I received a notification from WordPress that my annual renewal comes due on June 14th. That would lead me into year 3 of this blog. I have decided through a lot of contemplation not to renew.
My goal in beginning this blog nearly 2 years ago was to figure out what it means to be authentic when you have CPTSD. I was brought up that you could only be happy. A favorite phrase if I was feeling upset was “get over it”. So I stuffed it and put a fake smile on my face with sad eyes.
I have learned that authenticity is just that, being real. In so many ways, I feel like the story of the “velveteen rabbit” genuinely mimics what life can be like for so many of us who have struggled with severe childhood abuse. You can beat us up, tear us down, have our eyes fall out (in my case not being able to see the truth of who I am), but one day we wake up to understand we are real, special, and beautiful.
Authenticity means being sincere with my feelings. Does that mean I tell the grocery store clerk, or even a new friend the intricacies of how awful things have been or might be in that moment? No, but it does mean I have an extremely tiny circle of people who get to know bits and pieces. I am particularly lucky that I met one woman who gets to know the real me. I let her know when I’m grieving. I let her know when I have had a victory. She understands and truly wants to know the complexities of my illnesses. She is a friend like no other who has helped me on the journey to authenticity. We both have the time and interest and given, there are times we can’t correspond like we always want to due to one of us having symptoms of our different illnesses prohibiting it, we are always there. Authenticity means having a friend where there isn’t jealousy or pity, but joy for each other and holding space for the harder times. You only need one of those, and I found a gem!
I have met several new friends that know different things about me. Many don’t know the complexities of my past, or even my present, and I have learned to in authenticity, it’s not necessary.
I have become a genuinely smiley person. In knowing and experiencing so much ugliness, I recognize when the good comes, and I feel the gift of trauma is that I see the sun just a bit brighter. I smile with my eyes too.
I can be “smiley” as I also recognize my grief. I can feel the gamut of feelings I have about life. I can cry genuine tears over heartbreaking situations. I can grieve a past that wasn’t fair, but it’s what I was handed.
Authenticity means I can have fun. Authenticity means I can enjoy my own company. Authenticity means I don’t have to turn into a chameleon so everyone will “like” me. Authenticity means embracing who I am and what I love and look for the people who share those things too. Authenticity means I choose who I interact with and in doing so, it has been a hard couple years in losing people, but I have gained true friendships that don’t leave me feeling lonely, but most importantly, I have a newfound respect, admiration, and love for who I am.
This doesn’t mean that “poof”, all the ugliness of trauma has left me. Managing trauma will be a lifelong process of counteracting negative thoughts, continuing to remind myself that I do NOT want or need validation from relationships that don’t serve me that I was desperate for for such a long time.
Trauma recovery isn’t easy. It’s something I put energy into consciously each day. I realized that there are many ways I have recovered that people don’t believe will help. I know as I’m in my 3rd year of being psych med free as I find a carrot stick (well, my entire anti inflammatory eating lifestyle where I eat 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and no sugar among other things) to be the best medicine along with my strong iyengar yoga practice that is too complex to explain here, but it’s not “gym” yoga. Just like my eating, it’s a lifestyle as well. It’s not weird like that sounds, but iyengar yoga is a genuine practice of mind, body, and spirit where in my class yesterday, we had a discussion about cultivating a life aligned with joy, compassion for the hurting, and working for equanimity for those genuinely struggling. Then we went into our practice enjoying going just to where our bodies allow us to go with gaining physical strength, one gains mental strength.
In the past couple years, I had a lot of medical mysteries that have finally been diagnosed. I face some huge health challenges ahead that I asked my doctor to just give me a few months before I manage that part. I know I’ll get through it with strength, community, kindness, and I was proud of myself for saying I just needed a break.
I have some incredible opportunities coming my direction. I need to focus on those. I need to focus on being light hearted. I need to focus on writing my book instead of this blog. I have also found an audience elsewhere that are interested to know how I heal.
I have received countless emails and personal messages about how my blog has helped them, but because what I write about is personal, many have said they haven’t wanted to publicly comment. My stats show thousands of people have read this blog with a couple thousand regulars. No worries, I can’t see who reads my blog, just the numbers. My original goal of this blog was to create a community where people could come together to know they weren’t alone through dialogue with each other. I failed in creating that as unfortunately, people feel they have to hide. It’s ok. I hope you will be seen someday.
This is blog post 169 in less than 2 years! I am proud of that. As I download my blog and eventually read my own journey from almost 2 years, I’m sure I’ll be astounded at my growth. I hope people who have read this in the shadows who have CPTSD have grown too.
The most important thing I have come to realize is that I can have many miserable and painful circumstances in my life, and as long as I recognize and honor them, it allows me to be joyful. Joy is our human right. So I do genuinely smile. I also genuinely sob. I have anger in appropriate ways. I have learned I don’t have to be a “doormat”. I can be kindly assertive.
Have I made mistakes? Absolutely, but don’t we all? The best thing about making mistakes is learning from them and finding people who will give you grace when you realize it. If they leave, that’s their choice to make too as I have left people I couldn’t handle as well.
To make a post that could probably be a book in itself on authenticity, the best I know is that I have learned to explore what I avoided, advocating for myself, living with stillness to have painful feelings I don’t shy away from, learning by making mistakes in friendships that repeated my trauma to understand what a real friend is, enjoying what I enjoy that might not be typical of most (I haven’t watched tv in over 3 years and choose a book several times over instead) instead of doing what other people want, accepting compliments as real, spirituality, forgiveness of others and self, and genuinely knowing I am a deserving person of good things.
I’m leaving bitterness and ugliness behind. It doesn’t mean I don’t get angry. It doesn’t mean i will stop fighting for certain things, I am just choosing to understand the only thing I can control in this world is myself and my actions. I am freeing my heart to be open to giving and receiving love and as I open it up more and more, both seem to be expanding exponentially.
I won’t give advice on how you can do it for yourself. I do know that receiving positive attention and staying in gratitude is exhilarating compared to being miserable about things I can’t change.
So my blog will be up for a couple weeks. Feel free to email me if you would want to stay in touch via email on my contact page. I can also share my social media accounts if you email.
Do what makes your heart sing. Take good care of yourself, especially if no one ever took good care of you or couldn’t allow it. Enjoy your life of today, especially if your life is technically safe. I never got into the nitty gritty of how I actually went about saving myself, but it’s not an easy process that’s laden with hopelessness, but I will say it’s worth it. I didn’t write much about how I allowed trauma to ruin my life for many years, but I will not allow it at 44 years old even with significant health challenges and heartbreaking situations.
I’ll leave you with a few pictures of my heart singing and hope to hear from you. If not, best wishes on your journey. May it be blessed with the hope and love I have come to know from some of the most unlikely of sources!