Saying hello

Today was a talk therapy session that focused on the issues I’ve been dealing with recently with self-identity. We discussed how to help me handle the fact that while I have been validated lately concerning my role in this thing we call life, I’m still reluctant to give myself the title that has been bestowed upon me.

Leader.

Perhaps I should call it what it really is: Reluctant leader. Society teaches women that they should be soft, gentle, and quiet. Society likes to remind women that they are nurturers and should behave as such. Society tells us that a man will never be interested in us if we can command a room, or get shit done. That is and has been the way of it.

If, heavens forbid, you do strike out and speak up, or talk loudly, or divert from the expected path of a woman, you are deemed scary words like, ‘bitch,’ and, ‘spinster,’ and, ‘undesirable.’ You are looked down on by other women because you are the inherent threat: you command attention and women should be seen not heard.

I always fought my natural inclination for the reasons above. I honestly had myself convinced I was some demon-like creature from the Black Lagoon that didn’t deserve to be treated like a lady, or told I was beautiful. Clearly, the mind has been trained, and that’s why learning what my triggers represented would help me flip the script to learning how to cope productively and seeing myself in a shiny new light.

There’s a catch; there’s always a catch.

It’s easier said than done when it comes to retraining your brain, yes? I could sit here all day and spew a great deal of information that I have learned across my education on mental health counseling, but who does that help? Not me if I can’t figure out a way to put it to good use. The question that was answered today was that I needed to start logging my triggers, and how I chose to cope in that situation.

Allow me to introduce Minerva …

Minerva, as you can see, is a weence cantankerous and I’ve deemed her my NOPE llama, and thus the keeper of my new bullet journal that I will be documenting my triggers and my coping of said trigger. This is an attempt for me to hold myself accountable for the actions I’m literally taking against myself. Self-awareness is the only viable option to allowing myself to see what’s going on in my head, and how I am reacting, so that I can correct the behavior and be more at peace with who I am.

A woman who has been given the gift of natural born leader walks a line that is divided between two types of people: those who hate her for what she cannot control and those who hate her because they cannot control her.

Christina Terrano

There are no two ways around the reaction a woman who is able to lead will receive. You either love her for who she is and what she can do, or you hate her because she poses as the ultimate threat. Until recently I hadn’t given much credit to the fact that I am fully aware there are people in this world who hate me for being who they couldn’t. I understand the feeling of resentment. I always knew it was present with some people, and I have to stop letting that fact make me feel inferior.

While I can approach all situations with humility, and I can attempt to take my place as a moderator, I cannot in good conscience keep pushing myself down when all I want to do is rise up. I have to come to terms with reconciling who am I as a person, and how that’s going to help me become the best Crisis Counselor I can possibly be. I will be doing no one any good if I can’t stand up, step out and advocate for my clients. The only way I can do that, though, is by embracing my personality and working to make sure I’m not missing any steps.

This week, I was tested. I was put into a situation that I felt I needed to try and talk out. I put so much effort into trying to make sense of how others were behaving that I forgot that the only part of the situation that I can control is my own reaction. Minerva, and the opportunity to jot down my triggers for the situation, then seeing that I used coping mechanisms that were toxic, helped me realize that I was getting nothing out of the arrangement. I was not seeing any progress, I was not being heard, I was not being respected, and I was not trying to play any games. I realized that I was putting my own expectations onto those who did not have the same set of values that I do, and when I saw it for what it was, I realized the best course of action was just to take a few steps away and focus on the mission at hand. It’s second nature for me to project my core beliefs on others in the hopes that they will see the situation from my perspective and care about things the same way I do, but I need to realize that is wrong. I need to come to terms with the simple fact that I am passionate, I am driven, I am capable, and I’m impatient because of all these characteristics, and if others are not on the same page as I am, then I need to remove myself from the situation. There is no positive outcome when I have high expectations and everyone around me does not mirror that. This, I need to learn.

I’m trying to be better. I’m trying to realize that while I see the world in a kaleidoscope of possibility, organization, and good intentions, I am undoubtedly going to come into contact with more people who do not have my view of the world. I have this view because I am actively trying to be better. I can’t, however, forget that I’m also human, and I have a deep well of feelings and emotions that I am still coming to terms with. I have to be good to myself and remember that I have conditioned myself in a way that may come across as bossy or abrasive to others, but really is just me feeling confident and knowing that I am capable of handling situations. I want to help, I want to be there, I want to be an advocate, and see people flourish. The best way for me to do that is to let them be who they are, and even if I don’t see eye-to-eye with them on the topics or the issues, I have to remember that I cannot change them, I can only adapt my reaction and hope that at the end of the day I’ve made something resembling a good choice and won’t stay up worrying I made the wrong one.

