5 Things We’ve Learned in the last 4 months: Jumping back in

So the last 4 months have been complete radio silence. We go through those cycles, unfortunately. Somewhere along the line one of us decides that we’re wasting everyone’s time by writing things they read when they have much better things to do. Isn’t that nice of us, to decide that for people we mostly don’t know? This, friends, is called either denial or control issues, not sure which, possibly both.

On that note, let’s jump into 5 things we’ve learned during our 4 months of silence.

  1. Our feelings are always valid, but often untrue.    This was a hard one to realize. Did you guys know that you can feel worthless and unwanted and have that be completely not true? Well, you can. And it’s most often not true. This doesn’t make the feelings invalid. On the contrary, it means you have some soul searching to do in order to root out the cause of the feelings, or you need sleep, food, or water. Lack of those three things can cause intense emotional instability that you may not even realize is irrational or unstable.
  2. A diverse support system is entirely necessary. When we first began our healing journey we surrounded ourselves with friends, mostly online only, who thought and acted pretty much like we did. When we were upset about something they were quick to tell us how awesome we were and how awful whatever we were upset about was. We had our own cheerleaders. Guess what? That wasn’t helpful to healing. Sure, it was helpful sometimes to have people validate us and be there with compassion and kindness, but it didn’t teach us anything about diversity, overcoming conflict, or learning to change things we don’t necessarily like about ourselves. It inadvertently told us we were fine the way we were, no growth was required. Fast forward to us taking our Peer Support training and then add to that Celebrate Recovery and finally listening to Mom and we learned that our healing comes best from having friends who aren’t afraid to say, “Hold up, that’s not cool”. We’ve learned how to surround ourselves with people who aren’t going to tell us what we want to hear all the time.
  3. It is entirely our responsibility to meet our needs.  It’s no one else’s job to chase us to eat right, exercise, find out if we are okay, sooth or calm us, or take our medication, manage our diabetes, or build relationships with us. It is our job to ask for what we need, as for help, and follow through on what we’re given. It’s up to us to reach out, make choices, and learn from our mistakes. Equally so, it is not our responsibility to do these things for others, but we can be pretty good at supporting others if they ask.
  4. Change is necessary for growth.   Sometimes we have to take a step back to things we didn’t want to, couldn’t , refused to do in the past. When we re-evaluate these things, we realize there may be some real benefits to trying them. This could be new foods (orange salad, anyone?), new behaviors, new routines, or even new options for life in general. None of this is bad. As a matter of fact, it’s necessary. We learn by trying. Which leads to number 5.
  5. Trying and making mistakes is not a bad thing. For the longest time we have often refused to try things for fear of failing, getting it wrong, or making mistakes. We have lost so many opportunities because of this. We are now willing to try most things, at least once. We’re running visuals at CR and doing Just Dance with the kids., and knitting. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn and that is exciting.

Life is exciting. Growth is fun, and looking back on where you were even 4 months ago is huge. Looking back 4 years ago is sobering. We will continue this path and also come up with some fun blogs because we want to share our learning journey with the world, and have something to look back on for ourselves.

  • Kaysie
Not mine, we found it online somewhere. Facebook I think.
Advertisements

Writing as a Method of Avoidance

brown bear plush toy

Photo by Dzenina Lukac on Pexels.com — A perfect representation of comfort

Guys, I have a problem. A problem that many of us in this system share. A problem that we were slapped in the face with on Tuesday night at our CR step study.

It turns out that we can write about our feelings, our traumas, our insecurities all day long. It is MUCH harder to actually speak about them out loud to a room full of women in a very vulnerable setting. In a setting where we aren’t educating, we are participating. In a setting where we are not deciding what pieces to exclude. We are answering questions as they happen in the workbook and we have to be completely honest in order for the program to work.

Let me tell you, this is intimidating. Far more intimidating than we ever imagined. And it’s clearly necessary because it touches that place inside that we desperately fight to keep dark and out of the way. It requires us to be uncomfortable and vulnerable.

