Disclaimer: this is a place of learning, safety, and hope. Take what you want from the post and forget the rest. Maybe this will help you. Maybe it won’t.
All of us in the AlterXpressions system (i or we) decided to share some more about our personal story as a follow up to last week’s post.
First because our journey to where we are now has been filled with directional changes.
Second because many guests have been asking about how we got to where we are now.
Finally, because all of us are here to emphasize that this place is about sharing knowledge and resources – not telling people what to do or how to live their lives.
Being smart doesn’t get a person anywhere unless the individual knows how to use and apply those smarts. Same with education and experience.
It takes courage, resilience, compassion, love, acceptance and an open mind to pick up the pieces of life after trauma and figure out how to live again. We mean how to have the
Courage to believe in, love, and accept ourselves as we are in that moment knowing we are different and will never be who we were again
Resilience to learn how to roll with the changes that life throws at us as we learn our new “normal”
Compassion for ourselves and the people around us as mistakes happen, hurt triggers all kinds of emotions and sensations, and we fall
Because everyone falls, makes mistakes, hurts self/others, and gets hurt
Open mind to ask for/accept help, learn the tools we need to be who we want to be, and thrive as our authentic selves – happy, loving, loved, safe, – in alignment with our personal values
All parts of me agree to share this with you, so please don’t be surprised by shifts in language or writing style. We tend to interrupt, talk over, or repeat each other writing like this.
College did not exactly prepare me for “real world” work. But it did give me insight into how much I didn’t know about life and people because of how I was raised. The classes and instructors provided lots of book learning, but living on campus taught me about hope and made “happy ever after” seem possible. It was a break from the reality of my other life – almost like a bubble – until my past caught up with me there too.
That”s when I realized college life didn’t fit me in the same way high school didn’t fit because my life experience taught me to value different life goals/career objectives. I was in survival mode and didn’t realize it.
Graduate school taught me that I wasn’t meant to spend my life in a rigid classroom. It also gave me the opportunity to explore skills that I disregarded as useless in high school or college. It also highlighted areas where I was completely lacking in knowledge and experience. Like interpersonal communication and time management; saying “no” and setting boundaries.
Still, graduate school helped me find a temporary job that turned into a 13-year long career with the same company and allowed me to start this website/blog. I learned foundational skills in architecture and design from graduate school. Combined that knowledge with my writing and organizational skills to land a job helping a project manager create deliverables for a client.
My hard work, eagerness to learn and apply knowledge, and commitment to meeting deadlines caught the attention of other managers and people in the department. They mentored me and taught me more than I can ever express. In that organization, I got to be myself. Acceptance and respect was based on my actions and reactions instead of rumors and assumptions.
My past didn’t matter to them when they learned about it. Instead of firing me or suspending me, they offered support and helped me find ways to keep working no matter how bad my symptoms got. As long as I was honest with them, they worked with me to create flexible schedules and go through the red tape so I got to keep my benefits and job.
Now, thirteen years later, I have job security and a role that allows me to continue doing what I started while also taking on new challenges that help my team and enjoy work again.
College education and graduate school classes gave me the foundation skills to understand the work I do, but the school of hard knocks provided me the important life lessons that helped me earn credibility, respect, and acceptance.
Without both parts of that equation, I would not be as valuable or useful in my day job or here on the blog.
Finally, I acknowledge that I am lucky and blessed to have found an organization that accepts me, values me, and allows me to continue on the winding path that is my career with them.
*Caveat 1 – This is a journal-entry style post so it looks like a first draft with errors, etc. *
*Caveat 2 – Feeling triggered so no photos or affirmations*
*Warning: this is a long post with lots of information. Take your time reading through everything. Come back and re-read as needed*
It’s been 3-5 weeks since the first post about this topic. I shared my current challenges with punishment, self-harm and explained what it means for me to be an empath. Then I explained why coping with these triggers feels hopeless sometimes and frustrating most of the time.
And yes, these triggers still feel like new territory. My mind and body are not reacting to the triggers or responding to the coping strategies in familiar ways. The panic attacks are more frequent and worse than they have been in a long time. Plus they manifest differently than before (more info later). The frequency means less recovery time between panic attacks, so I am constantly on edge.
