Tag Archives: healing

Facebook Memories

If you’re on Facebook, you’re probably familiar with how Facebook likes to share memories, showing you pictures and status updates that you’ve posted on any given day in years past.  It is mostly really fun to see what was going on in your life.  I, personally, love seeing old pictures of my pets and my friends, and thinking about the fun nights I had over Facebook in law school (without Facebook, lawyers from the class of 2011 would not have made it).

But there are times when I don’t necessarily want to remember, Facebook.

On January 23, Facebook reminded me that it had been 3 years since my Gram passed away.  I had a good cry, I posted a sappy post, went on a walk to process my sad feelings and saw a hummingbird in the desert (which I’m currently convinced is my Gram’s way of saying hello these days).  It worked.  Remembering my Gram’s passing was bittersweet; full of missing her and wishing she could see me now, but remembering how much of her lives on in me.  Okay, so Facebook memories can remind me of my Gram any day.

I still wish I could be selective about what I’m reminded of, though.  Maybe Facebook could come up with a shitty life events filter or something.  Of course, it may not have even helped with this next one considering that I had intentionally, selectively, mostly forgotten about it.

On February 4, I was reminded that around this time in 2014, I had a second weird psychotic episode that I’ve hardly discussed with anyone, even though everyone basically saw it happen this time.  After quitting my job at the big law firm, going on my round-the-country road trip, and pouring every bit of myself into launching my new law firm at the end of 2013 and into the new year, I lost my mind again.  It was maybe a period of about 48-72 hours without sleep, endlessly searching the internet, convinced I had broken it, writing this crazy manifesto that I still can’t bear to read, and sending “coded” messages to all the friends on Facebook that I felt close to at the time.

Yep.  Facebook memories reminded me that I sent a bunch of psychotic messages to my friends.  Lovely!

I posted a status update blaming it on Facebook, which seems to have gone over okay with most of my friends (except maybe one).  But it was me.  I was only about a year and a half into recovery from my childhood trauma, burned out and running away from myself on my road trip, I came back and immediately poured myself into my work and avoiding everything rebelling, but then I caught up with myself again and lost my mind.  No wonder my business failed didn’t go so well the first time I tried it.  No wonder I could barely motivate myself to get off of the couch for months after.  I have so much shame about it, and Facebook reminded me.

Thankfully, Facebook also reminded me how much I have grown since.

I honestly feel like such a different person than I was those two years ago.   I have worked really hard in therapy to move beyond so many things and it is paying off in my life.  I not only AM lighter (if you didn’t read my post yesterday, though currently stuck in a stall, I am -105lbs now!), I FEEL lighter emotionally.  My spirit is freer these days because of all of my hard work.  I am freer.

I do still fear a return of the psychosis, though.  Even though this second time around was far milder and far less damaging, it still sucked; a lot.  I’m still incredibly embarrassed and and carrying some pretty intense shame because of both of the times that my brain short circuited.  If it happened twice, it can happen a third or fourth or fifth time.  I fear being permanently disabled by my mental health issues.  If my brain can fail me in such dramatic ways, how will I ever be able to be a successful human being like I want to?  What if I’m not cut out for being a lawyer?  What if I cannot actually be a business owner?  I could go on, but I don’t need to.

Definitely some things I need to talk about in therapy.  I have so many good things going on and, despite the bullshit thrown my way this year so far, I feel pretty good emotionally, so I hate to get too much back into the serious stuff.  Finally telling you is pretty helpful (and remarkable, especially since a year-old blog post about the same subject sits in my drafts), but I’m sure telling Sam will help me tie a little bow on this and put it up on a shelf.

No more shame, damnit!  Well, at least a little less shame for now.  Thank God for therapy this week!

Knock Knock (Trigger Warning)

Suicide is coming too close lately. I hear it’s death rattle knocking at my door.  No, I’m not suicidal; but it wasn’t that long ago that I was.  So when the news of suicide comes into the little bubble I occupy in our vast universe, it has an effect on me like never before.

