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.
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Faith

How Our Faith is Changing Our Life

Faith

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

 

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 NIV

 

Faith is a tricky thing. We have always had faith in certain things. Faith that we could keep our children alive, faith that the sun would rise, faith that night would come and go, to list a few. Faith is what kept us pushing forward, even when we didn’t know what we were pushing for. From the very beginning of our collective existence, whenever that was, there was faith in something, always. The vast majority of us did not have faith in God or faith in ourselves.

We knew about God. We were raised in a Congregational church. We knew (and still know) the bible stories and we knew that we had to be good and kind in order to be in God’s good graces. We were in church plays, children’s choir, and eventually confirmation classes. We did all of that.

What we didn’t do was develop a personal relationship with God. None of us did. Many of us enjoyed and found comfort in the rituals of the church, but we never really prayed or talked to God. We didn’t feel worthy. We felt rejected and abandoned by God.

Fast-forward a lot of years and skipping a lot of things, we have finally found faith in God. We finally understand that we were never rejected or abandoned. We have been working hard for the last 5 months to develop a relationship with our Heavenly Father. The effort is there and there is absolutely a peace that comes with it.

For so many trauma survivors faith in God is a hard one. Whenever the trama was, it’s easy to feel that God has left us, that we are handling the hard and nasty on our own. I don’t want to make this simplistic at all. It’s a hard process. It’s one that requires moving forward and stepping out of the chaos, the hurt, and the pain. Especially if that is where our comfort is found. God is there in the mix of it but all of our heavy emotions are blocking us from seeing Him. We are so wrapped up in the hurt that we can’t feel His love. For some of us, feeling love is raw and uncomfortable.

It’s not until we can risk taking that baby step out of the pain that we can shake off the darkness enough to see Him. He wants to love us. We have to let Him, invite Him in so that we aren’t alone. He won’t come barging in to save us when we don’t feel safe enough to invite Him in. Why would He add more stress for us? It’s up to us to seek Him out, then He knows we truly are ready for Him and His presence won’t cause more darkness for us.

We took that step months ago and we have not only sought Him out but we allowed Him in. Life still isn’t perfect. Bad things happen. We get scared sometimes and stressed out other times. We still battle getting caught up in the chaos and darkness. We still battle the feeling of needing something to be wrong all the time. We still sometimes find comfort in chaos instead of the light, but this time He is with us and we make it through so much more quickly and with far less self-defeating attitudes.

All things are possible with Him who gives me strength.

 

 

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.)

 

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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.)

Counting Every Blessing

pexels-photo-459846.jpegToday is the anniversary of us joining our adoptive family. We packed up the body’s children, our dog, and we went into hiding from the abusive husband. Well, semi-hiding. That’s a long story but it’s the 3 year anniversary.

The kids call it our Extraction Day (Naked and Afraid reference). It certainly felt like an extraction. We left all we knew behind to pursue a safer (where J couldn’t find us) home and a place to try again at life. We didn’t know exactly how to do any of this. And at the time we firmly believed that while God was a loving being, He didn’t want anything at all to do with us. We were too far gone.

Fast-forward 3 years and we have learned that God does, in fact, want us. He has much to teach us and we have a lot to accomplish in this lifetime. We are going to walk the path He set, the path to help others move forward in life. We are getting healthy. The children, who are really the most important part of our life, are growing and learning. They are healthier than ever and they have bright futures ahead of them if they take advantage of it.

We are blessed in crazy ways. We’ve had the room we need to discover who we are and how each of us helps the system as a whole. We’ve learned that hair grows back and it’s fun to play with. We’ve learned that we can not progress in anything if we aren’t working together.

We have an amazing dog who lights up our darkest nights, which is kind of funny since he’s all black haha.

On our worst days, we found we can get through them by having ongoing conversations with God and by finding things we are grateful for. Every day holds a small reason, at the very least, to be grateful.

Today as I write we’re listening to Anthem Lights on YouTube singing a variety of pop Christian songs and older hymns. They put their own spin on them and it’s really beautiful. The older hymns remind me of growing up in a Congregational church. The services were so rich with ritual. One of us (can’t remember who) was often an acolyte. The Doxology was sung at every service. The beauty of the ritual went right over our heads at the time. I love our church now and wouldn’t change it at all, but at times many of us miss that beautifully rich ritual service. I think they mean more now because our relationships with God are so much more solid.

