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Depression, poetry, Uncategorized

Sea of Insignificance

8F415B33-F0EC-4FE5-A292-1867DF0FB0E2Deep in the ocean,

the pain swirls round.

Rooting deep in the undercurrent,

it hangs on to everything it touches.

Sticking to the surface,

as it oozes in touching each layer.

Darkness falls in,

casting a haze that encases the surroundings.

Do they even notice?

As the pain takes over?

Do they see?

Does anybody see?

Can I be the only one unnoticed?

The water splashes around,

as the tide crashes in,

into the Sea of Insignificance.

Uncategorized

They Won’t Come

The words won’t come,

No matter how hard I search.

I remain blank in disbelief,

As the words echo in the distance.

I know they are there,

But they are not for me,

They are not meant to be shared,

Or spoken.

They linger in the field,

And atop the trees,

As they dance in the moonlight,

But they are not for me.

Or you.

Or anyone.

They are made to be free,

To be let go,

To travel to the heavens.

Words with power,

And grace,

And hope dangle out of reach.

The beauty they hold within their letters,

Say more than the words alone.

Lost in a sea of darkness,

Guided only by the spark from within.

Never let your light go dark.

Darkness steals more than words.

Never let it win.

Never.

Depression, Grief and Loss, Hope, Love, poetry

The World Keeps Turning

Today is the twenty-sixth anniversary of my dad’s death. He was thirty-seven. In eleven years, he will have been gone as long as he was alive. That thought is hard to wrap my head around. Everyday is a new day, that he does not get to live. Everyday is a new day that I get the chance to make it count.

Some days are harder to remember the gifts set before me, and they are easily taken for granted. Days pass by, and things are left for tomorrow. It is easy to forget that tomorrow may not come. It is easy to forget life has an end point, and that we do not get to know when it all stops.

The last few days, I have been paralyzed with emotion. Not depressed, more like observing. There have been so many things that have happened, and so many things that I wanted to write about. Good things, hard things, memories, feelings, accomplishments…and no words were able to escape. Even today, writing this, I feel the distant block of the words that want to come, but can’t.

Life doesn’t wait,

Like the tide crashing into the rocks.

Like the sun setting behind the mountain.

Life keeps moving,

Even when we are not.

Days pass by,

The sun rises and sets.

The seasons change,

Whether we do or not.

We can wait until the perfect moment,

But life keeps moving.

Stuck in the past,

The present doesn’t wait.

It comes everyday,

And there is nothing that will halt it.

We can be at a standstill,

For days,

For months,

For years.

But life keeps moving.

It is up to us to catch it.

To live it.

To love it.

To find joy in the misery.

To find purpose.

To find balance.

Keep moving.

Embrace the gift of life.

In Memory of Russell Hall

November 12, 1954-June 14, 1992

Depression, poetry, Uncategorized

From the Inside, Looking Out

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From The Inside, Looking Out

I can see everything so clearly,

everything, except for me.

I can see the beauty in others,

but struggle to see mine.

I can see the happiness and joy from the outside,

but when looking within, it gets lost.

Lost within, deep inside.

I long for the joy that I cannot find.

I long for the connection that others have.

My eyes can see inside others,

but they will not allow me to see what I try to hide.

A lonely, dark place,

where my eyes cannot see what it means to be me.

Isolated in fear,

this cannot be who I am.

This cannot be my life,

or my reason.

I do not see what others see,

but do they see what I can?

Am I the only one,

who cannot see within,

from the inside, looking out?

 

 

Grief and Loss, Hope, Love, Tom Petty, Uncategorized

37 Days Until 37 Years

img_7784My dad died 19 days before my eleventh birthday. He was thirty-seven. For the past twenty-six years I have worried about turning thirty-seven, as if it is the cursed year. That since he did not live, neither will I. I know how ludicrous this sounds, and have tried to push the thoughts out of my mind. But in 37 days, I will turn thirty-seven.

