Touching the grief

On this day 39 years ago I married the love of my life.
Tim was the love of my youth.
He was part of my life from the time I was 14 years old.
He was 21
He gave me the best years of his life.
He truly gave me his all.
I loved him and the journey after his death has been turbulent and tumultuous.

As I approach the 5th anniversary of his accident I am in a much more peaceful place.
It has been a long, long walk through some pretty dark valleys
I am finding myself standing higher on the hillsides now and spending less time in the valleys.

This journey through grief is indeed such a personal one.
I have made discovery after discovery during my walk.
Deeply personal discoveries which I have grown through.
And continue to do so.
They have been incredibly hard and at times I have wondered if I would ever make it through.
But with perseverance and resilience
And the support of precious family and friends
I have.

This morning as I was quietly remembering our wedding anniversary two posts popped up in my newsfeed
Such movingly appropriate posts
The first was a moving video by Kate Braestrup
Grief, to a 5 year old
She told such a tender story of how a 5 year old so naturally grieved her little friend.
It made me think back to when I had to say goodbye to my Timmy.
I am so grateful I was able to spend time with him during that week.
I do have regrets that some weren’t done differently,
but at the time you don’t know
you have no idea what to ask for
or how to ‘do it’
You are in so much pain
you sorta just go blurringly along with the flow of things
But to have been able to spend time with him
To hold his hands
To touch him
To talk to him
To just be with him
both alone and with the loved ones who wanted to see him
was incredibly special

Then an article by Katherine Schafler
‘The one thing no one ever says about grieving’
contains some simple but very pertanent truths.
The one that resonates strongly within my spirit is this
“Move towards the epicenter of your grief, as it’s the only path to other side of your pain.”
From my experience the only way to deal with pain is to face it square on and confront it.
By side stepping you only have it come back to bite you at a later time.
By suppressing the pain it only makes you sick with anger and guilt and more pain.

As time has progressed the triggers and pain from Tim’s accident have lessened
Time does heal
But scars still remain
And sometimes tears well up from deep within
They take me by surprise
But I know they need to flow

Last week I was enjoying dinner out in Sacramento with my special friend Brielle
It was a place and time so far removed from that time back in February 2013
As we talked all of a sudden tears started flowing
They took me completely by surprise
But I needed to go back to that place
Just for a moment
And allow them to bathe my soul

Today the tears are back again
They are tears of gratefulness
of memories
good memories
happy memories
tears of times gone
special times
I can’t go back
I don’t want to go back
But they are flowing
Because I am remembering a good man

Back on this day
the 4th November 1978
I gave him my hand

and on the 18th February 2013
I held his hand
for the last time
and let him go.

 

Therapy

Therapy
-a treatment that helps someone feel better, grow stronger,
-the act of caring for someone

Origin

I used to think therapy was the difficult stuff
the hour long sessions spent with my therapist
But
it’s not

Therapy has
many colours
many forms
many shapes
many times

Therapy
for me
is writing
is meeting a friend for coffee and and one on one time
is time & fun with my children
is taking the dog for a quiet meander along the river walk
is impulsively popping in for a chat with a friend
is sweating up a steep hill track and taking in the spectacular views from the top of my achievement
is impulsively shopping
is leaning into the arms of my closest tribal members and sobbing my heart out
is allowing them to feel my pain
is receiving their love and encouragement
is watching movies that make me cry, and laugh, and think
is sharing my innermost soulful thoughts with my best friend
is spending a day in bed with Netflix just because I can
is messaging my lover in the early hours of the morning
is sharing belly laughing crazy wine drinking sessions with my tribe
is creating art
is accepting the love and understanding of my man
is being held safe in his arms
is sitting at the beach and soaking in the sunshine
is planning my garden
is clambering around slippery river rocks with my children
is walking beside others who have also experienced my journey
is creating something joyous and wonderful and beautiful
is dancing wild and free
is making love
is gloriously wonderful food
is coffee