A couple of months ago, a person sadly took their life by jumping into morning traffic from one of the higher freeway overpasses in town. That overpass is such a familiar part of home and it instantaneously became the site of an incredibly tragic moment. I pass by that overpass on my daily commute. I have passed by that same overpass so many times in my 32 years of life, that I can’t even count them for you. I was a barely permitted teen that white knuckled through rush hour traffic in that portion of the freeway, terrified of the towering levels of vehicle filled concrete and the median whizzing by immediately to my left, with my dad sitting to my right (probably even more scared). It happened so close to home.

I learned about the suicude before it hit the news because one of my best friend’s husband’s watched it happen on his way to work.  Of course, it wasn’t long before reports spread like wildfire.  The comments on social media varied wildly between understanding and compassion, insensitivity, and obnoxiously offensive and callous (from good riddance, to attention grabber, to should have thrown themselves off the Dam, with a side of eff you for ruining my commute folks – yeah).  The suicide was shocking enough, but the responses from people in my home town were worse (way to further stigmatize mental illness, Vegas). While I was shocked and saddened by it all, the day moved forward. 

The next morning, shock turned visceral and physical as I made my way to the office.  I took the same route as always, on auto pilot as I mentally prepared for the day.  I was not prepared for the way that my breath caught in my throat as I rounded that short stretch of road and imagined a body falling from the sky.  I was not prepared for the overwhelming anger as the vilest of the vile comments came flooding back to my mind. I was not prepared for the incredible anxiety and sadness that I felt being so close to where that poor soul left this Earth. I couldn’t help but weep for them, their family, and myself.

More recently, a very dear friend of mine reached out to me as she dealt with a mixture of shock, grief and guilt after a high school friend’s husband committed suicide. I didn’t know the gal that well, but my friend and I are soul sisters; we have known each other for 20 years; I came back to my relationship with God in the small church she planted in Delaware; we have shared our darkest demons with each other; and I just plain love her.  So, her hurts are my hurts and she’s been going through a lot as it is.  While I have not had the same reaction I had to the last suicide, it’s still too close to home because of how it affected someone I care so much about.

I never thought I would be able to relate in an almost intimate way with a person that ended their own life.  But as my life fell out from under me a few years ago, I became quite familiar with the level of sheer desperation and despair it takes to legitimately contemplate suicide.

When I had a psychotic break after the fraying rope that held my sadness and terror at bay for 29 years finally gave way, when I relived all of the abuse in vivid detail for the first time in my life, when I finally realized that my own mother molested me, I wanted to die.  When I also lost the two most important and supportive people in my life at the time – my boyfriend who I thought I was going to marry and my best friend – because of how I acted as my mind failed me in the worst way, I simply couldn’t stand the thought of being a part of this world anymore.

As I sat for what felt like hours with a steak knife to my wrist, all I wanted was for the memories and emotions to stop. I needed relief, peace, an escape from all of the pain. I had tried everything, I thought and I just couldn’t see any other way out. 

Thankfully, I had hastily saved this adorable little fur face from the pound in a brief moment of (slight) sanity that month.

image

image

Okay, so getting her was also kind of an eff you to the ex boyfriend, because we had talked seriously about getting a dog when he moved in, but I digress. 

Little did I know, my crazy freckled dog would save my life that night.  I’m convinced that, even as young as she was, she picked up on what I was feeling because right as I intended to dig the blade into my skin, she forced her little muzzle between my hands and sat at my feet, insisting that I love on her with an immediacy she had never shown before. The debilitatingly dark trance I had put myself in was broken just long enough for it to dawn on me that it really wasn’t just about me; I had a responsibility, if to no one else, but that little face, not to kill myself. 

I put the knife on the table.

The feelings I had been having that night didn’t go away automatically. I still struggle with all of it, and will continue to struggle. But had it not been for The Spotted Freckledog, I would have given in to my demons.  I would have, in an instant, become an (unreported) abuse statistic.  Though life really is worth living, I was immesurably close to being the jumper.  I was this close to making my own friends and family experience the unfathomable shock, grief and guilt over my death.

