Mental health, Spirituality

To love is to live

My dear readers, have you ever woke up to a certain song stuck in your head? I did this morning and the way my mind works I’m always so curious as to where it came from. I grew up with my mother playing a lot of John Denver and American folk music in our house. The song that popped in and kept replaying was “Annie’s song”. That’s still one of my Mother’s favorites and I must admit mine too. Whenever I hear it I want to run through a brighly colored meadow or hike up a mountain. The whimsical visions that are sparked in my mind are so clearly an ode to love and nature. Lately, it’s a love affair with myself and my new found self love Imthat I’m so interested in exploring. I envision myself holding hands with my younger self running through that meadow and the look on the face of that little girl inside me.

Life has a way within its ebbs and flow to present me with what I need to consider more of and work on when it cones to either delving deeper into shadow work or exploring more and caring for my inner child. Lately, it’s the latter I have been being reminded of. I’m not sure if I have published my real name yet on this blog but it’s Maria. My full given birth name is Maria Teresa Pratico. Little Maria has been begging for my attention lately and wants to be nurtured. My legal last name is Swanson and I chose to not change that when I went through my divorce because I wanted my boys to see us as still being a family. Now i choose to use my maiden name because it resonates more within me. The Swanson in me was a robotic force and Pratico is more of my true identity.

After the realization I had in June of the abuse that I suffered it’s like a whole new part of me has been awakened and is demanding my attention. I must tell you my dear readers, my own years of therapy, the countless books and articles I have read on processing emotions has taught me that when our feelings are not properly realized and our emotional moods go unexpressed, over time it creates a real issue that just continues to hold us more and more captive. This is especially true when it comes to trauma, the more we stuff and repress the harder and heavier our bodies get holding onto that energy. That’s what having sessions of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy has helped me to release. However, there are other ways my inner child wants to be recognized and reparented in order to fully integrate her into my body. In his book, “The body keeps the score,” Bessel van der Kolk writes about unresolved trauma from a neuroscience perspective and explains why traumatized people experience incomprehensible anxiety, inexplicable numbing and intolerable rage, and how trauma impacts concentration, memory, and the ability to form trusting relationships. These are symptoms that our bodies display because it’s been holding onto that energy, trapped in our body.

For so much of my life, I operated in an auto-pilot unconscious state of being. Now it feels like I was almost two separate people. The me before and the me now. I wasn’t awake, I lacked self love, self confidence, I doubted myself in almost every situation and really I can admit I wasn’t really living! I held myself back so much by choosing to focus more on other people’s feelings and emotions, their problems in hopes that if I could fix them I would be loved. Now I know that the only person who can give me the full attention, fulfillment and happiness I crave is me. It’s not an external process and doesn’t come from material things. I feel like I’m really living and in doing so I am living out loud, unapologetically and on purpose. Speaking my mind and my truth in my loudest voice whether or not it makes some people uncomfortable and disagree with me…all of it! If you don’t like it, look away and step out of my way because nobody will become my next excuse for not taking care of myself or stopping me now. At 42 years old, I have stifled myself for far too long and it’s my time to shine!

With it being a new year and a brand new decade, I made a promise with myself to do the things that made me uncomfortable. Right now this includes getting more and more comfortable with uncomforbility. I started recording video confessionals on my social media that I call, Maria’s Musings. I’ve never been a fan of myself in pictures and video because I’m so critical of my looks and my voice. No more!! I even record myself without makeup, dressed in my pajamas or workout clothes. It’s me being me and loving myself every step of the way. You can find me on Instagram @emotionalmusings. I checked off a goal on my vision board too by doing my first poetry slam over the weekend. I performed my poem, “Glimpses” which is a tribute to my dear Nana who is now one of my spirit guides who appears to me as a butterfly🦋

“Glimpses”
For my Nana

The new me has confused some people in my world and one person in particular is my partner. He gets upset with my new and total focus on myself at times because he is so used to me putting others, like him first. This has created a lot of friction between us. In the last five months we have argued more than the last six and a half years of our entire relationship together! I have disclosed in previous posts that he is also someone living with severe mental illness stemming from traumatic brain injuries and the many concussions he sustained while playing professional football.

https://www.dallasobserver.com/news/lincoln-coleman-former-cowboys-running-back-struggles-with-effects-of-head-trauma-10983207

Another harsh reality he faces are the facts that have been well publicized about the connection between traumatic brain injuries and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy)which is a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries. The symptoms may include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. These symptoms typically do not begin until years after the injuries. CTE often gets worse over time and can result in dementia.

