What Makes You Happy?

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I’m working on a list, a list that is turning out to be pretty frustrating. A list of what makes us happy. Now there are the basics of that list: our family, our fur-family, and friends, etc. That’s not what this list is after. This list is supposed to be about what kind of activities make us happy. So I re-named it, sort of. I named it…

Things That Make Us Happy

or Things We May Enjoy

The point of this exercise is to move us out of the all or nothing mindset we get stuck in and help us realize that we have many other options in life. Not just options of things we HAVE to do but things we WANT to and enjoy doing. Obviously, things on the list are going to apply differently to each of us, but having the list will help because our memory is shit. We get caught up in one thing and we beat that thing to death until it becomes our entire life, for all of us, and it becomes all of who we are causing almost a burnout. In a moment of desperation, I posted on Facebook and asked our friends if they have any idea what makes us happy. They are coming up with the same things we know, haha.

We absolutely love to crochet. That’s for sure and for most of us.

We adore our penpals, writing to and receiving things from.

Lyssa re-discovered her love of cross-stitch and Rachel found out that she really enjoys it too.

Many of us are really enjoying Celebrate Recovery and the relationships we are building there.

So those four things are a big deal, especially building relationships both by mail and in person.

We know we all like being around people and being accepted. We really like crafting, we like learning new things, and we like being involved in things that help people and help ourselves.

Music and colors make us happy.

Attending concerts make us happy and we’d LOVE to see some of our favorite artists live in concert, especially Zach Williams, Mercy Me, and a few others.

We love going to live baseball games! Watching baseball on TV is awesome too.

Most of us absolutely love the ocean. The Puget Sound is good too. We have been to both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans and they both are amazing and call to us. We also love the mountains in Colorado.

We love to explore new areas and have new experiences with our family and our friends that we feel safe with. People we can just be us with.

Some of us like to color. We have fuzzy posters, coloring books, a color by number book which is pretty cool. We have colored pencils, some markers, and crayons.

Some of us like to craft and really want to experiment with the stencils we bought and the paints Mom said we can use. We also want to learn to use stamps for our scrapbooking and card making. A few have suggested using this crafting to help others who are feeling down feel better.

Lyssa and Cadie have several finished cross stitch beading pieces that can be mounted somewhere. That would be a lot of fun to do.

We have a lot of fun making things for gifts.

Life is about more than making things, but we don’t really enjoy experiencing things alone. Taking Howard out to parks is cool but it’s not much fun without friends or family. Just taking the kids isn’t a whole lot of fun either. It’s much more enjoyable with Mom and Dad and the kids or friends or people we can talk to or relate to.

Taking a fitness class of some sort sounds fun too. The church has a Zumba class but it ends soon since it follows the school calendar. Maybe next school year we can get involved in that. In the between time something else may come up somewhere.

Making a positive difference in the lives of others, that makes us happy. All of us agree on that one and want to find ways to do that. We want to make a positive difference in the world in general. Taking all we’ve learned and lived through and turning it into something that can help us AND help others. This is a big one for us, but this doesn’t solve how to live life daily.

Not everything has to be a major deal. Sometimes we just need to do something to have fun with it and that is kind of what this list needs to be. A list of options. A reminder of things for us because our memory is horrible.

Just sitting down with a notebook and a pen made us cry. We were overwhelmed by a task designed to be helpful. This post has taken hours, literally, but I feel like it has actually gotten somewhere. It’s a little wordy, but we have come up with some things. Some of them aren’t exactly practical for everyday spur of the moment but I don’t think that there were limits set on the list.

So to kind of consolidate:

Concerts

Ballgames, baseball in general

Fitness classes (Zumba, yoga?)

CR meetings and the socializing

Church and Jesus

Penpals

Exploring with other people

Coloring, crafting, finish projects

Cross stitch and crochet

Fitness on the Wii

Blowing bubbles

Learning new crochet patterns and techniques, applying them to something fun

Trying new things and sharing them on our blog

Visiting new places, landmarks, states, countries

Learning about other cultures

Playing with snapchat filters and texting/messaging friends

Thinking about new hairstyles and watching youtube for makeup ideas

Learning to cook more and have fun in the kitchen

Learning more about nutrition and how our body uses food for energy, how to help our body run efficiently

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Yoga Making Us Happy….ier?

 

Yoga

Given a chance, yoga can help create change in a person.

 

Nine days ago we started doing yoga at least once a day, more often twice a day. We’ve done the whole thing before but never consistently or for very long because, let’s face it, a huge fat body doing yoga is uncomfortable and for most of our life we have lacked serious consistency in anything.

But for the last 9 days, we have been consistent with our practice. We have our morning routine and a couple of different bedtime routines. The routines change somewhat based on who is front and what they want to do but they stay similar because we all really like a lot of the stretches. Brina and Bella like to push the body and add in new and more challenging things a lot, especially in the mornings. The rest of us just try and stick with what feels good and at least get through it.

