Say My Name With Love

I do several grounding exercises each day, well at least I am supposed to do them each day and I manage to do them every day, and I need to say my name three times in a row for each three exercises. I tend to stumble over my name quite a lot and I suppose that is to be expected, it isn’t often that I said my three names together, outside of my grounding work.

I’ve really disliked the halting sound of my voice when trying to do this. About a month ago I decided to say my name with love. That means that I say my name in a loving way and to focus on feeling love for myself nine times a day.  Since I’ve advocated doing small and short exercises in that past, believing that we all need to start with manageable, small, achievable goals, I thought this was a good idea.

Well, what I will say is that it is surprisingly difficult, but I am still doing it each day. When I stumble, I remind myself I love myself, it is just a new skill, each new skill can be hard to do once you start doing it, and that the smooth sound of it might take some time, the loving quality of my voice may take some time, but I do have the loving myself part, and that is a great thing and a great accomplishment. I know for so many years that was way beyond me, and so I am so very proud of myself and happy that when I say my name nine times a day I am feeling love towards myself.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Holiday Coping for Survivors

In Part 1 I shared some of what I have done in the past in the area of holiday coping. I have been preparing for some time for the upcoming holidays. I have been working on my self-esteem, self-care and connectedness issues.

Family gatherings and holidays have always been a challenge to me. It is hard to be an adult around those who have always denigrated, abused, used, and humiliated you when  you were little. It has been for me. No one would care for me or protect me and so I would try to do that on my own.

I have never managed to be an adult in my family, empowered and strong. I have always been the rejected one, the scapegoat to be blamed for everything. I have finally come to a place in my healing where I know who I am.

I am someone who is loved and who has value. I love me and I see value in me. It took being loved and valued by many survivor friends before I could slowly let that reality into my life.  

I do believe that the stronger I feel about myself, the stronger my connection to myself and my soul, and the stronger that I am connected to significant things in my life the better I can take care of and protect myself from others. Even so, a plan is a good thing for coping with family of origin relatives around the holidays. I think it is great to develop your own plan. So here is my plan:

1. Don’t make a plan of things to do for the day.

I used to make a plan of things to do. It would include reading a book and watching certain shows on tape. It usually didn’t get done. And then I would feel inadequate.

Now I try to spend some time alone, just for me, during the day, but aside from that, I don’t have a plan. I might watch a show or movie, read some, talk to friends online, spend some time with others, have a good meal, post on a message board or my blog, listen to music, take a nap, take gentle care of myself.

If plans for the day of the holiday helps or works good for you, great. I really encourage you to do what works for you.

2 Do plan things to do on the days before the holiday.

I start a holiday much sooner than most people. I try to do things for many days that are about the holiday. One thing I did this year was discuss the food we would have at our gathering. I took part in several conversations about the food that was being bought and what I would be bringing.

I bought a couple of squash. I love squash and since it is easy to prepare and I have done it before, I wanted to make something special for myself. I bought Edy’s Pumpkin ice cream, gluten free. It tastes like pumpkin pie and it is wonderful.

For Christmas I start listening to the music and wathing tv specials more than a month in advance of the holiday. Since it is my favorite time of the year I want to pack as much joy into it as possible. I shop for used items and special deals for decorations.

3. Be gentle with yourself.

I have some great shower gel and lotion. They are so nice and smooth. Using them is a nice way for me to be gentle with myself.

Try to do a few things that help calm and relax you. I take a few deep breaths and blow the air out with my teeth together. Taking a small object or talisman with you to family gatherings is a great thing to help remind you who you are and connect you to something else. I used to take a small dollie and put it in my backpack.

A few days before try to figure out a few activities that you would love to do and allow yourself to enjoy the treat.

Exercise is good, but not too much or more than your current physical level can tolerate. Be gentle. Pain isn’t necessary to get the benefits, especially for relaxing your musles and sleeping better. You deserve it.

For a few days after the holiday, be extra gentle. Cut yourself some slack. Try not to blame yourself if things go bad. Try not to let others lay their shame and blame onto you. You did the best you could and that is to be celebrated.

I remember when I was in my early twenties, no one talked about how stressful seeing family was during the holidays and how sad this time of year could be. Now there is a lot of awareness about that out there. We all know how hard it is. Be extra gentle, you deserve it.

