Past transgressions are just that: the past. 

I have to let it go. 

I found myself venting to two different friends on two different occasions within the last month and had to replay it in my mind. How do I continuously fall into the trap of venting my woes rather than celebrating my successes or needs, again?

I’d realized that I was no longer being genuine to myself. Letting others vent their frustrations is one thing. Joining them and agreeing blindly is another.

I know there are steps to this learning process called life. Nobody is perfect and anybody who claims perfection of thought, process, or ability is not thinking of themselves as human, but above it.

I’m seeking people who are truly genuine, who admit when they could be wrong, stand by their convictions, whatever they may be, but be flexible in a mindset to understand and empathize with the opposite side with respect and honor. Instead, I feel nothing but anger, judgement, and resentment all around me and it starts to become the very thing that fuels me, bringing back old demons, bringing out a side of me I’d long discarded. 

The very strength I’d had and the conviction of my own genuine nature was replaced by weakness and complaints without action, yet again. How can I expect genuine people to be genuine with me, when I reflect a spirit of constant animosity over ruminating thoughts of things that happened months ago? 

Not only that, but I’d forgotten what it was that I craved out of life. I have certain things I want to focus on and I cannot depend on the approval of others to get those things accomplished in my lifetime, what may be left of it. 

As I find my truth all over again, I come to discover that elusive peace which relies on strength to survive. More lessons to be learned. I want to be “free from hypocrisy and pretense: sincere”. I want to actually be genuine in a world where it’s a quality lacking most. Another work in progress. 

There’s a statement I’ve heard and practiced time and again. Certain traits within people attract the like. 

 

Where are all the truly genuine people? I’m finding one within myself.  

Be genuine. Love what you do for a living. Treat others with the kindness you’ll one day need. Be forgiving, not stupid. Move on and do what feels right, always. Apologize when you’ve been wrong, but not for the sake of your convictions. Work hard. Love hard. Keep learning. Be patient. 

Going back to genuine love.

Going back to genuine love.

 

Miles to go before I sleep

I just got back from vacation in D.C. and Maryland. Since it’s a common place for us to frequent when we leave town, there was no real need to take in the monuments or museums- the more touristy stuff has already begun to lose it’s novelty and sparkle. This trip was more about gaining insight into life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Seeing friends and family, relaxing poolside, and observing the diversity of a world very different than the one I live in daily- all these things have inspired reflection and taught me some very valuable lessons I’ll never forget.  

My brain has been on overload lately with the weight of the world. Many people go through this stage in life. Many people don’t. Since I don’t have kids or an immediate family to focus on, I sometimes feel as though the needs of the many weigh me down more than it does most. There happen to be some serious issues in this city, state, country, and world that desperately need focus and attention. I’m just one woman. How can I make a difference? 

One of the things that I’ve always felt strongly about is, when something weighs heavily on your heart, it’s for a reason. There is always a reason. Maybe we’re meant to do something, say something, be something different, make a change, be a change, or focus on being a helping hand upward and outward. There is always a reason why things weigh so heavily, and for so long sometimes. I’ve pretty much had the same few things on my heart for close to a year or more now. Some of the things that need my time, attention, and focus, are things that have been bothering me for over a decade. I’ve come to the realization that I need to do something about it. I’m unsure as to what that is.  

Have you ever had that strange sense that something big is coming? Big changes, a big event, a big opportunity? I’ve been feeling this way for the past several months and it grows with intensity. In meditating, I’ve come to realize that my heart and my mind are merging to create new paths and new ideas, as well as new discoveries about myself and the people around me. There is a reason why I’m a leader, why others seem to see my genuine nature and want to follow in my footsteps. It’s always been natural for me, it’s always been in my spirit to lead others in a quest for greatness.  Something big is coming and not just for me. 

Now, the “old” me, would have stopped and worried and wondered and pondered exactly what all of it means. I would have worried and cried, gotten stressed out about it, shut down, opened up, and looked back just to recognize that the something big has passed me by. Not this time. This time the something big is of my own creating, my own choosing. The something big is a part of my desire to make significant changes to the way we do things. We as in humanity. We as in me. 

The “new” me is ready, researching, learning, growing, and electrified with anticipation. My greatest fear is, when the opportunity comes, I won’t be nearly ready to grab onto it with both hands or be knowledgeable enough to recognize it for the true potential it will have to change my life and lives around me. It’s a fear. Fear is not rational. Excitement is. For the first time in about as long as I can remember, I feel truly fearless and confident in knowing that a game changing SOMETHING is coming. 

A lot of things keep me going. This poem by Robert Frost is inspiration, letting me know that work needs to be done, and as a leader, it is my job to ensure it gets done. 

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

BY ROBERT FROST- 1923

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

——————————————————————————–

It would be great to stop right here where it’s simple, quiet, and beautiful, before I get to the destination waiting for me. But through the snow, through the woods, through a tough and arduous journey, I’ll get to where I need to be, before my final resting point. This life was not given to me in vain, to squander or waste. This one precious life was given to me so that I can make a difference, so that I can help be an agent of change. The journey has been full of ups and downs, bends and turns, twists, and unexpected holes that suck me down. But I’ve been through the roughest times and managed to be here, now, present and accounted for. That makes all the difference in the knowledge that success is attainable, greatness is here.

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The sky is only a limit if you let it be. 

Complex PTSD… My life, Unscripted, Unfiltered, Unmedicated

 

I chose a long time ago to never be medicated for mental issues. I had no idea what kind of struggle I’d be facing by making that choice.

In a constant state of contemplation...

