Thursday, November 30, 2017

Self Care 14 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:

14. Taking a day off from childcare without worrying constantly or feeling guilty.

My response:

I have no children. I did have furry children, a dog and a horse. The only time I took time off was when I went on weekend trips to California, usually three or four days, once or twice a year.

Okay, when I first adopted my dog I hated going to work and leaving her home. It was years before I could leave her for a weekend. If I could have taken her with me, I would have.

When I went on a week-long vacation with my dog, but had to leave my horse behind, I hired someone to take care of him. I paid her well. I trusted family to take care of my dog and wish I'd paid someone to care for her. I did the best I knew how.

If I had children, what would I do, now? Now that I know more than I did.

I'd prayerful consider the opportunities. I'd do my homework in finding someone to care for my children while I'm away. I'd keep in touch, every day. I'd like to follow the example of one of my traveling companions. She called every day and did homework with the child who needed help. She recognized her need to do something for herself and endeavored to balance it with the needs of her family. Her husband and children were supportive, which I think makes a difference.

Like most things, I think this is another case of needing practice. Start small.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Self Care 13 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:

13. Convincing myself to do the work of self care especially in those moments that it is indeed work.

My response:

I don't know about other survivors, but I learned to put in as little effort as possible in regards to pretty much everything. Not because I'm lazy. I'm not. I used to think I was until I was given a good look at my life. I jumped through hoops, sidestepped, dodged, like nobody's business in an effort to avoid being caught in the meat grinder. Abusers excel at running their victims through the meat grinder, crushing, twisting, mutilating their spirit, all for the sake of control.

Abusers teach their victims they are worthless, except as defined by the abuser. It's an ugly definition. They may use pretty words, but victims quickly learn that words are as worthless as they are. Pretty words cloak painful barbs. Compliments serve one of two purposes: To reel the victim closer in order for the abuser to lash out or to soften up the victim because the abuser wants something they think the victim can give and sugarcoating is determined to be the easiest path to gain what they want.

Rule #1: Stop lying, especially to yourself comes in handy. In fact, it's required.

I could not stick with any plan for taking care of myself until I finally accepted I was worth taking care of. Believing this is a daily and sometimes constant battle.

A day doesn't go by that is personal abuse free all day. I stay up too late. I overeat. I push too hard. I procrastinate finishing one thing or another. I verbally beat myself up over one thing or another.

How do you change this?

Practice. Really. It's the only way. Healthy habits require practice. When you stumble and fall you pick yourself up and start over, day after day after day... moment by moment.

Sometimes, I practiced several things at once, but I found it easier to focus on one thing at a time. However, eating healthier, sleeping healthier, exercising healthier are all things that need to be done every day. Eating is my least successful change, but I am making progress. Sleeping is improving. Funnily enough, exercise has been the most consistent in improvement. I'm really not lazy.

As my sense of my personal worth improves, my efforts to take care of myself have also improved. Habits help me through the times when it's hard work. For example, walking every morning has become a Monday through Saturday routine.

This is not something I've done on my own. I've chosen a number of mentors, through the years. Most of them don't know it. The internet has made it easier to find people who know a whole lot more than I do and have been through horrific experiences and chosen to rise above. If they can do it, so can I.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday Quote

Thank you Donna Keevers Driver for all the lovely memes for my books.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Proverbs 20:7

The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Saturday Links

Team Never Quit interviewed Captain Charlie Plumb, a Vietnam POW, who survived 2,103 days in the "Hanoi Hotel." As a survivor of abuse, I found wisdom and an unexpected sense of peace with myself. I wish I'd learned some of the things he did sooner. Better late than never.

Who knew moss played such a vital role? How often do I ignore the moss that holds my life together?

Something extra for Thanksgiving:

God bless.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Favorite Book Friday

The Tenderness of His Love (Fostered by Love - book 3) by Kimberly Rae Jordan clean contemporary Christian romance. I wish I knew the order in which to read her books. I should have read The Callaghans and McFaddens Book 1 and 2 first. The books are stand alone, but characters from other books show up. I love her books.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

May it be a blessed day.

