Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Self Care 1 of 25

I want to take the same care going through these as the last group of statements, focusing on solutions. I'm not good at self care, but I am learning.

Original link:

https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/25-obvious-non-obvious-self-care-issues-complex-trauma-survivors-struggle-with-lilly-hope-lucario/
1. To feel worthy of the self care. It often feels and sounds selfish to me. So many others are in need besides me that seem more deserving. Selfishness is one of my biggest pet peeves, after being rejected, abandoned and abused by selfish people. I am trying to get better.

My response:

"Don't be so selfish!" "All you think of is yourself." "Think of others first." "It is better to give than receive." Surprised you with that one, didn't I?

Abuse isn't always straightforward. Sometimes abusers twist good things to suit their own purpose.

The first great commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.

The second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself.

Not love your neighbor better than yourself but as yourself. This kind of love cannot be selfish because the moment you turn it outward it's no long about self. Of course, there are those who will use their "love" for others to serve themselves. That is not what it says. Loving your neighbor as yourself means you're as concerned for their welfare as you are for your own.

This does not negate "no greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends." This is wanting them to live as much as you do. As I've read accounts of soldiers laying down their lives for others, from those who have survived what could have killed them, they don't go into it thinking that they're choosing to die so that their friends live. They see what needs to be done and do it without counting the cost ahead of time. They don't calculate "what's in it for me."

Learning this one later is life is tough, painful. I'm able to look back and see times when I took advantage of others, not because I wanted to "use" them but because I didn't understand how give and take works yet. I also made the mistake of trying to be generous to the point where I was leaving nothing left for me. There are plenty of people out there who are willing to take whatever is offered them whether they need it or not. I am learning that sometimes it's okay to take what isn't needed at the moment with the thought in mind that someone will come along who needs it.

I struggled with the whole concept that you couldn't love others if you didn't love yourself. The idea made me angry because it hurt my feelings. Hurt feelings are survivable. Hurt feelings don't last, unless you're into holding grudges. However, as I've learned to take better care of myself, I'm able to see my ability to help others improve. What I didn't understand is that when I was over my head in shame and self-loathing, I often didn't even see the needs of others around me. As I take care of myself, I'm able to bless others with things I'd collected that I thought I needed.

As you learn to meet your own needs, you'll recognize better when someone is trying to manipulate you for their own agenda and see better true needs of others you might not have seen through your haze of self-neglect. Take care of you. You are worth fighting for, and there are people who need what only you are able to give.

    Sunday, September 17, 2017

    Sunday Scripture

    Proverbs 19:5

    A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.

    Saturday, September 16, 2017

    Saturday Links

    Kyle Massa offered a good reminder over at Ryan Lanz's A Writer's Path blog:
    https://ryanlanz.com/2017/08/18/inspiration-will-fail-you/

    Vicki Hinze posted on Christians Read. It's worth a read and includes a visual:
    https://christiansread.wordpress.com/2017/08/21/stepping-back-the-upside-of-an-injury/

    God bless.

    Friday, September 15, 2017

    Favorite Book Friday

    A Heart Reclaimed (Peacock Hill Romance - book 2) by Elizabeth Maddrey clean contemporary Christian romance. I want to visit Peacock Hill, The Melting Pot restaurant, Charlottesville, Monticello, and the 18th Century restaurant Michie Tavern for a meal. I'll be reading more of her books.

    Thursday, September 14, 2017

    25 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    25. Several things, but the main one was lashing out on social media for years. Controversial and angry statuses, just due to the anger inside of me. I have texts I sent my friend where I described just how much I felt this unsettling anger in my chest. Emotional abuse from peers at school to family [can] really [mess] you up. I then finally found a therapist who could help me and I’ve come a long way.

    My sister's response:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/08/04/an-advantage/

    My response:

    My gratitude to God that I wasn't online until I'd worked through a lot already. In fact, I didn't join the online world until 2002. I stepped into the fray when I discovered that every time I called the reference desk at the library to ask about a new drug for my work, and they told me they found it on the internet. I dipped my toe into the water for work, to look up drugs on my own. Then "The Lord of the Rings" movie came out ("Fellowship of the Ring) and I discovered the wonderful world of connecting with people online who loved the movie and the books, too.

    The wonder of the internet was that it provided instant boundaries. I made mistakes and still do, but nothing out of the ordinary. I learned the value of picking and choosing the time and the place to reveal information. I discovered the wonderful power of delete, both after and before publishing. Edit is also a great tool. The importance of these discoveries is that I discovered it was okay to be wrong. It wasn't life or death.

    I also discovered the wonder of not knowing everything. Abusers expect their victims to know everything instantly in order to answer correctly whatever they demand and at the same time convince their victims that they're stupid. I've never figured out how they managed to do that, except that the whole relationship is based on lies anyway and this is simply one more.

