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Courageous Yoga Chick

Overcoming PTSD and Self-Injury Through Yoga

Life Before Yoga – Read This First

“My name is Jennifer, and I’m an alcoholic.” The words rolled off my tongue so smoothly, you would’ve thought I had been sitting in AA meetings for years. The truth was, it was my very first meeting, and I was so scared that I was literally shaking. It was August 1, 2012. It is a date that will forever be engrained into my mind.

I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to be “sober” at that moment, but I also knew that I had to do something to escape the hell that was in my head. I had spent the previous year trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, fighting with my husband, and drinking. Now drinking wasn’t anything new in my life. I drank for the first time at the ripe old age of 12 and that phenomena of craving that they talk about in AA meetings was instant. Sitting in the Virgin Islands with my parents, waiting for them to walk away so I could have “just one more sip” of my mom’s daiquiri. Ha! If you have ever spent time with an alcoholic, you know that there is no such thing as “just one more sip.”

As I sat in that very first AA meeting (12 years after taking my first sip of alcohol), I reflected on my drinking. I had spent most of my teenage years drinking and drugging, but once I went to college, I tried to keep things mostly together and only drank occasionally. Of course every time I drank, it was always excessive. Gradually I drank more and more frequently and by 24, I was sitting in the rooms of AA wondering if I really needed to be sitting in this circle of crazy women. But I ended up having a lot more in common with those crazy women than I originally thought, and they told me to keep coming back….so I did.

Unfortunately, drinking wasn’t my only addiction. Believe it or not, most people in AA don’t fall into that “pure alcoholic” category – many of us have other addictions. Mine just happens to be one of the most taboo topics out there, even in 2016! Self-injury. Yep. That’s right. I’m a “cutter.” Ugh – “cutter” – a word that makes me cringe. It isn’t who I am, it’s what I do (or did) to cope with the emotions that I don’t want to feel. In all honesty, I’ve been self-injuring since I was just a kid, maybe 7 or 8 years old. It started with wrist-banging and hitting myself, and by the time I was 14 I had started cutting when life became too overwhelming. 14 years later, it’s still an addiction that I struggle with. But every day I go without it gets a little bit easier. Today is day 217 by the way…but who’s counting?

There are a number of reasons that people self-injure or drink or use drugs. For me, it is about numbing. It has always been about numbing. The things that I have been through in my life were truly tragic. I am a survivor of severe sexual abuse that lasted from the time I was about 5 years old until I was 11; sexual abuse that I never really disclosed to anyone until I was 27. In addition to that, I witnessed some pretty intense domestic violence growing up. Alcoholism runs in my family. I also grew up in a household with minimal to no emotional support. I am not writing this to get your sympathy. I am writing this because all of these circumstances and experiences factor into why I have “Complex” PTSD. This blog will hopefully help other people who have had similar experiences.

I have spent the last 15 years of my life in and out of therapy (and done some pretty intensive dialectical behavior therapy); I’ve been on various medications for depression and anxiety;  and I’ve used a variety of coping skills, healthy and unhealthy. In 2015, I started seeing a therapist whom I would disclose all of the details of my traumatic experiences to. In order to help me through the process, she suggested we incorporate yoga into our work (she was going through yoga teacher training at the time). Through yoga, I have learned to thrive. I have learned what it means to truly find inner-peace, love myself, and show compassion. I am different today because of yoga. I want this blog to showcase my experiences and help others who struggle with PTSD. 

 

 

Image from Quotesgram.com

 

Featured post

A Hodgepodge of Shit

There are so many things I need to write about today. I apologize in advance for the scatteredness of this post. 

I picked up my 5 year chip in AA this morning to symbolize my 5 years of sobriety. I don’t go to as many meetings now as I used to – not even close actually. Recently I’ve started wondering if maybe I could handle drinking again, now that I’ve done a ton of work on coping skills and trauma stuff. I miss it. I miss the taste and the way it made me feel. I don’t know if I’ll get a chip for year 6… I don’t know if I’ll make it that long. I guess I only just need to worry about today. 