 Enjoy the food, the fun, the people... Need to escape? 

Read a book celebrating the holiday. :-)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Self Care 12 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:

12. Healthy eating and sleeping. 

My response:

I discussed in an earlier post about healthy eating:

Sleeping has been a battle all its own. Laying in bed for eight hours is not sleeping for eight hours. Yes, this had to be explained. Resting is better than not resting, but it still isn't sleep.

Sleep is when your body repairs itself. Learning this helped me understand that sleep wasn't simply a waste of eight hours or torture through nightmares. My body needed the sleep to repair itself.

There was an additional roadblock to sleep. When you go far enough into sleep deprivation, way past cranky, it becomes a tranquilizer. I was too tired to care what anyone did to me. Remembering was foggy. As my sleep improved, the tranquilizer effect wore off, and I hit cranky. Okay, not simply cranky but raging. I noticed how I was treated, and I remembered. Depression was safer than anger.

As I became healthier, I kept using my tranquilizer of little sleep. Unfortunately, as I became healthier, I recognized the problem. I knew I had to change, which meant I had to figure out a way to make sleep a blessing instead of using lack of sleep as an escape.

I read about how to improve my sleep and experimented. Some things worked. Some things didn't. Some sort of worked, but I failed to make them into a habit.

Things that helped:

I need a routine. Everyone needs a routine. Something that tells your body it's time to go to sleep. Mine is brushing and flossing my teeth.

I need a cool room. I like sleeping with a light blanket. If I'm too warm, I fidget and can't settle.

I need to sleep on my left side. That's compliments of a herniated back disc. It also means I need to keep my right leg elevated a bit. It's all about keeping my back comfortable, i.e., positioned so I'm not pinching any nerves. It's been twelve years since the epidural injection that started the healing process.

I need exercise, in order to sleep better at night. I walk every day, two-miles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, one-mile on Tuesday and Thursday, and two or more miles on Saturday. On Sunday, my walk varies, usually home from church, about a half mile. I also do physical therapy created for me by my physical therapist to rehab my back. I'm married to those exercises for life. They make a difference. They also help with my back, hips, knees, and ankles.

I need a kinder way to wake up than a buzzing alarm clock. My stereo is set to turn on K-LOVE to wake me. I enjoy the gentle waking. I do have a buzzing alarm clock in case I sleep through the radio. It doesn't happen often.

I need more than white noise to go to sleep. I have an air purifier that runs 24/7. It isn't enough. I do need it for improving air quality. However, I needed a different sound. I've used CDs, streams, waves, storms. Unfortunately, they'd end and so would the sound. It wouldn't wake me, but when I woke up in the middle of the night, it would be too quiet. My niece introduced me to Rainy Mood. 

 The most recent change I've made to improve my sleep is I take a Benadryl every night. It helps me breathe. I'm allergic to mold, ragweed, and something that blooms between 80 and 90 degrees. A windy day is miserable, no matter what time of year it is. Benadryl makes it better. I've also used Claritin-D, but it's more expensive.

Something I've noticed, when my sleep is doing good to okay my eating is easier to manage. Long ago, I learned to eat to stay awake. So my eating and sleeping are connected. I can pretend they aren't but... Rule #1: Stop lying, especially to yourself.

There's always room for improvement. An important lesson I learned: I cannot do huge changes and have them stick. I need to make little shifts, baby steps, a little here, a little there. A bunch of little changes add up to huge change. I'm improving and will continue to work on doing better.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Proverbs 20:5

Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday Links

I enjoyed this amusing reminder from William Emmons to enjoy things that haven't changed:

Donna Hatch shares some interesting Regency facts. A fact of my own, learned from my English Uncle and Aunt: The prudishness of the Victorian era were not instigated by Victoria but by Albert. Funnily enough, they're quite proud of it and delighted in Victoria's less prudish ways. Things changed after Albert's passing.

