Enjoy the Peace. Don’t Sabotage it!

I’m lying here in my bed feeling like something is wrong. You know what’s wrong? Nothing really. It’s a peaceful evening, and I’m just enjoying some music and dog snuggles. I’ve figured out all my recent crises, but it feels strange.

It’s been a whirlwind year of craziness, but this past month has been particularly stressful. One month ago today, I had a very serious, complicated, and controversial surgery on my thoracic spine. I have been dealing with bouts of paralysis, weakness, bladder and bowel issues, enough falls to lead to 7 fractures in 2 1/2 years, and terrible chronic pain. It wasn’t great that I had surgery as an emergency, but it’s great it happened.

The day before I went to the emergency room, I went into escrow on my house. After 2 weeks in the hospital, I had about 2 weeks to pack and move, but I couldn’t do anything. People really came through for me and the move happened relatively seamlessly, but the stress was overwhelming.

This evening as I sit in quiet, i realize that I have had a huge miracle occur in my world. I haven’t had any falls or weakness or paralysis since my surgery! Only strong legs! For someone who has been dealing with this for years, it’s the biggest blessing I could imagine.

So back to how this is in association with trauma. I sent a friend a text saying in general that things seemed to have calmed down for me, and I wasn’t sure if I should embrace and enjoy or bite my nails waiting for the next horrible thing to happen? She told me to embrace. Why wouldn’t I embrace and enjoy my moments of peace? I know growing up in trauma, all you ever are waiting for is the next horror. It doesn’t matter if you are having an incredible day, it’s plagued by anxiety knowing that something bad will always happen.

I’m going to work really hard at enjoying my peace, and even if something horrible happens tomorrow, I’ll get through it. I’m still alive, right?

Having a moment to sit in gratitude for my health miracle and knowing good people are surrounding me is well deserved. It’s actually a way better feeling than trying to predict my next crisis honestly.

All my horribly traumatized friends, please try to recognize those moments that are peaceful. Take a mental snapshot so you can return when things aren’t so great. Many of us aren’t actually living in trauma anymore, it just feels like it. The real truth is that the bad people of our past are gone, but our brains are wired to feel like it’s still happening.

I can write about embracing the good a thousand times, but I will probably still need an outside reminder that tomorrow may be good too and the day after that. Not everything in life is trauma anymore. At this point for me, traumas aren’t traumas so much as just living life. I’m really proud of myself for saying that, and I’m super proud of myself for embracing the good. I did that and I know you all know what a huge accomplishment it is.

Love

Lizzie

Loneliness

I can’t call this blog post more than “loneliness”, but I’ve explored this topic and will continue. Pervasive loneliness is a hallmark trait of CPTSD, yet it felt to me that this is also more of an American condition too. I read some study that I probably should have bothered to remember so I could cite it, but it said 25% of Americans experience extreme loneliness.

I was trying to question why this is for me personally. I have built up a pretty incredible support system given my attachment problems. I’ve allowed people into my life at varying levels appropriate to our relationship. With being in the hospital and moving, I’ve been surrounded by people. Yesterday was the first day I spent alone and it felt more natural to me and less lonely.

How could I feel less lonely alone over with all these people whose actions clearly showed they cared about me? I think as a child going through extreme trauma, I wasn’t taught to trust anyone, not even myself. I was never told how to be a friend or a wife or anything that people are not only supposed to do, but get joy from (just to clarify, I say “wife” as just my term, but can be expanded into whatever you would call yourself in an intimate relationship of your choice).

Being around so many people showing me so much care made me want them to go away on some level as it just felt uncomfortable. The old me would have isolated as it feels “better” to be alone as I’m sure no one would understand me. The new me that strives for authenticity is going to force herself to be engaged socially as my having good people in my life is a rite I deserve no matter how uncomfortable it gets. I feel lucky in that some people are really willing to be patient as I learn about attaching to other adults in my life. Sometimes, they even gently show me how it’s done without even knowing that’s what they are doing.

I realize if I continue to keep showing up in my relationships, my counterparts do too. I also have to remember that I don’t expect perfection for myself, so I can’t hold others to that too, so if someone disappoints me, it’s not necessarily about me.

I know having friends, and now even a boyfriend, has been very new for me. By friends, I mean genuinely caring relationships, not toxic people who pretend to give me love. There are days I want to push them all away as it feels too much, but then there are those moments when I need friendship, because I have things to share or need to talk. That’s when having so many new relationships in my life feels good.

I also realized that I have the right to say no. If I’m feeling particularly awkward or need some space, I can say no to being social, and it’s ok to take care of me first.

Realizing that I actually get to make choices about everything in my life has probably been the most healing aspect of dealing with trauma.

I encourage you to reach out to a good person today, whether in person or virtually and if you were like me just a year and a half ago and feel you had no one, send me an email. I’ll respond.