is orange :-)Therapy is caring for me in a way that restores my soul
But
I find
it tends to come delivered on a roller coaster
I delight in the parts of the ride that are slow
easy
soothing
cruising
but
while I am enjoying them I don’t tend to notice that the car I am riding in is beginning to climb…
Until I am perched at the top
rocking
waiting
then….
horrifyingly
the ride it gets to be screamingly scary
Situations arise
Events happen
my carriage plunges
down
down
down

and the therapy becomes
brutally intense
it makes me writhe in pain
I feel as if I am being torn apart
the anguish of the years
comes pouring out of my eyes
without permission
and when I think
I just cannot bare another moment,
when I am totally emotionally spent
the roller coaster reaches the bottom
and quietly cruises again
I gasp and gulp and reel
from the carnage wrought on my soul
I nurse my bruises
then realise
I made it through
that time
I begin the gentle soul soothing nurturing
knowing that this time
I have been made stronger
so that the next time my carriage reaches its peak
the pain won’t be as raw
the screaming not as loud
the ride down not as intense
nor as long

Nayyirah Waheed expresses it so well

recovering
healing
from abuse
is not an easy journey
it is wrought with hard seasons
but it is not an impossible journey
if you are willing to reach out
and accept the hands
who want to love you
but the hardest thing of all
for us
is

Aggrandizing of self

When the Japanese mend broken objects,
they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with GOLD.
They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.

I absolutely fell in love with this concept when I discovered it.
As someone who has been broken
not just once
but many, many times
I know what it is like to be shattered into so many pieces
that it feels like I will never ever be whole again

Aggrandize
such a marvellous word
I love how it rolls off my tongue
it has such
a beautiful tone
a wonderful feel
an importance even

It derives from the Latin grandis – meaning large
It is an enlargement or increase
in power, status, wealth
In this case
it is enlarging the worth of a broken object
by making it
even more beautiful
than before

Over recent months I have been picking up my broken pieces
I have been spending time
working out how to fit all of those shattered fragments back together
It has taken me years to understand
that no matter how hard I try
I will never be the whole that I was
way back before
I was broken

But I can be whole again
even more than I am now
By piecing together the best parts of me
the healed and healing parts of me
and aggrandizing them
with the gold that I am discovering along the way

Gold that comes in so many forms
true ‘stay with me forever no matter what shit I put them through’ friends
new members of my tribe
new experiences
deep emotional discoveries
and
new love 💖

I can be whole
I can be a new me
Aggrandized into a far far more beautiful self
than I ever believed possible

And that
to me
is
Pure Gold

Grief for the fallen Rimu

When Tim was killed a friend commented that ‘the mighty Rimu has fallen’

I remembered this recently when I was processing some headstuff and ’saw’ an incredibly clear picture of the journey our family has taken since he fell.

The picture was of a dense forest and a tall majestic tree was standing at the edge.
When it fell the noise resounded for miles and miles
Its branches smashed paths in many directions through the forest.
I could ‘see’ that each path was the journey that each of us within the family has made and are still making through this forest.
The paths are all going in different directions.
Like branches of the tree some paths are straight for a while and then they hit a bend.
Some bends are small and others are large knotty ones.
There are twigs jutting out along the way which take you on small detours but ultimately you have to return to the main branch.
Then you carry on until you hit the next knot or branch fork.
It’s a different journey for each ‘branch’.
And each ‘branch’ is reaching the clearing at a different time from the others due to their differences in size or length.
These differences equate to our processing abilities and other outside influences which divert us along the way.
My own journey was incredibly intense for the first 3.5 years.
I struggled through some pretty dense undergrowth.
At times the battle almost broke my branches, but ultimately the struggle made me fight and find strength I never knew I had.
I reached the edge of my clearing and the sunshine almost blinded me.
It was overwhelming to see light again.
I revelled in it.
Danced to the light of the sun and the moon.
It was truly the most wonderful feeling.
It took me nearly 4 years for my ‘branch’ to break free of the forest.

