PTSD conversation October 15, 2021

This is sort of a this-and-that conversation, stemming from earlier comments with another blogger on his site. My response was going to be long so a post with more room seemed like the way go. Besides, I’ve been wanting to explore some of these thoughts on here anyway.

In his comment section we were talking about triggers, mood swings, living with integrity and how to calm things down. He says:

I am honest, make pretty good choices

How does integrity work with ptsd?

I agree

“I’m working on trying to change this. Consciously recognizing the times where I’ve taken insult and accepted rejection where none was meant. Baby steps, but it is making a positive difference.”

Ptsd is still raging from intrusive thoughts and trigger and spotting danger.

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For me; living with integrity (honorable, honest, dependable etc) adds up to good mental health – positive mental attitude. Living this way fosters a lack of shame, guilt, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, fear (fear we will be caught doing something wrong.).

There are other reasons (like the past) we can have these negative experiences but if we do life with integrity the negative emotion load will be reduced significantly. It’s hard to be fair and kind without feeling good about my everyday life and my interactions with people.

Feeling good about life and people has a calming influence on my triggers.

It’s easy for me to mistakenly think I’m doing well in this area if I’m not paying attention. Bouts of anger, impatience, road rage, and any other similar emotions can crop up as I do life. I have to deal with them, let them go and move on to preserve peace.

Aside from the integrity aspect, I’ve worked hard to keep bitterness, anger, and other such related emotions out of my everyday life. Forgiveness is important to my well being.

Most of these negative emotions are relative to the past rather than the present. I’ve forgiven my dad and I can talk about him now without tears or anger. Not so much with several others, tears still flow easily but that is a work in progress.

Another thing that helps me considerably is thinking through what just happened; once the emotions are settled down. Examining memories to identify the original event behind the trigger and facing what happened has helped take the punch out of the trigger.

It doesn’t sound like it should work but it does. A disclaimer though: I don’t know what you have been through so be careful with this one. Some memories should not be explored alone.

For me, an example of a memory to be explored would be the bathroom. For decades I wouldn’t/couldn’t go into a washroom, public or otherwise, if I had to do so within sight of men. It took a few more decades for me to realize the reason; as a child, bad things happened to me in bathrooms. I could have figured it out sooner if I had been willing to think about the why. It is what it is, leave it alone, was my attitude.

All of these things, and probably more, have been helpful but the one thing I use on a day to day basis is change-the-channel. It was validating when I heard they were doing this successfully with soldiers. They found that early interruption of debilitating thoughts brought an early end to the episode. They were using computer games to be the distraction.

For a good while there, my whole day was destroyed if I was triggered. It was frustrating. Especially when I was supposed to be working.

By accident I learned that if I went to an activity requiring my whole mind, the channel would change in my head and my thoughts would move on to a better place. Later I may think about whatever triggered me but the adrenaline reaction was no longer there.

I read books, play computer games, follow podcasts and vlogs, write this blog. Some days these things are literally my sanity. I run to them before I dig myself into a deep hole.

I don’t know if this makes sense or is even helpful but this is how I maintain my sanity and avoid major triggers. This is not the final word on the subject either. It is much too complex for that and I’m no expert.

Now I just have to figure out how to avoid the minor triggers.

I don’t think I will live long enough to deal with it all. 🙂

Photo by Tomas Ryant on Pexels.com

A parting thought: there are many self centered hurting people who do not lead a life of integrity. They would be happier if they did. If you lead a life of integrity you can check this box off the list. I have.

Things I learned…

Several days ago I shared the helpful video I had the good fortune to run across. It was an interview with Jennifer Kolari and can be found here.

I’m still thinking about some things she shared that impacted me most.

I did take notes but they are in the form of phrases, just enough to remind me of the thoughts I didn’t want to forget. I won’t be able to share the clear or complete explanations contained in the video. I refer you back to the video for that wealth of information. (This is my disclaimer: much hereafter is on me, the author can’t be blamed for any issues or misunderstandings. I do want to give her credit for the good parts though.)

One of the first significant phrases was “your body keeps the score”. There are many reasons why our brains do not retain memories, especially of traumatic events, but our bodies remember everything Jennifer says. I have never thought about it quite like that before (stored in the body rather than in the brain) but I have always been convinced that some part of me does remember all the things I don’t or won’t.