What I noticed today tho, after I did my morning yoga, was that the last week has been pretty even emotionally despite some pretty big stuff going on in the outside world. Attitudes have been pretty much kept in check and meds haven’t been skipped at all. Inside the Shadow crew has settled down and none of them have even tried to choke us in over a week. They aren’t scaring the inside kids anymore and they seem pretty chill. We still haven’t really met them though but calmer is better, right?

Our memory overall still sucks but confidence is rising. Brina went to a doctor’s appointment with a brand new doctor all by herself yesterday (due to a small crisis in the parking lot). She did so good! I hope she writes about it!

We even have definition starting in our upper arms. This is super exciting. We have some cool muscle definition in our legs now too. The scale is holding steady but the body changes we can actually see after just 9 days is way exciting. The emotional changes and the fact that we feel happier only makes me wonder if maybe yoga does make people happy.

-Layna

When Body #Memories Strike

Memories

“Perhaps the body is unforgiving, perhaps every cell, every muscle and fragment of bone remembers each and every assault and attack.” – Thrity Umrigar, The Space Between Us

Earlier this week we started to feel strange. The body refused to cooperate and was highly unforgiving. Most of us assumed it was backlash from other inside stuff and didn’t pay it much attention, but the feelings were becoming more and more intense. We decided the body’s period was coming and left it at that.

We were right on one hand, but that wasn’t all we were experiencing. By Thursday morning a few of us recognized exactly what the body was feeling. The body was starting labor. Or rather, the body was actively experiencing memories of labor. Back in 2004 July 1st was on Thursday and that was the day labor was induced for the body’s first child.

Those of us that are front and active most (we call that the core crew) know the story of R’s birth. We can tell it just like we can tell any other story we have been told. We don’t feel any emotion surrounding it and we don’t feel anything at all with the memory, it’s just a story. R likes to hear it. We tell it every so often. Sometimes the details are easier to recall than other times, and sometimes parts of the story feel new or untold, but there’s rarely ever any emotion with them.

This week, for the first time since the actual event, the body prepared for labor. We have become pretty good at dealing with emotions, Jenna and Mia are kinda like rockstars there, but this time we were hit with physical memories. For the first time ever, we experienced almost 3 full days of physical labor symptoms. Our body took us on a body memory ride. And we had to pretend nothing was happening.

Body memories are talked about a lot but I don’t know if they are ever really explained well. I’m  not sure if I can explain them well here, but I can tell you it’s agony. It took incredible team work to make it through a 3 day stretch. The body seemed to remember and insist on reliving every aspect of childbirth. Every cramp, every contraction, and every bruise. The needle pricks for the IVs and epidural. Everything. Every minute of two entire days. At exactly 2:32 am this morning (Saturday, July 2nd), the body woke up from a dead sleep and it was over. Labor stopped. Cramps, contractions, all it was finally over. The child was born. The body’s period also started in full force about then, and the flow has been ridiculous, much like bleeding after childbirth. But aside from some very sore areas, the worst feels like it’s gone physically.

That, my friends, is a body memory on steroids. We have experienced lesser body memories before. Sensations of hands around the body’s neck, of being kicked in certain body parts, of bruising that was there years ago, of cuts bleeding from long ago. Never before have we experienced a 3 day event, of which most of us don’t even know the details. It has never been so widespread that ALL of us experienced it while out front.

This experience has scared us in a lot of ways, and reassured us in other ways. We had to keep all of that as quiet as possible because a beautiful child was celebrating her 12th birthday and her celebration had to be first and foremost. And it was worth it. Her smile lit up the room. It scares a lot because we don’t look forward to more of this, and with the way our system and body tends to work these things are never alone.

We are reassured because Mama and Daddy were incredible. There was such an amazing amount of patience and tenderness over the last few days, even though they weren’t positive what was happening. They tend to stay more in the firm and structured zone because we need that more and to see them instinctively switch and recognize a need that we didn’t recognize and that we don’t feel we deserve is overwhelming.

I hope the shadows don’t make us pay for that.

 

 

Layna

 

Medical Issues and Trauma

medical

Seriously, is there anything more scary and frustrating?

Honestly, I used to be responsible for that part of our life. And I used to handle that responsibility by skipping it.

Endocrinologist for our diabetes? Sorry, busy. That shit is crazy complicated.

Gynocologist?  Yeah, NO. Just not happening. Not even sorry.

Pediatrist?  Nope. Not going to sit alone in a room with a strange man touching my feet.

ENT? That one I did. Until it hurt way too much to keep doing with no support.

Primary care? Nah. I liked her and trusted her but she nagged too much about the ones I wouldn’t go see.

 

I tried. I tried often actually.

