Tag Archives: recovery

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!

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.

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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!

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Life is Not…

A couple of the euphemisms about life make such little sense when you really think about them.

“Life is a highway…”  

If life were anything remotely like a highway, I would ride it all night long.  Driving (sometimes well in excess of the speed limit, I’ll admit it) has always been zen activity for me.  The feeling when you open up a v8 to skirt around traffic, take a turn, or jump off a stop light is exhilarating. My car has always been my think tank, my record studio, and my home away from home.  And two months on the road the fall of 2013 only deepened my bond with the road.

But news flash!  Road trips are nothing at all like real life.

On the road, the scenery changes in the most wonderful ways with each passing mile.  Even the flattest lands of Wyoming and South Dakota have wonders to enjoy.  New towns, interesting tourist attractions, cows galore (Freckles’ favorite) and miles of sunflowers to keep your attention.  Something new may be waiting just around the next turn.

Real life, on the other hand, requires a conscious effort to find and appreciate beauty in the scenery you see every single day.  We drive the same road to and from work, see the same people, have the same conversations, live in the comfort of a routine.

On the road, change comes naturally to us.  Change is part of the thrill.  It is both expected and welcomed with an open mind and heart.  Real life, however, is resistant to change.  Polar opposites.  Change, even if for the better in the end, is often wrought with difficulty, frustration, anxiety, remorse, and regret.   It’s no surprise, then, that real life often lacks any of the luster and appeal of the open road.

So no, life is not a highway, Tom Cochrane.  But it made for good music, so I’ll let it slide.

“Life is like a box of chocolates.”

Life is not like chocolate either, unfortunately.  Chocolate is delicious, melty, and comes in so many varieties.  Milk, dark, white, nougat, caramel, almonds and more.  Chocolate is one of the only things that can stop a raging hormonal woman dead in her tracks.  With chocolate, all can seem right with the world – at least temporarily.

Real life regularly leaves us feeling disappointed and depressed.  Then all we want to do is eat copious amounts of chocolate.  In every possible form; hot chocolate, cookie, ice cream, cake, you name it.  Chocolate is a treat to enjoy and savor.  Life is not always a treat.  In fact, life is sometimes fucking awful.  Your local news will tell you how bad it is in your neck of the woods any given night of the week.  Invasions.  Wars.  Politics.  Shootings.  Riots.  Climate change. Death.  It’s all too much sometimes.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say there was too much chocolate.

Okay, fine.  Forrest Gump’s analogy wasn’t about the chocolates themselves.

Like a box of chocolate, life looks delicious in the beginning. It comes in a pretty little package, it smells divine, and your first bites into pieces of life are usually glorious foodgasms in your mouth.  Then comes that weird piece with the fruit nougat that you can only spit out with disdain.  Real life is sometimes a series of those fruity abominations.

For most people, that strange fruity abomination doesn’t stop you.  You have no fear of trying again with the chocolates in the hope of reclaiming the deliciousness of that first bite.  Life is kind of like that too. We usually are capable of diving back in to life after failure without hesitation, without fear.  But sometimes the message gets crossed.

Normal people realize that only a portion of the chocolates are weird and gross.  For some of us, we learned things along the way that make it seem like throwing away the entire box of chocolates would be the best option.  No passing go, no collecting $200 dollars, no attempt to buy a new box of chocolates.  Just throw it all away.  When your wires are crossed, sometimes you end up in this cycle of ignorance of the fact that a chocolate covered caramel wonder is waiting for you out there.

But throwing away our life when it’s disgusting, or ending it after a moment – even if it was a long moment – of that nasty fruity concoction is preposterous.  Unless you – and only you can do this – find the beauty and deliciousness in life, you may find yourself drowning in the overwhelming oppression of the daily grind.

For some of us, it’s harder than you might think.  I’ve been there on and off over the last few years.  It has been so difficult to find satisfaction in this life I have created for myself.  I had convinced myself – it was all I could do to survive, I think – that once I was here, once I was a lawyer, once I had succeeded in education and career, happiness would rush down upon me and my life would be fulfilled.  It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

Sure, life is sort of like a box of chocolates. But real life is really about how you react when it seems like that disgusting fruit filled hunk of trash is all you’re getting.  It’s about how you handle moving on to the next piece of chocolate.  Sometimes, even when our stomach hurts from too much decadence, we have to go back for more.

I Don’t Know Anymore

I feel like I have no one I can talk to in my real life about this, so here I am. I’m sending this out into the ether, hoping that someone out there might understand, be able to relate, or will realize that they aren’t as alone as I feel in all of this.

I want to make amends with my parents.  I think.  I don’t know.  I just don’t know anymore.  I want to forgive them for what they did.  I want to let it go.  I’m tired of being angry.  I’m tired of holding a grudge.  I’m so tired of hurting like I have been.  I don’t know how, though.

I want to feel love again.  I thought they loved me.  I don’t know if they did or if I just imagined things.  I don’t know if I’m clinging on to that idea of love because I’m lonely right now.  I can’t trust anything or anyone anymore.  I have had to completely shut them out and in the process I have shut down.  I have shut everyone and everything out.  I don’t even love myself anymore.

