The Daily Me (Journal) Bravery – 11/20/2016

Today’s prompt comes from 100 Inspirational Journal Prompts by Melissa Bolton @ The Mogul Mom

Describe a time when you were brave

I don’t do brave well. It isn’t that I am a coward. I think it is just that I don’t set out to save the world, or even myself often and therefore, I don’t always consider my actions bravery.

There was a time though when I felt like my life was a sinking ship and I flailed in the ocean of life. I struggled between having the will to live and resolving myself to death. My ship was named Depression and as captain, I ignored all signs of the ensuing storm that was about to capsize me. Since I’d boarded this ship in my 20s, I figured I was on it for the long-haul, never to see dry land again. I became complicit, rolled with the sea, ebbed and flowed with the storms. This was my life and I accepted it.

In the mid-2000s, I ignored all signs of a tsunami building off my starboard bow. I’d weathered storms in my teens and my college years, surely this one wouldn’t topple me. I’d just lower the sails and brace for impact, just as I had so many times before. I didn’t realize that I would nearly die from stubbornness and yes, ignorance. This was no ordinary storm and my ship wasn’t strong enough. In order to save myself, I would have to do the brave thing and abandon ship.

Leaving the metaphor aside, I had allowed depression to consume me. I gave into the psychosis of voices which told me that I was worthless, unloved, and a burden to society. When the pain became too much, I would cut myself to release the pain because I thought it dwelt in my blood. If I became too numb to the pain, I would burn myself with a lighter to feel something, anything. And when I couldn’t bear the duality of pain and numbness anymore, I would attempt suicide. This went on from 2005 until 2013. I had two choices left – live or die. To retrieve the metaphor once more, I found a safe harbor and dropped anchor.

I owe my brave act to two things – uterine cancer and a therapist who taught me Mindfulness. Cancer gave me the will to live and Mindfulness gave me the tools to succeed. I am still not sure if what I did was a true act of bravery. Aren’t captains supposed to go down with their ships? And that ship does resurface now and again, beckons to me and seeks to set sail, but I think I am stronger now, more willful to live, more determined not to drift back out to sea filled with uncertainties. If Mindfulness begins to fail me and I hear even a hint of those voices, I now seek the medication route. I may not remain medicated, as I often don’t, but at least I know it is there in case I need a safe harbor.

 

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The Sandbox Writing Challenge #64 — Acceptance

Finally, I am all caught up! For this week’s question, Calen has taken us back to Philip Simmons’ book Learning to Fall. 

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Have you ever tried to change someone in your life?
How’d that work out for ya?

It’s not something I like to admit, but yes, once I did try to change someone in my life. I am not proud of it. I believe everyone should be whomever they wish to be, but when you live with a Narcissist, you’d do almost anything to get them to change their ways, to become the loving companion you always wanted. No matter how bad the idea is.

He wasn’t so bad unless he drank. One or two beers was fine. He was tolerable. After that third beer, he became a condescending asshole, a tyrant, know-it-all impossible jerk. I tried to get him to stop drinking. It would work for a week or two and then he would begin drinking again. I tried to roll with the metaphorical punches, but Narcissists love passive people. They are easier to control and I allowed him to control me for nearly 12 years. I reacted to his horrible behavior and he fed off it.

Sometime in late 2012, I’d had enough. I’d been in therapy for about six months with a wonderful, supportive therapist. She encouraged me to make changes. I also decided to choose a guiding word for the year – Acceptance. Over the course of 2013, I stopped reacting to his negative attitude and just accept it. I’d been learning Mindfulness as a tool to help with my mental illnesses. Whenever he went on a rage, I would become mindful. Whenever he ranted and raved, I went within, centered myself and became mindful. I learned to accept the life I lived in, my circumstances, and how I reacted to my Narcissist. By the end of that year, I knew I would be leaving him soon. There was no changing him, only myself.

Creative Questions 9 – Mental Health

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CQ9: How has mental health impacted on your life?