God bless.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Self Care 11 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:

11. Being in the present here and now.

My response: 

Life is miserable when you spend it wishing you could erase the past and dreaming of the future, especially when you don't do anything about either.

No, you can't change the past. However, you can learn to see if through different eyes. Instead of the wounded child, still hurting, I had to reach the point where I could say, "Yeah, it happened. So what?" I've worked long and hard to reach that point. It was actually suggested by one of the many books I read about abuse. It was the advice the author gave. I remember little else about the book, not even the title or the name of the author, though I remember the cover had a rainbow on it. I've never forgotten that one sentence (paraphrased): You have to reach the point in your life when people bring up what you went through you can say, "It happened. So what?" It's a part of the past, not the present and not the future.

Yes, what happened changed everything. I would likely be a different person now had I not been abused. However, I have to wonder, "Would I have liked myself?" Would I be sanctimonious? Self-righteous?  Would I be as compassionate? Would I have truly learned the value of honor, integrity, tenacity? Would I have the same friends? Would I be a writer?

Being present in the here in now is not easy. It requires work and effort. I know how to work, and I'm willing to put in the effort. It helps to learn to recognize the value. Living in the here and now means I don't beat myself up over the past. Living in the here and now means I don't fret about the future. Living in the here and now means I allow myself to embrace the present, enjoy each moment.

Does this mean I don't dream about the future? Of course not. In order to know what steps to take in the present, I need to know where I'm going. I admit I'm a bit of a control freak. LOL! Being in control gives me a sense of power. Recognizing that I have little control is a daily lesson. Accepting responsibility for controlling me, no one else, is a hard earned lesson.

An abuse victim is taught that they control their abuser's moods and actions. How did I learn the absurdity of this claim? How in the world did a five-year-old little girl control a teenage boys actions? I didn't hold a gun to his head. How in the world did a little girl control her mother's happiness? I wasn't magical. How had so much power been bestowed on a child who always felt so helpless and powerless? Lies.

Rule #1: Stop Lying, especially to yourself.

I was not powerful. I did not control my abusers. The only power I held in my hands was the ability to learn to control myself. My counselors guided those lessons, and I learned.

I still mess up. A lot. I'm learning. Practice. Every day. I won't give up, and I won't give in. Living in the here and now I'm happy.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Self Care 10 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:

10. Putting myself first.

My response: 

I grew up knowing that putting yourself first was selfish. The teaching was re-enforced from several directions. Everyone else was more important.

If I dared put myself first, I was shamed into rearranging my priorities. Adding to the head games was being treated special. I took me a long time to figure out it wasn't a good thing. Special treatment was a way to reel me in close so I'd be an easier target, let my guard down, soften me up, or it was used because the other person wanted something they thought I could give. I was supposed to be grateful for the compliment that hooked me. My third counselor described it as being chum for sharks. You weren't always eaten, but there was never a way to know if I'd escape or be caught. Even if I escaped, I knew I wouldn't next time. Trying to put myself first only made it worse. The game played more often to ensure I wasn't too full of myself.

It took a long time and a lot of practice to learn the difference between being selfish and putting yourself first. Yes, there's a difference.

Being selfish is putting your needs above everyone else regardless of the cost.

Putting yourself first is recognizing the needs of others and helping as able while ensuring yours are also met.

In more practical terms using dinner as an example:

Selfish is serving yourself as much as you want, sometimes going back for seconds and thirds, regardless of who hasn't eaten yet. Isn't enough for everyone else? Too bad. They should have arrived sooner. Pity someone else went hungry. I feel bad for them, but I'm still going to make sure I have as much as I want.

Putting yourself first is making sure you don't go hungry, which doesn't mean eating as much as you want. In fact, you recognize the need to take care of yourself and going back for thirds isn't a good idea anyway, unless you're burning the calories. In which case, you bring something extra for yourself so you don't feel like you're starving because you made sure everyone had something. In fact, bring something to share.

