Tag: trauma

COME HOME TO YOUR SOUL SELF

COME HOME TO YOUR SOUL SELF

soul self
Night of the Mystic by Freydoon Rassouli, an Iranian-Born, American abstract surrealist and visionary artist and author.

When the world knocks you about and you feel as though you’re living in a foreign land, come home to your soul self.  It is always there, waiting for you.  You will recognize it as the place inside of you that is safe, familiar, and always sane. We all have this place . . . the core, essential, authentic place in our being.

Painful, difficult, mind-boggling events happen in our world every day.  We are shocked, dismayed, angry, disoriented confused, and afraid.  What happened to the world we once knew? we say to ourselves. Innocence lost. We do not know where or how to ground ourselves. This experience is trauma. An experience that our mind can not make sense of throws our psyche into disarray. This is the definition of trauma.

OPPORTUNITY AWAITS US

The events we experience in life, no matter how confusing or alarming, always offer us an opportunity. They elicit powerful questions when we dare to listen for them. The question that most often arises is “why is this happening to me”.  This is a trick question to divert our attention from the harder questions. It is one that has no answer but will waste our time and drive ourselves crazy as we struggle to answer it.

When we look beneath the why question, we come to the how and what questions, and the answers that will bring us home to our soul self.  For example, when we ask, “How am I to understand what is happening to me in a larger context?” or, “What can I learn about who I am and my place in the world from this experience?”, we are heading in the right direction.

Will I dwell in anger, or, live in fear? Or, will I look for the cosmic meaning and purpose for myself and the world? Will I give in to victimhood, or will I go inward and forward, by building trust and deeper, more honest connections? When we look for the choice point in this way, we are driven to ask more difficult and more important questions. Then, we offered a choice.

some home to your soul self

Each and every time we reach a choice point while taking time to listen to our inner guidance we have the opportunity to choose. Our choosing and acting upon our choice not only strengthens us but anchors us more profoundly in our soul self.  When we spend life skimming the surface, afraid to ask what we believe, instead only asking what we “think” we miss out on the vastness and the mystery that is awaiting us. It is only our fear that holds us hostage – our fear of emptiness, void, silence, nothingness, annihilation. Only… fear. Not reality. HOPE is always ours for the asking.


HOW TO MANAGE YOUR FEAR & ANGER POST ELECTION

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR FEAR & ANGER POST ELECTION

Fear and AngerPanic, fear and anger are very normal responses to what has taken place over the last week (and months). Many of us feel threatened and angered by all that is happening. We are in hyper-reactivity mode and our emotions have been propelling us forward. Everywhere people are saying and doing things they would not ordinarily say or do.

This high adrenaline response (survival response) is a natural and normal biological response, programmed into our DNA, to give us the biological resources we need to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe in a threatening situation. It is not ALL that we are. Not by a long shot, and it’s important that we take time, now, to reconnect with the rational and more expansive aspects of our selves.

The threat seems immediate and our bodies are responding as if it is. But, it is not, at least for most of us. Our bodies don’t know this, and the adrenaline coursing through our veins is telling us to fight or flee when there’s nowhere to flee and no one to punch! We take this adrenaline to social media and pick fights with our words, or we bark at our kids or spouses. This doesn’t satisfy our bodies need for calm. In fact, it keeps us in a heightened state of reactivity and keeps the adrenaline flowing.

Our best course of action at this time is to do the opposite. It may feel counter intuitive, but we need to make a concerted effort to calm ourselves. Remaining in a hyper alert state for long periods of time is hard on our bodies and will ultimately drain our resources. We may need these resources down the road when a course of action becomes clear.

Now it behooves us to take a deep breath and do everything we can to find our center of calm. We think more clearly when we are calm. We act more carefully and intelligently when we are calm. During challenging times such as these, we need to think and act with the best of who we are, not in reaction to a set of circumstances that at this time is beyond our control. There will come a time for action. We will know it when it arrives. Today, taking care of ourselves and restoring our sense of security within ourselves is our job.