In a constant state of contemplation…

My mother was a total nut job when I was growing up. Who am I kidding? She’s still a nut job. Most of my late childhood and early teenage years, I watched as doctors used her as a guinea pig. “Hey, here’s this medication. Try it and see.” Then I’d have a zombie for a mother for a couple of days, which really wasn’t always a bad thing in comparison to the raging mess she could be. Then she’d switch to something else, not take it properly, or sometimes at all.  She sporadically spoke with therapists, she read a million self help and empowerment books, and she sought to find the meaning and purpose in life. She was tormented for a very long time and I grew up seeing that, watching her struggle during my developmental years. Although she’s mellowed out some, she still struggles with so many issues from anxiety, depression, self esteem, addiction, and co-dependency. It’s no wonder I’m a little cracked in the head. I have some insight to what my mother was dealing with because now I’ve got some of that instability. I always thought I could live my life without being affected. The very thing I was running from, the very thing I thought I was bigger than and couldn’t be subject to, takes control of my mind, and once it starts, it’s sometimes impossible to stop it.  I’m 33 and my mother was around this age when she had some of her record breaking meltdowns.  Thanks Mom.

At the time, I had no idea, no real clue about mental illness and how it can be passed down from generation to generation, especially when the pattern is also an environmental example. What a legacy to receive.  Every moment of my life has been a struggle to fit in. This society and culture still does not completely understand or embrace an individual who has emotional extremes.  It’s not accepted or cute or funny. Hell, it’s taken me this long to understand myself, and I’m still a mystery a lot of the time. If I cry in public, people give me looks that range from horror to sympathy, as if they somehow have to personally deal with my tears, my psychosis.  If I have a panic attack in a store and I have to rush out, some people grab their children to move out of my way, and some people act like I’m trying to steal something (yes, I’ve been stopped on my way out of a store a few times, but luckily all it took was giving my “crazy” gaze and they let me keep going).  If I’m in a social atmosphere and I get overwhelmed all of a sudden, I know to separate myself from the situation for a few moments and I can return, but I get myself worked up and anxious knowing that everybody will ask questions that I just don’t want to answer. I’ve left parties and meetings because the anxiety of the anxiety is too much to handle and it’s easier to just deal with it on my own sometimes. What’s worse is when the people who suffer from the very same thing I do choose to judge. It’s somehow easier for me to accept ignorance from a person who has never been there. I hope for some level of compassion from those who get the turmoil happening inside of me. Rarely do I get it.

Medical professionals vary in what they believe to be appropriate treatment methods. The number of books and stories I’ve read about the treatment of people who suffer, put in asylums and essentially tortured into a hollow, numb shell of who they used to be, they all give me chills.  In another life, I wouldn’t have had a choice in my treatment.  Even now, after centuries of research, studies, human trials and testing , the medical world still can’t pin point the “right” thing. The human mind is too complex and too many factors contribute to being mentally “off” for any one thing to work for everybody.

“The right thing, a one and done miracle mind healing, doesn’t exist.” 

The problem with something like Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is that it’s not a one faceted illness. It requires a lot of time and attention.  It requires working out the issues, working out the kinks, constantly, in the midst of flashbacks, paranoia, anxiety, addiction, manic depression, and rage. If I were medicated, I couldn’t work through the issues I need to work through to handle people, to handle life. I’d just be drugging my mind into a false state of complacency and my addiction to said medication would last the rest of my life.  Ever been in a real life situation of terror or imprisonment, and you fall asleep to peaceful dreams, only to wake up to the horror all over again? That’s what it feels like to me, trying to get myself out of a medicated fog. Who wouldn’t want to go back to the peaceful dreams? Reality isn’t peaceful, and it certainly isn’t a dream. I refuse to pretend it is.

You see, I have been in real life situations of terror and imprisonment and that is where it began. I was a prisoner in my home for the first 18 years of my life. I was abused, defiled, degraded, torn down, drugged, molested, and neglected, and that was my home life.  Then I continued to let my mother’s instability effect me throughout adult hood as she devalued my accomplishments to my face.  In addition, I married a man who thought he could play on my crazy as he cheated on me right under my nose and treated me with contempt and disrespect.  I also have a father in prison for the crimes he committed against me and it’s not as if I can just be at peace with that and move on. I have to revisit the trauma all over again every 2-4 years when his parole hearing comes up. The flashbacks of being raped and beaten horribly just take over everything, including my dreams, and manic episodes are the worst around that time, lasting months before and after the hearings. I luckily have 2 more years until the next one. Loss is a trigger for manic depression. I found out I couldn’t carry a child, and I became so depressed, that I, without realizing it, became addicted to Oxycodone and Percocet, an addiction that took me years to fight. Out of nowhere, years later, I’d found out I was pregnant, although I couldn’t carry.  I lost two babies not long after conception, my miracle babies, and my stepfather within a year. The emotional toll was one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced in my life. I never thought I’d get out of the darkness.

Yet, here I am. Fully capable of telling my story and sharing my struggles with the hopes that somebody else out there needs to hear that it’s okay to refuse to be medicated, as long as you seek help. I see a therapist a few times a month.  I have a network of friends who pick me up and lift me up and know when to leave me alone or surround me with love.  Most of all, though, I have a voice with writing and I have the power to handle this on my own. I’m stronger because of the struggles, not weaker as many might believe. Come on, climb around inside my tortured mind for a while and see the things I’ve seen, experience what I’ve experienced, and then tell me I’m weak. I dare you.

Non-Medicated demons let loose sometimes to spread their wings.