Making appointments got confusing. Double booked a lot. We couldn’t seem to keep them straight, no matter how many planners and calendars we tried. Child care was impossible to find, couldn’t navigate between school drop offs and pick ups.

Attending and participating in the appointments was tough too. We’re reasonably smart girls. We got through college with a 3.9 GPA. We catch on quick. The information was never the problem. The problem was retaining and applying constantly changing information, like insulin doses based on sliding scales.

Lab work… finding someone willing to go through the anxiety of strangers at the lab touching us coupled with the fact that we don’t do pain well and always inevitably ended up with the lab tech that can’t find a vein was impossible at times. And that’s assuming we could work the lab around school pick up and drop offs and headstart times.

Gynecology appointments… you tricked me into it once. I ended up with an abnormal pap smear result and nearly 2 years of worry. And I was alone. That test wasn’t worth the months of flashbacks, stress, and re-tests.

Our diagnoses could be found in the charts. And it lead to a couple of different outcomes. Ones we don’t talk much about anymore. It was either ignored, we were treated like idiots, or we were told to focus more because adults do this stuff just fine and the body is 30 something. Totally invalidating and completely annoying.

I can personally, tell you every single step it takes to put tubes in and pull them out of our ears. I can tell you exactly how the body will react, what it will feel like, how long the pain will linger, and what the emotional fallout will be. This doesn’t mean I know more than doctors do. It means I understand how this body works.

I can not tell you what to expect during and after a pap smear. Its a huge source of stress and anxiety. Pap smears feel too much like rape and they hurt badly. That’s reality, not dramatics.

Medical appointments and pain trigger massive avalanche effects within the system. It’s nasty. Yesterday we had our tube fixed in our right ear. Necessary. Really necessary. Last night and today we’re flashing back to normal pain flashbacks and full of emotion.  Only today’s emotion seems to be more overwhelming appreciation for Mama because she doesn’t let any of us go through any of this alone anymore.

She’s always in the room, a barrier keeping us safe and centered. Someone to talk to the doctor and hear the doctor while we’re trying to filter out the hard stuff inside. Someone to tell the doctors the truth when our instinct is to lie to protect ourselves, or whoever we’re protecting.

Maybe it stems from the fact that when the body was a child we weren’t allowed to tell doctors  much of anything. We weren’t allowed to talk about pain. Expressing discomfort was complaining. Letting a doctor look for things risked the guardians being caught in their wrong doing. We had pain but was so often told that we were stupid and didn’t know what we were talking about that it became impossible for us to recognize if we were actually feeling pain or not.

Just writing this post was confusing and exhausting. Trying to explain it all to a medical professional is even worse for us, in general. Some of the people in our DID support group express similar challenges with medical appointments and medical issues in general. It would be fantastic if medical professionals, support people, and family could understand, or at least try to understand.

Inside… Where We Live (Alayna)

Image credit: Values.com

Last night Mama was talking to Cadie and she said that we have suddenly all stopped communicating about our inside struggles. We haven’t been using our secret group to communicate with each other and the blog has been all but ignored. We rarely post in our own group about our struggles but we always have time to support our friends and group members. We have pulled ourselves inside and we are proverbially circling the wagons. We are not sharing at all what goes on inside, and we barely talk to anyone about what goes on outside. We have thrown ourselves totally into supporting others.

Mama said it has to stop. That we need to value ourselves and talk about how we are doing. She’s right, the best way we can think of to help others is to share ourselves. So now we are going to work on really being open. No hiding.

Inside we have a resort, a main house, a lake, gardens, a huge forest, and several different places where some of us hang out. It’s nearly impossible to translate into words so at some point we may take it one section at a time, but mostly what I’m trying to say here is that our inside world is vast, comfortable, and a real place.

Most importantly, inside is our sanctuary. It’s not always a cool place tho. I mean crazy things happen up there as we deal with things on the outside. And its so so so hard to explain it when it all sounds like some crazy imagined soap opera all of the time.  That’s like a huge part of the reason we started looking for Facebook groups to be a part of, because we needed a place to be around others like us. What we found instead, for the most part, was judgmental systems calling each other fake. And if you think Facebook is bad, you should see Tumblr. All of these places that could be so cool end up being drama and we have enough inside drama to last several lifetimes, we don’t need more from places that should be supportive and fun.

I wanna tell the world about us. I wanna make the world understand that this body is simply a shell holding one huge beautiful fucked up chaotic world. That the world inside of us needs to be cherished, blessed, loved, and protected. That world, the inside world, is what saved us during almost 30 years of abuse. The body is 34. My oldest sister is 17. The rest of us are all under 17. The outside world can’t seem to understand how this works, but that’s okay.