All parts of me have been scrambling to find coping strategies that work long enough for us to recover from the panic attacks and find internal balance again. Along with explaining the coping challenges, I/we will also share some of the coping strategies that are helping right now.
This is why we all agreed to wait until now to write a follow up post. The learning curve takes time, and none of us wants to share something before we are certain of its effects on our systems.
Dear Guests, I’ve been receiving some wonderful comments on the “About” and “Home” pages. Thank you for sharing thoughts, compliments, feedback, etc. The purpose of this “Sticky” post is to address some of the frequently asked questions aka FAQs in an easily accessible place. It will evolve and change as the blog does. If the… Read more
Dear Guests, My sincerest apologies if you sent me messages to the comment form and did not get a response. 28 messages have gone to the comment form this year. All of them ended up in SPAM. For comments to blog posts or the static website pages, I often will go into SPAM and search… Read more
Life is awkward on the best of days. Sometimes it’s as simple as finding oneself in unknown situations. Other times there is something going on, and people who care avoid you for their own reasons. Or you avoid them. No one communicates. Or everyone communicates without really saying anything aka addressing the cause(s).
That ends up with: confusion, hurt feelings, breaking of relationships, etc.
Dear Guests, This post is coming one day late and one dollar short of my usual content. By the end of it, you will understand why I am taking a mini-vacation from blogging. Usually, I work on this from my personal computer. Helps to keep my paid job separate from the rest of life. This… Read more
What is a Safe Space? Is it the same as a Safe Place? A safe space is any environment where you or I or anyone feels physically, emotionally, spiritually safe. Ideally we’d feel safe in all 3 areas. Personally, I am for 2 out of 3 at any given time. Safe spaces integrate and utilize… Read more
This is a NON-PARTISAN post about FAITH and BELIEF
Let me start with this: I ACCEPT ALL RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL PRACTICES THAT EXIST. Each one is valid. Each one is similar and different to the others. No one is better than or less than the other.
… (content not displayed in except)
One of the greatest lessons she taught me (before it ended so badly) was to have faith in something or someone greater than myself since I didn’t have any faith in myself.
It could be religion or spiritual practice. But had to be a higher power of some kind. But that kind of faith will help me as I travel down the path of recovery.
There’s so much going on in this post, we all agreed that headings and subheadings are useful to us and our guests. Feel free to skip around and read whatever interests you.
Empathic gift challenges and labels
I wrote a post explaining my position on labels, so will keep this short. I prefer not to label myself or others on purpose. We are multi-dimensional, unique individuals with many parts coming together to create a whole person. However, sometimes a label is useful in conversations or posts to help the reader relate to the topic.
The label gives the reader a frame of reference or starting point that makes sense so she or he can follow the rest of the conversation. It DOES NOT identify or categorize or group people with similar characteristics into a stereotype. So when I talk about being an empath, it’s only so that my guests have a starting point if they ever want to learn more about the topic.
What does this have to do with empathic gift challenges? Well, one thing I’ve been encountering more often is being stereotyped and harassed on the street or in stores because of my physical appearance and choice to go places alone all the time. Or, conversely, to not go out often at all. While I don’t consciously pay attention to the people around me when I go out, my hyper-vigilance and senses are always sensitive to the environment.
Because of that, I always know when people are being rude to me – obviously like with the harassment; or not so obviously through their energy – wherever I go.
Have you ever walked into a room or store and suddenly felt uncomfortable or out of place or judged?
Unfortunately, I notice that without even meaning to do so. And there are a lot of insecure, unhappy, resentful people in the world happy to blame others to make themselves feel better. I’ve been getting this from females more than males lately, but also from males too because of my choice to be single and friendly instead of flirtatious.
Why a challenge? It triggers shame from my past and makes me think “I suck” and “why am I doing all this again?”
