ADMIN: 2018 Changes Part 1

Introduction

Back at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, I mentioned a couple times that some changes were coming to the website and blog.  I wanted (still do) to update and add more quality resources and make sure that the content stayed high quality and relevant to the original intentions and keeping this a safe, anonymous, FREE resource.

Why?

There are new and different priorities taking over right now.  Some of my explorations require a bigger time investment and a new space to write/share thoughts.  Others are or will be big life changes that also require dedicated, long term focus.

Since I want to do all of that and maintain this website and blog, compromises and changes have to take place.

Website/Blog Changes

  • Untangled Connections is moving to a paid account by June 2018
    • The domain name and/or URL might change (I’m still trying to understand this), but the Web site Name and accessibility WILL NOT CHANGE
    • I will write an ADMIN Post announcing the changes 1-2 weeks before they take place
  • At some point, probably the next holiday or vacation, I’ll be collating all of the Resource posts and putting the links on the Resources page
  • The Search and Menu functions will change to become more user-friendly
    • This might require changes to the theme, but I will know more after making the upgrade

Schedule Changes

  • Posts about me, my experiences with resources, reviews, etc. will take place 1x a week – probably on Sundays
  • Posts about topics and ideas from the Internet or other bloggers will be shared as I find them – could be none one week or up to 4 another week
    • These posts may or may not have comments from me, but the links will be available in the body of the post
  • You might or might not also find links to videos, websites, and Podcasts instead of links to blogs, articles, and organizations

Life Changes

  • I’m implementing phase 1 of the career change plan with the goal of complete changes by 2020
  • I’ve finally saved up and bought the supplies to work on aromatherapy certification lessons (blending, case studies, research paper, etc.), so will be spending a lot of time on that.
    • The new blog mentioned above is part of these lessons.  It will chronicle my explorations in class and with personal use to help maintain emotional, spiritual, and physical wellness
    • **REMINDER** I am not a practicing medical professional and probably won’t be until the agoraphobia becomes less intense, so anything on there will be informational only
  • My home still needs a lot of work – organizing and decorating – to make it feel safe and comfortable and easy to clean no matter my emotional state
    • Requires thoughtful purchasing of storage solutions, time to organize said solutions, and space to cope with any triggers all that brings up
    • Requires creating and implementing new house chore routines to address trigger issues like laundry, food shopping, cooking, and other tasks that require leaving the apartment
    • Requires creating a safe space in my apartment where I can meditate, do crafting, and go for self soothing comfort

So, yes this is a lot.  Not everything will happen this year.  I am going slow, turtle slow.  And my social media usage is taking a big hit because of that.  But there is progress in every aspect of these big changes.

And each small bit of progress is a success.

Whatever you’re doing, please go slow and make time to celebrate your progress too.

Thanks for reading

Series: 2017 Reflections Part 2

Facing Past Fears

This year, I spent 3 months living in emotionally and verbally abusive situation beyond my control.  3 months because that’s how long it took to acknowledge the truth of my situation, go through the proper steps, and find the courage to get out of the situation using legal and banking resources.  The two individuals involved in this situation acted and treated me like the female figures in my past – maternal, care-taking, educational, authoritative, peers, and bullies.

Before this, in spite of all the work I’ve done to heal and trust outsiders, I’ve never really shaken the belief that I don’t deserve help from legal services, government, financial services, etc. or that asking for such help is a viable option.

The deal is done.  I spoke with the attorney.  He listened to my story; reviewed the documentation, and agreed to help me.  Within 1 day, the letter was written, lease broken, and freedom on the horizon.  The financial situation is not asa good as I want, but a bank loan will help with that.  Fingers crossed that the loan goes through in time, so I can make the necessary payments.

2018 Resolutions & Goals

This year’s resolution is simple.  It’s five words:

Gratitude

Compassion

Acceptance

Love

Forgiveness

What this means…

Live, laugh, prosper in safety and good health.
Not just for me, but for my loved ones, my enemies, and others in this world.

Be vulnerable and my authentic self as often as possible
No matter how much it hurts.  No matter what challenges I face.  Because in finding and expressing my authentic self at all times, all parts of me integrate and work together as on whole person no matter the stress or triggers or whatever that comes my way.

Work towards improving my physical health
untangle the connection that confuse pain with any other sensation I feel when moving or active.  Then maybe start biking and feel more physically confident to travel and do things.  Accept and view my body in a positive way instead of a neutral way.  To not automatically connect my physical body and appearance with my past and instead connect it with my present.

Feel more comfortable with being an adult female and accepting aspects of my personality related to the trauma aka sexuality
I’ve abstained from sexual contact for almost 18 years and have no desire to try it again any time soon.  But I’d like to be able to acknowledge and accept my sexuality without being triggered or automatically connecting sexuality to abuse.  I’d like to feel comfortable in my own body/skin, accept my appearance in a way that is body positive instead of body neutral.