I look around to find the other branches and I see some have emerged before me and others are still finding their way.
Some have found their clearings but have times when they venture back into the forest for a short period.
And others are still lost in the undergrowth.
And that is totally ok.
I sometimes take a few steps back into the shade.
But I’ve learnt not to venture too far because I do not want to get lost in the undergrowth again.
It is a very dark and scary place.

When we do reach our clearing we have to remember to be patient with the others who are still untangling themselves from the forest undergrowth.
It is a journey that each ‘branch’ must make alone.
No one can walk it for them.
That is the essence of grief.

Continuum

For too many years I was frozen into silence by shame
Shame that was not mine to carry
I was also silenced by loyalty
Family loyalty
But I know now that was all bullshit
Because the only one that was being damaged was me
And I was the one
In my child’s mind
Protecting everyone else
Because don’t you know
Family has to stay loyal
Family has to cover up the dirt
Family is more important than the abuse of a child
But now…
I am saying enough!!

I am sick and tired of being the victim
Tired of being victimised
I will not be shamed into silence again

For too long I was under the impression that I was the only one
But as I have broken my silence I am hearing more and more from others who were victimised by my father
It is daunting and horrific
And I am sickened by the extent of his depravity
Yes, I know he is dead and gone
Yes, I know he cannot defend himself
But I know that as an adult I personally challenged him and he never denied a thing
All he said was – as he brushed it under the carpet
Its all in the past
All in the fucking past!!
Yeah Nah!
You cannot abuse a child for over 10 years of her childhood and think you have left her unscathed.
It doesn’t work that way.
It will never be in the past
Yes I have worked on my healing
Yes I am still working on my healing
Yes I am on a new journey
And Yes I am in a really really good place now
But the damage he inflicted will never ever be forgotten.
I will not allow myself to be swept under a carpet again.
I know now that I am far too valuable for that.

My childhood memories are not all scarred with depravity.
I am the first one to admit that there were some great times along the way.
My grandmother was a true feminist, way ahead of her times, and I loved her for that
I spent many holidays with her and my ‘not so much older than me’ uncles who I adored like surrogate older brothers
She was a strong influence in my formative years
My mother was educated, a teacher, always a teacher – I understand that because she passed that trait on to me
She provided me with a wonderful understanding and appreciation for music and culture and the arts
I will always be very grateful for that
And for the sacrifices she made to ensure I received those piano lessons, the precious books, the records she could ill afford.
From both these women I inherited the love of words and the ability to express myself passionately in my writing.

Unfortunately my memories of the great times are pretty much all tainted by the undercurrents of what I was experiencing under the covers, behind the doors, when no-one was looking, when no-one was seeing
On the surface everything in the garden was very rosy
It was beneath the surface where the rot was lying.
And when there is rot it eventually weakens the foundation and everything collapses.
It took many years for this rot to work its way to the surface
And now I am burning it out and rebuilding my foundations with new wood.

I do have many happy times that I recall
As a preschooler my mind casts back to a carefree spirited little girl
and I see snapshots of me pre the age of 7 that easily spring to my mind
In those snapshots I see myself, but I also see my carefree little granddaughters reflecting in their similarities to me
I just hope and pray that my little girls will never, ever, ever, have to endure what I did.

By breaking my silence
By bringing the rot to the surface to be dealt with
I am allowing discussion and freedom to talk openly
I have had so many friends and family come to me in the past weeks saying
‘Thank You’
‘Thank you for sharing’
‘Thank you for opening the door to allow us to talk’
‘Thank you for giving us the ability to share our pain’

It has taken every ounce of strength I have to come to this point in my journey
The emotional exhaustion from writing has been immense
I began to spiral down the tunnel again last week
I allowed myself a day of recovery time
I was tended to by empathetic friends
But I knew I couldn’t allow myself to fall too far
I will not let myself go there again
I woke the following day with resolve
I put my armour back on
My warrior self kicked the black dog fair out the door
And I faced the world again
Brave
Courageous
With my smile
I will not allow my smile to be stolen from me again

