Equal Rights – Human Rights.

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I am a very fair person. I don’t align myself with any political party for I choose to decide on issues. I don’t speak religion, because spirituality is so much more than another organization. When it comes to domestic violence I don’t advocate only for women. The truth is that men make up 40% of all reported victims. Violence is hate and hate doesn’t discriminate.

Today I shared a video on my Facebook page that depicted two actors in a domestic violence situation. In the first part of the video the man got visibly out of line with the woman. The crowd in the park that surrounded the couple were visibly upset. So much so that about 4 women approached the couple and called the man out on his bad behavior and assured the woman that she deserved better. When the script was flipped and the woman became abusive the response from the bystanders was really hard for me to watch. People were laughing. No one came to his defense. The contrast is remarkable.

What was really even more remarkable to me is the discussion that took place under the video. First of all I was pleasantly surprised to see men speak up and in such a respectful and grateful way. Women responded too and they clearly felt the same way that I did. Violence is wrong. Now there was one woman who decided to weigh on this discussion and she took my breathe away. This woman left four responses which made it very clear that she is the demographic that I am trying to educate. She was raw. She was rude. She was banned from my page.

The issue that this has highlighted for me is the degrees of abuse. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have asked me if I was hit. As though if I hadn’t it wouldn’t have been so bad. Even police ask that question. I unfortunately suffered physical, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse. All were horrible, but the wounds that cut me the deepest and have left me changed were caused by the verbal, emotional, and psychological ones. It is time that people start to understand this. You don’t have to be hit to be a victim of abuse.

I was a successful woman and yet I hid the torment that cursed through my marriage. Fear was the main reason I didn’t speak up, but I would have to say that the shame I felt was equally as strong. I was asked over and over again, “why didn’t you leave?” It’s not a simple answer. For a victim to stand up and leave an abusive relationship it really takes every ounce of strength that they have. The last thing they need to hear is someone asking a question that makes them feel worse. Now, just imagine for an minute what it must be like for a man. The degree of shame they must feel is beyond my comprehension and I understand why so many men are silent victims.

I also want to stress that abuse isn’t just physical. While men may have the upper hand in physical strength a woman can certainly hold her own in all other areas. Women can abuse verbally, mentally, and psychologically. Women can also be physically abusive. It’s so sad that we have such a small view of domestic violence. It is so much broader than what most people perceive. This issue is not about gender issues or equal rights. This is about human rights. I believe that nothing supersedes this. I speak on behalf of women because it I can get through to them. They can relate to me and I to them. I want to help them read my story and know that their is hope. That they can get out and they can thrive.

All of the media coverage in the last week has been focused on Male violence against women. I felt that I needed to be fair and balanced. I needed to give a voice to male victims of abuse. I married a man who abused me because he was abused. If he hadn’t been a victim of domestic violence growing up he most certainly shouldn’t have become the person that he did. Violence is never acceptable.

http://http://mostshared.tv/video/7338

A Call to Action.

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I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead. and anyone who does not remember betrays them again. – Elie Wiesel

All it takes is one action to cause a reaction. This week I watched Janay Palmer get knocked out in an elevator, and my writers block disappeared. I wrote frantically, as though someones life depended upon it. I wrote because I had no other choice. As a survivor of abuse it is now my calling; I share my story so that others may have an example that says, “If I can do this so can you.” There are so many women who are unable to verbalize the darkness that lives in the deep corners of their soul. I speak for those who can’t find their voice, and I speak for those who didn’t make it out alive. I write so that we remember…

Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies. – Elie Wiesel

They say the opposite of love isn’t hate, its indifference. When we see a wrong and turn a blind eye we are in fact perpetuating hate. The Constitution was written to secure the blessings of liberty.  However the truth is so often very far from this for many women in this country. It may not appear so to the naked eye, but close their front doors and the cage is waiting.

In any society, fanatics who hate don’t hate only me – they hate you, too. They hate everybody. – Elie Wiesel

There is a huge gap of misunderstanding in our society on the subject of domestic violence. I understand that for those who have never been exposed, its hard to wrap your head around the concept of trauma bonding. I lived it, and it took me years to wrap my head around it. I needed to be able to step back and understand what had happened to me; what happens to so many women. This is the human condition and we are all a part of the cause and the solution. Hate is an evil parasite that feeds on whatever it can get it’s hands on, so never say that it couldn’t happen to you because hate does not discriminate.

