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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

 

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Tears In Thai – A Journey To Wholeness: January 18th Thai Massage

I had a Thai Massage tonight – my first session in 22 days. If you’ve kept up with some of my recent posts, you are probably aware that these past 10 days or so have been very challenging. I took down my blog for 8 days so that my ex couldn’t use it against me. I started sleeping with a new guy, which, due to his size, among other things, didn’t go well for me and resulted in multiple flashbacks and trauma nightmares. Needless to say, I’ve broken things off with him. I worked in my sand tray earlier this week and ended up in tears over my mother’s lack of presence and caring in my life. And finally, due to an incredibly stressful situation at work, my trauma memories, sensations, flashbacks, and nightmares have been excessively heightened. Today, I needed Thai.

I scratched my wrist this week for the first time in over two months. Last night, I woke up in a panic at 2:30am after a bad dream, clawing desperately at my wrist, trying to make the memories of my sexual abuse go away. This morning, I had a meeting at work that I knew would result in elevated anxiety and flashbacks. While I managed to make it through the meeting without scratching my wrist, I did find myself toying with the idea of suicide again. Sometimes, when the trauma stuff becomes this overwhelming, when it disrupts my entire life, the only solution I can really see is to burn it… eliminate it… to completely end it all. Lets be honest, no one really wants to live in the hell titled Complex PTSD.

I didn’t kill myself though. Instead, I frantically raced to my Thai session after work. My instructor not-so-tactfully greeted me by stating that my face looked “weird.” She hastily apologized, but I wasn’t offended or taken off guard by the remark. Considering I was contemplating lighting myself on fire 10 minutes beforehand, her greeting seemed fitting. And really, it had been so long since she had seen me this distraught, that I imagine she was a bit taken aback when I walked in.

Prior to the massage, my instructor and I discussed the triggering events from the week, and how to best proceed with the session. I would spend the majority of the time on my side. Laying on my back can be very triggering for me, particularly when she works the inner lines of my legs. We skipped feet at the beginning as well, another trigger, and she worked on them just briefly while I was on my side.

The beginning of the massage was mostly ok. I had one childhood memory surface on the left side. It wasn’t even a “trauma” memory necessarily, at least not the part that came up. I am around ten years old. My abuser and I are by the pond. We are skipping rocks and singing… Jack and Diane. We change the lyrics to include words like “dick” and “pussies.” There’s more to the memory. I know there is. But when my instructor asked me if I wanted to share what was coming up, I quickly decided I didn’t want the memory to continue. Instead, we began talking about other parts of my week: the new boy I was seeing but then broke up with after only two weeks, the improvement in my relationship with my ex husband this week, and my precious daughter.

I rolled over so that my instructor could work on the other side. She worked up my legs and the memory from by the pond flashed in front of my eyes again. The grass is so green. I can feel his hands on me. I breathe deep and start talking again. Not right now. I just want to feel safe. I managed to stay present for a little while longer before conceding to the grips of my traumatic childhood – to the power of my abuser.

I can no longer feel my instructor. Instead, I feel the sharp pain between my legs and a stinging sensation across my left bicep. It’s a different memory this time – not the one by the pond.

We are little. I am 6 or 7. We play with Hot Wheels cars. The orange track stretches across the room. It starts on the top of the old brown dresser, cascading down and then forming a loop so that the cars go upside-down. 

I do not remember how we went from playing with the track in that manner to the abuse that followed. But during the actual act of sexual abuse, he got mad at me. I was screaming at him because he was hurting me. He took a piece of the track and hit me hard across my left arm. I can remember pulling up my panties just before my stepmom walked in. By this time, I was crying. I told her that her son had hit me with the racetrack, and she made him go to timeout. Stupid girl. You deserve to be hurt.

I worked hard to articulate the memory to my instructor, while simultaneously being disassociated from the present moment, trapped in the past. All I could see and feel was the memory. I could hear my instructor’s voice though. She was telling me to take deep breaths. At one point, I think I jerked away, my body shaking from the fear. It felt like it took me a really long time to dictate the memory today, and even longer to become present again.

