Stop Trying Too Hard

Stop Trying Too Hard

I recently experienced the feeling of emptiness again. It is uncomfortable. It feels like I need to eat an entire Thanksgiving dinner by myself but I know that would not help. It mostly feels uncomfortable because it is unusual. With the emptiness, I don’t feel any feelings. And I don’t feel any of my normal defenses. It doesn’t feel numb. It just feels empty. Even though it’s weird, I do have a sense of hope when I feel it. I know there has been a “letting go” deep down inside. Some unhelpful belief or painful emotion has packed up and left. And I know exciting and positive things take its place. So that fuels my hope. And I have to admit, my hope is pinned on one particular thing. Over the past six months (or maybe longer at this point), I have been inundated with feelings of futility. And I must admit I hate them. I do my best to be accepting and supportive of my inner parts. I do my best to allow the processing to run its course. I do try hard to stay patient. And most importantly, I try not to let those feelings get tied in to my daily thoughts about my current life. The thought trap will easily ruin an otherwise good day. But I am tired of not believing in a future. I am exhausted from fighting through days while some part of me thinks it is all pointless. I want to feel that gratitude I have felt during those brief moments of grace. I want to know with all my being, not...
Letting Them Love What They Love

Letting Them Love What They Love

What I Loved When I was growing up, I used to dream about what my life could be. I used to think about what I would have done if I could have done anything I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I know that no child gets to do whatever they want. And most kids probably dream of a life of pure freedom. My son loves to talk about eating candy and playing video games all day. But I wanted more realistic things, or in my case, not realistic at all. I wanted to be unconditionally loved by my family. Honestly, I would have taken conditional love too. I wanted real friends. My self esteem was so low that I was attracting far too many bullies in to my life. I wanted to play more, especially with other kids. I wanted to talk with others more, to be more social. But activities required me to get too close to other adults which wasn’t acceptable to my parents. And I wanted to swim. I loved to swim more than anything. My body had been through so much, and when I was in the water, I felt weightless. The pain went away. And I could move through the water with little effort. I was a good swimmer. And of course, I loved the fact that I was good at something outside of school. At home, I was never good. But Could Not Have So I embraced swimming with everything I could. I never missed a practice even though I often had to get myself there. In elementary school, I would bike to...
Not Enough

Not Enough

The Beliefs Uncovering my unconscious beliefs has been a huge part of my recovery journey. My awareness has shifted my beliefs some, but it feels like they are holding on for dear life. I know I am still processing what created them. And I know it would be best to accept that. But my beliefs keep getting in the way. Lately, my “not enough” beliefs have become more apparent and much louder as life becomes less predictable. That is probably why I can hear it like a loudspeaker right now. Not enough new clients. Not enough Facebook likes. Not enough workshops sold. Not enough emails received. Not enough income. Not enough sleep. Not enough time. Not enough of anything … ever. And we all know what happens when there is not enough. Disappointment happens. And gratitude is nowhere to be found. I have been giving some thought to this phenomenon lately. Honestly, thinking is what I do, so I am sure there is no surprise there. But I have been wondering where it comes from. How can I want more when I believe I am not deserving of it? It seems so dichotomous. That being said, most belief systems based on trauma are not logical. And the more I consider it, the more it makes sense. Maybe I believe there is not enough because I believe I am not enough. Where It Came From I grew up in a family that didn’t believe in abundance. Some would save money obsessively only to have that money blown by other family members who were hoarding things. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy...
Triggers Get a Bad Rap

Triggers Get a Bad Rap

As survivors, we work hard to minimize the impact of triggers on our daily lives. We learn approaches to stay present when the triggers come. And we try to avoid the triggers when we can. I have met survivors who attempt to avoid all triggers. Some stay locked away from the world. Some avoid relationships, friendships and anything remotely resembling their childhood. And while there is certainly a case for minimizing triggers to keep life tolerable, there is a problem with trigger avoidance. It is impossible. Triggers are inevitable. As long as we live on this Earth, we will be triggered. Why? Triggers aren’t what we think they are. Triggers are not small torture devices sent from the universe. Triggers are a reminder that we have work to do. We have emotions to feel. We have memories to recover. We have inner conversations to start. We are here to grow. It is a universal law. So we will continue to see reminders. And avoidance will not help us. We may temporarily delay the inevitable, but that’s the most we can do. It isn’t our fault that we don’t understand the true nature of triggers. We have been told they are bad. We have been told to avoid them as much as possible. Most trauma therapies teach us how to tolerate and live with trauma, to breathe through our triggers. So we have learned that triggers are something to be lived with, not something to be learned from. And it doesn’t help that there is a pervasive feeling in the world of trauma recovery that trauma will follow us around...
Changing My Mind

Changing My Mind

The Hardest Part of the Journey For a long time, I thought the hardest part about trauma recovery was allowing the expression of past emotions. I fought and defended against them for most of my adult life in an attempt to avoid the inevitable. But once I allowed the emotions in, little by little, I saw the improvement in my physical health and well-being. I saw the occasional glimpses of peace and knew I was doing the right thing. It was painful to feel the emotions, but I have finally come to realize, it won’t kill me. (And no, that is not just a phrase. I really thought it would kill me.) But another part of recovery seems to be taking its place at the top of the hierarchy of apparent impossibility. And it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier or simpler. It is just as hard as the first time. Maybe it is my stubborn nature. Maybe it is my comfort with staying in my head. But changing my mind has been quite a struggle. My belief systems have always been pretty solid. Honestly, when I was growing up, there was a ton of evidence supporting them. Nobody is trustworthy. The universe will not support me. I am not worthy of love or anything else for that matter. All these beliefs were supported in my daily life. So when I became an adult, there was no reason to question them. I was keenly aware of the continuing evidence to support my beliefs. And anything that countered my beliefs was explained away. When I met a loving, trustworthy...