Coping Challenges: Getting Used to a New Environment

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My alters and I, we don’t have much to share this week. Unpacking is still a work-in-progress. The transition is easier after 1 week living in this apartment. Discovery and observation are my two best coping strategies right now.

What used to trigger me in the other apartments – noise, smells, privacy (or lack of) – are less stressful here even though they still exist. Some noises are new to me. Others are not. Same with smells and privacy. The apartment is set up in such a way that I have to get creative to balance my need for privacy with my need for natural sun and open blinds.

As for people and sounds, well that is something I continue to work on. But the safer I feel, the easier it is to step back and observe instead of react from a place of fear about these triggers. That means it’s easier to stay present and remember I am okay when the upstairs neighbors move around and make noise. Towels on the window sills help keep external smells outside. Door and window blockers keep out drafts and other smells.

Crystals keep the energy balanced and moving throughout the apartment. This time, they are in bags, small bowls, alone, or in groups on doorknobs, near plants, and so on. I am grateful for the heaters and how they work. Pipes and mechanical equipment in the floors and walls account for some of the vibrations and noise that seem to appear from nowhere.

The bath and shower help with body memories and some sensory flashbacks. It’s private and large enough for me to use as a changing room too sometimes. Using the essential oils or a scented bath will not disturb my neighbors and gives me a chance to have a “spa day” or water-focused meditation period at home.

But it wasn’t and still isn’t easy. There is a lot to learn and adapt to in a new building with new people. The neighborhood is different. The people are different. Traffic patterns and pedestrian movement keep me on my toes – especially as I get used to being here on weekends. A lot of events take place within walking distance, so weekdays are quieter – good for work :).

Processing takes time. And so does creating a home. Soon, when there are less boxes, I will take photos and share them here. Definitely of my garden. Maybe the kitchen too – it’s big and roomy with space to make smoothies – since I spend a lot of time there. Some parts of unpacking are easy for me while others trigger all kinds of messy emotions.

  • Measuring and cutting paper to line my cabinets – triggering.
  • Putting stuff on the walls – triggering
  • Deciding where to put items – neutral
  • Putting together folding shelves and adding items – neutral
  • Is any part of unpacking and setting up again fun for me? No not really.

But all parts of me are in this together. We are happy here. Feel safe here. No one is caged or trapped in this apartment – or in the building. There are security measures that keep everyone safe. And I know who to contact if I have any concerns or questions. That goes a long way to keeping the flashbacks from taking control.

Plus nothing, except an event beyond my control, is going to stop any part of me from settling in and settling down here.

So the unpacking process will be VERY slow. Priority goes to items that are necessary for every day life. Then the fun stuff that makes a home feel like home. Finally, everything else.

For now, though, it’s about recovery and re-claiming my protected, safe spaces. Maybe less about self care and more about self soothing – bringing comfort, peace, and harmony with large doses of love – to re-build my energy reserves and eliminate the sleep debt (i.e. persistent feelings of tiredness from chronic lack of sleep or rest).

What does nurturing mean to you? And how can or will you nurture yourself?

Thanks for reading

Quotes & Affirmations: A Double Whammy – Family, work & change

I’ll be honest with you.  This week has kicked my ass in many ways.  I almost didn’t know what to share today because everyone had an opinion, but no one wanted to buckle down and write it out.

Double Whammy

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There used to be a game show on TV called “Press Your Luck” that featured a “whammy” cartoon.  Every time a contestant landed on a “whammy”, her or his score was reset to zero.  The contestant had to start rebuilding prizes through trivia, etc.

 

I feel like I’ve landed on two whammy’s this week.  One with regards to my family.  One with regards to work.

Family

As mentioned before, I’m talking with my dad via email again.  We’re slowly rebuilding our relationship and working hard towards being part of each other’s lives again.  That means, indirectly, going back to what broke me before from a different perspective.  It means reaching out to other family and acknowledging them in some way.

My mother’s family received the email and wrote back to me after a few weeks.  It was nice to get a response from them.  Next on my list, and not something I do lightly, is writing to my mother and younger brother.