When I finished the memory, I went to the bathroom. I was terrified there would be blood when I wiped, indicative that the abuse had happened again. There wasn’t. I was ok. When I returned to the room, the numbing memory lingered. I was only able to remain present for a minute or two at best. My instructor pressed up and down on my back and gradually, I felt a little more grounded. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the sharp pain between my legs returned and, again, I dissociated. I couldn’t prevent it this time. The memory of the racetrack was back. I was trapped in it. My instructor had me get into a child’s pose, and she laid across my back for what felt like several minutes. I tried to match my breath with hers, the weight of her body reminding me that I am not six years old anymore.

After multiple deep breaths, I found myself back in the present moment. It was time to move on. My instructor gave me choices, and I decided she could massage my belly next, followed by my arms. She laid her palm on my belly and I felt my inhale press into her hand. Instantly, I felt the tears coming. She started to massage my stomach in a clockwise rotation. The tears were bubbling up beneath my eyelids. No one ever takes care of me like this when I’m little. I was hurting so much and no one protected me. Finally, I couldn’t prevent them any longer. As the tears streamed down my face, my instructor asked me what I needed. Please just hug me and tell me it’s ok. As soon as I felt her arms wrap around me, I sobbed. I cried harder than I’ve ever cried in Thai. In fact, the only other time I can recall crying like that in front of someone was during one therapy session. That’s it – just one. My therapist had me put away my journal and the memory I was reading, and we did sun salutations. It was a similar type of crying this time. It was the kind of sobbing where you’re not really sure if the tears will ever stop, or if you’ll ever be able to breathe again. My tears fell hard and fast, soaking my instructor’s shoulder and arm, as I struggled to calm myself down. I wasn’t worth protecting. Where was she? Why didn’t my mom care? My insides hurt the way they did in most of my trauma memories. Physically and emotionally, as I sat there sobbing with my instructor, I hurt. It was several minutes before I could move; several minutes before I could make the tears stop. When I finally regained composure and released my instructor, I inhaled a giant, glorious breath of fresh air and exhaled through my mouth. Ok. 

I am ok. 

In the remainder of the session, there were numerous moments where, when I closed my eyes, I saw and felt my younger self lying on the mat, receiving Thai from my instructor. I am little, but this time I am ok – I am cared for. Even in savasana, it felt as if six year old Little Jen was laying there, her head being cradled in the hands of my instructor, receiving the care she did not experience all those years ago. I am safe. I am loved. I am important. 

I went into this session knowing it would be challenging. I walked through the door tonight praying that Thai would help me process whatever was causing me so much distress. I walked out feeling a million times lighter. It is as if all of the wounds, all of the hurts, from 24 years ago were cared for today. I feel whole again.

I’m Back…

I’ve decided that after a week of keeping my blog private, I’m ready to see how things go with a public blog again. It’s been a really difficult week with trauma stuff, dating stuff, family stuff, sandtray stuff, etc. I like my blog because it gives me an outlet and helps me feel less alone in my stuff. I did a pretty good job of taking care of myself this past week. I reached out to friends, I wrote, I practiced self care, and I went to my survivor support group.

Tonight, I’m cautiously returning to the world of blogging.

An Open Letter To My Mom

Dear Mom,

I wish you were here. I wish you were available for me: physically and emotionally. My life feels so overwhelming right now. I worked in my sandtray on Monday. I thought that maybe my sandtray was going to depict Alice (my younger self) conquering all of the things that are scary… my trauma. Instead, my sandtray showed Alice all alone. You didn’t help her. You didn’t care.

The reality is that you still don’t care. I haven’t spoken to you since Christmas, not really. I am struggling with food issues, boy issues, and work issues. My trauma stuff is over-the-top heightened right now. And the reality is, you’re nowhere… you’re not present for me… not now… not ever…. not when I was 7 and crying all the time… not when my insides were being torn open… not when I was terrified to sleep… where were you? Why didn’t I matter? Why didn’t you try to save Alice? You let her die. You let these horrible things happen to her. You didn’t keep her safe. And you still don’t. You still don’t care.

My heart hurts tonight. I want so badly to have a relationship with you. But I know wanting something to happen doesn’t mean it magically will. When I was in high school, one of my friend’s mothers used to call herself my adoptive mom. She would give me these long hugs filled with more love and care than I had ever experienced. Tonight, I ache for that kind of hug – the kind of hug that lets you know that you matter, that you’re loved.