What are your resolutions and goals for 2018?

Thanks for reading

Series: 2017 Reflections Part 1

The many voices of me

This year, my guests got to know the many voices of me in a way different from years past.  They read well-written, articulate posts with few grammatical errors.  They read off-the-cuff first drafts written by single or groups of alters.  Some shared affirmations or quotes; reviews about resources; stories about themselves; and a variety of interests or revelations that changed how coping techniques and strategies were utilized.  The voices of children, adolescents, and adults colored every post.

That made reading or following a lot of what’s been on here difficult for some guests, scary for others, triggering for many (us included), and frustrating for all of us.  Several times this year, each one of us got writer’s block or simply didn’t know what to write here.  It’s supposed to be about resources, but no one has had a lot of time to follow up on that since moving and working through a variety of difficult situations in our new home.

Plus, no one was sure if anyone wanted to read about how different alters coped with the same situation or different situations at the same time.  We were scared to put our voices out there and change the tone of this website and blog.

Gratitude

But we’re happy we did.  In sharing our voices here, more of us have been able to share in the outside world too.  So thanks for giving us a safe space to share ourselves and express out feelings or opinions or thoughts and explore.

Over the years, different alters have instituted their own personal gratitude practices as coping strategies.  This year, all 88 of us agreed to use a morning and evening gratitude practice every day to see how reminders of the positives in life helped us stay grounded.  Sometimes we all meditated together.  Other times we practiced alone or in groups.

We might hear everyone communicating or no one – sometimes our thoughts and wishes occurred on a sub-conscious level.  Either way, each of us expressed gratitude for something before going to bed each evening and after waking up each morning.  We also asked for guidance, protection, and to meet others who can teach us how to help ourselves continue to move forward.

Communication

This year’s big goal was about practicing and improving our interpersonal skills – especially the voice and face-to-face kind – for better communication and relationships.  The focus was for work mostly because a lack of verbal skills means trouble for my reviews.

In terms of personal relationships, I wanted to be able to engage in conversations and understand the cues without feeling upset, shamed, frustrated, or confused every time one ended.  I also wanted to be able to remember conversations even if there was switching or dissociation ASAP instead of hours/days/weeks/months/years later.

It’s hard to participate in a conversation when you are not always present or able to follow what the other person(s) is saying whether in a personal or professional setting.

But if I can accept my limitations and turn them into strengths, then maybe, just maybe I will also be able to face my family again without fear choking me.

Family vs Loved Ones

Family are the people whose blood I share.  Loved ones are the people in the family we created together with bonds of friendship, acceptance, respect, love, compassion, forgiveness, kindness and trust.  I love my family, but do not trust/am not friends with all of them.  Some of my family are included in the group of Loved Ones; we share blood as well as the other bonds.

This year felt so scary because I reconnected with 5 more members of my family.  Each one offered acceptance, love, and respect – all things I hoped for, but did not expect.  As some loved ones reminded me – keep expectations low and hopes high.  Meeting with them either over email/text or in person felt like parts of my heart mended together again.  The hole is shrinking or maybe being emptied of toxic emotional wounds and healing with a balm of love and acceptance.

Either way, having family again feels really good.  The situation is still complex.  The ties between them and my parents or the others from my past still exist.  And finding a solution for reconnecting and staying safe is in the beginner stages.  We have hope though.  Hope and a lot of people willing to work on it.

Feelings

My alters and I learned we had feelings at 27 years of age.  That was 8 years ago.  Since then, it’s been a BIG learning curve to acknowledge, understand, express, and accept our feelings.  That was what the partial programs and non-trauma specialist counselors taught us the first time around.  What they shared and taught us helped a lot in many ways.

But it didn’t help any of us understand how to express or cope with those feelings when one or many or all of us felt overwhelmed.  Nor did it help us understand what to do with those feelings once they were expressed or coped with.  Observing many other people and how they coped with or expressed their feelings taught us that many people struggle with this too.

A lot of the self help books and books about anxiety or PTSD or healing, etc. skim over this too.  Not on purpose.  But the immediate issue is often learning how to calm down, relax, ground oneself, etc.  What do do after that is not as important in the moment.  And maybe other people don’t struggle the way we in our system have with what to do with the energy and feelings that still exist after coping, grounding, expressing etc.

This year taught all of us how to let go of those feelings once they’ve been acknowledged/expressed/accepted (any of these or other words work too) and we’re grounded or calm again.  Letting go is like learning not to hold grudges.  But the lesson applies to all feelings, especially the neutral and positive ones.  Feelings are supposed to come and go.  They are meant to be expressed and let out not held in.