4. Reach out to those who are good to you. Allow yourself a method to do so during the holiday.

I have connected to some friends and family this week. They nuture and feed me in my soul. That is something that I like to do. It helps me feel more solid through the holiday.

5. Read some of the suggestions by survivors and others online and make a small list of suggestions for coping and do some of them:

Holiday Coping.

6. Days in advance, make a list of some of your good qualities, remind yourself of them. 

If you don’t know what to write down, look in your comments if you have a blog and what your friends have said to you. Write them down. Keep reminding yourself.

Some of mine are tenacious, courageous, intelligent, compassionate, empathetic. I also have some lovely comments other survivors have written to me. They mean so much and make me feel better each time I read them.

7. Embrace some humor during the holiday week.

I love to watch A Christmas Story. It reminds me that humor is a good thing and that being little can be a time of joy and wonder.

8. Try to get as much sleep as possible the week before the holiday.

I have been taking naps and trying to sleep as much as possible. I never feel as though I get enough sleep, so this is something that I don’t feel I am overdoing.

9. Have an exit strategy. Remind yourself it is okay to leave.

I have given myself permission to leave. I never walked out or asked for a ride or called a cab when I was at a family member’s home.

One holiday last year I just left the room and went to my own bedroom and laid down. It is so much easier when I am in my own homespace to do that. It might seem like such a small thing, but for me, it was huge. I also avoided someone that I did not want to interact with.

If you aren’t going to be in your own space, make an exit plan. Think about a walk outside, a private conversation with a safe person, or just going into the bathroom, locking the door, and staying in there for ten minutes.

10. Remind yourself you don’t owe them anything.

I don’t owe my family anything on holidays. You don’t have to go there and if you do you don’t have to be real and honest and with your feelings with unsafe people and those who are or have been abusive. You can stand back and detach.

It took me decades to get to this place. I tried to stay with my family on holidays and have a good time and be abuse-free. That was not possible. Now I tell myself that this is the second half of my life and I get to spend it with me.

If you are spending holidays with those who have abused and hurt you, know that you can get through it and you can make it out the other side of the holidays stronger and more healed. Once you were little, but even though you may feel little and powerless,  you aren’t. You are an adult and you have the power to take care of your life and to heal.

11. Reflect on what you are connected to and what gives your life meaning.

Here are my posts on connectedness:

Connectedness, Not Grounding.

I have discovered that I am connected to a great many things. They give me meaning in my daily life. They give me a way to know that I am not alone, a way of knowing that I am loved, cared about, and valued, a way of knowing that I am worthy of being loved, cared about, and valued.

I’m sure that I will be feeling and thinking about several of the things that I am strongly connected to on the holiday; my soul, my favorite library, my ancestors, my guides, my favorite things in all the world.

12. Make some new rituals and traditions that are validating and healing for you.

I make crafts. I love to do that. I imbue them with a lot of meaning and they bring me a lot of joy. I love to go see holiday lights and looking at lit up Christmas trees.

I love to have decorations that I pick out in my homespace. I love to have a tree, though artificial, it brings me a lot of joy. I love to watch all the holiday tv specials and movies.

I love to go to the downtown Macy’s to see their holiday show. This year is A Day in the Life of an Elf. I love to go to Macy’s Christmas department and looking at all the ornaments and decorations. I love to go downtown to see the Holidazzle Parade.

Good and healing thoughts to us all.

Why Blog?

So I am done, for the moment, with posting about specific connectedness items. I have already received a great deal in healing. That is huge. I will continue working on connectedness. I’m sure that it will continue to bring me huge strides in feeling connected, in lieu of grounding, and in further healing moments resulting in huge leaps and bounds in my functioning and healing life.

I have found a stronger voice in writing on my blog through this process. It was hard and it was a challenge. But the words flowed more smoothly and so I was very heartened by this process.

It is our healing wishes, hopes, and thoughts that others might read them, work on ways to ground and connect for themselves, and find something in the posts that they connect to or spark ideas of things that they feel a connection to or want to work on more connection worth with.

Now that I have finished my series of posts on my healing connectedness work I’ve been asking myself what next when it comes to blogging. I have several tentative plans, as well as continuing with posts on ordinary life, overheard conversations, and my healing path.

