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Progress

I’ve had a bit of a sidetrack on my recovery journey, due to some health stuff, but I’m proud to say that at my psychiatry appointment on Friday I surpassed her expectations and the goals set at my last session. *happy dance*

Last time she helped me look at the failed adoption as a miscarriage and the goals were to grieve and let go of the grief that I will never have the life I had planned for since I was a child. It hit me one day that I’ve had to adapt almost all expectations of my life all ready, due to my illness, so realistically not having children in our life together is just one more expectation to change. He and I still make a family, with the relatives and friends that support and love us as the bubble of family around us. A child isn’t a requirement to be a family. It still hurts at times to be missing out on the special moments and to not have the parenting aspect to share, but this different path gives us other opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise have, such as traveling and exploring other educational avenues.

Another goal that tied in to everything was to learn to value myself. To stand up for my needs, demand respect, and let go of toxic influences. One huge lesson was to stop trying to obtain verbal praise and validation from others for what I had done/achieved or for my personal growth. I realized that I have sought that my entire life, especially from male figures, and is also probably part of what made me an easy target for my ex. It also held me back in a lot of ways. So I’m learning to embrace my inner badass, which is a comment that my psych loved hearing. I’m a complex, flawed person, but I’m a survivor and I’m stronger for that. So yeah, I won’t use a more polite term. I’m embracing my inner badass. *grin*

In realizing that I value myself and my personal journey, it was an epiphany to me that I have sought L’s verbal validation for about 20 years, yet he’s always shown me that he values me. It’s just not his style and not an empowering way to show me that he values me, so I felt like I was lacking for years because I was so lost in trying to find that validation of value. He became friends with, admired, and married a strong woman; there isn’t a higher vote of confidence than that, really.

That realization made me feel even stronger and a few days ago I actually unpacked the adoption tote. In my immediate grief I boxed everything I possibly could that we didn’t send to Kid via the social worker. I hid that tote under a pile in the back of a closet. Last week I took the label off, threw out some of the items that can’t be donated or are too personal to share, and sorted the rest. I then packed a box for my friend to give to a couple that she knows is adopting. I even sent along my adoption tee and all of my adoption necklaces, which I wore instead of my cross throughout most of the adoption journey. It wasn’t as hard as I expected, honestly. It mostly was bittersweet to see and touch all of these tokens of hope. I seriously love that I’m able to share these with others that are holding that hope inside as well and that the items might help them through the tough times during their journey.

While sitting next to the box I realized that I was staring at the joint bookcase for Kid and I, which I had filled with some of the keepsakes I had always planned to pass down, along with my literature keepsakes. It dawned on me that I don’t have a child to pass my little treasures to, but I have loved ones that I can, so after checking with their mom that it would be okay, I also boxed up some of my book collections, like the Anne of Green Gables and Emily sets. I have three large mailing boxes to send all ready. LOL I know that my nieces will find as much joy and wonder in the books as I did, and my friend knows how much these books mean to me (they’re some of the few possessions that I truly value and wanted to pass on), so it makes me so incredibly happy to be passing my beloved books on to them. I don’t have to throw out or donate them for a library fundraiser, and know that they’ll still find life, so to speak, in the hands of much loved avid readers.

I also wrote an addendum to my will, which I’ll need to get witnessed, for the remaining treasures like fossils and collector items to be passed on to them and other kids/young adults. I’m not sure when my illness will overtake me and it is utterly heart lifting to realize that I can still pass on the few material things I treasure. I’ve always thought that passing down those little things are an incredibly meaningful way of saying “I love you”, especially if receiving gifts is part of their love language, so this all was a huge step in processing and leaving the other fork in the road behind. This progress left both my psych and I with red eyes after discussing all of it. I didn’t need that validation anymore, but the joy and hug meant a lot. So I straightened my imaginary superhero cape and walked out to L with a huge smile on my face, followed by a big thank you for showing me all of this time how much he values and supports me.

I hope this vulnerable post, and blogging this difficult journey, helps you find and celebrate your value, too, especially if you find yourself on a wildly different path than you ever wanted or dreamed of.

Worthy, Courageous, and Imperfect

I’ve been thinking a lot about empowerment lately.  My survivor anniversary just passed, I’m learning about ways to empower Kiddo, and am working on becoming more positive about myself so that I’m the best role model that I can be.  While wandering around the grid I found this awesome display set up that I would love to see happen in the real world. 

