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Courageous Yoga Chick

Overcoming PTSD and Self-Injury Through Yoga

One Minute At A Time: I Am Not Broken

When I made a decision to leave my husband, my marriage counselor told me that things would continue to be hard; the worst wasn’t over yet. I couldn’t fathom how life could get any harder. Announcing that my marriage was over, and moving out, were the hardest things I had ever done.

She was right.

These last two months have been the hardest in terms of our divorce. My ex has been ruthless. He posts mean things about me on Facebook. He texts me and tells me what a horrible person I am. He blames me for everything. And then, he switches to the other extreme and says he wants me back. It’s exhausting.

Today he’s being mean. I’m pretty sure he hates me and that hurts. He says he’s jealous of my new boyfriend because he gets the “fixed me,” and my ex just got the “broken me.”

Broken.

That’s how he chooses to see the person that I used to be. He doesn’t see me as strong or courageous. He doesn’t see me as resilient or empathetic. He sees me as broken.

There are very few things that make me feel like I need to cut. For the most part, I endure much of life on life’s terms without needing to numb my feelings. After more than 9 months, my ex still triggers my urges to cut.

I have Thai Massage in roughly 45 minutes. I want her to just work on my arms. I want to feel cared for. I want to feel like I matter. Right now, I am taking life one minute at a time, trying to hold onto the positives and trying not to let my ex knock me down anymore.

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The Grieving Process That Never Ends

Today’s session with our marriage counselor was tough; filled with hostility and emotion. I stated that I did not want to get back together right now and that my ex should in fact live his life as if we are not getting back together. He told me that I could not move to be closer to my family, that he would fight that. He also said that because of me, he’s wasted the last 9 months of his life.

Those words hurt. It’s my fault. He says that I strung him along and made him think we were getting back together, so he didn’t date anyone else because of that. Therefore, I’ve wasted his life. That was not my intent though. I felt stuck. Every time I told him we weren’t getting back together, he tried to get me to change my mind, didn’t believe me, or got super angry with me. I tried so hard to tell him we weren’t getting back together… multiple times. He didn’t want to believe it.

In today’s session, when he started yelling about how I’m the reason he wasted the last year of his life, I instantly started scratching my wrist. It’s the first time in a few weeks that I’ve intentionally hurt myself to try to numb what I feel. Even though we separated almost 10 months ago, it feels like this grieving process is never going to end. Every time I think I’m “over it,” new situations surface and I feel overwhelmed with emotions and pain again. I didn’t want my marriage to end. I wanted desperately for things to work out. But my ex and I grew apart in very big ways. We had very big attachment injuries. We fought often and hard. Despite the day-to-day conflict improving when we were in marriage counseling, we still couldn’t make things work between us. We are too different to work as a couple.

Now that we aren’t together, I am happier. My anxiety is down, my urges to self-injure are down, and my self-esteem has improved. Going back to a toxic relationship would be detrimental to my progress. Right now, I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to get back together.

PS: I’m chilling in this amazing Zen Garden right now while I wait for my neurofeedback appointment

A Happy Medium Between “You Repulse Me” and “Let’s Move Back In Together.”

Tomorrow my ex and I are meeting with our marriage counselor. To say that I’m anxious is an understatement. I can’t sleep. I’ve been dealing with stomach pain and nausea for two days. I’m scared.

My therapist recommended my ex and I go see our marriage counselor to discuss boundaries and coparenting. Ever since he found out about my boyfriend, he’s been going from one extreme to another. One minute he hates me, blocks me on social media, and calls me horrible names, and the next minute he’s begging me to give him another chance. It’s exhausting. Most of my evenings are spent on the phone with him reiterating that I don’t want to get back together. We have spent hours arguing over these last few weeks. I am in a lose-lose situation and I don’t know what else to do.

I moved out over 9 months ago. I spent almost 11 years fighting for our marriage. I spent almost 11 years being treated like shit, waiting for him to change. I’m done trying to make things work with him. The thing in my life that consistently makes me anxious is him. I can’t go back to living like that.

My hope is that my ex and I can come to an agreement about what coparenting is going to look like from here on out. I want him to find peace surrounding the end of our marriage. And, most importantly, I want to find a happy medium between “You repulse me” and “I want to change for you,” where he and I can coparent cordially. I have high expectations for tomorrow’s session and I am worried about what will happen if it doesn’t go well.

