To My Therapist, Thank You!

 

tomytherapist_rockinrandommomI actually meant to start this post back in November but I got so busy and honestly, I wasn’t ready to write about it.

Therapy has ended. It ended in October of 2015.  If I remember correctly, I started therapy in September or October of 2005.  It has taken ten years to finally move on from my childhood. It took ten years, a lot of hard work and a phenomenal therapist who treated me with respect, approached our sessions with understanding and patience, and helped me re-train my brain so that all of those negative thoughts and behaviors I had grown up with could be pushed out of my mind, paving the way for a new outlook on life.

To you, my wonderful therapist, I thank you! I thank you for not judging me. I thank you for giving me a safe space to not just express my feelings, but to figure out what those feelings were. I remember when I first came to you, I told you flat out that I don’t trust therapists. I had had a few bad experiences with some who were less interested in me and more interested in studying me. You were interested in helping me. You didn’t see me as a statistic. You saw me as a human being.
Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
I remember early on that I told you I believed I was a freak and that I would never be normal. I would never feel normal. You didn’t argue with me. You just listened and you encouraged me to keep talking about why I felt that way. No one ever wanted to know why I felt any sort of way. As you know, growing up, my feelings were never taken into consideration. I was never listened to. I was nothing more than damaged goods to those who were supposed to care for me. To them, I would never amount to anything. I was destined for failure as far as they were concerned. But you knew better.

You showed me that I am so much more than that. You showed me that I am a worthy human being with intelligent thoughts and real feelings. You showed me that I matter. You helped me build up my self-esteem and knock down my steel walls. I had so many walls. When I came to you I felt like a monster.  I was battling my demons and they were winning. I was starting to become very cold. I felt dead inside. You helped me change all of that. You helped me turn it all around and I thank you!

I had held in so many emotions for such a long time that one of the reasons I came to you was because I was feeling emotions, anger and rage, in particular, and I didn’t know why. More importantly, I felt like I was losing control. I thought I was going crazy. When you explained to me that I had PTSD and what that meant, it helped me to see that I wasn’t crazy and that my feelings were real. They were very intense but they were real.

You helped me stare down my demons, fight the horde, and come out on top. With your help, I developed some real life skills that go way beyond mere survival. Through you, I learned how to notice my triggers and how to handle them when they happen. I will be honest with you, this past Christmas I was triggered twice by total strangers. The second time I did lose my cool but I also calmed myself down long enough to deal with the problem at hand. I used the skills you gave me and I didn’t dwell.heal_rockinrandommom

The most important thing you helped me with was forgiveness and not just forgiving those who hurt me. You helped me to forgive myself. You helped me to fully accept that the things that happened to me as a child wasn’t my fault and by accepting that, I was able to forgive myself and by forgiving myself, I have gotten closer with my spiritual side. I’m not angry with God anymore. I no longer believe the Universe is out to get me.

It took ten long years and a lot of hard work from both of us but without you, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I don’t think if I can ever truly express just how grateful I am that you came into my life. I made the decision to get better. You helped me achieve that goal. I am better now. There are things I know I will always struggle with but know that each day is a little easier. I miss you though. You were an important part of my life for a long time and I miss our conversations but I want you to know that I am happy. I am finally happy! I wish you all the best!

Thank you!!!

Michelle

I am linking this with:

My Random Musings

 

 

 

 

Dear Father

dearfather_rockinrandommom

Dear Father,

I thought of you today. I thought of you and it didn’t send me into a depressive state. I thought of you and I didn’t even get mad. I wasn’t angry… or afraid. Instead, when I thought of you, I tried to imagine the little boy you used to be. I saw a picture of you once when you were five years old and in that picture, you looked so happy. When I had asked my aunt what you were like as a child, she told me you were one of the sweetest, caring, loving, and giving children she had ever known. It made me wonder, what happened?

I asked that question actually. I asked her, “What made him so mean? What made him a monster?” I was a teenager at the time of this conversation and I was still so angry with you. I was still so afraid of you but I was also so vengeful towards you. Every time I thought of you for a long time, these emotions would come to surface so quickly I couldn’t control them and they would linger for weeks. I hated you!

