Archives for category: Resources

Hello,

After a relaxing weekend, I’d like to share a new-to-me resource from Tara Brach.  Her name might or might not have been mentioned before, but I can’t remember.  I really enjoyed her first book about incorporating Buddhist philosophy and meditation practices into coping strategies and techniques without practicing or following Buddhism.  She has many free resources on her website and Facebook feed that I view and look into with my current therapist/counselor.

One practice that caught my eye recently is the acronym RAIN

R = recognize
A = allow
I = investigate
N = non-identification (my therapist uses nurture)

The acronym is a process that helps me learn to identify and cope with any emotions I feel in the moment.  From there, I can learn to step back and accept them without feeling so overwhelmed or wanting to escape from them (good/bad/indifferent I always want to escape in some way).

In our last meeting, my new therapist walked me through the exercise a couple times so that I understood how the process worked.  To be honest, I struggled with it in session and kept forgetting what the acronym meant outside.  One of us would almost get it right.  Then another would try.  Finally, we searched “Tara Brach” and “RAIN” online to get the words right.

Monday and yesterday, I was overwhelmed with feelings.  Probably was not a good idea for me to go to knitting or allow a friend to come over on a holiday when I knew there was a lot of potential for emotional triggers.  But I did it.  And got triggered.  Using the RAIN method helped everyone in our system stay focused during the work day in spite of this sleepy, floating sensation (depression or insomnia) that permeated my mind.

But, instead of the depression and/or insomnia, the alters in trouble figured out the trigger.  Then we all worked together to understand how the trigger (and the sensations it brought up) affected us as individuals and as a whole.  Because we all felt it.  And we all were affected by it.

If you want to learn more about RAIN, I’d recommend starting with this link and then checking out the free audio and video resources on the website.

Thanks for reading.

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I found this on my Facebook feed through some friends who sometimes share the affirmations and quotes on their feeds.  Lately, they’ve been sharing quotes about shame and self care.  Once in a while, they share interesting articles about topics like shame, narcissism, manipulative people, and ways to identify/cope in real life.

This one resonated a lot because I find myself thinking about my past through flashbacks and nightmares during holidays like Labor Day.  Sometimes the urge to reach out and contact them overwhelms me; I have to remind myself that contacting them won’t give me closure.  It will open a door to let that toxicity back into my life.

Later in the week, I found this quote:

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And it reminded me so much of the toxic people I left behind; how they used to bring up my mistakes and embarrassing moments to remind me that I am still the person I was and  will never be able to change.  At least in their minds, I will stay the same.  Nothing I say or do will stop them from believing what they want to believe about me.

So I hope these quotes help you too.  When you are triggered, they might offer some grounding through reality testing.  When you are not triggered, yet feeling uncomfortable or anxious, these quotes might remind you to think of your present and your accomplishments instead of the past.

That is what they do for me.  And for my alters, these quotes are lifelines or bridges to a new way of remembering the past.

Background

I don’t often share information that can be linked directly back to the rest of my life.  As much as I enjoy blogging here and sharing resources on the website, I am compulsive about maintaining my safety and privacy too.  But some incidents happened in one of the private Facebook groups I belong to that had a rippling negative effect the rest of us are still recovering from.

The group owner/moderator wrote the following article in response to one member’s negative, bullying, and abusive comments towards others via the groups, email, and private messages.  It’s an amazing and beautiful article about how the messages we tell ourselves and internalize have an impact in how we treat others too.  And while this message is written about style from a female perspective, the contents apply to males struggling with self-esteem and body image issues too.

Personal Style as a Positive Coping Strategy for Body Image and Self Esteem

That said, I want to share an article from one of my favorite role models and bloggers whose style programs and free information have helped me learn to love and embrace my unique body through positive self talk and personal style.

This is the link: How Your Language Impacts Profoundly On Your Style

This is her blog: Inside Out Style Blog

I joined her programs a little over a year ago when I decided to stop hiding / being invisible.  She introduced me to a new way of thinking about myself, my body, my appearance, my sense of self and how all of this is represented in the clothes and accessories I wear through Evolve Your Style and 7 Steps to Style.  Both programs also introduced me to groups of amazing women and female role models who have become friends and part of a world-wide support network.

Conclusion

Through the kind words and examples in blog articles and comments on posts, I’ve learned how to be kinder to myself and others.  Positive self talk is more than encouraging statements and affirmations that one might not believe when feeling negative.

Positive self talk is as simple as saying: I am doing the best I can right now, and that’s ok.

I hope you all click on the link and give this article a chance.  The author is a survivor like us and speaks from a perspective of compassion and strength.

Thank you for reading.

 

For anyone who survived trauma, abuse, neglect, shame or similar atrocities at any age

this applies to you too.

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An Unexpected Find

I found this piece of artwork on my second or third day in the new city.  The store was closing soon, and all of my parts were tired from a long day walking and jet lag.  But this book store (New Renaissance Bookshop) is dedicated to helping people recover (emotional, physical, and spiritual health) through compassion and spirituality combined with alternative paths to medicine or healing.

As soon as I read the words, I knew it was mine.  But this was the last copy.  And I didn’t want one more item to carry home.  So I asked for it to be held until the next day.  The storekeeper allowed me to put it on hold, and I walked out feeling happy, yet ashamed of myself.  The nasty words and criticisms started up in my head…so quietly at first I didn’t even notice.