Another point, in regard to the out of proportion reactions we often have to people, situations, comments etc. — we need to find healing before we can learn how to respond rather than react. I totally get this. I’ve been working on it in my life for quite some time and lately have seen positive changes in my thoughts and actions. I appreciate what she is about to say on how to go about doing this.

Jennifer says “to heal it you’ve got to feel it.” I agree, and to do that we have to give ourselves permission to feel our emotions. Most of us have learned to push down and bottle up our feelings. Typically, over time the feelings fester and eventually erupt into something much worse than they were originally.

So here’s the part I’ve not heard expressed quite this way. She says we feel love with our heart and we feel fear with our gut. I guess I haven’t really thought about the heart response because the feelings there would be positive and pleasant. I have definitely noticed negative changes in the gut though. When I’m feeling anxious things definitely do not feel pleasant in my digestive area.

She says one of the reasons for this concept to be plausible is due to neurons.

Apparently both the heart and the gut have neurons, who knew. I did a little internet research and here’s what I found.

According to several sources, including sciencemag.org the gut contains millions of neurons and is directly connected to the brain. The vagus nerve is one of the largest nerves carrying messages back and forth at a dizzying rate. The site linked above is as recent as 2018. If we feel fear or anxiety there will be a reaction in the gut. For some of us it morphs into painful intestinal disorders and other similar diseases.

The heart similarly has a large number of neurons but it also has it’s own nervous system and brain. Sometimes called the little brain according to heartmath.org. In 1991 a scientist made this discovery. The heart and the head brain are also sending a dizzying number of message back and forth.

Wow! I have to say this little bit of exploration done in order to speak intelligently to Jennifer’s comments regarding the gut and the heart, has opened up a whole new world of information. It’s calling out to me, to look into it more and more thoroughly.

Bottom line for the original subject of this post; to be emotionally healthy it helps to understand how the heart and gut are tied to our thoughts and memories. We feel love in our heart, we feel fear in our gut. When we react to people rather than respond, which part of our body is involved? Most often it will be fear, the gut. The next question is what happened to us to cause this reaction? How is it tied to our early life, what traumatized us. A dog? Lost? Abused? What?

Jennifer’s point is that if we can figure out the originating event and allow ourselves to feel the irrational fear it will lose it’s power over us and we can move on. Feel the fear of the dog, the bully, the dark, whatever it is.

Here’s a little teaser about the heart brain.

I’m not sure if I have been able to stay on subject well enough to make sense but I hope so.

I think the main take away is that our emotional well being affects our physical well being. After that, it becomes a vicious cycle. Learning to read the signs and figuring out what to do to alleviate/repair issues and memories, can be life changing.

Check out the interview and the other links to learn more about this fascinating subject.

Free books August 23, 2021

BookBub has a FREE suggestion for us. It’s historical, Second World War but the perspective is one I’ve not read before. The reviews for this seem to swing between loving and hating. Loving won out by a small margin. It is free so I think I will take a chance.

From Dust and Ashes: A WWII Historical Fiction Series (Liberator Series Book 1)

Amazon quote:

It is 1945, and a group of American soldiers liberate a Nazi concentration camp.

Helene is the abandoned wife of an SS guard who has fled to avoid arrest. Overcome by guilt, she begins to help meet the needs of survivors. Throughout the process, she finds her own liberation–from spiritual bondage, sin, and guilt.

Readers will be intrigued and touched by this fascinating story of love, faithfulness, and courage amidst one of the darkest chapters of mankind’s history.

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LPC Books has a FREE suggestion also. I’m not sure about this one either because it seems to lean on the side of struggles. At least it’s free so it doesn’t hurt to take some time to think about it.

Outbound Train 

Amazon quote:

In 1976, memories from a night near the railroad tracks sixteen years earlier haunt Barbara Parker. She wrestles with past demons every night, then wakes to the train’s five-thirty whistle. Exhausted and dreading the day, she keeps her hands busy working in Bryson City’s textile plant, known as the “blue jean plant,” all the while worrying about her teenage daughter, Carole Anne. The whistle of the train, the hum of those machines, and the struggle to survive drives Barbara. When an unexpected layoff creates a financial emergency, the desperate pressure of poverty is overwhelming.

Unbeknownst to Barbara, Carole Anne sneaks out at night to walk the tracks so she can work at Hubert’s Bar. She’s hoarding money with plans to drive her mother’s rusty, unused Oldsmobile out of Bryson City, and never return. She only needs one opportunity … if she can just find it.