When I hear the words “mental health,” I automatically think of someone with a healthy mental state, or advocates for the mentally ill. I do not have a healthy mental state, but I do advocate for those with mental illness, mainly because I have suffered from mental illness since I was a child. I had minor depression beginning around age 10 which lasted until I was around 16. Then again in my early 30s – I was finally diagnosed as Bipolar around then. But I also showed the reckless behavior of Borderline Personality Disorder beginning in my 20s and lasting through my mid-40s. I’ve had Social Anxiety Disorder since my early 30s and suffered Agoraphobia in my mid-30s until my early 40s. I’ve rarely known a time when mental illness hasn’t affected my life. Mental illness even runs in my family on my mother’s side. My mother had some form of it and I had an aunt who committed suicide. I’ve witnessed almost all of my other aunts suffer from depression or phobias.

In the Mental Health community, I was fortunate enough to end up in some really great hospitals, have some good doctors who worked to get me the help I needed and even a few therapists who took the time to understand me and work with me. But there are still stigmas out there about the mentally ill. People think most of us are deranged or dangerous and that isn’t always so. The only danger most of us pose is toward ourselves. And yet anytime something really bad happens, the government and the media always declare that the person or persons was mentally ill. We cannot even discuss our illness in workplaces because we get stigmatized or, as in my case, fired – though I was never directly told it was because I had a mental illness, but I knew why I was fired. And because there isn’t enough knowledge about mental illness, relationships get ruined.

So how has Mental Health impacted my life? Negatively for the most part. My only success in dealing with my illness has come through Mindfulness practice. Without it, I would most certainly be dead.

Creative Questions 2 – Violence

I’ve decided to take calmkate @ Aroused up on her Creative Questions Challenge by answering each of her 6 current questions over the next few days.

CQ2: How have you and yours been affected by violence?

I wasn’t raised around violence and lived a pretty sheltered life in a small town in rural Virginia. For the most part, my parents were loving and giving, rarely fought and rarely had to discipline me or my two siblings. We didn’t experience violence in school or in the streets. There were the occasional bad kids and a murder every now and again, but those were not the norms. Life was pretty easy sailing for me growing up.

I didn’t experience true violence until I was in my late 20s. I’d hooked up with a carnie who, unbeknownst to me at the time, had been in prison. He was a bit of a rough and tumbled kind of guy, but he had an air of mystery about him and he fit my type: tall, dark and handsome. His name was Damian and that alone should have clued me in, right? We had a good start of things for the first few months, but over time, he began cheating on me. I found out in a not too pleasant way – I found a condom package under my bed that was not our usual brand. When I confronted him about it, he denied it. So I had a friend keep an eye on him while I worked and went to classes. He was followed. I soon learned who he was cheating with and how often. Every evening when I left for work, she would show up at our apartment. Every evening! Finally, I had enough and we had a huge blow-up. When I told him he had to leave, he tried to strangle me. That was the first time anyone had brought me that close to death. I kicked him and clawed at his chest until he finally turned me loose and left. I found out later through my attorney that he had been in prison for rape and assault. That was the scariest time of my life.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t my last. My first and second ex-husbands both had violent streaks. The first liked to kick me and my step-son with his steel-toed boots. That marriage only lasted 7 months. The second liked to shove me into things, bruising me and damaging my back. That marriage lasted 13 years. Both were also mentally and emotionally cruel.

While all of these were horribly violent, the worst violence was what I did to myself. Seven years into that second marriage, I became extremely depressed. I became a cutter, a burner and attempted suicide 7 times, resulting in 8 hospitalizations. Thankfully, I found a cocktail of drugs, a great therapist, and Mindfulness training. I am no longer a cutter or a burner and haven’t attempted suicide since 2013.

I guess the take-away to all of this is that you don’t have to find violence OUT THERE, nor by some other person’s hand. Sometimes the worst violence is within yourself.

The Sandbox Writing Challenge #27 — Can’t Let Go

This week’s challenge is What are you holding onto from the past?

Maybe it would be easier for me to list the things that I have resolved from my past. It took years of therapy, learning Mindfulness and Ho’oponopono for me to let go and forgive, not only others, but myself as well.