This past Tuesday we shared honestly and openly. We had to share looking at the ceiling, the floor, or a fixed point on a wall because we couldn’t bring ourselves to make eye contact with anyone. We didn’t want to see the looks on anyone’s faces. We could see, out of the corner of our eye, that some people were reacting with what looks like pity. It’s possible that it is our own insecurities projecting these things, however…

…we don’t have this problem writing. When any of us write here or write in a text we are able to disconnect from the emotions behind the writing. We can just tell the story and walk away. We don’t have to see anyone’s reactions. We don’t have to be aware of our own feelings. We just get the words out.

Yesterday we were texting with a friend about how hard it is to open up. She suggested texting her to let her know we need to talk so she can call. We immediately responded with something along the lines of “Nah, text is fine”. She asked us to work up to a phone call and then we realized that was part of it too. We feel resistance when it comes to talking about the hard stuff, you know unless we are using humor to mask the pain of it or try to make it less important.

Talking is important. Opening up is important. And let me be clear here, this isn’t a DID thing. This is a human thing. A lot of people find themselves unable to really open up. I know it’s easy to claim it’s a DID thing because DID is all about keeping things quiet and inside and dealing with things alone, but to my DID friends let me tell you that this is NOT unique to us. We are not the only ones who experience this. This is very typical human behavior. It’s nice to know that. It’s very nice to know we aren’t alone in dealing with these kinds of reactions.

So while we will always continue to write, we will also be sure to work on talking about it in our step study. We will grow in this discomfort, and we will find someone to process with after the fact, if necessary. Many of us understand that after we share, we need to process it out and sometimes we need more than just each other to do that.

 

 

How Does Isolation Help?

fb_img_1533915709174

A better question might be, does it help at all? Honestly, probably not, and yet we do it anyways.

Feeling sad? Shut down. Feeling hurt? Keep quiet. Feeling overwhelmed by chaotic happenings inside? Don’t share THAT. Anything but that.

It used to be that many of us considered it a sign of strength if we were able to keep quiet about it. It also used to be that there weren’t many people willing to listen, try to understand, or even want to hear it.

For many people, when they feel in crisis they pick up the phone and call or text a friend or a crisis line. For many of us with DID, that doesn’t happen. I’d be willing to bet that most of us with DID aren’t going to go far looking for support or help. People stop looking for help when they learned at a young age that help isn’t coming. I’m pretty confident that it’s a combination between a learned behavior and a feature of the disorder. The disorder is about staying quiet, diverting attention, and masking everything.

For anyone who has experienced any kind of trauma, it’s often hard to reach out for help and/or support. Well-meaning people ask that absolutely ridiculous question “How can I help you?” For a lot of us, there’s no answer to that. If we knew, we’d probably have done it ourselves by now in order to keep from being a burden or a bother to anyone. See how that works? I can almost see heads nodding in agreement.

Here’s the thing, when we isolate, we lose the right to be upset that no one’s there for us. Mostly because we aren’t available to anyone. When we isolate we become filled with nasty thoughts about how others are mistreating us and ignoring us. Those thoughts spiral and turn into bigger dark thoughts. We end up lost in the isolation and how it’s someone else’s fault for not reaching out.

When we don’t isolate, when we make the effort to show up somewhere, somehow, suddenly there becomes a few people who want to be there for us. People who notice when we miss something. Who enjoy talking about random things. The bad thoughts get pushed back and it’s harder for them to take hold. The sense of community grows.

Isolation doesn’t help us, it hurts us.

 

 

****I’m taking part in the Wellbeing Wonders linky with Becca from Beccas Blogs It Out and Emma from Sunshine and Rain.****

Once Upon a Time…

img_20180820_120015969_hdr

We clearly haven’t been keeping up with our writing. It’s not that we don’t like it, truthfully we love to write. To come up with an idea and follow it through into text. Some of us sometimes go back and re-read what we’ve written years ago. We see how much we’ve grown and changed since those posts, and we know that in a few years everything we are writing now will look and feel different.

