#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Domestic Violence, healing, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Amanda’s Story

“I wanted to help him see the good qualities in him that I saw. I tried to save him, to rescue him and I guess to change him. It was much easier to rescue other people than to deal with the horrors of my childhood trauma. The relationship started great he had quit smoking, landed a great job, and was looking into volunteer firefighting. We moved into our place five months into the relationship when I was three months pregnant. It was an exciting time but also an eye-opening time. He would say degrading remarks about my family and me. I felt isolated and alone. We were leaving our last parenting class and he asked where we were going, I responded straight. That was the wrong answer; he said: “I’m going to crash this jeep into the back end of those cars.” The day before our baby shower, he asked if I wanted to end up like the woman in town who was found murdered by her husband in their backyard. I was so afraid he would kill me after our son was born, but I had no one to talk to. The birth of our son was traumatic and took a toll on my physical and mental health. I struggled with postpartum anxiety and depression. I was suicidal, and he “If you want to kill yourself, go ahead the baby, and I are going for a walk.” When I finally did reach out for help at my six-week postpartum appointment, the lady from the crisis unit said she wanted me to get better and realize my worth so I would be strong enough to leave. I was still in denial that I was in an abusive relationship; I would make up excuses for him. The final straw was when I was in the car on the highway pumping milk for our son; he asked if I had anything to cover up with, I said I didn’t, but no one could see anything. He said, “I’m going to slam your head against the dashboard to knock you out.” A month and a half after that incident, I was in a domestic violence shelter getting the much-needed education and support.”

Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your story.

You are strong.

You are brave.

You are important.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

#DomesticViolenceAwareness, Depression, Domestic Violence, healing, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Kristi’s Story

“For 9.5 years all I heard was that I wasn’t good enough, or everything that went wrong was my fault, I was too fat. I was choked and grabbed forcibly by the arm and pushed. I was always made fun of, made to feel like I didn’t matter.

Wasn’t able to see friends, because they influenced my decisions. Seeing my parents was just as bad. Always cheating on me, when confronted with proof, he would say it wasn’t him. I was never his wife (we were married for 7 years), I was always his friend, the mother of his Godchildren.

I worked all the time, trying to earn money for our family, while he sat at home talking to other women and playing video games. He’d always spend out/my money on other women. Because we stopped being intimate with each other, I was cheating on him, I was hanging out with other guys.

The non-stop fighting, yelling , and the physical fights just kept going. Getting worse by the day. It had gotten to the point of severe violence where I felt my life was over. He choked me so hard, that my neck had hurt for 3 days. That’s when I knew it was time to go. Sneaking out didn’t work, so I was arrested for domestic violence. Spent 6 months on probation. It was worth it.”

Photo courtesy of Jourdan Buck Photography

Thank you, Kristi, for sharing your story.

You are brave.

You are strong.

You are limitless.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

Depression, EMDR, Grief and Loss, healing, Hope, Uncategorized

Where to Start?

I met with my therapist again this week, and we talked about how I handled Good Friday and Easter. Days that for the last ten years have brought pain and suffering for me. This year, sandwiched in between the days was the third anniversary of my mom’s death.