This week, I only saw my therapist once. I’ve been seeing her twice a week for quite some time now. Moving to once a week is terrifying. I tried this back in April and it did not go well. I know I don’t need her like I used to, but I miss her. A lot happened this week that I want to tell her about. I have questions about my trauma stuff and the way I am now. I don’t see her again until Tuesday though. 

My marriage seems to be falling apart again. I reached out to our counselor and scheduled another session… but it’s not for a couple weeks. I just don’t understand why things are so fucking complicated. I don’t understand why my husband refuses to be honest with me, or why he won’t respect my boundaries. It’s so bad that he attempted to fake an orgasm during sex last night…. what the actual fuck?! 

I’ve been trying to figure out what I want sex to be like. Through my trauma work, my views of what sex is supposed to be like have shifted. I’ll write a whole separate post on this soon, but just know that I’m struggling with it right now… and so is my husband. 

And finally, I hate my job. I want to do something different, but I don’t know what. I feel stuck. I want a job that doesn’t make me hate myself, a job where I feel appreciated. Right now, it seems like I am overworked, under paid, and often taken advantage of. I have 3 degrees, and I am one of 150 people in my state who do the kind of work that I do. Yet I am just a few thousand dollars a year over what I would need to qualify for welfare. There’s something wrong with that. 

Ugh I feel like I’m sinking again. My mind and body are consumed with anxiety. I can feel the spiral coming.

The Impact Of Yoga

I did yoga for the very first time in October 2015. I had started working through years of childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence memories, and neglect with my therapist, and she felt like some additional supports, such as yoga, would be necessary to help me through the process. Back then, my anxiety numbers were almost always in the 8-10 range on my 1-10 scale. I had spent nearly 15 years in therapy, done almost a full year of dialectical behavior therapy, and had yet to find a coping skill that was effective when it came to trauma-related anxiety. The only real strategy I had for that type of anxiety was self-injury, which isn’t exactly a “healthy coping skill.” Back then, the symptoms of complex PTSD for me looked like stomach aches, joint pain, nausea, and uncontrollable shaking. I had daily flashbacks, dissociation, intense urges to self-injure, nightmares, and physical sensations similar to what I experienced during the trauma. I lived in constant fear, fighting daily to suppress the trauma memories and numb the pain.

The first time I did yoga with my therapist, my anxiety numbers dropped from a 10 to a 6, and stayed there for roughly two days before creeping back up. I remember feeling ecstatic about this. Rarely did I see anything below an 8, and certainly not for any length of time. As my trauma work progressed, so did my yoga practice. At the very least, one restorative pose and a guided meditation became a staple in my trauma therapy sessions. I started practicing at home too. I bought a bolster, downloaded a meditation app, and found some videos of simple sequences on youtube. Yoga quickly became my primary coping skill in and out of therapy sessions.

In restorative yoga, I have found tremendous healing and peace. I can rely on restorative yoga to help me get through even the worst days. The breathwork and mindfulness carries over into my day-to-day life. Because of restorative yoga, I have learned how to lengthen my exhales to get out of my sympathetic nervous system. I have learned how to sit with thoughts, emotions, and sensations until they pass, without having to numb them or escape them. There have been several times when I have had difficult weeks with my trauma work. During those weeks, I have found huge moments of healing in restorative yoga classes. I can literally feel my body accepting the events that I have been through and releasing the emotions surrounding them.

When my anxiety is heightened, I have found refuge in vinyasa classes. The breath-by-breath movement and physical challenges make it difficult for me to be obsessing over the anxiety in my head. When I am struggling with intense fears, urges to self harm, or suicidal ideation, I practice difficult yoga poses such as headstand or crow. You can’t think about killing yourself when you’re doing cool yoga shit. It is pretty much impossible. All of your energy has to be focused on what you are doing right then in that present moment.