I’m supposed to be seeking mom-like support from someone other than you… because you’re incapable of providing me with that. Instead, I reached out to my friends today. I practiced yoga. I went to support group. I surrounded myself with people who love me – people who make me feel like I matter. And those people helped me work through my problems and feel a little lighter. But at the end of it all, I really just wanted you.

Mommy, I hate that you won’t be present for me. And I hate that I am not worthy of having a relationship with. I need you. My younger self needed you. But I know you’ll never be able to truly be my mom.

😢

Love,

Jen

Five Things I Need To See Before I Sleep With You

This past week, I was talking with someone about how I struggle to know when it’s ok to have sex with someone. My tendency is to jump in bed with every guy who buys me dinner. The reality is, that isn’t always the safest thing to do, and it often leaves my body feeling empty and used. I decided to come up with a list of five things that I need to see before I have sex with someone.

  1. Display acts of sincere kindness (for example: holds the door for me, and also for strangers who may be entering or exiting a building at the same time as him… aware of his surroundings)
  2. Demonstrate that he is capable of holding an intelligent conversation
  3. Asks thought-provoking questions
  4. Touches my arm, hand, waist, etc in a gentle way that comes from a place of care and respect
  5. Not sleeping with other people

Due To A Series Of Unfortunate Events…

My blog is being removed. Please feel free to contact me for more information at courageousyogachick@gmail.com.

Sending so much love to all of my readers.

Hopefully I’ll be back.

He Will Always Win

Last night, I hosted a vision board party at my house. Several of my friends from yoga, and a girl in a Facebook moms group whom I had never met before, came over, ate snacks, and made vision boards for 2019. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to put on my vision board for 2019. Last year, it seemed so easy to create my board. This year, I found myself struggling a bit to get a vision for my year. And, truthfully, I’ve been really anxious about 2019. Odd years are usually terrible for me, and 2018 was, overall, a great year…. it makes me think that 2019 can’t possibly be good.

As I got to work on finding pictures and words from magazines to glue to my vision board, I found myself cutting out things that were triggering, or things that were mental-health related. For example, I cut out a picture of a bunch of rubber bands – just like the ones I snap on my wrist. I also cut out the words “Conquer” and “triggers.”

Conquer Triggers. 

That’s what I want 2019 to be about: conquering the things that trigger anxiety, flashbacks, and self harm. I started today. I asked my yoga instructor, the same one who does Thai Massage with me, to please play one song with chimes sounding music at the very beginning of class. I want to be able to go to any yoga class, regardless of the studio or the teacher, and be able to hear chimes sounds without feeling like I am six years old. 

I was anxious before class tonight. It’s the beginning of the year, which means everyone in the world is trying yoga for the very first time, or returning to their yoga practice for the first time in a long time. While I’m glad people are finding yoga and making resolutions, just the sheer number of people in my safe studios makes me feel unsafe. Tonight, there were two men with dark hair surrounding my mat. My abuser has dark hair. Don’t look. Don’t look. Don’t look. I tried to keep my gaze focused on other things. I couldn’t sit still in our first pose. A combination of joint pain in my ankles and toes, and anxiety bubbling in my tummy made it difficult to be still.

My instructor walked over to the stereo that sat in front of my mat. She cued us into a childs pose as she turned on the music. Chimes. As I had requested, she played a song that had faint chime-like sounds sporadically throughout. I remember the song playing another time, in savasana I think. The chimes seemed much louder then than they did today. Still, my body started to shake. It’s coming. The flashback is coming. But before the memory could surface, I heard my instructor’s voice, followed by her hands on my back. I could hear her breath and feel the weight of her hands grounding me. I’m ok. She moved on to someone else in the room and I felt my body tense back up. She cued the class to stretch our arms to the right, and then to the left. I normally skip this in class. I usually just stay in childs pose because I like to be in a ball, closed off from the world. But today, I knew that if I didn’t move, the chimes would win. I slid my arms to the right, lifting my head to glance around. My eyes found my instructor on the other side of the room – it’s ok. I noticed the stretch along my side. I noticed the expansion of my ribs as I breathed deeply. And I noticed the breathing of the person next to me. I was so focused on what was happening on my mat, that I barely noticed the chimes. The same was true when I slid my arms to the left.