Someone who hates one group will end up hating everyone – and, ultimately, hating himself or herself. – Elie Wiesel

The German philosopher Nietzsche believed that whoever did not control would be controlled. The marginalized often rise up to become the oppressor. It’s written all over our history books and it’s written on the hospital walls where so many battered women go to die. Control is the epi-center for most abusers.  The moment their control is questioned or challenged any facade of order is shattered, and the shit hits the fan. There are many pathologies that can create an abuser, but they have one thing in common, they HATE.

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel

It has taken me years to find my voice. Like so many survivors my brain has suffered enormous stress. Understand that not all wounds are visible. My adrenal glands are fatigued, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and chronic anxiety. It’s hard for me to deal with “me” many days. Can you imagine living with a fight or flight response; adrenaline coursing through your veins? You are in hyperdrive. Let me tell you that adrenaline is not a great bedfellow. In spite of all this, I have worked so incredibly hard to find my way here. To a place that I can string two thoughts together in order to speak not just my truth, but so many countless others. I don’t write for literary accolades, I write to save my life, and hopefully others.

Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other. -Elie Wiesel

Lately I have struggled with the notion that my legacy is simply going to be that I survived my abuser, but I desire much more. It’s an ugly story and not one that any little girl fantasizes about for her future. It is my belief that I survived so that I can hold the hands of others as they struggle to find their way after abuse. There are moments where I feel burdened, afraid, and exhausted. The kind of exhaustion that cuts to the core; along with headaches, stomach issues, and cognitive issues. I battle night terrors, those God awful memories that come out when you are off guard; the insomniacs accomplice. There are days when I just want to wake up, walk away, and declare that I have put in my time. This week has given me a renewed call to action. As awful and ugly as my story is I must keep sharing it because my voice is bringing hope to those who can’t speak up for themselves. Like I did, they are probably trying to figure out “how the hell did I end up here?”.  My gift to them is a voice, hope for a life beyond the abuse, and light to follow when theirs is dimming. It’s a lonely and dark place to be when you are trapped in an abusive relationship.

Our obligation is to give meaning to life and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life. – Elie Wiesel

I quote Elie Wiesel here because he was such a light for me during a very dark time. He gave me hope, not only for a new beginning, but for peace. I believed him and he was right. My life hasn’t been a fairytale. In fact I am covered in invisible scars.  What was it all for? I have to believe that it was for a greater good. That I was called to lead other women to find hope. To show them that freedom is viable and that starting over is possible. If I stayed quiet I would be doing a great injustice. I may only be one person, but I walk with courage, dignity, love, determination, and gratitude. If I remained silent, out of fear, I would be turning a blind eye to the truth and in turn endorsing the abuser. So I write….  xo Ella

When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. – Elie Wiesel

Why didn’t she leave?

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I stayed in an abusive marriage for 11 years because I was afraid.
Today’s media soundbite is shocking to me. “Why didn’t she leave?” As though it were her fault that she was married to an abusive man and caught in the cycle of abuse. If people are so curious then why don’t the just do a little research and ask. Time to stop blaming the victim folks.

Dear Google,
Why doesn’t she leave?
Signed,
Uneducated (but willing to learn)

Today a particular couple is in the spotlight. The only reason this couple is making headlines is because the man is being punished financially for his abusive behavior. This is just one couple, but I assure you that this is not an isolated case. This is happening in so many homes every single day. One in four women will experience domestic violence within her lifetime. The statistics are staggering and these are the cases we know about. Most women don’t report their abuse. Did you know that almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner? That domestic violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year? That the cost of domestic violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services? That domestic violence victims lost almost 8 million days of paid work because of the violence perpetrated against them by current or former husbands, boyfriends and dates last year? This loss is the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result of violence. Finally, there are 16,800 homicides and $2.2 million (medically treated) injuries due to intimate partner violence annually, which costs $37 billion last year.

PhyVio

So, why didn’t she just leave? Why didn’t I just leave? Please feel free to insert your mother, sister or daughters name here because it very easily could be anyone. If this can happen to me then it most certainly can happen to you. What you need to understand is that domestic violence systematically breaks down a persons sense of self. It doesn’t start with a knock out in an elevator. It is much more seductive than that. It creeps in slowly and knows how to bend and manipulate the mind of a person who is truly trying to love. Simply put, it is a “mind fuck”. We have seen kidnapping victims fall into life with their abductors and fail to run away when presented with a clear opportunity. When you are living in the middle of a situation like this there are so many factors that prevent you from leaving, but the main underlying issue is often Stockholm syndrome (trauma bonding). This suggests that the bonding is the individual’s response to trauma in becoming a victim. Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself. When a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be perceived as a threat. This is also known as survival to the abused.

