A little of this, a little of that October 30, 2021

This blog is supposed to be about books but my mind has definitely not been in that space these days. I still read, but not as much, and I still look for interesting books, but my mind is definitely not in it.

Today, I’ve been trying to land in a lighter place to share a less intense moment with you, in place of books.

In that regard, I do have pictures of a pair of large plants in my living room, one is blooming again for the third time.

The other one has been slower to decide if it wanted to bloom at all but looks to have made the choice. The buds are just beginning to come out. Out to the left in the second picture in case you are having trouble finding them.

They are so pretty, it’s a shame I’m allergic to them.

The slower plant doesn’t get as much light but makes a decent showing anyway.

(The camera doesn’t do a good job of showing true colors. Probably my fault. It really is not this dark and I don’t know how to fix it. Oh well, at least I have pictures lol)

I try to keep them around until I can’t handle it any more and then cut off the bloom stems.

So far so good. They have escaped with their life intact.

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I’ve been in some intense conversations over the last while and it is not easy to shift gears and move on to lighter things.

The good thing about all this, though, is the progress I’m making in sorting through some of my old baggage.

There is something about saying things out loud to another person that puts a different spin on things.

I’ve heard my comedian/singer friend Mark Lowry say after he spouted out some ridiculous stuff – well, it made sense in my head.

I know what he means. Sometimes things we’ve believed or felt don’t hold up to scrutiny when sent out into the world and perspective changes to something better.

I’m happy when this happens. It usually means a move forward.

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So that’s my day. No new books that I’ve seen so far.

There will probably be more installments in the intense but profitable conversation.

And I have a list of Saturday chores that I may or may not get done. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m getting close to finishing the current read and it will be a chore to decide what should be next. There are way too many to choose from.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Happy reading…

… on this pre-winter day that can’t decide whether it wants to be cloudy or sunny.

C-PTSD conversation October 28, 2021

Walls or Boundaries?

This week I have been thinking about walls.

The emotional walls many of us put up to protect ourselves from hurt (emotional) or harm (physical).

The trouble with those walls – they don’t just keep out the bad stuff, they keep out the good stuff too.

Some of us have flimsy walls that go up and down, depending on what life is doing to us in the moment.

Others have walls that have grown in thickness and height enough to compare with Fort Knox. That’s the famous institution where the USA keeps it’s gold bullion. The ultimate in fortress walls.

The thicker and higher, the harder it is to bring them down, never mind let someone in for a moment. A very lonely life.

At this stage for me, I have walls that go up and down. They are mostly down but there are still circumstances where I feel threatened, at risk, distrustful, and the walls go up.

A small percentage of the time they may be warranted but the rest of the time the threat I perceive is not real.

I’ve being trying to find a solution, a way to handle triggers and paranoia in certain circumstances and that led me to thinking about boundaries.

The beauty of boundaries is the height. They can be markings on the road, they can be curbs, guardrails, fences. They are usually something that allows for communication and interaction while still acting as a barrier.

I think changing from walls to boundaries will take some serious consideration. A change in mindset.

I haven’t figured it all out yet. How to establish something appropriate and workable. Since we don’t actually have physical boundaries it has to be something that can be expressed in words. Something I can live with and put into practice.

Mostly I feel uncomfortable in public spaces. It will be a challenge to find ways to make that work. What would it take to make me feel safe.

At this point I have no idea what that would even look like but I’m willing to consider it.

Mainly because walls are not working out all that well for me, wanting to leave isolation behind.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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This is a book I’ve had on my shelf for a very long time. I think I need to read it again. Maybe it will give me some good ideas.

Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life

Boundaries is the book that’s helped over 4 million people learn when to say yes and know how to say no in order to take control of their lives.

Does your life feel like it’s out of control? Perhaps you feel like you have to say yes to everyone’s requests. Maybe you find yourself readily taking responsibility for others’ feelings and problems. Or perhaps you focus so much on being loving and unselfish that you’ve forgotten your own limits and limitations. Or maybe it’s all of the above.