My panic attacks have changed. Instead of the typical process:
anxiety feelings + headaches/dizziness + chest tightness or physical pain + hot flashes + cold shakes = pass out from tiredness and sensory overload (aka overwhelming feelings)
pass out = shut down until my whole self recovers
I get this process:
anxiety feelings + headaches/dizziness = pass out from tiredness and sensory overload (aka overwhelming feelings)
pass out = shut down until my whole self recovers
The worst part: I never know when the panic attacks will manifest. Or how to cope with them/stop them once they start. Or how to effectively recover balance once the panic attack is over.
How do I feel now? Cranky. Tired. Grumpy in my digestive system. Frustrated. Hungry and thirsty, but not always able to feel it in my body and remember to eat/drink regularly.
My sense of smell is not as acute as my hearing. In fact, I’ve had a lot of problems with nasal congestion and allergies and head colds that clogged up my nose on a regular basis since childhood. Sometimes I wonder if this was/is a coping strategy my body put in place to block out the stinky basement smells from my past.
But these days, scents are among my most common and destructive triggers. I live in a no smoking building on purpose. Maybe I’ve explained my postition about smoking in the past, but it bears repeating again:
I believe in an individual’s right to choose what he or she does – that includes smoking, using drugs, drinking – as long as it doesn’t harm or negatively affect other people.
That said, I don’t care if my neighbors smoke cigarettes or pot or whatever. They smoke outside and the smell comes in the window, that’s okay. I shut my window or turn a fan on to blow it back out. If I smell cigarettes in the building, I won’t say or do anything even if they are breaking the rules. At some point, someone will complain or report the issue.
But when people smoke pot in the building and the smoke gets into my apartment, that is a problem. I get immediately triggered and start the spiral into a panic attack. It’s happened the last two nights in my building and made recovery from the panic attacks that much harder. I am sleep-deprived, anxious, hyper-vigilant, grumpy, distracted, and unable to complete all of my weekend tasks because of the constant state of panic. Not anxiety because I can cope with general anxiety every day. Panic.
So yeah I didn’t get to read any guest comments today. I will try to do that next week. Appreciate your understanding 😉
Like I said before, my usual strategies are not working. Lately, I spend a lot of time curled up in a seated position or lying down trying to relax/sleep as my muscles contract and stiffen up because I haven’t moved enough. I just can’t get comfortable or feel comfortable in my own skin right now. And leaving for a while is not an option.
So here are some strategies that have been helping take the edge off my panic symptoms.
Aromatherapy diffuser blends for sleep
A couple weeks ago, I hit my sleep deprivation limit. Meditation and relaxation did not help with my sleep debt. The flashbacks, negative self-talk, and disturbing dreams kept interfering with everything whenever I did manage to sleep. And I smelled pot in my apartment for the first time in months – most of the tenants who smoked in the past left – just as I was starting my sleep hygiene routine.
That disrupted me so much that I couldn’t calm down even after a hotline check-in. Plus I was feeling paranoid about insects in my apartment. So I decided to clean the diffuser and try using essential oils proven to help with insomnia/sleep issues, anxiety, and insects. My particular diffuser is water-based, comes with specific water-to-eseential oil ratio use instructions, and has an automatic turn-off setting.
My mind and body tends to react to essential oils, herbs, and so on in unexpected ways. I try to only use these strategies when I can focus with a mostly clear mind so that the risk (getting oil on my skin, mixing a blend incorrectly, burning myself when I make a tea or soup) is minimal. But I was desperate that night.
You can imagine how surprised I was when it worked. I slept deeply for 12 hours and woke up feeling refreshed with that first blend and used it 3 nights in a row. Then I decided to try a different blend; that one worked okay, but not as well as the first one. Next, I gave myself a break to see if I could sleep (or at least relax) without using aromatherapy. It worked okay, but not great. I woke up tired and grumpy. The last one I tried before this post worked really well and had the benefit of reducing the pot smell.
