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 30, 2021

BoobBub has a FREE suggestion for us from an author who shows up here often. I have read this, one of the thirty downloads I have from Staci Stallings.

White Knight: A Contemporary Christian Romance Novel (The Courage Series, Book 2)

Amazon quote:

Hoping for some excitement and a little extra money, A.J. Knight signed up to be a Houston EMT. However, when he did, he never thought about the life-and-death situations he’d be put into or the lives that he might be called on to save. Worse, he never so much as considered the lives that might be lost under his watch.

Eve Knox understands what it’s like to have life ripped away in an instant. After the death of her first and only love in an unimaginable tragedy, she is struggling to go on with a life that seems to have been stripped of its former meaning. Hurting and alone, Eve knows her friends are just trying to help her cope, but their attempts to fill the void in her heart are starting to smother the spirit she once had. She sees no point in searching for love a second time, what happens when a second-chance love shows up in a way she never saw coming…

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LPC Books has two FREE suggestions for us, I’ve read the first one.

Sticks and Stones (The Barn Church Series Book 2) 

Amazon quote:

Since childhood, Julie Matthews has felt closest to God when singing. Mere days away from realizing her lifelong dream of singing professionally, she awakens in a hospital room unable to speak. Suddenly her dreams and God seem distant. 

Rick Matthews supports his ambitious wife, but has no solution for the constant tension between them. During Julie’s recovery, Rick becomes Julie’s caregiver and their marriage undergoes a wonderful change–they rediscover each other.

But as Julie’s voice grows stronger, unseen wounds surface and years of unhealthy habits begin again to pull them apart. Faced with losing their newly rekindled love, Julie and Rick are forced to evaluate the state of their marriage and how their dysfunction has affected their marriage and their children. 

Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can crush the spirit.

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I think I had trouble getting into this next one as I’m being told I’ve not read it. It probably hit a little too close to home. The abuse part.

The Sanctum by Pamela Ling Cable

Amazon quote:

“Pamela King Cable has created an unforgettable heroine in Neeley McPherson, a remarkable young woman of such courage and spunk that she dares to stand against unspeakable abuse and injustice not only for herself but also for her beloved caretaker, Gideon. Fleeing a horrendous life, Neeley discovers the true meaning of family, forgiveness, and love in a wolf sanctuary, which becomes a central metaphor for the difficult journey we all must undertake to find our way home. Thoroughly enjoyable book!” ~ Cassandra King Conroy (Pat’s wife) – Bestselling author of Moonrise, The Same Sweet Girls, and The Sunday Wife

This inspirational tale thrills with a tight plot, lyrical scene descriptions, and complex characters. Pamela Cable leaves readers aching for more.” ~ Julie Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author.

“I would compare The Sanctum to Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Set in the deep south during the Civil Rights Era, this book tackles such issues as racial discrimination and abuse.” ~ Kimberly A. Liston-McCabe

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Happy Reading …

on sunny Monday morning.

The Superpower of the Calm Technique

I just watched the most amazing and helpful video podcast I’ve seen in a long time and I just had to share. It’s called The Superpower of the Calm Technique with Jennifer Kolari. I like learning how to do life better and how deal with triggers and reactions. This was so helpful.

She is qualified, wise, and articulate. Such a educational and eyeopening experience listening to/watching what she has to say about learning to respond rather than react. Conflicts in a relationship will loose their steam if we practice her techniques. They’ve done some role plays to demonstrate the way it will work. It was interesting to see how the calming influence changed the dynamics even in a pretend situation. Very cool.

Some of the concepts she presents I`ve kind of heard before but she explains things with new information I’ve not heard and it all makes such good sense.

Carey Nieuwhof introduces it this way – Jennifer Kolari on How to Deal with Irrational People, Customers and Team Members, and the Superpower of the CALM Technique.

Usually Carey`s interviewees have written a book but they didn`t talk about it this time although she has written at least one. In a YouTube search I found she has a lot of content related to parenting although she does a lot of corporate consulting as well.

I’m positive you will find this helpful in life’s situations if you are into good emotional health and productive relationships. Check it out.

Free and bargain books July 31, 2021

BookRunes has a FREE suggestion for us today. This is a long book by an author I’ve not read before. The reviews look good though.

Training Lord Somerset (The Heart of Dorset Series: Book 1) A Clean & Sweet Regency Historical Romance Novel

Amazon quote:

He will see past her scars; she will look past his fear to the brave soul inside…But are their hearts strong enough to seize their one chance at happiness?