Holding in feelings is like holding in toxic secrets.  They eat you and hurt you from the inside out.  Personal experience – my anorexia was all about self-hate and self- harm.  I couldn’t kill myself – some alter part of me refused to let it happen – so I held in all of those feelings and destroyed my body from the inside out.

Now, letting go of those feelings allows space for the body memories to surface and be expressed.  Then those memories are acknowledged, the feelings expressed, experiences accepted and let go.  Each time this happens, our pain lessens.  Our confidence and feelings of safety/security increase.  Our foundation strengthens.  And living in the past & present during trigger periods is less scary.

Thanks for reading

Back to Basics Series: Introduction Post

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post about going back to basics and provided a list of some basic strategies and techniques that get used the most.  These “back to basics” posts are meant to share experiences about how and why they work so others can understand better and try out something when nothing else seems to work.  I and the rest of the alters will alternate writing and sharing experiences so be prepared for different levels of writing skill in each post.

Some of us are adults and write well.  Others are adults and not so good at writing.  The adolescents and young adults vary too.  And once in a while one of the child alters will chime in and share a story.  We will try very hard to change the font or let our guests know when the author has changed in an obvious way, but it might not always happen.  You have our sincere apologies for this in advance.

Some of what gets discussed here will be triggering.  But since these are meant to be resources, we will try not to get into too much detail about the scary stuff.  Instead, the goal is to share only enough through examples so that our guests can understand how different strategies and technique works.

REMINDER: I am not a therapist or a professional counselor.  What gets written here is based on personal experience and shared stories through therapy and groups.

Some of the topics (might be discussed more than once in different ways) are:

  • Mindfulness (DBT version and others)
  • Distress Tolerance (DBT version)
  • Emotion Regulation (DBT version)
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness (DBT version)
  • Thought awareness and changing negative thoughts (CBT version and others)
  • Obsessions and Compulsions
  • Distractions
  • Grounding
  • Self Soothing
  • Comfort
  • Compassion
  • Meditation
  • Food

Thanks for reading.

Alter Post: Giving In / Giving Up Does Not Mean Failure…It Means I Changed My Mind

Childhood

I wanted to be a writer growing up.  I also wanted to be a doctor of some kind – specialize in herbs and the kind of folksy medicine that helped me through the worst of my injuries as a child.  Some parts wanted to be an ice skater or a gymnast or a dancer too.

We fell in love with science.  Words were an escape – reading and learning couldn’t be taken away from us – but science was like cooking and baking; full of questions, answers, and investigating.

But then all of these blocks got in the way.  Random people who were once friendly turned against me.  People I thought were friends humiliated me.  Instead of helping, teachers made everything more difficult.  Even when I excelled and did everything correct, I still “failed” and got punished.  When I made mistakes or gave up, I was told that it’s ok because I am a failure.  Trying again or trying harder wouldn’t change the outcome so giving up or giving in was good.  Better not to try at all.

Adolescence

And so my life went until I went to college.  There I found a different part of myself.  One that enjoyed challenges and classes, but not people and socializing.  The triggers in my head; the nightly phone calls home; the nightmares and ugly thoughts circling inside me; the lost time scared me.  Instead, I gave in to the pressure and finished at a local state college with high school “friends” to offer “support” and “help” when I needed it.  Relatives also lived close by and offered “escapes” too.  But the part that opened up refused to close again.

The alter voices and the monster voices fought inside my head and spoke through our mouth.  Everyone on campus thought I was crazy.  I encouraged this because I didn’t want friends.  Friends were people who might try to stop me from my (at the time) main purpose: do well; learn; live as much as possible on my terms until I died.

But I didn’t die.  Not sure, but maybe the counseling center had something to do with that.  And maybe someone inside (one or more alters) refused to let the monsters win.

Young Adulthood

Letters got lost in the mail.  Phone calls never received or returned; or answered by family.  Networking opportunities lost.  All because the organ donor and sperm donor and blood sibling (mom, dad, younger brother to those unaware of my classification system) would hack my cell phone and email to get my contacts and then proceed to trash me or harass potential clients/employers on my behalf.  And when that wasn’t enough, they enlisted their relatives and connections to assist them.  Or lie and block my ability to get resources that would allow me to take advantage of opportunities around me.

Twelve years later

I am still alive.  We are still alive.  Every year we live past 21, we celebrate with joy.  Because none of us were meant to live past 21.

I am a professional writer.  This blog is one avenue; everyone in the system helps make the blog and website work.  My day job is the other one.

The healers in me (alters who want to pursue a career in healing arts – not medicine) are working with a graduate school program for Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Either way, we did not stop.  We did not give in.  We did not give up.  We did not fail.  We stopped.  We changed our mind.  We went in a different direction for a time.  We stopped again.  We changed our mind again.  We pursued and achieved our goals.