Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday Links

The Writer's Refuge only posts occasionally. Every single one is worth reading:

Donna Hatch shares her visit to the Lake District. I spent a weekend there, the summer I lived in England, and watched a dog herd sheep through a gate on one of my walks. I'd like to visit again.

God bless.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Proverbs 19:6

Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday Links

Like the God and the Garden blogger, my perspective on spiders was influenced by "Charlotte's Web." I loved this perspective in "Lessons From a Spider."

Another inspiring Mustard Seed Blogs post:

God bless.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Self Care 3 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:
    3. Forgiving myself….I find it much too easy to forgive others and yet I struggle to show myself the same compassion and understanding. I find myself berating myself over and over for even small things that I would overlook or forgive easily in others. It seems I’ve taken on punishing myself from where my childhood abusers left off.
    My response:

    If only I were smarter. If only I'd were prettier. If I weren't so stupid, I would have figured out how to escape the mess I created. I'm not blaming others because there's no one to blame but me. My lousy choices. My stupid decisions. It's my fault.

    How do you forgive yourself with that kind of drivel running through your brain?

    I was shocked when it dawned on me that my poor eating habits are my first method of choice for abusing myself. I didn't deserve to be treated with kindness. The insane part was that I both punished and rewarded myself with food. Messed up. I wore clothes that were years old, with holes; I hadn't purchased anything new in several years. I wasn't pretty enough. When I lost the excess weight I'd buy clothes. I hated this about myself, once I recognized what I was doing. I honestly didn't recognize what I was doing to myself, for decade.

    It is never too late to change. If you're still here; it isn't over.

    How did I learn to forgive myself?

    First I had to learn what forgiveness really was. I'd always thought of it as forgetting and going on like nothing happened. Yes, I set myself up to fail. The abusers taught me how to do that. I excelled.

    Forgiveness is giving over the bitterness and the need for revenge to Jesus. He suffered and died for it already, anyway. Me hanging onto it is like wrapping my fingers around barbed wire and refusing to let go. THAT is stupid. Giving it all to Him freed me, releasing me from the chains that held me.

    It was also important for me to learn that abusers don't really want forgiveness, which requires change on their part. What they want is absolution, for me to pretend like nothing happened so they can continue on as they always have. It's still difficult for me to wrap my mind around the fact that allowing them to continue to sin is not kind. I was frequently told that I needed to forgive and forget. I was finally able to reply, "I have forgiven. They want absolution. I don't have that kind of power."

    Healing is always a multifaceted endeavor.

    I tried focusing on one area. Other areas would crowd in. I'm learning to work a little on a lot of different things. Examples: Going to bed a few minutes earlier. Eating one less piece of chocolate. Walking a few more steps. On the days I don't do well, I remind myself I'm given a new day every 24 hours to try again. I'm learning to celebrate the little success and forgive myself for the little failures. The little things bleed into the big things.

    In the last few months, I'm eating better, sleeping better, working out six days a week. I've purchased some pretty new clothes, many of them simply new to me. Thrift stores are great!

    Here's the important lesson: As long as I refuse to forgive myself, it is difficult for me to be generous with others. It isn't that I'm stingy. When you refuse to forgive yourself, you fail to see how much to have to offer. It's difficult to give when you believe you're worthless.

    How did I fail to see that Jesus loved me so much and considered my worth so high He willingly died for me? I'm not allowed to discount what He did. I don't have that kind of power.

    If I am precious enough for the Savior of the world to give His life as a ransom for mine, then I need to be brave enough to give all the unforgiveness to Him. He knows what to do with it. He's already done it.

    Thursday, September 21, 2017

    Self Care 2 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:
    2. Actually trusting that my friends care about me and want to spend time with me. I have a very difficult time believing that my friends (best advocates and loving people including my spouse) actually like me. I always think they’re just tolerating me. This isn’t logical. And I know that they love me. But it’s still a constant nagging.

    My response:

    I'm doing better, but I still struggle with this. It doesn't help that I kept repeating unhealthy relationship patterns. Some of them couldn't be trusted.

    As I become healthier, my relationships improve.

    This problem isn't about the relationships. It's a mind game. Abusers played them all the time. The challenge is to stop playing them. Practice is the only thing I can recommend.

    It's also important to realize that there will never be "perfect." People aren't perfect. People make mistakes.

    Abuse survivors were taught to trust no one. They learned the hard way that too many people are untrustworthy. Finding the trustworthy ones is a gift.

    Another difficult aspect is that abuse survivors not only struggle with trusting others, they have even more trouble with trusting themselves. Like loving others as yourself, you can't really trust others until you trust yourself.

    So, how do you build trust in yourself?

    One step at a time. Start by taking little risks. Try a different food. Really. As you gain confidence in the little things, bigger opportunities will open. It's also okay to make mistakes. It may hurt, but hurt is a part of life. Working to avoid it at all costs will cost everything.

    A huge opportunity opened for me to exercise trust like I haven't in a long time. I'm going on an adventure with friends I made online and have met at events two and three times. I'm trusting their expertise and what I've learned about them over the years. It's my first event since I've made major life changes, like incorporating Rule #1: Stop lying, especially to yourself. It's also my first event that isn't romance writing related since I've been published.

    What are my fears? I'll slip into old, unhealthy habits of coping. My back pain will act up; it's been a long time, but you never know.

    What have I done to ease those fears as far as it's within my power? I've been practicing my new habits to where they're almost second nature. The old habits have time on their side; I practiced them a lot longer. My back hasn't given me trouble in a long time. I do my physical therapy, six days a week, and one of my traveling buddies picked up weights for me to use to keep up my PT. My roommates will take care of the house, blessedly. Internet will be inconsistent. 

    I'm nervous about going through airport security. The last time I took a flight, I only had to worry about the metal detector. Yes, it's been a while. In any normal situation, pat downs and x-rays violates healthy boundaries. Being treated like a criminal when I've done nothing wrong is too much like dealing with abusers. So, what's my plan? Give the battle to God and praise Him in the storm. I've tested it in other situations, and God has seen me through. Not always pretty, but I made it.

    My trust in myself isn't perfect. A good thing. I'm fallible. My trust in God to see me through anything is strengthening. I'm looking forward to the next challenge.

      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:
      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:

        Vicki Hinze posted on Christians Read. It's worth a read and includes a visual:

        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:

        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:

        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:

        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:

        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.

        Christian romance author Patricia Johns shared a cute story she read about:

        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:

        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:

        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:

        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:

        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:

        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:

        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:

        Mustard Seed Blogs gave me a much needed fresh perspective on my daily routine:

        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:

        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:

        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.