Anxiety, Depression, Grief and loss, Mental health

Gathering hope, one more try

I have overcome many obstacles in my life that I thought at the time would break me. Ten years ago, while I was still married, I lost my house in the housing crash of 2008. Even today I still struggle putting that experience into words that accurately portray how that felt. In the three years following that catastrophic event I endured a few more deep losses, the horrible death of my beloved cat, having to give away my dogs followed by my divorce that ultimately broke my relationship with my boys. Shouldering the blame for it all, now I realize just how naive I was to the pain and sadness I was truly feeling. I had to make some tough decisions in order to survive. The financial ruin is still something I haven’t fully recovered from. In true C-PTSD fashion, it has taken me years to heal from grief. At the time I wasn’t hopeful God had opened a window in response to the many doors that had been slammed in my face.

Today however, it is these experiences that have reshaped me. I had to construct an overhaul of my thinking in order to get out of bed everyday. The heavy seriousness of such stark change was absolutely suffocating at times. I attempted to stuff and swallow it all by drinking to excess, over exercising and restricting my food intake. I have a terrible knack for kicking my own butt and punishing myself when things go wrong in my life. My resistance to accept what was going on around me proved completely futile. Something had to change and the only thing I had control over was myself and my responses to the lemons I was receiving. I learned how to make lemonade by redirecting my thoughts and gathering hope where I could find it.

Throughout all the heartache, my faith in humanity was tested. I have some wonderful lifelong friends that put their arms of support around me and guided me back into the light. I’m someone that prides myself on being there for others and I don’t ask for help often. During these years my priorities shifted when I made the decision to wave the white flag of surrender. Swallowing that pride was one of the hardest and most fruitful choices I made.

There are many misconceived notions about what it means to be strong versus weak. We all go through dark times and our ego’s will lie to us by telling us, “I have got this.” I was forced to realize that I most definitely didn’t “have it” and I needed help. My friends uplifted,  guided and at times carried me through a time I was sure would destroy me completely.

People tell me often how strong I am. Most days I am proud of where I have come from and what I have achieved. Understanding what is truly important, what I need instead of what I want. My route to these realizations was a hard lesson to learn.

In the United States, we live in an over consumption culture fueled by the myth of the more you have the happier you are. In reality, I have learned this is false. Bigger, better, faster, more of everything is a sure fire way to disappointment because the emptiness we try to fill with those things provides a false sense of security. The depressing reality of materialism causes one to feel secluded, lowers human interaction and socialization. We must work more and spend less time with family and friends in order to maintain what we think we “need”. I believe this driving cycle is a self fulfilling  prophecy. We gain real happiness from our connection with others which is not something that can be bought.

Today, I don’t have many possessions and I live more of a minimalist lifestyle. The things I have lost can never break me because I choose to invest in relationships with the ones I love. I now understand that if I hadn’t experienced loss, I wouldn’t have gained hope and faith. It is the people around me that continue to support me, proving to me that as long as I keep trying and never give up the sky’s the limit. My dreams can become reality and I definitely have more than one try left in me.

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Depression, Mental health

Tales of the heart

Love is such a complicated emotion. There is scientific evidence that it makes our minds go insane. Two very distinct and conflicting instincts take place within us. One is our desire to merge our life with another person and the other is for us to remain an individual. I believe both are equally terrifying and with that comes positive and negative consequences. For me, I have always been a lover of love. I am a companion type of person and I feel more myself with someone else as my partner in life. Perhaps it’s because I’m a middle child and I have always had other people around me. My upbringing conditioned me to always consider those other people’s emotions and care deeply for them. I have always been the peacemaker in my family and I play that role amongst my friends as well. I believe being an empath and a natural healing person by nature, that makes me a consummate companion. It’s one of my strong characteristics, I’m a team player all the way.

Something I didn’t fully comprehend until about six years ago is the meaning of  unconditional love. I definitely wasn’t raised with it and I never felt the secure feeling unconditional love provides. The very first time I experienced that wonderful feeling was from a woman who was mentoring me during my recovery. I am so blessed to have encountered so many kindered spirits along my journey of self growth. She taught me so much that I didn’t realize I had been missing in all my relationships. For me, love always came with conditions and requirements.