Love

Lizzie

Beauty Amongst the Rubble

(Just having fun taking pictures in my new home!)

I can’t be more blunt than my life has been seriously sucking lately. No matter how hard I work to live well and content, it seems something horrible is always around the corner.

Then today happened. I was just entering the process of buying a house a month ago when I ended up in the emergency room and then having emergency back surgery. Today, I received the keys to my new house.

I realized with the help of several friends that I have had some pretty horrendous things happen to me, but I always get repaid a million times over. Back surgery hurts, losing my independence has been nasty, not being able to see my son is totally devastating, but people have come together around me. This house didn’t happen all by itself. The acquisition and subsequent move that will be happening in a couple days has all been because others are holding me up.

The horror I know turns into amazing beauty and I must remember that it happens every time. It may not be on my timeline or exactly how I want it, and it’s definitely going to hurt like hell while it’s happening, but eventually I come out of the darkness into intense light. Today was one of those beautiful days. Knowing I have a home that is perfect for me and affordable and safe is incredible. I also know that only love and peace will be inside. I will make sure of it.

I never had a totally safe place to call my own, and now I do. For a trauma survivor, this may be the biggest victory of all. I get to choose who comes in my house. I get to choose what happens in my safe space. Today I choose for it to be a home filled with love and safety, and I choose it forever.

Have you ever noticed that after you go through a personal storm that the clouds part and life becomes ok again? I hope so, and if you haven’t noticed, think on it. Recognizing the bad AND good in my life is incredibly healing. Validating and acknowledging within myself that there is both, and I can have a range of feelings about so many things at once will absolutely pull you out of that cycle of trauma.

Life’s not easy, but it’s not all horrible either.

Love

Lizzie

Why is My Life so Dramatic when I Try to Live so Peacefully?

I remember when I was in residential treatment for my trauma last year, my therapist told me that if I was truly going to change myself that everything in my world would change and it was going to be hell for awhile.

As I’ve mentioned several times on this blog, I used to be a scared doormat that did whatever people said or requested as I never wanted to rock the boat as I just wanted everyone to like me.

As I have begun to rock the boat and make real change in myself, my life has been hell. I’m admitting it has been horrible, but I will also tell you it has not been as bad as living in suicidal depression for 40 years.

I did a lot of reading on why I’m being so persecuted by people who used to love me. I will say that most of the people who used to love me were also abusive or narcissistic or totally lost in their own trauma. I am being persecuted because people of my past can’t handle that I’m taking such positive steps to not live in misery. I work hard everyday to not let the demons of my trauma overtake me anymore. I will admit almost everyday I have a fleeting thought of giving up, but I made a commitment to myself to persevere no matter what, and that commitment frightens people.

I’ve only touched on my son and what a screwed up relationship there is with the coparent. Today the screwed up nature grew to epic levels. I don’t like to talk about it much as it is my sons own story of trauma to tell if he chooses when he’s older, but one thing I worked the most on this past year was being an attentive and loving mother who shows up emotionally and keeps my sons emotional well being front and center in my parenting practice. I will not allow anyone to call me a bad mom as I am not perfect, but I shouldn’t be expected to be. I don’t do anything intentional and instead of receiving support and recognition for what I’ve done, I receive punishment by having my access to him taken away.

In the end it doesn’t matter. My son recognizes the changes I’ve made. He calls me strong and tells me he’s proud of me. His perceptions are way more important to me than those of people trying to persecute me for not allowing myself to be controlled or bullied.

I will NEVER go back to being weak and abused and controlled even if I never see my son again. I would rather he know I’m strong as he calls me and that I continue in my strength than for me to submit to unjust demands not appropriate for who I am.

I am trying to live with such peace, but around every corner seems to be a new hardship. I just have to remember that if my life is hellish, I must be doing the right thing as that’s what that trusted therapist told me a year ago. I’m just so tired of crying today.

Don’t worry. I will stand tall for me and every other trauma survivor not strong enough to yet as it’s what we have to do if we are ever going to change our lives. I’m standing tall and strong and with conviction and with integrity. Anyone else standing with me vowing to never be abused again???

I will admit to feeling extremely empowered, but at the same time, I am extremely hurt by people.

Love

Lizzie

Important to Keep up Self Care

I’ve been writing about my fall into the old coping skill of wanting to kill myself these past few posts. I came to a really important insight last night about why.

I treat my recovery from my CPTSD like a job. It’s something I have to work at and dedicate time to whether I want to or not. On those occasions I’ve chosen to skip my recovery work, I usually fall. Skipping out doesn’t usually mean I skip out on everything though.

Having had major surgery and now being in a flare of my chronic Epstein Barr has left my recovery work untouched since I came home from the hospital two weeks ago. It wasn’t purposeful, in fact it was forced.