Allow me to give you some bullet points on some of the reasons why:

1. Fear.
2. Love
3. No self worth & depression
4. Afraid of escalating violence if the police don’t intervene and help you.
5. Threats of harm to you and your children if you leave (extended family and pets too).
6. No access to leave.
7. Your ability to cope is completely caught up in the dysfunctional situation and so you pray for the storm to pass.
8. No outside support
9. Financial dependency
10. Religious beliefs
11. Shame
12. etc. etc. etc.

What people don’t seem to understand is the cycle of violence pulls a person in much like a riptide does in the surf. It takes hold of you and before you realize that you are being pulled out too deep and with too much force; you are already way out in the water and over your head, exhausted, terrified, with no safety net, and no clear way out. You panic. I have seen this happen time and time again, and I have lived it. You are supposed to swim parallel to the shore and out of harms way. You know this, but yet as you get pulled under you panic and in this moment you can’t think in a straight line. Many people drown every year in riptides. Many women die at the hand of their abusers every year.

I come from an educated upper middle class family. My parents have been married for over 50 years. This kind of thing doesn’t happen to women like me or so I thought. Like I have said before, if this can happen to me it an happen to you, your sister, your mother, your daughter, or a friend. Domestic Violence does not discriminate against gender, religious, race, or socio-economic lines. It is ruthless and it is far reaching. Domestic violence is a generational cycle. It is taught by the parent and passed down to the child who in turn marries and repeats the whole scenario. While domestic violence can happen to all people the likelihood of it being a woman is far higher. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year and 85% of domestic violence victims are women. Social gender roles, economics, traditions, and religious ideals contribute to this perpetuating cycle.

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The recent video is a public display of brute force on an unsuspecting victim. Never forget that this is a violent act on a woman by a man who is supposed to love and care about her enough to want to marry her (or is it “own” her?) Imagine what it must be like for her at home if he is so free to dole out his punches in public like that? Too bad for him that she didn’t get right back up and that the cameras were rolling. My question to the greater public is “What did you think domestic violence looked like?” The answer is that it looks just like this and it continue to look just like this right down to her statement in the news apologizing for her part in the ordeal. It continues with her posts to social media asking why people are turning this into such a media circus and crucifying her husband. She will continue with the script and by the grace of God maybe, just maybe one day she will get out alive. Maybe she can break the cycle.

If you ask a survivor about the cycle they will not only tell you how it worked for them, but how it felt, and how it still feels years after they have fled to safety. Why did I stay? I was terrified that my ex husband would follow through on his threats to kill me, our children, and members of my extended family. Imagine that burden? Knowing that your mother and children were in harms way. Knowing that a person can hate you so much that they would derive joy from watching you suffer over the murder of your own children? This was and is still very much my reality. Yes I know it is a hard pill to swallow, however what you must know is that it isn’t always just easy to walk away. You need to have a plan. You need support, a place to go, and you need to be prepared for your abuser to not let go. Exiting the relationship is the most unsafe time for a victim. As the abuser senses that they’re losing power, they will often act in dangerous ways to regain control over their victim. Stalking is a very real part of the aftermath of domestic violence and one of the reasons that so many women return home after they have left. On average, it takes a victim seven times to leave before staying away for good. I still must live in the shadows with my children in the attempt to stay out of harms way. I had to give up a lot to survive. Freedom is not something that I take lightly. The next time you hear someone say, “Why didn’t she just leave?” Think of me and what I have written here. I hope that I don’t have to expand on all the bloody details to get people to listen and heed my warning: This can happen to you.

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1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

Standing Still.

Time

“Sometimes it takes years to really grasp what has happened to your life.”                                                                                                                    -Wilma Rudolph

It can be a hard pill to swallow when you realize that you are out of the forest, but not out of the woods. Life goes on and we live it out the best we can, exhausted often by the very act of being. Sometimes when you feel as though you have made progress you realize that you were actually just standing still; and the truth is that taking steps is easier than standing still.