Day 900: Self-Love

Today, I celebrated 900 days without cutting. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I haven’t felt before in this journey. I’m not sure if that’s because I am finally far enough away from the last time I cut that it is less appealing, or if it’s because I finally worked through the ominous “N Word” (neglect), or maybe it’s because of neurofeedback and almost three years of consistent therapy… 🤷🏻‍♀️

Regardless of the reason, when I was driving to work today, and I caught a glimpse of my scars, some that are over 10 years old, I realized that I don’t want to cut anymore. Let me say that again:

I DON’T WANT TO CUT ANYMORE.

It’s the first time ever that I have really felt that way. It took exactly 900 days to get to that point. But this morning, as I examined my scars in the sunlight, reflecting on the pain that they hold, I realized that I cannot fathom hurting myself in that way again. The idea of cutting my arm until it bleeds, until it needs stitches, actually makes me nauseas. It makes my whole heart ache. I don’t deserve to hurt like that.

Instead of cutting, I deserve to be cared for. I deserve healthy coping skills like yoga, Thai massage, and friendship. I deserve cupcakes for achieving milestones like 900 days. And, I deserve to love myself.

Self-love.

It’s a new concept for me. I’ve worked so hard over the last three years on self-care, but I haven’t really given a lot of thought to what it means to love myself. Outside of vibrators, I didn’t really understand what self-love was. Today, the true meaning of self-love filled my soul. Self-love, for me, looks like not cutting myself ever again. I don’t deserve to hurt like that.

For 900 days, in addition to amazing cupcakes and self-care, I am treating myself to the gift of self-love.

Day 899

Today is 899 days since I last cut myself. I remember when I hit Day 100. I remember Day 150. And I remember all of the big milestones that followed. Day 899 brings tears to my eyes. I never thought I would make it this long without dragging a razor blade across my arm. I deserve to be cut-free. I deserve to be taken care of. I deserve this happiness.

It’s One Of Those Days…

It’s almost 8am. I am supposed to meet up with friends at 9 for breakfast and then help my friend clean her apartment. I want to go. I love my friends; they make my whole world better. I’m struggling today, though. I can’t get out of bed. I am cocooned up in my blankets, as the sun barely peeks into my room. The anxiety churns my stomach. I need to just stay here all day until it passes.

Something happened last night with my ex that I’m not ready to discuss on my blog. I hate the way he makes me feel and the way he treats me. And as a result, today I’m struggling. My anxiety is high and I need to cut. I know that being around my friends will be good for me, but forcing myself out of bed this morning feels like one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Help Me Fly

Yesterday, I had an acro/partner/Thai private yoga session that I had booked for my boyfriend’s birthday. It was led by the same instructor who does my Thai Massage Sessions. My boyfriend and I both enjoy yoga, and I thought this would be a unique experience for us to have together.

Even though I was excited about the session, I was really anxious when we walked in. The idea of doing something other than Thai massage and trauma work in that room made me anxious. I didn’t want to have a flashback during this session. In therapy this week, I talked about how much louder all of my trauma stuff seems when I am actively doing trauma work. I’ve been actively working through trauma for the last four weeks. I know there will be healing on the other side of it, but right now, my flashbacks, memories, and sensations are so much more intense than they were a couple months ago. While my boyfriend knows some basics about my traumatic experiences and my ptsd symptoms, he rarely sees the effects of my mental health issues first hand.

Overall, the yoga session went better than I expected. After a few poses, my instructor asked us what we had learned so far. One of the things I had learned was the importance of engaging my muscles when I do acro yoga. It is difficult for me to remember to engage my muscles. It’s not that I can’t; I can be very strong when I am focused and engaging my muscles, but I can’t always figure out how to engage them.

When my boyfriend answered my instructor’s question, he indicated that he had learned how much I like to be in control. I knew he was right. Acro made me nervous because I had to fully trust that he would take care of me. Throughout my entire life, there was a lack of care and protection. Even in my marriage, I could not depend on my husband to respect my boundaries, take care of me, or protect me. Trusting someone to lift me into the air, balanced on their feet was a lot.