When Carole Anne goes missing, Barbara finds herself at a crossroad—she must put aside old memories and past hurts to rely on a classmate for help finding her daughter. But this is the same man she blames for the incident years ago. Is she strong enough—or desperate enough—to do anything to keep her daughter safe?

In Outbound Train, the Parker women struggle to make frayed ends meet in a town where they never quite do … at least, not without expert weaving and a bit of brute force.

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If I come across anything else interesting I will put it in another post.

Happy Reading

Perfect timing

It’s amazing how it happens. Perfect timing.

Yesterday’s post shared the idea of counselling in a book. Check it out here if you missed it… Love is a Choice

This morning, waiting in my inbox, was the regular email notification for the weekly podcast I follow faithfully. The content is always interesting and helpful, on a variety of topics. Today’s topic was especially meaningful on the heels of yesterday’s book. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, the two books fit so well together.

The subject line of the email was an attention grabber.

A specific type of writing that will combat anxiety, depression, and symptoms from past trauma.

There was no way I could walk away from this podcast and leave it for another day. It had to be today. I watched it twice, it was packed that full. .

Today’s interviewee has written a book called The Power of Writing it Down.

Part of author/writing coach Allison Fallon’s target audience is the same crowd flocking to read Love is a Choice... Count me in.

The Power of Writing It Down: A Simple Habit to Unlock Your Brain and Reimagine Your Life

Partial Amazon synopsis:

For anyone who’s trying to make sense of their life, who wants to get unstuck from the patterns that hold them back, hear this incredible news: everything you need for the freedom you want is entirely within reach. This practice and pathway is free, it’s readily available every day of your life, it takes just minutes of your time, and anyone can do it. 

Author, writing coach, and speaker Allison Fallon’s life transformed when she discovered the power of a daily writing practice. As it turns out, using your words is one of the most powerful means you have for unlocking your life. The Power of Writing It Down is your guide to this transformative tool available to us all. In as little as five to twenty minutes a day, scientific research shows this daily practice can help you: 

  • Identify your ruts and create new neurological grooves toward better habits
  • Find fresh motivation and take ownership of your life
  • Heal from past pain and trauma
  • Relieve anxiety and depression
  • Contextualize life’s setbacks and minor frustrations
  • Live a more confident, balanced, and healthy life
  • …and so much more

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In the podcast interview she explains Expressive Writing well and mentioned that the writing talked about in her book is not regular writing and it’s not journaling. It makes a lot of sense.

The idea is to write down your deepest thought and feelings. I have experienced what she means when she says this type of writing accesses the subconscious part of the brain where the conscious is often not allowed.

This is basically what I do when I write my this and that posts. What comes out is often a surprise. With some of the posts, like I mentioned at the time of writing them, I was in the midst of angst and felt so much better when I was talked out. To really get into it, though, I expect most of it would not be something we’d want to share publicly.

I recommend listening to the interview before reading the book. I’m glad I did because hearing and seeing her will make the words on the page that much more real.

Practicing this form of writing will be helpful to everyone, not just the most broken among us.

Here is the link. Enjoy, and buy the book if it makes sense to you. I think you will be glad you did.

I haven’t been as intentional with this type of writing as is encouraged in her book. From ignorance, really. I want to try it her way, to see what the difference will be in my life.

I’m hoping you will discover this along with me.

Happy listening, reading, and writing.

A helpful resource – professional counselling in book form

The level of professional counselling we need is sometimes not easily found. That was the case for me a decade or two ago and this book was a life saver. It was written as a joint effort by the Minirth/Meir group, both of them psychiatrists, joined by a third person, a psychologist.

The book starts off talking about codependency. That’s not the way I remember it from my first reading. It’s funny how that goes. The parts I remember are the ones explaining what happened to me, how it has affected me, and the broken way I do life as a result. Understanding opened many life changing doors in my thinking.

Of all of the many books I’ve read this one was the most comprehensive and impacting. It was written to be a counselor to those without access to one. It covers the subject well enough to be a textbook written in layman’s terms.

I’ve shared this book here before but feel inspired to share it again.

I was speaking with a long time friend today, catching up on our lives and families. Stuff happens in our families and sometimes there is brokenness left undiscovered for decades.

I’ve been thinking about our conversation for most of the day and tonight remembered about this book that could be helpful in their situation. So, this is for my friend, to share as she sees fit.