I’m eternally grateful that my dog saved my soul. 

Nowadays, when my darkness resurfaces and interferes with my life, even a little, I’m terrified of returning to that hell.  It’s why I stick with therapy, why I write, why I create.  It’s why I have finally decided to have weight loss surgery to free myself of the chains of morbid obesity brought on by the abuse. It’s why I’m here sharing this with you right now. I’m afraid that if I don’t let it out, it will consume me again. 

I know this post might make you uncomfortable, and I’m sorry for that, but I was truly lost and felt like I had no one to turn to (I wish I had been a part of this wonderful blogging community at the time). My hope is that if someone chances across my blog in their own desperation and sees that, although it’s not always easy, life can go on, that there can be joy despite suffering, and that they are not alone in this world, it will break their dark trance just long enough that they, too, put down the knife. Maybe my suffering won’t have been for nothing.

Maybe no one will ever needs my words in that way (I certainly hope that is the case).  But if you happen to be that person, please know that you are not alone.  I am here thinking of you and I am here to talk to.  I can’t make it all better, but I can listen without judging. Please don’t give in. Please keep fighting. Please reach out, spill your guts, and live this oddly magical life with me.  It’s worth it.  You are worth it. 💛

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.

Clarity

I am so glad that I was able to get in to a seminar with the bariatric surgeon before next Thursday.  I know that less than a week is not that long, but I was so desperate for a sense of knowing.  I do a lot of research before I do anything (it’s the lawyer in me) and this was the last piece of the puzzle as far as my decision about weight loss surgery was concerned.  With everything else going on, I needed this decision to be off my shoulders.

As you know, before the start of the seminar I was really nervous, but to be in a room where everyone else looked a lot like me and were undoubtedly feeling the same, it wasn’t too bad. Thank goodness!

Let me tell you that it was quite a profound and emotional moment to hear from a medical professional that obesity is a bona fide disease. To hear from a medical professional that it’s not a personal defect, like I always thought it was, put me to tears.  To hear that for the severely obese (like me), the success rate for losing a significant amount of weight without surgical assistance is less than 2%, means I am not a failure. I am not a failure. Halle-fricken-lujah.

Most of the information about the procedures, complications, etc. I already knew. Some of the statistics were really interesting to learn. One of the highlights was, of course, having a chance to get a few of my more burning questions answered by a doctor and by the patient advocate who has had the lap band.

Above all, the seminar was exactly what I needed to decide that I am definitely going forward with the surgery (gastric sleeve).  I need help to change this problem and there is no shame in that. 

My insurance requires a 3 month supervised diet (I can make an appointment with the nutritionist on Monday) then, so long as I get the all clear following my preliminary tests at month two, I’m covered for surgery.  So I could conceivably be in surgery as soon as July.  July!  I know It’s going to sound strange, but part of me hopes it gets scheduled on her birthday.  That way instead of celebrating her in any way, I can celebrate myself. But if I were to (God forbid) die on her birthday, she probably would not recover from that, especially if I hadn’t told her about the surgery beforehand.  No matter how rocky our relationship is, I don’t want that.  So, I’ll just leave it up to God. If He wants me to have surgery on her birthday, so be it.

I feel some peace, some trepidation,  some excitement and a whole lot of other things about surgery.  I must remember to pace myself,  take this one  step at a time, not let myself get discouraged, and trust the process.  The next portion of my efforts at complete healing have begun. 

By the way, thank you for your kind words recently, dear readers.  I’m incredibly happy to have a growing support group here in the blogosphere as I work through everything. I probably would not be at this point without it. You mean a lot more to me than you may know.  💜

Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram @thelawyernerd
Like something you see? Find it in my Etsy shop: https://www.Etsy.com/shop/TheLawyernerd

Crock of Shit

That’s what she called it.  My attempt to bring something into her life that might help mend a bridge between us.  A crock of shit. 

