Category Archives: One Word

Finding Paradise

Paradise sounds awful good right about now.

I can close my eyes and picture warm, sandy beaches. I can smell the salt water, and see the sun shining bright. I can feel the light, cool breeze blow against my skin, just the right amount to keep from getting overheated. If I dream a little harder, I’m there lying on a blanket with a good book to read, and something icy to drink. I can see my doggy chasing the waves lapping at the shore, and my love is next to me strumming a sweet song on his guitar.

FindingParadise

Yeah, paradise sounds great right now.

Things have finally calmed down in my home, but life still has its struggles. There are still bills to be paid, chores to be done, and health problems to be managed. There’s still worry and anxiety, and plenty of other things I’d love for those waves to wash away.

Since that sunny, warm beach is as far away as my other dreams, I’ll have to make my own paradise right here.

So today will be spent making my home resemble a home again by getting caught up on those chores. Then I will do what makes my heart sing, and devote some time to crafts while listening to music and singing along.

And maybe, just maybe, there will be a fruity drink with a little umbrella for me to sip on.

 

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In Pieces

As I sit holding his hand, my heart is shattering into small pieces. The anguish and worry etched into his face cut me so deeply, I’m sure I’ll perish.

But I must remain strong for him.

I tear my gaze from my love’s face to look at the man lying in the bed before us. Even in sleep, his face is grimaced in pain. There are wires and tubes criss-crossing over his body and the machine above his bed is spitting out numbers that mean little to me- they don’t tell me what is wrong with him.

The room is chilly but there is a trickle of sweat down my back. Anxiety pays no mind to the temperature around me.

It seems like ages before they come to tell us what our hearts already knew. He is really sick and they will be admitting him. My love and I follow closely behind as they wheel this man upstairs to the ICU.

This man is my future father-in-law, my fiance’s sole remaining parent. While I come from a large family with multiple tangents, Scotty’s family is small and few. In fact, it’s just him and this man who looks far too fragile right now.

So my heart is in pieces for him, for them, as I watch Scotty try to hold it together and not show his fear.

His father’s health has not been great for a number of years, but he’s always fought back. In fact, this is not the first time we’ve sat at his bedside like this, with our hearts in our throats. But each new time is a reminder that he cannot fight this fight forever, and we mourn the gradual loss of a great man, as his body continues to fail him.

This time we are lucky, his father will heal.

But my heart is still in pieces, already broken for the day when we won’t be so lucky.

I Promise You, I’m Bored With This Mess

I’ve been pretty absent around these parts lately. Life simply has not been wanting to play fair. It seems as soon as one thing eases up, ten more plop into my lap.

We’re still trying to get a handle on some new health matters, and that’s been my primary focus lately. It’s also been the primary trigger of stress lately. I feel as though I’ve been kicked into hypochondriac mode. Every new symptom brings concern. Is this related? Should I call the doctor? What if it’s not a big deal? What if it’s a really big deal?

I’ve been reduced to spinning circles within my own mind.

And honestly? I’m pretty bored with this mess.

I want to go back to how things were a few months ago. When I was only worried about the usual things, bills and such. I want to have a break from this added pressure, and just go back to the usual amount of stress.

Which is hardly something one wishes for, right?

But it’s true. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m overwhelmed with the constant onslaught of drama, problems, and stress.

Anyhow, I promise you this:

I’m ready to get things back to normal. So I’m going to do what I can to help it get that way. And I suppose that means letting go of some of the stress, any way I can.

Anyone have some sharp ideas?

Playing With Dogs

Life lately has been pretty complicated.

My health has been having some ups and downs and even some sideways. The holidays came, conquered, and left. Once again we find ourselves in January where money is a little more than tight, the weather is a little colder than chilly, and we’re all pretty burnt out.

I find myself stepping back to evaluate where my heart is. What projects have a I committed to, and which do I really WANT to do? How do I balance what I want to do with what I NEED to do? How do I take care of myself and others?

Yesterday, after a particularly emotional doctor’s appointment, I came home and cried. I curled up with my doggy and tried to shut out the world. Except the world didn’t want to stay shut out. There were emails to answer and phone calls coming in and…

I’m overwhelmed.