This is my story
My journey
My truth
and in front of me
is
My future
And I am writing it myself
I will not allow anyone to corrupt my shine ever again

‘Angry is just being scared’

I went to a one man show on Sunday night
I actually went so I could take my lad
Because I thought he would gain more understanding and clarity about depression
After 35 years of home educating I never stop do I??
Always looking for the educational opportunity for my kids 😉

But, as I discovered once before, 27 long years ago
And I remember the moment with extreme lucidity
I was the one who came away with the insight and clarity
I was the one who needed to hear the message

27 years ago
I still remember the night
I had organised/arranged for us to visit with a local guy who was well known for his evangelical relationship ministry.
And I was so incredibly sure that Tim needed sorting
Oh my!
Was I so wrong??

That evening
Not long before we were about to leave
All hell blew up
A random anonymous phone call
To this day I have no idea who it was
But that person had information
And that person told my mother what my father had done to me
And like every other thing that she couldn’t deal with in life
She never spoke another word about it from that night on
She literally swept it under the carpet
Leaving me a total mess
Once again
I was abandoned by my mother

I remember arriving on Jack’s doorstep – an emotional hysteric
I was a Mess!
It wasn’t Tim that needed sorting
It was my shit that needed unfucking
That was the first step I took in my healing journey
27 years ago
It was a very tiny step in the scheme of things
But that man I thought needed sorting out
That man
He stood by me the whole journey
He was my rock
And I am ever so grateful for him for all those years
He rescued me when I was a damaged teen
And then he protected me for all the years to follow
He always had my back no matter what
And that ‘no matter what’ was extensive
I had no idea back then what PTSD was
I had no idea why I was so angry
Or where the anger was coming from….

Rolling forward to last Sunday night
‘Shot Bro – Confessions of a Depressed Bullet’
Rob Mokaraka’s one man performance was insightful and challenging
Dark humour, Maori humour, confronting, energetic and powerful in his presentation of his life battle with depression,
He had us in tears and laughter
But what hit me deep within my heart
was when he said
‘Angry is just being scared’

Oh God!
The tears are still pouring down my face as I type this
Just being scared
How much of my life have I lived being scared
So much
Too much
The anger covered up the scared little girl cowering in the corner

Looking back I can see that every time I feel my life is out of control
The anger surfaces
But that anger is covering up the scared
As a child I was scared so much of the time
Scared because I never knew when my father would ‘want’ me
Scared because I knew that if anyone found out our family would blow to bits
Scared
Just plain honest to God scared for pretty much most of my formative years
But from the time I escaped at 18
I lived life on a high wire
I was a thrill seeker
I was out there
But I only went as far as I could without losing control
If I lost control then the scared took over

Throughout my life I can look back now and identify all the moments
All those moments when the control was taken from me
And the angry me had to protect the scared me

This morning when those words were going around in my head
‘Angry is just being scared’
‘Angry is just being scared’
‘Angry is just being scared’
the tears were trickling down my cheeks as I lay on my pillow

I need to let that anger go
I have been angry at so much in the past years
Angry at my father for abusing me
Angry at my father for mindfucking me
Angry at myself for allowing that mindfucking to ruin so much of my life
Angry at my mother for not protecting me
Angry at my mother for not hearing me
So incredibly angry at Tim for abandoning me
Angry at the Police for screwing up and covering up
Angry at the kids not seeing my pain because they were so embroiled in their own
Angry at myself for not being able to be all I need to be for my kids
Angry at the immense weight on my shoulders
Angry at all the crap I have had to wade through to get me to today
And today
I am angry because….

NO!!
I am not going to be angry today
Because
Today I understand
that ‘Angry is just being scared’

Today
I will voice that yes I am scared
I am scared of what today will unfold
I am scared of might happen – duh! how stupid does that sound!
I am scared that my dreams for my future will be taken from me

But in this moment
I am going to allow the other part of me to become the stronger part of me
The other part of me is going to embrace the future
The other part of me is excited about stepping out into the unknown
The other part of me is going to ask for help when she feels scared

If you do see me angry
Please put out your hand and just ask
What is scaring you?

