A Milestone of Healing

As of today, I no longer meet the clinical criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder! 🎉🍾❤️😎👍

It has been a ROUGH year and a half since my treatment started, and my healing hasn’t been linear nor is it completely over, but I am well on my way to being better. I will always have the memories and the scars, but they will fade with time and love, as all scars do. And I most certainly did not do this alone–so many of my family, friends, and mentors have pitched in to help me heal, even if they didn’t know they were doing it. I am more thankful than they will ever know, and grateful that I have so many kind people in my life.❤️

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The Best Thing

In a world that behaves as if love must be fully deserved and earned, I’m glad we don’t have to do anything for God to love us. ❤️

Advice vs. Listening

I used to love to “give advice.” Sometimes I still do. But more and more, I’ve learned that I don’t have the definitive answers to others’ problems, and even if I did, they might not even need to hear it. Sometimes all someone needs to know is that they are heard, accepted, and loved, no matter what choices they have made, no matter what they think or say.

This may sound counterintuitive to helping someone; I certainly thought it was at first. But then I realized that feeling heard, accepted, and loved is what I love about talking to God–it helps me have an honest relationship with Him, and it’s more helpful in the long run than listening to a constant stream of advice from others.

So, going forward, I’m striving to give others that same honesty and loved feeling, both when I talk and listen. And–this is the hardest thing–I’m striving to listen at least as much as I talk. In doing so, I hope to speak better than ever. ❤️

Why I Keep Saying “Nothing is Personal”

One of the most important truths I have learned over the last year is “nothing is personal.” It was very difficult and strange for me to even attempt learning it, though, because of the severe abuse and trauma I’ve suffered. Every time I was in a session of PTSD therapy, I kept thinking, “Well, this action was done deliberately TO ME, so how could it NOT be personal? How could someone’s horrible words and actions toward me be anything other than deliberate attacks because of some flaw in me they felt they had to punish?”

What I had to understand is that most of the people who caused me trauma were just spitting words like a machine gun, having no particular target in mind except the nearest one. The bullets of their words struck me but were not always aimed at me. And even when they targeted on me and fired repeatedly, their choice to hurt others came from within themselves, and was never a reflection of my inherent badness. They were angry, they were scared, they were hurt, and so they just attacked anything and everything, for no reason at all. And tragically, as a child, I assumed each person meant every word they said about me, and that everything they said was accurate, because I had no basis for judging myself yet.

I took everything extremely personally, and soon I understood that the people who surrounded me could all go into “machine gun mode” at any moment–and when they did, I believed I deserved every bullet that hit me. After all, if I hadn’t been bad or wrong in some way, they wouldn’t have started firing in the first place. I felt guilty, ashamed, hurt…and then, I began to resent and hate them.

Over time, I found myself going into “preemptive-striking machine gun mode,” attacking before I could be hurt, slamming people so soundly with strong arguments so they couldn’t possibly retaliate. Those early shots still resounded in my head long after they were fired; I built bulletproof emotional shielding and slammed down a wall of it every time someone so much as started getting angry or aggressive. I was guarding so hard against being hurt again, and yet only getting more miserable by the year. Ironically, I had become like my attackers in every way.

What a difference a change in philosophy makes. Now, it is as if I am walking into the emotional battlefield like Wonder Woman, merely waving aside the bullets as they fly, saying, “that’s not meant for me.” Others’ hurtful words and even actions may seem personal, but they are only reflections of a hurt inner self–those who attack are wounded children hiding behind bulletproof glass, as I once did. Because I know their shots are scattered and not aimed, it is much easier to brush them aside. No matter if it’s a Facebook post, a news article, a conversation, or whatever, I can rest in knowing that even if it feels targeted at me, it’s not. I can stand down, at last.

This doesn’t mean that my PTSD is gone; I still must take care of past wounds and relieve their symptoms. But this philosophy is helping me avoid new wounds and become braver every day–something I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to do again. ❤️

Hope, Anxiety, and God

Hope: “Oh! What if this amazing thing happened?”

Anxiety: “Yeah, but what if this bad thing happened because of it, and then what if that bad thing triggered this other bad thing and–”

God: “Haven’t you realized I’ve got this, either way it goes?” ❤️

A Day I’ve Dreamed Of

Today, I found my wedding dress. It was an amazing experience, like it is for every bride…and yet, there were a couple of extra special details:

1) the bridal shop was in the same shopping center where Mom, Dad, and I used to go watch the 4th of July fireworks every year–very sentimental location for us, and I had no idea it was the same place till I drove up.

2) the dresses I was trying on were generally not in my size because I was told they didn’t carry sizes as high as 26W in-store. Yet when my stylist checked, there was ONE 26W ready to try on, hiding in the midst of many 22s and 24s.

3) the lone 26W became my favorite as soon as I looked at myself in the mirror. Till then I had felt like a little girl playing dress-up; in that dress, suddenly I WAS a bride. Everything suited me–its color, style, fabric, details, everything, as if it had been designed for me. It hadn’t been one of the ones I had originally chosen, but it was one I know Mama would have loved on sight.

Though some may think I’m nuts, I felt Mama’s presence today in a powerful way. In life, Mama would have moved heaven and earth to get her little girl the wedding dress of her dreams–and today, I think she did just that. ❤️❤️❤️

Internet Comment Challenge

You know how most comment threads on the Internet go, right? They quickly dissolve into a cesspool of pointless name calling and off-topic opinions. The sad thing? I used to like to jump right into the digital muck and fling some of it around, too.

These days, however, I am challenging myself to do the following things regarding comment threads of any sort:

  1. When possible, just ignore the comment thread. Saves time (and keeps me from raging, LOL)
  2. If I do read a negative comment and I want to reply to it, first I analyze what I’m thinking, and realize that the offending comment is not personal to me. (That almost always defuses me)
  3. If the general tone of the comments is negative and I want to reply, what positive, compassionate, loving response can I add? My words should lift others up, making them feel loved and heard. (This has had great results so far!)

What do you think about this challenge? Have you tried something similar? Talk it out in the comments! ❤️

The Real Cause of Most Anger

One thing I am trying to keep in mind: when we get angry and argue, what it really means is that we are wounded and defending that injury, no matter how long it’s been there. Realizing that “angry people” are really “hurt people” has radically changed how I look at arguments (and how I choose to react when I feel myself start to get angry).

We like to pretend we can merely forget past injuries instead of dealing with them, but those old wounds will continue to cause us trouble until we face them honestly. Whether it’s stereotyping a person we just met because they look, sound, or act like someone who hurt us, or whether we attack people in a comment thread who say things just like someone we once trusted, etc., our past informs everything we do, for better or worse. What remains is to summon the courage to care for our wounds, and the compassion to love on others who have wounds too. ❤️