Perspective changes everything.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Self Care 9 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:

9. I struggle with making healthy relationship choices. I always go for people that I know are going to re traumatise me, even when there are “better choices” right in front of me. It’s like I can’t break that cycle.

My response: 

Story of my life, until my third counselor. I told him I felt like I had a tattoo on my forehead that said: ABUSE ME. He arched an eyebrow... maybe he didn't. He was pretty good about treating me kindly, but the vibes coming off him communicated a "duh" sensation. I stared at him as it dawned. I did! Not a real tattoo but a way of interacting with people that attracted abusers and users. Why? Because that's the way I knew how to interact with people. I'd gone in to my third round of counseling to figure out why I was still stuck. I'd worked through so much. It wasn't until that moment that I realized I had to not simply accept the past but I had to change me in fundamental ways.

During my recent adventure, I realized I'd finally successfully applied what my counselor had worked so hard to help me learn. I had healthy boundaries. I expected them to be respected, and they were. I didn't have to be nasty or cold or angry or any of the other unpleasant methods I used to use in order to keep people at a distance.

How did I finally step onto the path to change? I embraced Rule #1: Stop Lying, especially to yourself. I'm thinking of writing a book by that title. It's a tough rule. It sounds so easy, and it so isn't, especially for those who were trained to lie from a young age. "Everything's fine." "Nothing happened." "It doesn't matter."

Nothing was find. Too much had happened. And it mattered.

Changing is hard work and worth it.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Proverbs 20:3

It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

Self Care 8 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:

8. I struggle with believing in myself. As many times as trusted loved ones have told me I’m beautiful, loving, and smart, I find myself completely unable to believe them.

My response: 

This is a tough one. I still struggle with it.

Trusted loved ones turned out to be untrustworthy.

Perhaps that's where solving this one really starts. I still don't believe I'm beautiful. I'm kind of smart. I am loving and lovable. That is enormous progress.

I believed the negative tape for decades. I recognized the voices that weren't my own, that spoke more clearly and loudly than my own voice that struggled to defend me.

I had to start with Rule #1: Stop lying, especially to yourself.

Some may find it a negative rule. I found it to be positive. It not only meant that I had to stop pretending that people who said they cared about me didn't, but I also had to stop believing the lies they told about me, the lies I had accepted and claimed as my own.

People I thought I could trust said they believed me and then proved they didn't. I'm learning to let go of people like that. I'm not casting them aside, but I'm not investing my emotions in them. They've turned their backs on me before, and I anticipate they will again. Now, it won't hurt.

People aren't perfect.

I discovered friends who respect me and my boundaries, believe I fit in, and like me exactly as I am. They accept my past and believe me. I don't have to prove myself to them. Interestingly enough, I feel the same way about them.

Painfully, I've been through a lot of friends. They fit, at the time,  but as I grow healthier, we don't really fit anymore. It's sad, but I can't go back to what I was in order to be accepted.

Believing in yourself is not something anyone can give you. Friends and family and others can tell you how wonderful you are, but you will never believe them until it comes from inside you. It isn't fair to expect them to build that in you.

Here's the really tough part: It was something I had to choose for myself.

It felt like such an impossible choice, with all the negative things that had been said by people who supposedly loved me. How could I believe anything else? It required that I decide they were wrong.

I stepped back and looked at my life. I've made a lot of mistakes. People have lied about me. People have judged me and found me wanting. People had no trouble letting me know how I came up short.

Jesus Christ died for me, to save me. That knowledge is my saving grace.

Nothing the naysayers imply or declare can compete with God's infinite love for me.

