Power of Thought

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For many sexual abuse survivors, these times have been trying. I’ve hardly been able to get on social media. I could get into all the reasons why they are specifically hard for me right now but that wouldn’t help anything. So instead, I’m going to talk about a positive realization that’s come out of all of this abuse-ridden mess.

I’d recently posted about negative thinking and where that leads me—to depression. But what I hadn’t yet figured out is where those negative thoughts come from. Why do I think them? It’s one thing to recognize them and another to understand why I go there in the first place. Because of all the constant bombardment of sex-offenders in positions of power, I’ve been diving into some deeply negative thought patterns again.

As always, I use my tools to pull out of them. But I also noticed something interesting…

The specific negative thoughts I’m thinking change depending on the stimulus. The fact they change not only caught my attention but then I began to ask myself, “Why these specific thoughts?” If they were all the same—like I’m useless, worthless, a loser—and so forth, then I’d not have noticed. But as they change, I began to look at what my body wanted to do at that moment. What I came to is that my negative thinking is tied to my flight response.

I’m not under any direct threat. A perceived one maybe, but not direct. The truth is, I don’t know how the recent changes to the Supreme Court will affect me. Or anyone. I can only speculate based on past behaviors of others. But speculation takes our power. Fear takes our power. So the last thing I want is to be full of fear over something I cannot control.

It’s that fear that kicks in my flight response.

But I don’t need to run away any more than I need to entertain negative thoughts. There’s no need. Past trauma doesn’t get to define me. I define me in the present. And now that I understand where my negative thinking comes from, it makes it that much easier to recognize it and address it before it takes control.

Today, I took the next step and talked about all these things. Plus so much more. Things I’ve not been able to talk about before. I felt myself trying to check out, but I didn’t. There was no need to. I wanted to talk about the things I was talking about. However hard it felt, I did it. And at the end of the day, all of it was just feelings. Nothing real in the here and now, only feelings from past events that my body was reacting to. Which meant I could address my need to flee and realize that it wasn’t necessary. Talking took the power of the negative thoughts away.

I’m sharing because I think many of us get so caught up in our thoughts that we don’t realize where those thoughts are taking us. They acted like a safety mechanism at one point, but now the thoughts themselves are the threat. They are the things causing us to feel more pain, fear, anxiety…and they aren’t needed. When there’s a real threat, we won’t be stopping to contemplate negative thoughts. We’ll be in the actual act of fighting or fleeing.

If we’re going to give our thoughts power, better that we do so to the constructive thoughts. The ones that tell us we’re worthy, we’re beautiful, we’re powerful, that we can make change by being that change… Thoughts that urge us to be present, like understanding that I’m sitting at my giant, lovely desk right now, writing this.

I’m okay with giving my thoughts power as long as they are thoughts that make life better. Anything less, I’m no longer willing to entertain. There is too much life to live and I want to spend as much as possible in the moment.

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Words of Others

I’ve tried to write today and I can’t. There is too much online and everywhere I look that is crushing me. I’m dealing, taking time away from it, but I needed some things to inspire me to stay positive. So, I found some quotes that gave me what I needed. I’ll share them below.

Take care of yourselves. These are trying times.

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Posted in My Journey, PTSD

The big 40

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Yesterday I had my 40th birthday. Good people came to see me, cooked me food, drank wine, and it was a glorious day. But I’ve also been depressed. I realized yesterday morning that part of the disconnect I’ve been feeling lately is that I never thought I’d make it to my 40th birthday. And not because I thought I’d spontaneously die. I’ve just always been so suicidal that I never thought I’d last this long. This last week has been confusing and hard.

I’ve also been helping a family member and there’s been a lot of witnessing pain during our time together. It’s good, but also emotionally draining. Which does add to the rough week.

The recent weeks have also brought a lot of revelation of bad habits (seems they always pop up, blasted things) and I’ve been working to change them. These habits are fierce though. They have not been easy to break. I’m nowhere even close to breaking them. My recognition of these habits has helped me see how often I focus on the negative. I’m a glass half empty sort of person. A thousand things can be going great and I’ll focus, hypervigilantly, on the one thing not going great.