It’s for you too (as reader) if this would be helpful in your life.

One more comment. I remember interpreting the title and certain phrases in the synopsis in a negative way.

Reality was nothing like my expectations. Supportive, kind, understanding, helpful; these are all words I would use to describe the experience. And, validation.

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Love Is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships

Amazon quote:

Let go of unhealthy relationships with the book that more than 850K people have trusted.

Best-selling doctors, Hemfelt, Minirth, and Meier, walk you through their ten proven stages to recovery from codependency that results from external circumstances.

Humans are susceptible to codependency because of our sinful tendency to use defense mechanisms to fool ourselves. In codependent relationships, deceitful games are played, and important Christian principles are often taken out of context and abused.

God wants us to have healthy relationships with a balance between being dependent and independent. The doctors describe how the most effective means of overcoming codependent relationships is to establish or deepen a relationship with Christ Himself.

They describe the causes of codependency, pointing out the factors that perpetuate it, and lead readers through their ten stages of recovery.

Continue a deeper study with the Love Is a Choice workbook, available separately.

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Read this prayerfully with a surrendered heart and mind. I say this because our defense mechanisms can have us locked up so tight that helpful thoughts cannot penetrate the armor we have going on. Work on wanting to know. Work on believing there is hope, and that you are worth so much more than what you’ve been told.

So much wisdom, so much empathy

This is a deeply touching interview filled with wisdom, understanding and empathy. And hope. So much hope. I have to share.

I hope you find it as comforting as I did. In these difficult days we need to hear voices filled with wisdom and hope.

Rick Warren has experienced unbelievable pain. Toward the end of the video he shares what it was like to live through it. He puts heavy emphasis on living through it.

This interview is posted by a gifted podcaster Carey Nieuwhof. He knows how to ask questions that will mine the depths and bring out the best in his guests. Always a blessing to the listener.

May you feel as blessed as I do right now.

More helpful resources

There can never be too much helpful information. Although it’s good to be thoughtful in deciding which topic, and when.

I like to chose authors carefully, not everyone sells us good information. Misguided ideas or misinformed authors can do more harm than good.

I find it’s also helpful if I pay attention to my needs when it comes to the topic of the book. I’m not always emotionally ready for some topics and it ends up being harmful. Timing is everything sometimes.

Reading slowly enough to allow meditation time has been helpful too. It’s a great way to increase the impact of the information on my life. The trouble with this though, I can’t plough my way through these books the way I normally like to. What’s the point of reading it if I can’t absorb enough to make a difference, so I slow down and enjoy the journey.

Anyway, tonight’s book was suggested by a friend who is aware of my current place on the road to wellness. She’s heard Grant Mullen speak and respects his authority to handle the subject. She thinks this is a book I will find helpful so I’m going to give it a shot. I don’t think I currently have any of his books in my library, this will be a new voice for me.

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Emotionally Free: A Prescription for Healing Body, Soul, and Spirit

Amazon quote:

Are you struggling to control your thoughts, moods, and emotions?
Are you tired of always living with a sense of spiritual defeat?

God wants us to be more than saved. He wants us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

Emotionally Free will show you how you can be transformed in body, soul, and spirit. You will discover a freedom you never knew was possible and reach a better understanding of how to resolve depression, anxiety, and mood swings. As a Christian mental health physician, Dr. Grant Mullen has observed the constant struggle that so many Christians live with every day. Many churches rarely acknowledge this struggle. Through patient interviews and his own journey, Dr. Mullen found three links in the chain of emotional bondage that keep Christians bound spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Emotionally Free describes those three links and how with God’s help we can be set free to live a transformed and victorious life.

Learn how to assess your thoughts, personality, and spirit. Emotionally Free puts an end to the unnecessary competition that has existed among psychiatry, counselors, and deliverance ministers. These are important complimentary ministries that we all need. This book explains the role of each and how to know when you need them. You will also learn how depression, anxiety, and mood swings affect Christians in a unique way, and you will be able to assess your own moods and determine if you need medical treatment. Reach a greater understanding of where your spiritual authority comes from and how to use it to set yourself and others free. No matter how suffocating your bondage is now, God is waiting and willing to set you free. Dr. Mullen clearly outlines steps to invite the Holy Spirit into the problem to heal and restore you. Discover a new freedom in your mind, attitudes, reactions, and relationships as you become Emotionally Free.