I had to choose Jesus. Either I believe Him, and He's right: I'm worth dying for. Or I don't believe Him and it doesn't matter what I believe. As my trust in Jesus grew, what others thought of me meant less. I still slip into the old habits, from time to time, but I'm learning. Give the battle to God, and praise Him in the storm. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Self Care 7 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:

7. Preparing and eating healthy meals. I know how to, I know I deserve it, I can plan it and even sometimes manage to buy the groceries, but I freeze when it comes to the “doing” which doesn’t even bring me to “the eating”.

My response: 

Food is a really tough one for me. I was punished and rewarded with food. I was fed food that made me sick. My weight was a constant topic of ridicule. I was 5'5" and weighed 125 lb and called fat. I was able to see my ribs and called fat. My battle with food is long and painful.

I will not yield.

The journey is long and ugly and painful. It isn't over yet.

Learning what was healthy wasn't the problem. I had it crammed down my throat on a regular basis. The latest books and studies recited to me ad nauseam. I was told that men didn't marry girls as fat as I was. I was twenty pounds over my "ideal." By the way, that ideal is now considered unhealthy to the point of anorexic. I rebelled and promptly added thirty more pounds, and more after that. Stupid but the only way I could figure out how to fight back against unreasonable expectations.

How do you fight a battle that society jumps in and supports? 

Where do you start?

I knew some foods made me sick, anything with bran. I had to stop eating them. Insanely, I used them to push myself for not eating healthy. I'd eat too much or the wrong things and I'd eat an oatmeal cookie. Guaranteed to make me sick.

I was in my 40s when I finally admitted how insanely stupid I was being. I cut all oatmeal from my diet. My doctor did a food allergy test and discovered I was highly allergic to eggs. I would take allergy pills so I could eat fried eggs once a month. I finally admitted how stupid that was, too, and stopped eating eggs, except as a minor ingredient in other things. I've been egg free for only four years. Yes, that's how long it took me to finally stop hurting myself.

I hoard food. I grew up with feast or famine. If I liked something, the recipe was changed until I didn't like it in an effort to control my eating. I started with squirreling away easy to store foods, like candy bars and anything easy to prepare. I did a lot of sneaking food. While other children could take what they wanted from the fridge and cupboards, everything I ate was carefully monitored. How do you explain stealing crackers and marshmallows because it's difficult to tell how much is missing?

I discovered Schwan's and learned about portion sizes. I added healthier foods to my hoarding, spaghetti, canned and bottled fruits and veggies. I need to have certain comfort foods in my pantry, like peanut butter and grape jelly and bread. Bread freezes well.

Recently, I've been experimenting with eliminating soy from my diet. I have less trouble with swallowing, and the rash on my wrist is disappearing. It's amazing how many things have soy in them. Jell-O brand doesn't have soy, but generic jello and pudding has soy. Captain Crunch doesn't have soy or red dye. Woohoo! Whole milk doesn't have xanthan gum but reduced fat milk does. I'm learning what's healthy for me. It's requiring I make healthier choices. I had to decide I'm worth taking care of and protecting, even from my bad habits.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Self Care 6 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:

6. To stop always saying “sorry” (for nothing) and “people pleasing.”

My response: 

First, I had to learn to recognize why I was apologizing. I was the scapegoat, so everything was my fault. A dish was broken, it was reported as my fault, even if I wasn't in the room. If nasty things were said by someone else, it was reported that I said it. If I said something truthful, it was questioned or discounted completely. I apologized because it was expected. I accepted responsibility for numerous things I never did or said. Why? Because it was expected and by doing so I made the offender feel better but more importantly: I avoided getting into even more trouble. Yes, I was punished for not accepting the role of scapegoat.

Learning to recognize why I was apologizing sounds like an easy task. It isn't. It was only a few years ago that I learned to what extent I was blamed for what others did. Who would believe that I would be blamed for breaking an everyday dish? I began to see all the things for which I was blamed day in and day out, things beyond my control or things that were made up in order to explain why I was such a bad person.

A struggle in understanding "I'm sorry" came when I realized there are two types that are both acceptable. There is "I'm sorry. I was wrong." Straightforward enough. The second is "I'm sorry. I feel bad you're going this difficult situation." The first is accepting responsibility for a failure. The second is an attempt to empathize. Neither one is wrong.