Turning thirty-seven always seemed so far away. And, now it is not. I have moments where anxiety takes my breath away when I think about how close it is. I had to stop and do the math. He was not just thirty-seven. He was thirty-seven years, seven months, and two days old. I wouldn’t let myself do the other math, to find out when I will be thirty-seven years, seven months, and two days old, because I don’t want to worry about another date on the calendar.

My dad did not reach his forties, and I always worried that I wouldn’t either. An unspoken fear, because if I don’t speak it, it won’t happen. I coast between not wanting to get older, and fearing that I won’t.

The universe doesn’t really work like that though. My life will not end, just because his did. The circumstances are different. I do not have Marfan Syndrome, and I did not have a heart attack in my twenties. I don’t eat a pound slice of macaroni and cheese loaf, straight from the deli, or crisp fat off a freshly baked ham.

My dad died before ever getting married. He was engaged, and excited to be a husband, but his fiancée brought a date to his funeral. (I always wondered how that would have played out.) He did not get to see me graduate eighth grade…or high school…or college…or grad school. He did not teach me how to drive, or help me buy my first car. He was not there for my wedding, or to help me through my divorce. He never got to meet his grandchildren or the man that I love.

He has missed a lot the last twenty-six years. And, I do not want to be like him.

I will live and watch my children grow. I will go to their graduations, and weddings. I will meet my grandchildren, and give unwanted advice.

I will be more than a memory. I hope. I hope, because we never really know.

Live. Live everyday like it will be your last. Live for yourself, and the ones that you love. Make memories, take pictures, and love. It is all we can do. We only get one chance…make it count.

Depression, mental illness, Uncategorized

#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I almost let the month pass me by without mentioning it. Maybe, because I try so hard to act as though there are no struggles, so if I ignore it, it might just go away. I have found this not to be the case, and the reason why we need a whole month to bring awareness to Mental Health.

As a child I grew up with two mentally ill parents, and spent my whole life trying to prove I was not like them. I knew that mental illness carries a stigma, and we had to be quiet about what was really going on.

My dad was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He never believed this diagnosis, and never sought treatment. My mom, on the other hand never let me forget about his condition, and made sure I knew it could be inherited. Every time my dad did something evil, she blamed it on his illness. She would warn me, that if I misbehaved, I would be like him too. I didn’t really understand what it all meant, only that I knew I did not want to be like him…or her.

My mom was diagnosed with depression and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). At times, she was meaner than my dad ever was. She was vacant for many of my memories, sleeping, under her covers for days at a time. Her body was there, but her mind was not. I never saw her as sick, until many years later. I assumed depression was a normal part of life. And PTSD, I thought it couldn’t be that bad…I mean, that was from events that had already happened. (I know this belief was false now, and understand how real, and debilitating it really can be.)

The downplaying is what gives mental health the stigma. I didn’t intentionally do it, and I knew others don’t either. It is the lack of understanding and compassion that adds to the pain and misconceptions. The not knowing is what made me afraid. I lived in a home, surrounded by different diagnoses, but I did not understand any of it. I just knew I didn’t want to be like them.

I didn’t want to be mean. I didn’t want to sleep my life away. I didn’t want to weigh so much, that I couldn’t get out of bed. I didn’t want to think people were after me or out to get me. I didn’t want to call my kids names, or beat them. I didn’t want to be evil or crazy. I didn’t want to blame my problems on everyone else. I didn’t want to live off the system. I didn’t want an addiction. I didn’t want to be so angry, or so sad. I didn’t want to die.

All of my fears came from not understanding. That is where a lot of the fear comes from. People are so quick to judge without the facts, without information, without seeing people as…people. I wanted information. I wanted to understand.

I took all the classes I could in high school and college to help me understand. I even went back to get my Masters in Mental Health Counseling (more so to understand myself). Information is power, and key to ending the stigma.

Since my childhood, I have found my way to more people, with more diagnoses, and I learned that people are more than the label given to them by an illness or disease. Under the layers of labels, and challenges they bring, people bring stories, and gifts. When you look past all the other stuff, there is so much to gain.

