Things Have Been Rough, so Here’s to Me Using Some Gratitude to Try to Help Myself (and others)

Things have been so rough. I was getting used to a new normal with chronic illness, but the bottom dropped out of that, so now Im dealing with an even newer normal that is much more difficult.

It has frankly put me in a funk. My son and I also had a terrible vacation I was gifted for our birthdays. I never wanted to see my precious 11 year old see me screaming and crying in pain as driving hurts so much. Well everything hurts. My situation is pretty bad, but I need to refocus on what is good.

When I was really working on my childhood trauma, I used a lot of gratitude for my current day circumstances to heal. There is ever increasing research that gratitude can actually change your brain to feel more positive. I definitely need to feel more positive.

I’m grateful that I have a small circle of friends who check in on me regularly and within that circle are a couple who can absolutely take me at my worst and do the most loving things that reinforce it will be ok no matter what. It will be ok because I’m not alone.

I was alone. I’m still alone in many ways. When I left trauma treatment, I had no one except the connections I made there. At that time, they were in no position to help me. I still leave the “emergency contact” blank at hospitals and doctors offices, but I have worked very hard to cultivate a small circle, and I am so incredibly grateful for them and not to have that feeling of being so alone anymore.

I’m grateful that despite my illnesses, I have a clear mind that can continue to be creative, and I can use my voice.

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to meet so many people over the course of my lifetime. Most of them are gone as time, illness, trauma, and toxicity takes them away, but for those moments they were part of my life, I learned something from them.

I’m grateful that I have a couple people in my life that are pushing me very hard to explore my spirituality and take solace in something greater than I, whatever I decide that is eventually. Even though I’m a neophyte on that journey, it gives me comfort.

I’m grateful that random people I haven’t talked to in a long time send me messages of hope and encouragement. Those moments are extremely special for me. Those moments keep my trajectory going forward.

I’m grateful that I have just enough. Yes, I negotiate to not pay all my bills every month as I don’t have that much, but the electricity is still on. I still have hot water, and I feel safe in my tiny home.

Grateful to feel safe!!! So beyond grateful for that one.

I’m grateful for having a week with my son as I don’t see him much. Even though it was disastrous and not very vacation like, we got to talk a lot. Even he said the best part was just being together for so long.

I’m grateful for the two best rescue chihuahuas ever. They give me so much comfort and so many laughs when I need it most. I highly recommend getting a dog if you feel alone and are able!

I’m grateful for caring doctors who are committed to me and will listen to my hope as well as hand me a Kleenex when I cry in desperation.

I’m grateful of course for the basics. I know too many people who don’t have it. My ability to keep these basics are tenuous, but I have them now and feel if I’m grateful for them now, I don’t have to worry about the future, at least not for now.

I’m grateful for this blog. Thousands of people have stopped by to read pieces. Knowing people actually take time to read what I write is incredible. I’m especially grateful for my regular readers who leave loving comments or send inspired emails.

I’m especially grateful to be on a path to authenticity. Im grateful that i finally appreciate my uniqueness. I’m grateful I can stand up for myself even in a weakened physical state. I’m grateful for being loving and compassionate despite my trauma. I’m grateful that my trauma doesn’t rule my life anymore.

Lastly, I want to say that I’m grateful for my life. As someone who was either actively suicidal or making attempts, being grateful for my life is an incredible step.

Writing this has completely shifted my mindset from angry and heartbroken to more calm and peaceful. Try some gratitude, even if it’s the littlest of things. Focus on that for a bit and see what happens.

What are you grateful for today? Leave it in the comments. You can always remain anonymous!

With much love

Lizzie

A New Normal I Just Can’t Get Used to Today

I’m usually super inspiring and see the beauty and wonderful lessons I’ve learned from having a childhood that had horrible trauma and my subsequent chronic illnesses. Today I’m not ok. I’m feeling a little mad and a whole lot of sad and grief.