    I must confess that I've been accused of "going scorched earth." It's true. I excel at annihilating any argument that goes against my perspective. It was a survival tool. The only way to survive the insanity of the twisted thinking was to line up all my evidence, with footnotes and anything else necessary, to ensure I could hold my ground. Far too many times, I would complain about some injustice and within minutes would find myself blamed and apologizing for something that had been done to me.

    How did I change that? I reduced my interaction with people who required me to defend myself for things that didn't need defending. I discovered people who accepted me as I am and encouraged me to be a better version of myself. I also had awesome counselors. The last one is the one who taught me about fine-tuning. I was doing okay. He helped me find alternate and better ways of coping with things that used to send me into a tailspin of self-doubt and berating myself.

    As I am heard and understood and accept, the rage diminishes. I could not have made the progress I have alone. I was blessed with amazing counselors. As I grew healthier, my circle of friends changed. Through it all, God loved me. He chastised me when I needed to be corrected. He sent miracles to see me through. In my moments of despair, I knew He was there. He couldn't do the hard work for me, but He walked with me the whole way. There were times when I felt alone but knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I wasn't. I didn't understand and still don't understand many things, but I trust God who knows all and is all powerful and loves perfectly. As long as I continue to seek His face, I'll be headed in the right direction. One day at a time is all He asks of me.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2017

    24 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    24. I don’t really know who I am or what I truly think. Virtually everything I say seems to me to be a lie I’ve just fabricated for that particular situation. I have real problems trying to identify what I’m feeling.

    My sister's response:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/08/03/who-am-i/

    My response:

    Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt. Burned it.

    I remember watching "Runaway Bride" and feeling quite smug. For those who haven't seen the movie, the heroine has been engaged several times and bolted at the alter, every time. She doesn't really know what she wants. (There are many shows, TV and movies, I've watched and books I've read for the purpose of endeavoring to understand my situation and find ways of improving.) I already knew I liked my eggs over easy. Ask what my style was and I'd draw a blank. In fact, I'd draw a blank about a lot of things. I realized I needed to learn what I like and what I don't like. I experimented, extensively.

    Cooking was a fun one, a safe place to start the process. It didn't require I look too deeply into myself or my past. I once tried three different angel biscuit recipes to see which one I liked best. Taste testers, family and friends, were not disappointed. I finally learned to cook without a recipe. It isn't easy. It takes practice.

    What exercise do I like? Walking. It's the one I'm least likely to overdo. I'm married to my physical therapy for life.

    Music: Christian contemporary, like Casting Crowns; instrumental, like The Piano Guys; some classical; a little country; easy listening, like Carpenters; movie scores, like Lord of the Rings; some old Rock and Roll, like Elvis, Three Dog Night, and Chicago.

    Books: Lord of the Rings and Narnia Chronicles; romance, mostly Christian; biographies, like Lone Survivor; self-help, like Battle Plan for Prayer.

    Clothes: Soft, pretty, flowing, things that make me feel feminine.

    Animals: Dogs and horses.

    I will be flexible in conversations if I want to help the other person feel more comfortable. What does that mean? If the other person loves to read horror or watch sad movies, I'll let them talk about it and even ask a few intelligent questions. The way I talk may make it sound like I also like those things, but I think it's being polite.

    Learning to recognize what I'm feeling required a flash-bang moment. I was watching "Fellowship of the Ring" the first time. I dreaded the possibility that they'd taken the title, jacked it up, and placed a new story underneath it. Peter Jackson was remarkably true to the books, not perfect but better than anything I'd ever seen. I loved the music right off, a good sign for me. I was delighted by the Shire, startled by the fireworks, afraid of the Black Riders, excited by the chases, cheering for the hobbits, saddened at the loss of Gandalf (it had been a while since I'd read the books and couldn't remember what happened) and relieved when I remembered how the story goes. I was disappointed by a few things, and anxious and anticipatory for seeing the next installment. I experienced a wide range of emotions in a short period of time. I walked out of the theater babbling about the movie, and I realized I'd kept a whole host of emotions locked away, until that moment.

    I had to learn to let the emotions come. I also had to learn how to control some of the ones that I wasn't used to allowing on the stage of my life, like anger. I'd tried to bury it and fought it daily. I finally set it free and discovered that burying emotions does not make them go away. They only fester. I discovered the amazing realization that anger was, in fact, a healthy response to boundaries being violated. However, once I knew, then anger only got in the way of finding a healthy way to resolve problems. Fear is a great warning system, but it's a horribly place to constantly live.

    I've a better idea of who I am. I accept that as I learn healthier ways of living I will continue to change. I pray I continue to become a better and better person. It's never too late to start learning who you are and to work toward becoming a better person.