I learned that I also have PTSD, and at times have struggled with depression. When I was able to accept what was happening inside of me, I was able to understand it, and learn from it.

We all have our struggles, and challenges. We have stories, and lessons. We have the potential to shine. Life’s greatest lesson I have found: Don’t be afraid to be who you really are. Our stories matter. Don’t let shame or fear keep you silent.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Through my love for Tom Petty, I met a creative couple, who have a story of their own. They make beautiful jewelry out of recycled guitar strings, and help raise awareness for mental health by sharing their story. Please, check them out, and take time to read about their journey. ReThrive Guitar String Jewelry.

 

 

Depression, Grief and Loss, healing, Hope, Love, mental illness, Uncategorized

The Gift of Belonging

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Continued from: Trauma Camp

Waking up the first day at Onsite brought excitement and anxiety. I was still unsure what to expect, and still uncomfortable about sharing in front of such a large group. I made my way out of the cabin and to the mansion for breakfast, where I tried to find some familiar faces to sit with. We made small talk and walked over to the Carriage House for the morning meditation.

Meditation is something I have always struggled with, and I felt myself squirm in my seat as others found their seat. As I thought to myself, I don’t know how to meditate… The voice from the group leader announced, “It’s okay if you don’t know how to meditate, or if you can’t stop your thoughts, just do your best, and notice where your thoughts take you, and then focus on your breath.”

Relief washed over me as the expectations were lowered. I sat quietly for the fifteen minute meditation, bringing myself back to my breath after thoughts of my inadequacies and what was ahead of us circled in my head. When I opened my eyes, I noticed that I did feel more relaxed.

Three group leaders joined the front of the room. They were breaking us into smaller groups. More fear left with this discovery. Each group leader read off a list of eight names. The kind woman from the night before read my name off her list, with seven other women. We were the only group of all women. More apprehension left.

We made our ways to our group rooms. img_7483Where we found eight pillow chairs lining the room, as soft music played. One by one we found our way to a seat and grabbed a blanket to keep warm.

I looked around the room. Beautiful women filled the spaces. I felt out of place. What if I don’t fit in? What if I’m not like them? What if they don’t like me? What if my trauma isn’t that bad? I couldn’t stop the thoughts and tried to stay to myself, so no one would find out that I didn’t belong there.

When everyone was accounted for, we were asked to stand next to the emotion that best decried what we were feeling as we began the week. I found my way to scared, and backed myself as close to it as I could.

Scared. Anxious. Worried. Unsure. All these feelings swirled inside of me.

As I looked around the room, I noticed there was a mix of emotions from the others. We were all feeling something. We all seemed unsure of what to expect. As we took turns speaking about our feelings, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one struggling. My feelings of not belonging lessened as the day went on.

The more the other women talked, the more I felt connected. What happened in Group Room 3 is only for the members to know. Our words, our feelings, our tears, our growth are sacred. For our eyes, ears, and hearts only. What I will share is how the process helped me. To be honest, a month later, I am still processing what took place in Group Room 3, and at OnSite .

The first thing I noticed while at OnSite, was the feeling of belonging. This is a very rare, if not unknown feeling for me. I have walked through my whole life searching for belonging, to be understood, to be loved, to be heard. All of these things happened at OnSite. I was never turned away when I approached a table full of others. I was included, and not expected to talk or share if I did not wish to. No one made fun of me when I didn’t have anything to say. No one picked apart my lack of self confidence. But people loved. Strangers became family, old wounds were allowed to see the light of day, and healing from the soul up began to take place.

I did not notice it happening all at once. I even felt that nothing was happening. I felt like I was wasting my time as I retold my story of past trauma. I had told it, written about it, even went on Dr. Phil to talk about parts of it. What more could happen from sharing the same old stuff again? I volunteered to share my story first after I drew my timeline of traumatic events. A page for every decade.

Without making any eye contact I looked at my drawings on the wall and told my story, in a matter of fact kind of way. As I was telling my story in the thirty minutes provided, I started to think that my story isn’t that bad. I felt like I was wasting the rest of the groups’ time. I skipped over some major events, and added some things that I had not shared with anyone before. Things came to the surface, that I had buried so deep, even I had not remembered them before. Even still, some of these memories were not shared, for the shame they evoke inside of me.