While changing a habit like negative thinking seemed easy­­—after all, I only need to know why I focus on the negative and then I can change it, right? (wrong…)—it’s not easy at all. The more I try to focus on positive things and fill myself with gratitude, the more I circle back to even darker and deeply negative thoughts. It doesn’t make sense.

I’ve been ridiculously depressed lately. This isn’t something I’ve had to deal with in a long time. Like almost two years at this point. Occasionally, yes, but not steady like this. I’ve always tied my negative thinking to the fact that I was depressed. It was the only thing that made sense to me. And people seem to back that up. But tonight, as I was sitting at my laptop completely failing to write what I’d intended to, the thought ‘why do I always focus on the negative’ kept circling my thoughts. So I googled it. And I found something interesting.

I don’t know if there is any merit to it, but I found a website talking about how depression doesn’t lead to negative thinking… Instead, negative thinking leads to depression.

Say WHAT?

The author went on to say that negative thinking is a result of trauma. It’s part of the fight or flight response. Since it’s part of that process, that means the body will tire out and feel drained when that rush or ‘flee’ passes. What comes in place is depression.

Because depression is about disconnection, it means that we can take a break from feeling. Depression is often described as being full of apathy. Nothing matters, you don’t care about anything, not even if you live or die sometimes. This process is designed to give the body the relief it needs.

The reason this author said it is successful—though not ultimately helpful in the long run—is that negative thinking is also tied to fear. It’s a fear-based response. Depression shuts off a great deal of fear by filling us with apathy. To overcome depression, we must overcome our fear-based thinking that caused the focus on the negative. Since negative thinking originally comes from looking for danger, it’s hypervigilance.

Some signs of negative thinking are judgment (not discernment, that’s different), complaining about all that’s going wrong in your life, perfectionism, self-doubt, feeling sorry for yourself, but then there are other aspects that I didn’t realize were negative thinking. Like worry for others. Or feeling sorry for others. When we do that, we’re still putting judgment on their experience.

Negative thinking is also contagious it seems. Once one of us goes down that path, those around us can easily jump on the negative train. Misery loves company, no?

It’s important to stop this cycle at the onset.

Recently, I’d been allowing feelings to surface that I’d long suppressed, and what came with it was the negative thinking and then depression. This isn’t to say that all depression comes from this, but after reading, I know mine does. I have no chemical imbalances in my body. Mine is mental—thought related—and I’ve known it for a long time.

Now that I know, some of the suggestions I’d read were to let things go, to get rid of toxic people, focus on solutions, set better boundaries with others and the self, use the word ‘yet’ and stop using ‘but’, and so on.

My suspicion is that this is partly what makes trauma so difficult to heal. Especially if we’ve been raised in a household that focuses on the negative, lives by a false reality, or the never-ending ‘one day, I’ll be thin’ or ‘one day, I’ll move here’ or ‘one day, I’ll be rich’ but without ever taking the steps to make these things happen. So children get indoctrinated into this negative, no action, ‘one day things will get magically better and I never have to do the work to get there’ thinking and when that adds to trauma, it becomes this horrible cycle that is difficult to get off of.

Somehow, though, I think this understanding is going to help me.

A few days ago, I wrote D and told him I knew what needed to happen with these things I’m still working on. My solution was simple, to change them. To take action. I didn’t and don’t expect myself to get it overnight. Self-compassion is so crucial when trying to learn to new ways of thinking and new behaviors. And sometimes to take action, we have to revisit trauma and that can start us on that negative thinking cycle again. But the more knowledge I have, the more I understand that this cycle isn’t a wheel. It’s a linear cycle and that means it has an end.

This has been a strange day full of emotion, but also realization. For me, my negative thinking causes my depression. And this is the place I’ve felt at home and safe most of my life. Of course feeling happy and thinking positive is going to feel uncomfortable at first, but I’ll get there.