    Sunday, September 10, 2017

    Sunday Scripture

    Proverbs 19:3

    The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the Lord.

    Saturday, September 9, 2017

    Saturday Links

    Global Sojourns Photography posted "A Lifetime in Eight Seconds." Not something I'd do, but I have watched. It captured how I imagined it from the safety of my seat, peeking between my fingers.
    https://dalocollis.com/2017/08/15/a-lifetime-in-eight-seconds/

    Christian romance author Patricia Johns shared a cute story she read about:
    https://patriciajohnsromance.com/2017/08/17/talk-about-lucky/

    God bless.

    Friday, September 8, 2017

    23 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    23. Blaming myself for everything. I have to fight the urge to beat myself up constantly. I’ve also struggled with feeling like I’m not good enough, which makes things like school, dating and applying to jobs really hard.

    My sister's responses:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/07/31/sorry-for-saying-sorry/
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/08/02/not-good-enough/

    My response:

    How many nights has this chorus put me to sleep? "It's all my fault. No one to blame but me."

    How could I help but blame myself? I had been blamed for everything, from saying things my abusers had said to doing things my abuser had done, from saying cruel things about others to breaking dishes. The truth had nothing to do with it.

    It all comes back to the fact that nothing changed until I stopped lying to myself. I had to stop accepting responsibility for things I hadn't done. I also had to accept that someone who should have loved me had no trouble blaming me for things they'd done. I couldn't protect them, a practice that demands I lie on several levels, to others, to the abuser, and to myself.

    This led to a dilemma: I couldn't stop lying and blame myself for everything at the same time. I had to choose: The truth or the lies. I chose the truth. It is the only way to move forward. Otherwise, I'd still be stuck in the everything's-my-fault loop.

    Choosing the truth did not make everything else easier, not by long shot. In my head, I know I'm enough. However, there are so many skills I simply never learned. It's tougher to learn them later in life, but it isn't impossible. Learning healthy habits requires studying what I was doing and how I needed to change it. I had to follow through. I spent most of my visits with my last counselor talking through situations I'd faced. I'd relay how I'd handled whatever occurred. Our discussion entailed approval or correction, and then I wanted to know how else I could have handled it.

    I now know not everything is my fault. However, there are still many times when I blame myself. I have to exercise mental control, reining in my fallback position, and ask myself: Is it really my fault? If it is, what do I need to do to make things right, within my power? I discovered that sometimes when I accept responsibility I'm mislabeling. Just because I feel sad something happened that doesn't make it my fault. I'm allowed to feel sad without taking responsibility.

    Some will say that it's arrogant to believe I possess so much power. Some will want to remind me that the world does not revolve around me. For the record: This isn't the same thing. Believing that I'm so powerful I cause everything to happen isn't quite how it works. I believed that everything bad that happened was my fault. How could I believe anything else when that's what I'd been taught? It also doesn't work the other way; I don't believe I'm the reason all the good things happen.

    Functioning "normally" is a constant struggle. I haven't been able to hold down a regular job. I haven't dated in decades. Going out anywhere requires a pep talk, some encouraging and some brutal. The brutal pep talks are fewer as my self-confidence improves. Routines help me establish continuity and reduces the number of pep talks.

    Reminding myself that I am the daughter of the Most High God is inspiring but didn't wipe away the sense of worthlessness. I had been raised to believe that if I simply did what I was told, and did it right, all would be well. Of course, I could never do it right because the rules always changed to ensure I would fail, which meant I could be blamed. By God's grace I survived the insanity, but not without consequences. However, God is fulfilling His promise to work evil to good. He never promised to make evil good; He promised that no matter what happened, He would bless and help me.

    One of the books I read said that you have to reach the point where you're able to say, "Yes, horrible things happened to me. So?" On some levels, I'm able to do this. The abuse changed me, like any life-changing experience. I'm learning to not let it define me. I am more than the abuse that happened to me. That isn't to say there aren't days when I'm back in the pit of despair. It doesn't happen as often or last nearly as long. Line upon line. My faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for me made it possible for me to hope when all felt hopeless otherwise. I trusted Him to love me no matter what.

    Thursday, September 7, 2017

    22 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    22. I never, ever fight back. I may cut toxic people out of my life with the help of amazing friends and professionals, but whenever a conflict is actively going on that involves someone attacking my character… I completely shut down. I let whatever they want to say wash over me until they tire themselves out. That’s what I had to do when I was younger. It was so much worse to fight back. I learned to let them yell themselves out.

    My sister's response:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/07/30/perfect-victim/

    My response:

    I used to do that. I always described it as going blank. Looking back, I'd describe it more as freezing. If I don't move, they won't notice me. I'll be invisible. If I'm invisible, I'll be safe. Magical thinking.

