Back to Basics: Perspective & Reframing Thoughts

Sorry it’s late…busy yesterday and this morning

“No, sir.  Taking responsibility and being responsible aren’t always the same thing.”

Lieutnant Dallas says this to her boss, Commander Whitney as they discuss the responsibilities of being “in command”:

I’m re-reading one of my favorite on-going murder mystery series right now: J. D. Robb’s In Death series starting Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Roarke.

In today’s book, Treachery in Death, Lieutenant Dallas, Roarke, and their team are working on bringing a ring of dirty cops (who murdered civilians and other cops) to justice.  The fact that she’s gathering evidence against another lieutenant and her squad gets her thinking about responsibility, leadership, command, and the responsibilities that go with being a cop & a boss.  Hard not to compare how she runs her squad with how this corrupt lieutenant runs hers, right?

That phrase got me thinking…

I survived abuse and traumatic experiences.  Many of my guests have either survived or have loved ones who survived abuse and/or traumatic experiences.  Here on the blog, I discuss many aspects of life after trauma and skills needed to do more than survive.

One topic I never highlighted, but discussed in a variety of posts, is the idea of responsibility and blame in recovery.

 

For a long time, I blamed myself for what happened.  I believed I responsible for anything and everything bad that happened to me or the people around me.  And I accepted that responsibility well into adulthood – especially with my family.  It’s what I was taught.  It’s what the shame and guilt reinforced.

That plus the physical, verbal, and emotional punishment I received to reinforce these lessons kept me hiding behind a wall of insecurity for many years.  Not until I started counseling and therapy with mental health and trauma professionals did I start to understand that being responsible and accepting responsibility – personal or professional – are different concepts.

What is the difference?

The differrence exists, but I can’t put it into words.  Only in personal examples of affirmations does the phrase makes sense to me.

  • So here are some examples of my affirmations:
  • I accept responsibility for myself.
  • I am responsible for my choices as an adult.
  • I believe that I am responsible for how I act and react to other people.
  • I accept responsibility for my words, actions, reactions, and mistakes.  And the consequences of those mistakes.
  • I am learning not to accept responsibility for people & experiences beyond my control.
  • I am not responsible for what other people say and do
  • I am not responsible for how people speak, act and react to me.
  • I am not responsible for past abuse, my parents, or any other individual.

Reflections for thought…

ABOUT PARENTING
If I was a parent or caregiver, I would be responsible for the care, safety, and education of the children while they are vulnerable, still learning, and unable to care for themselves.

If I was a parent or caregiver, I would be responsible for teaching the children by example how to be kind, respectful, thoughtful, ethical, and able to make good choices as they grow into adulthood.

But would I be responsible for what the grown child (now an adult) says and does?  Do I accept responsibility for the grown child’s experiences if that grown child made those choices?

ABOUT CARING FOR PETS & OTHER LIVING BEINGS
Are these concepts and connected feelings of shame/guilt the reasons why I choose to be alone?  Or why I “failed” in the past when I tried to have a (insert pet or something else here)

Is this why I believe that I can’t take care of myself or any other living being (plant, pet, person?)

Is this why I shy away from socializing and letting people into my life?

Is this why my alters and I struggle with feeling safe and spreading our wings?

If any guests reading this post want to use the affirmations or reflections, please feel free to do so.  Substitute my thoughts/opinions/perspectives with yours.

Thanks for reading

Back to Basics: Nourishing Myself

There are times when I feel so sick that I can’t bring myself to eat.

It’s not that I don’t want to eat.  Or that the alters don’t want to eat.  Solid foods are just plain unappealing and hard to digest.  Drinking my food is an option. Soup usually does the trick.  Something savory and a little sour helps clear many things up.  Other times a smoothie or juice with pulp does the trick.

Only thing is, I don’t the texture or flavor of many pre-made soups and smoothies.  Nor do I appreciate the cost per drink/soup or the ingredients in the most commonly available options.   They have a hard time meeting my personal requirements

  • Pleases my senses: taste/smell/texture
  • Ingredients
  • Cost per item (I am frugal)
  • Ease of access (delivery, grocery stores, pick up, storage, make it myself?)