In comparison to before I became really physically ill, I saw my son usually 50% of the time with periods of where he was with me full time. I rarely see him now. I’m lucky if it’s once a week. I love him beyond what I’ve ever experienced and my ability to love him transcends his imperfections, which I used to think if he was misbehaving, it was a reflection that I was a bad mom. What I’m trying to say is I’ve really worked hard on becoming a mother who unconditionally loves her child as I certainly never learned it from my mom. Being around him is light for me, so rarely seeing him is painful and hurts more than I can ever express through words.

The whole reason I speak of all that is I was gifted money for both of our upcoming birthdays to take a very modest beach vacation. Our destination was about 8 hours drive from the house in the direction of Southern California. About 5 months ago, we took a beach vacation and while it was difficult for me with my chronic pain and fatigue, I did it with relative ease.

We are day 4 into our “beach” vacation. We haven’t seen the beach. I’m cranky as we never made it to our destination as my chronic pain is now debilitating and my fatigue is worse than I’ve ever experienced (bad gluten exposure. I have celiac disease). Nonetheless, I feel horrible and crabby and like a horrible mother as I haven’t come through on anything close to a vacation. He seems content to be sitting in a budget motel watching tv, but I’m not ok with it.

When you really start to accept that your chronic illness means it will never go away and you will be sick forever, people talk about experiencing a “new normal”. I was good with my new normal that meant I had to rest a lot, had pain I could decently manage through gentle yoga, an anti inflammatory diet, and some exercise, but could still manage to push through to be spontaneous just enough to not feel crazy from being sick and stuck in my room. I could at least pretend that all was well in my weekly visits with my son. I could appear “normal”.

I can’t hide it. I use a mobility aid most of the time. I fall over, HARD, often. I’m facing a lung and bone marrow biopsy in the near future to find out exactly what all these tumor like growths are throughout my body (we are pretty sure what it is, but I don’t want to announce until it’s certain).

I worked SO hard to overcome my C-PTSD and continue to work on it. I feel mad that I’m now so sick that I can’t reap the benefits of healing emotionally. I feel scared that I went from uncomfortably ill to rapidly moving towards totally disabled. I’m just feeling mad. I’m feeling it’s unfair. I’m grieving for all my friends with chronic illnesses that aren’t readily understood and the financial ramifications of being single, homeless, no way to work, and worse. I mean I am lucky that I have a safe home and generally just enough, and when I don’t, I know some generous people.

So many people with serious trauma are really physically ill. The connection is real. It’s hard and today I’m saying “why me?” Today I’m saying it as I see how my precious son is affected.

I have to remind myself and all of you that we didn’t choose to become sick. We didn’t choose our trauma and if you’re lost in mental illness, you didn’t choose that either. I hope I can become something of all of this to pay it forward to people like my dear chronically ill best friend/chosen sister and so many others as none of us should have to be this way.

I’m lucky that I’m just on a beach vacation gone wrong. I just grieve that my body is declining. I’m afraid I won’t be able to reach my goal to be service to others through my writing.

I won’t stay in this emotionally ugly place long. I’ll go hug on my son. I’ll make him take a short stroll in some nature nearby. After all, I happen to own a rollater with huge tires that can go “off road”!

I’m just sorry for me today. I’m sorry for you, and today I’m especially sorry for our children.

Ok. Time to engage in a bit of self care.

Love

Lizzie

I’m Really Trying

I’ve had some beautiful pieces of synchronicity happen in my life lately. A friend sent a friend to help out for a few days. She was more here to help me look at past “wounds” and think more about my spiritual path. I will admit that we didn’t interact a whole lot, but when we did, she gave me a lot to reflect on and continue to work on within myself.

I also like that she physically pushed me. We took pretty long walks in nature, and that’s something I haven’t done in so long as by the time I walk, I’m too tired to drive home. I also fall over a lot! So it was nice to have a driver that pushed me to be in nature, which is incredibly healing for anyone, but especially for someone who just spent a couple weeks in the hospital and is generally holed up in the house. My only interface with nature has been my backyard, which I’m grateful for, but new places and new sites imprint on the brain in exciting ways so I have something new to visualize when I’m paralyzed in my bed.