Putting my vulnerability right out there!

for a long long time words have evaded me
me
a woman who usually has so many words
a woman with a word passion
a woman who has a massive word fetish
but the words i needed
just haven’t been able to be found
each time i start to write
the blankness of the page stares back at me
and the pain blocks out any ability to form comprehendible words

but this week
finally
i think i have broken through the barrier
this is incredibly hard
brutal
harsh
real
sickening

over the past six years i have used the most painful words i could
to elucidate the pain
but none of them really cut to the chase
abuse
sexual abuse
incest
childhood abuse
assault

but they are all too removed
they cause a separation
they are bad
really bad
but not bad enough
they actually
minimise

today the full essence of my core pain was understood
by my own self
which is the most important part of all of this
when i verbalised
named that pain out loud

when i first addressed this pain
i pushed open the closet door just enough to allow myself to breath
i inched out my toe
tested the waters
but the response was oppressive
the waters raged at me
i began drowning in distress
i hurriedly pulled the closet door closed
running back to the safety of dark silence
and since then have only let it open a little when i have felt a tad brave

but keeping that door closed
means keeping secrets
and secrets kill
secrets allow the demons to play games in your mind
secrets allow the pain to continue
secrets allow the pain to continue be perpetrated

so today I make a deliberate choice
to find those words
to name that pain
for what it was
to blast open the door
blow it completely off its hinges
to let the secrets fly
in the hopes that others can find their voices too

The words I needed to find
need to release
are
that i was
raped
R. A. P. E. D.
raped by my own father
countless times each week
for ten years of my childhood

there!
i’ve said it
finally
it’s out
in the open
in the public arena
woah!
breathe………..
no!
i don’t have to run for cover
i’ve nothing to hide anymore

i have been trying to come to terms with this for so many years
but how do you?
how do you ever understand?
even now
when i am so far along in my healing journey
the memories are never that far away
they are stored
in my pandoras box
on a high shelf
in the back room
of the recesses of my mind

i don’t choose to access that room hardly ever now
the lid stays shut on that box
because
in the past whenever i have lifted the lid
the demons that have attacked me
have been so brutal
so violent
so demoralising
i have been left
battered
bruised
and re-abused

i kept the lid on tight
and fought my way through life
until i could fight now more

i broke
under the pressure of keeping my fight on
i broke
and from my breaking
i have begun learning
to understand myself
to process
to communicate on far far deeper and honest levels than I ever could before
i learnt that the damage caused to me
WAS
NOT
MY
FAULT
that was huge
it took such a long long time to infiltrate my psyche

there is a very deep and often overwhelming sadness
the residue
left from the multiple rapes
that still tugs at my soul
that still now leaves me feeling incredibly vulnerable
putting this in to words
is so risky
but i can’t be BRAVE
without taking risks and exposing my vulnerabilities
and i have got to be brave
or i cannot live honestly

Living with PTSD

Back on the day 6 years ago that I was finally diagnosed with PTSD
It was such a relief
To know I wasn’t crazy
I was just broken
a traumatised soul
But
In the identifying
and the confronting
and the search for answers
I had no idea what lay in front of me.
I knew what was behind me
And I wanted no more of that
So I turned forwards
started the healing
facing the demons
But as I did they would attack with greater ferocity
biting at my heels
attacking with force the closer I got to identifying each one
Sometimes it felt like one step forward and ten back
I would break
and fall apart
thinking what was the point
it is all just way too hard


But finally
I found my courage
I sourced that inner strength
that had maintained me throughout those traumas
I was able to embrace the education of my mind
and was ready to face
and retrace my nightmares as each one surfaced


Being able to identify triggers
is essential
to not just surviving PTSD
but
to actually living with PTSD
In the past
triggers would escalate me out of control
I didn’t understand what was happening
And therefore
was unable to process
My normality which allowed me to cope
was
to be in control
have total structure
OCD to the max
keeping so busy so as not to remember