As we live out the coming months and years, our ability to be vigilant in our self-care, will allow us to stay the course. Establishing a sense of security and calm within ourselves provides an anchor that will help us ride out the storms.

In my experience this can be accomplished by engaging in any or all of these practices. You may have your own.

  • avoid unnecessary confrontation
  • decrease exposure to inflammatory rhetoric/media
  • disconnect entirely from the internet for a period of time
  •  limit news/TV/electronic devices
  • take several deep breaths periodically throughout the day – we tend to hold our breath and breath shallowly when we are tense; deep breathing actually activates calming mechanisms in our body.
  • moderate exercise – a brisk walk, swimming, dancing
  • spending time outdoors, preferably in a natural setting away from the hustle and bustle of every day life.
  • pets can be calming – take some time each day to cuddle with yours; no doubt they will be calmer as well!
  • eat healthfully and avoid alcohol and junk food (Adrenal Burnout Soup Recipe)
  • get lots of sleep (even if you need a little help to do so for a while)
  • spend time with people who are calm and with whom you feel safe;
  • avoid those who don’t (it doesn’t mean you have to stop loving them!)
  • soak in a hot tub
  • use essential oils in a diffuser or sprinkle on a cotton ball and carry in your pocket
  • meditate/pray
  • practice mindfulness
  • body work/massage/
  • read positive, reflective literature
  • tune into yourself in silence; heart/mind/body/soul
  • Listen to and follow your intuition

We will get through this together.  Dorothy


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HARVESTING WISDOM by Author Joan Rough

HARVESTING WISDOM by Author Joan Rough

I’m excited to introduce today’s Voices of Wisdom feature contributor Joan Z Rough.  I met Joan through her wonderful blog where she writes regularly about life and “harvesting wisdom”.  I was drawn to the honesty of her voice and our mutual struggle with PTSD. Her voice of wisdom is strong and growing stronger with each passing year. I can’t wait to read her memoir Scattering Ashes, A Memoir of Letting Go will be available September 20, 2016, already receiving great reviews.

Joan describes herself  as “a wife, mother, grandmother, writer, blogger, gardener, artist, healthy food nut, and someone who loves all creatures, especially dogs.” She’s addicted to books, good movies and most especially her grand-kids. There is so much more to Joan that what she does. I will let her tell you the rest of the story. 

 

HARVESTING WISDOM

by Joan Z Rough

Harvesting Wisdom

By three methods we may learn wisdom:

First, by reflection, which is noblest;

Second, by imitation, which is easiest;

and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Confucius

Pearls of wisdom are things we harvest like grapes. We crush them into small bits, allow them to ferment, remove the waste products, and set the rest aside, allowing the resulting liquid to age. By the time we are elders, what we have is a rich, vintage wine, heady with notes of contemplation, emulation, and awareness.

We begin harvesting wisdom the moment we are born. We learn about the world from the way it tastes, smells, looks, and feels.  By the time we’re two or three years old the feel of a wet diaper may begin to annoy us. We follow our parent’s example, and begin to pee in a toilet. If we hold it for too long because we’re having fun playing with our favorite toys, we wet ourselves, and are then made fun of by friends and/or siblings. We suddenly understand that in order to keep from being humiliated, we need to pay attention to the messages our body sends us so that we don’t have to suffer from insults.

I’ll be seventy-four in November and have been harvesting wisdom all of my life. However, you’d never know it based on my behavior through the years. As a child, I was willful and stubborn, yet filled with fear and shame. As an adolescent I became a practiced liar, sneaking about, disobeying, and avoiding my parents as best I could. During most of my adulthood, I carried the scars and the dysfunction that both of my parents bequeathed me; a life built of shame, anger, hate, blame, fear, and victim-hood.

“I believed there was something terribly wrong with me.”

I’ve been unhappy for a good part of my life. Periods of sheer joy and happiness were often washed away by unfathomable depression and torrents of fear and anxiety. I didn’t know why. I believed there was something terribly wrong with me. That I was broken. Damaged goods. Undeserving of anything more than what I already had.