In the past two days, so many people have told me that their forties were amazing. That I’m in for good days ahead because at forty, we finally get over ourselves and stop caring about a lot of shit that doesn’t matter. We often gain a confidence in our ‘lack of fucks to give’ that helps us find the joy we’ve been missing out on. And you know, I think they’re right. This next year alone is going to be amazing. I’m coming out with some phenomenal books with my press, for myself as an author under other presses, I’m even going to travel outside of the country (I’ve only ever been to Canada before), I’m starting the UW this week, and these are only the things I’m aware of now. So that’s where I’m starting. I’ve got a lot of wonderful things in my future and happening even now. They are a great place to focus on the positive.

My 40’s are going to be great.

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Kintsugi Reviews

Hello all!

Kintsugi has a release date! January 1, 2019! If you are interested in doing a review, please let me know via submissions@sincyrpublishing.com so I can send along an ARC (efiles only).

Presale links: https://www.books2read.com/u/4NGpx8

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41956919-kintsugi—powerful-stories-of-healing-trauma

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Description:

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of using gold (and other precious metals) to repair broken pottery. The ritual is complex, intentional, and contemplative. Upon completion, the once-broken vessels are made whole. They are stronger and possess a different type of beauty than before.

Kintsugi is the perfect metaphor for healing trauma.

Healing is multifarious. Not only does it require effort on the part of the survivor, but also those around them. The most effective healing takes place when there is a network of support. One where others can listen, witness pain, and hold space for the survivor.

This collection is designed to highlight the varying approaches to healing and to honor our individual needs along the way. Some authors are taking their first steps in these pages, while others share their successes in reclaiming their bodies, confidence, sexuality, and joy. Each story is unique – sometimes straightforward, but often counterintuitive (because if healing were simple or straightforward it would surely be easier).

Kintsugi is not for the faint of heart.

 

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Deciding to start…

A friend of mine started a blog on working through trauma. If you’re just taking steps to uncover your own trauma or speaking out for the first time, I suggest checking out her blog.

Peeling Away the Trauma

This is my 39th year. I said I was going to spend this year getting my shit together. I am unhealthy and unhappy; and yet more healthy and happy than I have ever been.

It’s confusing, but I am making progress.

My therapist recently described my life as “remarkably unfucked” for the background I have. I have worked hard for this “unfucked” life. Sometimes that has meant starting my life over (never again), and sometimes that means dragging the skeletons out of the closet to find out they aren’t so bad after all. Or that they were awful, but maybe not my fault? I don’t know. This blog is just for me to work things out. I could do it in a private journal, but, I suspect I need to not be secret about this stuff anymore. And, I need support. I know I am not alone, but I feel…

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Darkness is Beautiful

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This week has been one of the hardest weeks in a long time. I didn’t realize until recently that I hadn’t dealt with some memories. I’d dealt with the memories leading up to the events, but not the events themselves. So, I decided to tackle those. I knew it’d be rough but I didn’t anticipate just how rough.

I’ve been in a deeply dark place and oddly, I’m okay with it.

I used to avoid this place of darkness. It’s full of grief and depression and loss. I couldn’t handle it before and that would take me down a path of suicidal thoughts. Those thoughts prevented me from having to face this darkness. The darkness would get shoved down because going to a place of suicidal thoughts wasn’t healthy. Wasn’t safe. But I’m not suicidal anymore. I can feel without fear of action. Which changed everything.

Today, I allowed myself to dive headfirst into this place of darkness. I knew it was safe to. So I did it. I allowed it to consume me. I thought it’d last for days, weeks, maybe months… After all, my depression used to last for months at a time, so how could allowing myself this dive into the dark be anything less?

A funny thing has happened though. By allowing myself to feel this stuff, I’m moving through it faster than I thought possible. And for the first time, I see that it wasn’t these things I’m remembering and feeling that kept me afraid and sad, it was the avoidance of these things. I’d avoided them so much that I’d actually consider death over feeling and facing them. That gave them more power.

So here I am—feeling—embracing the darkness, and what I see is that it’s not even scary. It’s not a bad place. It’s a place of truth. It’s a place of power. Because in my embracing that which I’d avoided, I’ve also embraced truth. And truth is power.

The longer I gave in to the fear of feeling what I’d been avoiding, the more power I’d given it.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”          –  Eleanor Roosevelt

I did. I looked this fear in the face. I felt it. I felt all the horrible things that came with it. And it’s lost its power.