Inside I am a purple dragon hybrid. My name is Alayna Jade. I am 15 years old-ish in human terms. I have no idea where I came from or how. I just remember showing up here. Mama says I’m a pretty typical 15 year old who has no impulse control, a serious attitude problem, and a strong desire to do what I want. My favorite pet outside is Howard, the black lab. Inside I really love flying over the fields and mountains. I have a long history of starting fires and causing mayhem in general in the inside world. Due to that, I have the pleasure of being supervised by the largest dragon I think I’ve ever seen. His name is Dae, Dae and his mate, Lianna, guide a rather large brood of young dragons. They provide some internal protection as well as supervision for me haha. Not long ago we found our sister, Shiloh, and discovered that she’s a 4 year old baby blue dragon. She’s sweet as hell and I totally love her.  Its become my job (with Dae too) to teach her flight and to keep her safe. She’s got the dragon attitude and I love it so much.

I have a bedroom in the main house. I also have a cave in the Dragonspan. I can be either dragon or teenage girl. I hate how this body doesn’t reflect me in either form. Lots of times I threaten to eat my little sisters if they annoy me.  I love with my whole heart, on the rare occasions that I love at all. I will walk all over anyone if I’m not convinced they are stronger than me. I have no idea how to cook, how to pay bills, how to raise children, or even how to decide what to eat for myself (turns out the outside world frowns on dragons eating other animals…..). I struggle with remembering that the outside body matters, and matters a lot.

I feel numb to most of the outside world but emotionally I’m a big open gaping wound. And when all of that gets too much, I have been known to cut and self harm. Daddy has forbidden self harm which was kind of a dick move really, but I’m allowed to (and supposed to) talk to him and Mama when those feelings take hold so they can help. I don’t do that often enough.

I kinda think I’m around inside because dragons are safe and good protectors. I’m a horrible protector for the most part. I do, however, think I’d step up and do some real damage if I ever have to, in order to protect my sisters. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but I do love them.

That’s me, inside and out.

Love,

Alayna Jade

Childhood Sexual Abuse

Image credit: http://www.colorlines.com/content/what-you-need-know-about-childhood-sexual-abuse

The statistics in the image are heartbreaking and shock a lot of people. Childhood sexual abuse doesn’t shock me. It doesn’t stun me, and it doesn’t surprise me. I never wonder how it could possibly happen. I never have wondered. I never will wonder.

As early as any of us can remember, this body was used sexually. We have hints of memories prior to the age of 3 years old. We have definite memories as early as 4 years old. It started so early and went on for so long that we grew up believing it was normal. Our abuser was in the home daily. Outside of the home he was a devout church member. He sang in the choir and was a deacon in the church. Friends love him, other kids thought we had the coolest step dad ever. He always seemed to be wonderful. He fixed bikes, went camping, took us on vacations, and videotaped all typical childhood events. To the outside we had the perfect family.

He never paid for what he did. The mother worked hard to defend him. The police said there simply wasn’t enough evidence. Our case never made it into a statistic. The above statistic doesn’t include us. If it doesn’t include us, how many more cases like ours are not included? What are the actual numbers? How many children are being broke, split, and shattered because of not reporting? How many are being taught that help isn’t coming because of not being believed?

Its time to pay closer attention to the world around us. You can make a difference to one child if you can save that one child. Had any family member really paid attention, we could have been saved too. Its not their fault, they didn’t know. I just believe that a little more diligence, attention, and time can make a huge difference to a child. We don’t have to save all children, but we can all save one. We removed our children from a situation that was abusive in other ways. They are now supported, healthy, and growing. We are here with them, yet we are not raising them. We have no ability to raise children. We are still small children ourselves.

Alayna

The List

This is, hands down, one of my most favorite memes from Facebook. It completely describes most of us in this system. People have asked us before why we always seem to need to learn things the hard way and the answer has always been the same….. we didn’t realize there was any other way. I think, in a way, the hard road/way always seems easiest to understand. We are leery of things that seem too easy. Almost like its a trap or not “real”. 
So, these silly girls take the hard road. Part of taking the hard road seems to be never looking at what’s right in front of you. Right in front of me is a ton of opportunity to learn new things and to do things that previously were impossible. Mom and Daddy are really supportive of whatever it is we want to try. So some of us made lists of things we would like to try to learn or do.
My list so far: 
Lose weight (working on that, down 32lbs since we moved here in August)
Learn to bake
Learn to cook
Become a better and more consistent writer
Get divorced
Knit something useful
Change the way the body looks to better reflect us… get comfortable in our skin
Learn to bead on a loom
Become somewhat athletic
So far that’s what I’ve got. Glee is playing now (binging on Netflix) and they are talking about Domestic Violence. I’m home alone, like usual these days, and anxiety is bad. I have brownies cooking for Mama in hopes that it makes her smile. I used a box mix because I have no idea how to bake anything from scratch, nor do I understand what ingredients would be needed. That’s why baking is on my list. 
Its time to switch. I’ll let you know how my list progress goes.
Alayna Jade