It can be incredibly frustrating as I watch friends suffer through their growing pains; shit as I suffer through my own growing pains. I want a magic balm to help them through the pain, but I know that the only way to find redemption is to push right on through it. Life has taught me this well, and some lessons have taken longer to grasp than others. It’s kinda like trying to figure out Algebra (which incidentally I almost failed). It comes down to realizing that in life you have to work out the problems, you can’t just skip to the answers without doing the work.

When I find myself in these situations my usually patient self often checks out. Then comes the moment of self-reasoning. I have learned that patience really is a virtue and that time doesn’t heal all wounds, but it certainly helps dull the rough edges. Life doesn’t come with a manual, thank God because I probably wouldn’t read it anyway. We all have to follow our own path and figure out the best way to go about it for ourselves. It took me a lot of years to finally wake the hell up.

Then just like that you get that ‘Ah ha’ moment. You finally realize that the past is the past; and you can’t let it hold you hostage anymore. Life is for the living, and living is happening in the present moment. I can only lead by example and share what I have learned in an attempt to shine some light on the shadows. Bruce Springsteen’s mantra sounds off in my head, “No retreat baby, no surrender.”  You gotta just live through it. If t takes years then so be it, just don’t you dare give up. One day you will understand, just hang on and keep doing the work.

xo Ella

What can we gain from suffering?

 

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One common thread that connects us all is our suffering. Perhaps suffering exists so that we are drawn to each other. So that we make connections to unite under a common bond. Struggles are what teach us. They are the growing pains in life. They carve into our souls the depth needed to hold empathy and compassion for others. Our struggles, if we allow them to, can bring us more wisdom than we can ever learn in a formal setting.

The question of a lifetime is to determine how to survive in the midst of all this suffering.  What are we to do with our suffering? You have to make the choice for it is your suffering and no one else’s.  It belongs to you and to you alone and I have learned many things after years of suffering. For one I know that as long as we walk this earth we will find suffering. I also know that we can choose to let it drown us or we can learn from it. I am holistically stronger as a result of my sorrows. I am able to connect to others as a wounded healer; without the struggles and the pains I would never be able to say this. My truth is not about what happened to me. It is about how I choose to respond to it.

One might choose to embrace their suffering and cling to it like a warm blanket; swaddled in uncomfortable familiarity. In time this will become your reality and you will not remember where your suffering began or how it will ever end. The suffering has taken on a life of its own and you will be drinking from this life cup everyday as it steals your joy slowly and steadily. I know this as a fact for this for it is how I existed for years. It was not my conscious choice, but rather one of circumstance. I didn’t have the tools or support to understand otherwise at the time. I was caught up and adrift in my own nightmare.

When you play in the rough surf of the ocean you run the risk of getting knocked down. Sometimes, before you can stand back up another wave will roll in and knock you right back down, and so forth and so on. Before you realize it you are being helped to shore gasping for breath and wondering how such a beautiful day turned so quickly into fear. 

So it is with life. There are times where we get knocked down again and again before we even realize what has happened to us. It comes so quickly sometimes, doesn’t it? We find ourselves knocked on our asses, exhausted, sad, and often in great pain. We are robbed of the very joy that we are here to seek in this life. Alas, this is the human condition my friends and no one gets a hall pass in the school of life.

All I truly know is how I handle my suffering; and I really do wish that it hadn’t taken me so long to awaken to this truth. When I am in pain, I take my suffering and I sit with it for as long as I need to. I get to know it and why it has come into my life. When I feel like I cannot sit with it any longer, I stay grounded in it, even when it feels like it is going to kill me. It can be agony, but this is the critical time in your healing. You need to look inwards and dig deep in order to find the lesson that your pain is trying to teach you. By doing so your suffering is never in vain. You will have taken command and ownership of your suffering and it will no longer dictate to you. It cannot rule you.

When you can look at your suffering in this manner then you will know that is has been for the building of your spirit, not the breaking down. You will have learned and grown within your self. Your spirit will be wiser and your mind sharper. You will be stronger for you have survived what you thought you couldn’t. The silver lining here is that you will be prepared to help another one day who might be suffering in a similar way. You are now a wounded healer, and to me there is nothing more powerful than this.

