Blogger Recognition Award

Many thanks to Ashtyn at Through Her He Speaks for the recognition! Her blog is a positive and encouraging space rooted in God, and her recent self-love challenge has been really great to follow along! I find self-love to be challenging for me to practice, and I was glad to see examples of what that can look like!

This came a day before I reached 100 followers – thank y’all so much for reading my thoughts and experiences. The blogging community has been a gift, truly.

Here’s how the award works:

  1. Post the Blogger Recognition Award Rules.
  2. Use Blogger Recognition Award badge on your website.
  3. Share the reasons why you blog.
  4. Share two tips for new bloggers.
  5. Nominate other bloggers for this award and notify each of them about this nomination.

Ok!

I started blogging a week short of a year ago because I wanted a space that I could be unfiltered and raw with my experience living with PTSD. The trauma week that nearly did me in was almost four and a half years ago, I was diagnosed about two and a half years ago, I’ve been with a great therapist for almost two years, and I moved from stable to progressing about 9 months ago, which got put on hold due to a family emergency, and I am almost ready to progress again. I keep blogging because I don’t have too many people that I can be this real with…yet.

Tip #1: If you don’t know what to say to another blogger, be supportive. A lot of people do this because they don’t have support where they are, and this is a relatively safe space for them. Lift them up! They will do the same for you.

Tip #2: Be your authentic self. This is a space to be real and see other people be real, and if you haven’t figured out who your authentic self is yet, this is a great place to work on that!

Here are the bloggers I would like to recognize for being so supportive of me:

Dating With PTSD – Communication

Telling how I feel and what I need is another trigger, because doing that previously got me another round of abuse. 

I am dating an incredible human who is accepting of my traumatic experiences and who is willing to listen (patiently) while I try to work out the things that trigger me. One of my challenges is that I don’t know what will trigger me or when, or how badly. I can’t predict my anxiety levels or what will make me want to push him away, what will violently drag up fear or what will be a small raising of my eyebrow.

Part of the trauma that broke my brain was an abusive relationship that I was in for four years. The first two years he was abusive and manipulative, the last two he was unbelievably cruel. I was in a horrible car wreck at the end of year two, after I had moved away but we were still talking. I had no idea I had PTSD, I had no idea why I couldn’t let go of him, and he took every bit of shame over what he had done to me and my near-death to emotionally beat the shit out of me, again and again and again.

He was a broken person not looking to heal. He nearly broke me. I still have a lot of scars, and it feels like I am now having to pull them back open to heal correctly.

He used communication as a weapon. He would not respond, not give me straight answers, not let me know what was going on or what to expect, because as long as I couldn’t get my feet under me in the relationship I had no way to access control. Post-car wreck I spent two years unknowingly creating negative neuron response pathways in my brain. It is taking a long time to repair those, and because I don’t even know what they all are, I keep stumbling upon them.

For example, David and I were texting, and I didn’t get a response back at one point. It wasn’t critical, and rational brain wouldn’t have thought much of it. I knew he was busy and I had my own things to do, and if I did have a rational brain I would have just checked in with him later. However, that drop in the conversation hit a neuron pathway that remembered that this is a negative thing, that when this happens I am going to get hurt, that when he doesn’t respond it’s a reason to panic and fear the worst. It snuck up on me before I could figure out what was happening, and a few hours later when we did start texting again it took very little (he was telling me what he’d been up to, a positive experience for me in normal conditions) to set me off on a severe trigger.

I don’t want to lash out or start a fight or make accusations when this happens. It isn’t David’s fault, it has very little to do with him and he doesn’t know. I don’t even know until it happens, then I am scrambling to understand why the hell I just had this deeply negative response to a circumstance that feels like it should be no big deal. Then I have to – in the middle of a fear-riddled experience for me – be completely vulnerable and ask for space and understanding while I sort out what’s happening. Telling how I feel and what I need is another trigger, because doing that previously got me another round of abuse.

I am so, so thankful that David was accepting, accommodating and that he listened once I got to a place that I understood what had happened. I needed to have a safe space to work through what had happened, and once I did, once I did a bit of reprogramming, I realized that for the first time I made it through a major trigger event without Xanax. Pretty amazing.