It all came to a head when I became my mother’s caregiver during her last seven years of life. Except for her last six months, she lived with my husband and me. Mom held tight to her fear and denial of death while I tried my best to make life as pleasant as I could for her. When memories of her mistreatment of me as a child began seeping out of the hiding places I had tucked them away in, I grew to hate her and found myself more depressed and anxious than ever. It wasn’t until after her death, that I realized that something had to change in order for me to be happy. If I didn’t I’d go to my grave a sorry soul, hauling my past with me, like a trunk of old clothes that no longer fit.

My goal was to remake myself into a whole and happy human being and to let go of old memories that had almost destroyed me. I took time to examine where I had been and what I had done with my life. I was diagnosed with PTSD, and began seeing a therapist, whose specialty was trauma. She helped me understand that I had been an abused child. That the belief that I had a normal upbringing was a fairy tale, and that I could be whole and happy if I chose to be.

“The more I wrote, the more things came to the surface.”

Harvesting WisdomAfter unending months of digging through the past and trying to find medication that might help me over the panic and overwhelming feelings I carried with me, I began writing out what I knew. The more I wrote, the more things came to the surface. They were things I had hidden from myself because they were painful. Taking an excruciating look back through the years, I saw myself being beaten by my father, while screaming for my mother to stop him. I finally understood the basis for my contempt for her. She never stopped him.

Along with the unearthing of the past, I found acceptance for who I am. I discovered the words and experiences that can trigger negative reactions in me. I began navigating through my days more easily, choosing between what made me feel good and what brought on my anxiety. I questioned my parent’s lives when they were younger, and uncovered the massive extent to which my mother had been abused by her mother. I already knew that my father suffered from PTSD due to his experiences during World War II. But it wasn’t until I myself was diagnosed with the same disorder that I found compassion for him, as well as for my mother.

Regrets followed. I wanted to go back and make it all better. But equipped with tools and knowledge my parents never had, I was better prepared to realize that they had done the best they could. Though I knew I couldn’t change the past and could never forget their mistreatment of me, I let go of my victim-hood. I found love, forgiveness and a deep understanding of them, myself, and the human spirit.

When people hear my story, some comment on what a hard life I’ve had. But I always let them know that though it was tough at times, without the adversity I’ve lived with, I’d never have found myself and the peace I live with now.

It isn’t through sitting in the sun and smelling the roses that one learns and gathers wisdom. It’s through hard knocks, the fermentation and aging processes that we learn how to change ourselves and the world we live in. 

Here’s to the good life, both yours and mine!


Harvesting Wisdom

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SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go
will be available wherever books are sold on September 20, 2016
and is now available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

 

WHAT EARLY READERS ARE SAYING:

“A brave story, beautifully written in an authentic, raw voice that strikes a universal chord about mother-daughter relationships, breaking the cycle of childhood abuse, taking the responsibility for one’s own healing and finding forgiveness.” KATHLEEN POOLER, Author of Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse

“In this well-wrought memoir, Joan Rough shows us the beauty of becoming the alchemist of one’s own life. What happens after she invites her elderly, narcissistic mother to move in to her home will often set your teeth on edge. The amazing ending, however, will leave you standing in awe at the power of love.” SHIRLEY HERSHEY SHOWALTER, author of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World

MORE ABOUT SCATTERING ASHES

An Opportunity for Change – Sometimes It Comes When We Least Expect It!

An Opportunity for Change – Sometimes It Comes When We Least Expect It!

Opportunity for Change
Angel statue in the graveyard of Trzic, Slovenia by ~lordradi

Life delivers the opportunity for change and growth, often when we least expect it. Once-in-a-lifetime events are just such opportunities. When the pot is stirred by events such as graduations, weddings, job changes, loss or a move, it is not uncommon to lose one’s perspective.

The weeks leading up to my son’s wedding brought a heavy load of unfinished-business-stress barreling down on me, not to mention the necessity for getting it all together and showing up for the function itself.  I knew I was facing a challenge and an opportunity for change, but much of it lay beneath the veil of my perception.  I was trying to stay cool, centered and in balance, but the tide of change had its way with me. I couldn’t stop it. I just had to go with it.