This is where in my purpose lies and where my drive comes from. This is why I wake up every morning grateful for another precious day. It is why I have my hand open wide to take another’s. I may not be able to change the situation of their suffering, but I can offer them hope and understanding. My desire is to foster hope in people so that they know that their suffering can pass as they come to an understanding of it. In this understanding they will find purpose. Our suffering doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

This is the ripple effect in its purest form. One small motion in calm water can ripple out a great distance. It is our choice how we respond to it. I choose to live my life by embracing it all and as a result believe that I am wiser for it. Running away from your struggles or numbing your pain will never allow you to grow into the person that you are meant to be. By taking the time to sit with your suffering you will gain an understanding unparalleled in any other way. You will have the capacity to help others navigate through their tough times; and this is how we unite through our pain in order to connect, grow, and heal. Within this journey we are certain to find the silver lining of Hope and Love.

XO Ella

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Why I write and other curiosities….

10425696_10204251393151996_743625676_nWhen my dear friend Patricia Saxton asked me to join her “blog hop” I responded with an instant “YES”. I have neglected my writing for months and I am always better on a deadline of sorts. So, I took that challenge and here I am preparing to write about writing. We all have our own way of doing things…our methods. I am not trained in the art of writing, but I have always kept journals. I am actually a visual artist and writing a public blog is something that I started to do a little over two years ago. If you choose to continue to read on you will find out what got me started blogging, why I blog, and what I am working on currently. This way please…..

What am I working on/writing?

I wish I could say that I sit down and write my blog religiously every day. Actually, it’s been a bit of a dry spell for me the last few months. I am always working on something though. I run a private group for women under the Rebel Thriver umbrella and it is where my heart lies. We are all walking our paths; survivors of this life in one way or another and it is there that I focus much of my attention. I am currently working on writing my first public workshop for Rebel Thriver. It will be the foundation for all other workshops to build upon and I am really excited about it. I am in the process of writing a piece for The Good Men Project (www.goodmenproject.com). I have been asked to write an open letter to men addressing the issues that we as women feel that men need to work on. It’s a brilliant opportunity to connect with enlightened men and start a conversation for a greater understanding. Finally, I am starting to pull my first book together. I am not putting pressure on myself though, for I feel that when it is meant to happen it will just flow from within. I plan to write a few books before I lay down my pen.

How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

I don’t really feel as though I have a genre. I write in the moment and I am full on stream of consciousness. Sometimes I feel like I step out of my body and my spirit is writing what my mind cannot articulate. I am a free spirit and I approach my writing in the same way. There are no rules for me to break, no lines to color within, and my brush is big. Every piece I write is an adventure. There are no maps or outlines, just me and the blank.

Why do I write what I do?

I am a survivor of domestic violence. I married the love of my life, or so I thought, only to find out soon after our “I Do’s” that he suffered from mental illness. I spent over 11 years with this person who abused me mentally, emotionally, and physically. He systematically broke me down until I found myself wondering if I would even survive. Well, a long story short, I survived. I am now a single mother of two and we are a miracle. I had no one to help me navigate the murky waters I found myself swimming in, and it was incredibly isolating. I felt liberated when I chose to refer to myself as “survivor” rather than “victim”, but I wanted so much more than to survive. I wanted to thrive. So, I started to write. I started to tell the all the parts of my story that I could in order to heal and in turn help other women to find the strength to move on too. There is power in words and in the bridges that they can build between people. I started writing to save my life and I continue to write to help save others.

How does my writing process work?

I don’t have a “process” and I like it this way. I have learned to go with the flow like the tides roll in and out from the sea. Something triggers me and in turn I see a lesson to be worked out within myself. I start writing to clarify my thoughts and so often they resonate with others. Writing enabled me to help others in some very dire situations. I believe that words can heal; they have great power to connect us in a powerful way. I shall continue to write as it is the best form of therapy I know. We gain wisdom through our struggles and the only way I can make sense of many of them is by helping others with what I have learned. There is a great freedom in this.

Please visit me on Facebook www.facebook.com/rebelthrivers and on Twitter www.twitter.com/rebelthriver

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And now, my talented Blog mates:

patricia-saxton_earlybird1

Somewhere around the age of 3, Patricia Saxton picked up a pencil and never quite put it down. A multi-disciplined artist, Patricia is an award-winning graphic designer, illustrator, writer, and fine artist. Creative Director of design firm Saxton Studio, she’s also the author/illustrator of 2 best-selling children’s books, A Book of Fairies and The Book of Mermaids, and the inspirational design book 52 Weeks of Peace. Her paintings have exhibited widely and hang in private collections throughout the U.S. On a personal note, as a 24/7 single Mom, Patricia has come to see much of her work as a real-time, real-life experiment in “doing what you love.” (p.s: it’s not always easy, but chocolate helps!) You can follow Patricia at any or all of these hot spots: Saxton Studio Blog, Saxton Studio Website, Facebook / Saxton Studio, Facebook /52 Weeks of Peace, Amazon and Twitter.