Why?

Here is where the second quote fits in.

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This is my way of setting an intention and giving something to fill an empty space inside of me.  By filling that space inside me, I have more to give to my loved ones and can help fill a similar space in them.

The next time I visit family, I want to enjoy time with them.  Not have the experienced ruined through my mother’s (and maybe brother’s) negativity and drama tantrums.  My grandma is 102; she’s slowly moving towards the next phase in her life.  I miss my dad.  In spite of everything, I love my mother and brother.  Seeing everyone for a short time will bring a measure of peace and closure.

Plus, having everyone together again will make my grandma smile.

Work

In my day job, I finally got some career-related questions answered and addressed.  Now, if I change my mind and choose to stay, there can be a path that allows me change, growth, and challenges.  Along with that, some leadership and organizational changes are taking place.  Our team is changing.  While some doors are closing, others are opening.  So now there’s a chance for me to get my “new job” within the same company.

The dilemma; I’m ready to leave my safety net and fly.  Does that mean I start a new job in a new company and pursue my other projects during off hours?  Does that mean I take on a new role with new challenges and pursue my other projects on the side?

Decision: Keep my options open.  If the new role at the current company goes through, seriously decide to stay or leave.  If that new role gets shunted to the side by corporate again, continue with my existing plans to move on.

Why again these two quotes?

Quote 1:

In a way, I’m going back to what broke me.

I’m reconnecting with family and places that caused so much pain.  I guess it’s a reminder that the person coming back is not the person who left.  She/I/We are going back to visit FAMILY as a whole rather than individual people.  Different perspective; different choices.  Same potential pitfalls if I’m not careful.

I’m also listening to my intuition, creating art, writing, healing/helping others, and learning how to use/utilize/explore/work with my unique gifts for positive outcomes instead of negative ones.  That means journaling, meditation, exercise/movement, bodywork, and learning from mentors who work towards good instead of evil.

The flashbacks are stronger; lucid dreams become nightmares; so many voices sometimes.  But the experience is different this time.  My parts and I, we aren’t afraid.  But the potential pitfalls exist.  And we all have to be gentle with ourselves.

Quote 2:

This quote reinforces my belief in miracles and manifestation of dreams.  For many years, I’ve been working towards going back to my family and moving into a career that brings joy – one that feels like a vocation and something fun that transforms into a “hobby” or “activity” to keep me involved and active during “retirement”.

Honest truth is, I could not have done all of this work or achieved so much alone.  Throughout every phase and step of this Recovery journey, guides and guardians (human, spiritual, and other) have taught me how to help myself achieve these goals.  By guardians and guides, I mean: family, friends, loved ones, mentors, enemies, counselors, even the racist and prejudiced people who went out of their way to verbally hurt me taught something.

It started with changing self-perceptions and perspectives about “people” and “the outside world”.  Next came working through the different challenges in the “real world” outside of my mind.

I started to “see” the world from a loving, kind, compassionate space.  Instead of a scary, violent, dangerous place, the world was full of love, life, laughter, and friendship.  During meditations, I started to see colors and shapes again.  I started to feel safe from the inside out – ready and able to “go home” without fear – and began the process of reconnecting with those I feared most.

“Home” has two meanings here:

  1. “Home” means being part of my family of origin again.
  2. “Home” means living safely within my physical body and working with all parts of me to bring our body back to optimal health

Whatever your challenges and struggles, there truly is a a way for you to live the life you want.

I hope these quotes help you the way they’ve helped me.

Thanks for reading.

RECOVERY: Reflections & A New Phase in My Recovery

The One Month Break

Taking a month off was healing in some ways and enlightening in others.  Not posting allowed me to focus on self care and moving to a better living situation.  I spent more time packing, planning, focused on work, resting when I could, apartment hunting, and eventually moving too.

NEW APARTMENT YAY!