Maybe some background.

You might remember that a couple of weeks ago I wrote a little bit about a book my therapist recommend I read, Healing The Shame That Binds You, by John Bradshaw.  I haven’t finished it yet, but it has already given me so many great insights into myself and my family dynamics, why I feel the way I feel, why I way I act the way I act, and is helping me see another side of the picture as far as my parents’ own abusive pasts are concerned.

I couldn’t help but buy two more copies.

One I gave to a friend at work (one of the few people in my trusted inner circle) who expressed real interest in it for her husband. The other, I bought for my parents to read.  Perhaps that was my first mistake. Or was having the hope that she and I were actually making a little progress my first mistake?

So, last night I sought her advice about a career issue.  She’s always been really good when it comes to those things.  I was feeling vulnerable about a choice I made and let her in on it.  I talked to her about how it’s been a rough week. She tried to convince me to work from home today.  I had no real desire to skip the office. Although it’s crazier than ever around there, I actually kind of like going in to work these days. Plus, I have a shit ton to do and there ain’t no rest for the wicked.  I know she means well, so I laughed it off.

Come lunch time, she texts me asking if I’ve left work for the day.  I was still in meetings at the time, and considering that my boss is on spring break with his kids all next week and is leaving me to run the show by my lonesome in his absence, an early day was not ever going to happen.  I see the text, but don’t respond because I have a hundred other things going on.

Then, at about 2:00 p.m., she shows up at my office unannounced.  Lets see, that makes this the fifth time I’ve seen her in the last two years? Someone please tell me how that would ever be appropriate, ever, please?  Naturally I can’t react, I’m at work.  She did bring food, a gesture of good will of some kind I suppose, so I acquiesce. 

I had also been wanting to find a time to give her the copy of Bradshaw’s book and happened to have it in my car. Perhaps after the week I had, it wasn’t the best timing, but now or never, right? I was obviously hesitant and as I handed it to her, I prefaced the delivery with something along the lines of, “I’ve been reading this book and it has really been helping me see a new perspective and I think it would help you and our relationship.”

I tried to explain a little bit about Bradshaw’s premise to her, how abuse turns into toxic shame and manifests in our lives, and why it’s been helpful, but was a bit inarticulate. Her response was two fold: she feels no shame (no surprise there) and an overly broad, narrow minded, and purely ignorant statement that self help books are all a crock of shit.  I couldn’t begin to come up with the right words and that was neither the time nor the place to get into the nitty gritty. So, I just assured her that if I didn’t think it would be helpful, I’d never have bought it for her.

As it turns out, what I heard and felt were: the hard work I’m putting into dealing with my issues is a crock of shit; the clarity and peace I’ve been discovering while reading this book is a crock of shit; the effort I’m putting into trying to maintain some type of relationship with them (and especially her) is a crock of shit; I am a crock of shit.

I am not a crock of shit, though.  Trust me, I am not a self help book kind of girl (wonder where that comes from) and never would have picked this one out on my own.  But my therapist, who has gotten to know my intelligent and analytical side, knows that I need data, case studies, and other scientific or empirical evidence to satisfy the logical side of my brain before the emotional aspect comes into play, recommended this book.  I’m learning to trust in him and this healing process and I have not been disappointed so far.

Why else would I have bought two more copies?  I’m an intelligent woman who struggles with emotion. This book has helped me tap into some of my most difficult emotions.  If I thought it was anything close to a crock of shit, I’d never have made it past the first chapter.

She is the crock of shit. I don’t think she’ll ever read it. 

That makes me incredibly sad.  In fact, that being a real possibility triggers so many familiar feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and hopelessness. I really put myself out there by offering her a little look into what I’m doing in therapy. It would mean an incredible amount to me if they took the time to do a little work too. I was vulnerable with her in a mostly safe way, and I’m proud of that. I also know now that my self worth doesn’t hang on what she chooses to do with the book, or with anything really. Still, having that little bit of hope I had built up dashed is terribly disappointing. 