Blessings from a Higher Power

The next morning, I headed straight to the store for extra browsing time.  Each part of the store was dedicated to a different topic.  Along with books, the store sold healing crystals, hand crafted dream catchers, singing bowls, jewelry, meditation accessories, music, art, yoga supplies, tea, and more.  One might call it my version of heaven on earth 🙂

As I browsed through the store, something else caught my eye.  It was a book about shame:

It Wasn’t Your Fault: Freeing yourself from the Shame of Childhood Abuse with the Power of Self-Compassion by Beverly Engel

But not the typical book that discusses shame in general terms and explains how to overcome or live without shame.  This book is dedicated to understanding trauma-induced shame and how that kind of shame negatively affects adult survivors (or former victims) of childhood abuse and neglect.

Adults, teens, and any other survivor who struggles with shame will find this book helpful relevant to their recovery as well.  And loved ones, friends, and connections of survivors will definitely benefit from reading this book.  The first part discusses in detail (without being dramatic or overly gory) the connections between childhood abuse/neglect, shame, how layers of shame can be induced by different experiences, the negative affects of shame in one’s life, and how shame is different from guilt.

Normally, I do not like to follow books that offer cures and programs.  They tend to lack flexibility needed to accommodate differences unique to each reader.  But this one is different.  I skimmed Chapter 1 because many of the case studies were similar to case studies in other books.  But I read Chapters 2 and 3 a few times; had to skip over some parts and go back because of triggers.

What Ms. Engel writes about shame answers many of the questions I’ve posed in other posts about shame in such a way that I feel validated for not settling by believing the current misconceptions about compassion, empathy, slow recovery, and bringing the secrets to light by talking about taboo topics.  And yes, I do talk about them in other places too.

I’ve just started Chapter 4 and will share what I learn in other posts.  But I encourage anyone who’s hit a wall in recovery or wonders how to work through the feelings of shame stopping them from moving forward or causing them to act out in ways they regret later (me) or self-harm through neglect, recklessness, injury, etc. (that is/was me too) to explore the book in the link above.  Amazon is great for reading samples and looking at reviews before making a purchase.

Making the connection

The next few days, I struggled with reading, not reading, following through on my plans vs. lying in bed and hiding, and ignoring the louder and louder critical voices in my head that exacerbated my physical pain.  The book came with me to bed.  It got carried down the ladder from my loft to the ground floor and stayed on a box.  It went into the bathroom and came out again.

Finally, I opened the book and started reading.  My head started hurting.  I had to put it down.  Later, I decided to start in another section of the book and go back and forth, re-reading parts as necessary.  And that’s when I made the connection:

The voices started because I felt happy and proud of myself.  For the first time ever, I bought a piece of art and displayed it in my apartment with pride and joy.  I walked around and talked to people on the street.  I took buses to different neighborhoods.  Rude people didn’t trigger panic attacks.  And buying a book about shame didn’t make me feel nauseous or panicky.  I shopped for home; spent money eating at different restaurants; drank beer with pleasure; got a library card; decorated my space; put together furniture; didn’t get triggered into a panic attack when people were rude or stared at me and  then ignored me.

The pain came because I exercised, walked, danced, and played so much that I was too tired to let the anxiety and adrenaline keep me awake in spite of jet lag.  I slept without nightmares, waking only because of time zone differences and the need to use the facilities.  Not until last night/this morning did I wake up in the middle of the night scared and unable to go back to sleep for hours.  A call to the hotline helped.  And making phone calls to follow up on packages, etc. did too.

But what helped the most was listening to the person on the phone as he listened to me, validated my feelings, saw my pain and offered compassion that I couldn’t give myself.  Eventually, I started to relax and believe that.  When the sun started to rise, I felt sleepy again and slept for a few hours.

Today I started Chapter 4 in Part 2 – the beginning of the program and exercises.  Reading these passages helped me realize that I hold myself back, stop myself from doing what I want, neglect personal care and house cleaning out of feelings of shame that stem from my abuse.  Moving helped.  But this will help more.  And maybe I’ll be able to clean house and stay organized like I wish.  Or go to the dentist and be able to take proper care of my mouth/teeth like I want.

Conclusion

Before this book, especially the questionnaires in each chapter, I never really knew how embedded shame is in my life.  It continues to stop me from living and being the best I can be in so many insidious ways.  Self-compassion is such a struggle, yet so beneficial.  Maybe this book will offer resources and strategies that bridge the disconnect between mainstream books and survivors’ or victims’ perspectives.

Thanks for reading

While I was moving, I added some new information to the Pinterest Resource boards and a new board about positive body image.

You can find links to the other boards here on the Resource page.

Working on accepting my body as it is and some of the changes occurring since I am not at or close to my ideal body weight.  Good because now I am physically healthy and able to do a lot more.  Scary and stressful because my body is not straight, flat, or stick-like.

It’s not a fashionable or trendy shape, but it gets a lot of attention.  And the attention scares all of us.  Acknowledged sexual attention and attention of any kind by outsiders is scary.  And with the new shape comes challenges in buying foundation garments that fit.  So we are researching ways to cope with these new feelings, sensations, and experiences.

To that end, I’ve worked with some alters to update the resources page.  We’ve added 3 links to Pinterest Boards:

Affirmations

Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Personal Symbols of Power: Animals that make me smile

The first link has some of my favorite image quotes.

The second link offers specific resources for Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.  Anyone with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or working through Posttraumatic stress might benefit from these resources too.

The last link has images of some of my favorite animals: otters, turtles, dogs, etc. that make me smile.

CAVEAT: I also have another public board on there called “Wish List”.  It’s a wish board of items I want and/or need for next year since I am having a “no shopping December” challenge.  Feel free to visit and view that page too if you like.  We’ll be adding more than hats and scarves as the month goes by.

How do you take control of your life when it feels out of control?