So this morning, I didn’t check my email, I didn’t answer my phone. I loaded up my doggy into my friend’s truck, and we took our dogs to the dogpark. We stood bundled up, chatting with other dog owners as our dogs all sniffed each other. I walked around with our little Toddy while he sniffed each and every fence post. I threw the squeaky ball for the dogs who would chase it. And I watched my shy little guy chase dogs three times his size.

I got a little muddy, more than a little chilled, and am definitely tired. But the dog slobber made me smile, and as I watch my Toddy nap on the couch, I realize my mind is clear for the first time in weeks.

And suddenly, things aren’t so complicated.

How Do I Heal?

This year I chose to focus on one word: Heal.

Heal

When I chose my word, I was grasping. I was hurting emotionally, mentally, and physically. I wanted relief, but not the fleeting kind. I wanted to get better, to be better. I didn’t know how to go about it, but I knew focusing on healing was the only way I would be able to move forward.

The bane of life with chronic illness is that you will never “get better.” There is no end in sight, there’s no time frame. So how does one heal with chronic illness?

You heal your soul.

I’ve found that if my mental and emotional well being are healthier, it’s easier to cope with the aches and pains of my body. If my heart is light, I’m able to push that little bit harder to take care of myself physically. If I can find the good in things, the bad things don’t seem quite so bad.

The flip of this is that it’s ongoing. One doesn’t just slap a bandaid on their heart and carry on their merry way. You have to devote yourself to the path of working on your emotional and mental health and walk that journey every day. Sure, there are going to be bad days, days where you want to bury under the blankets and hide behind the mask of sleep. But there will also be good days, great days where your heart is flooded with joy and the smile on your face is so wide it makes your cheeks hurt.

I’ve walked this path all year long. There were rough days and great ones. There were tears and smiles. Sometimes it felt as if I had taken one step forward only to land on my ass and slide ten feet backwards. Somehow I always got back up. Maybe not right away and maybe I needed a hand occasionally, but I got up. I might have a few new scars for my battles but I also have the tiniest of wrinkles around my eyes. I call them my laugh lines.

I don’t know yet what my word will be for 2014. I imagine it will come to me at some point in the next few weeks. Whatever it is, I know it will further help me on my path of healing.

Have you chosen a word for 2013? How did your year shape up? Will you choose a word for 2014?

My Focus On Healing

I’m not entirely sure where the time went, but it’s already the middle of October.

Some of you may remember that with Tracie‘s help, I chose to spend this year focusing on one word: Heal. While this year has provided many roller-coaster rides, I would still say that I am achieving my goal of healing both physically and emotionally.

Probably my biggest strides in healing happened when Cindy-Lou sparked a small idea within me that grew to be the Spoons 4 Spoonies project. I took the hurt I was still feeling and turned it into a way to share love. Though I will always miss Misty, knowing that she is still touching lives through me gives me a peace I didn’t think was possible.

I also owe huge kudos to Dawnie for her help on this path of healing. Her kind way of speaking the things I REALLY need to hear helped me to move forward from people that were still hurting me. Her gentle nudges gave me the push I needed to focus more on myself and my health. With her and Teala’s encouragement, I was able to drop around 30 pounds this year. For anyone battling chronic pain, this is a huge accomplishment. My illnesses limit what I’m able to do in terms of exercise and diet changes. But my lovely ladies helped me focus on what I CAN do and the weight melted off without my noticing. When I was weighed at the doctor a few weeks ago and saw that I was under the dreaded number for the first time since I became ill, I wanted to happy dance.

I’ve also made some strides in managing my illnesses this year. It might not seem like it, since I spent the better parts of August, September, and even October, in and out of the hospital and doctor’s offices. The difference is that I knew there was something not right and I didn’t rest until we found an answer for my symptoms. With a diagnosis, I’m now able to find the treatment that works best for me and move forward.

I’ve also taken a more active role in my health. I’ve learned that I have a say in how I manage my illnesses, and I’m making sure I am researching all options available. I’m trying new things and liking what I see. Yes, I still have achy joints. But I’m learning to focus on healthy ways to live with the aches.