A terrible accident left Lydia Stanley in charge of her younger siblings and a Duchy to boot! Two years later, the scar on her face is the only reminder of the day she lost everything: her parents, her innocence, and all marriage prospects

As the new Earl of Somerset, Humphrey Berkeley is expected to know everything about running an estate. But his father’s indifference towards his youngest son has left Humphrey not only emotionally traumatized but also untrained in running an estate…

The late Duke of Dorset’s steward-and daughter- seems like the perfect tutor for the young Earl, but their business arrangement never included falling in love…

Will they find it in them to conquer their inner demons and claim their happiness, or will they succumb to fear and live forever in misery…?

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My current read has just been started so it’s a little early to tell but I’ve enjoyed other books by this author so I’m expecting good things. It’s still on offer at a bargain price.

Fatal Strike

There’s a killer on the loose in Galveston, targeting law enforcement officials and using a fatal injection of snake venom to take them down. Authorities have reasons to believe the Veneno gang is behind the hits, and FBI Agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert team up to track down those responsible. Their best lead is an eyewitness who identifies a young man dumping the third body on a church doorstep. But their suspect has gone into hiding, and those closest to him are reluctant to reveal anything that might help investigators find him.

As Leah and Jon check connections among the victims and dig deeper into motives, they discover appearances may be deceiving. Someone is desperate to keep their secrets hidden, and Leah and Jon must face their greatest fears in order to stop the next fatal strike.

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Happy reading …

… on this Saturday with weather that can’t decide what it wants to do or be.

Confessions of an abuse survivor

I decided to name this post, and any future posts like it, in a way that would provide a heads up for anyone wishing to avoid such emotional discussions. I’m not planning on raw, uncomfortable, tell-alls, I know difficult discussions can be had in a civilized manner.

Anyway, today’s post doesn’t include any of that.

This could be a this-and-that kind of day except my thoughts have been heavier than that this week. Confession seems to be a more appropriate label.

I debated including the term abuse survivor but decided it gives context to where my head is at with the topics. There is nothing frivolous in my contemplations.

Enough of that.

So here’s the thing I’m trying to figure out. Why?

That’s what I need to know. Why?

I haven’t come up with an answer, so far, and I doubt this writing exercise will be all that revealing but I have to try.

I’m reluctant to tell you what I’m referring to because when I think of putting it into words, in my mind it sounds silly. I’m afraid you will dismiss it as such if I tell you what I’m thinking.

So, partial confession. As I’m contemplating the why of my reluctance to take on a certain task I’m wondering if maybe a trigger is behind it. What thought or emotion is holding me back?

So, here’s the thing. In the last year or so, because of interviews and the like, I’ve been exposed to non fiction books, mostly related to my life experience with abuse. They struck me as useful in my healing journey and I put out a significant amount of money to obtain them.

I was excited to have them, paid full price for most of them, and yet I can’t seem to make myself take the time to read them.

Were they just another bright idea that didn’t survive the light of day?

Would my reluctance to tackle the challenge stem from deep insecurities? The fear of failure?

Could the reticence be linked to anticipated emotional responses to painful subjects?

Are there unidentified triggers going on?

I’ve faced head on the physical abuse attributable to my dad. At the same time, I will admit I don’t want to think about or deal with the emotional abuse stemming from my mother or my marriage.

Is that what this is about?

I’ve heard it said we must ask ourselves this question – Do you want to be healed, really want to be healed?

When we honestly ask ourselves this question we might be surprised to find that the answer is no. The price we would have to pay to find healing could seem too high.

If I’m really honest, I think when it comes to my mother and my marriage, my heart says the price is too high.

I do really want to be healed. I’m not acting like it.

I will keep on thinking and praying about this.

In the meantime…

Some of the books in the lineup.

The one I’m considering at the moment is The Power of Writing It Down

If you made it this far, thanks for listening.

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.

Another installment of this and that

The weather fluctuations are crazy. Last week the highs were over 30 degrees celsius and now today the furnace is on. And I’m still cold.

I’m restless too. That’s the reason why I’m dong this now. Get a few things off my chest so maybe I can settle down and sleep tonight.

I’m still thinking about yesterday’s post where the discussion started with an app on my cell phone that was driving me crazy and then morphed into a discussion about trust issues and fear.

A few things bother me out of that story. One is, I know there are readers who understand and empathize with discussions about abuse, triggers, and PTSD and then there are others who don’t. It’s the readers who don’t that trouble me.

There are other readers who are glad to hear these stories, it validates things they have endured. There is comfort in knowing we are not alone in our struggles.

Another thing that bothers me; those who would say it’s all in the past why can’t you lay it aside, stop rehashing it and move on.