One thing that I have wanted to post more about is why I blog, what started it all, how that has evolved over time and  why I am doing it now and what I get from it. I know I’ve posted about some of that already, but this issue has been evolving for me lately and I would like to adress it some more here. I suppose you can guess about what I get from it, and all of that was a complete shock and surprise to me; interaction, support, friendship, communion, and a sense of community that strives towards health and healing.

I have decided to post more about my moving journey that started more than two years ago, when I first moved. I decided to make these posts private with a password. This is not because I am concerned about those people finding or reading my blog. It is because I get to decide what is private and who I want to show it to and to have the choice to share about being multiple or not to the people that are in my life right now. I like getting to decide and I don’t want to put out there too much information for them to find me here.

I also want to start posting some photos and for the same reason they will be password protected. I will try to mail out my password in advance of the first post. If I miss you and you would like to view the private posts and photos, please send me a request.

Starting in the new year I would like to start writing more in-depth about my 18 wishes, that I made two years ago when I moved; to define and describe what each wish means to me and steps that I am taking and will take to help bring those wishes into reality in my life. A Reiki master and teacher friend of mine told me that the more clarity in the wishes the easier it is for something to come into your life.

I also plan on making a collage for each wish, and will try to get some scanning skills down so that I can post them here. Now that my life is more open, safe, and free I want to make a space for me to play more with creative healing. I have several great ideas for projects. I know that brings me lots of healing.

As always, it is our hopes and wishes that your continued healing work brings you health, happiness, and healing. Good and healing thoughts to you all.

Connectedness to My Energy Part 3

It is important that we as survivors find a place to connect ourselves to something else, something good, something strong, something healing. I have discovered that on the other side of connection is something else that is connecting back to us. I feel it.

I have discovered that what I really needed to do is to start connecting to something from my mind, to an idea or a thing or a concept, not a thing I can see and feel and hold at that moment. That works best for me. I feel the connection from the library, when I connect to it. I feel it in my mind, in my heart, and in my body. I’m not there. I’m at home, wherever I am, and still I feel it inside of me, see it in my mind. I am starting to feel it with other connectedness things as well.

Being connected to my energy has been the final and most important aspect of my connectedness work. Feeling the other connection has helped me to work on connecting with my energy, in order to be calmer, to be happier, to be more healed.

I found the key to connecting to my energy through Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. Cesar talks a lot about energy on his show. I had seen some episodes some years ago. And then again while living with a relative in another state. I didn’t really understand his concept of energy and how to use that. From the episodes I saw I was pretty clueless.

I did understand what he was saying, in that dogs can read people’s energy, much like how people read one another. He talked about being calm and assertive to be a pack leader for your dog and that we all need to be a pack leader for our dogs.  At the time being calm and assertive was pretty hard to do, living in a hostile home with a hostile, belligerent, and emotionally and verbally abusive relative. But I would practice it. I didn’t get far, but his show helped me to ignore and avoid my relative and that was a lot.  

About six months ago I started watching the show again. I got to see a lot of episodes, actually sometimes three episodes a day. It was great. I really was able to understand what he meant and how to work on being calm and assertive. In my life now I have access to a few dogs. I get to play with them and take care of them, some of the time, when I am up to it.

Being calm and assertive is hard for me. As a child being physically and sexually abused nothing about my life was calm and assertive. I bit my fingers nails down to the quick. I shook inside with fear most of the time. Acting as though I had value, speaking back to my mother, or having positive feelings were all reasons for my mother to physically and/or sexually abuse me at that moment. So I have lots of reasons for tamping down any positive feelings about myself or life.

As an adult child sexual abuse survivor I was terrifed all the time. I didn’t notice a lot of the time, because mostly I was frozen in fear. Being frozen means you don’t even feel all of the overwhelming fear, you feel some fear, kind of like being wrapped in a freezing terror cloak, you don’t feel most emotions, they are tamped down, just a bit of something that you find hard to identify exactly what it is you are feeling. You feel overwhelmed and on sensory overload almost all the time.

I was only able to stand up for myself when I was pushed to the edge and I snapped, being fueled by rage, shame, and adrenaline. I didn’t know what assertive was. I tried, for decades I tried, but I wouldn’t have known assertive if it had bit me in the ass.