All of these things have added up to better mental health. Yes, August and September were extremely stressful, but all in all, I am happier. Taking more control over my life and my health has helped to ease my stress and anxiety. Lower stress levels are also better for my overall health…who knew?

With November steadily approaching (Seriously! Where did this year go??), I’m looking forward to another Month of Positivity as well as the holidays. There’s a strong possibility that we’ll be spending some holiday time with my family, which I haven’t done since my fiance and I started dating. I’m nervous but also looking forward to making new memories to replace some of the unhappier ones.

I’m still focusing on healing, the year isn’t over quite yet. But I am feeling a little better each and every day…

A Healing Journey, According to Teala

Today I’m featuring a guest post from my WonderTwin, Ms. Teala!

 

Healing journey.

You can easily find a decent, generic definition for these words separately:

“Healing,” as an adjective, means “That heals or cures; curative; salutary.” “Journey,” a noun, means “A ‘spell’ or continued course of going or travelling, having its beginning and end in place or time, and thus viewed as a distinct whole; a march, ride, drive, or combination of these or other modes of progression to a certain more or less distant place, or extending over a certain distance or space of time…” (according to the Oxford English Dictionary)

However, the task of finding a good one for the idea created by the phrase healing journey is much more difficult. Why? I think, because everyone’s journey to healing is as different as the individual.

Me? I look at life in general as a healing journey.

Maybe it’s just my eternal optimism, but I don’t believe life is all about death, destruction, pain, and suffering. I believe life is more about healing ourselves and others through love and compassion. Our journey is never carried on alone. In the journey through life, love and compassion are two of the things that can and do bring us together in peace, and they can create inner peace and healing.

I know it’s not always easy to show love and compassion in some circumstances or to some people; however, keeping those at the front of my mind never fails to keep me calmer and more clear-headed in situations where I would ordinarily become frustrated, anxious, or angry.

My healing journey truly started when I began showing unconditional love and compassion for myself. It takes some work, even now. Loving and accepting myself has involved making time for self-care; making healthy decisions no matter how hard they might seem; and finding balance in my life. I’ve made sure to take love and compassion outside of myself: practicing love and compassion for others, including loved ones and strangers, can certainly be a test of my patience, but it’s also strengthened it.

I’ve also found that through my healing journey I’ve not been alone. Others have helped along the way. TiaMaria, whether she knows it or not (she knows now!), has helped me heal in so many ways. She’s the slightly older, wiser twin sister I didn’t have before. In the time I’ve known her, she has shown me more unconditional love than many I have known most of my life.

Life and healing is a journey, not a destination, and we never go through it alone.

 

**Teala blogs at Melt Into The Text and can be found lighting up my Twitter timeline as @TiLaMiLa  

A Swirling Mind

Anxiety is a bitch.

An unforgiving, take all the prisoners, give no quarter, fuck with every aspect of my life, no good bitch.

I don’t think I’ve always battled anxiety. Certainly I don’t remember being an overly anxious child. Somewhere around puberty and losing my grandmother, I started getting these nasty black-out headaches. When my parents’ remedies all failed, they gave in and took me to the doctor.

Or rather, the day my stepfather walked in and found I had blacked out in the middle of curling my hair and was in danger of setting myself and my bed on fire, they decided it was time I see the doctor.

As I’ve said before, I’ve never done medical stuff the easy way. It’s all or nothing here, folks.

The first doctor I saw was a quack.

He gave some mumbo-jumbo about puberty and hormone levels and told me to take some Tylenol. When we tried to explain that I had been eating Tylenol, ibuprofen, asprin, and many other over-the-counter pain relievers like candy for a number of months with no relief, he said there was nothing he could do for me.

We got a second opinion, and this doctor was a bit better. He diagnosed me with stress-induced migraines and recommended reducing the amount of stress in my life. He also prescribed Vicodin to be used as a last resort on the most painful of days.

I was 15.

Since that period of time, I’ve always associated stress with anxiety. The two are inextricably tied together in my mind, forever bound.