    Now, I decide whether or not the battle is worth fighting. Usually, it isn't.

    Something I would like to change: I'd like to be able to let it go, like water off a duck. For now, I will still allow it to natter in my head. I'll think of all the things I could have said or might have said... actually, that isn't a bad exercise. It allows me to say the rude things I would never in a million years say, and it allows me to reframe my perspective.

    Was their criticism true? If it's true, what can I do to improve? Not to make them happy but to help me be a better person.

    I sometimes forget to recognize when I started fighting back. I'd read dozens of self-help books. Some where great. Some were awful. I learned I didn't have to finish every book I started. A tough lesson to learn for a perfectionist. One of my early lessons on not being a perfectionist.

    I read about saying, "No." No is a complete sentences. The author suggested starting with saying "no" to little things, things that didn't matter, simply as a way of practicing. The first time, it was absolutely terrifying. I kept practicing. It became easier.

    Along with learning to say "no" I also learned to stop and think before replying. An abuser doesn't give their victim a chance to think. Everything must be done 10 minutes ago. This was something I learned from a guy I knew for a short time. He always paused before replying. I liked it and discovered how it removed the frantic sensations.

    Learning to say "no" and thinking before replying are a couple of the new tools I added to my toolbox of healthy habits.

    Another tool: Sometimes, you have to walk away. The abuser never allows the victim to walk away. It isn't easy. It also requires practice. Sometimes I remember to walk away and sometimes I endeavor to wait it out. Knowing the difference is, unfortunately, a hard earned lesson achieved through trial and error. It's okay to be wrong. That was a really tough lesson to learn.

    It's important to remember that sometimes shutting down is the best answer. It allows for time to process. However, if you're in danger, remember that you are worth protecting and escaping is paramount. You can always shut down later. In an emergency, I shut off everything but what needs to be done next. I also give myself permission to fall apart later, when it's safe.

    Dealing with conflict is an acquired skill, including learning to fight fair. My first observation of it was on the "Lord of the Rings" fan club forum. A few of the members had differing views on the story, okay, there were two strong women who had different perspectives. I would watch in fascination as they argued their respective points (all online, they were both skilled wordsmiths). It frequently became heated. They'd argue until they'd both fully shared their perspectives. Then an amazing thing happened: They agreed to disagree and the argument was over. They'd tease each other, and life would go on. I was astonished and amazed. I learned about how to disagree agreeably. It first requires that both people are willing to allow the other person to have a different opinion.

    Fighting back only requires violence when the other person intends harm and you are not able to walk away. Fighting back is more often something that happens inside. You refuse to take on the other person's problems. You refuse to accept the lies told about you. You refuse to stay stuck. Fight for you. You are worth fighting for.

    Tuesday, September 5, 2017

    21 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    21. I have major issues with anxiety and depression because of my childhood. The biggest factor is I cannot communicate well and I don’t know how to express my feelings with others because I am so used to just holding them inside because I wasn’t allowed to share how I felt. When tense situations arise, I get nauseous and uncomfortable, [and] my anxiety levels sky rocket. Definitely have a lot of emotional scars from my past, it’s been the hardest thing to conquer.

    My sister's response:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/07/26/depression-and-childhood/

    My response:

    Emotions are complicated critters. They don't last. They change. They lie. Dealing with emotions requires honest self-examination.

    I shocked my second counselor when I told her about an episode when my anger exploded. I told her I stopped and asked myself what was the real problem. I realized I was feeling hurt. She gaped at me. "What?" "Do you always do that?" "What?" "Self-examine and evaluate." I was baffled by her question. "How else am I going to change? Doesn't everyone?" "No. Most people don't."

    Learn to self-examine and evaluate. It takes admitting a change needs to be made, learning what change needs to be made, and it takes practice.

    I often feel fear first. I discovered that I prefer anger to fear. I shifted from fear to anger so quickly I didn't even register the fear. Once I identify the base emotion, it is easier to make changes, to respond in a healthier manner. You can't tackle a problem you are unwilling to acknowledge.

    In learning to manage my anger, I also learned to manage my anxiety. Stop. Focus. Breathe. Slow my thinking until I'm able to reason without the flood of emotions. I can't express my feelings to others until I'm able to express them to myself.

    While the response of the person above was nausea, I'm frustrated when I'm overwhelmed and my mind goes blank, totally and completely blank. Nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Someone will ask me a question, and I am unable to respond. There are no words in my head. There's nothing. I freeze. Then the old habit of saying what I think they want to hear kicks in. Only way I know to break the habit is practice.