In the New York Times bestseller, Boundaries, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend help you learn when to say yes and know how to say no in order to take control of your life and set healthy, biblical boundaries with your spouse, children, friends, parents, co-workers, and even yourself.

Now updated and expanded for the digital age, this book continues to help millions of people around the world answer these tough questions:

  • Can I set limits and still be a loving person?
  • What are legitimate boundaries?
  • How do I effectively manage my digital life so that it doesn’t control me?
  • What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries?
  • How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money?
  • Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries?
  • How do boundaries relate to mutual submission within marriage?
  • Aren’t boundaries selfish?

C-PTSD conversation October 22, 2021

FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness, or the lack of it, is a roadblock to a peaceful life, unforgiveness impacts the victim’s life more than it does the abuser’s. The abuser does not deserve to be forgiven and probably doesn’t even care about having it one way or the other.

There is a full spectrum of emotions to be had as a result of holding on to hurt. At one end – I hate him and will never forgive him (or her,) at the other end – I know I need to forgive and I want to but I keep taking it back. The level of peace or distress we have depends on which end of the spectrum we fall on.

Unforgiveness can act like a cancer. The harder we hang on to it the more it takes over our life. Bitterness and a host of other emotions can take root and grow to gigantic proportions. There is no peace to be had if that happens.

I guess if we have been severely abused and feel dispassionate about everything we don’t have raging emotions to deal with and we can live what appears to be a normal happy life. But sooner or later something will trigger a reaction, maybe even something gigantic. That’s me and my life.

It has taken many decades but I have forgiven my dad.

His abuse took on many forms. It started a few weeks after conception, rage at imminent and unwanted fatherhood. All of the years long abuse was fueled by rage, addictions, and immaturity. He wasn’t my only abuser, he allowed others access when it suited him. I can figure out about 6 of them, including a pedophile, but there is a knowing that I can’t escape, even though I want to, there were more, maybe even many more. You can see why all my memories have been repressed. There are a few vague memories, puzzling thought patterns, and many triggers, all leaving clues. And then a brother who insisted I admit I was abused.

You can also understand why, when I was 18 and he was found dead, I was glad, relieved.

After many decades I have forgiven my dad and the changes in my emotional well being have been dramatic. I’m grateful.

There were other significant abusers though and the forgiveness process for them is still ongoing, with no end in sight. I haven’t been able to forgive yet but at the same time I choose not to hate. That in itself has made life a better place for me.

They say that the abused often choose a spouse similar to their abuser. In my case he was nothing like my dad and I thought I had done well.

Dad’s abuse loomed large and took over the whole conversation. It took decades to figure out what was going on with these other two relationships. Emotional abuse is difficult to identify even though the damage is greater.

Emotionally unavailable was the problem. It manifests itself in a number of different ways, all of them hurtful. Physical abuse, I could have said I’m done. But in this case I couldn’t see any workable way to deal with the problem.

Inability to name the issues responsible added a whole new layer of hurt, in both relationships.

Eventually I knew I had to take the bull by the horns and force some sort of decision. We’ve been living apart for nearly two decades. The most distressing and ongoing issue was I still couldn’t figure out why. I needed to understand.

I’ve been praying about forgiveness toward him for years and gotten nowhere.

The other morning was a breakthrough moment for me. In a moment of clarity I suddenly recognized that the parent I patterned a spouse after was not my dad but my mother.

I married a man like my mother.

That thought made so much sense, it was like chains falling off. It’s that simple and I don’t need to figure anything else out.

There is still a long way to go but I don’t think it will take decades now. There is freedom in forgiveness and that will be enough when it comes.

I’m still praying though, because I still need help.

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Photo by Ashithosh U on Pexels.com

What I wish I could have had.

C-PTSD conversation. October 21, 2021

I’m a peace maker at heart, wanting everyone to feel comfortable. I’ve been hesitant in talking about PTSD here very often because many of my friends are uncomfortable with the topic. Probably because they don’t have it themselves and can’t relate.

However, there is a growing audience for conversations around this subject. Personally, I see it as a good thing.