Towards the end of class, we got into reclined bound angle. I am stronger than my abuser.  I repeated the phrase over and over as I put the soles of my feet together and gradually let my knees fall to the side. I am stronger than my abuser. I took a deep breath in as the anxiety started to surface again. My eyes found my instructor. I am safe. Just as I was starting to feel like a little kid again, as I was starting to feel the opening sensation that I hate, the pose ended and it was time to move on to something different. Eventually, we got into a seated wide-legged forward fold. I didn’t think much of it at first, but within a few seconds the opening sensation was back. My body started to fill with the pain from the memory, the pain that I felt when I was little. I’m not little. I’m not little. I’m not little. I quickly sat up and pulled my legs in. It’s not safe. 

I was taken aback by the strong reaction in the seated fold, especially since the rest of the class had gone so well. I think I reach a limit though. I think I can only handle so many trauma triggers at once before I can no longer prevent the sensations and flashbacks. I settled into savasana at the end of class, my hands clinging to my shirt for comfort. Despite my deep breaths, I did not feel settled. I felt sad and frustrated, and the opening sensation that I hate lingered. When class ended, I spoke to my instructor briefly about how chimes went, and hugged her goodbye. As I got into my car, my eyes filled with tears. It’s easier to run away from all of this than to try to conquer it. I cried my whole drive home, wishing that things could be different; wishing that I didn’t have to work so hard. Despite my hard work in class, and despite the small accomplishments, the trauma stuff still won. And my fear is that it will always win – he will always win. 

New Year, Same Issues

I’ve had a really challenging first week of 2019.

At the beginning of the week, I had trauma stuff surface in yoga – a new memory. I’ve chosen to push it back down. Working the memory doesn’t change anything, and it’s easier to just not work through it at this moment. Maybe one day I’ll address it.

Chimes also played in one of my yoga classes this week. I worked so hard to stay present. My instructor put us in a seated bound angle, which I normally do ok with. But with the chimes playing, I just lost it. The tears streamed rapidly down my cheeks as I tried to find my breath. My instructor didn’t keep us in the pose for long. She recognized that I was struggling and transitioned the class into child’s pose so that I could recoup. The chimes continued to play throughout the class and just before savasana, I quietly asked her to please change the music. She smiled and said, “Of course!” As she walked away to change the music, I cried again… both out of relief and out of sadness. I was relieved I didn’t have to work so hard in savasana and sad that the music was so triggering for me. I was also proud though that I was able to advocate for what I needed – this is something I have worked at length on in therapy and Thai.

In addition to more trauma stuff than usual this week, I’ve had excessive joint pain. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and have since I was 17 years old. My hands hurt the most right now. In yoga this week, I got so frustrated because of the pain. It was holding me back from being able to practice the way I typically would. And it was preventing me from enjoying my practice. In Thursday’s class, the tears welled up in my eyes as the pain in my hands burned during our last chaturanga. I can’t practice yoga without pain; and if I can’t practice yoga without pain, then I have nothing… I have nothing to help me through the things that make me want to die. There’s no point in living.

That was on Thursday… 3 days into the new year and I was already suicidal. Not just a little suicidal; it was the kind of suicide ideation that sucks every ounce of joy from your life. I saw my nutritionist that afternoon. I don’t like to cry in front of people, particularly those I don’t know or trust very well. I walked into her office and she asked me what was wrong. She instantly knew that I wasn’t ok. I don’t want to tell you, I replied. She asked if I had self harmed. No. Is it food related? No. She asked when I see my therapist again. Tomorrow. Then she asked why I didn’t want to tell her what was wrong. Because I don’t trust your response. Then we talked about how I wanted to die; I didn’t want to do life anymore. She asked if I had a plan. No. She asked if I thought I needed to go to the hospital. No. And that was it. The conversation about my suicidal thoughts was over. No hospital. No phone call to my shrink. Nothing. She didn’t freak out and worry about me the way other people have in the past, and I appreciated that.

The rest of my session with her went really well… but I cried. I cried a lot. Several times. I cried out of frustration with my food issues. I cried when she told me that despite making huge progress, I’m still not eating enough. I cried because I’m anxious over the new year. And I cried because my joints hurt, and I’m terrified of what that will mean for my yoga practice. Life without yoga seems impossible. I left feeling better; I left feeling seen and heard, and like I matter. So, I did not act on my suicidal thoughts. And I felt lighter after being able to share and cry. I’m spacing my therapy sessions out to once every 10 days instead of once every 7. While I think this is a good thing, it’s been hard to adjust to it.