That’s the thing, I’m not reliving anything, ever. My subconscious mind won’t let me. My conscious mind knows enough (it steers away and refuses to think) that the two are in collusion and neither one will let me remember traumatic events. Small details, discussions, memories over the course of many years have allowed me to piece together a hazy but accurate picture of what went on. My mind just shuts down and closes up shop at the mention of this subject.

Reactions, mostly inappropriate (as in not fitting to the situation) such as the one I had regarding a new app on my phone, one that should have been no big deal. A well adjusted mind would thought – interesting, wonder what that’s about – and then explored to figure it out. I viewed it as an enemy trying to impose unwanted interference in my life.

It’s only been a few months since I’ve started to look closely at these reactions, to try and unpack what is going on in my head when it happens. I would name my emotional reaction as the panic you have when a hated spider comes near and you jump, scream, and run. I don’t actually do those things but the emotions running through me feel exactly like that. Get away, get away, get away!!!

To be afraid of something, there has to have been a traumatic encounter of some sort somewhere along the line. The trouble is I have no conscious memories to help me figure these things out. On the other hand, I’m sure it’s a bigger blessing that I can’t remember. There are a few disturbing words that I know apply to me. Good thing I can’t remember what happened.

There is one shadowy memory that has been with me forever it seems. It took many decades for me to figure out what it meant, not that I was trying, or wanting to know. In fact it was the opposite. My curiosity level was zero.

More recently I’ve figured out who was there for that event. There was one man who disapproved of the situation but stayed to protect me as best he could. I can’t explain the gratitude I feel now when I think of him and that memory.

Anyway, that’s enough for this time. My anxiety level has dropped and it’s time for sleep. Any more would probably be counter-productive anyway.

When I started this I wanted to express this story in a way that didn’t feel cryptic or disjointed. I’m not sure that I’ve succeeded.

Now if I had more time … 🙂

We all learned some things

It’s funny how a lighthearted conversation can turn into something so much more.

So the back story is that this annoying application showed up on my android phone a number of months ago and it kept wanting to open things up for me. I had no idea where it came from or why it was there. Unequivocally, I wanted it gone. Stop trying to take over my phone and my life.

Nothing worked the same with it there. I was happy with life before it showed up and I just wanted it off my phone so things could go back to normal. I even searched out removal instructions but couldn’t make them work for some reason.

After limping along for a very long time I mentioned it at my daughter’s house yesterday, complaining that I missed dates because I couldn’t access my calendar anymore. She enlisted the help of my grandson and while he searched to see what the app was all about before he looked for removal instructions, I laughingly but vehemently admitted to my rebelliousness at the app for trying to take over my life.

I’d figured out how to work around it for most things just not everything and I was highly resentful.

This was new territory for my daughter, I think she called it an eye opening experience listening to me rant about how much I hated the interference of this thing. Thankfully she didn’t enlarge on her comment during the family Zoom call later on.

So with my grandson’s search, he discovered the annoying app must have been an update and it was intended to launch apps, replacing the last version of an app launcher. It wasn’t the enemy I took it for and it wasn’t trying to take over my life and force me to do things I didn’t want to do.

There was a choice for just-once or always. I thought that meant it was an optional thing and the just-once was to decide if I wanted it or not. Turns out the just-once was to let me choose between two versions. He checked them out, we decided on always, problem solved.

At the time, I thought the whole conversation was hilarious. Later, thinking about why I felt like I was being pressured to do it’s biding, the conversation in my head took on a more serious tone.

Part of the problem in the misunderstanding is that while I can figure out how to use most apps, I have a problem with operating system issues. It’s always been that way. Probably because the need for action shows up so seldom.

The bigger part of the misunderstanding is more complicated. Thinking about my knee jerk reaction and my unreasonable position of viewing the app as the enemy, I have to admit, an irrational response on my part is pretty normal as a first reaction to many things.

I see the enemy everywhere because I have major trust issues.

I have to figure out how to make positive changes.

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I’ve been thinking about a dog. After seeing my grandson’s new puppy. A dog would be an easy way to share my life with another being and allow a little more than the usual contact with other humans.

Hmmmm.

I know. I have to stop thinking that everyone and everything is out to harm me. Fear is no way to live a fulfilling life.

This resonates with me

A short interview on a timely topic, for me anyway. It feels to me like this should be shared.

Coffee break is awesome today. This video is part of an interview series I’ve been following and this man is very wise. The series is based on a book he’s written, so there you go, we still have books to think about.

This resonates with me because past buried, horrendous, memories still plague me in the form of triggers. I’ve come a long way in the last decade but there is still more to be done and I appreciate any resource crossing my path.

I share because it touches me but also because someone else may need to hear this as well.

Wishing you the very best in your healing journey.

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.