There are suggestions out there saying there are benefits to be had from writing about our experiences.There are also great benefits in hearing the stories of others. I’m finding both to be helpful in my healing process.

When I think about it, fellow bloggers are not obliged to read a post just because it’s there. I think I need to believe they can make a good decision for themselves without me shielding them. Read or not to read? They have a choice.

Earlier, I was researching some related PTSD material, doing a little fact checking before starting this. It added a few more questions to the mix.

One of my major symptoms is the startle reflex. Sometimes it’s strong enough to lift me off the chair. Not by much but even a sliver is too much in my estimation.

It’s amazing to me how reactions can change from person to person but it works consistently for each person. There was one guy in the office who could appear at my desk without causing so much as a ripple. There were two other guys who were consistently giving me heart attacks. I didn’t see them coming, didn’t know they were coming, so how did the right reaction happen for the right guy? One of the guys thought it was quite funny and took great delight in sneaking up and scaring me. Of course he had no idea what was behind it. Actually back then I didn’t either.

I’m guessing my hyper alert subconscious mind heard them coming and even recognized and identified the foot steps. I was used to these guys and I have no idea how my subconscious mind decided how to react to each one. Baffling.

Looking at them did not cause negative reactions, I had a level of trust which made it all seem rather strange to me.

I am guessing they remind me of someone who was a participant in a bad situation. One that I don’t remember.

Another trigger example related to men. One Sunday, more than 10 years ago, I walked in to the morning church service. As I crossed the foyer I looked up and saw the usher standing at the sanctuary door and stopped dead in my tracks. I wanted to turn around and run. I didn’t. After a few seconds I took myself by the scruff of my emotional inner neck and continued on past him.

I didn’t know the man, had never seen him before. There was nothing remarkable or scary about him. A short middle aged balding guy. Probably a very nice man.

I’ve never forgotten that morning. I still feel uncomfortable just thinking about it. I’m guessing he reminds me of someone. I don’t even want to know who.

You’ve probably guessed I rarely go to church much any more. I’ve gone from rarely missed to rarely there.

Too many triggers.

On a lighter closing note. One of my big plants is blooming for the third time this year. Unusual.

I couldn’t take a sharp in-focus picture to save my life, just saying.

I’m going to go read my book now for awhile and calm down about all of this.

It has been good though, I think.

It’s funny how the mind works. I had a whole other post in mind. One I was emotionally invested in most of the day.

In the long run, I’m sure it’s better this way.

Share your thoughts with me, I would love to hear them.

A little of this, a little of that, October 20, 2021

I’m jealous. Some of my friends can produce well thought out pages and pages in a short time and it takes me for – ever.

Now that I said all that, I’ve forgotten what I was going to say.

It couldn’t have been all that important. Truth be know it probably wasn’t, either.

One very important thing happened this morning. The lawn care guys were here to do year end yard cleanup. Leaves and lawn. There were so many leaves this year I was entirely glad to let them do it.

The upside to doing it myself is the workout and resulting muscle tone. The downside to not doing it… well you can guess that. Maybe next year.

I had a good day at work today, it was productive. It’s amazing what can get done when there are few interruptions.

The other thing that was great about the day, I figured out some things. Working cold-call with an unfamiliar file can be daunting, and it was, in spades. Once their system became clear it wasn’t all that difficult, but for a while there…

Tomorrow will be better and I’m almost done. How sad is that? Hopefully I will remember what I learned when they are back again.

Anyway. There was no real point to this post, I just felt like writing a little.

I started another book tonight after finishing the 12 book Save the Date collection. This new one is fun. It’s full of feisty women at a time in history when they were not allowed to be that bold. Especially not where anyone could notice. The two ladies I’ve just met have hobbies that could get some poor underestimating guy killed. Hopefully the ladies will meet one or two of them. Not that I would want to see them killed or anything. Although, the way some guys behaved way back then, I’m sure they would have deserved it. lol

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I’m only on chapter two and I’m loving it.

Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 1: Archer: Christian Regency Romantic Suspense serial novel

She met him again by shooting him.