My living situation is much improved.  I love the new apartment and am getting used to living in/near a college again.  As much as I love old buildings with their creaky noises, eccentric quirks, and character, the new space is a challenge for unpacking and settling in.  Beyond that, the building is run by an excellent (so far) management team that really cares about its tenants.  And I finally have a bath tub!

And now there’s space for me to set up a craft/learning space – knitting, sewing, aromatherapy, etc. – in my living room while the other room is reserved for work & sleeping.  Plus there’s the challenge of unpacking and decorating to make this space home.  But at least no one will be criticizing me for it or accusing me of hoarding because of my slow methods.

Unpacking and decorating has also inspired me to start using Pinterest again.  I’ve added some new boards and new pins to existing boards if you’re interested.  You can find links to Pinterest on the Resources page.

BYE BYE TOXIC LIVING SITUATION

The toxic living situation kept taking up more and more of my mental space as the upstairs neighbor escalated.  At some point, I stopped sleeping and started meditating/resting instead.  Cooking saved me from bursts of anger.  Packing did too.

But my survival instincts and automatic defenses were roused.  Some of them, I’ve talked about in the past.  Others I haven’t, not yet, because those memories were hidden or caused too much pain when triggered.  But now, those instincts are close to the surface.  And with them, come the memories too.

Instead of having to cope with a lot of emotional/mental triggers, I’m working through physical and environmental triggers that make me want to protect myself with violence.

If my past experiences taught me one thing really well, it was that anyone who  tried to make physical contact or get close to me was attacking me.  And I had to protect myself in any and every way possible.  When running didn’t work, fighting back did.  Doesn’t matter how much pain I feel or what condition my body/health is in.

If these instincts are triggered or I am put in a position of having to defend/protect myself, I fight to survive at any cost.  With that knowledge in my mind, I’ve spent a lot of time alone or around “safe” people for limited time periods lately.  Without a mechanism to make me stop and pause, it’s not safe for me to be around other people like this.

Luckily, my body and other alters have some awareness of when these instincts are triggered.  They give the rest of us advance notice so that we can plan to say inside instead of going out.

Questioning My Ability to Share Useful Resources

The time away also provided time to reflect on my current mental space and ability to share useful resources here.

While telling parts of my history here is part of what makes this blog authentic, it’s not the main reason I started sharing here.  Lately, I’ve struggled to come up with new ideas and posts, useful information and resources that might be helpful or useful to others beginning their journey or struggling at a complex/difficult place in recovery.  People who are learning how to live and cope after surviving or getting out of toxic situations that made them question everything and not trust anything at first glance.

What I’m learning now, the resources opening up to me, are coming from a different place now.   It’s a different phase of recovery, a scary (to me) one where my past coping strategies are useful, but not as helpful as before because the challenges are different.  I”m sharing my authentic self with the world.  And I’m finally able to accept all parts of myself – violent/nonviolent, male/female, victim/survivor/individual – with compassion and love.

Instead of surviving or putting my toe in the shallow pool of living, I’m wading into the deeper waters where my feet don’t always touch the ground.  I’m living and thriving and using my flashbacks/triggers as reminders or guides to help me learn from past mistakes to make better choices now.  I’m being vulnerable and moving forward with personal, professional, and academic goals.  Sometimes even achieving them.

But how relevant is that to my guests?

How will reading books about personal finance or minimalism, or personal style, or training in skills help them cope with the internal and external struggles that come with trauma and recovery?

How will going to lectures, taking classes, challenging oneself to meet new people, or learning about resilience/vulnerability and shame via many channels give my  guests the hope and courage or inspiration to keep on going?

I’m not asking for answers or reassurance that this resource website and blog is useful.  If anyone wants to comment, you are welcome to do so.  Feedback is always welcome.

Conclusion

If the last 5 months have taught me anything, it’s that life will always be full of challenges and triggers.  How we react and act to meet those challenges defines how interesting, fun, boring, miserable, joyful, or blah our life becomes as time passes.  And sometimes life throws one a curve because it knows that individual has what it takes to succeed this time around.

