The coffee plant is one of my roommates and great source of inspiration.
It and a few other plants keep me company near my work desk.
The stick in front of the coffee plant offers some extra support while the roots settle in after being re-potted.
So why add this image and description to a post about writing and blogging?
Because writing and blogging, like any activity, is not a truly solitary experience. At least, not for all parts of me.
Alters who can move and use our physical body will follow traditional writing methods – like typing or writing outlines and drafts in electronic or paper notebooks. Alters who cannot use our body have their own methods of “writing” and “drafting” posts. Then they pass the information to an alter personality who can use our body to share the post here.
My point being: we can all use some extra support once in a while because it’s really hard to get out of our own way.
Especially when we are the obstacle(s) and don’t realize it.
Sharing my process
Since I couldn’t figure out a way to share my blogging tips without writing a short book, I decided to share the outline with you instead. This way, you can take what you want (i.e. anything that seems helpful), and discard the rest as you work on your writing and blogging skills
Overall Idea, goal, or purpose for this blog
Related topics you can write about
Who you are writing for (besides yourself)?
Are you going to build a community with comments?
Are you gong to not allow comments and keep this strictly informational only?
Do your research
What you know and skills you already have to make this work
Knowledge Gaps and how to compensate for or address them
What platform are you going to use?
How much time and money can you afford to invest in this project?
Choose a hosting platform – Blogger, WordPress, GoDaddy are a few examples
Create an account
Decide on basic schedule for posts and addressing comments (if any)
Keep it simple and build slowly
Will you add web pages too? How will they look? What kind of information will you add here?
Do you want ads on your blog?
Do you plan to use the blog to make money?
Will you add the blog to your social media accounts?
How important is attracting followers? How will you cope with having or not having followers?
Home Page or straight to the blog?
About Me page?
Contact or no contact?
Are you going to add photos?
How long do you intend to spend on writing each post?
For a consistent look & feel, creating a formatting template (or 3) helps
Where do you plan on working?
Is noise a problem?
How can you modify your work space to feel safe, comfortable, inspiring, etc.?
p.s. you can substitute “safe, comfortable, inspiring” for other words that suit your needs
Can you focus on our work with minimal distractions?
Can you take breaks and relax in your work space? Or will you go somewhere else?
Back to the Featured Image
As you can guess, I am often my own worst enemy when it comes to success.
Hopefully this image inspires you and me (all parts of me) to be kinder to ourselves in all aspects of our lives.
*Trigger Warning – all opinions and information shared here are mine and mine alone; will be discussing certain topics in detail…read at your pace*
*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*
Coping Challenges – Self Harm.
Last week, I posted about self-harm and how it happens less often, but is still prominent in my life in spite of 15 years in recovery. Then I shared links related to past posts about this topic. It seemed like a better option and re-inventing the wheel with background, followed by (maybe) repeating myself again.
What is new or changed enough to make me re-visit this challenge?
For every positive feeling, success, or accomplishment in my life, I experience backlash. Backlash is the need to punish oneself for positive feelings, thoughts, or actions because the individual feels undeserving of joy in her or his life. For me, the backlash is always triggered by feelings and thoughts of shame – shame reminds me how undeserving and unworthy I am to be alive, let alone thriving and happy – underscored by past lessons learned at the hands of my abusers.
Now, in the present time, I find myself experiencing triggers and flashbacks from 20 and 30 years ago. Sensations in my body connect to emotions I can’t identify, but scare me because I have not experienced them without dissociation or worse before. My existing coping strategies take the edge off the worst impulses, but the thoughts and memories about how self-harm works really well to make those sensations go away are insidious. They quietly burrow into my mind, from subconscious to conscious, as intrusive thoughts I can’t hear until after I’ve said or done something out of character with who I am now.
That is what I realized two weeks ago. And why I wrote the post last week. The percent of success-to-backlash is till high (80-90% success to 20-10% backlash for each experience). But ideas and thoughts about self-harm coping strategies occupy a lot of that 10-20%.
Our current goal: figure out strategies that discourage self-harm and can be substituted for self-harm behaviors that will work in the present.