With all the "apologies" for bad behavior going around, I've noticed that many fall far short. In truth, many are not apologies at all but lip service with an excuse attached.

What a real apology looks like: 

I'm sorry.
I was wrong.
It will never happen again.
What do I need to do to make things right?
If there's nothing I can do to make something right, what do I need to do to make a true change in my life?

No "Sorry, but..." No "Sorry, explanation..." No excuses.

People pleasing is far more encompassing than saying "sorry" all the time. People pleasing is an attempt to prove that I'm worthy of taking up air and space. It's really tough to learn to believe that you are worthy to be on this earth simply because you were born. It's true.

This is where my faith comes in handy: You are here because God wants you here. You have something to offer because God continues to give you breath, every day. If you wonder if your mission on earth is over, if you're still here, it isn't over. There is no other like you. You are unique. You have a combination of gifts and talents unlike any other person who has ever lived. Sometimes those gifts and talents are things that can't be catalogued or tallied. Patience, kindness, a sense of humor, peacemaker, gentleness, courage, sass. Yes, I think sass can be a gift. Like most gifts, they can be used for good or ill. The choice is yours. I prefer to choose good.

I may choose to please others. Sometimes, it's fun. It's also a part of who I am. I enjoy seeing others happy. However, I'm learning that sacrificing myself, when it isn't required, is selfish martyrdom. I don't like it in others because I really don't like it in myself. 

How do I change? Practice. Lots and lots of practice. It's worth it because I am worth it. If I allow shadows of the past to rule my life, I will never reach my full potential. The baggage will drag me down. Give the battle to God and praise Him in the storm.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sunday Scripture

Proverbs 19:22

The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Saturday Links

Mustard Seed Blog so often reflects things I've struggled with and provides light for me:

Great perspective on facing challenges by William Emmons:

God bless.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Self Care 5 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:

5. Allowing myself to feel all emotions – joy and anger are the most difficult for me.

My response: 

I remember how difficult it was for me to identify joy. Anger was easy. I was so ashamed for feeling angry. Sometimes the anger morphed to barely controlled rage. I bent a hefty frying pan when I threw it on the floor. No one was allowed to witness such outbursts. No one except my dog. Bless her heart. She'd hide. I never hurt her, but my rage was terrifying. I actually used it to protect myself and my horse when dogs would run at us when I went riding. By then, I was learning to control the rage in a more positive manner. Before that, I twisted and transformed my anger into self-hatred.

I felt like I lived on the surface. Most emotions were avoided. Dangerous. I didn't know how to handle them, so I pretended like they weren't there. I muted everything. An emotion would hit, and I'd flatten it to a manageable bit of fluff. Truthfully, I channeled it all into despair. No hope. Despair was safer than rage.

Happiness was fleeting, gone before I could fully embrace it. My dog gave me a measure of peace. I think I learned unconditional love from her.

Then "Fellowship of the Ring" came along, December 2001. It isn't often one can pinpoint when life changes forever. I dreaded seeing the movie. I was afraid they'd jacked up the title and put a new story underneath it. A flicker of hope wanted it to be passable, not horrid.  The opening was an intriguing start. I wasn't willing to give my stamp of approval, but I wasn't disappointed. A good start. I gasped upon my first view of the Shire. It was exactly as I'd imagined. The Long Expected Party delighted me, including the fireworks. Good surprises. Then the Nazgul appeared, a good scary. I'd never understood good scary until that moment. It was fun. Somethings weren't quite right, but I was willing to forgive the director's personal vision. I remembered bits and pieces from the books I hadn't read in years. I remembered a scene was coming that included the water looking like horses and riders. I figured if the film could carry that off in a believable manner I'd give the film my stamp of approval. The scene appeared and it was all and more. I was overjoyed. I allowed myself to fall into the story. Surprise, fear, sadness, anticipation, and a wealth of other emotions flooded me, and I allowed myself to feel, really feel, every one. I went back 33 more times to relive all those emotions.

