gems wisdom

LIVING with CHRONIC COMPLEX PTSD

LIVING with CHRONIC COMPLEX PTSD   Are you living with chronic complex PTSD? Do you feel ashamed because you or others think you should be better by now? Are your expectations of healing realistic for you? Do you think that after x-amount of months or years of therapy, group therapy, self-help books, etc. that your healing should be finished or at least you should feel more healed?! Are you feeling pressured from others to get better or be better or act better? What is in your control? What expectations are realistic for you? It is difficult to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or any illness or disorder. An illness or disorder that is not visible may provide different challenges. People tend to have more compassion for a person who has visible wounds, a cast, a wheelchair, etc. or who is recovering from a heart attack or stroke or cancer. When I lived in Germany, I was given the opportunity to perform an act of kindness. Someone asked me to give a ride to an elderly couple that I had never met. This small deed led to a friendship of special proportions. Denise and her husband lived in another part …

summer

HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER

HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER   How I spent my summer seems to be an appropriate topic for this time of year! Kids, of all ages, are returning to school in many areas of the country. This summer was unusual for me. Circumstances afforded me more free time to not only deal with life issues, but also to spend time on the healing path. I love to read. Books, websites, blogs, and newspapers were all chosen by me. There were days when I found myself reading three books at one time as well as times when no books were in my hands. In this post, I will share some of my favorites as well as a bit of my life during these months. Here are titles of several books which I recommend. “Same Time, Next Week: True Stories of Working Through Mental Illness” --  Lee Gutkind  (The title is self-explanatory. The strength, courage, and the realities of the situations woven throughout the stories make the book worth reading.) “The Broken Girls” – Simone St. James (pure entertainment of a suspense novel with a tad of historical fiction) “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World” – Dalai Lama ...
PTSD and AGING

PTSD and AGING: THE ROAD CONTINUES

PTSD and AGING: THE ROAD CONTINUES   PTSD and aging is a topic that crossed my mind recently. I have been dealing with more symptoms of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) lately due to a stressful situation. As I struggle with various symptoms of chronic complex PTSD, I wondered if my resiliency was weakened due to my aging.  I am now in my early sixties. There are tools I use to deal with stress as well as with PTSD symptoms. Why is my struggle more intense this time? Of course, there is more than one answer to that question. In my blog post, “Does PTSD Last Forever?”,  I addressed how long PTSD might last. (See: http://roadtofreedomandpeace.com/ptsd-last-forever/ ) Aging though adds complexity to the PTSD situation. PTSD steals my present. It causes me to lose the peace of the present moment. Depression, hypervigilance, panic, anxiety, etc. cloud the clarity of the goodness of life. It can be harder to sit in gratitude and hope. There are three articles I would like to share with you today. “Aging Too Fast, Too Young” points out that traumatic events can lead to aging faster than usual. (https://www.bu.edu/today/2016/ptsd-accelerated-aging/) “The idea that traumatic events can have a ...
sacred cycle - gratitude

SACRED CYCLE: a GIFT for SURVIVORS

SACRED CYCLE: a GIFT for SURVIVORS   Sacred Cycle is a non-profit organization started by Heather Russell. This summer and fall of 2017, I had the privilege of participating in Sacred Cycle’s pilot program. What a precious gift! I am smiling as I write. My heart is filled with gratitude. Heather Russell recognizes that abuse and assault survivors often do not stay present in their bodies. She explains this concept in an interview located on this KDNK link: http://kdnk.org/post/nonprofit-palooza-sacred-cycle Participants are given the option to mountain bike, hike, as well as other options to connect with one’s body in the present moment. Therapy during this time helps survivors continue to heal. In the fall, a retreat was held in a beautiful location for the five of us participating in the Sacred Cycle program. Heather and others joined us providing workshops and/or support. We even enjoyed the delightful and delicious food of a chef each day! It was a weekend of gracious giving and receiving. The nurturing aspect was amazing. I had no expectations of the Sacred Cycle retreat. My intention was to keep my heart open. Most likely each one of us – pilot participants and support persons – has ...
homeless and domestic violence

HOMELESS and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

HOMELESSNESS and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PERSPECTIVE from a MOM   Once upon a time, my daughter, Megan Ellen, and I stayed in a shelter as we were officially homeless. I, as a protective parent at the time, was coping with life on life’s terms. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was part of Megan’s life and mine. The shelter was decent. I was grateful for a place where Megan and I could sleep and be. The staff was compassionate. Yet, it was a hard living situation for us and for others. It was not “home”. Megan and I were staying safe. I was protecting my daughter from the person who abused her – her father. Fortunately, Megan was in school and doing well in spite of her life circumstances. October is the month set aside for domestic violence awareness. Domestic violence (DV) is a huge societal problem. (See:  http://roadtofreedomandpeace.com/domestic-violence-spousal-sexual-abuse-partner-abuse-intimate-partner-violence-dating-violence/ or my other blog posts on the subject.) Many mothers and children experience homelessness after leaving a domestic violence situation. “There is more than one “official” definition of homelessness. Health centers funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) use the following: A homeless individual is defined in section 330(h)(5)(A) ...
old songs and healing from grief