It’s creates quite a challenge for him as he has watched many players die or commit suicide by shooting themselves in the heart so that their brains can be studied. Recently, he lost another player to suicide and when he told me, the look in his eyes rattled me to my core in a very deep way. Our connection and bond is so strong and to think of losing him in anyway but especially in that way terrifies me! Then I start examining everything he is doing and saying in a more critical way. The empath in me has had to learn how to actively block him so I don’t get caught up in his energy and thoughts.

Lately, it’s all been too much for me and my own regularly shifting fast moving energy collided and had in a way a head on collision with his energy and BAM! Making life decisions based in fear is never a good idea and results in undesirable outcomes. It’s my nature to love and accept others. That must include both myself currently and his reality too. All of that became entirely too much to handle last week. We had a bad blowout that resulted in both of us saying things we didn’t mean and I ended our relationship.

I also allowed this overly active fear and emotional state to spill over into my job as a manager for a dear friend of mine’s boutique. Without going into details, I did something that I shouldn’t have that could of put the business in jeopardy. My emotional state had me not thinking straight when I made this mistake. Then I went further into crash and burn mode by telling her I was quitting and gave my two weeks notice abruptly and without any warning which hurt my girlfriend’s feelings badly. I know now what I did could’ve had irreparable damage to their livelihood and our great friendship. Taking stock of the situation took some serious sole searching on my part. The will to listen and quiet my own fears so that I wasn’t acting so selfishly and considered all sides of the situation. I’m praying for a positive outcome to my apology.

Living in fear is like being backed into a corner, triggering me to feel scared, helplessness and confused just as I did during the abuse I suffered. As I continue to heal, these parts of me are lying dangerously close to the surface and my own current reality. They at times become twisted up and entangled in a way that clouds my decision making and has me wanting to escape. This is by no means an excuse, it’s my reality and I’m addressing it head on.

I want to share with you dear readers the importance of addressing what you need to in life because we only get one shot at living. Life is precious and short. I’m someone who wanted to pull the plug by cutting my own short because living was so painful and I felt the only way out was death. A permanent solution to a temporary problem. Learning to love myself and having the ability to love another person, despite terrifying circumstances shows strength, resilience and most of all courage. Summoning that courage took the abity for me to use pain as a motivator not as a roadblock. I admit, I don’t always make clearheaded decisions concerning my life. I have the tendency to want to blow up my life and throw the towel in and say FUCK IT ALL!

Not giving into these urges is hard for me because my natural tendency has been conditioned to not focus on my own uncomfortable or challenging feelings of fear, anger and sadness. I stuff, numb and dissociate from them just like I did in childhood during the abuse. It was easier to put my mind in another place and numb out. It’s our bodies defense, protecting our brains from the highest levels of anxiety and circuit overload. I now know this coping mechanism no longer serves me and I must change that maladaptive pattern before it continues to wreck havoc in my world today.  Following inner compass suits my life and decision making much better!

Choosing to love and remain in love is hard during these fearful moments but if I want to live, I must love. I have also been programmed to find pleasure in pain. I have been noticing that when typing a lot I tend to type live instead of love. That’s what sparked me to start investigating this vital connection between loving and living. In order for me to consistently maintain my happiness, I must choose to love in order to keep living. The abuse is over. The little girl who experienced that rauma is grown. I have learned a better way to live. I can make better choices. When I fall down and make the same mistakes my from past, I can now recognize them and correct them by taking responsibility for my words and actions by choosing to not blow up my life. If it’s one thing I have learned it’s that the grass is never greener.