So last week we bought this wall hanging at Goodwill. We LOVE Goodwill. Especially on $.99 days! This particular piece was there one day and we loved it but left it. The next time we went in it was still there, right where we set it down and was 50% off. It came home with us that day. I (Layna) personally love it. It’s now hung right above our computer. A visual reminder that we have much to share and much to learn from ourselves and each other.

Today, I will tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a system of mostly all girls (all girls unless you are counting our Bear, Simon, and our lead male dragon, Dae).  All the girls live in one body and often compete for time and attention, as themselves. They became tired of just being known as one person and by one name. They chose to live openly multiple and decided to educate the people around them about DID. The decided to live instead of survive.

That’s today’s story.

 

Layna

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

(Content Summary for our readers who have trouble with religion as a topic. This post is mainly about religion and how it teaches us forgiveness. This is a big deal for us and while we’d like to share it with everyone, we acknowledge potential triggers.)

 

img_20180812_1118050311

Last night’s church service was about forgiveness and caring for others. 

Lately, there’s been a lot going on in our family, in our chosen family, our inside family and our biological family. Most of these going-ons have nothing to do with us personally, we are simply affected due to proximity and, in some cases, name. Some of these things have really pushed some huge emotional buttons within us. Some have brought back memories we didn’t necessarily want back.

As we’ve faced these things, many of us have noticed an increasing struggle with forgiveness. Forgiving others, forgiving ourselves and each other, and being forgiven.  In some of these cases, a few of us had been convinced that they already did that forgiveness thing and had moved on. Emotional reactions state otherwise.

The other night Lyssa and Erica were reading a book before bed.  The book brought up an interesting thought. In the prayer commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer, there’s this verse.

Forgive us our trespasses (debts)

As we forgive those who trespassed against us (debtors)

The word “as” is the focal point of mine*, Erica’s, and Layna’s** thought processes here. It doesn’t say “forgive because I forgave you”, it uses the word “as”. I just read through many versions of this prayer (and the reasons why some denominations won’t use it – I distract easily) and most of them use that same word “as”, even if many of the other words have been modernized or changed.

So why has this caught our interest and taken hold? Because the word “as” changes how the statements are interpreted. People we know and things we have read often use this phrase to teach us to forgive others because we are forgiven.

While I agree with that whole-heartedly, what happens if we read this phrase as “forgive us our trespasses in the same manner as we forgive those who trespass against us”? What does that look like?  For us, it would look a lot like we aren’t going to be fully forgiven anytime soon.  That’s a huge awakening for some of us in the system. We want to be forgiven (and we know God has forgiven us), and we need to work on forgiveness. This thinking about that word “as” has a few of us really processing what it means to forgive fully.

Many of us are odd in the fact that we find it easier to forgive our childhood abuser than we do someone close to us who says something harmful. That makes no sense at all. Hurtful words from someone close to us said in the heat of the moment, should not be harder to forgive than the abusive and toxic actions of a grown man against us as a child that shaped our development and life path. We hold on to the resentment of harsh words. It makes a lot of us hypocrites and we do not do well with hypocrisy in others, so what makes it okay for us? Nothing. We tell ourselves we’ve forgiven only to find ourselves stuck in negative thought patterns that tell us that maybe we have some work to do there. That needs to stop.

What is it about our childhood abuser that all of us can shrug it off and declare him forgiven and move on. The answer to that scares me a little bit. I believe that enough of us have decided that it was our fault so its easier to let it go than deal with that. That isn’t any more healthy than holding on to hurt over something minor.

Layna, Erica, and I want to forgive. We want to forgive like we’ve been forgiven. We want to learn and grow and progress, and to do that we have to forgive. And that’s going to require more action on our parts. This was something we wanted to work on in therapy but not bad enough to commit to a therapist. We can work on this with our support system and each other.

While it may help us to remember and process some things from our past, it doesn’t mean we need to dig it all up and live there again. That’s where the direction of our book went wrong. We don’t need to live in that trauma anymore. It happened. We will deal with it as it becomes necessary, not use it to continue to beat ourselves up with.