I have run most of my life on adrenaline. I don’t know what normal is. I’ve tried relaxing, meditating, and most anything else that I found and could think of. Most of them didn’t work, most of them triggered me.

I started trying some of Cesar’s techniques on the dogs and on myself. I practive feeling calm and assertive when I am with them, when we go for walks and bike rides, and when we play and when I am taking care of them. The thing about dogs, they get it. As Cesar says dogs don’t respect affection, they love it, but it won’t make them obey you, it won’t make them follow you, and it won’t make them respect you, it won’t make you their pack leader. Being calm and assertive works.

I am also practicing calm and assertive at other times as well. I am slowly discovering a way to truly step into being the pack leader of our system. All the confidence, trust, and love that the system has put into me, I finally feel as though I am starting to deserve it. They always believed in me, but I didn’t.

I practice it when I am alone. I practice it when I am in public, when talking with others, and when enjoying my life. This method is helping me to walk confidently into the second half of my life. It is a work in progress, but one thing is for sure.

I am the pack leader.

Connectedness to My Energy Part 2

I’ve tried long and hard to connect to my own energy, in a way that was healing, in a way that was calming. Mostly I used methods recommended for grounding, that were sensory overloading or seemed dissociative to me. They didn’t work for me. I am so happy when and if they work for others.

I think that many of the grounding methods are dissociative. I am dissociative too much already, I don’t find it helpful to be more dissociative when trying to ground.

I don’t find it helpful to be sensory when I am overloaded with sensory input and triggered, sensory work only makes it worse. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Perhaps others don’t feel that way, but that has been the largest problem for me when it comes to grounding, sensory overload or dissociative.

Meditation has always registered in my body as dissociative. I find it the exact opposite of what I need to do in order to be associative with my body, my heart, my life. Relaxation methods are too associative with my body. I have tried tons of methods and most of them are too far on the scale, one way or the other, for me. I needed something different. Finally I have found that. I will soon post about that the work that I have been doing about connecting to my energy.

Connectedness to My Energy Part 1 of 3

I’ll try to post Part 2 of this topic some time tomorrow.

I have often wondered why others seemed to clue into me as someone they could try to abuse or use. Part of the answer to that is what I would refer to as a person’s energy. Abusers and users read others like a book, their energy, their emotions, looking for victims.

We all read each other. Just some do it better than others and some are aware of it and their responses to the energy of others and some are oblivious, represed, and/or in denial. This means that many survivors of abuse are clueless about their own energy and accurately reading others.

Being abused causes survivors to have damaged energy. Being abused causes you to judge and devalue yourself. We misinterpret things. We misunderstand. We blame ourselves for everything. We are vulnerable and naive and don’t know how to change that. Our emotions and energy become hyper-active and negative.

Slowly, with healing, we start to be more protective of ourselves, establishing boundaries, rules, and limitations in our life and when interacting with others. But even after years of healing it is very hard to heal or change our energy.

For the purposes of this discussion I will share my definition of personal energy. By energy I do not mean the soul. I do not mean the aura. I do not mean the body. I do not mean the mind.

Energy is the sum total of a person encapsulated. Energy is all that has happened to a person, all the good and all the bad, all that you have done and all you have not done, but should have. All the good qualities you have nurtured and developed and all the challenging ones that fester inside you. All the sorrow and all the tears, all the fears and all the pain. All the joys and innocence you have been able to retain. All that you have healed from and all that you haven’t.

A person’s energy is the story of their life and their present. A survivor’s energy is living too much in the past and in the future, and not in the present. It’s about living the aftermath of child sexual abuse. It’s living in the grip of fear and turmoil, hating yourself and having trouble finding the love and care from others that you deserve. A person’s energy is their everything.

Still Trying to do Connectedness Post

It’s not going so well. I’m still trying to figure out how to write my last post. I have been trying for the last two weeks. This is big stuff for me, big in my life and big in healing, and it is hard for me to find the words to say what I want to say. I’ll try to have it up tonight or tomorrow.

A lot of other things are going well. I had a good Halloween. Some really nice moments handing out candy to the neighborhood kiddies. Health continues to be very challenging, but life is sweeter.