Here is recipe 1:
3 drops of Melissa essential oil
1 drop of Bergamot* essential oil
3 drops of Siberian Fir** essential oil
8 ounces of water (filtered preferred, but I use tap)
1 electric diffuser with an automatic turn-off setting***
*Bergamot oil is extremely phototoxic to skin (human and animal). Phototoxic means that the oil will cause a rash or burns on your skin when exposed to sunlight. If you want to use this blend during the day, please omit the Bergamot essential oil
**Siberian Fir essential oil may cause lung irritation or respiratory discomfort for people with asthma, allergies, or other related issues. A sniff test (sniffing the bottle cap or bottle first) is advised before using the oil around people with respiratory problems.
***All diffusers have different settings with instructions. Electric and gas diffusers use a heating element to turn the water into steam for diffusing. Purchasing a diffuser with an automatic timer and/or turn-off setting is recommended for safe use during naps or sleep periods.
Make sure the diffuser is clean and working properly. Add water to the diffuser’s container.
Add the essential oils one drop at a time. Use the diffuser guidelines for adding essential oils. Some oils come out faster than others, so be as accurate as possible, but don’t worry too much if you add too much. Accuracy takes practice.
Cover the diffuser and turn it on for a set period of time or until the water has evaporated (auto-turn off setting).
Sit back or lie down and relax as the blend diffuses through your room.
This recipe is a guideline only. Please follow the instructions that come with your diffuser and adjust the oil amounts accordingly.
I called the hotline for a check in almost every day the last few weeks. The negative self-talk and intrusive thoughts have a strong hold on my mind and keep the spiral of body trigger + emotional trigger = panic going. Once it starts, I can’t make it stop on my own with known coping strategies.
In the past, I called the hotline for help remembering grounding strategies or practicing different kinds of meditation/relaxation techniques with a partner. Sometimes to help me make a plan of 3-5 coping strategies to use after the call ended. That always helped because I live in the maze all the time these days. To be honest, I’ve never actually found an exit from the maze. Instead, I find sanctuaries within the maze of my mind that offers a break from the trauma and allows me to feel grounded enough to live in the outside world. But that’s something for another post.
These days, I don’t ask for grounding strategies. I ask the volunteer if she or he is willing to talk with me about the situation and help me process the triggers. We talk about what set me off and the strategies I’ve already used. The volunteer listens and helps me understand if what I am feeling is “normal” or extreme in one way or another; in other words validation.
Then explains why and how so that I understand the emotions and sensations in my body too. From there, I can relax a little and fend off the negative self-talk because I understand it’s okay for me to feel the way I do; and for my body to experience these sensations. Eventually, they will not feel so intense and go away.
Funny and Silly movies
Laughter is still some of my favorite medicine. I have a Netflix account and use Amazon Prime until my membership expires in a few months to find funny children’s movies or teen movies…sometimes even adult movies. They can have a “happy ever after” ending or not.
The goal is to find movies that warm my heart, bring out positive feelings (even if I cry a little), and make me laugh. For people who can’t access movies, radio shows and podcasts, TV or cable, or YouTube probably have similar shows too.
My current favorite movies are a children’s series about golden retriever puppies going on adventures (starts with Air Buddies).
Changing my schedule/staying in (agoraphobia)
I’ve discussed my agoraphobia in past posts, so not going to dwell on it here.
Summer makes me want to go out more often and enjoy the nice weather. Longer days means more sunshine and safe times to go out after work. People spend time outside. Children play and laugh in the city’s public water features on hot days. So much to enjoy outdoors.
But my panic attacks keep me inside. I never know when they will hit or how long I have to get to a safe place before I fall asleep. Or how long I will sleep once it hits. Work has been a bit of a challenge, but not as bad as when I had to work in an office for regular hours. One home office perk is being able to work flexible hours.
So until this panic attack phase eases up, I stay inside more often and work my sleep in around the triggers. My plans often change depending on how tired I am or if the panic feelings stop me from accomplishing tasks I planned for the day. That allows me to work my 40 hours a week, meet deadlines, do homework, keep house, pay bills, and write blog posts. Everything else happens when it happens.
The more I heal, the more in tune or integrated all parts of me become. I can listen to my body and understand what types of food and drink makes it feel healthy and full or sick and uncomfortable. I can listen to my mind and understand how certain foods look/smell/taste/feel affect how my body feels after consumption and digestion.
Sounds like food triggers, but not the same.