Dr. Grant Mullen is a mental health physician in Ontario, Canada. He writes and lectures internationally on how medical treatment, deliverance and the healing of our emotional wounds all work together to break the chains of emotional bondage. Dr. Mullen has a special interest in how depression, anxiety and mood disorders affect Christians. Grant is married to Kathy and they have two children.

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That’s it for tonight. Not much else happening.

Wishing you a peaceful, restful night.

One thing led to another and here we are.

Podcasts. They have captured my attention and it would be safe to say I have been binge-watching often lately. Tonight was no exception and this is where the one-thing-lead-to-another comes in. And, in the end it led to books. I think that is quite awesome.

It’s no secret that there is abuse in my background. I’ve talked about it sparingly along the way and by the looks of it, will be sharing again.

As is often the case, the interviewee on the podcast has recently come out with a new book. Out of the six excellent videos watched tonight, the one to capture my interest the most was a story similar to mine. The ending in relation to her marriage was better than mine, aside from that though, the content was definitely helpful. Spoiler alert… the issue in the marriage was pornography, highly addictive and destructive. At the end of this post I’ll share the link for the podcast. Here is the book…

Choosing a Way Out: When the Bottom Isn’t the Bottom

Amazon quote:

Was it all a lie?

When the author heard her husband’s confession, it took her breath away. Looking back she realized her husband’s sin exposed the deception in her own life. This uninvited crisis proved to be the impetus for her ultimate healing.

Kirsten writes that for most of her adult life she believed:

• She wasn’t good enough, or pretty enough, or smart enough, or rich enough, or talented enough, or whatever enough.

She wasn’t a good person. She was too stubborn, opinionated, and direct.

She was a failure because she’d tried something bold and audacious and didn’t succeed like planned.

• She was invisible and forgettable.

In these pages, you’ll experience raw honesty and a clear path through the pain. You’ll realize that no depression is too dark and no lie too strong. Discover a powerful process where you exchange isolation for accountability and deception for deliverance. Today you can experience a way out, even in the bleakest of circumstances where the bottom doesn’t feel like the bottom. The truth is that God is greater than your pain.

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There’s more.

In the suggestion strip at the bottom of the screen there was a book that appears to apply to me. The longer I looked at it, the more familiar it felt. I checked. I have two copies of it, gifted years ago by a concerned friend. I have read it and taken copious notes, it was that helpful. I have it but will tell you about it again anyway.

The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Amazon quote:

For those who have experienced childhood sexual abuse and those who love and care for them, The Wounded Heart offers a tender, compassionate window into the psychological effects of abuse and the theological foundations for healing.

Thirty years ago, with great courage and vision, Dan Allender brought Christians to the table to acknowledge, understand, and help victims heal from their experience of the evil of sexual abuse. His work continues to help victims and those who love them to honestly acknowledge their abuse, understand the unique challenge of repentance for victims of abuse, and learn to love boldly in defiance of their trauma. Ultimately Dan offers the bold assurance to sexual abuse victims that even they can find their way to joy and hope in the comforting embrace of a good God.

The Wounded Heart has sold over 400,000 copies and has been the first book family, friends, counselors, pastors, and victims have turned to in search of Christian answers to the calamity of sexual abuse. With a new introduction reflecting on the ongoing importance of the book, and a companion workbook for personal and group recovery, The Wounded Heart continues to offer an urgently needed word of grace in a world ravaged by sexual abuse.

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So, further investigation led me to a newer book that I think is an updated version of The Wounded Heart. I think I need to read this one too.

Healing the Wounded Heart: The Heartache of Sexual Abuse and the Hope of Transformation 

Amazon quote:

First published in 1989, Dan Allender’s The Wounded Heart has helped hundreds of thousands of people come to terms with sexual abuse in their past. Now, more than twenty-five years later, Allender has written a brand-new book on the subject that takes into account recent discoveries about the lasting physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual ramifications of sexual abuse.

With great compassion Allender offers hope for victims of rape, date rape, incest, molestation, sexting, sexual bullying, unwanted advances, pornography, and more, exposing the raw wounds that are left behind and clearing the path toward wholeness and healing. Never minimizing victims’ pain or offering pat spiritual answers that don’t truly address the problem, he instead calls evil evil and lights the way to renewed joy.