Coping Challenges – My Gifts (empath)
Last week, I wrote more about my gifts. I even gave myself a label “empath” and described what energy and emotions (others and mine) feel like to me. For about 15 years, I hid, rejected, and denied my empathic abilities. And maybe I would have continued to do that if something inside me hadn’t broken in my late 20s. That break allowed me to start experiencing my own feelings/emotions/energy, not just other peoples’ feelings, etc. in my physical body and emotional mind. Spirituality wasn’t a big part of my life back then, so no mention here.
Why is this a coping challenge then?
First, I don’t know anything about being an empath and am still looking for mentors and reliable resources to teach me about the unique combination of gifts that make me an empath.
Second, many of the current flashbacks and triggers I am experiencing (yes the ones related to self-harm) have to to with my empathic gifts and how they were used by my owner and other abusers to hurt other people. Maybe, if I can learn more about my gifts and how to embrace them, the triggers and anxiety-related symptoms will ease up enough for me to take a breath…or two…without fear.
Finally, there is a connection between my body memories and empathic gifts. As acupuncture and TCM help reduce and relieve the pain, my body memories become regular memories connected to my mind and emotions. The charge of pain/fear/guilt/shame/responsibility goes away, and it shows. The strange puffiness around the back of my head and ears, the “fat” around my back and abdomen, the rashes on my skin are all going away as the body memories leave.
As with most types of self-learning or self-study, I feel confused right now. My mind is full of facts, opinions, and information from books and sessions with medical professionals, audio webinars about highly sensitive people/intutives/empaths, and videos about shame (Brene Brown on Netflix). Nothing makes sense or seems to relate to one another.
And yet I can’t stop learning more, asking questions, and trying to connect the dots between the (maybe) random sources.
The worst part? Confusion turns the rest of my mind into a maze. I get stuck in the maze and cannot find my way to my goal: the tool box(es) full of coping techniques and strategies we (all 88 alters) have put together for situations like this.
Lucky for me, my alters also created emergency kits and scattered them throughout the maze. Each emergency kit has 3-5 coping strategies and techniques designed to help me (or us) out of the maze.
The main coping strategy in my emergency kit.
I find that talking to someone who understands my situation (in relative terms) and works with me in a compassionate and accepting way to work through the confusion in my mind helps a lot.
First choice is always my mental health counselor. But that individual is not always available. Nor do I want to rely only on a counselor. That is not healthy for either of us.
Second choice is a crisis hotline or text line. There are many options out there with volunteers dedicated to helping people in crisis. I’ve tried a few different hotlines and always come back to BARCC’s 24 hour rape crisis hotline. I’ve been using BARCC’s services on an off for more than 15 years and always have good experiences with them.
Third choice is to talk to myself out loud or try to journal about what is creating the maze. This has a 50/50 chance of working. The other 50% of the time? I get triggered into angry feelings and thoughts.
Last resort choice is to talk to a friend or family member or loved one. Why last resort? This often has an 80% failure rate for me. I end up comforting and soothing and helping the person I’m talking to cope with what I shared. Or I get angry, frustrated, and upset because the person I’m talking to is not able or prepared to help me in this situation.
No blame or shame on them or me. Many people try to solve my problem for me or tell me to stop thinking about it or think positive thoughts to make the situation go away. Because it’s over and in the past right? Or (worse) these people deny my feelings, get triggered on their own, and try to blame/shame/guilt me into recanting my story – aka say I lied.
But when it works that 20% of the time, boy does it work well. The individual and I deepen our positive relationship by being authentic, respectful, supportive, and caring with each other and ourselves. The call ends with both of us feeling better.
*CAVEAT: This post is based on my personal experience and reflects my opinions, thoughts, and feelings about the topic discussed below. No one else’s opinion or information is shared here.*
I didn’t have time to read and respond to comments this weekend. Life got busy. And I feel uncomfortable responding to comments when my mind is such a mess.
Also, no photo for this week’s post. That kind of creativity is a trigger for anger – like journaling, coloring, and drawing – when I already feel overwhelmed with past stuff coming up and interfering with life.
*Yes I will write more on this topic again*
Back to the question
I’ve written about self-harm and self-punishment in the past. It’s an on-going theme in the story of my recovery and self-healing and one of the biggest obstacles I face now. The more joy I feel, the more intense the backlash becomes. As the backlash moves out of my mind and into my body, I feel helpless and less able to cope than normal.