Food triggers have a trauma-experience aspect that causes flashbacks or panic sensations throughout my self.
This type of sensory information tells me how the food and drink affect my physiology. Like with dairy intolerance or gluten intolerance. Eating nutritious food that heals and feeds the organisms keeping me healthy makes more sense than doing the opposite.
So I’ve been experimenting with my diet and different cravings that come up. Lately, I’ve been craving fennel, leafy greens, fatty fish, sausage, and carbs. Dairy too, but I think I’m going to try eliminating dairy for a few weeks to see how it affects my digestion and elimination issues. And maybe help with the low energy feelings
What can you do to help your mind and body feel better?
If you want more recipes, resources about aromatherapy, herbalism, being and empath, etc…Please follow these instructions
Part 1: do one of the following
Like this post
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For options 2 and 3, please also include what topics you want me to write about.
This weekend was tough because of the pot triggers and lack of sleep. Plus some digestion issues that came up unexpectedly. So I am behind on my homework goals for this weekend and have to start that next.
If you wonder at the lack of tags or polish on the post, that’s why. Thanks for keeping me company on the long post.
This week, especially, had all parts of me reflecting on the so-called rigidity and busyness of my life right now. Starting something new often brings up boatloads (and I mean cruise ship or air carrier sized) triggers and flashbacks. Enough that I used to get discouraged from trying something new or beginning a project outside of my comfort zone.
Uptight, Rigid, or Something Else?
Something I am often accused of (in my personal life more than professional these days) is being a rigid, uptight, type-A personality, stick-in-the-mud whose life is too regimented to ever be fun.
My face often lacks the appropriate facial expressions to show others I am enjoying myself, etc. Body language is the same way.
What these people don’t (or maybe can’t/refuse to) understand is that I relax when I feel safe and comfortable.
The less safe or comfortable I feel, the more tense and rigid my exterior self appears to people.
Structure, DID, and Meeting Basic Needs (aka functioning)
During the years when I would lose time or forget as part of my traumatic amnesia, an ingrained routine was all that kept me functioning moment to moment and day to day.
I might not wake up knowing where I was. Lunch time could turn into an adventure that left me on the other side of town in an unknown to me neighborhood and no public transportation. After work, I might get on the same commuter train as always (time and berth are correct) and end up in another city all together. Mirrors used to piss me off because I never recognized the face or body reflected back at me.
And those are some of the big items that get attention. Smaller stuff like walking into walls and furniture, forgetting a process for work, not being able to learn a dance routine or martial arts technique, were less obvious items affected by DID and traumatic amnesia while also more embarrassing. Adults often chastised me for being inattentive, forgetful, etc. because I was so “book smart” and yet so uncoordinated within my body. Peers used that as yet another excuse to bully and make fun of me when I lived as a “normal” little girl in public school or among blood family.
But that same structure allowed me to live both lives without mixing them up often. Punishment for mixing up my two lives included a lot of pain and sensory overload. When those triggers visit, all I remember is unbearable noise followed by feeling sensations of extreme pain throughout my head and body.
And so, even when I lose a weekend or wake up not remembering what happened for weeks at a time, the structured survival routine embedded in my muscle memory ensures that I and my alter personalities remember to meet our basic needs until awareness and memory comes back. Even for small things like:
staring at a computer at work, getting triggered into a dissociative or alter personality switch for seconds or minutes, and coming back not remembering what happened in all that time. But the screen looks different and a quality check of my work shows errors I wouldn’t normally make…
And as I experience the pain again, I think to myself “well yes it hurts, but I’m still here. Alive, present, happy, busy doing what I enjoy.”
My life is not “typical” in any way, but it works for me. I get 99% of my work and personal stuff accomplished from within the relative safety of my apartment. Work is balanced with “fun-to-me” activities and hobbies. Communication with the outside world is often limited to email and phone or video chat, but that feels safe and comfortable.
I don’t feel busy, but people who hear about what’s going on right now often tell me I am exactly that. But maybe it doesn’t feel busy or negatively stressful because I chose each activity and feel joy working on each task?