You can follow Patricia at any of these fine places: saxton studio blog link: https://saxtonstudio.wordpress.com saxton studio website link: http://saxtonstudio.com facebook https://www.facebook.com/patriciasaxton.saxtonstudio facebook: https://www.facebook.com/52weeksofpeace.peacestartshere Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Saxton/e/B000N9T5E0 twitter; https://twitter.com/saxtonstudio

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Hi ! My name is Kristin Louise Granger… I’m an Australian mum, worker, volunteer, social media junky, friend, daughter; a curious child, a lover of life and a possibilitarian! Life has been a glorious mess of loving, failing, learning, succeeding, thriving, discovering, hiding, dancing, struggling and everything in between. I was born with a curious soul and a fascination with people and how they connect and relate. I have an interest in exploring the underlying barriers that get in the way of people living a full and happy life on their own terms, and spent the past 10 years exploring the notion of Gratitude as a tool to facilitate change. Oh…and did i mention that i write?! Always have, always will…. since i could scrawl my name i have been scratching around on paper making meaning out of life through words. And from a very young age ….whether it’s been at the supermarket counter, the line for the loo, or the park with my kids…I’ve had strangers tell me their stories. The stories that come forward are magnificent examples of how fraught and delightful it is to be human. I like that. I like that story telling can be a form of wayfaring…a breadcrumb if you will… a way of inviting others to enter their own Quest. And if there is one thing i have learned… its that life is one hell of an adventure! Tally ho!

You can connect with Kristin at her blog www.gratitudenall.com, on her amazing Facebook page www.facebook.com/gratitudenall, and on Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/109366191447486380270/+Gratitudenall/posts

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Summer

Summer Watson rediscovered her passion for writing after her marriage of more than 25 years started to fall apart. She has always been a writer, starting when she ran out of Winnie the Pooh books to read and had to write her own stories. She’s a proud mother of one son and calls herself a friend to many. Her writing style covers everything from trips and nights at the theatre to soul-searching and sharing life’s pain. You can find her balancing two blogs here on wordpress. You can also connect with her on Facebook which she fondly calls her second home. You can connect more with Summer at her blogs, www.sumwatsumwhere.wordpress.com and www.goodtimesandlaughter.wordpress.com

What’s with her?

NotAllWounds

“What’s with her?” they ask. Even if I can’t hear them I know they think it. Better yet…“Why can’t she just get over it?” Who do I speak of? Mostly my family members. I know, the very people who should try to understand don’t. The people closest to you sometimes feel the farthest away. I guess that there are some things that we experience that others can never fully understand unless they have experienced it themselves. It’s true of my debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the accompanying anxiety. You can try to understand, but if you haven’t experienced it then you can never really know.

I have many scars left from wounds that have been inflicted upon me over the years. Most of them came during my 11 year marriage. They varied day-to-day, but rarely did I find sleep at night without having added another to my already war-torn body. The most hideous of them are invisible to the eye. The are carved deep into my psyche and they attempt to torment me all the time. If you were to see me in the market you would never know how nervous I was or notice that my eyes are darting around the room. In case you didn’t know…I am casing the joint at high-speed for a quick exit if needed. Same goes for when I walk out of my house…I always look in the bushes to make sure that no one is going to jump out.

Sometimes I will be talking to you, but my mind is elsewhere. It may have been something that you innocently said that ripped me back to that horrible night. One of many horrible nights. You will have no idea that as you sit and gingerly talk to me about the new color of your living room that I am reliving an event I only wish I couldn’t remember. Why is it that at the most benign of moments the littlest things can tear me away from the present and hurl me at light speed back into the past?