Hence my body shutting down so often.
It hit home hard this week as I struggled with positive successes and backlash that put me to sleep/meditation for a couple days this week. Luckily, my day job was not so busy with billable work; writing projects require thinking and processing time – not something I need to be in front of a computer to do.
While my body and parts of my mind worked on processing triggers and flashbacks, the rest of my mind mapped out new sections for a first draft.
Friday felt better, but not great. Picked up billable work at my day job, so busy until late in the day. A schedule change for me. Flexible hours changed my personal plans and triggered circular thinking about self care, deadlines, and sacrifice.
Because changing my plans felt like sacrificing my personal time and projects for a job I like, but don’t love or want to take over all my time. That feeling triggered flashbacks to anorexia, being an empath who is also a walking lie detector, food fears, etc.
Explain about the lie detector please?
If you have met me or know me and wonder why I know things about you that you never talked about or can catch you in a lie, that’s why. I don’t purposely look into people’s minds or feelings. I don’t purposely absorb other people’s energy/feelings/thoughts. All that comes to me of its own free will as people and other living beings unconsciously project outwards.
To me, energy and emotions are a sensory experience. I feel them as sensations in my body or vibrations against my skin; I hear them as sound vibrations moving through me; I smell them and taste them in the air sometimes; and I see them in rainbow colors when I close my eyes.
Overwhelming, yes. Uncomfortable, yes. Combined with hyper-vigilance and other increased anxiety or symptoms…well what do you think about the phrase “HOT MESS”?
Reinventing the Wheel…Or Not
Instead of re-writing thoughts about punishment and self-harm, here is a short list of past posts.
Read or not.
If you want the full list, please use the search bar called “look around” to the right.
Short Reference List
Often, I prefer to give you the choice to learn more through the search bar instead of putting links here. It’s counter-intutiive to promoting my site and building a larger readership, but feels right to my authentic self.
Allowing my guests to choose when and how they learn more here means more to me than getting more followers, etc.
This is one time when I feel comfortable sharing some links to past posts here.
This week, all of us in the system have been reflecting on the word “Curiosity”.
It’s come up in a lot of conversations and flashbacks.
And it is the one-word answer to many of the recent guest comments or questions.
So what does this photo collage mean?
I am insatiably curious about everything even if that curiosity does not show in my facial expression or body language. Answers are useful, but not always good at satisfying my curiosity.
You know the expression “curiosity killed the cat”? This got me so scared I stopped letting my curiosity lead me on adventures for many years. I felt like the cat with a mark on her back. Soon as I let my curiosity out, I’d be “killed” in some way – i.e. brushed off, stopped, blocked – and unable to learn.
I prefer the expression “curiosity sparked my imagination” and “imagination flew me out of the box”. The final part? “Discovery led me to my joy”
Yup. That’s it. That is what the photo collage means –
live, think, and learn as you discover different avenues to love, peace, and joy.
Curiosity and Writing
Curiosity keeps me at the blank screen or notebook, typing out words and writing down phrases or sketching doodles until my imagination takes over. The first draft never looks like the finished one. Out of 1000 words, I make keep 3 or 4 words/phrases and start again until it feels right. By the third draft, most of the content is there to be polished (aka editing and proofreading).
My routine is not consistent though. As much as I love structure, I also require flexibility in my routines. So I have time blocked off every week to write drafts and generate ideas for this blog and my aromatherapy work. Sometimes I write or type. Other times I sketch or listen so music while reading about related topics. When I can’t sleep, it’s often because different alters are busy writing drafts in my head.
That is true – for me not all of my writing is done in the physical world because not all of my alters can use our physical body for writing.
But…And this is a BIG BUT…I also write as part of my day job and send email or text to keep in touch with friends and family. That requires writing too.
No matter what anyone says, any and all writing you do counts as learning. The more you write, the more you improve. The more you read/watch/listen to learn about topics of interest, the more inspiration you have for writing.
If you are like me, then writing is a pleasure and a tool to help me share what I learn with others. If not, writing fulfills another purpose in your life. Whatever writing does for you, I hope it also brings you joy.
And why is the text not in a logical order?