And these activities are not substitutes for a “more active social life” either. They are how I like to fill my time and enjoy life. Socializing, for me, is a big trigger. When I need person-to-person contact, I check mail at the UPS store, go for a walk outside, get on public transit, or visit a store full of people. Maybe a restaurant or a park instead.
You might be wondering about these “activities”, so here is a short list not in any specific order:
my day job with opportunities to learn new skills and utilize my existing ones in creative ways (aka job 1)
aromatherapy, herbalism, incense, etc. certification or continuing education classes to develop a new business venture (aka job 2)
this website and blog (aka job 3)
my plants – talking to them, dancing with them, learning to enjoy having roommates again
cooking – my memories are finally coming back so I feel more comfortable and confident here
reading books, listening to music, or watching a funny movie
bath time – never again will I compromise on renting an apartment without a bath tub. A good soak with epsom salt or essential oil based soap works wonders for self care and relaxing
So my questions to you are:
how does structure (or lack of it) impact your life?
what activities, work, or hobbies bring you joy and fulfillment?
if you had a choice, would you include more joyful activities even though they will or could cause pain from triggers and flashbacks?
* Two posts this week because there’s a lot to share.* And both are long
A minor procedure
If you are new to the blog, you might not have read the posts discussing choices, pregnancy,abortion, or relationships. There are quire a few as sexual abuse is one of the main reasons for me being the way I am, so don’t feel bad if you skipped them. I don’t wish that information on anyone and only share those experiences here as a way of sharing knowledge, resources, support, and hope with others.
Last week, I had my pre-op exam with the gynecologist who will perform a bi-lateral tubal ligation on me in 1.5 weeks. What is that? basically I’m getting my fallopian tubes permanently removed as part of a sterilization procedure.
In layman’s terms, I’m getting my tubes tied.
And I’m so excited that my emotions and body sensations have been yo-yoing all week. It’s finally happening. Yes, I am concerned about the anesthesia and some post-op requirements like the antibiotics and pain meds. But otherwise, everything is all set and ready.
Some OT this week and part of next week allows me to meet deadlines. Taxes today and next weekend will take a big load off of my mind. Some extended time off: 3 paid vacation days + compensation time from when I did OT + 2 weekend days = plenty of recover time.
My family has already sent some care packages too.
Other than some housekeeping chores – and I hope to get those done next weekend too – when my body feels less shaky, I am as prepared as possible.
Fear of Success
It’s been mentioned before. I fear success almost as much as I fear abandonment, rejection, and loss.
That said, I’ve been reluctant to write about (or even speak about ) my recent coping strategy and trauma recovery successes outside the safety of therapy or hotline calls. Sure, I might mention it to family or friends in passing, but they might not realize the significance beyond the task. Not like you, my guests, might understand.
All my life, I’ve wanted to serve – not in the sense of being a slave or trod upon or giving away stuff for free, but to help others learn and achieve their goals through empowerment, knowledge, and access to resources – and work in a career that allowed me to help others while also learning a variety of skills to feed my curiosity about..well…life.
To start in reverse order, here goes:
Last week I presented updates about a task I took on for the team and asked for feedback from the managers group. The vp of our team and my boss were there too. Everyone asked questions, and there was a lively discussion.
The big success: it was the first time in all of my 36 years I spoke in front of a group without switching personalities, having a panic attack, dissociating, not talking when I thought I was (or the opposite), or getting triggered into reacting from a past experience instead of the present one
This year, my manager approved 3 goals that included me writing internal user guides for our team documentation
technical writing has always been a goal/dream of mine in terms of an alternative career path based on my college degree. After 15 years and many people telling me I couldn’t do be a writer, it’s finally happening
At the end of 2018, my supervisor supported me in working with HR to update my job role/description to match what I actually do so that I have a future career path at the company
This goal is all about self-acceptance and feeling confident enough to advocate for change after being told for so many years that you are not enough and don’t deserve to be heard.
Finally, my aromatherapy lessons are progressing to the point where I’ll be doing case studies and a research paper soon. That brings me one step closer to my career change goal. One that is re-defining itself even as I write this.