For those of us who live in the hell of PTSD, we need that safe space to process, to try to understand what is going on and to have you listen openly and without trying to tell us what our experience is. Our experience is hard enough for us to understand and deal with. When you add a partner to the mix, it’s a challenge to open up and let you know what’s going on. A challenge I’m slowly discovering is worth it.

Me Too

The women who have spoken about questioning their perception of their experience? Me too.

One day away from my second trauma anniversary of the week (both 4 years ago), my resting heart rate is back down to where I’d like it to be, I’m still losing weight a bit at a time, my hormones seem to be more balanced for the first time in about 5 months and I was able to say without hesitation yesterday, “We don’t blame victims.”

Praise God.

With the number of celebrities stepping forward to say that they have experienced sexual harassment and assault, including rape, with the national conversation opening up about longstanding acceptance, even expectation of this behavior, and the long silence of victims who were afraid to lose their jobs, their credibility or more…Me too.

My hope is that light will be shed on the issue as well as on the perpetrators of sexual violence. This is something that lives in darkness and secrecy, and dies in the light. I also hope that we support those who choose to speak about their experiences, and we support those who do not. I’m one that doesn’t care to talk about it, but I think it’s important to say “Me too”. I experienced years of harassment and assault – I was groped and grabbed and propositioned by men who acted like they had a right to me. Like so many other women I didn’t make a big deal out of it, smiled, stepped aside, and learned to avoid them. I’m thankful my experiences weren’t violent, but that’s another thing I hope people come to realize. Harassment and assault aren’t always violent. They aren’t always blatant or loud, they are very often manipulative, and they are designed to maximize blame and shame for the victim. The women who have spoken about questioning their perception of their experience? Me too. I get it. I’ve been there. I don’t have to be there any more, again, Praise God.

For those of us – women and men – who have felt like we had to stay in the shadows, not take the risk, not lose our jobs, not lose our credibility, not lose whatever else we have at stake…I hope the current conversations about non-consensual sexual interactions provide you the opportunity to heal, to feel recognized and heard whether you choose to speak or not. I hope you get to see that blame and shame are not for you, they are for the people who perpetrated this. And if you are ready to share, I hope you have a safe space to do it. For me, it’s enough to say “Me Too”.

 

More Ups & Downs & Post-Storm Anxiety

I didn’t go to church for a bit over a year because I was tired of it, disconnected from it and not interested in the petty politics of it. Not God, to be clear, not my relationship with Jesus, but with a particular brand of church that to my perspective lacked a clear focus on Jesus.

I went back to church on the invitation of the friends I mentioned a couple of posts ago, and have barely missed since. Except today, when church was cancelled because the school we meet in cancelled church because the district cancelled all weekend rentals in case the schools needed to be converted to shelters (presumably).

We have a more or less “singles” group that hangs out and has fun, and several were up for church despite the weather, so I organized a small group meeting at one of the guy’s houses and even though the rain and wind was fairly strong this morning, we had 6 people meet up for “church”. It was exactly what I needed. It was a calm, safe space with genuine friends in the middle of a literal storm. We went to lunch after and hung out for a few hours talking about nothing important.

Now I’m in bed hiding from the world and wondering where on earth that sense of calm went?!? Because right now EVERYTHING CAUSES ME ANXIETY.

Yes, I drove in conditions very similar to those in which I wrecked, but I’ve been through EMDR and I didn’t hydroplane even a little, but maybe my brain still doesn’t like it.

Yes I drank coffee (known to increase my anxiety) and ate a few donut holes (also known to increase my anxiety), but I thought I had tempered that with water and protein.

Yes storm is not that bad here and we are safe from flooding. I hate that so many people are not in that place, and social media is BANANAS right now (these check-ins as “safe” from people who haven’t even had rain today are so dumb! There is life-threatening flooding that is causing a real need for people to know the status of loved ones, don’t make this about you if it’s not.)

Didn’t do yoga but went for a walk and took a warm shower after, which made me feel pretty good (temporarily).

So here I am, glad that so many people are bravely helping strangers and giving what they have to help, but staying in my bed because I don’t want to create a problem and I can take care of myself from here. Outside is not a place I can safely be right now.

This is such a strange experience. I am used to taking care of others, stepping up and helping, taking charge and figuring it out. This whole month in therapy I have been working to understand how to learn to take care of myself, because that is something I don’t do very well. Frankly, it’s easier to ignore my needs because they just annoy me.

Well, here’s my chance.