But for that brief moment I wanted to understand you. I didn’t want to see you as a human being though. I only ever saw you as a monster. There was something about that picture that spoke to me. Maybe it was your eyes and your smile. When I knew you, you never smiled and your eyes were empty. Maybe it was the innocence on your face that drew me in. Your sweet, innocent face.
Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
I was told that your mother had been very abusive to you. I was told she never wanted you and that she told you many times that she wished you were never born. I don’t know if any of that is true but if it is, I understand. It doesn’t excuse anything you did – not even a little bit – but I understand. That must have been really hard for you.

I hadn’t thought about that conversation in a long time until today. I’ve had a busy day. Did a lot of running around and while driving, I just thought of you. I started having this imaginary conversation with you in my head, asking you about your childhood as if I was your therapist instead of your daughter. I listened to you with empathy and compassion. Even after that though, you denied any wrong doing towards your own children and I said, “That’s fine. I don’t need your apology or your acknowledgement. I just need you to know that I understand and I forgive you.” I remembered the picture and remembered your smile. It’s my son’s smile. It’s my smile. Then I thought of my son, Conner.

I thought of his happiness and his openness. I thought of his curiosity and his intelligence. I thought of his smile and how his eyes light up. Did you have that same light? Did someone snuff it out? Did someone squash your potential? While having these thoughts about you, it didn’t sour my mood. You don’t know this but that is a huge thing for me. For as long as I can remember, I have always been filled with rage, dread, and fear whenever I think of you. So much so, that I would find myself severely depressed and highly anxious for weeks after the thoughts. Those thoughts would trigger horrible nightmares that I couldn’t shake.

Not this time. This time I simply thought of you and that was that. Maybe I should give some credit to Def Leppard because I was listening to them in the car while having my thoughts and they always put me in a great mood. Maybe the music kept me from sinking but I also know that it is me. I forgave you last year and since then my feelings towards you have been changing. I don’t hate you anymore. I don’t love you, but I don’t hate you either.

Some part of me is still angry with you and probably always will be, but my blinding rage towards you has evaporated. The biggest thing though: I no longer fear you! Because of all of this, I can think of you with some level of understanding. I can think of you as a human being and I know that NO ONE will snuff out my son’s light. No one will take away his smile and no one is going to squash his potential.

You were a sweet and caring person once. I don’t believe that you were born bad but bad things happened and you let that change you. You let that define you. I won’t let that happen to me.

Sincerely,

Your Daughter

A little Def Leppard for your viewing pleasure!

I am linking this with:

Dometicated Momster
http://www.reflectionsfromme.com
Mummuddlingthrough

Does Time Heal All Wounds?

timewounds

The past two weeks I have been kind of hibernating. I’ve been feeling down but until a few days ago, I didn’t really know why. At first, I thought it was because I didn’t get the job I had gone on two interviews for… No, not that. I had gotten over that. I had analyzed the situation and made peace with it. I know that I will get another opportunity. Where one door closes, another will open. I realized that it is not what has me in the current state of mind. No, my current state of mind has to do with the anniversary of the death of a dear friend, Mike. We called him Mikey.

Mike was more than a friend though. He was family! He was my ex-husband’s best friend and my youngest son’s Godfather. He was like a brother to me, particularly because he reminded me so much of my youngest brother. Mike and I didn’t always get along but when it mattered, he was always there. Four months after his unexpected and tragic death, having been hit by a car at 2 in the morning, possibly a hit and run, I finally sat down and wrote a letter to him. Here is a some of it:

mikeyblog

There is a lot more to the letter but the gist is he was a good man. He died when he was only 27 years old. He was too young. He was starting to get his life back in order after a series of lemons that life sometimes gives us. He had a positive attitude. He was a lover of life. He was a comedian, a gamer, a computer genius, a loyal friend, a great confidant, and an awesome Godfather.

letter_mikey

He and I got really close. He was like a brother to me. We would have coffee on Saturday mornings, play video games together, and shoot the shit almost every single day. He had lots of nieces and nephews who he adored but he always made time for my two kids. He loved them as much as he loved his own family. As far as he was concerned, the children of his best friend were his family.

It’s been 5 years. 5 years ago today, to be exact and it still feels like it only just happened. I still remember the day before the tragedy, he was at my house. We had our morning coffee and chatted, not a care in the world. He was happy. Everything was good. Later that day he decided to go home. Later that night he decided to go out. He was supposed to come back over the next morning but by then, he was gone.

liveeachmoment

It’s funny the things you remember, and things you forget. I have lost people before. friends and family alike but he was the one I was closest to. When I think of where we started. He was kind of a chauvinist. It always brought out the feminist in me. Over the years he grew and changed, as did I. He was there during some of my worst moments of my PTSD and I saw some of his worst. We went from barely liking each other, to becoming like family.