Because of my early experiences with yoga, I have been able to expand my opportunities for healing to Thai Massage. I have had four Thai Massage sessions this summer. During those sessions, all of the mindfulness strategies that I use in restorative yoga become essential for me to stay present, work through the trauma, and find healing. Bessel Van der Kolk talks about how the body holds traumatic experiences. In Thai Massage, I can literally feel those experiences being released. My Thai Massage Therapist says it is like she is smushing all of the trauma out of me. And yes, that is exactly how it feels. Because of Thai Massage, in conjunction with my regular yoga practice, I am finally at a place where I truly feel like I am ok – my younger self and my present self are whole again. 

My PTSD symptoms recently fell in the “none to mild” range on a questionnaire that I took in therapy. When I first started trauma work, I didn’t believe that would be possible. But it is. And it is possible because I have yoga. Not only do I have yoga, I have these incredible, intuitive yoga teachers who understand why I practice yoga. They work to create an environment that is safe, compassionate, and nurturing. And because of that, I have been able to work through years of trauma, endure the symptoms of complex PTSD, and find peace. Today, I am mostly ok because I have yoga.

Talking About Trauma

This past weekend in yoga teacher training, we covered kids yoga, chakras, trauma-sensitive yoga, and restorative yoga. It was seriously all of my favorite things. I went into the weekend very excited, but also very anxious. 

My therapist was coming in on Sunday to teach the trauma sensitive piece of our training. In previous teacher trainings, she has read a testimonial that I have written about how yoga helps me live with PTSD. This time, she said she would rather me just talk about it. The other option was for me to read my own testimonial… which I thought might be kind of weird. I was anxious to hear her talk about PTSD. I was anxious to talk about my PTSD. And I was anxious to hear others talk about their PTSD or traumatic experiences. 

Sunday morning ended up going better than I expected. I have all of the symptoms of Complex PTSD, and hearing my therapist describe them felt like she was just describing me. We watched a video clip from Gray’s Anatomy of Yang having a flashback in the operating room. That’s what it’s really like, I thought. That happens to me. Several people were concerned that a yoga student may fall out in the floor due to a flashback in their class. My therapist assured them that the odds of that happening are very slim. However, I regularly have flashbacks in yoga and dissociate…. I just don’t usually fall down in the floor because of it. 

As my therapist covered all of the content on trauma-sensitive yoga, I tried not to answer every question or talk too much. I did describe what dissociation is like for me though, because I had a feeling at least a few people would have no clue what that is. At the end, she asked if anyone wanted to share anything else about PTSD. That’s my sign, I thought, I’m supposed to share now.

I had a hard time finding the words. I didn’t cover nearly what I had intended to cover. As soon as the tears started, I wrapped it up. I didn’t want to be crying and talking at the same time. I didn’t want to be dysregulated. When I finished my brief share, my close friend put her hand on my back. I instinctively scooted back next to her and curled up for a hug. The tears just fell. 

I don’t know why it is so difficult for me to share about my trauma stuff. I feel like it should be easier at this point. However, it isn’t. I still get emotional. I can write about it all day long, but it feels nearly impossible for me to find the words to verbalize what it’s like to have PTSD, or to describe how yoga helps me. My hope though is that one day it won’t be so hard to talk about it. 

 

 

This incredible image comes from https://blackportrait19.deviantart.com/art/Sewn-Shut-393860246 

Chakras And The Endocrine System

I am in my second to last weekend of yoga teacher training. Today we learned about the chakras and energy healing. I am the first to admit that a few years ago I thought this was all a bunch of bullshit. However, as my yoga journey has progressed, so has my belief in chakras and energy healing. 

The instructor this morning talked about how the chakra system has been scientificly linked to the endocrine system, and when the chakras are out of balance, so is the endocrine system. If you’re reading my blog for the first time, you need to know that I was severely sexually abused from about age 5 until I was 11. Between ages 11 and 13, after the abuse had ended, I developed several autoimmune disease. These include Grave’s disease and vitiligo. I also had a positive Rh factor, common in people with rheumatoid arthritis, and a positive ANA, common in people with lupus. 