The emotional spigot was turned on, and I liked it. I decided I'd never turn it off again.

I discovered a whole new problem: I didn't know how to handle all the emotions. Practice, practice, practice.

Sixteen years later and I'm still practicing. I was ready. God opened the door, and I danced through.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Self Care 4 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:
    4. I struggle with basics. I forget to shower, eat, drink, and do things like buy myself clothes. I feel my needs get in the way of others.

    My response:

    Yes. In the last Self Care post, I talked about my eating struggles. This one is more encompassing. Abusers teach the victim they are worthless. Note of clarification: In the "grooming" stage, an abuser assures the victim they are priceless. Assuring the victim they are loved is also a tool used to keep the victim tied to the abuser. I reached the point where all compliments from my abusers were suspect. I knew I was being reeled in close enough, emotionally at least and sometimes physically, for the abuser to land a blow, usually a verbal one. It took me a long time to realize that pulling me into their physical space, violating my own, created a false sense of intimacy. It's horribly confusing. It's part of gaslighting. Keep the victim confused and reaching for the nearest help, the abuser. It's a vicious cycle.

    Because I believed I was worthless, I didn't deserve basic care. I was knowingly fed food that made me sick. I was given clothes that didn't fit properly. I was told I should be grateful because others were more in need than I was. If I could survive with less, maybe I wouldn't be noticed. If I wasn't noticed, maybe I'd be safe. All lies.

    Important note: Just because someone is worse off than you are doesn't mean your pain should be ignored. You still have to live your life. Being aware of the plight of others means you recognize the world doesn't revolve around you. Wanting to help is good. Ignoring your own needs isn't healthy. You'll be able to help others better if you take care of yourself first. Like the flight instruction: If the oxygen masks drop, put one on yourself first, before you put it on your child. It will help you think more clearly and be more effective in helping others.

    My dog helped me change my perspective. No one was allowed to insult my dog, even though they insulted me and I said nothing. My dog saw the vet before I saw the doctor. My dog's food was purchased before mine. I took my dog for walks when I wouldn't have done it for me. Then I added a horse. He saw the vet and the ferrier in a timely manner. I would do things for my fur babies I wouldn't do for me. In order to take care of them, I had to take a certain measure of care of myself. No matter how much I wanted to stay in bed, with the covers pulled over my head, the animals had to be taken care of, so I'd at least drag myself out of bed and take care of them. Doing for them helped me see the need to treat myself better, but that isn't what helped me follow through.

    I herniated a disc in my back and, despite the pain for months, I didn't see the doctor until I reached the point where I couldn't bend over enough to pet my dog. I could live with the pain. I couldn't live without being able to pet my dog.

    My horse has been gone for 15 years, and my dog has been gone for 11. Only this year did I finally reach the point where I'm buying clothes I need without feeling guilty.

    One thing at a time. Start with something small for yourself. Eat at regular times. Without my dog, why should I walk every day? Walk a little every day. I started with walking to the end of the driveway, for a week. I doubled the distance, for a week. I gradually added more and more. I'm currently walking a little over 1-1/2 miles 3x a week, 1 mile 1x a week, and 1/2 mile 2x a week. I give myself one day off a week. Because of my herniated disc, I do the physical therapy routine 6 days a week, given to me by my physical therapist, 12 years ago. I try to be in bed before midnight. I wake up about the same time every day. Sometimes, it's not eating two ice cream sandwiches.

    Only you can change you. I've attempted to make huge changes. It never works. Taking little steps works better for me. I endeavor to not beat myself up when I loose ground. I saw a meme that helped me gain a new perspective: One step forward and two steps back is a cha-cha. When I feel like I'm back at the bottom, I remind myself that it's familiar territory; I've been there so many times I know where to go from there. Be kind to you.