Insecurity that I am not enough (skilled, experienced, intelligent, capable) to create a successful healing practice that supports others on their journeys using aromatherapy as part of a trauma-informed, integrated healing support strategy
quite a mouthful, but all true. I am not and never will be a doctor or medical professional.
I cannot and will not ever be able to heal people on my own or tell them what to do or cure them.
I can and will offer them choices and empower them to take control of their health in order to heal themselves by offering support, resources, and knowledge to work with what they are currently doing.
It seems like every time I think I know what I want to do when I grow up, life steps in and makes me rethink my conclusions.
I’ve come to the conclusion that people will have issues with contacting me no matter how obvious I make the links.
Same with the RSS Feeds, subscriptions, etc.
There are 4 RSS Feed or subscription buttons/links on the Sidebar to the right of every page on this site
One button/link is for WordPress members to use
The rest area for non-WordPress members to use
Many web browsers do not support RSS Feeds anymore, so you may need to download/install an RSS Feed collector like Apple News to subscribe and get my blog or comments on your feed
Apologies, but I am mostly ignorant about this topic. Only learned about Apple News when doing some research on my sites’s home page to address a guest comment earlier
Some web browsers, like Opera and IE are not as compatible with WordPress integration systems (from WordPress support) based on code and software topics beyond my pay grade.
WordPress is happy to work with you to address these issues if you email them questions through their customer support portal
I feel your pain, honest I do.
As someone who is not on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, etc. I miss getting updates from my favorite authors and news about new book releases, videos, etc. now that they moved all that info to their social media sites.
And so, I’m conquering another fear (of exposure/vulnerability./visibility) by moving the contact form to a public place on t he top menu bar.
If you really want to contact me, you can fill out that form. I do respond to those feedback emails as long as they are not obviously spam. The blog rules don’t apply to the comment form.
*All I do ask is that you be respectful and polite if you do send me an email through the contact form*
If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for your time.
Beginning of September always brings back memories and flashbacks because it’s the time when school starts. Summer was easy. I was me or some version of me all the time. Bud during school, I was one person in public society (elementary school, activities, etc.) and someone else in the private society that occupied the rest of my time.
I didn’t have friends in the public society world. Everyone there looked down on me, bullied me, and pretended I didn’t exist. I helped by being rude, annoying, and quiet as possible to avoid attracting attention. But it didn’t make school easier. I thought school would make life easier because it took me out of the other world.
But it turns out, I enjoyed being in the other world more. The other world – the world of pedophiles, traffickers, dug dealers, predators, and other monsters – is where I made friends and learned life skills. It’s where I found family, a soul mate, and a purpose for surviving/living.
Those life skills and experiences may have turned me into a monster not fit for “regular” society in the legitimate world. But they gave me a secure and valued position in the criminal world and the gray world between legal and illegal. After I was freed – no longer belonging to the cult or human traffickers as a slave – I spent a good part of my life in the gray world while trying to forge a life in the legitimate world too.
Part of me didn’t want to give up the gray world. I had friends and family there. I had a purpose and helped many people. My job was exciting and fulfilling even if it was dangerous and involved lots of violence. Most important though, the people in that gray world accepted me as I was. I could be my real self with alter personalities, a quirky sense of humor, a bad temper and so on.
But in the legitimate world with my corporate job, I couldn’t be my whole self. My connections to the gray world and the criminal world put it in jeopardy. And as that personality, I didn’t recognize or have access to my friends and support network in the gray world. I couldn’t remember that other life without causing migraines and intense body pain.
But then my soul mate made a choice to leave on his terms. Other friends died or moved on. Instead of being free, keeping those friendships and connections made starting over more difficult. The criminals who remembered me kept harassing me and trying to recruit me. Kids I taught or helped before tracked me down and asked me to help again. My body gave out on me; I was in so much pain all the time.
Work wasn’t fun anymore. I tried to retire. I referred these people to the organizations I worked and volunteered for instead. And I focused on keeping the promises to my soul mate. To use my second chance at life wisely; be happy and free; and start fresh as my authentic self someplace else without the anger and pain holding me back.