I choose to accept my partner’s prognosis and conditions because when taking stock of the pros and cons of our relationship, the pros undoubtedly outweigh the cons. More on that in upcoming posts my dear readers. Once I can snap myself back into my body, I can easily recognize this. When I was high in emotion mind, I wrote this poem. Thankfully for me writing is such a great outlet. One I need to rely upon more so I don’t actively allow fear into the driver’s seat unnecessarily.

Mental health

Appreciation for feelings

I’ve come to accept and fully appreciate the fact that I’m a highly sensitive person or HSP. I’ve disclosed before in my blog posts that I’m an intuitive, emotional and physical empath. All that being said, I am an emotional being. That is a fact I used to feel shame for. Others would criticize my emotional responses to certain high intensity situations and I would allow their harshness to hurt my fragile feelings. I definitely am someone who wears their heart on their sleeve. Instead of being embarrassed or ashamed for having deep rooted emotions, today I am grateful for them.

Trusting ones gut is a basic and instinctive response to danger. There’s a reason why we say, “go with your gut.” It’s our bodies natural defense mechanism and a way for us to identify how best to react in a potentially dangerous situation. For too long, I was trying to condition myself to be numb. Ignore what I was feeling, not trusting myself or my own instincts proved very detrimental to my safety and well being.

I’ve now learned that with balance, patience and acceptance that I have held these powers all along I just wasn’t listening to them. I subconsciously became too overly trusting of others for fear that my emotions would loom too large. I always held myself back in one way or another.

I love to listen to podcasts and YouTube videos, a few years ago I came across a series about the dangers of denying ones true self. Our emotions are what make us human. I rewatched these videos a few times until it finally struck me. I remember it clearly, the epiphany I had was a game changing principle that I had been resisting for far too long.

The peace that overcame me when I finally began trusting and believing in myself was something I had never experienced before. The quest for my true self had been lying just underneath the surface all along. In that moment, everything began to change.

Shame was washed away and I finally embraced myself as the emotional and spiritual being that I am. The power in that is great my dear readers. There is nothing I can’t accomplish with these beliefs.

My message to you my readers is to learn from my example. Trust your feelings and use them to your advantage. They serve an important role in life. It’s a strange paradox I know to feel others so deeply and honestly yet I was denying myself. Looking back it was just another lesson I had to learn the hard way. I’m blessed to have this newfound perspective and greater understanding of myself.

Feeling amazingly peaceful on this Sunday. Peace, love and light to you all✌🙏❤☺

Mental health, Spirituality

Steadily climbing a mountain

One of my favorite quotes is by Sir Edmund Hillary, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” Today this quote really resonates with me. I am acknowledging and giving myself the gift of self love by recognizing how far I have come in only a year. My C-PTSD has been in remission for three and a half years. I have gone from being a mess upon the floor, sobbing and in a dissoactive episode to holding a management position at work while self publishing my own book of poetry. I’m really so very grateful and elated with how truly wonderful it feels to have inner peace and strength within my soul.

On Tuesday my team at work and I witnessed a near fatal car accident right in front of our window. It was the most horrible and terrifying scene I have ever witnessed. The sounds and visuals have left their scar on my heart. The gentleman’s truck looked like God himself crushed it with his hands and dropped it out of the sky onto its roof where it landed. My store is next to the freeway and the driver’s truck came literally flying off the road landing on its roof on the grass across the street from us. Airbags deployed, windows busted out and smoke billowing from it, the truck looked unreal. The five of us dropped what we were doing and immediately ran outside. Three of us called 911 while the my two other younger coworkers ran up to the truck itself. One of them had grabbed our fire extinguisher and used it to smother the smoke and kept a fire from starting. Her heroic actions really moved me. She later admitted that her own father had died in a similar situation so I felt it was a kind of redemption on her part in trying to save this man’s life. The EMT’S pulled him from his vehicle alive and consciousness which is truly miraculous given the circumstances.