This has taught me so much and the main lesson is that my fear is bigger than the thing itself. I’m not saying we can’t be afraid of things. Especially when our life is in direct threat by the hungry tigress heading straight for us. But let’s face it, that sort of threat isn’t very common. The most common and debilitating fears are the ones we feed. Regardless of how threatening they actually are.

Today, I asked myself what the worst thing was—feeling or avoiding? I knew before I even finished asking myself what that answer was, so I stopped avoiding and felt. I’m already feeling better. I did the thing I thought I could not do.

The darkness is much more beautiful than I ever knew.

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Powerful Yet Humble

When I began writing, I was often told to write what I know. It made sense at the time. Still does in many ways. But the issue with that is that I often write to learn. I’ve done it with this post even. I’ve been trying to write it for days now and I keep deleting it or starting a different post. And it’s because I’ve needed to ‘learn’ something.

Today, I learned a couple of things. I’m going to mention this one first since I literally just said this to someone and it’s got me smiling and nodding with joy. Because I’ve finally learned!

For a while now, I’ve been working on asking for my needs to be met. It’s taken years for me to be comfortable asking for things and sometimes I still struggle. But I’ve gotten sooo much better about it and now, most of the time, it feels easy. I’d not thought about why though until I said this to a friend tonight, “I don’t really find it hard anymore, asking for my needs to be met. The biggest issue with asking for my needs to be met was dropping my pride enough to acknowledge that they weren’t being met. I was always ‘I don’t need anyone, I can take care of myself…’ and that’s not really true. We all need things. To know what needs aren’t being met we have to admit that we feel like someone we love is dropping the ball. It’s hard.”

And that was that.

I had a hard time asking for my needs to be met for two reasons. One, I didn’t want to admit that I needed something I couldn’t provide myself. And two, I didn’t want to admit that people I loved—I thought—were dropping the ball. They weren’t, of course. No one can read minds. But I was so damn prideful about it that I couldn’t see that. My assumption was ‘they should just know’ and that meant that no one really had a chance. They weren’t dropping the ball, I was.

I’m so happy to have learned this lesson!

The other thing I learned today has to do with my writing. Tonight, I was sharing some ideas regarding a new project that has been driving me bonkers. It’s in my head so strongly that I had to stop throughout the day and write down new pieces to the puzzle that seemed to be unfolding in a hurry. I don’t want to get into all the details here but I will say that it involves images of the storyboarding sort.

While I was explaining this, I kept thinking comic or some sort of graphic novel and I was told that writing for that type of thing can be hard for people that are used to writing short stories and novels. Which made perfect sense! Right? Novelists use words to paint pictures. That’s what we do! But… that isn’t really how my brain works. It never has. That’s why writing has been so hard for me. I love it, but it’s hard. Because in my mind, I see things in pictures. I see storyboards.

When I’ve written novels, I’ve seen them first as a movie in my head. The whole movie. This is why I’ve gotten stuck if I don’t know how a story ends. It’s because, in order for me to write something, I have to see it in my mind first. I don’t paint worlds with my words, I use words to paint the worlds in my head. But I don’t have to use words for that. I can use images too. So this has shifted my way of seeing how I write and what processes are best for me. This is exciting news!

I also know that this project that has been buzzing around my head all day will be healing. In fact, that may be all it is. Right now, I see it as a way to release anger and express myself in ways I struggle with in real life. Because my mind works best in pictures, I can process things so much faster in this manner. So maybe this will be all it is. Not something I take to print, but just more steps in my healing. Which will be part of a book one day regardless, so I’d better do a good job.

All of this has me excited, even as I close some doors and move through newer, open ones, into unknown territory. I used to stress such things and I’m not. I haven’t felt anxiety about any of the difficult things I needed to do today. That is such huge progress.

I’m feeling like a Goddess. Powerful but still humble. More excited than afraid. Curious rather than hesitant. This feels wonderful. I’ve been listening to Ariana Grande’s God is a Woman video a lot today. It’s the perfect song to go with how I’m feeling. ❤

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