OLD SONGS in a NEW LIGHT

OLD SONGS in a NEW LIGHT   Have you ever heard old songs in a new light? I was given the opportunity to attend a small concert given by three gents! It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. One of the songs performed was James Taylor’s “Your Smiling Face”. I used to like listening to James Taylor. Somewhere along the line, certain music became painful for me to hear. The emotions that arose were not welcomed. It had been years since I listened to James Taylor or any of my old time favorite artists. Here I was at this gathering listening to an old song – a favorite of mine – and I was smiling. Music that was used during the abuse by Tom M. (my former husband and perpetrator) was, of course, triggering. I avoided listening to those songs for a long time. That was understandable. Yet, songs that used to bring me solace or happiness also brought sadness. Many old songs of my high school and college days (or shortly after) reminded me of several long-term, close, and special friendships that were no longer in existence or barely alive. These songs – such as “You’ve Got a Friend” (Carole ...
rediscovering childhood passion

REDISCOVERING a CHILDHOOD PASSION

REDISCOVERING a CHILDHOOD PASSION   Reading was a childhood passion of mine. It was an inexpensive form of entertainment and a way to escape the world of abuse. I read almost any book I could find in my house. As the youngest child in the family, many books were over my head. It did not stop me from reading them! My sister, Linda, belonged to a book club. I enjoyed reading international cookbooks and the classics. Biographies and fiction enthralled me. Years later, I sought out the classics to read them with an adult perspective and understanding. Career counselors and life coaches often ask a client what was his or her childhood passion. What activity did you enjoy as a child? The career counselor or life coach may wonder if a childhood passion might hold a key to a possible career. In my case, reading lends itself to knowledge, insight and enjoyment. I have not found a career of reading! My mother valued reading and education. She was an avid reader who kept a list of all the books she read over the decades. I have many memories of her trying to catch up on a weeks’ worth of newspapers ...
spiritual sweet spot

SPIRITUAL SWEET SPOT

SPIRITUAL SWEET SPOT   When is the last time you felt a connection with someone on a deep, ethereal level – on an interior heart level – spiritual as some choose to label it? I like the term spiritual sweet spot. Take a moment, if time allows … Breathe … naturally … relax … Center yourself. Think of a spiritual sweet spot. Close your eyes, if it helps. Breathe … just be ... If you recalled a memory of connection with a person on that deep level, how did you feel as you remembered? How do you feel now? In the case where nothing came to mind or thoughts would not quiet, no worries. Try it another time, if you desire. I experienced a spiritual sweet spot recently. One of the qualities of a spiritual sweet spot is that it usually occurs without warning. One normally cannot create the spiritual sweet spot or forecast it. Part of my working landscape includes a job at a coffee shop. This job gives me the opportunity for connection with coworkers and customers of various ages. I like my customers and the feeling is mutual. The coffee shop is quite busy so my conversations ...
trauma moment

ONE TRAUMA MOMENT OF MANY AND ITS IMPACT

ONE TRAUMA MOMENT of MANY and ITS IMPACT   Individuals who suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) have been subjected to trauma of a long duration. As a survivor of decades of abuse and torture, my situation was ongoing and filled with trauma. I will focus on one trauma moment for this post. Before doing so, below is information regarding C-PTSD for those who are interested. Maybe one day, I will devote an entire post to the subject. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states the following: "What types of trauma are associated with Complex PTSD? During long-term traumas, the victim is generally held in a state of captivity, physically or emotionally, according to Dr. Herman (1). In these situations the victim is under the control of the perpetrator and unable to get away from the danger. Examples of such traumatic situations include: Concentration camps Prisoner of War camps Prostitution brothels Long-term domestic violence Long-term child physical abuse Long-term child sexual abuse Organized child exploitation rings" (https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/ptsd-overview/complex-ptsd.asp) Pete Walker writes: "The causes of Cptsd range from severe neglect to monstrous abuse. Many survivors grow up in houses that are not homes – in families that are as loveless ...
smidgen of hope

SMIDGEN of HOPE

SMIDGEN of HOPE   What is your definition of hope? Do you even believe in the concept of hope? I know of people who have no belief in hope. Hope to them is foolish. Hope has kept me alive in certain periods of my life. It may also have contributed to my staying in situations for too long. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word as: “A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen. A person or thing that may help or save someone. Grounds for believing that something good may happen. archaic  A feeling of trust.” -- https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/hope As a child, I hoped the abuse would stop. My goal was to become perfect. Maybe that would prevent the abuse from occurring ever again. I had fantasies of someone saving me … a Prince Charming. The idea of hoping could be considered foolish. Yet fantasies and hope (however childish) of a better life kept me alive through terrible times. As a young adult, the Prince Charming did not come. I fell into a relationship of domestic violence with torture once I left my mother’s house. Leaving the abusive family of origin and moving into a DV (domestic ...