So I started creating my own recipes for homemade drinks, soups, and smoothies.  They are nutritionally dense, tasty, smell good, easy to make with a few key tools, and require easy to find ingredients.

Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes with options:

Basic Green Smoothie:

Ingredients

  • High powered blender with or without a smoothie option
  • 8 ounces of water, milk, or non-dairy milk (almond is my favorite)
  • 1 handful (or more) of leafy green vegetables – spinach and lettuce do not add to or change the flavor of your smoothie
  • 1 Apple cut into chunks (size depends on power of your blender)
  • 1/2 of a 10 oz bag of frozen mixed berries
  • 4 ounces (approx 1/4 container) of silken tofu

 

Cooking Instructions:

  • Add ingredients to the blender in this order: liquids, cut fresh fruit, leafy green vegetables, ground/powdered ingredients & seeds, frozen fruit or ice.
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides or push down ingredients between blending as needed
  • If the blender gets too full, start blending the liquids and fruit first.  Then slowly add in the rest of the ingredients until fully mixed.
  • Makes between 1-2 (up to 3) servings

Extra Info:

  • Optional ingredients: 1 tsp of ground flaxseed, chia seeds, sesame seeds, etc. for extra vitamins/minerals/fiber
  • Alternative ingredients A: add banana, avocado, yogurt, or ice to thicken the smoothie.  Or add less liquids
  • Alternative ingredients B: can substitute any apples and mixed berries for any fruits.  Can substitute almond milk for any other liquids.
  • Alternative ingredients C: I don’t recommend meat or eggs for protein.  Whey and soy proteins have a weird aftertaste.  I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but there are affordable, neutral tasting protein powders that work great in smoothies

Rice porridge aka congee in a slow cooker:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of white rice
  • 8 – 12 cups of liquid (vegetable-based or meat-based broth)
  • 2 stalks of green onions chopped fine
  • 1 lb of marinated protein (seafood, fish, chicken, pork, tofu, etc.) chopped or diced into medium-sized pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon of grated or sliced fresh ginger (or 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger)
  • Add ins: sesame seeds, peanuts or other nuts, mushrooms, sliced vegetables, salt to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  • Add the rice, broth, meat/protein, ginger, & half of the green onions to the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Rice will look like a thick soup and take on color of broth.
  • Ladle the soup into individual serving bowls.  Add sesame seeds, mushrooms, vegetables, and fresh green onions on top and serve.

Extra Info:

  • I prefer to mix everything together and then eat, but it’s a personal preference.
  • some people cook the meat, fish, or other protein separately and add in just before serving**
  • I am lazy and often throw everything into the slow cooker at the same time.  It tastes just as good, but veggies tend to lose their crispness and meat can taste overcooked.***

Hot flavored water (makes individual servings):

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz mug or larger
  • Water of choice (I use tap)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Honey (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice or 1/4 wedge of fresh lemon
  • Frozen or fresh fruit of choice (I tend to use frozen berries, mango, cherries, or pineapple)

Cooking Instructions:

  • Add honey or lemon to cup
  • Add frozen fruit to cup (fill 1/4 of cup max.)
  • Boil 6-8 ounces of water
    • Electric kettle needs a minimum of 2 cups
    • Boil water on stove top and pour into cup
  • Pour hot water into the cup and mix with honey/lemon/fruit.  Let cool down and enjoy
  • Pour water in cup and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.  Or use the beverage option.  Take out and mix honey/lemon juice/fruit with water.

Extra Info:

  • Microwave option A:  Add honey or lemon or both and water to cup; microwave on high for 2-3 minutes; take out and mix
  • Microwave option B:  Add frozen fruit and water to cup; microwave on high for 3-4 minutes; take out and mix
  • For multiple servings: Bring water (best to use 4 cups min.) to a boil in medium-sized pot.  Add ingredients to taste.  Bring back to a boil, stirring lightly, until water changes color or flavors mix.  Turn off heat and pour into mugs.
    • If you prefer a drink without pulp, separate liquid from pulp using a strainer.
    • The pulp is great in smoothies, fruit bread, muffins, etc.

