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.
I don’t have much to write about this week. Instead, I decided to let quotes speak for me instead.
Lin Yutang is a Chinese-born writer and philosopher whose work speaks to me deeply. I read The Importance of Living early in my recovery journey and experienced a life-changing moment that continues to positively influence my life now.
Autumn (or fall) is here. It’s the end of September, and I honestly don’t know where to start. Life took many unexpected turns this year. Some of which I can’t discuss because the stories are not mine to share. Other experiences are related, but not, to what I write here. But I am not sure of their relevance.
That brings me to the first part of the title: this, that, and what else? Work is going well; so many new challenges that it takes a lot of my brain power. I’m still dealing with a difficult living situation, but we’re making slow progress there. Plus 5 months left of living here! And some of those experiences I don’t feel comfortable sharing here, they have to do with the positive evolving relationship between my parents and me.
Yup, I said it. Postive. Evolving. Relationship. Parents. Me.
In fact, they’re coming to visit me next week and will be staying (in a hotel) for a little more than 1 week. Yes, I am excited and happy. Nervous too. But mostly excited.
The other news? I’ve decided to stop allowing comments through a feedback form until I can put in something safe and reliable.
You can comment on posts if you want. But I’m getting so much spam that it’s hard to distinguish guests from trolls. Apologies for that…
And, I will be writing less the rest of this year, as I consider what different direction to take Untangled Connections so it stays relevant to its main purpose. As my recovery changes, my life changes and coping strategies change.
There is so much new information about trauma, recovery, PTSD, and more out there that I can’t keep up and still pursue other interests. That means the topics here will change. The tone will change. And the types of resources/information will change too.
What I’ve written about these last 4 years has to do with Survival Mode and the first years after getting out of the dangerous situation.
Now, I am in a different phase with different challenges. And if you are willing to read about them, I will share that here too.
Here are the FAQs; skip the next section for Affirmations and Quotes 🙂
Q7: How can I write to you? Will you write back to me? What about comments?
7A: At this time, you can comment on blog posts. Most go to SPAM, so there is a chance that your comment does not get a response if I think it is SPAM and does not follow blog rules.
I tried to offer a comment form, but all comments went directly to the SPAM filter. Since those messages go to my e-mail inbox, I decided that it’s too risky to address those messages because of increased problems with phishing, viruses, malware, etc.
Q8: Where are you? Will you be writing more?
8A: I am taking a writing break. There is a lot going on in my personal life right now, and I’m working on a new direction for Untangled Connections now that my recovery has changed trajectory and the challenges are not the same as before.
365 Days of Affirmations Follow Up
A few times in the past, I shared a personal coping strategy project called “365 Days of Affirmations”.
The point of this project was to change my thinking processes, attitude, and behavior from negative/unhappy/angry all the time to neutral/postive/content/loving instead and apply that to all parts of my life.
The difficult part was figuring out what “positive” meant to me. Because, while I believe in the power of positive thinking, I also believe in potential harm of positive thinking. And have experienced the blowback when positive thinking fails. That is part of why this update took so long.
While I did compose an affirmation every day for 365 days, I failed at writing down each affirmation once a day for 365 days. Some times I forgot to write down an affirmation for one month or longer. Then had to go back and write them all when I did remember to record the affirmations and quotes.
On the other hand, I learned that creating an affirmation for the day did help me change my thinking processes, attitude, and behavior.
I learned how to reframe sentences and opinions to be either neutral or positive, kind, and encouraging, without feeling over-the-top or unattainable. For Example:
Today is not bad out – cloudy and gray, but smells like autumn and not raining.
Today is bright, cool and gray with some clouds. The air smells like autumn rain.
* 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.
This time next week, I will be back in my home state (the one where I was born) getting ready to celebrate Christmas with my parents, brother, and father’s side of the family for the first time in 7 years. Maybe longer. All of us will get together at an aunt’s house on the morning of Christmas Day to open gifts, hang out, and (later) eat a holiday dinner together. Dinner as in lunch…not the evening meal (aka supper).
I admit to feeling many conflicting emotions. Fear, excitement, guilt, joy, anxiety are a few of them. In terms of my immediate family, I’m excited to see my dad. We’ve been talking (FaceTime) and emailing regularly since August. He’s excited to see me too and has been keeping me updated about the rest of the family. I have mixed feelings about seeing my mom and brother (and his wife) again. We didn’t part on good terms, and my child parts are upset about being close to them again. But the adult parts of me are happy to see them again.
For my Dad’s side of the family, I’m excited and anxious to see them again. We don’t relate very well for a lot of reasons, so sometimes sharing space can be difficult. It’s part of why I choose to stay in a hotel or AirBnB during visits home. We love each other, but live completely different lives. And a lot of my life is not something many of my relatives on either side can acknowledge, approve, or accept. Other than some social topics or basic questions and answers, we don’t have much to talk about.
For my Mom’s side, the timing worked to visit with one group of cousins the day before I leave. As I’m only staying for 4 days, I’m grateful for that much and excited to see them. Yes I’m also nervous, but that’s mostly because it’s a new relationship with all of us being adults now. Luckily, we are all foodies and can spend a few hours chatting and enjoying good food.
Have you noticed the food theme? A lot of my family gatherings revolve around food – it was how different generations came together to prepare food, set tables, cook, share stories, and enjoy conversations while eating – as a party or event was often how my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents brought us together.
Why do this?
The simple answer is closure.
I’m in a positive, healing place that allows me to open up and face some of the scariest parts of my past so that moving forward is less stressful. Plus, I do miss my family. I love them and want the best for them – best as in what works for and with their current goals and lifestyles. Closure allows my heart wounds to finally drain and start to heal.