Be good to yourself, and to others ❤

When it’s time to close the door

Society has lead us to believe that we are obligated to engage in social norms and relationships. These expectations lay the foundation for people to feel guilty should there need to be a separation between two people. The reality is that people can just grow apart, and become different individuals who no longer have a string that connects them. When the string was nice and taut, and tight, there was a connection that was profitable for both parties. As an individual evolves and grows their strings can take on different shapes and sizes, and may not fit another person the same way anymore.

There is a need to discuss the reality that sometimes people cannot reconnect the string that once tied them to each other. This could be any type of relationship, and isn’t limited to romantic feelings. Friends could come to the realization that they no longer have any connecting points, be it from growth, or movement to another social circle. Lovers can come to realize that they’re no longer in love. Family members can finally come to realize that they can no longer handle the toxicity of another members actions. Any relationship has the potential to run it’s course and have no strings.

It is healthy to know how you would like to be treated. It is healthy to have boundaries, and it is healthy to enforce those boundaries. It is healthy to know how you do not want to be talked to, and if you ever find yourself in the situation where you have finally had enough, it is healthy to inform the person who has pushed you to your limit that you no longer wish to engage with them. It is healthy to respect yourself enough to walk away. It is healthy to know when it is time to close the door.

Recently I have found myself in the situation where I can no longer tolerate another person’s behavior. As I tried to reconcile the issue(s) that have been presented by this individual I came to the stark, and upsetting, realization that it’s built-in to us to feel guilty for doing what is best for us when it involves having to close the door on a relationship. Because I consider myself a work-in-progress and I am always trying to give people the benefit of the doubt I can openly admit I let this individual’s behavior go on for too long. Even as a counselor-in-training we have a hard time turning the microscope on our own relationships, which is why I put it to friends to help me work out how I was feeling. It was an eye-opening experience to have so many others relate their feelings on the subject and give me a whole different perspective.

I had to ask myself a series of questions: Do I have anything in common with this person anymore? Am I benefiting from the relationship? Do I feel like this person supports me? Has this person made me feel like they care?

Asking yourself these types of questions will give you the insight you need to make the final decision. When the majority of the answers are negative when you sit down and contemplate this decision, you can ascertain that there is nothing more for you to gain or benefit from having this person in your life. Run their most recent dialogue in your head and think about how they’ve spoken to you, or about you. How their dialogue makes you feel plays a very large role in how you hear them, or think of them, so if they have a tendency to rely on always being right that negative connotation will always be attached to them.

One element of closing the door on a relationship is to be aware of how you’ve been treated in the past. A popular method of manipulation in a relationship that has begun to run it’s course is gaslighting. I want to emphasize that gaslighting can happen along numerous different kinds of relationships, not just intimate. If you are having a conversation with someone and they are telling you a story about how another person has treated them badly, or how they wish they could leave someone, but when you suggest they move on the person starts to throw their support behind the person they were just bad-mouthing … you’re being gaslighted. They are trying to incite your empathy to feel badly for them, then turning around and making you question your intentions to help them by supporting the same person who they claim is making them unhappy. This is toxic behavior, and should be a red flag in ANY relationship.

It is very important to step back and come to terms with how you have been treated by someone. While there may be a few exceptions where they did something nice for you, be more aware of whether or not their actions benefited them in some way, and be honest with yourself. Don’t feel guilty for becoming aware and acting accordingly. Don’t feel guilty for finally realizing you no longer have any interest in being talked to in a negative way. Don’t feel guilty for no longer taking on the responsibility of defending how the person in question acts. It is not your job anymore, and by closing the door you are making a statement of saying so.

Now, with that being said, it is crucial for every person to be at peace with their decision. Don’t be angry, or pissed, or act out in an immature way. Know that this is the best decision for all involved. It is not beneficial or positive to try and force a relationship that clearly has no strings attached. It is just as healthy to limit communication, explain your situation and feelings, and simply just close the door and walk away. No harm, no foul. There is no rules or laws that say we have to endure trying to make a relationship work that even others in your life question. Plain and simple.