 

I hope the recipes, if you try them, bring you as much comfort as they do me.

 

Thanks for reading.

Back to Basics: Working through nightmares

Nightmares are terrible experiences to work through at any time.  When you have alter personalities and switch in your sleep, the lack of awareness can cause problems.  By lack of awareness I mean not realizing when I am: shouting, screaming, crying, talking, kicking, punching, thumping, and so on while I am paralyzed (locked inside my body).  Usually my noise happens when I’m having a dream that involves anger and fighting.  All that means the neighbors get annoyed.  They start making noise.  And no one in the system is sure who or when or how the issue was resolved.

And yes, I’m having nightmares.  Or maybe reliving experiences as I sleep?  Or maybe I’m asleep and my alters are awake having flashbacks?  So confusing, yet so real.

As I told the admissions council during my second interview, some part of me is always awake.  I never truly sleep.  But I do get lots of rest.  And lately, my wireless headphones have been a blessing.  I can block out the construction, the neighbors, the cars, the wind when windows are open and get some rest.

Downside is that I can’t exactly hear when my neighbors bang on the door or the wall to get me to quiet down with the headphones on.  And when the neighbors do bang and shout, I’m not sure it’s me or someone else they want to quiet down.  Or if the new neighbors are moving furniture/drunk and walking into things, etc.

But I also have new neighbors.  They happen to be younger and louder than the others.  Also chattier and with chatty guests who visit at all hours.  And some like to smoke in the building even though that’s against the rules.  So any or all of this could be happening while I’m trying to sleep.

And whoever’s in charge at the time will take care of these issues.  So far, no complaints from the property manager about noise or other issues.  But the banging and music do startle awake and make some alters tense up.  To be honest, I’m not sure if any of us actually get out of bed to talk with the neighbors at night or just stay in bed hoping it will stop.  And I am kind of afraid of what could happen if one of us does try to chat with the loud neighbor.

As for basic coping strategies, here is this week’s list:

  • Airing out the apartment – warm enough to keep windows open a few days last week
  • Feeling comfortable (not to cold or hot) in bed
  • Gratitude affirmations
  • Deep breathing and meditation
  • Self massage and use of acupressure points
  • Letting the memories flow – aka alters share memories, experiences, thoughts, and feelings with everyone else
  • Listening to music
  • Listening to favorite nature sounds
  • Re-reading old favorites and some new books
  • Staying inside
  • Sleeping when I can; resting when I can’t; eating when I feel hungry
  • Letting myself be

It’s the downside to apartment living, especially micro-apartment living.  Small spaces crowded next to each other; soundproof that isn’t truly soundproof; and a basic lack of privacy from having neighbors so close.  Too bad I can’t afford my own house on a quiet street with very few neighbors and lots of beautiful trees.

But now that my secret life isn’t so secret anymore and we aren’t expending so much energy living two lives, maybe this lack of energy and need for solitude will lessen.  I’ve actually spent more time outside my apartment and interacting with people in the last two weeks than I did for the last 3 months.  And as much as I liked it (all parts in the system really enjoyed it), spending time chatting with people and in crowds really drained my energy.  So now we’re all back to figuring out how to refill the well.

Thanks for reading

 

Back to Basics: Self Care week

It’s March again.

The depression and feelings of shame/badness/evil are back.  I had a panic attack between yesterday and today.  It felt different, but I still had to take  the day off to sleep.

The body memory pain lessens with each acupuncture treatment – cupping and body work are helping too.  But the other pain – pain that comes from the toxins clogging my face and abdomen – increases.

While I am grateful for the pain (it means the toxins are moving out of my body) the headaches and sinus aches are triggering and distracting.  The back pain and abdominal pain feel scary until I burp or fart.  Then it feels slightly embarrassing.  Also feels triggering.

All I have to do is focus on self care until my next appointment with the counselor.  That’s what we agreed on in today’s session.  Me take care of myself in the best way possible.  Sleep.  Cook.  Be active, but not too active.  Conserve energy.  Prioritize goals.  Work.

And maybe this time the feelings of being evil, incompetent, stupid, etc. will not win.

Thanks for reading.