Now if you’ve been bored enough to read the blurbs about me, you’ll know that my family doesn’t believe in discussing mental illness. Have stress? Deal with it, it’s part of life. Need coping techniques? Better figure something out. Want to talk to someone? Tough luck. We don’t believe in therapy. We are NOT the kind of people who tell their secrets to strangers. Imagine what people would THINK.

Forced to learn how to deal with anxiety and stress all on my own, I developed my own coping tools. Music has always been an easy one. When things became too much, I would turn the music on as loud as I could tolerate, plug in head phones, and sing along at the top of my lungs. That is, until one of my parents would come tell me to shut up or one of my step-sisters would come and tell me how horrible my voice sounded. Their ridicule washed over like a bucket of cold water.

I also took to journaling my feelings, often writing letters to people that I would never send. A practice I later found is highly recommended by many therapists. This lasted until one of my step-sisters found my journals and spread them around our circle of friends, including my boyfriend of the time.

As each method of coping I tried came under attack by those around me, I searched for ways to control my surroundings. My former penchant for organization took on a new form as my room, my space became the only thing I could control.

I spent hours of my high school years organizing my books, cleaning and rearranging my room until everything had its place and it was in it. When that wasn’t enough, I would deep clean our bathroom, scrubbing the grout with an old tooth brush until everything smelled of bleach and shone white again.

I developed a form of OCD as a coping mechanism.

Seriously, how fucked up is that?

Now, as an adult, I’m usually aware enough to recognize when my OCD tendencies are taking over, and I’m able to take a step back to evaluate what triggers are setting off my anxiety. Because my battle with RA often makes deep cleaning an unrealistic therapy option, I’ve started singing again. On days this isn’t enough, I have to find little things I can clean or organize.

While I’ve been fighting a flare most of April, I’ve also been battling my anxiety. It’s hard to say exactly what triggered it. Most likely, it was the combination of multiple stressors. Finances, relationships, my family, my health, they all add up to a anxiety ridden cocktail swirling around my mind.

Last week, on the brink of losing what little control I felt I had left, I broke down.

I emailed my team at Band Back Together and told them I needed to take the rest of the month off. Of course, they were awesome and urged me to take whatever time I need.

I sat down with my fiance and explained as best as I could that some shit was going down in my mind, and I needed a little understanding on his part. Of course, he’s wonderful and has stuck by my side, no matter what battle I’m fighting. No matter that sometimes the fighting pushes me past a point, and I’m difficult to get along with.

I’m taking a deep, hard look at myself and I’m making some real changes. And while I evaluate what some of those changes need to be, I’m trying to be kind to myself. When the urge to clean, to take control, becomes too much to bear, I give in slightly. I organize my craft tools or color code my embroidery thread. Most days, I sing as loud as I can.

And every single day, I remind myself that I am on a path of healing. It may be long, it may have bumps and obstacles, but it is MY path and the destination will be so very worth the journey.

Spring Cleaning

Most people associate Spring with cleaning.

That beautiful act of cracking open windows that have been sealed against the winter’s brutal cold, relishing in the fresh (if a tad bit too crisp, yet) air while wielding dusting supplies and grand ideas about reorganizing and simplifying their home. I am not immune to this wonder even considering my love-hate relationship with housework. It’s just so satisfying knowing that your house is clean. Like, ridiculously clean.

As someone who values the connection between my mind and my physical health, in the last few years I’ve also made a habit of cleaning out the cobwebs in my emotional and mental homes. Spring cleaning for your soul is just as important as re-alphabetizing your DVD’s. (What?! You don’t do that?? Craziness, I tell you!)

Clearing out the clutter, throwing away the drama and breathing in that fresh air is vitally important to staying sane. Each day we plug into our friends, co-workers and acquaintances via social media or texting. And each day we take in their drama, stress and garbage.

Take a minute or two and think about it. You log in to check your messages and instantly you’re flooded with “trash”. Joe Blow has done such-and-such thing to so-and-so and aren’t we all just so very pissed at him? Jane Doe is having a crumby day and her world is falling apart and can’t we feel sorry for her? Your fourth cousin twice removed is mad at his ex for this and that and wants the world to know it.