After four seasons and unmarried because she is taller than most of her dance partners, Miss Phoebe Sauber receives the shocking news that she is being callously banished from her father’s estate because he is remarrying. Feeling betrayed by her father and by God, and wanting to escape her family’s presence, she attends an archery tournament with her friends.

He met her again while searching for a killer.

Michael had quit his work as a spy for the Foreign Office when his brother was poisoned. His search for the murderer leads him to Apothecary Jack, a criminal underworld leader with a penchant for poisons, who is gathering a powerful army through an alchemical potion that can give men supernatural strength.

But his path unexpectedly crosses again with Miss Sauber, who saves him from a trap laid by Jack. She and her Aunt Laura, Lady Wynwood, have found a vital connection to Apothecary Jack and the mysterious group he works for.

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This story is off to an excellent start, I hope it can last through the whole book. I need a good dose of irony and dry humor for a little change of pace.

OK, I’m gone.

Til next time.

More to say about thinking. October 17, 2021

Photo by Anna Zaykina on Pexels.com

I can hear someone saying, if he was with you why wasn’t God with me when I was being traumatized?

He was, but there are a few things that make a difference.

I had elderly relatives who knew the situation, at least partially, and were talking to God about me every day. They were also loving on me and telling me about God every chance they had, which wasn’t often. I knew about him and knew to look for him in the room I’d run to in my mind. Escape from the horror.

On top of that, though my parents were running away from God he was still a topic in our home. Dad’s family was Roman Catholic and church attendance was an important and significant part of their family life. Before they were married Mom had to promise the kids would be raised Catholic.

Mom’s parents were Protestant and Grandpa was a pastor. There was angst in our home due to mom’s guilt over living a lifestyle that was heart breaking to her parents.

We never did go to church anywhere and the three of us kids were sent to public school.

I was always a super sensitive kid. Without God I probably would not have survived.

God is with all of us, always, but if we aren’t aware he exists we wouldn’t know to look for him.

God didn’t keep bad things from happening to me but I know he kept things from being much worse than they could have been.

After my third child was born Mom got back together with God. One day she shared with me about looking back over the days of her rebelliousness (oh yes, she was rebellious.) Even though she did whatever she wanted, God was still looking out for her. She could see many places in her life where he had rescued her.

As healthy parents, we never stop loving our kids (at least most of us don’t) no matter how how badly they behave.

God wants a big family and he is aware of every single child that is conceived. He loves them all. That’s mind blowing.

He’s been with you every single day, even if you don’t know it.

Photo by brenoanp on Pexels.com

I’ve been thinking October 17, 2021

I’ve had this post in mind for two days now but it was on forgiveness, a comment yesterday changed my trajectory.

The observation was that I love books but people?… not so much.

At first I agreed with that assessment. It’s true I do have deep trust issues and live a solitary life on a day to day basis.

This morning I woke up feeling an overwhelming love for people. This is not uncommon. I’ve experienced this most of my life.

This last while, I’ve been troubled, not able to identify how both could be true, trust and distrust. Especially when it came to men. My dad was abusive. I have two brothers, they were abused. I hated my dad but loved my brothers? Is that what’s behind it? It doesn’t seem to fit but if not that, then what?

Take for example, my neighbor: I’ve shared with her some of my story. She has first hand knowledge of my struggle with trust issues and triggers. I’ve accepted her event invitations and cancelled at the last minute because I knew men would be there and I couldn’t make myself go. And yet… if we were standing in her drive way with her husband and he cracked a joke I was relaxed enough to laugh. I could tell by her body language that she was not happy and was now doubting my story. Which is true? The uptight or the relaxed?

So, how can I love and not love at the same time?

This morning I’m reminded, a survival tool for the severally abused is compartmentalization.

When I’m conscious of me and what I’m feeling, and people get too close – triggers happen, I’m reacting and not liking it.

When I forget about me entirely and my focus is completely on the other person, I feel empathy and love. I’m open and relaxed.

Where does all of this come from?