Connect with me on Twitter and Instagram @thelawyernerd
Like something you see? Find it in my Etsy shop: https://www.Etsy.com/shop/TheLawyernerd

The Road to Weight Loss Recovery

I’m up late tonight pouring through articles, web sites, blogs, and forums about the different types of weight loss surgery, complications, and all the struggles and success stories.  Of course, I’ve been down this researching road before, but I was always too scared to take any of the next steps. 

Knowing what I know about myself now, I’m pretty sure I never felt worthy enough.  I never really felt worthy of anything.  I learned early on that eating felt good when life was really bad and getting fat was a way to stay small and invisible in a home where standing out for anything other than good grades was dangerous.  The thought of giving up food – my only means of comfort – has been as terrifying as any one of the physical or emotional punishments doled out in my childhood home. I continued to need the feelings only food could give me, because I simply had no other outlet.

With all of that in mind, it’s quite strange to think I might actually join the legion of brave souls who have gone down the surgical weight loss route for a healthier and happier life (and blogged about it!).

As weird as it feels to say this, I think I owe this change of heart and mind, in large part, to my breakdown.  Although part of me still really wishes it never happened, it’s the primary reason I’m finally comfortable moving forward toward weight loss surgery.

image

Despite all of it’s embarrassing and shameful glory, losing my grip on reality was the catalyst for my quest to dig deep into the nitty gritty of my life.  It was the beginning of this incredibly difficult and rewarding journey.  While I will continue to struggle with and work through feeling unloved and unworthy (which drive my emotional eating), my breakdown has helped me finally do more than just scratch the surface of my core issues.

Now, with my breakdown behind me and the lifelong process of genuine healing underway, the thought of giving up food as comfort doesn’t give me the overwhelming anxiety that it used to.    My weight is the physical manifestation of 30 years of toxic shame heaped upon me by myself and others. Weight loss surgery, along with plenty more therapy of course, is just another step in my recovery process.

Wow. I never would have imagined at this time three years ago (to the day, damn near) that I would be, in a way, grateful for my breakdown.  I’m nervous as hell, but this April 2, 2015 seminar can’t come soon enough!

Posted from WordPress for Android
https://www.Etsy.com/shop/TheLawyernerd

I’m in a (Shame) Bind

My therapist recommended that I read John Bradshaw’s book, Healing the Shame That Binds You.  Perhaps in one of those moments where the universe is speaking for me, I wrote this post about a month ago, where I admit my feelings of shame for the simple act of being.  This book could not have come at a better time in my life.

Shame

I started reading just a few days ago and man does this book have me written all up in it.  Although I’ve had it less than a week, I’ve marked all over this book and dog eared plenty of pages that really resonate with me.

I’m already almost to the end of Part I, which goes through all of the many ways that shame exists in our lives, how it is created and solidified, how it manifests, and how we can actually become the shame we carry, losing our authentic selves in the process as we internalize the shame.  Interesting stuff, even if the author regularly cites his other books.

Part II gives the tools on how to move forward.  I’m trying to pace myself, so I can start Part II after I meet with my therapist next week and can talk to him about all the things I’ve learned from Part I.  I might not be able to wait.

P.S. Citing yourself as authority? Really? Not cool. #justsaying

I’m Honored and Humbled for the Brave Heart Award

Brave Heart

Thank you to Kelly, of Writing From The Ashesfor the nomination.  It means so much.

The Brave Heart Mission Statement

To encourage all those (men & women) whom have been abused (all abuse) to share their hope with others so that they will no longer be a victim but a survivor that knows they are loved.

12 Questions Asked of Me

1.Tell us a little bit about your blog. Who designed it?

My voice has been stifled for far too long.  This is my second (of three) blogging adventures on WordPress.  The Redheaded Wonderblog was created with the intent that it would be a place where I and my inner child could have the freedom to say everything we have to say, without judgment, without filtration.

2. What is the title and description of your blog?

The Redheaded Wonderblog.  Learning what makes me tick, one blog post at a time.