Find your center, achieve your balance, and focus on working towards your goals. Anyone who works to be part of your circle is welcome. Anyone who chooses to treat you badly or talk to you inappropriately have no place in your circle, and again I stress – THAT IS OKAY.

I wish anyone peace and prosperity who has been part of my life in any sort of way. If we grew apart and could not keep our strings attached, then the universe has other plans for us, and I wish you nothing but the best juju possible. I hold no ill will or bad intentions, and I hope that maybe we can reconnect another time down the road. – Blessed Be

Honest with myself

Today’s counseling session was another heavy one.

I’ve been battling with the inability to feel lately.

I’ve also been battling with battling with my own brain. For master’s level students in the counseling field, we are encouraged to see a counselor to make sure we aren’t carrying around our own baggage for when we begin to see clients. It’s considered a primary part of our self-care due to the fact that with all the knowledge we are gaining we begin to reflect it all back on ourselves and we have a hard time handling it.

Add to that I’m a left and right brained individual.

Add to that I’ve suffered some serious trauma.

What ends up happening is I stay awake until two o’clock in the morning building an entire pyramid out of all the steps I can add. Last night it was a pyramid primarily constructed out of questions like, “Have I ever really been in love?”, “Have I ever felt love?”, “Am I even loveable?”, “Is true love even a thing?”, and so on and so forth. I worked on this pyramid of self-destruction for so long that by the end I was convinced I was a horrible person who had never fallen in love, been loved, and people basically just tolerated my presence.

When I told my counselor, Courtney, all of this she was deeply concerned. She’s well aware of the effects of grad student reflection and what it can do to us, and with the previous issues I had discussed with her, and now this type of behavior, she used the entire session to help me break down why I was feeling this way, how I’d gotten to this point, why it was very important that I learn to compartmentalize these issues, and while all this is going on I have to remember that I’m fully over-loaded, and thus I feel numb.

Part of what I had to share with her was the fact that I realized it had been a while since I’d had feelings one way or another about the opposite sex. Back in November when I began counseling I’d had myself set that I was looking to connect with someone new and that would be my focus. I put myself out into the dating pool, even went on dates, and tried my hand with numerous people. Nothing took. I kept trying, kept going out, kept throwing my lure into the pond, and still nothing. As I explained it today, I couldn’t tell if it was me that people didn’t like, or it was my insecurities, or what. I was completely awash with chaos.

Courtney added an element of “or” today by saying, “Or you haven’t met anyone that sparks your fancy.” She’s convinced I just haven’t met someone that is as passionate as I am, and that wouldn’t be intimidated by my personality. To her, it isn’t anything I, or anyone around me, is doing wrong or right it’s just the fact that I’m a complex personality who wants someone to fully engage with me and I haven’t met that person yet.

To me, it feels like I’m either failing or so confused and numb that I’m hardly able to function. Right now I’m just an exposed nerve who feels like nothing really excites or stimulates me because I’m so overwhelmed in my own process of thought. Courtney made sure to explain that as we get older our values and expectations change and mold. So, for me, I’m at that stage of my life where I intimidate most people, and to find someone that I resonate with and I know they want to actually hear what I have to say, that’s my ultimate goal. The hard fact is that I’m a complex persona and I don’t resonate with very many people in general.

The goal this week is to step up to the plate and be honest with myself. Stop trying to force dating. Stop grabbing for the programmed expectations and responses. I’ve been so caught up on trying to make first contact with people that I’ve ignored the signs, and I need to just make it about fostering and building friendships until I can fully come to terms with where my head is right now.

It’s important that I own the reality that I had thought I would be able to have physical encounters or relationships with little to no expectation of involvement. Keep it simple and surface level. After today and talking to Courtney I know this isn’t what is best for me, and she feels strongly that I need to focus on myself for a little while so we can work on getting all my sections organized in my head. It’s definitely not where I thought this was going, but considering I’ve never felt so overwhelmed in my whole life, I think her assessment is accurate.

Lead by example

Today’s therapy session was a heavy one and one that I definitely needed. The topic was brought up today (of my own accord) that I have been feeling very “out of touch” with the people around me. Even when I’m surrounded by those I think I have so much in common with I have a hard time with the thoughts of, “they won’t understand me,” or, “I have so much I want to say,” or, “How can I help them relate to me so we can have this amazing existential conversation and really get to know each other?” Lately, I’m haunted by these type of thoughts.