    It's important to learn to sit with what you're feeling. Emotions are neither good nor bad. They simply are. They usually step onto the stage of your mind without your permission. However, you are the stage manager, director, producer. You decide how long the emotion stays there. You invite it off the stage by choosing to not entertain it. You truly are that powerful. No, it isn't easy. It takes lots of practice. An abuse survivor is at a disadvantage because we were taught to ignore and suppress emotions. We have to go through the learning process that children go through, from toddlers to teenagers, as a matter of course. We're choosing to take the journey. It's worth it.

    Sunday, September 3, 2017

    Sunday Scripture

    Proverbs 19:1

    Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.

    Saturday, September 2, 2017

    Saturday Links

    Donna Hatched shared her Windsor Castle visit:
    http://donnahatch.blogspot.com/2017/08/windsor-castle.html

    Mustard Seed Blogs gave me a much needed fresh perspective on my daily routine:
    https://mustardseedblogs.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/same-old-same-old/

    God bless.

    Friday, September 1, 2017

    20 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    20. I have a hard time making eye contact with people. I look away a lot when I’m speaking. I get startled very easily and it takes me awhile to get my heart rate back to normal.”

    My sister's response:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/07/24/look-you-in-the-eye/

    My response:

    Making eye contact with one of my abusers was something they saw as permission to go on the offensive. Not making eye contact did not guarantee my safety, but it improved my odds.

    In order to make eye contact, I have to make a concerted effort. I also have to be careful to not go overboard.

    Here's the thing about eye contact: In some cultures, it indicates openness, honesty, connection. In other cultures, it's disrespectful, a challenge, intimidating.

    Eyes are truly the window to the soul. It isn't true that a person is unable to look someone in the eye and lie. People do it all the time. In fact, a liar is more likely to make eye contact in order to prove they aren't lying. If I don't know someone, I endeavor to give them the benefit of the doubt until they give me reason to do otherwise.

    I had a friend who reveled in telling tall tales. It frustrated him no end when I refused to buy into his stories. I don't know how I knew. I do know it re-enforced my dislike of lying. I do know how ironic it is that I write fiction. However, there is a difference between sharing a story for entertainment, with the clear understanding it's fiction, and sharing a story with the intent to deceive, even if only for a few minutes. Those who knowingly share fabrications with the intent to deceive, to trick and lead astray, reveal a lack of respect for the other person. I don't care for prank-type shows. It's about making someone else look foolish for one's own amusement.

    Looking away a lot is a result of the fact that I excel at reading body language. If I see a negative response, I will change what I'm saying in order to make the other person more comfortable even if I must sacrifice of my own comfort. I've had to practice not doing that.

    I hate being startled. Hypervigilance comes in handy. It's also extremely tiring.

    What did I do to improve? Practiced. Improving my self-confidence also helped. Self-confidence improved with practice and succeeding. It took me a long time to realize that even failure had it's own kind of success. I'd made the attempt.

    David Rutherford of Team Frog Logic, along with other SEALs I follow, talks about "embracing the suck of life." I'm sorry I don't remember which SEAL advised: "Plan to fail. It's the only way you see how far you're really able to go. Once you find your breaking point, you're able to better plan your training for success."

    God knew we would fail. This is why He provided a Savior, Jesus Christ, to save us. Success. I'll keep practicing making eye contact.

    Thursday, August 31, 2017

    19 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    19. My whole childhood was emotional abuse. It is extremely hard for me to accept I have people in my life who actually care about me. That’s the worst one. I am nothing to myself so why would I matter to others?

    My sister's response:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/07/21/emotional-abuse-4/

    My response:

    Yes, I struggled with this one, for decades. It continued in spite of evidence to the contrary.

    In 1986, I spent the summer in England. I was treated like royalty. People went out of their way to help me, strangers and new friends. There were also a few who used me because I still had no boundaries. Part of my running away was looking for people who wouldn't violate my boundaries. I didn't connect that it was my responsibility to define those boundaries and maintain them.

    In 2002, I joined the twentieth century and added the internet to my life. Why? I'd seen "Fellowship of the Rings" and I wanted to connect with other people who loved it as much as I did. I discovered the wonder of instant boundaries. No one could see me. No one knew my name, unless I told them. No one knew where I lived. If I didn't like something, I could close the tab and/or go to a different site. The computer taught me about boundaries. My third counselor taught me how to apply what I'd learned to the physical world.

    Back to the "Lord of the Rings" fan club. I made friends, some of whom I still hold dear. Over and over, they demonstrated their concern for me. Online friends are real people and capable of being real friends. These amazing people helped me transfer this understanding to people not on the computer.

    However, the love of these people could not make me love myself. Love of self must come from within. I'm not a fan of "fake it till you make it." Too often, it leads to simply faking it. Learning to love myself required I say positive things to myself I didn't believe.

