Mental health, Spirituality

Learning to see the forest for the trees

I’m a highly detail oriented person who naturally takes everything in without a filter. Certain things come easy to me while others are more of a work in progress. Emotional intelligence is an area that I have worked hard to understand and master at a young age and I feel is crucially important to one’s well being. Seven years ago while I was in the thick of dealing with many complications from Complex PTSD, I took part in an outpatient therapy called DBT or dialectical behavioral therapy. This psychotherapy is the creation of psychologist Marsha M. Linehan. I enjoyed it so much and (needing reinforcement) I attended it four times! I fondly refer to it as emotional college. I was in a classroom of sorts in a separate wing of the psychiatric hospital I did many inpatient stays at for an entire week, 9AM until 5 PM with only a break for lunch. Our class was small, only 6 or 7 other ladies. We had reading assignments as well as homework. After completing that week I was invited to join an aftercare support group for an entire year.

In many ways those ladies saved my life, helped me learn some tough life lessons about myself and aided me in realigning my mindset, body and soul. Taking an introspective look at oneself is difficult and the desire to change one’s behavior takes lots of patience and practice. At first it was confusing and awkward but after my fourth time going over the educational materials, reading some self help workbooks focused on DBT and spending 2 hours every Wednesday evening with my support group I reemerged with a fresh outlook.

I learned that my intense emotions can sometimes drive me into certain behaviors that are self harming and self defeating. Continuing down that path creates more suffering. Learning and incorporating DBT principles into my life has changed the game!

Like everything in life, it only works if you work it! Over the past few years I like to open that workbook up and give myself a refresher. The main principle that I work the hardest at is definitely Radical Acceptance. DBT uses both behavioral science and Buddist concepts like acceptance and mindfulness to teach better coping methods for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. It has proven highly effective for many mental health disorders as well.

This is Google’s definition of dialetical behavioral therapy:

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy tries to identify and change negative thinking patterns and pushes for positive behavioral changes. DBT may be used to treat suicidal and other self-destructive behaviors.

In a nutshell it taught me that I can coexist between two mindsets, see both sides of an issue, be both comfortable and uncomfortable in any given situation. The definition of dialetic is this:

Dialectic or dialectics (Greek: διαλεκτική, dialektikḗ; related to dialogue), also known as the dialectical method, is at base a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments.

For me the bottom line is that one principle I mentioned earlier, Radical Acceptance, is the key to ending my suffering. On most days I can clearly and easily achieve the understanding that even though I may not like something or think it to be ok, it still is. It is what it is. I have the choice to respond or react, always taking my emotions into account.

In this last week I have been blessed with so many amazing opportunities. My fiance and I mingled with some A list former professional football player friends of his, had an overnight in a phenomenal luxurious lakehouse and on Sunday I met Mariel Hemingway at a small movie watching party and interview session.

I have admired her life and career for a long time. I even gave her my poetry book, “Emotional Musings” that she asked me to sign! A real “pinch me” moment that I will cherish forever. To be able to meet such a kindred and emotional spirit is so profoundly powerful.

Despite the years of psychotherapy, DBT classes, numerous sessions of EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing) and reading shelves of self help books I still struggle with my core belief that I’m not good enough. I do however understand that I can chose to change that tape that plays relentlessly on repeat through my mind, unpack that emotion from that invisible backpack I wear daily along with the other intense emotions I cope with or I can suffer. Intellectually and logically I get it. Sometimes the disconnect is to my soul. The memories, the flashbacks and unfortunate nightmares that will plague me for life.

At the end of the day, I am growing and evolving everyday. I am blessed and humbled. I have people around me who love and understand me. I’m able to see the many miracles of humanity being an empath. Life is good ❤

Mental health, Spirituality

My grateful heart

Since my last post, I’m happy to report that so much has changed for the better!! Two days after Christmas with the help of my ex brother in-law and my sister, my oldest son Tyler finally reached out!! We have been messaging and chatting every night since!! We have our long awaited reunion set up for next month which will include my family too. I haven’t gotten to hug him in over two years and my parents, sister, niece and nephew have been deprived of his company for over six years!

