It has been a mute month. A time for intensity, feeling, learning, integrating…not talking. In spite of the Arizona sun, it has been like a winter of my soul, shoveling at the cold and grey, leaning into the wind, squinting to see the warm lights beyond the blizzard’s fury.
I have made my way through the system of intakes and backlogged therapist schedules, and have seen a therapist (free of charge due to funding by Jewish Family and Children’s Services and their offshoot Shelter Without Walls – no, you don’t have to be Jewish). Without hitting labels too heavily, I do have features of PTSD, as a result long term psychological abuse in marriage, which was never “processed”, and then triggered by workplaces abuses.
I have been attending two excellent support groups for survivors and those still involved in situations of Domestic Violence. I’m hearing stories and statistics that are tough to hear sometimes. We are counseled to be aware of absorbing “vicarious trauma” by identifying with the experiences of our co-attendees, and to do something kind, calming, uplifting when we leave. Some sessions, I find I am overwhelmed (and uplifted) by the absolute courage of these women!
With the exception of about (my estimate) 5% of attendees (who have maintained or gained faith), I see eye rolls, hear snorts of disgust, and terms such as “Christian Mafia” used to refer to Christians and the church, regarding the role church and scripture have played in encouraging or prolonging their abuse. Sorry. It is what it is. Learn from it or not. I have always wanted to confirm everything in the context of the whole Word – which required trying to integrate all the conflicting verses of the Bible. Now I listen to what rings true, and plays out with compassion when applied to real life.
And what has become more important – to me and others – are beliefs that allow us to go forward in life with the hope of health and recovery. I evaluate the truth of another’s belief system by the growth, strength, peace, humility and honesty I see in them. Fruit. Not verses quoted. Fruit. I want to learn from and apply what genuinely “works” for others. If I can’t muster faith, I will apply techniques and open my mind.
Therapy pointers for changing VICTIM thinking to EMPOWERED thinking:
I ALWAYS have a choice. (It may not be a clear choice, or a good vs bad choice – it may be a hard vs hard choice, or a choice I don’t want to have to make, but it IS a choice).
Part of healing may be accepting that I live with incurable depression (OUCH!), but that I have many choices to proactively seek good symptom management, including choosing to continue maintenance during “up” times.
I can’t MAKE anyone feel or do anything. No one can MAKE me feel any way I don’t choose to feel. This will take practice and adjustment, but it is true. I need to learn the self-talk to protect my feelings, without sacrificing honesty or integrity.
Identify the impact of others’ choices on me, and choose what I am willing to do or not to do, verbalize this to the parties involved. Then stick to it. Without guilt and shame.
The motives of others are not open to me. I cannot make assumptions. I cannot mind-read. I can ask for clarification, and decide if there is truth, and if the cost vs. benefit is worth it. Then call it as it is without guilt. Again – it may be a choice I don’t like, but it is my choice, nevertheless.
I CAN sit on the fence longer.
I can talk myself through fear: Do I really need to be this afraid? Switch thinking to a moment of reason. What do I do?
I carry a list of 10 healthy distractions to apply when I am in pain/fear/anxiety. I am to go through the list, check my pain level on a 1 to 10 scale, and if it is above a 5, go through the list again. And repeat.
Listing pros and cons, risks and benefits, and giving them ratings as a means to help with decisions.
Carrying hotline numbers.
Grateful acceptance of my blessings and what I CAN do.
Back on the wagon with adrenal support and avoiding food sensitivities.
Systematic meditation, prayer, affirmation – time to myself.
Do everything I can to act/choose peace rather than react/give away my power and peace.
Visualize myself healed and whole and happy.
Learn from others who have been here and now flourish.
Here’s to new life.