When the abuse ended, my endocrine system basically shut down. Puberty halted. My body was attacking itself. It was almost as if my body was in shock, not knowing how to live without the abuse. 

Hearing the instructor this morning talk about how the chakras relate to the endocrine system made me feel so sad for my younger self, but also confident that yoga is the key to my healing. I have been doing yoga regularly for almost two years now. Last month, my blood work for my autoimmune issues came back good. My ANA and Rh factor with both negative. My vitiligo has been stable. And my thyroid levels have not gotten worse. I have no doubt that my healing from my traumatic childhood through yoga has played a role in that. I am looking forward to a life with yoga; a life of peace and calming. 

I Am More Than This: Thai Massage Number 4

This morning I had my fourth Thai Massage. One of the yoga instructors leading my yoga teacher training also does Thai Yoga Therapy… or Thai Massage. If you haven’t read my previous posts about Thai, I recommend you read them before reading this one (Thai Massage 1; Thai Massage 2; Thai Massage 3).

If you read my post from earlier today, you know I was anxious about this Thai Massage. I don’t always get anxious about the actual massage, but today I was. In therapy on Tuesday, I confessed that I still have a difficult time in certain yoga poses (frog on the wall, reclined bound angle, and wide legged forward folds – seated and on the wall). When I am in those poses, I feel everything opening. And no, I am not referring to my hamstrings. The sensation that I feel is actually related to none of the targeted muscle groups in those poses. I can’t feel that stretch. Instead, it feels like it did when I was little. It feels like he is putting things inside of me again. It’s the kind of feeling that makes my legs involuntarily close. It’s uncomfortable, awkward, and sometimes even painful. When I have that sensation, I literally want to claw my insides to pieces. I can’t just “sit with it.” I work hard in yoga classes to stay present with my breath. I try my very best to prevent a flashback when these poses come up. Sometimes I can for a little while, but the longer we hold the pose, the more challenging it becomes. Eventually I start shaking. The fear wins. My breath is gone…. and so am I.

I reached out to my yoga teacher to ask her if we could work on that today. If you’ve ever willingly done something that you know is going to be incredibly challenging or painful, I commend you for your bravery. It is hard. It is not hard because I make it hard; it is hard because it is hard. Putting myself in that situation today was difficult. It would have been easier to just do typical Thai Massage stuff without targeting that specific sensation. It would have been easier to just let her massage my back the whole time. But I have to remind myself that the point of these sessions is to find healing and growth. I can’t do that if I am just sticking with what is “easy.”

Our session started with discussion about how my PTSD symptoms have improved since starting Thai Massage. My yoga teacher asked me what that was like. While I am excited about my progress, I am also a little scared. It is amazing to go to bed at night and not be afraid of nightmares. It is amazing to not be sitting with high anxiety on a daily basis, or to not be contemplating self injury or suicide regularly. However, if you read my post from earlier this week, you know that I am now struggling with the fact that in this growth and healing, I have lost a very big part of my identity. My yoga teacher was empathetic when I explained that. Her empathy made me feel safe. It’s going to be ok. My anxiety instantly decreased.

Just like in previous sessions, she started with massaging my feet. I found myself getting trapped in the memories in the woods again. I caught myself trying to prevent the memories from surfacing. I’m supposed to let them come up, I thought. If they come up, my body can work through them. This reminder was crucial today, and something I had to keep going back to. In order to function in society, I have mastered the art of pushing the trauma memories back down when they surface. Thai Massage is the one place outside of therapy where it is safe to let them come up.