I didn’t flinch. I didn’t shed a tear. The pain was gone. I didn’t reminisce over what could have, should have or would have been. I didn’t put my thoughts into the dark hole of grief. The days came and went without the heaviness they usually carry. I told her I was amazed at how effective the EMDR therapy had been in such a short amount of time. Two sessions took ten years of pain, possibly more. She said we hold memories in networks, and related thoughts can be healed, even without focusing on them. So, being able to work through my mom’s anniversary was an added bonus of the work we did on the loss of my gram. As she told me that, I thought about the possibilities that are in front of me. There is so much work to be done, but where to start? We talked about where to go next, about the top issues that cause me distress. My mind went in circles. How could I pick the top issues? What was really causing me distress now? My healing journey has been pretty complete. Most days are OK, with days of OK with a side of sadness. Knowing that memories are stored in networks, and connected in a web, woven together by similarities, I thought about the root of my suffering. My mom. I always feel a little guilty or cliche about blaming my mom. That’s the joke of all counseling sessions. “What did your mom do to screw you up?” For the longest time, I wouldn’t let my thoughts take me there. I didn’t want to be one of them that blamed all of my problems on my mom. I was so adamant that she was not my problem that I brushed off the first notion of it. It was only after acknowledging it, and working through it that I was able to start the true healing. When I told her I wanted to work on some memories of my mom, she asked me which one? I didn’t really know. There were so many. She suggested I close my eyes and see what image comes to me. It was fitting, that the title of my book was the image projected on my mental movie screen. I pictured my three-year-old self, pleading with the monster to give me back my mommy. The terror from that moment flooded me. When I was asked what thoughts this image brought to mind, I responded, “that I am annoying, an inconvenience, not worth people’s time, not good enough.” And there we have it. The root of my self-sabotaging behavior and thoughts, the feeling that my presence is not worth any one’s time, the feeling of being inadequate, of never being enough was programmed into my tiny, little, 3-year-old brain. All of the healing in the world would not work if this block was not removed. For close to thirty-five years I have held this block in my mind, stopping short of true healing. Each and every time I get close to tackling these thoughts my brakes instantly go one, and I am stuck in tar, unable to move forward, or to shake these thoughts out of my mind. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know what. All I knew was the same terror that came as that 3-year-old filled me when I came close to working on these thoughts. Frozen. Through the process of the EMDR therapy so much happened, in such a short amount of time. As we worked through the memories, a vision of my gram came in. Her smiling face, and a bright, yellow light surrounding her. The anxiety and terror I had been feeling was lifted, and in it’s place warmth and love filled me. I saw my gram take the hand of my child-self and take her out of that bedroom with the monster. We walked away, and slowly my mom disappeared. The bed was empty, the blankets pulled up and straightened. When I was asked what I saw, I said that my gram was going to protect the little girl, and keep her safe. Visions of my child-self and my gram playing together came, and my whole body shifted. In the past I had been told to take care of my child-self. The idea of it sounded far fetched, and honestly, a little crazy. I was told to give that little girl the love and support she was longing for. Let her be little. I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. A burden was lifted when I saw my child-self was in my gram’s hands now. I wouldn’t have to care for her, but I knew she would be safe, and happy. When I was asked to do a scan of my body from head to toe after the session, I felt something I had never felt before. A clear flow of energy. No blocks. No tension. Nothing in the way of the energy circulating throughout my body. A notable thing to mention is that as I was doing the scan of my body, I said that I felt like I was finally inside my body. With the damaged little girl in the way, I was never fully able to experience life as me. I had never thought of it in those terms before, but as I finished up the scan, I noticed that I could actually feel my feet on the floor. As in, I have never noticed that sensation before. When I shared this with my therapist, she smiled at me, and said how exciting it will be to get to know myself. The thought brought tears to my ears. I never expected to get to a place in my life where the pain and thoughts were not overwhelming. To think that this can happen for all of the areas of trauma in my life is beyond exciting, I don’t even have the words to describe how this all feels. As we talked at the end of our hour together I told her how interesting it was that we had worked on the loss of my gram first, because without that work being done, seeing her come to take my child-self would have been crushing. It would not have worked, because the emotions tied to that loss were so intense. Also, the timing of this all worked out well. The groundwork for the foundation of my healing had been laid. I was ready. There is nothing left to do now, except heal. Who am I to question how all this works? Be kind to yourself. We are all healing from something.
Depression, Hope, poetry, Uncategorized

Falling Down

Sometimes I fall down, inside of myself.

Unable to get up, or out of the way.

I don’t know what I will trip on,

or what will cause the fall.

But I know I will land, in a hard, loud thump.

My body rejects any efforts of comfort,

and pushes away love and concern.

I am not sure what makes the light fade away,

and allows the darkness to creep in.

I know the pain of trying all too well.

The empty spaces growing,

while the numbness tingles places unknown.

Staying down, too long is not an option.