Ironically, much of what  I have forgotten can come back in a flash without warning. Imagine that? This is the exciting world of a trauma survivor. I know I am not alone and I hope that my words here resonate with someone. Quick or I might forget what I am writing about. It’s that bad some days. My memory is shot. I feel like my brain is full of clouds that prevent thoughts from connecting and allowing a continuance of thoughts. Don’t ever argue with me…you will win. I will forget what we are arguing about somewhere in the middle.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder affects many survivors of trauma. Victims of violent crimes, car accidents, and injuries can cause you emotional pain when you think back to the moment of impact. 1 out of 5 veterans coming back from Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Then there are the victims of domestic abuse; women and children who live nightmares for years at the hands of the very people who are meant to love them. I have never been in war, but I have been in an accident, been injured, and a victim of a violent crime. The worst for me was being abused physically, mentally, and emotionally by the man I thought was there to protect me. I struggle to this day, years after my divorce, to overcome the flashbacks of my past.

Remember that not all wounds are visible. Since this is something that afflicts so many I thought I might share a little knowledge to those of you who don’t know much about this. To those of you who do, I can already hear you saying “check”. The following is an informative overview of the symptoms of PTSD. You may have it or know someone who does. Everyday is different for us and we have to handle each situation as they come. For me personally, memory issues, flashbacks, feelings of detachment, difficulty concentrating, hyper vigilance, and being easily started are always present. It’s only normal that I would want to avoid people or situations connected to that part of my life. So when I say I can’t do something it means I really can’t do it.  XO Ella

Re-experiencing

These symptoms envelope ways that someone re-experiences the event. This could look like:

  • Intrusive thoughts or memories
  • Nightmares related to the traumatic event
  • Flashbacks, feeling like the event is happening again
  • Psychological and physical reactivity to reminders of the traumatic event, such as an anniversary

Avoidant symptoms

Avoidant symptoms describe ways that someone may try to avoid any memory of the event, and must include one of the following:

  • Avoiding thoughts or feelings connected to the traumatic event
  • Avoiding people or situations connected to the traumatic event

 

Negative alterations in mood or cognitions

Basically, there is a decline in someone’s mood or though patterns, which can include:

  • Memory problems that are exclusive to the event
  • Negative thoughts or beliefs about one’s self or the world
  • Distorted sense of blame for one’s self or others, related to the event
  • Being stuck in severe emotions related to the trauma (e.g. horror, shame, sadness)
  • Severely reduced interest in pre-trauma activities
  • Feeling detached, isolated or disconnected from other people

 

 Increased arousal symptoms

Increased arousal symptoms are used to describe the ways that the brain remains “on edge,” wary and watchful of further threats. Symptoms include the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability, increased temper or anger
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Hypervigilance
  • Being easily startled

 

Frustration Precedes Success.

“Success is not built on success.    It’s built on failure.

It’s built on frustration.     Sometimes its built on catastrophe.”

                                                              – Sumner Redstone

Frustration is a four letter word to me. It’s one of the worst feelings to experience. I hate it. No other word quite describes itself better either. That alone is frustrating. The dictionary says it means to thwart or disappoint. It also uses the words maddening, aggravating, annoying, exasperating, infuriating, provoking, riling, troubling, trying, and the best of all… vexatious, as synonyms. That pretty much sums up my dislike for the word & the feeling it provokes with in me. For me frustration is usually masked anger. It’s what happens when I put expectations on things or people. I like to think that I am advanced on my path, but when it comes to this I feel a mere child. I want so much to believe that everything will turn out…my way. There I said it. Yuck. It doesn’t happen often I swear, but when it does I have a hard time coping. My knickers get all twisted in a knot and the ease of letting go becomes not so easy. We all struggle. I have my soft spots and you have yours. It’s all a part of the process of living this life.

I have days where I get aggravated and I can’t understand why people don’t see what I see. It’s vexatious, exasperating, and annoying to say the least. I feel my heart start to pound faster and my mood shifts into low gear as I try to reason with myself internally. Trust me…you don’t want to be privy to that session! When I get to the point of acceptance (yes, remember that word it’s important) I often find myself cruising towards angry. I don’t like feeling unhinged. My life experiences have depleted the toolbox for that fix. Now, let me just say that I am not a roaming lunatic who walks the edge. I am a very balanced individual; at least I fancy myself one. So, this is something that I only have to deal with occasionally.  No one plans for the impromptu dance with frustration…it just shows up like an uninvited guest. Again, frustrating. The batter swings the bat and I duck, but sometimes I get hit straight up in the head. It’s hard not to get pissed off, really.