When I re-read the letter I had forgotten the words Conner said to me a week later:

A week ago Conner saw your picture on the computer and he came to me and said, “Mommy, I miss Uncle Mikey.  Can we go see him in Heaven?”  That about broke my heart.  If I could I would take him there right away just to see you again.  You were taken away from us so suddenly that it’s still a shock to all of us.  We didn’t get to say goodbye. 

I had forgotten how long it took for Conner to get over not having your around. Trying to explain death to a 3 1/2 year old is like trying to reach the stars from the ground. All he really understood was that you weren’t coming back. Last year he finally was ready to go to your grave. How he cried. We got through it though. Time will heal his wound but does time heal all wounds? Will it still hurt in another 5 years? Or maybe 10?

miss

If you could see Conner now, Mikey, you’d adore him so much. I think about all of the intellectual conversations you two would have. He’s give you a run for your money but you’d love every minute of it. Adam is a teenager now and he’s getting so tall! You’d be so proud of both of them!

I am leaving you with a video I made years ago of this awesome guy.

He died on October 17th. the title page is a typo.

 

I am linking this with:

Mummuddlingthrough

Finding Healing in Forgiveness

healinginforgiveness

The healing process is a long road to recovery, with all sorts of unexpected twists and turns. Some paths to healing are harder to walk then others. Those of you who read my blog, know that I am at the end stages in my healing process.

I don’t talk about my trauma. I started this blog to reach out and hopefully help others suffering from PTSD. I also started this blog to reach out and help other parents who are raising special needs kids. So, to talk about the trauma itself doesn’t work for the purpose of my blog. I have studied Psychology and been a part of some amazing non-profit organizations that specialize in helping others heal. Through that I have learned that to talk about one’s own personal trauma when you are trying to help another isn’t always the right thing to do. It tends to distract the other person from dealing with their own issues. Finding healing in forgiveness is one in which I will divulge some information for the purpose of this post.

forgiveness-quote

I was hurt by a lot of people throughout my life. Aren’t we all? My life began in darkness. Many adults who were supposed to love me and care for me, ended up hurting me. Some of them didn’t intend to hurt me so I was able to forgive them pretty easily. Others sometimes intended to hurt me but out of their own anger at themselves and I just happen to be in the way. That took a bit longer to come to grips with and to forgive and move on, but forgive I did. But there were still others who took pleasure in not just hurting me but hurting those I loved. One person who did the most damage in this category was my father.

Parents are supposed to protect and love their children unconditionally, unequivocally, and without a second thought or question. We all know this. Many of my readers are parents and we all love our children with every fiber of our being. There is NOTHING that we would not do for them. However, there are some parents out there angerandforgivenesswho simply can’t do this. Some of them do the exact opposite of loving their children. My father is one of those parents.

For years during my childhood, all the way up until I got pregnant with my oldest son, I lived in the land of denial. It was encouraged so living in denial was easy for me. I never talked about the four hellish months (that
felt like centuries) I lived with my father to anyone. I didn’t talk to my friends. I didn’t talk to my siblings. I especially didn’t talk to any adults about it. However, the one thing I held onto was that I swore I would NEVER FORGIVE HIM.

For a long time, every time I saw a picture of him or even thought of him, I would shake and it would trigger a set of horrible nightmares that left me pretty messed up for weeks on end. I would go into these deep depressive and angry states of my mind that would cause me to withdraw from everyone around me, including my kids, who I absolutely adore, but I couldn’t deal. I wouldn’t deal.

repressingmemories

I was determined to hate him forever. My reasons are many but the main reason I refused to forgive him was simple: Justice. He only served 6 months in jail for what he did and I always felt that got away with it. He was a monster to me. Six months wasn’t long enough. So, in my mind I was dishing out my own justice by not forgiving him. I was taking back my power by doing this.

wasnt2

 

 