Pushing my way through the darkness, 

helps me live again.

Each fall is followed by my rise,

through the darkness, into the light.

With each fall,

I know one thing,

Nothing remains the same.

Depression, Grief and Loss, poetry, Uncategorized

I’m Sick

I’m sick of caring what everyone else thinks.

I’m sick of being ignored by the people who used to care about me.

I’m sick of perpetrators playing the victim.

I’m sick of the unsaid things that linger in my mind.

I’m sick of the days bleeding into each other.

I’m sick of how quickly negativity spreads.

I’m sick of being the adult in all situations.

I’m sick of people hurting others, and never having to pay.

I’m sick of the anger.

I’m sick of watching while others hurt.

I’m sick of the noise that takes over the quiet space.

I’m sick of not knowing what is to come.

I’m sick of not having anything to grab onto.

I’m sick of twenty-five years turning to silence.

I’m sick of depending on people who don’t really care.

I’m sick of humanity becoming anything, but human.

I’m sick of the hate.

I’m sick of waiting for things to change.

I’m sick of it.

Depression, Grief and Loss, Hope, Tom Petty, Uncategorized

Words

Ever since I can remember, I have loved words. Either in songs, poems, quotes, books…it didn’t matter to me. I just needed to be around words. One of my favorite books as a child was a book of quotations that I found on my gram’s bookshelf. I would spend hours reading through it, finding ones that meant something to me, and I would write them on little index cards and tape them up all over my room.

Words made sense in a world where nothing else did. 

This love of words is one of the main reasons that I love Tom Petty’s music so much. His words mean something. They reach the core of my soul, and wrap me in warmth. As the year anniversary of his death is fast approaching, I find myself drawn to looking for more words.

My words have been sparse. For reasons unknown to me. Depression maybe. Grief possibly. Whatever the reason, my words have been harder and harder to set free. This has made it next to impossible to write my weekly blog posts. I watch the days slip by, and the number of posts that I am behind continue to  grow.

I do things all or nothing. If I don’t think I can do a job up to my standards, I just don’t do it. Typically, I am able to force myself into it, and usually I produce results I am mildly  satisfied with. As this challenge taunted me, I found a way around it.

As I was drawn into searching for quotes, I decided to share them here. I will write what comes from the inspiration of the words, and hope to pass along some of the joy they bring.

To start, let’s begin with:

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”— Theodore Roosevelt

sky

Depression, healing, Hope, Uncategorized

Maybe It’s Me

For as long as I can remember, my accomplishments have never been celebrated. In my thirty-seven years, I never had a Birthday party. These days, that is what I prefer, but as a child, I always felt inadequate when I couldn’t reciprocate the invitation to my friends.  Other kids had parties at McDonald’s, or the bowling alley, or a big sleepover full of girls. I always had a cake, and usually a barbecue…but that was because it was the day before the Fourth of July. For a little while, I thought the fireworks were for me…it was very disappointing to learn they were not.

When I brought home a report card with all As, I was questioned why there was an A-. Surely, I could have tried harder. When I graduated eighth grade, other kids had parties and gifts, and praise. I didn’t even have a picture taken of me at the event.

In high school, when it was time for the Chorus I was in to have our first, and second, and third concert…there was no one in the audience for me. I had to get a ride from a friend to get there on time. I think it was at this time that I decided to “why bother,” while also increasing my desire to “do better.”

It was a relentless cycle of not caring, and never feeling good enough. I would teeter into the not caring zone, to tipping the scale with chasing the next thing that might matter. Matter to who? I wasn’t really sure. I had dreams that I had to make happen, because if I didn’t, then what good was I? Like the age old question, “If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?”  For me, it was, “If no one notices my accomplishment, do they really even count?”

In my senior year of high school I was dropped off at the award ceremony, where I won an award for excelling in Home Economics. No one was there to see me receive it. No one. At graduation, my gram and mom were there to watch me receive my diploma. Not one picture was taken. My celebration for graduating after a full year of receiving high honors?  A quick trip to McDonald’s, where my mom criticized my dress and complained about how long the ceremony took, and how hot it was. I was grateful for the lunch, but it happened more so because it was lunch time. I know my gram felt bad about it, but at 80, it was the best she could do.