Right…logical order. I am illogical at the best of times. Honest. If I ever had to share my learning process with you, I’d confuse even myself.
Way back in elementary school, I had trouble following instructions. Straight lines became slanted and wiggly even using rulers. I liked to do my class assignments and take tests backwards – I mean start at the end and work my way to the beginning of the test. Once in a while, I’d start with the questions in the middle instead.
Back then, all I could tell my teachers is “this feels right to me” or “it just makes sense”.
Now, though, I can tell you that starting in the middle or at the end eased my fear and anxiety of the unknown. I could focus on finishing the assignment, quiz, or test on time because I knew how many questions there were and could estimate how long I needed to finish on time.
Plus, I was curious about all the other questions. It didn’t make sense (to me at least) to leave the questions I read unanswered and start from the beginning after I just spent time reading through it all.
As I got older, frustration settled deep inside me. I asked questions and was told the standard answers. But the standard answers didn’t satisfy my curiosity. So I did what the teachers told me to do…think outside the box. The answers I came up with didn’t make sense or were not what they wanted to hear…so back inside the box I went. Again.
Until I was old enough to learn, explore, get answers and remember not to share them with anyone else…I mean who wants to constantly be made fun of, insulted, or told they are wrong because the answers contradict or open up avenues outside the standard and “correct” paths we’re taught to follow?
To Sum It Up
I’ve been getting a lot of questions and comments about where I get my information, how I learn all of this, if I have tips for aspiring or beginner writers, etc. or survivors starting their journeys.
And as much as I want to give you something concrete:
a) I hate giving advice and will not do so unless backed into a corner
b) All I can and will do is share stories about what inspires me or others I consider role models to keep moving forward to live and thrive on our own terms
Curiosity is what makes the wheels in my mind churn. It connects Spirit with Mind and Body in unexpected ways.
My counselors teach me how to help myself by sharing knowledge, tools, and resources. Then I follow up on my own through self-study or self-learning and hands-on experience (i.e. mistakes, experiences).
You don’t have to be book smart or street smart; a genius or savant; talented or special in any way to learn, explore or live like this.
You do have to be curious, inspired, willing to change, open to discovery, and able to cope with the challenges blocking your path outside the box.
No matter what you choose or how you go about it, please remember I am silently cheering you on wherever we are.
Well, life likes to kick my ass on a regular basis. It’s a good way of reminding me to stay present, be kind to myself, and stay open minded about what might come up as life changes.
My body does not often experience a physical panic attack bad enough that all of me is out of commission for any period of time these days. A rough estimate is 2-3 times a year for the last 3-4 years. Compared to once a month or once every few months before that, this is a big improvement.
So why did it happen? Well, something triggered a seriously scary and painful set of body memories that became flashbacks. The flashbacks literally had different parts of me reliving and re-experiencing the past all over again. No, I am not going into detail. Yes I will tell you it all goes back to my childhood/adolescence and life in the cult. And yes, I will confirm it does have to do with being female, puberty, and menstruation.
Beyond that, no I will not share anything else. Every individual experience puberty differently. What happened to me and continues to happen in my body is unique; just as yours is unique to you. Whether male or female, the changes are sometimes obvious; other times not so obvious. But we all go through it. And it affects our experience of life in the present and future.
The gassy, bloating sensations and cramps trigger negative thoughts and experiences for me. From there, it’s like dominoes. One knocks down the other until the entire chain falls. In response, the rest of my physical body tightens and prepares for “attack”. It doesn’t rest until the “threat” or “trigger” (in this case the flashback or series of flashbacks) ends.
On the good side, this one didn’t last as long as the others or cause exhaustion; I was able to work and go on with life as usual the rest of the week.
Wednesday, I had my fallopian tubes removed. The procedure itself did not hurt much at all. And my recovery is going well. I’m late posting because I’ve been sleeping a lot the last 2.5 days. The bruising is going away, and the incisions are healing fast – itchy but not painful.
The hardest parts of all this are a) recovery from anesthesia and other medications and b) having limited wardrobe options in cooler weather.
What? you ask. Well, here’s the short version.