Today
I understand
I do have PTSD
I will always have PTSD
You cannot endure as much trauma as I have
and escape unscathed
But I am identifying the triggers
much more quickly
and in identifying them
I can deal to them

I haven’t quite got to identifying them
at trigger point
prior to the reaction
But I am processing
so much more quickly
I am also able to verbalise the situation ‘much more better’
Which for me
helps the processing
builds my emotional strength
allows me to understand
and share my self more easily
And lessens the feelings
of inadequacy
of hopelessness
of neediness
of ‘crazy woman status’

Over the past months
I have had several ‘meltdowns’
which I have been able to confront face on
Each trigger a reaction to different traumatic life experiences
Activating a neurobiological response from my amygdala
I go into instant ‘fright’ or ‘flight’ mode
I become anxious, frightened, out of rational control
But thankfully now
that is only for a short time

The reality of living with PTSD
is the ongoing
underlying
‘just have to live with’
stuff –
the sleeplessness
the inability to focus
the fluctuations
– emotional numbing
– emotional excess
the hypervigilance
the adrenal fatigue

Through my many many sessions with my therapist
(I still cannot believe she has never given up on me!!)
my work with other abused & traumatised women
and researching the ways trauma effects the brain
especially a young developing child’s
learning big words 😉
like
amygdala
hippocampus
ventromedial prefrontal cortex

I have learned to manage, conquer or control many of my symptomatic responses
-the intrusive thoughts of unwanted memories
-the flashbacks
-the mood alterations
-the shame, blame, persistent negativity
-the avoidance
-the depression

When I get gutshot by a PTSD trigger
I can now
identify it
deal to it
let it go – (why does that want to make me burst into song 😉 )
and use it to help others

The Becca Lee poem at the top really speaks from and to my heart
She summarises me perfectly
If you have managed to read through to the bottom of this
please go back and read about ‘me’
I’ve written previously about my phoenix rising from the ashes
this rebirth of mine
the growth from the pain
which has made me the woman I am today
I would gladly have traded all that pain whilst enduring it
But now
today
where I am right now
I can honestly say
I am ok

In fact today
I don’t just think
I’m ok
I know
I am doing
Absolutely brilliantly!

But if you are with me on the days when I am not doing quite so brilliantly
Please be a just little forgiving xxx

Decluttering body & mind

Do you ever keep clothes in the back of your wardrobe?
Waiting for the day when you can fit into them again.
I was so gutted this week to discover that some items that I absolutely loved and had kept for that very reason
Were now on the opposite end of the spectrum
They hang like sacks on me!
And instead of initially being thrilled
I was so upset
Because I really really liked these clothes.
What a conundrum!!
Like – duh!
Lost heaps of weight
Feeling fantastic
What to do
Get clothes altered
Or chuck them
Start again
Logic tells me the latter is the better option
Sentimentality runs with the former
Oh dear
First world problems 🙂

I am on a mission
A decluttering mission
Doing this physically is so hard
I set to with a vengence
Then I get challenge by my memories
Or the worth I place on an item
And then I can’t put it into the recycling
I have to pop it aside and ponder
Who can I give this to?
Where could I sell this or that?
Should I keep it?
Should I not?

It then takes an age to get through anything because you dilly dally
Muck about
Deliberating
I started recently thinking
What would my kids do with this when I’m gone?
Wow!
That is indeed a very liberating thought
Because actually, they would no doubt just biff that very thing I treasured for so long
Because it holds no sentimentality for them

So with that thought in mind I set to the job more effectively
After several weeks I now have several large bags of clothes removed from my wardrobe
And I have drawers all neatly folded and closable!
And on that note
I am now ready to tackle the rest of the house!!