My yoga teacher moved up my legs. At first, it wasn’t too bad. I felt safe and supported. And truthfully, after walking about 11 miles a day for three consecutive days in New York City earlier this week, I needed some serious love on my calves! But then she moved up. She pressed into my upper legs. Through my trauma work, I have learned about the sympathetic nervous system, that “flight, fright, or freeze mode.” As my yoga teacher pushed down on my thighs, my mind screamed at me “this isn’t safe.” I wanted to jerk away. I wanted to cry. I needed to get out. She’s going to hurt you, my mind screamed. I could see the little girl, maybe 9 years old, laying on her back in the woods. His hands are on my thighs, pressing them down. It’s not safe. I tried to find my breath, but I couldn’t. I could feel the leaves under my hands, just like when I was little. No, you are not little anymore. This is your yoga teacher and she is safe… YOU are safe. 

As she worked on my legs, there was this war going on inside of my brain. Part of my brain fully believed that I was not safe. The other part very much tried to convince me that I was. Eventually, I curled up into a ball and cried. I just couldn’t take anymore. I needed to escape, to be numb to the noise and the fear in my head. When I found my breath again, I sat up. I’m ok. I explained to my teacher what had happened. I told her that I didn’t feel safe even though I knew that I was. Her response surprised me. It was one of the most validating things I think anyone has ever said to me. She said, “That must have been scary.” It was. It is terrifying to have that battle in your head of not feeling safe even though you are. And for me, those battles can lead to a realm of other things that are scary. For someone else to acknowledge and validate that fear made me feel safe again; it made me feel like I’m actually not crazy; my reaction of fear is normal, given my circumstance and experiences.

When my yoga teacher worked on the stretches that target that “opening sensation” that I was referring to earlier, the fear came back. This fear was different. To a degree, I was afraid that she may hurt me the way that my abuser did, but rationally I knew that wasn’t going to happen. The bulk of this fear came from being afraid of the sensation itself. She opened my left leg out to the side and walked her feet up my hamstring, pressing in. As she pushed into my leg, I felt it. I felt the opening sensation that I was fearing. It stole my breath. I’m little again; younger than 9. It hurts. It hurts so much. Make it stop. It was all I could do to willingly lay there with my legs open. I wanted to curl up into a ball and cry. I wanted it to end. I had to mindfully bring myself back to “the why” of this experience. It would have been easy to curl up into a ball and give up. I am sure my yoga teacher would have understood and been supportive. But I knew if I did that, if I let the fear and flashbacks win this time, I would not be able to find the growth that I was searching for today. So I laid there. I tried desperately to find my breath but could not. At one point I think my yoga teacher even commented about finding my breath, but by then I had dissociated and her words were just a blur. I could hear them, muffled and distant, but I couldn’t comprehend them. I did eventually find my way back though, back to the present moment and back to my breath.

When she had finished with my legs, my yoga teacher asked me if I was ready for hands and arms. I had asked her to work on that again in this session as well. I could tell instantly that this time was going to be different than the last time. In my last session, very little came up for me; my left arm and wrist moved freely and I had no real emotional reaction. Today was the opposite. I was overwhelmed with shame today. It was as if every shameful thing I had ever done came flooding back. Memories of the awful things I participated in as a child, suicide attempts, and self injury…. it was all there. Again, I wanted to jerk my arm away. I wanted to shut myself off from her and the rest of the world, curl up into a ball, and cry. I didn’t want to burden her with my pain or share my shame with her as her hands gently pressed into my scars. I wanted to keep it buried inside. But keeping things inside doesn’t lead to growth. 

Towards the end of our session, my instructor massaged my neck and back. I found myself fighting back tears again. I could literally feel my body collapsing onto her, slumping down… and I couldn’t figure out how to engage my muscles to hold myself up. I was mentally exhausted from our session. And then the tears came again. As she pushed her feet into my back and I felt my chest expand, the tears fell. I hope she knows that I am more than this… I am so much more than my trauma stuff, my addictions, my self-injury. Please don’t think I am weak. I don’t know who or what I am right now, but I am more than this. I hope when she looks at me, or when anyone looks at me, they don’t just see my scars; I hope they don’t just see this damaged, weak soul who has been put through these awful traumatic experiences. I am more than that. 