I’m listing the fact that we got to experience those services as a child as a blessing. I like the fact that we can find things from that time period and realize what true blessings they were. We can be grateful for some positive things during that time also.

Acceptance

woman stands on mountain over field under cloudy sky at sunrise

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

Last night we had the privilege of meeting someone who had DID and has fully integrated into one personality. I say privilege because these meetings often do not go well. The rare few other times this has happened we were treated to a disdainful attitude because we choose not to pursue that path. In this case, we were welcome with a smile into a beautiful conversation about how everyone has to do what is right for them and their system, and how God has different paths for everyone.

She explained that she did nothing to make the others in her system go away. She feels that God did that so they/she could better follow the path He set for her. She feels that if we were intended to merge it would just happen – and that all of us wholeheartedly agree with. Obviously, since that hasn’t happened, our purpose requires that we stay as a team, a sisterhood, a system.

That conversation happened after a Celebrate Recovery meeting where we accepted a 60 day chip for our focus being more on God and less on how to make others love us. That’s a big deal. That same meeting, we chose the word acceptance as our positive focus word.  We are accepted there. I long for the day that mental health and people who are less than perfect, people who struggle, people who are less than politically correct or don’t exactly fit into polite society will finally be welcome in the church with kindness and understanding. Jesus never intended for churches to be just the polite society people. I know, we’ve been reading the bible. Jesus loved and reached out to those of us who will never be polite society material.

Acceptance. We need to focus on accepting each other and ourselves just as we are. We also will focus on accepting ourselves and people around us as they are right now, and not where we all “should” be. Acceping that our path is correct. We have made the right choice to pursue our blogging and writing about our paths. We have made the right choice not to go into life trying to be something we are not. Accepting that we need to reach out more and isolate less. Accepting that no one can more forward without change – and we definitely need to move forward and continue progress. Accepting that what happens in our inside world is meant to happen. It’s a catalyst for system growth. Accepting that being open about what we are experiencing inside will not lose us the right kind of support.

Fear, failure, rejection — these things all happen, to everyone. We can’t tell people to fight those feelings if we aren’t willing to also. We will all be rejected at times. We will all fail at things. We will all experience fear. And we will all survive from these things and we will grow, if we allow that to happen.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is Fear Taking Us?

Fear

 

The sermon at church last night came with several application questions. Personally, I like those because they give me something to really think on, and where we have such memory issues, I can use those to grip onto the important parts of the message… or at least what I take from it. We all know that everyone in that room hears something different based on where they are at in their lives.

One of the application questions was about fear. The whole question was “What fear obscures the presence of God in my life and where is that fear taking me?”.

Immediately this question caught the attention of some of us. The other two questions got a shoulder shrug at best, but this one grabbed attention, and now, over 12 hours later, it still has our attention. We haven’t been able to focus enough to write in a week and now here we are.

To be entirely truthful, it’s the last part of that question that grabbed us. Where is that fear taking us? I mean, we’ve done enough therapy to know what we are afraid of so we almost skipped that first part entirely. We made a goal to find God and that requires honest participation though, so we went back to it.

Rejection. Yep.

Failure. Duh.

Abandonment. Right, boring, moving on.

Success. Okay. And.

Wait… what?

Success. That’s kind of a new one. I mean people have suggested that we were afraid of success, and we’ve read a lot about people being afraid of success, but none of us had ever actually admitted to that one before. So let’s look at that.

Mom and Dad have been adamant for 3 years that nothing we do can make them leave us (abandonment). If we succeed, why would they stay?

The ONE thing we have never done, any of us, well or consistently, is succeed.  We have no idea how to do it, how it works, or what to do with success.

Right there are the two reasons we seem to be afraid of success. We seem to manage to self-sabotage everything when we get close to succeeding because success is unknown territory. What happens next? We’ve never been there and it feels uncomfortable and dangerous.

Truthfully, we’re not sure where to go from here. I do know that we want to succeed. So we have work to do. And we’re going to be asking God for help with this one, and our friends. We are no longer trying to carry mountains on our own. We may need help remembering this from time to time, but we are now working on achieving success, growth, and accountability. We can have a measure of independence and not be forgotten.

It’s time to work on putting our attachment disorder to bed. It’s time to take our fear of success and turn it into proof of our abilities. It’s time to trust that our friends and family don’t want and need us because we are a mess. That we can be loved and wanted and still have support and love if we are successful and have a measure of independence.

We can do this. We want to do this.