I wasn’t worrying about anything in particular. It was more like this giant, multicolored cloud over my head. Sometimes the pending celebration felt over the top exciting and at other times I was pretty sure it was going to rain down doom on me.

I’ve had many an opportunity for change since the accident, now six years ago, give or take. I’ve struggled to regain my resilience and equilibrium not only from it but from events of my life before it. I understand now that my ” come apart”  was just as much a result of the life I’d lived up until the accident as it was the accident itself. In fact, I’ve come to see the accident as a gift. It woke me up, even as it sent me reeling into a “dark night of the soul”.  It gave me the gift of opportunity — opportunity for change.

The wrenching impact the accident had on my life, inside and out, forced me to relinquish perspectives and beliefs that had paralyzed me throughout my life. It’s been a hard-fought battle, but when I headed west last September, I realized I had turned the corner.

It’s uncomfortable, at times, being a whole different person. I don’t respond and react to things the way I used to do. The chaos that ran around in my head and interfered with my relationships is gone. I show up, just as I am. That surprises me, but I’m pretty sure that’s the way we are supposed to be! I don’t worry problems to death. I think about them, feel them, let them roll around inside of me and then I either act on them or set them aside. I prefer now to share the wisdom I’ve gained rather than my problems. It just makes more sense.

I was overjoyed when I learned of my son’s engagement. I loved the woman who came into his life and mine and I was so, so happy that he was happy. As the date approached and plans needed to be made, I froze. I couldn’t move forward. I didn’t seem to be able to get myself to make flight reservations, or buy a dress, or do any of the things I thought I would be eager to do. For six weeks leading up to the wedding I wrestled with demons, demons that had no cause to wake up until a family event such as a wedding landed on my doorstep. It was an opportunity for change.

With guidance, support, determination and effort I was able to lay to rest another layer of outdated beliefs, fruitless expectations, and I eventually came out a little more me. It was necessary. It was liberating. It was, painful. I took several more steps to set the record straight for myself, to align my outside with my inside. I said things I needed to say. I did things I needed to do. Of course speaking what is true for oneself does have its consequences. For a year now, people have been dropping away like flies. I am discovering that what I was told I would discover when I dared to let go of unhealthy relationships, was true – – in the empty space my tribe has begun to show up.  Wow, what a difference!

I continue to learn that diving deep is seldom easy; that unwrapping and removing our masks is an ongoing process and challenge, particularly for those of us who are part of the scar clan – the deeply wounded. I’ve also learned that it is always possible to heal from the past, to become more resilient, and find greater inner strength. We may no longer have the same physical capacities we once had as we age, it’s a bit more challenge when stress arrives on our doorstep from a physical standpoint.  We do however, have many other skills and abilities that more than do the job. Our bodies may yell at us and buckle under with physical eruptions when we push our limits.  It may take longer for us to recover from stress, both internal and external. Our inner capacities, however, only increase and expand. We are so much more than we were — beneath the surface.

Perspectives change. We change. Life changes.

Change is the one constant in life.

Life events are an opportunity for change and growth.

We can choose to fight it or we can learn from it. The more often we are able to gird our loins and learn and grow from the process the more often we will be carried on the wings of angels to a richer, more meaningful life.

OTHER POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY

How Long Does It Take for a Wound to Heal

The Masks We Wear

Be Patient Toward All That Is Unresolved In Your Life


LEARN ABOUT EFT (EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE)

Chrystal Honeycutt, ND, RH, AHG has been my go to person for support and guidance as I learn to manage and deal with PTSD, and stress overload. She taught me to use EFT to help re-ground myself during stressful times and process my feelings around change and past trauma. She recently posted this video on her You-Tube Channel. It is a clear introduction to the process and if you’re interested in learning the process and using it I highly recommend you take a few minutes to watch it. After an introduction to the process she exhibits tapping on the subject of change.