 

Empowering Bre_006

 

 

 

I’m actually thinking of doing a print out version and putting them around Kiddo’s room or mirrors, as a reminder of her strength and character.  “Gorgeous, imperfect, worthy, resilient, courageous” were my favorite ones.  There were a few others, but I’ve never used words like “exuberant” in my life and don’t plan to start now.  *laugh*  That’s for other personality types and sooooo far from my vocabulary.  Although gorgeous is included, I really love the idea of celebrating beautiful character traits and learning to love those traits, instead of looking in the mirror in hopes that you see the ideal you’ll probably never achieve.  That ideal is sometimes such an unhealthy and crippling goal, and usually tears apart our self esteem.  I think that’s why I really loved this display and had to share it.  

 

 

As of today I plan to initiate the concept, at least for myself.  With the health issues I have absolutely no control over when my thyroid decides to work or not, or if I have an inflammation, or whatever, so I’m going to stop looking in the mirror and tearing myself down.  I’m going to use a dry erase marker on an empty glass picture frame and I’m going to start listing a character trait that I’m proud of or have worked on.  I may still put up a version of the display in Kiddo’s room, or I’ll just make it and have it handy, so that I’m not over-decorating her room (I got zinged on that in our profile because we renovated and made her room move-in-ready.  They’re concerned that Kiddo won’t feel like it’s really hers, since the room is all ready done.  I’m hoping that the updated profile has my addition that we just wanted something neutral ready for her and that she can change it to her heart’s desire.  Makes me nervous to do anything else in her room though, I admit.).  A loved one reminded me that my journey has made me a strong woman, so I think that will be the trait I start with today.  

Empowerment

While the medicine is keeping my symptoms at bay, I’ve decided to write about my latest step toward empowerment. Settle in for a long one. I tried to shorten it as much as I could. 🙂

I saw my disability psychiatrist last week; we’ll call her “H” for being such a huge help my learning to cope with becoming disabled so young, just as my career was truly starting. During some of the sessions we’ve discussed how sometimes the symptoms from Fibro can trigger my PTSD from the abuse I suffered years ago. That’s when I realized that a lot of the things I did over the years was to empower myself, so that he couldn’t have control ever again, and why I’m such a control freak.

Although we don’t discuss my ex that often, I had to go over the main parts of the abuse, over and over again, as part of the adoption process. They want every little detail of your life, which I don’t begrudge them for, since they’re trying to find good homes for these children and to keep them safe. Plus, sometimes an adopting parent that has been abused is like a ticking time bomb for their PTSD to kick in while helping a child cope with their own trauma. Thankfully I’ve learned a lot and will be able to handle it, since I’ve been dealing with PTSD from several life events. I’ve worked hard to understand abuse, so I got my certification in Victim’s Advocacy, and then I worked to never be weak enough to be a victim again, mentally or physically.

At the previous appointment H and I discussed how I can’t allow my illness and disability to define me, and she blew my mind when she pointed out that I’ve been angry for so long. Anger at losing the life I was on track for before my relapse, anger at having physical weaknesses again, and anger that I had to lose my career that would have helped improve our financial situation, so I wouldn’t feel so guilty for L having such a burden on his shoulders. Although I felt it, I never was able to realize that it was anger at my disability that made me frustrated so often. And that I had never truly mourned the losses in order to move on. Losing that life and all of the dreams that went with it; they’ll never be my path and I will have different abilities, choices, and paths that I will take. With the mourning I also need to deal with the associated triggers and work on my PTSD before I can help Kiddo.

So I worked for months to let go and mourn each piece. I still have trouble sometimes with dealing with my inability to visit friends when I want to, or the independence of driving anywhere if I wanted to, not being able to access all of my knowledge at times, and most especially my physical weakness. Mourning my previous life and trying to embrace my new path became very empowering, and when we decided to adopt I decided that I wanted to be a good female role model for her – I want to show her that no matter what she went through, we can take back the control and stop being a survivor or victim. I hope my being empowered will help her to tap into her potential and find her happiness. I don’t want her past traumas to define her life, either, so if I can work through mine, I can help her through hers…I hope and pray.

During last week’s conversation H also asked how I will handle my PTSD being possibly triggered by Kiddo’s traumas, especially if I will have to help her work through the same traumas I suffered. Thankfully I have a great support system of loved ones that can step in, if needed, but I also truly believe a quote I was sent that basically said that I had survived because God had plans ahead where I would use that knowledge and compassion. However, I admit that there are a lot of unexpected triggers and I am slowly working through them. The waiting period triggered a lot of my fears and my greatest fear now is that my ex could come after Kiddo.