    Learning to love yourself is a two-prong path: Physical and mental. Eating better, exercising, keeping clean, wearing clothes that are clean and fit are all things that show me I care about myself. Positive self-talk, developing healthy relationships, spending time with God are all things that reinforce the perception that I care about myself. One supports the other.

    Caring about myself makes it easier to care about others. Caring about myself reassures others I'm capable of caring about them. I'm far from perfect, but I've come a long way from where I used to be.

    Tuesday, August 29, 2017

    18 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    18. I constantly think I’m not good enough and I’m not smart enough. [I] was told [this] all my childhood… I’ve gone back to university to prove to myself that I am smart enough, but it’s always there in the back of my mind, like a poison, reminding me I’m not good enough, not smart enough.”

    My sister's response:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/07/20/mega-trigger-for-me/

    My response:

    I thought I was the dumbest one of the family. They all have college degrees, at least a bachelors. I have an AAS, as in two-year degree, which I completed in my 30s. I also have several certificates of completion for a few programs. None of them made me feel smarter.

    I was expected to major in math or engineering. I'm dyslexic. With words, I can figure out when I turn letters around or which letters around. With numbers, I'm at a complete loss. I turn 6 and 9 upside down. I've written 3 as E and have to remember that 5 and S go the same direction as well as 2 and Z. I have the unfortunate ability to look at a number, say it correctly out loud, and write a completely different number. I don't think math. I think words. However, it was drilled into me that the money was in math, and I was expected to pursue it, even if I hated it.

    I was also told that men are stupid and don't marry girls as fat as I am or with a face as scarred as mine is. I put on another 30 pounds. A stupid and unhealthy response. Weight was my personal shield. I learned that people don't notice someone who is overweight as much as someone who isn't. It added to me not being good enough, but it didn't matter because no one was looking at me anyway. Really unhealthy negative self talk.

    A lot of things happened that re-enforced my belief that I'm not enough.

    I don't feel that way anymore. So what changed?

    I adopted a dog. She thought the sun rose and set with me. It wasn't the solution; it was a starting point. I made a lot of changes so I would be a healthier for my fur baby. I had allowed people to say things to me that I wouldn't allow them to say about my dog. I learned to transfer that care to me because it made me a better pet owner. Then I adopted a horse, and I learned more.

    I worked with three different counselors. Each tackled different aspects of my messed up life... really, it was more like the first handled surface, obvious problems. The second delved deeper, but there were still a lot of things we never tackled. The third was no holds barred. I was all in and so was my counselor. It wasn't until my last counselor that I finally accepted I'm smart enough; I'm good enough; I'm enough.

    Through it all, I also read self-help books, watched television programs, took classes, and anything I could think of to help me improve. I did improve, but my sense of not being enough didn't change.

    When did I finally believe I'm enough? It's only been the last few years. It started with believing that God loves me no matter what. He helped me build on that.

    There are still bad days when I feel completely inadequate. However, there is a part of me that knows and never forgets that God is there, holding His hand out to me because I'm enough. Jesus Christ suffered and died and was resurrected for me because I'm enough.

    You are also enough.

    Sunday, August 27, 2017

    Sunday Scripture

    Proverbs 18:24

    A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

    Saturday, August 26, 2017

    Saturday Links

     Jean Fischer's short post is well worth the read. I may never eat another potato.
    https://jeanfischer.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/how-a-potato-launched-my-writing-career-2/

    Beholding Him Ministries shares a powerful message of faith, including Corrie Ten Boom's story.
    https://beholdinghimministries.org/2017/08/08/trust-in-the-lord-nmw/

    God bless.

    Friday, August 25, 2017

    17 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    17. [I] won’t let anyone see the ‘bad’ side of myself.”

    My sister's response:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/07/17/hiding-the-dark-side/

    My response:

    A tough way to live. It's also a miserable way to live, not to mention impossible. Sooner or later, you slip up. It also requires maintaining a series of lies.

    This one is a good one to explore "why." Why don't I want anyone to see my bad side?

    A survivor has been brutally taught that they are inherently bad. If they weren't bad, all those evil things wouldn't have happened to them. An abuser excels at manipulating the victim. Convincing the victim that they are the problems allows the abuser to justify whatever they do because it's the victim's fault, no matter what it is.

    Allowing others to see my "bad" side meant they could use it against me, too. They'd see that I deserved all the abuse, bad, evil things done to me. They might even join in on dishing out more.

    If someone doesn't want you to know about their bad side, it might not be because of pride or wanting to appear perfect or superior. It might be because they don't want you to join the list of those who have hurt them. More difficult to grapple with is that they believe they deserve nothing else.

    I know that my abusers lied. Knowing this does not make me less leery about revealing my faults. However, over time, I've discovered that revealing my faults has another outcome: It helps others feel like they are not alone in their imperfections. Revealing my "bad" side exposes the truth: I'm human.