The last time my family has spent time with him he was a kid. Now he is on the verge of adulthood! He sent me a current picture of him that I can’t stop staring at. He really is my mini me in so many ways both inside and out. I’m beyond proud of the young man he is. My soul is at peace and my heart is bursting with joy.

This whole situation has taught me many invaluable life lessons. The two greatest being patience and perseverance in the face of adversity. Retaining my hope and faith that all would eventually work out is what kept me going daily. Living each day without any communication from my sons has been the worst emotional pain I have ever felt. My heart literally felt broken. Despite it all, I got out of bed every day when my brain was screaming for me not to. I sent numerous letters without a response. I prayed for the strength I required in order to carry on and keep trying to achieve my dreams. I was able to push aside the guilt all mother’s innately feel on most days to pursue my new career. Also, I launched this blog and my poetry profile on Instagram of the same name, Emotional Musings.

I firmly believe that my youngest isn’t too far behind his big brother. Once he sees him talking and visiting with me I think he will come around too. Divorce is terrible for any family. Parent alienation is both real and devastatingly traumatic for the children and the parent that is being shut out by the other parent. I agreed to divorce my ex-husband, but I DID NOT agree to divorce my children.

I’m really proud of myself because I didn’t allow the guilt and shame to shallow me up alive. There were days I didn’t think I would make it through. In the end though the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” holds true. Again, I’m reminded of how strong I am. I have conquered over many situations and conditions, some even threatened to end my life for good.

I took one of those psychological quizzes today on PsychTest.com

Here are my results:

Both your right and left hemisphere seem to have reached a level of perfect harmony – rather than trying to dominant each other, they work together to create a unique and well-balanced “you”. Your spontaneous, impulsive, and free-flowing right brain creates an exciting and adventurous world, while your left brain helps you make sense of it and keep track of everything.

When faced with a problem or a tough decision, you’re not only able to break things down and make an informed and sensible choice, but you’re also not afraid to go with your gut when necessary. You tend to express your individuality both in words and actions, and although you’re perfectly comfortable running on a schedule or planning things ahead of time, there are occasions when you love to throw in a little spontaneity.

Your balanced outlook and approach to life creates a desire in you to not only understand the world, but to also take it in your hands and mold it as you see fit. With both your right and left hemispheres working together to guide you, you are able to understand yourself and life in general from so many wonderful perspectives.

So my dear readers, my message is to never give up. You are stronger than you think you are, even at your lowest points, there is always a reason to keep going. This too shall pass. Everything is temporary and tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. I am a lover, a giver and a fucking warrior. I believe in you. Thank you for following me and reading this blog. It is serving as a timeline for my children and I. I hope it also serves as a beckon of hope for you all who read it.

I’m very close to finishing my book of poetry that I am self publishing through Amazon. Stay tuned dear readers for more I information on the release date and how to download it. I wrote this poem this morning to reflect my grateful heart.

Mental health, Spirituality

Having myself a Merry little Christmas

This time of year used to bring me such joy and happiness. From November through early January I dove head first into decorating my home, visiting with friends, baking cookies, seeking out the best Christmas lights displays and watching my favorite Christmas movies. Since my divorce six years ago and my move away from where my children live, each holiday season has gotten tougher and I don’t participate in any of my traditional holiday activities. It’s simply too painful and I can’t bear the memories of being with my children in years past. The breakfasts with Santa, the shopping for presents, decorating the tree etc. just make me sad and yearn for those happier times.

At the request of both of my boys, they don’t want me involved in their lives any longer. We haven’t had any communication in over eighteen months. I also haven’t seen their sweet faces in over two years. Just typing these two sentences leave tears running down my face. Despite the swirling of my emotions, I get up everyday and go to work, smile and engage with my customers. Lead my co-workers and try my best to lend a hand where I am needed. This is something I’m deeply proud of because in the past I would’ve let this destroy me. I would have crawled under my covers and quit. This year I have decided to overcome my sadness by living my life to the fullest. Writing about it too is completely liberating because of the tremendous guilt this entire situation brings.