Mask of Perception – When Things Aren’t What They Seem

Mask of Perception – When Things Aren’t What They Seem

the ask of perceptionWhat We Think Is True May not be True – Our Mask of Perception may be shielding us from the truth.

The other day I received a text from a friend. I read it through and responded. I was watching the news at the time, and not paying as close attention to the interaction as I might have done. It was an ordinary conversation among friends, the sharing of thoughts and ideas, concerns and the offering of support; not overly serious, but certainly not a casual how’s the weather conversation. We have them often. Something bothered me about the way things ended, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. I was tired and went to bed.

The next morning I pulled up the text exchange and read through it again. I wanted to make sure I got the conversation straight and see if my perception of what had taken place was different after a good night’s sleep. I was shocked to discover that I had missed an entire paragraph, and in that paragraph my friend had shared the news that her twenty-five year old daughter had checked herself into the hospital psych ward.  It was by far the most important paragraph in the entire exchange, and I had missed it! No wonder I was picking up vibes!

The blood drained from my face. The sudden awareness that I had been so intent upon composing my messages to her while half of my attention was elsewhere woke me up as if I’d been in a trance. The fact is, I had been. I had been in my world, in my perception of reality and only very marginally connected to hers. Texting is particularly prone to this pitfall, but we do it all the time, even when we are in a face to face conversation. 

I actually for a moment wondered if that paragraph had somehow come through later.  Ridiculous, right?  I re-read my words, now that I had the whole story, and was horrified to feel how insensitive, uncaring and self-centered they were.  I had never even responded to her primary concern. It was horrible. It was inexcusable. It was human. I am so very human. The older I get the more I do my best not to expect otherwise. This breach of attention had cost something I value deeply, my friends feelings. 

I quickly texted an apology to my friend. I would have called by I knew she would not be available to answer the phone. I expressed my real concern for her son and compassion for her heartbreak as her Mom. She is a forgiving person and didn’t hesitate to accept my apology, but I can’t help but wonder how long the sting of my apparent indifference will linger in her mind. I know it will stay with me and I will be more attentive when texting and in all interpersonal communications in the future. I will continue to question my perceptions, trust my intuition and to work at being more fully present with those with whom I come in contact. 

PERCEPTION

The exchange with my friend is a perfect example of how our perceptions influence our understanding of others.  Our perception of their viewpoint and our understanding of their words passes through the filters we have in place. Those things that mask and alter our perception of reality may be simply things that we allow to distract our attention, but they can also be perceptual masks that have been in place since childhood.   We are unable to take in what is actually being said. Like the old telephone game we used to play as kids, the message is garbled by the time it is received.  It is these perceptual masks, those that we are unaware of, that do the most damage to our relationships.  

Perceptual masks that were put in place in childhood as a self-protective device are the hardest to remove. As we attempted to cope with hurts, slights, traumas and unresolved issues that we were ill-equipped to cope with, we put on blinders, built walls around ourselves and re-created reality. The most insidious masks are the ones that we believe now to be “who we are”. Research has shown that victims of verbal abuse are often triggered by a single word, or an everyday occurrence. If, for example, a person’s father screamed at them throughout childhood,  “Why did you do such and such??!!!”, using a menacing and threatening tone of voice and getting in the child’s face. The attack always began with the word “why” and was followed by a verbal or physical lashing. Would it not be understandable that in adulthood, the word “why” would become a trigger word for this individual?  Later, the individual’s husband comes home from work and says, “honey, why did you leave the car on the street?” His reason for asking was simple. He was trying to be helpful. He wanted more information, to know whether or not his wife was going back out. He wanted to help her by putting the car back garage if she was going to be home for the evening. The “why” trigger word evoked an angry, accusatory response from his wife and she was drawn into the grip of a defensive rage. A kind gesture offer turned into a nightmare of back and forth exchanges that went nowhere.