    There is another aspect I never appreciated. I didn't understand it because my abusers muddied the positive so thoroughly that all I saw was the negative. I not only hid the bad side from others, I worked to hide it from myself. I have a frightening temper, rage that dented a frying pan when I threw it on the floor. By trying to keep my bad side buried, I couldn't work on improving it.

    Earnestly seeking God's help required I choose to look the ugliness in the face in order to create a plan of action to make permanent changes. It's painful. It's scary. It's worth it.

    No one likes to come across in a bad light. I also had to learn that this is true of everyone. It requires strength and courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Exposing imperfections opens the possibility of being humiliated and hurt. It also opens the possibility of discovering a new and precious gift, connection, understanding, patience, desired change. Make the choice to be healthy.

    Thursday, August 24, 2017

    16 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    16. I’m overly shy around people and struggle [with] having a voice. [I believe] no one wants to hear anything I have to say.”

    My sister combined 14, 15, and 16 in her response:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/07/17/different-facets/

    My response:

    I've often said that I'm not talkative, until you know me and then I'm a chatterbox and good luck shutting me up. I'm comfortable with this, now. I wasn't always.

    Feeling stupid isn't conducive to opening up to others. If you don't say anything, then you can't prove how much you don't know and can't put your foot in your mouth. Self-confidence is not easy to acquire when so many things about you and what you've said have been ridiculed and belittled. It was years before I discovered that many of the things that were criticized were actually right but the abuser had to be right and had to be superior.

    How did I change my perspective? My dog helped. She was a great conversation started. I was also an expert on her. Being a dog lover opened doors with other dog lovers. My horse blew open the door. People loved to hear about my horse. So many wanted a horse but couldn't afford one. I didn't go to movies or out to eat or on vacations. I think many of them lived their secret dream through me. I didn't mind. I also think they enjoyed my enthusiasm.

    I know. You don't have a dog or a horse. Big help. I'm able to look back and see that I was already learning to open up. In hindsight, what helped more than anything else was deciding that many others were as uncomfortable as I was. When I focused on making them comfortable my own discomfort faded into the background.

    My horse and my dog have been gone for many years now. I can't use them as icebreakers. It makes people sad. However, if I'm feeling inadequate, I'm still able to fall back on doing my best to make the other person feel comfortable and accepted.

    Important note: I have to be careful to not be so focused on making the other person feel comfortable that I ignore my warning signals that my boundaries are being violated. Overt abuse is easy to spot. Covert abuse is exactly that: Covert, disguised, subtle.

    Another thought: I needed to learn that I'm not really shy. Put me in a line, and I'll be chatting with people. I'm more introvert than extrovert, an ambivert. I accept that I do not like to be crowded. I do enjoy making the day a little better for anyone with whom I come in contact.

    Final thought: If someone doesn't respond or gives a tepid response, I remind myself it might be that we simply don't connect or they may be having an off day. It is not my job to entertain the world or make anyone happy. Happiness is an inside job. My job is to be who God created me to be because there's no one else like me, and He thinks I should be here. He thinks the same thing about you.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017

    15 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    15. [I have] attachment issues, trust issues [and am] paranoid that everyone will leave me. A lot of this is part of my BPD. My sudden divorce also contributed to these behaviors.”

    My sister combined 14, 15, and 16 in her response:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/07/17/different-facets/

    My response:

    I addressed trust in the last post, http://laurelhawkes.blogspot.com/2017/08/14-of-25-things.html, in terms of allowing others into my life. It was about avoiding being taken advantage of, used, hurt.

    This is about trusting others not to abandon me. It's happened, often. It started young. Best friends decide our friendship doesn't work for them. Pets die. Yes, death is a kind of abandonment. It's the circle of life but that doesn't make it easier.

    At the same time, I was taught that every single friend must be kept. "You can never have too many friends." "You can't afford to lose even one friend." Losing a friend was my fault, and I needed to rectify the bad choice on my part. Sadly, I believed the lies.

    Friends are not collectables. Friends are people.

    Every time I stripped away a layer of lies, I lost friends. Not because they were bad people but because I wasn't who they thought I was because of how I portrayed myself. Not their fault.

    Abuse requires lies be interwoven with truths. When I no longer told or believed the lies taught to me I changed. As I changed, my focus changed. As my focus changed, my life changed.

    Do I have trust issues? Yes. Am I paranoid everyone will leave me? Not anymore. Do I believe no one will leave me? Absolutely not.

    People change. Guaranteed. Sometimes, people change is in the same direction; sometimes, they don't. Choosing different directions isn't a bad thing. Sometimes, it's possible to remain friends despite going different directions. Sometimes, it isn't.