Counselors, pastors, and friends of those who have suffered sexual harm will find in this book the deep spiritual guidance they need to effectively minister to the sexually broken around them. Victims themselves will find here a sympathetic friend to walk alongside them on the road to healing.

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One more for me from the suggestion strip.

For years I have been working on telling my story, looking for ways to express it more effectively. It’s important for several reasons. It’s therapeutic for me and affirming to those who hear it.

The percentages listed for those suffering as victims of abuse is high.

It looks like the numbers involved in addictions is even higher. Addicts leave victims, adding even more to the number of casualties. The importance of sharing our story is even greater now than it was when I started on this healing journey many years ago.

To Be Told: Know Your Story, Shape Your Future

Amazon quote:

God wants to reveal himself through your story. Discover how he has written your life so far, and how he is leading you into the rest of your story.

“This is a book worth reading. To make sense of your life. To discover the role God is giving you in his story.”—John Eldredge, bestselling author of Wild at Heart and Get Your Life Back

Everyone wants clearer guidance from God on what to do with their future. In this insightful book, therapist and professor Dan Allender shows you how to listen to the stories of your life and identify the themes that God has written there. As you begin to understand both the hope and the heartache, you will gain a clearer sense of the meaning that God has written into every detail of who you are. You’ll also see how he invites you to join him in coauthoring the rest of your story. God is your Author, and he is showing you how to follow him into the future.

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In the above blurb the book Wild at Heart is mentioned. Excellent book. I have read my copy and highly recommend it. It’s written for men but gives helpful insight to the women in their lives.

Wild at Heart Expanded Edition: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul

Amazon quote:

God did not create men to be nice boys. He created us to live a life of passion, freedom and adventure. To be dangerous men living in a really big story.

God designed men to be powerful. Simply look at the dreams and desires written in the heart of every boy: to be a hero, a warrior, to love a beauty, to live a life of adventure.

But sometime between boyhood and the struggles of yesterday, most men lose heart. All those passions, dreams, and desires get buried under deadlines, pressures, and disappointments. Christianity feels irrelevant to the recovery of their heart. No wonder most men leads lives of quiet resignation, meanwhile looking for a little “life” on the side. In this provocative book, Eldredge invites men to wholeheartedness by

  • recovering their true masculine hearts;
  • healing the wounds and trauma in their stories; and
  • delighting in the strength and wildness they were created to offer the world.

In this updated and expanded edition of the timeless, bestselling classic, John Eldredge calls men—and the women who love them—to discover the true secret of a man’s soul and embrace the danger, passion, and freedom God intended for every man.

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I didn’t plan for this post to go so long but it’s all good stuff.

As promised, here is the link for the podcast that started this ball rolling for me. The interview was in two parts and it was the second that impacted me the most. They were both good though.

It would probably be a good idea to watch part one first to give you context. Due to the length of this post I won’t include the link but it will show up for you when this one is opened.

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I hope this will be as helpful to you on your journey as it has been to me on mine.

All the best to you,

a fellow traveler.

It isn’t that I can’t, it’s that I can’t.

This is one of those just say something kind of days. You know, those days when it’s time to write a post and you have nothing.

So, this title is the thought that’s been rolling around in my head all day. It’s entirely true, and to my mind, it’s hilarious. I love a good play on words.

Probably the reason why this idea is lodged securely in my mind, like a silly song that stays with you all day, is because I lived it over the weekend.

Saturday afternoon was the time for our regular monthly writer’s group. We take turns chairing the meeting and February was supposed to be my turn. It’s bad enough when we meet in person and I can look around the table to see everyone; make it a Zoom meeting and it is confusing and worse. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do a good job and decided to look for a fill-in. I felt the group deserved to have a better experience than I could give them.

Some time after arranging my replacement I read and enjoyed a book featured in a previous blog post here. This added a new element to the meeting as I shared my enjoyment with the rest of the executive. With the help of several of our group members who knew her personally, I was able to contact the author. She would love to read an excerpt for us from her short story. Once this was all settled the agenda came out for the meeting and I was surprised to find I was still on it. In a smaller capacity but still. No one said a word, they just snuck it in there.

It all worked out ok. I was ready with my part mapped out in my head and it went smoothly. Probably because concern for my newly assigned task overshadowed every other worry.

In the end, I had the ability. It wasn’t like I couldn’t do it before but now I could.