Without thinking, we take this all in, digest it and file it into our little Rolodex minds while letting the emotions attached swirl around us. And how many of these people that are affecting us are necessary in our lives? One out of every five, maybe. Unnecessary, and yet, their drama has just become part of our mood.

So how do we fix this, you ask?

Spring Cleaning.

Take five minutes and clear out the “friends” on your social networking sites that aren’t necessary for one reason or another. If it’s that one girl you worked with three years ago that you never socialize with, you can probably delete her. And if it’s someone that you can’t delete (maybe it’s a relative or someone that would take it personally and cause more drama than it’s worth), most sites have a way for you to modify your news feed so that certain people’s updates don’t flood your screen.

Sometimes it’s a little tougher than that, though. Take the “friend” who only calls or texts when they have a crisis. That’s when you have to make a decision. Do you keep forsaking your mental well-being just to be a good friend…or do you stand up for yourself and put up some boundaries with this person?

Since revamping my life to live with chronic illness, I’ve struggled with keeping on top of my mental and emotional housekeeping nearly as much as I’ve struggled with my household chores. It takes energy to turn inward and evaluate whether my relationships are where I want them to be.

This Spring I’m trying to be brutally honest with myself. I know some of my relationships aren’t where I would like them to be. Mostly, I know there are some that are really unhealthy for me and I need to just let them go. I very much dislike confrontation, however, and so I’ve been dragging my feet. All the while knowing that each day, week, month I don’t stand up for myself and say something is just making the inevitable that much more difficult.

But I’m on a path of healing, and I knew when I started that some parts of this path wouldn’t be easy.

Guess it’s time to put on my big girl panties and do some cleaning…

**This post is revamped from a post on a previous blog of mine.

Taking Back The Power

Today is a day for jokes and pranks.

While I love a good joke, I’m not a huge fan of pranks. And the first of April marks a very different day for me.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

As a survivor, April is the month I join with others to spread awareness and education. I firmly believe that not only do we need to teach our girls to be strong and show them the signs to recognize an unhealthy relationship, but we also need to raise our young men to treat every one with respect. If we can do this, we can raise young people that have healthy relationships and who respect each other.

Last year, I wrote about my intimate partner rape for Band Back Together. I also wrote about learning to be a survivor. These two stories are important pieces of me. Even more important is the story of how to survive.

Rape, in any form, leaves scars. Those scars will never go away, though with time they will fade. Like any trauma, rape can cause the survivor to struggle with PTSD. Triggers and flashbacks are a very real likelihood.

In the years right after I left my abuser, I had frequent flashbacks. It seemed everything was a trigger. A green semi truck on the road, men who walked or talked a certain way, a song on the radio, even certain foods or restaurants. I struggled each time something triggered me. It would take all my strength to stand my ground and not go running.

Over time, some of these triggers have faded. The flashbacks are less frequent. So infrequent, actually, that it takes me a few moments to recognize them for what they are.

Last week while napping with my fiance, something triggered me. Whether it was the feel of a rough sheet under my cheek or the way the air brushed my hair across my face, I don’t know. All of a sudden, it was a different voice whispering “I love you” in my ear, it was a different hand that rested on my hip.

I froze.

As the memory faded, and I could once again see the here and now, I was left near tears. My fiance held me as I tried to make sense of what had just happened. And as he rubbed my back, all of a sudden, it didn’t matter. I realized those flashbacks only had power if I gave it to them.

I am a survivor.

I have overcome so much, surely I will not allow a bad memory to bring me to my knees. I have someone who loves me now, who will never hurt me. His love and understanding give me strength to stand up to those memories of my past and shove them away.

I have the power over how I allow my past to affect me. And I refuse to allow my abuser to have any place in my life, not even in my mind. He is nothing and he no longer has any power over me. This is part of my path of healing.

I am in charge of me. I’ve taken back the power.

 

**We at Band Back Together are focusing on Taking Back The Power this April. If you would like to share your story, we would love to help you on your path to healing.