    It's okay to make a different choice. It's hard when it's the other person that realizes the friendship doesn't fit anymore first. What's sad is hanging onto a friendship that was meant for a season instead of a lifetime.

    There's a difference between being abandoned and growing in different directions until the friendship no longer fits. Looking back and yearning for what was wastes time and energy and even blinds one to the new friendships waiting.

    No, I'm not as comfortable with the process as I sound. I understand the process, but I'm not good at putting it into practice. I'm working on it.

    Sunday, August 20, 2017

    Sunday Scripture

    Proverbs 18:22

    Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.

    Saturday, August 19, 2017

    Saturday Links

    For the Donna Hatch fans, she shared a post about "London Townhouses, the Servants' Entrance":
    http://donnahatch.blogspot.com/2017/07/london-townhouses-servants-entrance.html

    Sheree Crawford, over at The Writer's Path, offers some good tips on "Historical Research for Writers." In writing A Promise of Possibilities, the year was 1816. The previous year, there had been a volcanic eruption that changed the weather in England, and 1816 was known as "the year without summer."
    https://ryanlanz.com/2017/07/29/historical-research-for-writers/

    God bless.

    Friday, August 18, 2017

    Favorite Book Friday

    "Submerged," book 1 of the Alaskan Courage series, by Dani Pettrey is a contemporary Christian suspense romance. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series as well as other books by Dani Pettrey.

    Thursday, August 17, 2017

    Musical Thursday

    Matthew West is one of my favorite artists. "Broken Things" speaks to my wounded soul:
    https://youtu.be/WdUu6ZsdVfM

    Tuesday, August 15, 2017

    14 of 25 Things

    As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

    Original post from The Mighty:
    https://themighty.com/2017/06/childhood-emotional-abuse-adult-habits/

    14. “I avoid asking help from anyone because I don’t trust anyone. I believe if someone offers me a hand, there will always be something they [want to] ask in return. I have friends but I don’t have a best friend. I keep my distance from people. Automatically, my wall blocks anyone.”

    My sister combined 14, 15, and 16 in her response:
    https://ptsd-acceptingcopingthriving.com/2017/07/17/different-facets/

    My response:

    Asking for help meant admitting weakness, failure, being wrong. I didn't say it was true; I said that's what it meant to me. How did I learn this? What happened when I asked for help growing up?

    I was spoken to like I was stupid. "It's easy..." "It's simple..." "Anyone can do this. All you have to do is..." "What do we need to do to make sure you never make the mistake again?" Yes, not knowing was treated like a mistake.

    For me, one of the worst was "Watch me." I was frequently scolded for not paying attention, except I was. I simply couldn't translate what they did into what I needed to do.

    What I need: Let me do it and talk me through, step by step, and don't skip a step and expect me to be intuitive about it. Sometimes, I am, but I'm often not. Once I've learned it, I enjoy exploring and trying variations, if it's applicable.

    It's important to recognize that I needed to figure out what I needed before I could ask for it. I only figured this out a few years ago.

    Like the person above stated, sometimes, asking for help required payment... I won't go into that ugliness here, except to point out that the trade was never fair or balanced. They would give a little, and I was required to give almost everything. Then I would be required to be thankful for what they'd done for me. And if I didn't properly verbalize my gratitude (above and beyond the price I'd been emotionally blackmailed into paying), then I was ungrateful.

    To say the least, trust is a nightmare issue all it's own. Keeping up walls, with me safely inside and unsafe people outside, was an obvious solution. It was also a healthy solution, around the abusers. I experienced a lot of disasters letting people in I thought were safe but weren't. I didn't know how to recognize who was safe and who wasn't, re-enforcing the need for walls. Being alone all the time isn't healthy. I was healthy enough to recognize that and the need for change.

    I had a church leader tell me that all I needed was Jesus Christ. Yes and no. A simplistic answer for a complex problem. I replied, "How can Jesus Christ help me if I don't trust Him?" My counselors helped me restore the trust that had been brutally stripped from me. It required practice, lots and lots of practice, pretty much like anything worthwhile.

    I'm much better at asking for help when I need it. I've still a lot to learn, but I'm improving. Sometimes, the problem lies in not realizing I need help. Other times, I know I need help, but I don't know what kind. I don't like asking for blanket help because it too easily leaves the door open for offers I don't want or need.

    My last counselor didn't ask me to drop the walls. He asked me to build gates and not one big one but a series of gates. People were allowed to enter if they met certain criteria. Of those allowed past the first gate, some were allowed to enter the next gate, working their way inward. It isn't perfect, but it's much better than keeping everyone out or allowing everyone in.

    Monday, August 14, 2017

    Sunday, August 13, 2017

    Sunday Scripture

    Proverbs 18:15

    The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.