The best way to describe why I couldn’t do it would be disability. Something crippling my ability

At this point I can hear one of our best writers saying “when you make statements like that I want to hear details”

I can tell you that I have complex PTSD from ongoing childhood abuse. It started before I was born and ended when I was twelve. I can’t give you details because I don’t have memories. They talk about abuse victims compartmentalizing as a coping mechanism. That’s what my mind did. Ninety-eight percent of my childhood memories are locked in a sealed vault and even though I’ve given myself permission to bring some of them out, for the most part, it’s not happening. I was describing it to my daughter the other day, It’s like watching a room with small windows… every now and then a shadow goes past. That’s the extent of it.

I’ve been in heavy denial about all of this for most of my life. Up until about fifteen years ago when one of my brothers insisted that I own it and admit the truth. This admission was the beginning of a new dimension in my healing journey

One discovery along the way was this: My disability comes not from memories but from triggers rising out of memories buried deep inside me. The deep place that will never forget.

In the past I refused to even think about the shadowy memories I did have.

It turned out there was a better way. I could stop and examine the shadows. Ask questions. Try to understand family dynamics and recognize what was behind abusive actions. There were many well-that-explains-a-lot moments once I allowed myself to question, to take a honest look.

So, I guess the question is, how does this affect my ability to do or not to do? It’s this way… my survival response is to shut down.

Freeze. Panic attacks.

I’ve had many theories about why this is.

A break through moment tells me it’s all about feeling safe.

Why don’t I feel safe? Honestly, aside from rooted in old memories, I have no idea.

I think it will take more than my lifetime to heal from this.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. At least I’m making progress.

Maybe can’t could even turn into can someday.

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One thing I know for sure, I’m not alone on this journey. Many others walk a similar path.

Sharing our stories is an effective way to add support to our fellow travelers.

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I will admit this started with a light heart but didn’t end that way. That’s not a bad thing. Honesty is the good thing.

Another this-and-that kind of day.

Another day already, when I have nothing much on my mind. No book suggestions or read books to share. Not a whole lot has been going on in my head either, although I will admit to a few persistent half thoughts. There are some sad parts to my musings but I promise this won’t be a downer conversation. At least I hope not.

I don’t know about you, but I find it takes me years sometimes (most times, actually) to realize I need to change some things. That’s kind of where I’m at right now. I’m gradually waking up to the need for action.

I know I’ve mentioned some of this thinking before but it’s all part of the lead-up to where I’m at today. Ready to make a New Years resolution. Something I rarely do. I hope it sticks and I follow through on it.

When I take an honest look back, I’ve been a loner my whole life. Most memories that come to mind easily are solo activities. Even the years when I had friends and boy friends. My role was always passive, never taking initiative in planning a get together or outing. As an adult I planned things now and then but they were usually group activities.

I’ve always accepted invitations if they were issued and spent time with people when we were thrown together in public gatherings. Through the years I’ve been a lot of places and seen a lot of faces (that’s from a song running through my head right now) and have a large number of people I can call friend, although you wouldn’t know that by the 91 friends I’ve allowed on Face Book.

Probably the underlying thought behind my hermit behavior is if you really knew me you wouldn’t like me. I will even admit, because of this mindset, I have been guilty of sabotaging friendships. Not that I was aware of it at the time. Hindsight sees things more clearly.

I’ve been on my own for a lot of years and I’ve been okay with it. At least I had convinced myself I was happy with it. Covid has changed so much of that thinking. Restrictions have caused pressure, kind of like turning up the heat until it’s unbearable. All of a sudden, emotionally, I’m not okay with it. I’m being forced to take a hard look at the way I do life.

There is an honest evaluation driving my resolution. I need to start taking a responsible role in maintaining friendships, instead of just letting life happen.

In a way this idea has already begun rolling, starting with Zoom type communication with family. Out of casual conversation I took pictures of my puzzle collection, that way my daughter and her friend can borrow what they like. My neighbor popped over, (can’t remember why now) saw the puzzles spread all over the floor and went home with an armful.

It’s Christmas. I’ve responded to some today but there are more neglected emails to answer, cards to send, and phone calls to make.

None of this will take place unless I care. Covid has turned up the heat with all it’s restrictions and now I care. I hope it lasts.

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A lengthy telephone conversation with an elderly relative yesterday showed we are struggling with similar emotions. It was fun laughing together, it brightened both of our days. Must call her more often.