I’m also proud that however I have been feeling over these past six years, I have never once uttered a bad word to my boys about their father. I refuse to destroy their image of him. He is a huge part of who they are as people and I understand that. My own mother would tear into us as children with negative comparisons to our father and it used to make me feel so terrible about myself. I believe it’s emotional child abuse to purposely alienate a child from one of their parents. I have tremendous faith that one day my boys will see the truth and want to know me again. We have an unbreakable bond and no matter how many miles separate us I will always be there for them. They are the two souls on this journey that I love the most.

Recently I came across some of my old journals. I have used writing as an emotional outlet for processing and healing since I was a young girl. I’m so thankful that no matter how many times I have moved I always keep my old writings intact. I enjoy looking back and rereading my work because it’s a great way to assess how much I have grown and evolved emotionally from the things that cause me distress and pain.

This week has hit me harder than any of the last six years. I have recently taken on more responsibilities at work and that is a welcome distraction emotionally. I haven’t been sleeping well the past few nights because my mind is in overdrive between work stuff and all these memories. I don’t feel creative and I’m concerned that my passions will be neglected because of it.

I do however have this weekend off because I will be working both Christmas Eve and Christmas day. I’m actually looking forward to it. Making others smile and feel joy even though inside I’m crying. It’s opposite action for sure (a DBT principle coping skill) and my former therapist would be proud of my choice to triumph on over my feelings.

Here are the three poems that I found in that journal stuffed into an old bag under a chair in my apartment. I have come a long way emotionally from where I was when I wrote them. I’m stronger. I’m a survivor. I’m a fucking WARRIOR. Happy holidays dear readers. If I can do it, believe in yourself and you can too ✌💖

Spirituality

All about energy

Many of my posts on this blog are about my interpretations of spirituality and energy. I recently wrote a poem entitled, “Energy flows” describing exactly how this phenomenon works. I’m always amazed by how karma occurs and plays out in real life. Recently I have been feeling on top of the world in most areas of my life but yesterday life threw me a curve ball and I’ve been scratching my head about what it means. I bet my dear readers can relate.

I overheard a conversation that I don’t believe I was intended to hear. It caught me off guard because it was very cruel and about me. I’d like to believe this person didn’t know I was there and was talking freely behind my back. The problem is I heard it all, now I know this person’s true feelings about me and I feel awful. I’m unsure what caused this person to say such hateful things about me and in order to avoid a confrontation, I now have to change my routine to stay away from this person. I’m so uncomfortable and upset over this. I know that when somebody reveals their true colors I should believe them but I’m very perplexed over it. It doesn’t make sense and all I have been doing is replaying the hatefulness over and over again in my mind. I know that it changes nothing and keeps me feeling badly.

Hate and cruelty towards people sometimes has its roots in jealousy which is what I suspect in this instance. Women can be so overly competitive with each other and so petty. I have been through too much over these last several years to act in a fake and phony way. Wearing masks was something I did in the past to cope. I can no longer employ that tactic in life because it doesn’t work for me any longer. I believe in myself now and I honor that by always being genuine. Yet this situation is pulling me into a gray area. I live by some standards now in life that I feel very strongly about. In regards to this situation I refuse to treat this person as they have treated me. Hence why I am so uncomfortable today.

Instead I am choosing to be quiet about it, pray and reflect. I don’t wish anybody any harm and I live by my ability to show kindness, ALWAYS. I’m admitting here that however I feel about my previous statement, I am struggling with how to correctly handle this in order to move forward. I want to get to a place of forgiveness but unfortunately, I’m not there yet. Not even a little bit.

One of my favorite books on life is by Don Miguel Ruiz entitled, “The Four Agreements”. In it Mr. Ruiz outlines the four principles to live by in order to have peace within oneself:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

By adhering to these principles, I know I shouldn’t be taking any of what was said about me personally. In this case it is truly challenging because it IS about me. Intellectually, I also understand that this person is probably projecting their own feelings upon me. It is something I used to deal with regularly from my own mother. She was so uncomfortable in her own skin that she would project those unsettling feelings about herself onto myself, my siblings and our father. When I was younger, I would soak it all up and internalize those feelings about myself in a destructive way. I would beat myself up, doubt myself, employing self hatred etc. It was ugly and left me feeling worthless and empty.