A) Medications and I do not mix. My body has a strong sense of self-protection. While all parts of me felt safe and comfortable in the hospital and around the nursing staff, they/we did not trust them enough to put in the IV. After 5 pokes with the needles, two nurses, and 3 injections of numbing agent, the anesthesiologist managed to get an IV needle into a vein in my right hand. Once the IV worked, I fell asleep and woke up in recovery not knowing anything happened.
But, coming out of the anesthesia was awkward. I experienced flashbacks and panic attacks (like Sunday’s panic attack) as my mind and body struggled to wake up. The nurse offered me extra pain meds, and I accepted not realizing the pain came from flashbacks at the time.
Upside, the pain meds helped with abdominal pain from the procedure.
Downside, I had my usual reaction to pain meds and passed out for a while as the flashbacks and panic attack pain continued to move through my body. No, the pain meds did not help. My body fought the meds like it fought the imaginary intruders in the flashbacks while I was asleep.
B) Because the incisions are on my belly button and abdomen, I can’t wear pants or skirts or keep anything like waistbands on the area for too long. March is still cool/cold out in the Pacific Northwest, so I still need to wear something under and over my dresses. It’s made getting dressed/staying comfortable at home and going out a bit difficult. Plus, I can’t bend over or do much heavy lifting even at home. That requires some creativity to get things accomplished and easy meal options. Luckily, my relatives sent care packages that made cooking easier the past few days. But I’m kind of tired of all that and itching to try something else for a change.
Slow & Steady Healing
This Wednesday marks 1 week since the procedure. Everything is healing well even if the rest of my body is protesting with physical pain. The most painful areas are unexpected to be quite honest. I am often aware that the sides of my body and mid/lower back around the bottom of my rib cage and shoulder blades experience sore muscles and pain. Same with my hip joints and the base of my skull.
But I have not experienced actual pain in those areas for some time. They would feel tight like a rubber ball when poked. The pain appeared in my face or along my spine. Confusing, yes? Lately, though, I have been some experiencing physical pain (kind of like when you exercise too hard and your muscles protest a day or two later) in those areas. Not enough to limit my movement, but enough to trigger anxiety and flashbacks.
And this is where the aromatherapy classes and exercises come in to play. In each lesson we are given category of essential oils to learn about and “blending” exercises to complete. That means I use the class knowledge about essential oils, essential oil chemistry, blending, carrier oils, and therapeutic properties to create my own oils, lotions, bath salts, body butters, etc. My first blends were geared towards muscle pain relief, decongesting my sinuses, and improving circulation in my body (not just blood, but lymphatic system too).
They worked really well, so I felt hopeful about the next group of blending exercises. Many of the oils in these three categories helped with pain relief, stress, anxiety, and wound healing. So I chose to create a bath salt, a healing lotion for minor cuts and bruises, and an oil-based ointment that worked like Neosporin for short term use.
Since the incisions are too new and delicate, I can’t use any of these blends directly on those areas. But I used the bath salts the night before my procedure because 2 of the 3 oils have antibacterial properties and I can’t use over-the-counter antibacterial soaps. The third oil has general anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.
And the lotion works really well for my entire body and head/face. I’ve been using it 1-2x a day on specific body areas every other day to test it out. Last night, I tried it all over and experienced a really good sleep. For the rest of this blend’s use (until I finish), that will probably be my go-to choice. Put the lotion on all over before bed time and relax into sleep. But, the next time I make this, I will be using less oil overall because the ratio of oil to lotion is too high for long term use.
The third ointment has not got much use yet. It’s a powerful healing ointment made with Tamanu carrier oil and a mix of essential oils with wound healing therapeutic properties that works well on bruises, abrasions, rashes, or scabs/scars. I’ve been waiting for approval from the doctor and nurses to use around (not on) the bruised and tender areas near the incisions.
And no, I am not going to list the oils and blends at this time. One day, in a future post, I will share some of my recipes with you. For now, there are many safety concerns related to using essential oils, and I am not willing to give you half-assed information that includes a recipe, but not measurements, safety precautions, or reliable places to make purchases.
So the recipes will have to wait.
And posting new content might be erratic until I catch up with my day job and am more mobile. Recovery requires me to sleep more, rest more, and get up and move once every 1-2 hours while I am awake to keep up circulation. There’s a lot going on, and I want to be present for you when I share these posts.