Our session ended with a brief savasana. Afterwards, I asked her if she only sees the damaged parts of me. I was afraid she would say that those parts overshadow the rest of me. But she didn’t. She indicated that she does not see my scars and trauma stuff when she looks at me. Relief washed over me. She asked me what I saw when I looked at myself. I don’t know. And right now, I truly don’t. Aside from courage, I do not know what my identity is made up of anymore. As I continue to heal, I will be spending some time exploring and hopefully discovering who I am, and what I want other people to see when they look at me.

Today’s session was challenging and exhausting. Emotionally, it was a lot. I have so much gratitude for this teacher’s willingness to be a part of my journey to healing. As much as my mind tried to tell me that I wasn’t safe today, I know that this teacher works hard to help create a safe place for me. Her care and compassion is what makes trauma work through Thai Massage a possibility for me. I am not sure what the residual effects of today’s session will be, but I am certain I will write about it when they come to fruition.

Here We Go Again

About to walk into my fourth Thai Massage. The anxiety right now is awful. I have angry butterflies in my tummy. I’m shaking. I want to turn around and never come back. 

I know that I benefit tremendously from Thai Massage.

I keep signing up for sessions because I do see so much progress from them. I trust the yoga instructor who does my Thai Massages. She knows vague details of my past, and she treats me with care and compassion during these sessions. However, today we are working on a particular sensation, at my request. I am anxious about what will come up for me today. I didn’t have this type of anxiety last time. I am hoping for a productive session 💜

Trauma Work: Losing Your Identity

Earlier this week, my therapist had me fill out this rating scale to see how my PTSD symptoms were. When I first started seeing her, I fell in the “moderate to severe” range. For the past year and a half, I’ve been stuck in the “mild to moderate” range. This is good, but the fact that I’ve pretty much stayed in that range and not dropped any is not so great. When I filled out the questionnaire on Tuesday, my score put me in the “none to mild” range. This is fantastic. 

I can tell that my PTSD symptoms are getting better. I feel like this summer, I have worked through a lot of difficult things surrounding my trauma stuff. I also believe that incorporating Thai Massage has made a huge impact on my ability to process through trauma memories and move on. There are clearly still a few things I need to work on, but I am putting in the time, effort, and money, so that I can get to the other side. It’s a process. 

While I feel more calm and serene on a regular basis, more so than I’ve ever felt before, there is some anxiety that comes with doing well. First, I always worry about what will happen when I quit doing well. What will happen if the trauma stuff gets bad again; if I start having an excessive number of flashbacks or nightmares, or if I become seriously suicidal again like I was in March? Those are fears that feel so real for me.

The second part that comes with doing well is what now? For my entire life I have lived in fear. I have lived with nightmares, flashbacks, shaking, self-injury, numbing… pain. I have had therapy. I have had a pile to work through…. things to “fix.” My life has been consumed by trauma work for the last two years. And now it’s done (or the bulk of it is). I have changed so much in two years. And I love it: I love what I have learned; I love what I have experienced; I love the growth that I have made. However, as I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, I feel like I am lost.

In Alice in Wonderland, the caterpillar asks, “Who are you?” Alice replies by saying that she hardly knows… she has changed so many times.


That is me. Today. Right now. I do not know who I am. As I get closer to the other side of my trauma work, I am realizing that I have lost a very big part of myself in the process. And while I am so unbelievable grateful to no longer feel the way that I felt two years ago, I cannot help but feel a little bit of grief. That part of who I was is gone. And I no longer know who I am supposed to be. I feel overwhelmed with grief right now as I write this; an immense sadness as I watch that girl slip away, vanishing into nothing. That part of me, the part that curled in, kept her head down, did not make eye contact, and isolated herself, that part was safe. Protected. The “new me” does not have that. I interact with the world, I make connections and experience life, savoring each moment. It sounds wonderful, and most of the time it is. But it is also scary. It is scary to be vulnerable. To smile at someone and wonder why they didn’t smile back at you. It is scary to be open. When you aren’t shutting out the world, you have to be in it. What if I don’t want to be in the world? What if I can’t be all of the things that I am supposed to be? What if I can’t even figure out who or what I am supposed to be?