For the rest of the day we all kept hugging each other. We used our nervous energy to clean our store to a like new condition. When I closed up Tuesday night I felt a sense of pride for how we coped with the days extraordinary and unusual events. I can honestly say when you witness such an extreme example of life and death in front of your own eyes, while in a job setting it changes your perspective.

Here’s what I took away from Tuesday.

1. Life is too short, each moment is a gift. I will not waste my time with frivolous worries about things out of my control. My time is precious, therefore I must prioritize accordingly.

2. I work with 5 very selfless people who I know have my back in a special way. That feeling is priceless both on a professional and personal level.

3. I am getting stronger. This same situation for my past self would’ve driven me up under the covers for a few days. Left me a puddle of tears and nerves.

4. I can do this……I managed and led people through a crisis. I continued to do my job in a professional manner despite the chaos. We all went back to work serving and assisting our customers.

All in all as I reflect now I can see myself steadily rising up from the ashes of despair and heartache. One foot in front of the other I climb. I keep going even though my mind is screaming “NO” and “you can’t do it”. I’m proving to myself everyday that the challenges I face are all preparing me for greater things. The best is still yet to come which is what gets me out of bed everyday!

I never thought I would achieve success again after so many failures. Attempting suicide, being strangled to within inches of my life on my previous job eight years ago, going through a hell of a divorce, surviving domestic violence and rape, losing touch with my children, being homeless, coping with my fiance’s health issues. The list is lengthy and not for the faint of heart.

Last week I made a life long dream come true all on my own. I self published my first book of poetry. It is available as both an e-book and in paperback through Amazon.com. I have created a small following here with this blog and my writing profile on Instagram called Emotional Musings.

I am currently working on putting together a book signing event here locally with family and friends. Sharing my success with those who have loved, supported and believed in me is such a blessing. It gives me the chills that I have so many wonderfully loving people in my life today.

I’m bursting with positivity and gratitude. And yes…….

I have survived and conquered over myself.

Living my motto, “Triumphing over trauma “.

Mental health, Spirituality

The intense feeling of anticipation

Today is the day my dear readers!!! I am sitting aboard a flight that will take me to my son! I have been dreaming of this exact amazing moment for over 2 1/2 years. That’s a long time to wait patiently. This entire situation with my children and becoming estranged from them has almost broken me completely. It definitely tested my courage and beliefs. I have learned an entire new level of being patient and how fruitful the outcome can be! Once what seemed a long shot and something that seemed was never going to happen is now just a plane ride away! Be still my rapidly beating heart.

It’s also been about four years since I have traveled alone. I have been so consumed with caring and helping out others that realizing this fact caught me off guard. I have gotten into a very comfortable routine in these last three months on my new job. I realize now that I haven’t disclosed to you readers what I do exactly for my day job to pay the bills.

Three months ago I interviewed with Starbucks as a barista. When I was well into the interview with my manager she asked me if I wanted to be a Shift Supervisor since she was looking to fill that position as well. I immediately turned her down. I wasn’t confident enough having not been in the full time work force for years. I have spent the past three years caring for my fiance since his medical issues had gotten more severe. In every past position I held in retail, I had been asked to be part of the management team. I never actually thought I could do it and that level of responsibility kind of scared me.

Just two weeks into my journey as a Starbucks barista, the opportunity presented itself again. My manager was in a desperate need to hire a shift because one of ours was transferring. I decided to say yes and go for it. That was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The position is quite challenging and there have been days that I thought would break me yet I soldier on and even surprise myself with how well I am doing. Most people are with the company much longer before they get promoted. Timing is everything. This is my time and I’m beyond proud of myself that I just did it. The level of confidence and self esteem I have acquired by taking this position is immeasurable and priceless. I have toyed around with the idea of working for Starucks for years honestly. It wasn’t until they started to build our new store so close to my home that I took it as a sign from the universe, it was the right time.