The past two days have been better. My friend gave me these compression gloves to try. They made a huge difference in my joint pain. I also went swimming, and my joints didn’t hurt while I was in the pool. I went to yoga again on Friday, and worked on accepting my body and practice for what it was, and I was gentle with my hands. This morning, I went to my favorite yoga class. My compression gloves made my hands mostly pain-free while I practiced. I attempted reclined bound angle – it didn’t go well, but that’s ok… my instructor, the same lady who does Thai with me, covered me with a blanket and placed eye pillows in my palms. I am safe.

My afternoon was spent taking a long walk with my dog, and this new guy I’m seeing. He brought me roses 🙂 The weather today was gorgeous, and it felt good to be able to enjoy it. Today, I am not thinking about killing myself. I am mostly pain-free at the moment. And, I feel seen, loved, and supported. Perhaps 2019 is not going to be as bad as I had anticipated.

Working Through Food Issues: Life Coaching Homework

I have been working with a life/health coach for the last 9 weeks or so. The last few weeks, I’ve been feeling annoyed with her and the time I spend meeting with her. In fact, in our last session she gave me a list of questions to answer about negative thoughts, emotions, letting go, etc., and I flat out told her I wasn’t going to answer those questions with her. She said she understood and then gave me a homework assignment with similar questions. I told her I couldn’t promise I would answer those ones either. I left feeling angry and frustrated.

Today, almost two weeks later, I sat down to look at the questions. I again found myself feeling angry and frustrated. I felt defeated. I remembered what my Thai Instruction told me the other day: focus on your big goal – all of your action steps should go back to your big goal. I’ve decided that I am indeed going to do the homework… and I’m going to do it in the form of this blog post. Because maybe, just maybe, it will help someone else who is having food issues.

Big Goal: Eat three meals a day without negative self talk.
What For: Restricting food is really just another form of self-injury. I am trying hard not to self-injure. My body deserves better. My body was treated with so much violence by my abuser. My body was literally ripped apart and filled with darkness. I started self-injuring when I was just a small child because it allowed me to numb all of the things that I was feeling. As I grew up, and the abuse continued and expanded, I didn’t know how else to cope with it all. But now, I have more coping skills. I have so many more healthy, effective coping skills than I’ve ever had before. And, for the first time ever, I do 100% trust that I deserve to be treated with kindness. Physically and emotionally, I deserve kindness… from myself and others. I also want to be a role model for my daughter, modeling healthy coping skills for her so that she grows up feeling loved, safe, and supported.

Now for my homework questions — time to suck it up and do the hard fucking work that I don’t want to do…

What is one area of your life that you would like to create something new?

I would like to create new thought patterns around food and my body image.

What is the thing you need to let go of in order to create that new thing? 

I need to let go of the voice in my head that tells me that I don’t deserve kindness, the same voice that tells me I am fat and disgusting. I also need to let go of the coping skills that I clung to when I didn’t know what else to do. I control food because I can. And when everything else in life feels out of control, that is one of the first unhealthy coping skills I resort to: controlling how much food I eat. If my trauma memories and sensations are heightened, if I am struggling with dissociation, if I find myself obsessing over wanting to die, I stop eating. I can’t always control my PTSD symptoms, but I can control what goes into my body… in all of the forms (food, sex, the metal edge of a razor blade, etc.). That is what I need to let go of…. and the idea that I need to be able to see my bones. I need to let go of the image of what women “should” look like – or at least what my mother and the bulk of society say women should look like.

Who do you need to forgive in order to let go and reclaim your power? 

I know what the answer is supposed to be. I know that my coach, and probably every person reading this, thinks I should forgive myself. Maybe you’re also thinking I could forgive my abuser, my mom, my dad, society, etc? I am not practicing forgiveness. Not today. Not about my abuse. Not about my body image. And not about the harm I have caused to myself – physically and mentally… or the harm I have caused others. I don’t deserve forgiveness. It’s not up for debate right now.