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

When people told me that forgiveness is good for the soul, I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand because I was blinded by hatred for a man I only could ever see as evil. I held onto that hatred with the fervor of a hundred battle-hardened warriors who had faced down the devil himself and lived to tell about it. I was determined to keep him my prisoner…

compassion

But I was the one still in prison. I didn’t see that until this past year. I had come so far into my healing that I made a goal for myself to forgive him. This wasn’t just for me but also for my boys. How can I preach to them about forgiving people if I can’t do it myself? So, I set out to make this a priority and it was the last step that I needed to take in order to truly move on from my past. When I finally took the plunge, it felt like all of the dark clouds that were hanging over my head since childhood were lifted away and my outlook on life has changed drastically!

boxerforgivenes

 

I am linking this with:

The Dad Network
#MidLifeLuv Linky
Cuddle Fairy

6 Ways to Improve Mental Health

6selfhelpstrategies

When I was a counselor/advocate for a rape crisis hotline, I employed several strategies with the callers and with myself.  The hotline is more than women calling about rape.  Many people called the hotline for various reasons from childhood trauma to domestic violence, to suicide.  All of these things were under the umbrella of what I was trained for.  Self-care was talked about immensely during my training because as a counselor/advocate, we heard stories that could (and would) keep us up at night.

We had to utilize self-care to help us deal with some of the stories because, well, if you are a compassionate and empathic person, which you probably are if you’re a counselor/advocate in any capacity, these stories can get to you.  You feel for the survivors calling and confiding in you, a total stranger, their deepest fears and problems. My job was to help alleviate some of that burden for them and I enjoyed it very much.  However, as a survivor myself, the self-care bit came in handy not just for me as a counselor but also as a survivor and for the survivor calling into the hotline.

enjoylife

So, I’m going to share 6 ways to improve mental health I used for myself then and I still find them helpful today.

  1. Breathe – I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, taking a deep breath while in the middle of a very stressful moment can really help to calm your nerves. With the callers, I would practice breathing exercises to calm them down.  Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and let it out slowly.  We would do this together on the phone and many of the callers found this to be very helpful.
  2. Go to Your Safe Place – Do you have a special place in your mind where you feel safe? Is it a beach on a tropical island, or a cabin in the woods?  Is it an imaginary place like Neverland or a lush green forest where unicorns reside?  Any place that you can put yourself for a few minutes.  Don’t just imagine that you are there.  Close your eyes and smell the air.  Listen to the sounds.  Feel the soft breeze on your skin.  Really delve deep, as deep as you can get to help you feel safe and happy.  This is my favorite strategy to use with the callers and with myself. It really does wonders for anyone who needs to de-stress.
  3. What’s Your Hobby? – Often times, when a survivor is dealing with the aftermath of a trauma, they find themselves depressed and unable to function with life as before. So, one of my goals was to ask this question but it lead with, “Before, what was something you really enjoyed doing?”  This is so important because often after any tragedy we stop doing the things we love.  We stop enjoying them because we are shrouded in sadness.  To help get through this incredibly hard time, we need to fall back on what we used to love to do.  Did you paint before?  Did you enjoy reading, horseback riding, writing, drawing, going hiking?  What did you enjoy doing before your world came crashing down?  Go back to that, or at least try to and see if it brings back some positivity in your life.
  4. Make some hot tea, draw up a bath, and listen to some relaxing music- Another one of my favorites here is doing this. Now, sometimes I found myself doing this because I heard a particularly rough tale and needed to de-stress right away.  This also helps the caller.  Sometimes while dealing with the aftermath of a trauma, one can become paranoid and this can cause a deep fear that prohibits the survivor from sleeping.  The tea, the bath, and the music (along with scented candles) are a perfect combination for helping a person relax and achieve some amount of Zen, even if it is only temporary.
  5. Read a book by candlelight, scented candlelight – I have often found that reading a good [fiction] book while engulfed in scented candle aromas, fills you with positive memories and positive thoughts and keeps your mind occupied. It’s calming and just oozes positivity.
  6. Tai Chi or Yoga – I’ve talked about these before and I will say it again. Meditation is good for the soul but if you’re like me and simply can’t turn off the thoughts in your head while sitting on the ground, try one or both of these things.  They really help with concentrating on your breathing and that is the whole point.  If you count your breaths, you aren’t thinking and therefore you are clearing your mind.  This is helpful to everyone, including those who have suffered from a trauma.  Give it a try.

There are many more strategies that can be used but these are my favorites that have proven to be helpful to the survivor and to myself.  It might take a few tries to see any changes in yourself but if you keep at it, you will see a difference.

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

I am linking this up with:

 

Domesticated Momster
The Dad Network
My Random Musings