Maybe our struggle with forgiveness is because we have to forgive ourselves and each other before we understand true forgiveness?

 

 

 

 

*We are not educated at all in religion. We’ve read a lot, experienced a lot, studied some, but have never had any formal instruction. These thoughts are all simply mine, Layna’s and Erica’s**. They are more food for thought for us than any kind of instruction at all. Ever.

**(Side note: I am trying to get away from just saying a general “we” when not all of us may experience, believe, etc the same. I’m really trying to reserve the general “we” for things that are absolutely system-wide. I will fail at times, but it’s a work in progress.)

How to Make Fear Work for Us

achievement confident free freedom

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Fear is a real jerk sometimes. It buddies up real close with anxiety and together the two of them get in the way of really experiencing life. Fear stops us in our tracks and causes us to re-evaluate whether something is worth the risk. It allows us to believe the negative self-talk and the negative and unkind words of people around us. We get stuck on words like fat, lazy, over-emotional, stupid, etc. We get pulled in by the necessity of meeting the expectations of others, many times others who couldn’t live up to the same expectations they set (that could be us, each other, family, friends, teachers, etc). The fear of failing to live up to those expectations can be, and often is, paralyzing. We are doomed before we ever start.

There’s got to be a way around this fear. As a system who has lived in fear of some form for well, 37 years, we can tell you that this is a real pain in the ass problem. We know we aren’t alone there. It’s a common human problem. The fear wins.

Lately, if you’ve noticed, we’ve been reflecting on our life. Specifically how we’ve grown and changed in the last 3 years.  We are still fat…. but not AS fat. We are still lazy… but not ALL the time. We are still prone to predicting failure before we even begin… but we often begin anyways.

Do you see what we’ve been seeing? There are still those stinging words, but there’s progress behind them. Fear is losing, somehow. We’ve been active in Zumba for over 3 months. We fought through the fear of going to something new and found something we love and can be consistent with. We are going to CR consistently and participating on a helpful level. Learning to work the slides and helping to greet people as they come in. Fear almost kept us from that too.

Hitting publish on every post we write is an act against fear. What if people don’t like it? Don’t read it? Say mean things?

Who cares? For real. If we’re writing for ourselves then what does it ultimately matter. Other people are going to have expectations and opinions on how every single one of us lives our life. Let them. Listen to them and see what you can take from the expectations… and then move away from trying to please everyone else.

Let fear go. Don’t feed it anymore. Acknowledge the fear and then do the thing anyway. If we fail, we’ve learned how not to do it. Maybe, just maybe, we also learn that failing isn’t the end of the world.

Inner Excavation: Learn to Thrive?

Inner Excavation is a book we found at Goodwill. Have I mentioned that Goodwill is our most favorite place to shop?

img_20180805_100043216

No? Well, now you know, haha.

The book is pretty awesome. It’s all about exploring yourself through photography, writing, crafting, and mindfulness. Some of us have been following some of the exercises in the book and it’s been fun. I thought I’d take some time to share. There’s a lot of chaos inside this morning and too many different post ideas. It seems like the perfect time to share what we’ve been seeing on our walks. Part of one the photography exercises was to take pictures of what’s happening right now (or right then, as is in this case).

Walking around our neighborhood kind of seems mundane, but we noticed the other day that we’ve been missing a lot by being so focused on just walking. We haven’t been enjoying some really awesome things. The pictures I’m going to share now are just the beginning of recording our experiences visually.

img_20180730_113637340_hdr1

img_20180730_112819389_hdr

img_20180730_113434275_hdr

For whatever reason, Erica is drawn to trees. She loves everything about big, strong, and tall trees that have withstood the world. Storms, drought, and humans didn’t get the best of them. Looking at these pictures I see life. Strong life. I want to be strong like the trees Erica values so much. I want to grow as the trees did (and are doing). A lot of us want to experience life. Be involved, like the roots of these huge trees. Dig down and build relationships with God, with others, with each other. We want to learn about people and societies. We want to understand the intricacies of the world.

We want to thrive.