The complicated answer is more nuanced.
I am going to visit my grandmother. She hasn’t been doing well since her accident back in January. If I can give her anything, it’s one holiday with all of us together like before. We can spend some time together, and I can reassure her that I’m happy, healthy, and safe even if I live all the way across the country.
I’m going for my father. Seeing him in person, giving and receiving a real hug is a gift in itself. We don’t have a lot in common, but we are interested in each other’s lives and actively listen, accept and respect each others choices. Besides that, my Dad is really funny and always finds a way to share his fatherly wisdom with humor.
I’m going for myself, to prove that I can spend time with them as an adult whose triggers don’t get in the way and cause problems. We can be ourselves, share space together, and enjoy the holiday time with less tension and negativity. I don’t have to hide parts of myself and can accept that different relatives will and do hide behind masks – but the hiding is not personal. And I won’t get in trouble for being me. Or cause problems by being me.
In doing this, I can
try to resolve my conflicting feelings about letting any family into my life and being part of their lives.
Conflict part 1: I am happy as I am now being connected again, was happy before reconnecting with any family at all, and am not sure how much I want to be connected with any of them. If I want to be connected at all.
Conflict part 2: I love my family and am happy to be peripherally connected to some of them. But I’ve left behind the dreams of being close with them or having a strong connection where we keep in touch regularly, etc.
In other words, I’m facing some of my biggest fears in less than a week. Wish me luck?
And luck to any and all of you who might be in similar situations with the holiday season.
I struggle with being body positive and having a positive self-image.
Part of that is because of past experiences.
Part of it is because my body shape, size, and appearance do not fit any “ideal” standards, so shopping and feeling good about how I look isn’t always easy.
The rest has to do with looking like either parent or following “appearance expectations” – my rebellion against this
This struggle shattered my self-confidence, built up on existing shame, and gave me many reasons to “hide” from the world.
No matter what I did or how I tried, something about me always attracted attention. Something always gave others an excuse or rationale to be mean/rude, etc. And I believed them when they told me it was my fault for making them act that way.
I still believed that, deep down in a secret part of me, until last week.
An unexpected award at work gave me the push I needed to stop procrastinating about getting professional photos for business/school, etc. Here’s the short version:
The company I work for in my day job has over 1,000 employees worldwide and a commitment to encourage continuous learning. They promote this internally by giving employees free accounts to LinkedIn Learning and internal classes. At every half-year, the people in “people teams” use some metric or formula to find out who took the most classes, etc. and gives them a small award using an internal award system.
I get a lot of down time between projects and hate being bored, so the online classes through LinkedIn were ways to me to feel like I wasn’t getting paid for doing nothing. The award was unexpected, yet much appreciated. But it wasn’t until after I answered the survey questions, that someone from “people teams” reached out with a request. The company liked my answers and wanted to use them as part of a promotional campaign. Would I allow this and also send a photo to go with the answers?
At first, I freaked out and said “absolutely not” on the inside. But then I paused. This was an opportunity, a big one to help me reach the next step of “not hiding” and achieving outside goals. If I said no, I’d be going backwards. If I said yes, I’d have to face a whole lot of fears, including putting my face out on the Internet.
I said yes and asked for some time to get them a decent photo. We agreed on a date, and I booked my first photo shoot in 14 years (since college graduation photos).
WHY IS THIS A LIFE CHANGING MOMENT?
My style group friends have been cheering me along on my journey to self-discovery and being my authentic self always, but especially in how I present myself to the outside world. With their help, I chose an outfit and makeup that felt 100%, authentically me. Surprisingly, I didn’t see
a little girl playing dress-up in the mirror
A woman dressing to look “like a lady” according to parental expectations
My mother, father, aunts, cousins, or grandparents looking back at me
A clown or over made-up woman trying to be something she’s not
I saw myself – all parts of myself expressed as a single, adult woman wearing a dress & blazer with fun accessories and subtle makeup – as I got ready for the photo session.
The photographer was amazing. She helped me feel completely at ease and comfortable posing outside. The whole experience felt like chatting with an old friend and taking photos for fun. Never before had I felt so relaxed with a stranger taking photos of me. Part of it was location – we took photos in a beautiful park – and part of it was the overall feeling of rightness that stayed with me throughout the day.
I got to see myself through the photographer’s eyes and camera lens that afternoon. She accepted my quirks and even appreciated some of them. Before her, I’d not met many people who also talked to ladybugs or openly expressed a reverence for nature. We connected over a mutual love and respect for trees; some of my favorite “fun” shots are of me sitting on exposed roots or posing against trees.
Together, we narrowed down to 3 photos that fit the main purpose of this photo shoot: business headshots for work & professional networking profiles.
But I also chose one for school and “fun” profiles too. My current day job is segregated from my other hobbies and work choices on purpose. They do not play well together, and I am very private. Not many businesses want someone with my kind of mental health issues working for them, no matter how good I am at my job. So 3 photos:
One for internal work/business (like email, profiles, messaging, etc.) that showed me and my “professional” personality with hints of non-work life
One for business and networking or job hunting profiles that expressed my business professionalism, creativity, and unique personality
One for school and personal profiles (personal email, WordPress account, Facebook, etc.) that showed me in a happy, confident, relaxed, open way.
My self-perception, self-image whatever you want to call it.
When I look in a mirror, I finally see me. A beautiful (inside out kind), confident, secure-in-herself woman. An authentic, person with many alternate personalities who thrives in her chosen life style with family of choice, a support network, and a fulfilling life in spite of many challenges.
For all people, with and without mental health or trauma issues, to experience a positive change in self-perception too. I share this story with the hope that someone can relate to the experience, realize he or she is not alone, and have the courage to make positive steps too.