  • I have forgiven and spit in the face (mentally) of my Creative Writing teacher for telling me that I would never be a writer
  • I have forgiven my childhood sexual molesters for their deeds against my person and my mind
  • I have forgiven my 1st ex-husband for his abuse
  • Forgiven myself for the loss of both of my children to miscarriages
  • I have forgiven my family for their abandonment and disinterest, this especially includes my mother
  • Forgiven myself for distancing myself from my family
  • Forgiven my estranged husband for our failed marriage and realized and forgiven myself for my role in it as well
  • Forgiven myself for my mental illness that ruined my one chance of true happiness
  • Forgiven myself for losing that one person who would have given me that true happiness and have forgiven her for leaving
  • Forgiven an old friend for her ways and rebuilt that friendship
  • and I’ve forgiven myself for all of my trampy relationships throughout my life

I’ve even recently let go of two relationships that I know I will never recover and am working on forgiving them and myself for our roles in letting the relationships suffer.

So I am not sure that I am still holding on to anything from my past that I need to let go. Like I said, I’ve had intense therapy, nearly ten years of it. I learned to say what made me angry and then I learned to let it go. I wrote letters to my tormentors, read them aloud to myself in a mirror and then burned the letters. This was a year long process. Then I learned to stay focused on the here and now through Mindfulness. This past September or October, I began practicing Ho’oponopono and cleared out the remaining issues. Now when I get upset or angry, I don’t let the issues fester, I just clear them immediately. It probably helps that I have a faulty memory and if there is anything left out there to clear, I may not remember what it is anymore.

How about you? Are you holding on to a past event that is eating away at you? Ready to let go? Let me know in the comments.

 

02.07.16 – End of Day Notes

What I did today: I completed all of my writing projects for the day. Read some new blogs, read some emails, commented on some blogs. Watched an episode of Midsomer Murders while I ate dinner. Took a nap. And am now preparing myself for the Super Bowl.

What I learned today: I’ve been quite reflective today, a lot lately, in fact. It’s been a while since I’ve been so melancholy. Perhaps it is from writing these Horror stories and being in that mindset. What I am learning though is that although I am in that mindset, I do not have to allow it to consume me to the point of depression. Thank you, Mindfulness!

What I am most proud of today:  It has been 38 days now since I began organizing and using my online calendar to keep me on track with my writing goals. This has not only allowed me to mange my time better, but to be in control of my goals as well. For that, I am immensely proud of myself.

#joyfuljan – Day Ten

For today’s #joyfuljan, I find joy in breathing.

deep-breath

art credit: snowbrains.com

Not just the mere act of breathing though. The conscious, mindful act of taking deep breaths. I do this for a couple of reasons: to relieve stress, to put oxygen throughout my body, and to re-center myself. The act of deep breathing reminds me that I am alive and that is pure JOY!

What are you joyful about today? Let me know in the comments!


 

Throughout the month of January, I will be celebrating Joyful January with Satya and Kaspa over at Writing Our Way Home

#joyfuljan – Day Eight

For today’s #joyfuljan, I find joy in a steaming cup of herbal tea.

herbal-teas

photo credit via teaddicts.com

It’s a chilly, rainy day here in Virginia and what could be more joyous than a simple cup of steaming hot herbal tea? Nothing, I tell you… absolutely nothing! I love an herbal tea when it’s cold and especially now that I am trying to give up caffeine.

Bit it’s not just because of the cold or for health… there is a spiritual nature to sipping herbal tea. You can just feel all of nature’s goodness seeping into you. I like to be mindful while drinking tea. Pausing and reflecting. Savoring the flavor.

What brings you joy today? Let me know in the comments!


 

Throughout the month of January, I will be celebrating Joyful January with Satya and Kaspa over at Writing Our Way Home

#joyfuljan – Day Seven

For today’s #joyfuljan, I find joy in silence.

silence-is-not-the-absence-of-something

It is in that moment before anyone awakens and the house gets busy that I find great joy. Silence. No noise but the low hum of my heater. No traffic outside. Not even the neighbor’s dogs have stirred. It is in this moment that I am able to reflect, be mindful of all that surrounds me, and be at peace.

What do you find joy in today? Let me know in the comments.


 

Throughout the month of January, I will be celebrating Joyful January with Satya and Kaspa over at Writing Our Way Home