The other part that I am struggling with right now with this change is my relationship with my therapist. It has changed so much in two years. It has gone from me hating her, to me desperately clinging to her, to me resenting her, then back to clinging to her, and then now… I don’t need her, but I want to still need her. I can’t explain the fucked-upness of how my brain works around relationships. This is probably why I got the borderline personality disorder label. As a child, teen, and even adult, I have been mostly alone in my struggles. With the exception of a few middle-aged “yay Jesus” women who literally saved my life when I was in high school, and my hometown therapist, I have gone through horrific things all on my own. Going through my trauma work with my therapist was probably the most supported I have ever felt in my life… especially in the beginning. I knew that no matter how scary things got as I recounted my trauma memories with her, she would support me in any way she could. I knew that if I went home and things got scary in my head, I could reach out to her and she would be there for me, often responding from a place of compassion. While I don’t not have that now, it is different. Our relationship is different. I don’t need that level of support from her. And actually, a lot of the time I don’t even want that kind of support because I get really proud of myself when I can handle things on my own. However, I think that in addition to grieving the loss of who I used to be, I am grieving the loss of that support that I needed. I don’t have it now. And I probably never will again. Things are different. Things are different because I’m different. 

There is a part of me that is embracing this new found independence and freedom. I am excited about my future, my new friends, yoga, and the growth I have made in two years. I am relieved to be carrying around a much smaller “pile of stuff” than I was two years ago. I don’t feel weighed down. I don’t feel trapped. However, I don’t really know who I am or who I want to be. Today, I am feeling all of the grief that comes from losing a part of your identity. 

Celebrating New York Style

I just returned from four days in New York City with my husband. I booked this trip months ago. As my regular readers probably know, I celebrated five years of sobriety on August 1st. This trip was about celebrating that milestone.

Back in March, my therapist went to NYC for a training. While she was there, she took pictures of the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park and the Fearless Girl taking on the Bull of Wall Street. Those pictures were the start of my need to go to NYC. 

I love Alice in Wonderland. The story is about a girl who gets lost. She finds herself in a world that does not make sense; a world that can be, at times, frightening and lonely. At the end, Alice finds her true self and escapes from this world of nonsenese and fear. I have always identified so much with Alice. I cry every time I watch the movie. It is real for me. 

On my first day in NYC, I set out on a mission to find Alice. We walked through most of Central Park. When we finally got to the statue, I was elated. I actually teared up a little 😳 I feel such a connection with this fictional character that to me, she is not fictional at all; she is a representation of my younger self. 


Alice is so very courageous.

During our trip, we also went to the Museum of Sex. Now, as my regular readers may know, I tend to fall into that “oversexed” catagory of sexual abuse survivors. I like sex. Good sex. And lots of it. The Museum of Sex was fascinating! I liked seeing the history of sex, vibrators, and porn and how they have evolved over the past 150 years. I think it made my husband feel a little awkward and embarrassed, but I thought it was cool. 


Thank god vibrators don’t look like that anymore!

On Saturday, we went to the 9/11 Memorial. Wow. There are no words. On September 11, 2001, I was walking into my 8th grade social studies class as the first plane crashed into the World Trade Centers. Our whole day was spent watching the news. The hardest part was watching the people jump out of the burning buildings to their death. 

At the memorial, I worked hard to fight back tears. There were several parts that I moved through quickly or skipped all together because it was too emotional. The voicemails of victims saying goodbye to their loved ones were probably the most difficult. 