I know it will shatter me if he decided to punish me by hurting what I value; it’s the specialty of an abuser, and after seeing me mourn the loss of Sierra, our daughter, he will know that I’d rather die than lose Kiddo. With his twisted justifications, what if my traumatized Kiddo ever gets attacked or raped by him because of me? Until H and J talked about it I didn’t realize how much that fear had taken hold of me. It took a long time for him to stop stalking me; even L didn’t realize that we were stalked during outings in our first couple of years. I don’t know if any other girl ever managed to get away from him, if any other girl ever stood up to him like I did once I had given up…I don’t know if a switch can suddenly flip and make him decide to revisit that hatred and find me again. And now my info is out there after I hid it for so many years; social media has made it difficult to stay in the shadows.

“Know thine enemy”, so I know he moved back into the state and where he currently lives. He isn’t even an hour away. It would be easy to take up the stalking again, especially when I never understood what triggered him to become fixated the first or second time.

Without fully acknowledging where my risk analysis and PTSD trigger had taken me, I became terrified of being the cause for more trauma to Kiddo. When I finally realized it is when H leaned toward me and said I needed to stop giving him that power, if I want to teach Kiddo to learn from her trauma and to grow. I can’t actually teach that to her when I’m giving someone else the power to make me afraid again. And, when it comes down to it, my fear won’t protect Kiddo. I have to focus on letting go of fear and feel strong again, so I can be living proof for Kiddo that the trauma can teach us how to become even stronger. If we can both take away the power of victimizing us from everyone in our pasts, I’ll truly be able to help empower my daughter to mourn her losses and not let life’s challenges define her.

With that frighteningly vulnerable post I am going to turn on Fun’s “Carry On” and snuggle in my favorite blanket. Time to pamper myself a bit. 🙂


If you need help working through your abuse, please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (if you live in USA). The Hotline and 911 can and will help you if you are currently being abused. It seems impossible now, but it gets better, I promise, and if you need help working through it, a nerdy stranger on the internet will be there for you if you reach out.

Boxing

I took up boxing shortly after I moved back home following my escape from an abusive relationship. I’m one of those people who handles things by finding ways to be in control of at least part of whatever is wrong. I hated feeling vulnerable, watching over my shoulder, and wondering if the next time he found me would he finish the job (he did a bit of stalking after I escaped, so it has been a legitimate fear for years)? So I found emotional strength and control by making myself physically stronger and prepared. Although I thankfully haven’t caught sight of him wherever I’ve gone or been for around ten years now, I still find inner peace with boxing.

My canvas punching bag accidentally got wet and basically turned into cement, so I gave boxing up for several years. Two years ago my husband bought a strike shield, but was unavailable to hold it when I got the urge to box, so we hung it on our bedroom door. When I closed the door it would hold the pad in place. However…it sounded like I was breaking the door! Needless to say, I went back to Wii boxing, but the satisfaction just isn’t there when there’s no impact. *laugh*

As an early joint Christmas gift we bought one of the BOB stands (Body Opponent Bag), which was a display and a price match, so we got three discounts on it, making it one of the most guiltless workout pieces we have ever bought. *grin* Until we get our spare room situated he hangs out in our living room. I’m going to put some “ink” on him once I make up my mind on what scars and tattoos I want in him, but in the meantime we made him into white thrash. I named him Eddie (there are just too many impolite things BOB can stand for, so I couldn’t do it lol). The name is a play on part of my ex’s name, but we don’t have to actually soil our home or conversation with his real name. I really wouldn’t want to say the bastard’s name all of the time, honestly, and especially not have my husband say the name often (excuse my language). The name comes up enough when we work through my trauma, so I decided a play on it would help. And it makes boxing doubly satisfying and therapeutic.

L poured 350 pounds of sand into the base to keep it in place, which is the max. Recently we discovered that if I’m upset about anything I am actually able to hit hard enough that I moved Eddie all the way until the base was stopped by the wall. Needless to say I was impressed! I truly didn’t think I had that in me. The flattened ring pattern on the carpet from where the base used to sit is like a badge of honor, so I haven’t tried to lift the pile there yet. *laugh*

If you’re like me and need some physical release, but can’t do much exercising, and especially if you’re dealing with the lifelong effects of abuse, try out boxing. It’s great for helping you get into working out, you totally lose the dreaded “droopy chicken wings” on the underside of the arms, and it may just help you become a little more emotionally fit, as well. After lots of broken and bleeding knuckles, I caution you against ever using tapes or training gloves on canvas bags or BOBs. I just wanted to throw that out there in case you’re interested in picking this up. It’s worth spending more for the pro gloves, trust me! If you would like more information or tips, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m totally not professionally trained, but I love it and have learned a lot along the way, so I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned.

So this is one of the Habits I established for myself for this year (see my resolutions post for an explanation if you’re lost). It’s a three-win for me. Have you started or plan to start a new habit for the year? If you need someone to encourage you while you make it into a habit, I’m happy to help! After boxing, don’t forget to do a little pampering, of course! 😉

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