But people also grow and change in unexpected ways.  Their lives, thought processes, goals, and beliefs change too.  People sometimes move on or move in a different direction as experience and perspective open up different paths.

Whatever happens, if I stop posting or adding new articles, this site will stay up and available to anyone searching for help.  The Resource page and Home Page will be updated to reflect this.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Admin Post: Taking a 2 Month Break

Hello Guests,

A late post because of work and life changing up schedules.

Writing posts here has been an amazing journey of self-discovery through helping others.

No Regrets at all about what has been shared.

Lots of hope that some of this information helped others in difficult situations or with difficult experiences.

But right now, I/we all of us need a break.  Time to focus on improving our living situation and get that sorted.  Time to focus on work and keep that going.  Time to put new years goals into practice.

Not a goodbye.  Instead a “see you soon”

Thanks for reading.

AlterXpressions

Life Changing Moments: Home, Holidays, and triggers

HAPPY HOLIDAY WEEKEND to everyone who celebrates a holiday this season.  Holiday season because so many people celebrate Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. during this time of year.  I am thankful for all of the many people who have passed through my life this year.  Thank you for being part of this blog.

HOLIDAYS

This year was a year of renewing connections.  Scary as it is and was, I’ve started to let more family back into my life.  Some have stayed, some have left again.  In the end, the ones who stayed truly want to be involved and work out a new relationship.  The others are happy to know I exist and go on with their lives.

Yesterday, I was in California visiting family for the day.  It was a great relief from the living situation issues occurring right now.  Except the owner interrupted our day because she couldn’t get in for the inspection; also my smoke alarm was beeping.  An inspection that she gave notice of the day before, so my evening was spent cleaning and documenting the apartment instead of relaxing before the visit.

And of course, when I left everything was quiet.  Coming home, the flight was delayed; I got home close to midnight.  The apartment cold because I turned off the heat for the day.  The neighbor complaining because I turned up the heat to warm it up; then turned it down once the apartment felt less cold.  And a smoke alarm chirping because the battery was dying.

But today, my goals changed.  I was so tired from traveling and other stuff that I slept until late afternoon today.  Then went out in the snow for a quick trip to the grocery store, lunch, and batteries.  Batteries to fix the beeping smoke alarm.  Lunch because I didn’t feel like cooking after I woke up.  Groceries to complete what I missed for Christmas dinner tomorrow.

The apartment is still freezing cold, but that’s not going to stop me from enjoying today and tomorrow.  Besides cooking will help warm up the place :).

HOME

The owner gave notice of an apartment inspection earlier this week and entered yesterday while I was out.  For safety measures, I took photos of the place after cleaning it up.  So here are a few photos of my first, official, decorated home.  Enjoy!

TRIGGERS

I am almost at my wit’s end with this living situation.  Dealing with the upstairs neighbor and the owner is so triggering that I am back in survival mode right now.  It’s snowing this Christmas.  Unusual for my new city home, but welcome too.  The cold has me shivering even inside, but extra layers help a lot.  And not having to play with the heat sort of, maybe reduces some triggers.

The neighbor reminds me of the bullies I encountered in school and how helpless I was to fight back and feel safe.  The owner reminds me of the emotionally abusive, shaming, manipulative female care-takers from childhood and adolescence.  They controlled everything about my living situation and never let me feel safe or secure wherever I happened to be.

Home doesn’t always feel safe with the intermittent noise and heat changes.  REM sleep is rare these days too.  Hallucinations have started up again.  If the visual hallucinations become auditory ones, I’ll be visiting the ER.  (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen).  Anxiety and hyper-vigilance are increasing.  Paranoia and feeling crazy are close companions.  In my present mind, I know that I’m not being paranoid and that I’m not crazy.  But that doesn’t stop the feelings.

POSITIVE NEWS

On the good side, there are only 4 days left until my meeting with the attorney.  Then there will be some progress and less feelings of frustration or helplessness.  Between now and then, all I have to do is keep my head down, enjoy vacation, and survive.  All of this designed to keep me out of the apartment and in a happy state of mind.

Thanks for reading!