After the 9/11 Memorial, we walked down to Wall Street. I needed to see the Fearless Girl. Her bravery is even more fierce in person. Seeing the statue filled me with an overwhelming appreciation for the little girl that I used to be… for her fearlessness. 


After seeing the Fearless Girl on Wall Street, my husband and I walked to Brooklyn. Yes. You read that right. We walked from Wall Street to Brooklyn. That was a long fucking walk! The bridge was cool, but also very crowded. We ate pizza in Brooklyn at Ignazio’s and then took a subway to Coney Island.


Coney Island was very neat! I didn’t budget for Coney Island though, and I often get motion sick now since having my daughter, so we didn’t ride anything. They did have some really awesome art work though:


On Sunday, we went to the Bronx Zoo. The journey by subway into the Bronx was heartbreaking. The devastating poverty and drug epedimic was evident even from the train as we rode through borough. When I looked at the scenery, when I saw the addicts on the streets, I couldn’t help but think of my own history with drugs. I am so very fortunate to be where I am today. I am forever grateful for the people who supported me through those days. 


After the zoo, we met up with some of my husband’s friends in Greenwich Village. We ate at John’s Pizzaria of Bleecker Street. It’s been around since 1929!!!! I also had a strawberry shortcake cupcake from Molly’s Cupcakes. It was seriously the best cupcake I’ve ever had in my life.



On Monday, it rained all day. We slept in. Packed up our things, and checked out of the hotel. We spent the day wandering Grand Central Station since it was indoors. I had amazing banana pudding from Magnolia’s Bakery. When the rain slowed down, we went to the Museum of Natural History. This was incredible! We didn’t have nearly enough time to see everything before we had to catch our flight, but I did see the dinosaur bones. 


The picture above is of a stegosaurus. When I took this picture, I had no flashbacks, no unwanted pain or sensations, and no trauma memories. This is HUGE. I have a specific trauma memory associated with a toy stegosaurus. A couple of years ago, I couldn’t even look at one without going into a flashback. I’m doing so much better now! 

Overall, my trip was really good. My husband and I did get in one fight… which led to him leaving me in the middle of Queens at 10:30pm 😮😡 I made it back to my hotel safely though and we talked things out. 

On the trip back, I got stopped by TSA. The lady had to pat me down and wipe me with this weird cloth thing. I did not enjoy that experience at all. It made me incredibly uncomfortable to be standing in the middle of the airport while some lady I don’t know rubs and pats her hands along my butt and inner thighs. 

Coming back home has been hard. Going back to work was tough. I miss New York City. I miss the people, the transportation, and the sights. I miss alone time with my husband. And I miss not having responsibilities. 

This week I have Thai Massage, therapy, and yoga teacher training. I am looking forward to all of those things. I’m hoping for growth and peace over these next four or five days. 

Alcoholic Parents

Having an alcoholic parent is one of the most frustrating things. Unlike my trauma stuff, there isn’t really an end to this… until he dies. 

I received a call from him on Tuesday this past week. He was heavily intoxicated and was calling to tell me that his coworker wants to leave his wife and kids to be with me. What the actual fuck?! 

Last I checked, I had my own spouse and kid. And while things are not always perfect, I have no intentions of leaving my family to go be with some mechanic who is friends with my alcoholic sperm donor. Fucking gross. 

Well, apparently my dad has no recollection of having that conversation with me. Today is Saturday. I’m on a subway in NYC and I get a voicemail from him. He tells me all of the same things in his voicemail that he told me on Tuesday night:

  • He’s starting a second job soon
  • He wants to know how my job is going
  • His coworker wants to leave his family and be with me

On one hand, at least he fucking calls me. My mom doesn’t. My mom acts like she doesn’t give a shit about me. But on the other hand, it would be really nice to have a dad who can at least remember the conversations we have. It would be even better to have a dad who doesn’t want me to leave my family to be with his gross coworker 😫

In other news: I fucking love NYC. I will post a big blog telling you all about it when I return home 💜

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