Ultimately, the answer to all of this lies within me. I know this already, and I find this frustrating! The secret of pirouetting through it all with grace and a little style lies in acceptance. It’s a layered kind of acceptance, because you have to accept the situation as well as your reaction to it. You have to forgive all involved and it’s not always so easy. I have been at this a long time; and it has become easier for me to let it slide off my back and move on. I know what battles I need to fight. It’s the one-off’s that throw me. The situations in which I feel so sure of can end up being the very ones that sneak up, flip me, and knock me on my ass. Time and perspective are the balm for this…the only one I know of.

I am a strong, determined, and a true blue fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl.  I’m not scared to work hard for what I desire, nor will I let a golden opportunity pass me by. I won’t sit back and watch others do what I know I am capable of, and I am not one to settle easily. So, if I don’t temper myself I end up in the frustration zone. It’s so correctly underrated. Forgiveness is a process because there is no light switch for it. Sometimes it takes forgiving a transgression a few times (or a hundred) before we can actually let go if its hold on us. Yes, I have been here many times so I am in familiar territory. Unfortunately, the thing about our memories is that they sometimes pop up at very inconvenient times. The smallest thing can trigger me and then the next thing I know, all of the feelings just pop up right up and attempt to knock me down. They just bust down the door and cause me to feel instantly angry, which then leads me to frustration. Remember that when you are feeling as I have described here…it’s not always the current situation in itself that is creating the bad vibes, but rather memories that are associated to it, and stored back there in your primitive brain. Again…frustrating. The cool part of this is that if you are an aware person, as I fancy myself to be, you will know that it is all a process. The sooner you submit to the idea that it’s not always going to go your way, the sooner you can get on with it. After all, our greatest accomplishments are usually the ones that are built on our failures. XO Ella

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This is My Love Song.

“Love is so short, forgetting is so long.” – Pablo Neruda

So it goes…Life rolls on. Two years have passed and I still miss you.  Who says that time heals all wounds? Yes, it’s true, some losses are unbearable; yet somehow we bear them.  Everywhere I look, the empty space is filled with you.

Life rolls on and you are still by my side. It’s taken me two years to mourn you; I wasn’t ready to let you go. Today I look death in the eyes and I know that love is louder. Love surpasses even death. I didn’t want to come to this place…to admit your death was to put the final nail in the proverbial coffin. It makes it permanent…and now I have no chance of you walking back through that door. The curtain has dropped, the lights have dimmed, and now you may take your bow.

We shared a love for the sea…heaven on earth.  I know that you are here with every wave I hear crashing, and with every wave I ride…you are everywhere. I used to yell at you on the beach to leave me alone, to go off to where the spirits go, but you won’t.  I know now that I need you here to remind me that I am okay…the wind beneath my wings. You brought me back to life…you put the color back into my cheeks after so many years of numbness. Oh how I long for you…to hear your voice. Read me Neruda at bedtime again, sing to me with your well-worn guitar, and let me hear your laugh… as loud as life itself. I love you so.

This is my love song. I thought I was broken, and you showed me that I could love again. You gave me back my life and saved me from myself. Because of you I am whole…I am a better mother, a better friend, daughter, sister…all because of you. You believed in me and I am so much better for knowing you. So, while you left me standing here alone, I know that your purpose was whole. I wish I could shed the guilt that I carry…it’s here though to remind me that I can never be complacent. I need to show others how beautifully they shine, that they are loved, and worthy of love in return.

You taught me with your servant’s heart. Your actions always spoke louder than your words. I want to thank you for the flowers you brought me, each and every time you came to my door. Oh how i have cried for you, but today I make my peace. Life is good and our little tribe is happy and thriving. The kids miss you so, especially Jake. It’s hard for kids to lose another father, but they understand that life is complicated and you have to rise after you fall. You have helped me to teach them that, again. I want to scream into the ether that I am so damned angry at you and that I am lost without you, but it would be a lie. It’s survivors guilt; I know it so I let it go.

My life goes on and I shall continue to rise and fall like the tides. I will learn, grow, and I will continue to love. I will share my life with another one day and I know you would want that for me. I shall keep your legacy alive though with every single post that I write for Rebel Thriver. I know that one day I shall meet you again. You have taken the fear of death away from us because we know that when we pass over to the other side you will be standing there to greet us. You gave us such a gift in that…your death was not in vain. Your love was to big for death to claim…It’s mine and I shall keep it until I meet you again. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have known you, to have loved you, and to have been loved by you. I forgive you for leaving me and I make my peace with you today. I will forever be your endless summer and your laughter will always crash onto the shore with the waves for eternity. XO Ella
The Photographer

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