Not that this is new, by any stretch of the imagination. I have never really felt like I “fit in” with any group or crowd. I have never had that feeling of belonging or the feeling that I make anyone’s life better just by being present.

The flip to that is I also have never felt the need to be validated either.

I don’t sit and sulk or pine over the fact someone doesn’t like me. I have never been the person to chase people, even if I wanted to. I don’t go out of my way to lavish others with my presence, nor do I bother or seek others out for the simple fact that I need to have someone (any warm body would do) with me.

In lamens terms; I am so disciplined, self-assured, and confident that I have no need to use people to make me feel better, or worse, about myself.

My therapist had to practically scream all this at me today when I broke down in tears talking about how I was trying so hard to be more nurturing, or soft and compassionate so that people would see me as more able to be approached. She looked me in the eye and said, “The fact that you are not afraid of anything and can take initiative where others can not is absolutely no reason to dull your shine. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but the truth is that you are rare in that you have survived unspeakable trauma and that has basically morphed into you being that person who has zero fear to do and say what needs to be.” My tears still fell, but the real truth behind what she was helping me realize was the bigger accomplishment.

I have this horrible habit of labeling anything tied to my trauma as negative, or bad. I know I have to be better about this, and I have to really grab a hold of it and not let go, but it will take me time to not immediately go into, “I’m asking the first questions, I don’t care if anyone else hasn’t (this happened at my last Advocacy event LOL),” and not correlate this with the fact that I’m fearless because I was given no other choice.

This is one of the few chinks of armor that I am coming to realize I have no need to shed. I don’t actually want to get rid of the fact that I am able to step up and say something where others may not be able. I don’t want to get rid of the fact that I don’t waste my time on people or things that don’t serve my purpose. I don’t want to give up the ability to look someone in the face and tell them they’re wrong, and not have this fear I will hurt their feelings. Being able to hold my ground and give nothing is one of the few things I’ve learned about myself that I am not ashamed of, but feel it’s what I have to give.

It’s what makes me a rare personality.

This can tie directly into my interactions with significant others as well. Unless someone comes to me and says, “I like your face I think we should have dinner and talk,” I won’t initiate anything. Not because I’m scared, I’ve come to realize, but because I’m not wasting mine or their time chasing someone around who I am not sure even wants to talk to me. Now, once I’ve talked to someone and there is an obvious connection, I will do everything in my power to cultivate and help build a solid foundation for a relationship. As someone who doesn’t need validation from anyone, though, I just am not able to put myself on the chopping block. The basic idea is: if you wanna do this, let’s fucking do this and enjoy ourselves, if not … eh, whatever *shoulder shrug*.

I have to be better to myself about finding positive outlets for this particular personality trait so that I can learn and use this tool in my arsenal for good as opposed to using it to make myself feel inferior or “wrong.” I’ve done this to myself for so goddamn long that I actually felt guilty today having my therapist tell me that I’m just not going to be that person who never fits into a peg perfectly. I will always be comfortable doing what I feel needs to be done, and will never look to anyone else to see if they approve.

Of course, I’m also fully capable of passionately pursuing a career that puts me in the service of others. While I can openly admit that I’m an indomitable personality with strength and confidence, I can also see the wariness of the world around me and use my skills and ability to offer what solace I can to those who are not like me. It’s why I have followed this path in my life, and continue to pursue it with an unbroken spirit. I may be sold to the idea that I will always be different, but that does not mean that I have to use that difference to tear anyone down. I can use this fact about myself to instill strength in others.

Now, I just need to convince myself of this fact more assuredly ❤

Feelings & Frustration

Yesterday’s counseling session was a heavy one.

I try to avoid actually talking about my expansive array of emotions, but I got called out yesterday. I understand why she did it, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

You see, with C-PTSD, we are burdened with glorious emotions. The spinning wheel that we could choose from can also be hindered by our anxiety to put our emotions into words.

The catch? We wear such a tightly chinked coat of armor that being able to admit we even have emotions is the first tricky step.

Any step after admittance is trying to dissect the why: “Why am I having this emotion?”, “Why does this emotion feel good/bad/alien to me?”, “Can I trust my emotions in this situation?” It’s a downward spiral that C-PTSD sufferers will more than likely always experience.