The quote that next springs to my mind is by Maya Angelou.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” “The question is not how to survive, but how to thrive with passion, compassion, humor and style.” “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

She really hit the nail on the head with those words! I’m also reminded of this quote by Ms. Angelou,
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude“.

In regards to my situation I know my only choice is to forgive and change my own attitude about dealing with this person.

Upon reflecting about all of this I must admit I’m beginning to feel a bit better. That’s what writing provides me. It allows me a positive way to process and heal emotionally. I’m so grateful for this outlet and I thank you my dear readers for coming along with me on this journey.

Tell me, how do you handle stress caused by other’s opinions about you? Please comment below or send me an email privately at mariaswan1209@yahoo.com

Here is my poem…..

Peace, love and light to you all✌💖

P.S.

I highly recommend reading “The Four Agreements.” I received it as a gift about fifteen years ago and I reread it often to remind myself of its message. It gave me such a great perspective on life’s struggles in relationships and I gained so much insight.

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.

Uncategorized

The beginning

Welcome! I have contemplated starting a blog like this for years. My own insecurities and obsessions with perfection have held me back…….up until now! I am throwing all caution to the wind by just doing it! Right now in my life I feel I have nothing to lose.

I am a woman living with C-PTSD or Complex PTSD. I am not a military veteran however I consider myself a warrior in life. My entire life, more specifically my formative years, were incredibly traumatizing. My family of origin was emotionally abusive. I always felt I didn’t exist, the forgotten child, blending in with the walls of our house. I am the middle child of six, ours is a blended family since my parents were both previously married and came with two children each upon entering into their marriage together. I understand and accept that both my parents did the best they could, it was the 1970s and I believe they didn’t fully understand the emotional repercussions they inflicted upon their children.

I always felt I had to pick a side between who’s team I was on, Mom’s or Dad’s. My mother is a Borderline personality and her behavior was always chaotic at best. My father was a workaholic who owned a car dealership. We were upper middle class and I never wanted for anything. Sounds great right? Not exactly. My father wasn’t home much and when he was he was emotionally absent, very controlling and strict. My mother had the emotional IQ of a 4 year old and couldn’t regulate her own emotions let alone guide those of her children. My younger sister and I were left to our own devices, raised by wolves as one of my therapists has described it. I was never allowed to show anger or sadness. I was to always be happy and in a good mood for fear of not being accepted or loved. Love was dolled out with conditions. I was shamed into believing that only happiness was allowed to be expressed. Every other emotion was stuffed, stifled and forced away. This was done by verbal abuse and sometimes mild physical abuse. I can admit now I would of rathered it of been all the latter because those wounds heal. The emotional scars from my childhood are still prominent today. My fear of abandonment and acceptance hinder my relationships with others but mostly with myself. I have had over 30 years of therapy both inpatient hospitalizations and outpatient courses of behavioral modification.

The best outpatient course I completed was in DBT or dialectical behavioral therapy. I nicknamed it emotional college. The principles I learned to integrate into my life have been life altering in such a positive way.

The most difficult of these is the idea of Radical Acceptance. It is a daily task for me to accept not only myself but what occurs around me. When I can get to that place, I have peace. I understand that things are not perfect, I don’t have to agree with everything but things are as they are. It is what it is. I can let go. Ican accept the moment for what it is but most essentially I can accept myself.

I look forward to exploring more of my emotional processes here in my blog. I believe I have an unique voice because I am insightful. I am also an intuitive empath which cones with it’s own set of challenges and gifts.

Let this writing adventure and self introspective begin!

Uncategorized

The Journey Begins

Welcome to my innermost thoughts. I have been writing my entire life to help me process what goes on around me. I use my emotions as a paint brush of sorts in my poems. I have lived a lot of life in my years on this planet this far and I feel I have a unique female voice. I hope to encourage, inspire but most importantly spread love to all I encounter. Enjoy!

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