For every person I threw myself at
Phew! What a week.
I have been wanting so slow down so much but there is still so much to do.
This weekend I’m attending a regional poetry team competition in Portland which should be most interesting. I haven’t done one of these events in 5 years so it feels like I’m doing it for the first time. I am filled with excitement and nerves.
Portland always put me in a strange place when I visit. Like I’m visiting the ghost of someone I once was.
If you are in the Eugene area this August, c’mon out to my one-woman show!
Learn more about my journey as a spoken word artist in Germany, self sabotage, mental illness, addiction and survival. This piece will change you. Don’t miss it.
I started EMDR a few months ago with a new therapist. I have been really interested in this form of therapy because I have heard so many good things about it related to processing trauma. It is indeed a very interesting process….but not really what I expected.
That is to say…I’m not getting better….I’m getting worse.
Sooooo…I’ve been told that it is “normal” for someone doing EMDR to “reprocess” trauma after a EMDR session and I get that, however at this point I literally feel like I am just getting re-traumatized and then “dropped” to deal with it on my own in the next few days (which are filled with flashbacks, self harming thoughts, anxiety, depression, audio hallucinations, dissociation, suicide ideation and fatigue)—
Let me be clear: I have worked VERY VERY HARD dealing with my trauma and gaining coping skills to do so and up until this point I feel like I have done a pretty good job …all things considered, but I don’t feel like it is healthy for me or safe for me to re-traumatized myself on this level and all at once. I feel much better approaching my trauma from a different angle through art or movement or spirituality or yoga practices…for me EMDR feels kinda violating and out of control (I feel like I am a unique case here….many people who have used EMDR have said the opposite…that it makes them feel more in control…)
For me, CBT has always been my “processing” time. I am pretty comfortable talking about my traumas. For me, talking about them IS therapeutic and healthy…I get to understand new ways of coping with the past and self care practices and all that. EMDR is more visceral in the sense that I regress to that age or that place and can’t reconnect with the present at all. I become that person I was in that trauma and literally want to die….these feelings last for a few days and just when I feel like “myself” again I have to go back to a session and do it all over again. If I were in an inpatient program setting this would work SO much better for me and I would be able to truly focus on this kind of intense healing process….but realistically I have a life and a job and two kids and a husband and I need to be able to function. I honestly feel like if I continue down this path right now I will get destroyed and my family doesn’t deserve that.
I will say EMDR is an interesting form of therapy in that I can get a better understanding of the neurological patterns and connections between my traumas…but I honestly feel like this is better suited for individuals who have one or two specific traumatic events they can access (like a bad car accident for example) then someone like me who has C-PTSD and trauma is the default experience. I have been told that other people who have C-PTSD have had success with EMDR which is a great example of how all forms of therapy are not “one size fits all” and are really successful or not based on each individual’s own situation(and also why therapists and clients should be familiar with MANY forms of therapy so they can try them out and find out what works best for them)
In all honesty, stopping EMDR is probably the true therapeutic message here because I am advocating for myself and my mental health and understanding what feels good and what doesn’t. EMDR doesn’t feel good for me and isn’t helping me. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t help others . That doesn’t meant there is something wrong with me because it “isn’t working”–and it doesn’t mean I might try it again some day in a different scenario–it just means that right now in my life I am giving myself permission to be healthy in ways that actually work for me.
Therapy has always been a safe space for me to talk and express myself—and hour when I can just process anything I need to process that week. All the stress and the success and the failures and since I started EMDR I have had NO place where I can truly relax and be my unfiltered self. As someone who bottles up things inside all of the time, this became and integral part of my mental health for the last 4 years and I would love to once again make therapy a place I am excited to go every week instead of a place I dread.
Now that my grandma has been gone for almost 7 years I realize that I do not know much about the stories of my family. I don’t know the names of my grandparents’ parents. I don’t know the little things—the oral traditions of who we are. How they suffered. How they loved. When they met and married their partners. I want to share the stories of my family with my children, but I only have mine. I want to give my kids some thing to hold onto. I only ever knew my grandma on my mother’s side—my father’s mother was distant and died when I was 10, and both of my grandfathers were dead before I was old enough to remember them at all (in fact one of my earliest memories is my maternal grandfather’s funeral). As I age, I feel like knowing “where” I came from and my lineage would open up some deeper understanding about my identity. I wonder if I have similar mannerisms. I wonder if I like the same things they do.