I know when you are dealing with your trauma, it can become especially hard to be isolated and get stuck there. I was that way, and now that I’m dealing with chronic illnesses, I’m stuck there again. Instead of just lying there wishing the misery would end as I did when my trauma and anxiety plagued me so terribly, I’m trying really hard to reach out.

A lot of what I have to do is online, but I am making new online friends who are lifelines for me. Some check on me more. I tend to check on others more, but friendships are forming, and I hope to be well enough someday to hug them all in person someday.

I’ve spent years, even in recent times (today even) where I get stuck in that rut that no one cares. We get lost in that cognitive distortion that if no one reaches out to us, no one must care. I get stuck in it often, but if I reach out, I find people want to be part of a community of friends. We may all feel alone, but I don’t think anyone ever truly wants to be alone. I’m also realizing that people think about me even though I may never realize it.

Push yourself today to reach out. Push yourself to contact someone, whether it be an online friend or someone you know in person. I guarantee you’ll feel less alone and may even find yourself feeling cared for or even smiling a genuine smile. It’s important. If you have no one, reach out to me. I love meeting new people, especially ones who deal with hard stuff. I get it. Trust me.

Love

Lizzie

Communication, Even about the Yucky Stuff

Me, like most people used to absolutely avoid conflict. The unfortunate part about avoiding conflict is that things build and then become a blow up disaster.

As trauma survivors, even the idea of confronting the smallest conflict can be frightening or triggering. I know I used to avoid it as I somehow always believed people would end up yelling and screaming, begin saying ugly and mean things, and someone would run out of the house kicking a hole in the plaster of the wall on the way out. Of course, this was my true schéma from childhood watching my parents fight or my mom fighting with me. We didn’t do “conflict resolution”, we just perpetuated abuse.

So as you can imagine, when I started learning about having proper communication about conflicts, I just shut down as this topic was too anxiety producing to even begin to tackle. As I tackled the trauma and learned to deal with my PTSD symptoms effectively, I realized that avoiding conflict was a huge problem.

If something seems unjust or even a tiny bit unfair to me, I bring it up. I may not be perfect in how I do it, but I’m finding my true friends are ones who negotiate my imperfection with me.

The benefit of bringing up conflict with another is not about proving you’re right, it’s about voicing your feelings, allowing the other person to voice theirs, really listening to each other and coming up with a mutual solution. (It may sound impossible, but it really has happened for me in a very calm manner and NO screaming involved!)

People who can truly involve in conflict resolution are my heroes. I watch and learn from them and attempt it in my life. When I’ve managed to negotiate a conflict, whether it was quick and smooth or lengthy and rocky are friendships that grew. These instances of growth are even greater than those talks where you talk about how much in common you have.

I encourage you to bring up conflict, even if it ends dreadfully as the other person can’t do it or accuses you of things in an ugly way. Maybe they will come around to be able to communicate later or maybe they never will, and in that instance, I’m not sure it’s a relationship that was worth it. Relationships where there is no conflict isn’t a real relationship. When someone exclaims “we never fight”, I always think it’s strange. Remember fighting does not equal abuse.

As you start to stand up for yourself through bringing up conflict, remember to give yourself grace. It’s not going to be easy. You may have to apologize as you may be too strong, but still stand strong in what you originally were speaking up for. NEVER and I mean NEVER apologize for something that isn’t yours or to get out of the situation. That is not being authentic.

And my final gem is that people are like ice cream. Not everyone likes every flavor. I happen to hate rocky road. I also happen to not care for lots of people. It’s ok and normal. If you start to be authentic and people begin to dislike you, good job!! You’re probably doing it right!

Go conflict!

Love

Lizzie

I Send on My Good Wishes to Everyone Hurting in Anyway

I’m very tired and very sick, but wanted to share my Facebook post today. I recognize I’m hurting in so many ways, but so are others. Read the following and you can see what I did today for all those in need of some extra thoughts. Along with this, I use the “loving kindness” meditation that I usually send more to people who have hurt me. I figure if you are being hurtful, you are most in need of “metta”.

Spread love today, even if you are hurting. I’m spreading it to you. If we could all act based in love and not fear or anger or discord or anxiety or assumptions, perhaps many wonderful things could happen.