I am a giver and I choose to love even when people in my life may not be deserving of it. We may not like everybody that crosses our path but we all need to be loved. Many people in our society who display objectionable behavior are in desperate need of love. It’s a core need along with shelter, food and the ability to financially support oneself. The World Health Organization sites rates of depression rising as a result of modernity and individualism in our culture today. People may joke around by saying, “do you need a hug” in a flippant way when in actuality that answer is YES!!! Humans need physical affection and touch is hardwired in our DNA.

After my divorce and the abuse from the domestic violence I endured at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, I wasn’t looking for a relationship. When I agreed to go out with some friends one day for coffee I certainly didn’t think I would be meeting my future husband. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed myself that day and felt some chemistry between us I refused to call him when he gave me his number. We ran into each other a few weeks after that initial meeting and he asked me why I hadn’t called. I don’t remember what my answer was but I’m sure I blew him off. He and I went out on another group date before I agreed to go out with him alone. After that date I was absolutely smitten and knew he was someone special. Over these last five years I can say that I have never felt more acceptance and unconditional love from another person than what my fiance shows me. Our love is so deep for one another, the more time goes by the more I learn about it and the closer we become. He is my best friend. He is the person I feel closet to and value our companionship intensely. His laughter is the greatest sound and my favorite quality of his character. All of my feelings for him are expressed in this poem.

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Anxiety, Depression, Mental health, Spirituality

Touched

I have always believed in something greater than myself, a higher more powerful force. I choose to call it God. I was raised in a strict Catholic home. I attended Catholic elementary school for grades first and second. My family was always at our church. I’m the only one of my six siblings that didn’t go through confirmation. My parents allowed me to investigate and study different religions once I became a teenager. I no longer was required to attend Catholic mass. Since that time, I’d estimate twenty-five years or so, I have been reading about religion and spirituality. I have attended different kinds of ceremonies in my search for what feels closest to my own truths for what symbolizes my God. I have determined it is more nature based and universal. I haven’t determined whether this force is male or female. I do however believe that this force is our creator. God indeed for each of his creations to love one another yet there will always be light and darkness within each of us. That’s the natural balance of everything, one can’t exist without the other. We also have free will and with that comes choices. I always tell my boys that they may not like everyone or everything they encounter in life but they must learn to show and practice love. I believe love is our original purpose. We can make different choices along our path to move closer to light and love or darkness and hate. This poem was inspired by those concepts.

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Anxiety, Depression, Domestic violence, Mental health, Uncategorized

Aftershocks

I have been through so many ups and downs on my life’s journey. Maintaining my patience has yielded me progress. I’m nothing if not a survivor. I’ve morphed into an emotional warrior. I have battle scars across my heart. My children have told me, Mom…you are so unlucky. I tell them nah, God just trusts me a heck of a lot. He knows I will be able to figure out whatever comes my way. I’m unbreakable, like Tephlon strong. Processing all that has transpired these last seven years inspired me to write this.

Anxiety, Depression, Grief and loss, Mental health, Uncategorized

What if

It has been raining here for days without end. I have been laying low because that’s what my mood dictates. Searching through an app I have that streams the latest movies and television shows, I stumbled upon the series “Forever”. Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen play a married couple caught in a prediticable marriage when they suddenly find themselves in an unexpected situation. I can relate because in many ways my marriage was similar. What happens when we get into routines and for me with my children that became our pattern. The ninth episode focuses on the afterlife. The couple find themselves pushing past their personalities, boundaries and expectations from when they were alive. The characters in their own way start acting out in more fearless and truthful ways. It got me thinking about how confined we can get within ourselves in life. As an empath, it’s easy for me to put myself in others shoes, whether real or imagined. All these questions sprang to mind and I wrote this poem.

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Anxiety, Depression, Domestic violence, Grief and loss, Mental health, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Women's self care

A monster came knocking

Seven years ago I was coming out of an emotional denial. That time now feels like a hazy dream. I was functioning daily in a robotic way. Truly going through all the motions, nobody would of guessed how much pain, confusion, loneliness and anger I was feeling inside because the woman on the outside showed everyone she was beautiful and perfect. Always happy and content. Yet unsettled, not peaceful. I know now I was on the path to a severe nervous breakdown. I was working three jobs while trying to survive a messy divorce. My two boys whom I had been a stay at home mother to for 10 years moved out to live with my ex husband. It was at my request. My act of compassion in attempting to protect them. From me. I believed I was cracking under the pressure of the charade I had been keeping up for twelve years and that it would be safer for them not to be around me. Growing up with the way my mother was I was terrified about becoming like her and making my boys feel like I did. My mental health issues came to a head. I likened it to dropping a million piece puzzle on the ground. That’s how my brain felt. A tearing at the seams turned into shredded material strewn all over my house. I had been the three males in my life’s everything mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and there was nothing left for me. I stuffed my emotions, my dreams and my desires. I wasn’t even on my list of priorities let alone at the bottom of it.