But also on that note
I was thinking how much cleaning house is like cleaning out our emotional history

Whew!
That is a tough one
I know for me
I take a memory
Toss it about momentarily
If it’s too hard to process
back on the shelf it goes
But the imprint of that trauma that caused the memory stays
Because you haven’t cleaned up properly.
It is not until you can take the box off the shelf
Pull out the memory
Try it on
See if you really want to wear it anymore
Does it look good?
Does it make you feel good?
Process it, dust it off, decide on it’s worth
And then bin in
That you will be completely free of that baggage.

I’ve been doing a lot of that spring cleaning lately too.
I actually started it around 6 years ago
I have spent a lot of time pulling boxes off the shelf
And a lot of time quickly reshelving them
I’ve spent far too much time reshelving and to enough time resolving
But
As I have said multiple times before
Until you are ready it is just all too hard
My spring cleaning momentum has increased rapidly lately
And I am freeing up shelf space like crazy these days
It is so freeing

When I left the farm I determined that I would not bring any of the old life with me that I didn’t want.
However several years on and the cleanup down there is reaching completion and a lot of what I had forgotten has been brought to me to process.
I found that so weighting
It has taken space that I never wanted it too.
But like my emotional shelves
I am now stronger and more able to process more quickly
It is hard to part with things
But those things hold you down
Hold you back
So now I am filling my trash bags more quickly both physically and emotionally

And to quote someone on Facebook that I know well   (myself )

I haven’t tried to salvage what I had.
I’ve parked that and I am carving a new path, I’m incredibly happy and life is wonderfully awesome

Measuring growth

exposing vulnerabilities
scary stuff
really scary stuff

but in exposing my own vulnerabilities I am growing
and in growing myself I allow others to grow

So I am going to go right out there in this post and tell it…

I have been working hard over the past few years to heal
It’s been damned hard
But the growth I have experienced in the past few months has been immeasurable.
I have been flying on all cylinders
It has been an amazingly exhilarating ride

So….. recently when I experienced some health issues and I went into total meltdown over them I was like WTF?
This can’t be happening to me
I can’t do this over again
I am over all this
I’m in a such good place now
Why?………

After the 3rd thing in less than 2 months I marched right on into my therapist’s rooms this week and announced that she needed to help me unfuck my head!
In retrospect I know that in itself is a sign of immense growth for me because normally I spend my sessions duckshoveling and talking about everything and anything except me!

So here goes…..
She talked me through what was happening –
I learned that it is perfectly normal for any of us to imagine the worst when hit with a medical issue.
Absolutely normal!

But anyone like me who has PTSD will go there way more severely.
When you have experienced trauma and personal loss the fragility of life makes you so much more vulnerable.
There is…
-incredible fear
-losing control
-feeling like the rug has been pulled out from under your feet
This is something that PTSD sufferers fear greatly
Having no control over what happened to us at the time of the event/s is the cause of the triggers when we lose control in the now.
Being in control is how we feel safe
Hence OCD is often symptomatic of PTSD

These past two weeks I have had a couple of events which triggered me severely.
I visited a skin specialist because I figured that at my age and stage in life, with my skin type, and living here in New Zealand it was a wise thing to do.
However, I was unprepared for having several ‘things’ cut off of me and even more unprepared to hear that one of them was ‘of concern’.
The area of concern was on the back of my thigh.
My head immediately took me back many years when we lost a friend to melanoma – and yes his began with a spot right there!
Instant meltdown
Tears for hours as I processed
Thank God for friends who don’t mind damp shoulders