What is the risk in letting go of this story? Who would you be without this story? 

This is a hard question for me to answer. It’s hard for a lot of reasons, not just because I am making it hard. First, I’m not entirely sure which story I’m letting go of. Is it the story of “needing to be skinny and see my bones?” Is it the story of “needing to control my food intake because I can’t control anything else?” Or is it the story of “I don’t deserve kindness?” Letting go of all three of those results in what? Eating? Eating without guilt or shame? Eating without feeling fat? I doubt it’s that simple.

This is also a hard question because I know the answer I am supposed to come up with. Letting go of the food issues, of the “story,” means that relationships change. I was once diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I did almost a year of DBT. I study human behavior for a living. I know. I know that letting go of my food issues means a change in relationships with people I have built around those food issues. Just like how I used to be afraid that if I stopped cutting or stopped needing to do trauma work I would no longer have the same relationship with my therapist. Food issues are different though. I don’t talk about them. Not really. There have been a handful of conversations about my food issues with my Thai instructor, but I don’t have a fear that my relationship with her will change if I start eating. I have my nutritionist… I like her a lot and I feel certain she’d still be willing to see me some if I started eating, so I’m not overly afraid of losing that. Would my relationship with my mom change? Maybe. I’d probably start getting negative comments about my weight instead of positive ones. Would those negative comments be enough to push me over the edge? Possibly…

Oh…wait.. I get it! For me, for this issue, this question isn’t about relationships at all.

The fear is that I won’t know what to do if my trauma stuff is bad or my dissociation amps up, or if life becomes too stressful. If I eat three meals a day, and I am able to change my thought patterns around food, but all of my other mental health issues escalate, then what will I do? What if I start hurting myself again? What if I cut? Or worse… Without the unhealthy coping skill of restricting my food, I HAVE to use my healthy coping skills… all of them… all of the time. What if I fail? What if I’m not strong enough to do that? I’m scared I won’t be. 

What new perspective can you have on yourself or your life that gives you freedom to grow?

I am strong enough to do the things that seem hard. I am capable of using all of my healthy coping skills. I have cards that list what skills to use for the times when I am struggling the most. If my ultimate reason for continuing to restrict my food intake is because I am afraid that I will engage in other forms of self-injury without it, then I’m not really living my best life. I am not really taking care of myself. And really, what I want is to be able to live without any form of self-harm; I want to live in a way that protects and cares for my body and mind. I am strong enough to do that now. I have enough healthy skills that I can cope with any of the things that life throws at me without needing to hurt myself.

What new attitudes can you adopt that supports your best life? 

Food nourishes my body and mind so that my trauma stuff does not feel so loud. When I eat healthy meals, my anxiety and nightmares decrease. I do not need to restrict my food intake to control the chaos in my life or the chaos that stems from having PTSD. I am strong enough to use my healthy coping skills. Every time I use my healthy coping skills instead of restricting my food intake, I am moving a little bit closer towards my goal. Restricting my food doesn’t actually solve any of the problems… it doesn’t address the issues at their core. Restricting my food only makes my life harder. And really, my life has been hard enough. I’m ready for things to just be simple. I want to eat healthy meals without negative self-talk because I want to just be “normal.”

 

 

When Your Past Is Met With Compassion

I’ve been dating the same guy for 5 weeks now… the same one I was trying not to sleep with. Well, it’s been 5 weeks. We’ve had probably over 10 dates at this point and he’s hung out at my apartment with me. I still haven’t slept with him. We’ve only kissed.

Today we went to lunch and then he opted to come to Target with me while I bought a few things. I enjoyed my time with him and it was nice to just hang out and run errands together. I enjoyed his company.

Tonight, we were texting and the topic went to sex. I decided to be 100% transparent. I told him that I have a history of extensive sexual abuse. I told him I was abused throughout my childhood, and then raped again at 19. I went on to explain that sex is complicated for me and that, while I love sex, there has to be a lot of trust involved and he has to be very in tune to my responses.

His reply was one of the most thoughtful reactions I’ve received from a guy. He told me that he was sorry I had to go through that. He told me that it was ok that we weren’t having sex. He told me that he too felt that trust was key. He also told me that he was patient and just wanted me to be happy.

Awwwwww

Yep – he’s worth keeping around for a bit I think 🙂

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