I met my soul mate in a punishment cage when we were 3 or 4 years old. His family was rich enough that his parents traveled or worked a lot and paid people to take care of him. His parents trusted the friend who referred the caretakers not knowing or realizing where their son was all the time. Sort of like my parents trusting references from my pediatrician and taking advantage of free babysitting from local organizations.
It was my third day in training, and I was back in the punishment cage for talking back or not following the rules. I can’t remember exactly. Anyways, he came up and started talking to me. That became our pattern. I got punished (a lot). He came to talk with me. Then his trainers took him away. If he got punished (rarely at that time), I would walk over and talk with him.
Our friendship bloomed from there. Both of us were prostituted and raped, so our relationship never involved sex. We cared about each other too much to want to be involved that way after our shared experiences with human trafficking and cults.
Unfortunately for him, though, he didn’t share my problems with chemicals and other substances. Nor could he continue to separate his mind like I did to survive living two lives. The medicine, dugs, and alcohol did work on him. He got addicted and tried so many times to clean up.
But the memories, the shame, the anger, the pain were all too much for him. He couldn’t cope with our shared past. And he didn’t want me be stuck in that gray world forever even though that kept both of us safe. We made plans to get legitimate jobs in the real world and fulfill our dreams after college. We laughed and pulled each other out of trouble, but more often it was me finding and taking him home after a night of drugs and booze.
Sometime in our software year, we had a spring break that matched up – same weeks off – and decided to hang out together. But spring break has always been hard for both of us. My other family found him at a party with a bunch of people from the old gang – kids and adults who did jobs for the traffickers and the cult hoping to move up the ranks one day. He was still sober, but had the needle in his hand.
We talked. The others interfered. There was a fight. One that finally convinced those people wasn’t involved anymore; that I didn’t want to be involved and would stay out of their way as long as they didn’t target my loved ones. After the fight, my soul mate handed me the full syringe and asked me to help him get through the rest of the day and evening.
He wanted to spend one last day with me sober and clear headed because we needed to talk. I took the syringe and tossed it aside. It wouldn’t go to waste in that room. Then we left for my other family’s house.
He and I, we spent the afternoon talking and cooking our favorite snack food. That’s when he told me about his choice to leave on his terms. He wasn’t as strong as me, strong enough to live without the haze of drugs to take the edge off of his memories. But he didn’t want me to be stuck in our shady life or to see him spiral down into addiction. He wanted me to fulfill our dreams and keep my promises to live every moment with joy.
My soul mate wanted to leave in a dream where all of our wishes and ideals came true. I chose to support his choice. After all of his struggles, he deserved peace. The only promise I asked of him was that he wait until after college graduation to leave. We graduated college in 2004. He overdosed and died a year later.
I never saw him again after that spring break sophomore year in college. But I knew he kept tabs on me. And after my failed suicide attempt in 2004, he sent me a message reminding me of my promise to get help if I survived. I got help. Graduated. Started seeing a mental health professional and putting my life back together.
So you see, I can’t condemn suicide or people who want to commit suicide. In my mind, in my world, suicide is a legitimate choice – a fail safe option when nothing else feels right or good or safe – for people who’ve tried everything and anything and lost hope.
But I can’t support suicide – not the way it’s discussed these days – either. My soul mate lost hope. He didn’t want to drag me or the others in our circle down either when we still had chances to change. He made his choice after hours of talking (not just that day) with me and our circle, months/years of rehab and counseling, and working out issues with his family.
I couldn’t go through with any of my suicide attempts, but I never stopped looking at suicide as a fail-safe option until about 5 years ago when I decided to change my name and implement hazy plans to move across the country based on a recurring dream I couldn’t quite recall.
More than 10 years later, in the first two weeks of September when school starts and training started, I finally remember my soul mate and our friendship. So I guess the last two weeks of sleep deprivation, flashbacks, panic attacks, and pain were worth it. This story (with some details omitted), came to me between Friday and this morning.
We met 33 years ago and became secret best friends for over 20 years. I like to believe and have complete faith that my soul mate moved on to a better place where he can work on his plans for the next life.