Six days later I was sitting at the computer early in the morning chatting with my daughter online when I began to feel something strange in my face.
Eilidh came in a few moments later and looked at me…
‘Your face is swollen’ she commented in a puzzled tone
That was the beginning…
The left side of my face went puffy, and hot, and numb, and the vision in my left eye went blurry, like a haze was over it….
I was feeling very weird
Nothing I could pinpoint specifically, but I was beginning to freak out.
My mind was taking me places again, places I didn’t want to go, but because of association with my father’s strokes etc, it went there real fast.
I had to go pick up Azzan and when I did he was ‘Mum go straight to the Dr. Don’t take me home, just go to the Dr’.
So I did.
I was seen by the nurse.
All vitals were fine.
I was feeling like a total drama queen.
She referred me straight through to the Dr – stating that obviously if it was serious enough for me to walk in knowing there was something wrong, it was serious enough to see the Dr.
Validation felt good.
Saw the Dr and he eventually diagnosed shingles.
Whew!
That I can handle.
The strep throat that had taken me a month to recover from pre Xmas had obviously lowered my immune system enough to allow the virus to activate.
I asked him what would’ve happened if I hadn’t come in?
‘You could’ve gone blind in that eye’ he said.
Woah!!
Ok!
More validation that I know my body and in future not to doubt myself.
But I had crashed emotionally – again.

The next day I received reassurance from my therapist that I was not going mental, I was not losing it, I was not regressing, was in fact doing a very healthy thing.
I was allowing myself to feel.

My normal PTSD response in the past has been to feel hopeless, collapsed, stuck, to have a knee jerk reaction when things hit the fan.
This is absolutely the norm to those of us stuck in the Drama triangle.
I know this.
I know it too well from far too many years of being stuck in there.
So for me now it is a NO GO ZONE.
It is Not Safe there
It is a place I Don’t Want To Go anymore

By taking ownership of my emotions
By naming my vulnerabilities
I am learning skills to live in a positive confronting way
I will not hide
I am exposing my scars
They are my tattoos of bravery
I am a Survivor!
I am a fricken badass Winner!

Talking through my needs
Helped me to see why I reacted the way I did and do…
built knowledge
built positivity
built strength
Because I have suffered sexual abuse during my childhood my trust was broken at an incredibly vulnerable time of my life by a person who I should’ve been able to trust.
Because of unreliable and inconsistent support in the past I have built barriers.
I have put up walls to protect me.
Because of the trauma of close loss and grief I am lacking the one thing I need
The one person who would hold and comfort me at times like this
That exposes my fragilities and vulnerabilities even more
It is downright scary stuff
When I am wounded my initial reaction has always been to go curl up in a corner like a wounded puppy, snapping and biting at any hands who dare to try help me

I have to learn how to let people in…
I am learning now how to let people in…
safely
I am learning to identify my needs
What does my fragile self need in these situations?
– honest support
– acknowledgement that it is scary
– validation
– to be heard
– to be reassured
– to feel safe
I have been building a door in my wall
I get to choose to open that door
to let in the trusted few

Thank God for trusted friends I feel safe with
I have built a small strong tribe of very special people in my inner sanctum
Some of whom have been there for me this past week especially while I have been in freakout mode

Phillipa you have always been my bestest friend, I don’t know where I would be without you
You have held me during some of the hardest times of my life
We have shared so much these past 25 years – I think our shoulders are equally wet and our laughter equally joyous

Spending time in the sunshine with Eilidh over these days has been so therapeutic as she has helped to blow away my fears
Love this girl – we are therapy for each other

And this guy
This spesiale strooijonker vfriend
(Who’s gonna laugh his arse off at my puny attempt at Afrikaans 😉  )
Who listens for hours on the phone
Who can handle my tears as I soak my pillow
Who always has an objective view
Eddie my man, my best mate – you are just one super cool dude and I thank you for being a part of my life
Thank you for making me laugh
Thank you for bringing the music back to my soul

And Renata – my beautiful forthright unreservedly outspoken and delightedly honest friend…
thank you for letting my cry all over your sushi this week
thank you for your support and and your love and your laughter

I’m past caring who sees me cry these days
If you can’t share my tears then you don’t deserve my laughter

I am growing through this
And so can you….
I will never be the same
You will never be the same
Trauma changes us
True story~!

If you are a PTSD sufferer
then take my advice
Find someone safe
someone you can trust
someone who understands your fragility
someone who can empathise
someone you feel safe with

But ultimately
Allow yourself to FEEL
Allow yourself to be BRAVE