The Partner Thai Massage that was weaved in throughout the session was also a little stressful for me. I had no problems being on the giving end; in fact, I rather enjoyed it. Receiving Thai Massage from my guy was, at times, challenging. I am used to Thai being a certain way, with a specific purpose. It was difficult for me to lay there and receive without judgment. It was also difficult for me to stay present at times. I found myself tapping my fingers together as the room and voices would slip out of focus. It’s not ok to go there today. I worked hard to prevent the memories and dissociation from taking over. I wanted to just enjoy the connection.

For me, this yoga session was a learning experience. It was an opportunity for my guy and I to learn how to trust each other, learn each other’s bodies in a non-sexual way, and learn to communicate effectively. However, for me, it was also a painful reminder of how much my past still wins. It was a reminder of how much I still need safety, predictability, and control. My hope is that the longer we’re together, the more comfortable I will be at relinquishing some control. Maybe one day, with practice, trauma work, Thai massage, and neurofeedback, I’ll be able to embrace the spontaneity of life. 💜

PS: This guy I’m seeing is a good one, and it’s a “secure attachment.”😁

Mother’s Day 2018: This Mom Needs A Break

Today is Mother’s Day. I spent the weekend at my mom’s house with my daughter. Despite the massive fight that we had a few weeks ago, and the work I’ve been doing on how she neglected me as a child, the visit was relatively pleasant. Like always, my mom focused most of her time and energy on my daughter. She is a really good grandmother to my daughter, even though she’s not present for me as a mom.

I’m usually not a very good gift giver. This year was no different. I have very little money in my bank account, and it’s difficult to buy for my mom because she has everything. I decided to give her a Thai Massage for Mother’s Day. Not only did I think she would enjoy it, but I also thought it might possibly help us connect and help me find some compassion for her.

So, last night I gave my mom a 90 minute Thai Massage. She wanted to keep the tv on the whole time and she talked to my sister throughout the session. She did say she enjoyed the massage, so that’s good. However, it was difficult for me to really feel any sort of connection or compassion. I tried to cue her breath and check in with her, but she seemed so into her tv show that what I did or said mattered very little. If nothing else, I hope she was able to feel cared for during the 90 minutes I spent with her.

This morning, my daughter was awake at 7am. My sister and I had a huge fight over a trip to NYC that I am taking in June. I drove four hours back home after a family lunch. My daughter and I had McDonalds for dinner (gross), watched Pocahontas, and did 2 loads of laundry. It’s 10pm and my kid is still not asleep. I am exhausted. While I am eternally grateful for my daughter and the time we have together, this mom really could have used a break for Mother’s Day…. even if it was just for a short nap.

Tomorrow is a full day of work, therapy, and yoga. I am hopeful that I’ll find time for peace and meditation during this very busy week.

Healing From Neglect: May 10th Thai Massage

I had a Thai Massage this afternoon – 3rd one in four weeks. That might seem a bit excessive. I get it. It seems like a lot to me, too. I sometimes have to remind myself the purpose of these sessions. There are things that I get from Thai that I don’t get from therapy; a level of healing that doesn’t currently exist for me in any other setting. Because of that, I am able to process through my childhood traumas at a much more rapid rate than I would with just traditional talk therapy. And to me, it feels like it’s a deeper level of processing. Instead of talking myself in circles, or shutting down and refusing to talk, my entire body gets the opportunity to heal from the trauma, regardless of whether or not I can verbalize what’s going on.

My session today started just like all of my others. My instructor worked on my feet first. The flashback was almost instant. I’m running through the woods. Capture the flag. He pushes her down and hurts her. The pain from the memory takes my breath away. I can’t tell if it’s happening again or not. I see the trees; everything is green. I can’t feel my instructor pressing anymore, just him. When it’s over, I want to cry. I was so little. Where was my mom? Where was my dad? Where was my dad’s girlfriend? No one was there for me.

Abandonment. That theme continued throughout my Thai session. I have been working on acknowledging, accepting, and moving on from the neglect that I experienced as a kid. I spent a lot of my session reflecting on that. I thought about how much I had to take care of myself when I was little. I was a latch-key kid in kindergarten. Because my mom worked 3rd shift, I also had to get myself ready in the mornings for school. I can remember setting my Beauty and the Beast alarm clock every night before bed. I remember making my own breakfasts, packing my own lunch, and fixing my own afternoon snack. I remember working on my homework alone, while watching Power Rangers. Independence wasn’t a choice, it was survival.