Yet at the time I didn’t know that. I certainly didn’t acknowledge that. I felt fulfilled by my jobs, intensive exercise training for races I was running in while being an exercise anorexic and consuming huge amounts on alcohol and Xanax. I thought I looked great and it wasn’t until a dear friend brought his concerns up to me. He said, “who do you think you are, a rock star?” I was in a constant state of perpetual motion almost 20 hours each day. That had been had been my routine for months. Truly burning my candle at both ends. Literally running away from life.

Then the monster walked into my life. I refuse to call him by his name because remembering it and saying it honors him and he is not deserving. My ego was off the charts and I presented as a charismatic woman without a care in the world. I believe now it was my sheer brokenness that he sniffed out and was attracted to. Whatever started the spark between us grew rapidly into a raging forest fire within just four short months.

The monster moved into my home and I wasn’t lonely anymore. I had found someone who loved me, cooked and cleaned for me. Yet went through these crazy incoherent and incredibly violent controlling episodes where I ended up battered and abused on the floor. I have never seen that kind of rage before. Growing up my own mother who is clinically insane had scared the daylights out of me with her fits. She was a lamb compared with this lion living in my house. He said he loved me and I blindingly believed him.

That last month was the most terrifying time in my entire life. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight. I couldn’t even take a shower alone. He controlled what I ate, when I ate, when I slept, if I slept. Absolutely everything. I actually allowed another human being to fully dominate me 100%. I survived being screamed at in my face, choked and strangled, punched, kicked, thrown right through a wall and raped repeatedly. By that time I was completely isolated from any of my friends and family. My family lived many states away, not at all close. He held my phone anyways and monitored all my calls so either way I wasn’t telling anybody what was going on. The police came many times to my house. My neighbors would call them anonymously trying to save me. Each time I would swear to the officer that I was fine. He would stand behind the door glaring at me, making sure I was keeping his secret. Nobody could save me and there would be not rescue.

Finally, one Saturday morning as I was getting ready to teach my dance class he started in on me. First the screaming than the hitting. The thought came to my mind that he might actually succeed in killing me this time. So my act of taking back control in the situation was to swallow a bottle of pills and chase it with a few shots of vodka. I would be the one to kill me not him. He watched me do it and then continued his beating of me before he threw me in the car and dropped me off at the ER.

Upon waking up in the hospital in that bed with my arms tied to the gurny I learned I would be committed to a psychiatric hospital. Not only was I alive but God was offering me a new life, a chance to change, it was my moment of desperation. Where I realized I had two choices. I could try to stab myself with a medical instrument and get the job done right this time or I could use this opportunity to see hope in my future. Trust me I grappled with the first option for awhile. Lastly I thought if I could hold on to that hope and give myself a chance to heal, I just might make it. The acronym I like for hope is hold on pain ends.

In the years since that time I believe I am living proof of that statement. I had to learn how to put space between my thoughts, feelings and actions. Determine if I was to react or respond in certain situations. Start on the path of trusting myself, knowing my self worth and most importantly believing in myself. God shown his light through my hospital window that day. He reached out his hand to guide me. All I did was take a small leap of faith, held on tightly to hope and received his hand.

#mentalhealth #complexptsd #suicide

#hope #god #love #lifeisbeautiful

Anxiety, Depression, Mental health, Uncategorized

Cleansing

I’ve heard tears cleanse the soul. No matter which emotion they derive from be it sadness,happiness, fear what have you. Years ago I went through a six year stretch that I simply didn’t cry. I thought at the time it was from being on psychiatric medication. In hindsight, I now believe I was in such a deep denial. A robotic type of functioning that prevented me from feeling. I blocked out my emotional self and denied myself its truth. I also used to be afraid of crying because I thought if I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop. I literally feared drowning in my own sorrows.

Today I am powerful in my emotions. I know they all make me strong and bring me closer to my true self. They are absolutely necessary in order for me to breathe. It’s not always pretty and sometimes it’s very messy. I understand however that there is no other way. I have turned the corner of denial, wearing masks and faking it. I refuse to be anyone else but me. For that I am so grateful.