In loving kindness,

Lizzie

Sometimes I Wonder Where to Draw the Line

(My little dogs are getting me through, especially as my “heart mender”)

When you have trauma, sometimes the smallest amount of kindness will make you blind to all the negative. I feel if I’m given an ounce of nice, I can ignore the multiple pounds of garbage that gets piled on right along with it.

I came home early from the skilled nursing hospital as it was extremely abusive and neglectful. So my coming home was already a bit traumatic as I now had to figure out how I was going to care for myself alone when the doctors were clear I needed 24/7 care.

Being rolled into my house, I was met with the stench of dog pee. I knew my dogs would go a little as they weren’t let out regularly, but I expected the people caring for my dogs would clean it in a timely manner. The laundry soap was all gone as was a lot of my food. I just fell into a heap and sobbed.

I have no ability to get anywhere or do much at all. I couldn’t deal with the pee smell, so I started on my hands and knees scrubbing all my floors. The pee has soaked in in many places that my hardwood floors are permanently stained, which made me sob more. Why would someone treat my home, which is my sacred space this way?

They did bring me more laundry soap the next day after I told them they needed to. I doubt they will pay to have my floors finished or replace the food, most importantly, they will never understand how devastating it is to have my sacred living space so recklessly treated.

Here’s my dilemma. Do I ignore it and just accept they kept my dogs alive? Unfortunately that feels wrong and unjust to my true feelings. My caregiver thinks what happened is absolutely terrible and had a few choice words for them as I was sitting and sobbing about it all.

I tried to start a dialogue with one of them this evening to say I was hurt, but true to who she is, she just ignored me. Not engaging in a conversation about conflict and just disappearing feels worse than than the conversation itself.

Healthy conflict is good! It makes relationships better and makes them grow. Someone deciding they won’t communicate with me at all makes me feel worthless and invisible.

So the logistics of coming home were traumatic as the skilled nursing was so bad, then getting here to see I was taken advantage of and nothing was cleaned up properly made it worse. I guess the fact that there’s zero communication is the worst. If there’s one thing I’ve realized this past year is that I have a voice and deserve to use it, especially in situations that are wrong against me.

By the way, my peaceful and gentle energy home now feels terrible. Any ideas on clearing negative energy from your house besides sage (makes me sneeze). These two ladies have completely wrecked the zen feeling of my home.

Love

Lizzie

Future Thinking

I’m just short of 2 weeks in the hospital. The outlook isn’t great and will post the exact nature of what’s going on when all is confirmed.

Anyone who has ever spent any time in a hospital (I’ve managed a lot of time) knows it’s really hard and uncomfortable. As a trauma survivor, giving up control of your entire environment is REALLY hard. I’ve found twinges of anxiety creeping up, but I go inside, remind myself I’m safe, and try to appreciate that I’m being taken care of as there’s no way I could do it at home currently.

My mind turns to the future and the things I want to enjoy again. Future thinking is usually a negative for me, but I’m using it as an exercise in gratitude for my usual life, which is extremely difficult, yet very abundant.

I wish to be at home, surrounded by soft blankets, comforting dogs, living plants, and my window that is perfectly angled to watch the sunrise every morning as a reminder that I’m very much alive and part of the earth.

I wish to work on my health so I can take short hikes, long baths, paint beautiful pictures, with enough energy to see a friend.

I wish to have a freedom of movement on legs that are strong thrust forward by an even stronger mind.

I wish to see faraway friends and go to not so faraway places, just the places that bring me joy even if they are just across town.

I wish to tell people I love them and hear them say they love me back. I wish to be loving in my actions with the reciprocation that my actions are paid forward to me. Oh wait, all of this last paragraph is happening now. The most important of it all. Love and connection. Forget the future. I’ll take this moment and revel in the warmth of love that is stronger than the sun. I’ll also relish the fact that someone else is cooking my breakfast, even though it’s the gourmet delight of hospital food!

What about this current moment makes you joyous, peaceful, content, or just ok? Tell me!

Love

Lizzie