This morning I’m recognizing, it’s coming from my inner circle, the place where only three humans have ever been, or should have been. It would be truer to say they should have been there but all three chose to live outside of it, emotionally unavailable to me. One of them chose to visit the inner circle occasionally but only physically and in an abusive way.

Now, when I struggle with relating to people as the focus is directed toward me, I’m realizing it’s the result of the trauma inflicted on me by three. That’s one compartment.

There is another compartment where God shows up in the inner circle. This was my place of refuge in traumatic times. God was always there and has continued to be there, emotionally available to me my whole life.

This is how I can love and not love at the same time.

Wherever possible, I choose to love with the love I’ve experienced with God in the second compartment.

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The original thought for this post was – How could I be forgiving?

That’s a big question and I still want to share my story. Soon, maybe.

Photo by Peng Louis on Pexels.com

This and that October 16, 2021

Zoom calls are the best. Any video call actually.

This is another one of those days where I need to just hang out awhile to make this post happen. New book suggestions have been non-existent today and there’s definitely been a shortage of enjoyed books read. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Despite that there have been bright spots though.

The sun was shining all day, that was appreciated after all the rain we’ve had lately. We are happy for the moisture as it is a good ending to a dry growing season. It will be helpful next year, to start the new season off with moisture sitting in the ground all winter.

A Colorado Low storm was predicted to come through last week, it often brings snow with it. Several winters ago, it dumped a huge pile, leaving us with no power for over a week in some places. Trees were brought down in very large numbers.

We were spared an early snow fall this year.

Another bright spot today was time spent, late morning/early afternoon, chatting with a fellow blogger. It’s a gift when such conversations line up just right for them to even happen.

From there I went outside to wash some windows, the ones I notice the most often, on sunny days. The water in our area leaves a white film on everything and it’s wonderful to have it gone. The day was perfect too, the direct sunshine made working outside on a cool day comfortable. Much longer and I would have had to take off my jacket.

I love the feeling of a job well done. Another chore no longer on the to-do list.

After a quick supper we were treated to the highlight of the day. Our monthly family Zoom call. I love seeing my kids and catching up on their lives.

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Now it’s time to relax with a book. I’ve just started a collection mentioned yesterday. I haven’t read far enough to know if it can carry the momentum of a strong start but hopefully. So far, I’m loving the first book.

Save the Date: A Limited-Time Christian Romance Collection

As our guest of honor, you’re cordially invited on a journey through twelve heartwarming and inspirational novellas that will take you from small-town America to romantic Paris, from the sunny shores of Hawaii to New Zealand. Office romances, friends-to-lovers, second chances, and more await you in these stories full of forgiveness, redemption, laughter, and love. Say “I do” and claim your copy of this limited-time anthology by your favorite USA Today and bestselling Christian romance authors!

January Hope by Kari Trumbo – Clothing historian Cleo goes on the hunt for an 1880s fashion magazine wedding dress. Discovering it’s part of a museum collection, her biggest obstacle is handsome curator Lowel. Unfortunately, his no-touch policy just might put a stop to her hunt and her heart.

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Until tomorrow,

Happy Reading!

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.

The kernel of a thought October 12, 2021

Just start talking. That’s what I have to do tonight. Once again I do not have a post in mind.

I’m going to keep it short because I need sleep to be able to function tomorrow. I know if I don’t use restraint this could easily end up being really long, leaving me with a very short night.

This whole subject has been on my mind for a long time but it’s complex and not necessarily easily understood, especially when spoken about briefly. I think it would take a book for me to say everything I need to say on this subject.

I don’t even know how to begin and it’s already been a half hour. I think slow, trying to get it right enough to make sense, and I write even slower.

I’ll try to express the kernel of it in a sentence or two and expand on it another time. Or even more likely, it will take many times to get it all out.

I love God deeply, and at the same time I feel loved by him. We have loved each other for a very long time.

It’s killing me not to expand on this but I know I have to go.

In the meantime…

I love looking at the mountains, they remind me – our help comes from the creator, of heaven and earth. And what a creator he is.

Photo by S Migaj on Pexels.com

Until tomorrow.