This post is about connection and anticipation. These two examples of my reconnection with my oldest son and my decision to work for a company I have admired for years is all about patience and timing. Having a strong faith that everything I have wanted for years would work itself out took a leap of faith on my part. No action was required. Too many times, especially in our busy society we are forced to define ourselves by what we are “doing”. In both these cases I wasn’t doing anything but simply living my life the best way I knew how by putting one foot in front of the other in a patient and steady manner. I wasn’t attempting to make things “happen” by willfully interjecting myself or making demands on others. It was all about the timing.

I know it’s a cliche but, I believe everything does happen for a reason. God needs us to learn certain lessons in life before he moves us along down a new path. Remaining patient was a real challenge some days and I felt like screaming but I didn’t succumb to my anxiety or worries. In time, my son did call and I did get a good job. It’s all working out in God’s time, not mine.

I wrote this poem in the vein of all of these emotions as I process how long I have waited for this week to come seeing my son. It’s my time for reckoning. Peace✌

Ironic addition to this story……as I sit waiting to take off, the pilot comes on and tells us we have a mechanical issue. We taxied back to the gate and are now in limbo awaiting the final decide if our plane is safe for take off or do we all get on a new plane. More patience and more waiting is required of me. I got this😉

Mental health, Spirituality

Why I’m happy I put myself on the list

It’s a brand new year and this is a brand new me! After forty-one years of putting everybody else’s needs before my own, I have decided to put myself on my list of priorities. Here’s the kicker, I feel no guilt about it either!! Honestly it feels so good to take charge and stand up for myself. I’m no longer willing to allow anybody to walk all over me any longer. The buck as they say stops here!

This mindset is years in the making dear readers, it definitely didn’t appear overnight. After years of abuse, trauma and self harm I have finally turned a corner. I am strong, I am confident and most importantly I love myself. What’s changed and how did I get here you may be wondering? I believe the answer is all in the timing. As an intuitive, emotional and physical empath I’m highly interested in our metaphysical world. Astrology has always interested me since I was very young. Whenever I would read about my birthday and projected charts, I always read that I would be a late bloomer. That I wouldn’t “come into my own” until later in life. It’s really just in the last two years that things started to just click for me. Stuff I used to struggle with just isn’t a stressor anymore. All the time spent healing, praying,years of taking medications and rivers of tears have come to fruition. The seeds I started planting seven years ago are beginning to sprout. Writing about this gives me pure elation but actually feeling this way is so peaceful!

I recently had to make a choice at work to stand up for myself with the management. In the past I would of swallowed the poor treatment, condescending tone and allowed myself to feel bad. Those days are over! I took matters into my own hands and went above my direct manager’s head by expressing my frustrations to higher management. The result is respect, both my own and from my manager. I will NOT be treated poorly by anyone because I now value myself. Trust me dear readers, if you have been flowing my posts, you can understand how pivotal this is for me.

In this last week I had to chase down a full refund from my credit card company for something I purchased but never received. I put forth so much effort in obtaining the final refund and I wasn’t taking no for an answer. These two events really spoke to me by showing me that it’s ok to not accept what the world is giving you. It’s alright to say, hey nah….no thank you. I deserve better than what you are offering me.

Growing up I was so shy and believed I was crazy because I could feel other people’s feelings and know their thoughts. I’m a middle child, a team player who’s comfortable having someone else be the leader. I’m a companion type of person who is great at supporting others but I now understand I was letting myself down at times by not pushing forward to reach my full potential in certain circumstances.

In combination with the timing of the universe, I believe my new career has greatly improved my self esteem and proven to me I can be a leader. Making the choice to share my writing has also given me a huge confidence boost and aided me in finding like minded people all over the world. Thank you to all of you who follow me, it means the world to me.

As a child I was unaware of my gifts. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere,just strange and on the outside looking in. A square peg in a round hole, a sore thumb and the black sheep. I can honestly say I don’t feel like that anymore. I believe in myself and I know my worth. I love where I am going and I believe this is my year. This is my time.