I’ve come up with a recipe or plan of sorts that keeps me balanced, positive, and generally ok. It’s really hard work, but I know it works for me as I can feel the changes inside of me and others recognize it too. I’m going to kind of list my CPTSD care plan and how it completely fell apart to give you ideas for your own or maybe talk to a good friend, therapist, or even me about starting your own CPTSD “job”. Most of these solutions are good for anyone and probably just good ways to live.

1. Isolation. I make myself have contact with a support person or friend via text or phone everyday and force myself to do something social with one of these people once a week. I’m amazing at isolation, but it’s bad for my mental health. With my surgery, I have been so sick and in pain that I haven’t been reaching out much and I’m restricted from driving so I can’t go anywhere.

2. Exercise. I make a point to get gentle exercise everyday. My favorite is lap swimming, but I also walk and do yoga. It manages my anxiety and keeps my body healthy, which keeps my mind healthy. As part of my back surgery was a pretty lengthy fusion, I’m not allowed to bend, twist, or lift anything, and swimming is out as I have an extremely long incision that will take weeks to heal before it can be submerged. So, my anxiety and thinking in rapid circles sky rocketed to pathological levels.

3. Eating. With the help of a nutritionist, I went on an extremely strict anti inflammatory diet to help with my autoimmune issues and chronic pain. Eating this healthy is very labor intensive and requires a couple trips to the grocery store for fresh produce, herbs, and organic meats. My healthy eating lifestyle (I hate the world diet, as I’m not depriving my body, I’m truly nourishing it) improved a lot of my life, probably more than anything on this list. First of all, I’ve dealt with eating disorders and body dysmorphia forever. Having a nutritionist who tells me what to eat makes me know I’m eating the right foods in the right amounts, and my body looks great as I normalized to the proper size for me. It also eliminated my depression within 2 weeks of starting. With my back, i can’t stand and cook and there’s no getting out to get my foods. So depression returned, I’m back to constantly weighing myself, and have huge anxiety about getting fat, especially as my body atrophies.

4. Art. I try to do one art project a week to be a visual representation of what’s going on inside me. It’s fun, sometimes more expressive than my writing, and gives me a sense of accomplishment when I complete something. Well, it hurts to do anything but lie here.

5. Writing. I’m not working on my book as once again, it hurts. The blog I’m managing as it’s done quickly.

6. Independence gone. I’m super independent and definitely to a fault. I am glad I have recognized asking for help is necessary, but when you need help with everything, it’s depressing as you’re obviously going to get disappointed by people because I’m no longer in control of my own time line.

7. Reading. Reading is my lifeline to learning about all sorts of things to it just being enjoyable to me. Once again, just holding a book hurts. I don’t watch any tv or movies, so my way of zoning out is gone when I just need a distraction.

8. My son. I’m not seeing my son at all. Mom isn’t the only hat I wear, but I truly enjoy my son. Even if we are both home and not interacting, I just love knowing he’s here. He’s my favorite person in the whole world and it hurts that I haven’t really seen him in a month. In fact, it doesn’t just hurt, it devastates my heart. It’s especially devastating as no one finds it important that he even come visit me as it takes too much inconvenience to drive him to me for a few hours. I really love being a mom today as when I decided to rescue myself and really parent, I got really engaged in my sons life to even being proud to say I was stable enough to volunteer at his school regularly. It’s been taken.

I know there’s more on this list that I work at everyday, but can you see how when I take away all my positive coping skills I do regularly, I end up turning back to the old ones that are terrible? I don’t want to be suicidal, I actually like life. I’m not particularly fond of my life right this second, but I have hope it will improve in a matter of weeks.

I hope sharing my list helps you come up with your own list to improve your life. The biggest hint is that you have to work at it EVERYDAY! You can’t cheat, or you won’t reap the successes.

I’m hoping In just a week, my body won’t hurt so much and I can begin to do some of what I love that keeps me balanced and positive. Right now, I’m trying to use the old phrase “this too shall pass” as a mantra in knowing my body has to heal and much of healing is just being still and alone. I’m not happy about it, and actually hate it, but it’s what I got thrown for now.

Anyone have other suggestions on what they do to keep from going completely “crazy”? I could use some new ideas, and I love hearing from you.

Love

Lizzie

Old Coping Strategies are Hard to Break

(This little girl fell down and it looks like it hurt. I bet she’s getting back up too and even with the help of a trusted adult)

I’m sorry to be so doomsday these past few posts, but I decided to be very honest about what’s going on in my life instead of being a false representation of who I am as that is not what my blog is about. This blog is about finding my authentic self while healing from CPTSD. It’s difficult subject matter even though I’m usually pretty positive and see the good and why of things.

I was thinking this morning about why would I turn to feeling like killing myself when things get very overwhelming. Well, I’ve spoken about my mom being an extremely evil person, but when I was young, my mom would say to me when I had sad feelings, ” well, you can always go kill your self if you don’t like your life”.