3. Who is your intended audience?

My self.  My inner child.  My therapist.  Everyone else too.  But more specifically, survivors of all kinds of trauma and those who were abused by their mothers, in particular.

Mothers are supposed to be the nurturers of the family and they usually are.  As a result, society cannot fathom that a mother would treat a child the way that some do.  Those of us who have gone through it can barely wrap our minds around it ourselves.  Mother/child abuse is severely under reported and grossly misunderstood.  It is more subtle, often incestuous, and deceptively damaging.  At least mine was.  I share what happened to me with the hope that it inspires, helps, or encourages anyone who may chance upon it.

4. How did you come up with the title of your blog?

I’m a redhead.  Easy enough.  But for some reason, I always wanted to call myself the redheaded wonder and was never bold enough to do it.  It felt right for this blog, so I went with it.

5. Give us an interesting fun fact about your blog.

The Redheaded Wonderblog is a baby of the blogging world, born on February 26, 2014.  I started this blogging adventure when I finally couldn’t bear to keep my real story to myself anymore.  While I have slowly been telling people about how bad things were growing up, there was a point that I had to put it all out there.  I’m so glad I did.

6. What other blogs do you own and what makes them alike?

I blog as The Lawyernerd for Alexis Brown Law and just created The Spotted Freckledog this past week.

Alexis Brown Law is a different kind of lawyer website/blog combination.  It is less about the law (although there is definitely some of that) and more for writing about my life after law school, five years at a big law firm, and the ups and downs of starting my own practice, in an entertaining and sometimes informative way.  One of my goals there is to put a real face on lawyers and to bring the subjects I am most passionate about to life – pro bono, education, the law, and humor, to name a few.   However, because clients and past/future employers are free to read that blog, I have to censor myself.

The Spotted Freckledog is even newer than this blog.  It has no posts yet and I’m not 100% on the direction it will take, but I see it as an extension of me as a creative and sensitive person, not me as a lawyer or survivor.  The Spotted Freckledog will be my place to go when I travel and when I am ready to really start paying it forward.  I imagine that my latest blogging adventure will focus primarily on art, animal rescue, and education.

7. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I love to color, have a pretty decent singing voice, and am fairly comfortable under the hood of a classic car.

8. How can we contact you or find out more about your blog?

You can read more, of course.  You can leave me a comment here.  Or if you want to email me directly, you can go to Contact Us page on Alexis Brown Law.  I’m out there, you just have to find me!

9. What can we expect from you in the future?

More blogging for now.  I have been in touch with a publishing company recently, so there may be a book or two someday.  How cool would that be?! :-)

10. What can readers who enjoy your blog do to help make your blog more successful?

Read it.  Like it.  Share it.  But more importantly, if you encounter someone who struggles with the aftermath of abuse, suggest it to them.  They may find something buried here that saves their life.

11. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers/bloggers?

Write from your heart.  People really respond when you are genuine with yourself and your words.

12. Before you go, could you share a snippet from your blog?

We were all scrunched into the hallway bathroom at my parents’ house and my dad was standing by a full bath tub holding my brother’s head inches from the water.  My mom was encouraging him, yelling at my brother.  My brother was scared, but I don’t remember him crying.

My Nominees for the Brave Heart Award

For survivors and supporters alike, in no particular order…

For light in a very dark place, inconsistently yours

For a shining spirit, Ocean of Compassion

For standing up for abuse survivors, Not Your Victim

For a young girl, who needs all of our support, How to Get Through Every Day

For the physician, who struggles along side the rest of us, Boundaries of the Soul

For someone who can really relate, The War In My Brain

For education, awareness, and tireless support, The Abuse Expose with Secret Angel

For memories that feel so familiar, TeddyLee’s Blog

For surviving real life and therapy in ways I was not able, -Tesseract

For supporting the anxious person inside us all, The Anxious Athlete

For change, Trauma American Style

and, last but certainly not least,

For an emotional journey told with exacto knives and spray paint, Emotion on Canvas