Because I had no support, emotionally or financially, there was no way I could go to college right out of high school, no matter how badly I wanted to. I told myself it was better that way, because my gram needed me. I couldn’t leave her behind when there was no one else willing to help her. I found a full time job, where I walked three miles to and from until I had enough money to pay for a taxi.

When I was able to figure out a way to go to college, I took as many credits as financial aid allowed me. I was working full time, and taking at least 15 credits a semester. Then, I had to take a break when my son was born. Quitting was not an option. I had to complete what I started. When my son was twenty-two months old, and my daughter was only a few weeks old, I received my bachelor’s degree in human services with a 4.0 grade point average. My mom, gram, and brother were there watching me, but again no picture and no celebration. It was clear that my gram was proud of me, and that alone was enough of a celebration, but it was another time where it seemed as though I didn’t make the mark.

Weeks after graduation I was hired for my dream job…you guessed it…nothing.

I received an award from the Governor of Vermont for the Healthy Aging of Seniors in the area. There were sixteen awards given out to the whole state of Vermont, and I was one of them. At twenty-nine years old, I was honored for the difference I was making in lives of the people I served. No one came to the ceremony to watch me receive the award.

Crickets.

When I decided that it was time to go after my master’s degree, I was working full time, and raising three young kids: 8, 6, and 3 years old. I was deep in depression from the loss of my gram two years before. During the time I was in grad school, I fought to keep my son safe from the bullying he was enduring at school, lost our home to a fire, was homeless for a short time while things were situated, all while the domestic violence in the home continued to escalate.

Three days before graduation, my ex-husband was arrested and removed from the home. I lost my job when I did not have child care. My daughters and I drove to the church where graduation was being held because I had worked too hard to let him take this from me. A group of people who took time out of their lives were there to celebrate me. My brother even came to watch me receive my master’s degree, Friends took pictures to help me cherish the day.

My mom was not able to come, and I tried to not let that bother me. I did beat myself up though for only graduating with a 3.86 and not a 4.0. I couldn’t accept the praise, I had to keep saying, “But I could have done better.” I pushed away the compliments and burrowed my head into the familiarity of the past.

When my life long dream became a tangible reality, and my book became real, and available to the world, it quietly passed like any other day. No celebration. And my thoughts went back down the rabbit hole. I self-published, it didn’t count. There were mistakes. It wasn’t perfect. The list of criticism went on.

Emails and reviews came in. For the most part, all good. People could relate to my story. They said it was well written. They thanked me for sharing my story. It was hard to receive. It was harder to believe. They just feel sorry for me, because it is a sad story. I didn’t want their pity, but it turned out I was unable to accept their sincere words. How was I enough to be worthy of their kindness?

I entered my book in multiple contests. Each rejection proved to me that I was not good enough, that my book was not worthy of the five-star rating. I found each and every negative remark that had been said about my book, and I held them closer and closer. I was done. I couldn’t let this control my self-worth any longer.

On September 1, 2018, I received word that The Monster That Ate My Mommy had been awarded Honorable Mention in The Reader’s Favorite contest. I shot down the congratulations that appeared on my screen, only to say, “But it’s just honorable mention.” It took me some time to embrace what had really happened. And then it hit me.

Maybe it is me. Maybe it has always been me. Not feeling worthy enough to accept celebration or praise. To stomp it out as quickly as it comes. I don’t like a lot of attention, and maybe I have always been the one to not want a big deal made out of my accomplishments. I have come a long way, and do have a lot to be proud of. My new goal is to accept, and embrace what I have to be proud of.

No more negative self-talk.

Easier said than done, but all I can do is keep on trying.

Repeat after me:

You are worthy. 

You are enough.

You are loved. 

Bringing light to the darkness is what has gotten me this far.

If you look close enough, there is always light to guide the way. Never stop looking.img_6048