What a horrible thought to put in my young head and that coping skill has always been one that I thought was viable as my own mom, the woman who gave birth to me, told me that’s how you cope. No wonder I’ve gone there so many times.

Maybe some of you have had the psyche interview where they ask how many times you’ve tried to kill your self. I actually don’t even know. I know there have been a couple where I clinically died, but just attempts??

Of course that’s how I coped though. My primary attachment person said to do that. I’m really glad I pushed through this time, as giving in would be giving into her. I certainly don’t want to become anything she said I would as she made sure i was a nothing and knew it and she would be happy from wherever her soul sits now to see me end my life.

I’m also glad I pushed through as I’ve had this insight about my coping skill of committing suicide came from my mom. I never want to do anything she told me to do as my mom had nothing to do with parenting and much to do with destroying everything i could have ever liked about me or this world.

It’s ok that I fell so hard these past few days. I have 41 years of hers and other family members and negative people in my life’s programming to get over. It’s been beyond hard and lonely, but I’m learning everyday, and falling down, but showing yourself you can get back up is part of it too. It’s going to be a lifelong process that does get easier.

Today, I choose to get up. I’m not excited or even happy about it, but I’m choosing it. The pain of my current life is all still here, but I’m choosing to show up for life today. It doesn’t mean I’ll go out and be social or skip down the streets whistling a happy tune (I just had surgery afterall), but I’ll commit to being alive. I’ll commit to being who I want to be and not what my mom wanted me to be. I’ll commit to taking it in tiny steps and getting done what I can in my incapacitated state.

I wish I could be more inspiring or helpful, but perhaps today you can look at your own negative coping skills and see if you learned them from some awful person in your life and eradicate them and that negative way of coping out of your life. Just something to think about I guess.

I’m not saying feeling suicidal won’t come up again in my life, but I’m proud I didn’t try. I’m proud I attempted to reach out, and I’m definitely proud it didn’t overtake me so hard that I ended up in the psyche hospital as has happened countless times in the past.

I’ll be ok and maybe I’ll even get back to my more optimistic self!? I can only hope as I don’t aspire to bring people down. I do aspire to show people that you can live life, and a good one at that even with severe trauma. My life may not sound great at the moment, but this is a blip. If you would have known the me of even a year ago, you would be applauding me at how well I handled this. I’m going to give myself a gentle pat on the back and not be mad or overly think about my stumble.

I’m going to move forward with being real and move forward with being who I want to be. You do too.

Love

Lizzie

I’m Still Here

Perhaps if you read my last post, you are saying that’s a good thing, or if you’re one of those people I’ve had to put a lot of boundaries up, you may have some disappointment.

Despite having so much darkness overwhelm me, I took a moment to literally just breathe and continue and put my lethal concoction of pills away to be taken appropriately.

It’s not that I had any huge epiphany of why I’m staying or that anything has been fixed in my life. It was simply a comment of a loyal reader that reminded me I’m not alone in this world or how I experience pain. There’s nothing unique to my experience, the only unique part is that I choose to put it in a public format as it’s important for me to express, but I’m also beginning to understand that it’s important for others to read. I may not get many comments or likes on my blog, but my stats show lots and lots of people read it, so that has to mean something? And that simple fact gives me meaning.

I often believe I was gifted pain (and decent grammar) so I could share what it’s like to go through painful times so others will come to my blog and just say “me too” and realize none of us are so special or unique that we hurt, because we all do. Some may just feel down or others, such as I just a few hours ago have real struggle to not just take their life as I had a strong urge to do.

I will say, one comment made me realize that the most important part about my life is that I have myself. This comment made me realize I’m not ready to give up on the relationship with myself as I’m just getting to know who I really am. I’m not the person that has behaviors or traits of trauma, I’m the person beneath all that who is creative and witty and likes to be outside and works incredibly hard to be as healthy as possible so I can fulfill a list of dreams that have to do with the core of my soul, not trauma. Killing myself is about being mired in that trauma, not digging into who I really am. If I can stay focused on that woman deep inside who is innocent and pure and not hurt, life is not only ok, but has plenty of moments of beauty.

I ask all of you to dig deep inside to see who you are while taking away what people have projected onto you. What are your true dreams and desires, not what other people want for you, but what you want for you? Take lots of moments to go inside and listen to all parts of yourself and find that being that was so beautifully made before the ugliness of the world changed you. That centered place is extremely peaceful and where true strength lies as no one and nothing can penetrate or change your core, but you must find it.

I can write more about how I found mine, but it’s 3:30 in the morning, and I’m feeling tired and like this hasn’t been terribly coherent.

I just wanted you to know that I’m trying another day and with the help of another reader, I was reminded that I’m trying for me, the true me, the authentic me. You do too.

Love

Lizzie