The experience where a trigger originates need not be to the level of abuse for it to be carried forward into present time re-activity.  It only needs to be a present moment situation that is similar to an emotionally charged past event. The first clue to a trigger is a reactive response. The minute our hackles go up and we feel anger, shame, or a desire to run and hide, chances are we have been triggered. Getting curious about our response and taking the time to stop see if we can discover the original experience helps us to dissipate its present day power over us.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, particularly in charged relationships.  The more we can stay fully present in each moment, the healthier and deeper our relationship to ourselves and others can become.

What my friend heard in my response was entirely different from the actual truth. While unpleasant, it was a valuable reminder for me and I hope of some use to you.

Quote by D Sander, the mask of perception

Manifest Me – One Year Later

Manifest Me – One Year Later

writer, freelance writer, poetI began this blog a little over a year ago. It’s hard for me to fathom how far a person can travel on the inner journey in such a short period of time. When going through change and upheaval it seems, at times, interminable. The thing I’ve noticed over the years, however, is that real change takes time, not to mention serious commitment and focused attention. When we dabble in change nothing really happens. On the other hand, if we dive in hook, line and sinker with plenty of support and guidance, deep, lasting change can occur.

When I decided to start this blog, I only had a vague idea of what I was meant to do here. I knew intuitively that I needed to be more honest in my writing – to write more from my heart and less from my head, but beyond that I didn’t have a clue what that would look like.  I lived my life in the shadow of so many things that were not me. It was time to dig deep and find the courage to excavate and express the real me. The universe, or God, or whatever exists to see us through these things, always shows up to meet such desires and yearnings with exactly the thing we need. Crystal was the angel that delivered the goods in this regard. She knew where to lead me and what to do to give me the support and direction I needed.

If you’ve read my posts here over the last year you know some of what has transpired and some of what I’ve learned along the way. For me, it’s been an experience that continues to spin in ever-widening circles and there is still work to be done – but there will always be work to be done – always a deeper level of awareness that we can attain – a higher consciousness we can continue to aspire toward. That is the true joy of living. Knowing there is always a richer, deeper, fuller life experience ahead of us – and as time goes on, I have found it is most often an inner experience that we crave.

Over the last year, on a practical level, with Crystal’s guidance I have been able to change my eating habits. I have been gluten, dairy, sugar-free much of the time, striving always for better than 80% free. I’ve increased my level of exercise and as a by-product lost 20 lbs. Crystal insisted that I not focus on my weight, and I didn’t. It’s always been a lost cause for me. She repeated again and again, that when we are aligned physically, mentally and emotionally with our true selves, the weight will come off.

More importantly, my brain is clear, I’m managing my PTSD better and better all the time.  I feel centered, anchored and happier more often and I have made great strides in developing resiliency.  I’m learning to ask for support, to allow myself to have support when it’s offered, and to give myself what I need when I need it.  In turn I have more to give to others.  I’ve learned to listen to myself more carefully, to follow my intuition more often and to trust that I know who I am. Is life perfect? No, and that’s okay. It’s not supposed to be. I do believe, however, that we can feel better than most of us do, most of the time.

It’s time once again to raise the ante. Manifesting Me requires reaching just beyond our comfort level as often as we can. Manifesting Me requires owning who we are as clearly as possible, lining up our insides with our outsides, not hiding behind masks, facades, or mental constructs. It requires being fully present within and without.

The next step on my journey is to raise the ante on my outward expression of true self. I am taking on this challenge by continuing this conversation more openly on my website: DorothySander.com. It will be me owning my experience in body, mind and spirit – in the world. It will be me saying what I think and feel without hiding behind an artifice or an idea. There, if you follow me, and I hope you will, you will find more of what you found here, more about what I have learned and am learning as time goes on. You will find guidance as I discover it on things such as overcoming trauma, the body/mind/spirit connection, developing deeper levels of self-awareness, and more on my own spiritual journey as it unfolds.

I hope you’ll join me there and/or add your name to my mailing list below to keep apprised of new posts, workshops, book reviews, and more. I value your presence in my life. Your experience informs mine as much as mine may inform yours. We have so much to learn from one another and so much love and support to offer one another. Please join me and thank you for being with me here throughout the last year.

Dorothy

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