I wish I asked my grandma more questions before she died—maybe I just assumed she would be around long enough for me to inquire. Maybe I was too scared of awakening some hidden trauma. I always had the feeling growing up that many things were left unsaid. Many stories never told in order to protect us. I want to ask my mother and father questions too, but I am scared of doing so because of the same reasons. My maternal grandfather changed his last name and I always wondered why. If it was for convenience or if it was a way to disconnect from his own history.
History can be an ugly thing. I know in the family I grew up in there were so many times of both love and terror and pain and laughter. So many stories. So many lives. I wish I could trace back deeper and see where those roots sprouted. See the weeds within myself and learn how to tend to them without having them take over.
How many stories were never told to me? I am making my own stories, but I always wished there were at least a couple I could share with my own children. Lifelines that remind them of their own strength and challenges and power and responsibility. Failures and victories all leading up to now.
I’m going back to my old job as a part-time counselor. I’m so so so grateful they are willing to employ me part-time so it won’t disrupt the family schedule too much. I can’t wait to get back to helping others!
It’s been such a journey these last 6 months–LOTS of reflection: about my goals, where I’ve come from. Over the last two months I’ve been really struggling with letting go of a few dreams that seemed heart-crushing to lean into. I’ve always loved the quote “if the door doesn’t open, it’s not your door” and for the last 3 years or so I feel like I’ve been banging my head against a door that won’t open, while others have easily invited me in.
While loss is real, there is hope, and the smoothness of this new opportunity unfolding is showing me that it is ok to let go of some of my “creative career” pursuits. I’m being vague here, but what I mean specifically is that I have been wanting to jump back in to performing and turning that into a career, but I am understanding now, slowly, that it is time to let go of the “need” to perform and compete with others. There are so many wonderful things I have experienced as a spoken word artist—I’ve traveled so much doing that! I’ve also tried to force myself into a public speaker role that has always felt awkward and anxiety-filled. There was a time when I wanted a spotlight…but lately all I’ve been feeling moved to is one-on-one. Is non-verbal. Is cerebral. Is going deeper and not having to pry myself open.
Being a counselor and in the role of healer is what feels “right” for me now. As a performer, I took my own healing process and put it on display. Said “LOOK AT THIS” and made pain something I could learn from. I have indeed learned so much at this point in my life—so much I would like to share with others…just not as publicly.
This is probably the last year I will be performing regularly. I’d love to return to writing more books, to visual art, to quieter expression. I roared for so many years, and it has always felt like what I had to do to survive. Now I want to grow like a tree. I want to take my time and savor. I want to listen more.
So I’ve been taking this month off from Facebook and Instagram because both were making my anxiety levels skyrocket. I haven’t felt as anxious as a result BUT I’ve felt more depressed and isolated. I know digital interactions aren’t “real” but boy do they feel real when you aren’t interacting with any other adults most of the day.
I think I’m getting a strong case of the ol’ SAHM depression. I feel very invisible and alone. I’m trying to reframe this as more “solitude” and trying to find ways to stay mentally busy so I don’t lose myself, but it’s frustrating because I literally can’t do anything I want to do right now without bringing two little kiddos with me, hence causing me such a huge distraction that I can’t even enjoy what I was wanting to do in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my kids, I just don’t like feeling completely without an identity outside of “mom” sometimes it feels like that’s all I can be right now, and that hurts because I am a multifaceted human being, damnit! I have goals and dreams and junk.
Ah, hell maybe I just feel like I’ll never feel like “myself” again, and that sucks. Love those kiddos tho. I just wish I could find a way to balance everything right now without wanting to cry into my pillows every night.
For now I breathe and remind myself this is temporary. To enjoy what I can now before the kids are older and off on their own adventures and I’m left with all of the free time in the world. It’ll happen faster than I think and I’ll probably wish I just stayed present here in all of this mess. This is a messy place right now, but we are all still here.