As my session continued, I talked about how I took care of my sisters. They are 6 and 10 years younger than I am. I stayed with them after school while my parents worked. I kept them in the summers so my parents wouldn’t have to pay for daycare. I raised them. I didn’t always do a good job. I am a “trauma kid.” I grew up with all of the characteristics of a kid who had been sexually abused – every single one of them. I didn’t handle things in the best way, particularly with my middle sister, the sister who is now chronically ill. Even though her and I have discussed all of the things that happened and I have made my amends, I still feel the guilt and shame surrounding the way I treated her and the things I did to her. My therapist says that I need to work on seeing my younger self with more compassion; she says I did the best I could given my circumstances. It’s difficult though. I feel like I’ll always hate the person that I was then.

The massage continued, and it was time for chimes. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do chimes today, but since minimal sexual abuse memories came up during the session, I decided to try. As the chimes started to play, I looked around the room. I see the blocks and bolsters in the prop room; I see the blinds on the windows; I see the wood floor. I hear the chimes. I hear my breath. I taste the minty mouthwash flavor on my tongue. I smell the faint hint of cigarette smoke in my hair. I feel the texture of the blanket. I’m ready.

I laid down on my belly, having gone through my five senses. My instructor pressed hard on my back. All of the weight helped me stay present. I could feel her hands walking up my back, pushing down as I exhaled. I could hear her breath. I could smell the essential oils. I could see the wooden floor. I stayed present for a little while, but then I was gone. The bolster that was next to me became distorted and the room was out of focus. I couldn’t feel my instructor. I was afraid she wasn’t with me anymore. I’m on the porch. Let’s play doctor. The wind chimes are so loud today. I watch as he hurts her. So much fear. My entire body was terrified.

When the chimes ended, I asked my instructor to keep pressing on my back. I could feel all of the hurt and fear being smushed out. I needed my mom when I was little… I needed her but she didn’t care about me. I needed any adult to be present for me. Instead, I took care of myself. As my instructor pressed up and down my back, I felt an overwhelming amount of grief. It’s not ok; the level of neglect that I endured is not ok.

I needed to cry, but I couldn’t get the tears to fall during Thai today. Every time they’d start, I would shove them back down, my mother’s voice echoing in my head, the sting of her palm against my cheek. I’ll give you something to cry about. But now, as I write this, I can’t make the tears stop. I needed her to love and care about me when I was little. I needed her to protect me and keep me safe. I’ll never understand why she didn’t; I’ll never understand why I wasn’t worthy of that.

Growing up, I had always wanted to be a mommy. I wanted a daughter. My sole reasoning was that I was determined to be a better mommy than my mom was to me. I wanted a daughter who could go to bed every night knowing that she is loved, which is more than I had.

My daughter is four now. She is around the same age as I was when my sexual abuse began. I work hard to keep her safe. I talk to her about her body parts, and which ones shouldn’t be touched by anyone else. I practice yoga with her. I try to acknowledge and label her feelings, and model effective coping skills. I try to stay present for her. Being a mom who has a history of developmental trauma is hard. I am regularly afraid that I am fucking up my kid. But at the end of the day, she goes to bed each night knowing that she is loved. She knows that her life adds value and meaning to mine. She is my everything.

These experiences of neglect have shaped who I am. The post-traumatic growth is found in the way that I parent my daughter. The strength and independence that wasn’t a choice when I was little are now clearly defined characteristics of who I am. It is unfortunate that my mother was not, and is not capable of being my mommy. She is missing out on the amazing person that I have become. However, there have been several kind-hearted women in my life over the past 15 years who have stepped in to fill my mother’s shoes when I needed it the most. It hurts that my mother chose not to foster a connection with me, but I have so much gratitude for the women who did. Without the neglect, those relationships may not have formed in the way that they did.

My Thai session ended with a blissful savasana. As I laid on the mat, I felt all of the pain trickle out of my fingers and toes. I am calm. I am safe. I am cared for. This concept of neglect is a lot bigger than I had anticipated. I can tell it will be something that I will have to continuously work on for a while. However, I feel like I was able to make progress in this Thai session. The little girl that I used to be feels taken care of, and the grown woman that I am today feels cared for. Tonight, for the first time in roughly four weeks, I feel at peace with where I am in this process. I know that I am going to heal from this.

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