My voice broke as I neared the end of my story. Silence filled the room before I could go on with the part where Gram, Uncle Doug, and John left me. All at once, stolen from this world, to leave me dangling in the darkness. The feelings from that time came back as I remembered how distant I had become through the grief. Guilt poured in as I finished, remembering all the ways I had let others down, how my life had been wasted, while others did not even have a life left to waste.

I sat back down on my pillow seat, covered back up with the blanket and looked down at my knees. A quick glance around the room let me see the tears from others while they listened to my story. I picked three women to write parts of my story as I told it, so they could read back to me the facts, the feelings, and the beliefs. As the women read back what I had said, I heard my story differently. I finally, for the first time, heard that my story was that bad. I had been through a lot, overcame a lot, and survived. I survived so many things that I shouldn’t have. The trauma did not swallow me whole. I was not only surviving, but I was thriving.

As I listened to the other stories in the room, I understood on a whole new level the saying “Everyone has a story.” I understood how much alike we all are, no matter how different we seem. I saw how much trauma can change people. I saw how strong we are, and how little we give ourselves credit for. I saw myself as whole. As complete. As messy, and beautiful. As strong, and vulnerable. As trusting, and open. All of my broken pieces were molded back together, shaping me into a perfectly, imperfect woman.

The day after telling my story my body began to detox. I had heard this was possible, but did not expect it. I still felt as though I was doing work that I had already completed. Learning new things along the way, but getting a refresher course. I woke up unable to catch my breath. I could not breathe deep enough to feel as though I was getting enough oxygen. Even in meditation I was unable to breathe. I felt nauseous and lightheaded. I went to the bathroom every chance I could and eliminated black stool (TMI, I’m sorry!). I even threw up. It was quite noticeable that I was struggling, and the group leader took a few moments with me to explain what was happening. “Your body is detoxing all that old trauma.”

I was trying to remember to trust the process, but I was still holding on to a bit of skepticism. I tried to breathe deeply with her, but still could not catch my breath. Even, as I tried to fall asleep that night I struggled with my breathing. I wanted to go home, and give up. This was scary, and I need my normal back. This was only day three.

When I woke up the next morning, I was able to breathe  normally again. I felt fine, and bathroom business returned to normal. There was no way that I could be a skeptic now. Things were happening inside of me. Deep down. Trauma that I had worked on in the past was now being released. I was finally giving permission to let it go. Not just with words, but with action. I knew now what trust the process meant.

As the days progressed, I saw myself differently. I saw that each person who was there knew what it felt like to be different, feel broken, unloveable, and unworthy. I belonged. And not just at OnSite, but in the world. If every person there knew what it felt like, it was not too far fetched to believe that everyone else did too. It is true, everyone has a story, and it is also true that everyone has experienced trauma. If you are living, you have suffered. The people who pretend that their life is perfect are actually hurting under their fake smile. The successful person you envy, struggles with self love too. We are all fighting a battle to some scale. There is no perfect.

This discovery energized me. It filled me with hope, and a new sense of wonder. A new mission to help others see what I have learned. A new goal of self love and acceptance. I gave myself permission to be human, to own my faults, and honor my strengths. I am able to see how far I have come, while keeping my eyes open for the road ahead. Everyday brings new struggles and new gifts. It is a constant choice whether or not I beat myself up over the mistakes, or cherish the lessons. I choose to tell the negative thoughts to STFU (another lesson I learned at Trauma Camp).

OnSite introduced me to my true self. The experience gave me hope, that anything is overcome-able. It showed me that I am strong. We all are. We are all worthy of love, especially our own. The mirror before me continues to be cleaned off, and I can see who I really am. The detox is still happening as the years of anxiety, pain, and trauma escape my cells, and I remain open to trust the process.

I am worthy. I am loved. I am enough.

#Onsiteworkshops