“Anything unexpected is dangerous.” – The C-PTSD motto

My feelings as of late in this process of slowly but surely shedding my armor seem to ride a wave of need. When I sat down with my counselor yesterday and we did some talk therapy it all centered around my feelings of need and/or want. I admitted that I need to be able to talk to people, need to be able to be in other people’s energy, and all at the same time am anxiety-ridden because I have to admit it’s not self-contained.

My counselor made sure to point out to me that being both left and right brained in my thought process is working against me when it comes to feelings. Left brain supports me questioning the emotions I’m feeling and the logical path for those emotions to be felt. Right brain enjoys the feeling of feeling but makes sure to tag into the ring and brings along all my debilitating trust issues and terror when it comes to rejection. It’s a maddening course of actions.

All of this manifests in me basically feeling like I’m just not someone anyone would want to be around. I try so hard to not hide my emotions or feelings like I used to, but then I have to wonder if I’m coming on too strong, and then I start to question every word that escapes my mouth. Inwardly I know I’m not really as much of a hot mess as my feelings and insecurities are telling me. I’ve made that much progress.

My counselor sat across from me and looked me in the eye yesterday and said, “You’re making amazing progress, I can tell by how you talk about yourself, but what do you really want right now?” My answer?

I’d like a job that gives me experience in my field and the opportunity to add to my families finances. I’d like to enjoy time with people who genuinely want to enjoy time with me. I’d like to keep making progress and helping to feel more like the internal voice that’s getting louder. I’d like to get to the point I’m working on my health more. I’d like to just be in the moment.

Her response? “Then do that. That’ll be your goal for now.”

So, I guess i have a goal for now 🙂

Stop Expecting

I remember being young and in the inevitable situation where a friend likes me, but I don’t return the affection. It’s an awkward experience for an empath because I can feel their disappointment, rejection, and sadness. Never in my wildest dreams do I expect the person to openly admit they have feelings for me, and my shock at their admission is more-than-likely obvious on my face. I recall thinking, “How did I miss this?”

Then, the guilt starts. I have to own that I hurt them by not being happy that they’ve been honest concerning their feelings towards me. It is not my intention to rebuff their romantic gesture, but I also can’t be untruthful. In my heart I know it’s not right to lie or lead the person on. So, naturally, I try to go above and beyond to help them see that I’m not right for them.

Why do we do this, though? Why is it our natural inclination to talk down about ourselves when someone we don’t have romantic feelings for approach us with amorous expectations?

The truth of the matter is this: we are not obligated to magically have feelings for someone just because they have feelings for us.

Love is meant to be a feeling of unity by people who both have feelings for each other. Hell, even sex is meant to be an act between people who have feelings for each other. No matter the arrangement we’re discussing it’s meant to be a situation where everyone wants to be there and is happily attending.

Your interest in someone doesn’t automatically equal endearment on that person’s part.

A younger version of myself heard people say things like, “Give him a chance,” or, “You won’t know until you get to him,” and, “At least someone is interested,” to friends and we’d have to sit down and discuss these comments. Having people tell you how to feel about a person you don’t have romantic feelings is probably the worst. You don’t want to hurt someone, obviously, but at the same time you don’t want to put yourself in the position where you’re having dinner with someone you feel no connection with.

So, the plea from this blog post is for anyone who has feelings for a person but isn’t sure the other person reciprocates. Don’t be upset if the feelings aren’t returned. Don’t judge your worth on the fact someone tells you they have feelings for you. Be honest; if the feelings aren’t there then they aren’t there. Don’t be discouraged. Wait, patiently, for the person who returns your affection and then shower them with all your love!

It’s time for a new veil

I hate resolutions.

I made the conscious decision this year to try and become a better version of myself through self-reflection, and ultimately deciding on a therapist and charging forward with an idea to seek out all the possibilities I can.

Resolutions would never have aided me in my journey.

Making a promise is likened to a time in your life when things were simple and easy. Our childhood was riddled with pinky promises and juice boxes. Attaching a promise to a friendship was just second nature.

Now, we need to be a better friend to ourselves.

Instead of resolutions, make promises.

It’s an easier set of steps to start at the bottom if your actions are meant to be better for you. You can lift your foot to take the next step when you know that the promise being kept is a way for you to feel better. By making yourself the promise that you’ll be more understanding and accepting of who you are, opens the door to handle whatever gets thrown at you.

So, this year, make yourself a promise.

Whatever the promise you make to yourself is, make sure that it involves a little love for yourself, or helps you feel better, or enhances your calm. Believe in the sanctity of a promise, and the promise is already close to being kept.