How do you even begin to repair a relationship that is in such shambles?  I’m not ready to go back and pretend like things are normal and wonderful.  They’re not.  I have said things out of anger in an attempt to make them hurt like I have hurt. I feel guilt for those things.  But I don’t want to be the one that has to give in.  I didn’t start this.  I didn’t do the things they did to innocent children.  I shouldn’t have to be the one that apologizes.  Again.  It’s their turn.

I need one hell of an apology, too.  I’ll never get it.  I tried to get one, and I got called crazy.  I got screamed at.  I got belittled.  I got told that I had no idea what I was talking about.  I was there, though.  I remember what happened. I understand on a logical level that they need to hold on to the farce; that the truth is too difficult for them to acknowledge.  But they have to acknowledge what they did to us; they have to acknowledge how much they hurt us or I can’t move on.

Or can I?  I have been, in some ways.  In others, I’m still very much that wounded child.  I’m still hurting so much inside.  How do I move on when it still hurts so much?  How do I move on when it hurts them so little?  When they show no remorse?  When they seem to blame me for all of this?

I’m ill equipped to handle this.  I’m especially ill equipped to do it all alone.  Yet here I am.  Again.

Introspection in Moderation

When my therapist brought up inner child therapy in one of our first meetings, I was highly resistant.  Just the words inner child therapy scared me for some reason.  I didn’t have a real idea of what it was, but I didn’t even want to hear about it.  “I know you have your tricks up your sleeve and I don’t need to know what they are.  Just do what you have to do, doc.” I said.  So he did.

He let me slide for a few sessions.  I had things I needed to say before I could ever start inner child therapy, that was clear.  I  think my therapist also understood that I needed to make sure he really was on my side and understood my past before taking the plunge into something as complex and difficult as inner child therapy.  

We talked a lot about a lot of things over the next few weeks, but it didn’t take long before inner child therapy came up again.  I was still worried about moving forward, but he had the confidence that I was ready.  I trusted his judgment and tentatively agreed to take the plunge the next week.

I’m a curious person and a planner by nature, so I really couldn’t stop myself from scouring the web for information about the process over the next several days.  Discovering that there were significant benefits to inner child therapy got me really excited.  I wanted to get in touch with my inner child, give her some support, figure out the meaning of life, and get back to feeling better already.  The sooner the better.

My enthusiasm was a bit of a mistake.  I ended up unreasonably hopeful that by doing my own self work before my therapist and I began as well as between our sessions, I would be fixed and feeling better after just a couple more weeks.  Instead, I found myself feeling worse because I couldn’t stop thinking about anything other than the bad things that had happened when I was a kid. I was putting insane amounts of pressure on myself (and my inner child) to quickly examine every traumatic event from my childhood, resolve whatever negative feelings my inner child was holding onto, and have the feel-good revelation that I thought was supposed to come with inner child therapy.

After a few inner child sessions, my anxiety and depression still lingered and were actually getting worse in certain ways.  I was silently disappointed by my progress and getting overwhelmed in the process.  Then my therapist told me that I was ruminating.  Ruminating?  That stung.  By doing what I was doing, was I actually hurting, not helping, myself?  I didn’t want to hear that.

But he was right.

So, after getting over initially feeling perturbed at having been called out, I decided to take a break.  I can’t say that it’s been easy, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve been making a very conscious effort to stay in the present and to focus, not on my wounded inner child, but on my life and the person I am now.  Focusing on the here and now has its own challenges, but I am feeling more positive over all.  Progress!

He’s Getting Married

Good for him.  I’m happy for him, I really am.  I’m also really angry at him, and at myself.

After three years of persistent flirting, overcoming insecurities, and navigating busy (and opposite) schedules, the stars aligned and we came together.  He rolled down a hill, hit his head, and finally told me he was crazy about me.  We were inseparable after that.  About eight months in, we were in love.  At least I was.  I had only been in love like this once before and I couldn’t have been happier.  We were starting to talk seriously about the future.  Moving in, more?

I thought I had found the guy I was going to spend my foreseeable future with.  Then she went crazy and I started to lose my mind.

A couple of months later, when things were at their worst for me, he and I had a psychosis fueled meltdown before he disappeared.  I can’t blame him for it, though.  I was the one that had a psychotic break.  He didn’t handle it well, that’s for sure, but it’s unreasonable for me to expect that he would have handled that situation like a pro.. He did his best, but he was severely ill equipped.  I probably would have been too.

We reconciled about six months after the dust settled and we had a chance to really talk about things.  Trying to date again, even tentatively, wasn’t easy for either of us. Unfortunately, while my heart opened back up again, his feelings were gone.  My issues scared him away.

I scared him away.

Now he’s getting married.  Not to someone new, though.  He’s marrying someone he dated both before and after me – twice.  One of us was always runner up and it turns out it was always me.  My dysfunction, my anxiety and depression, my psychotic break, my general fucked-up-ness put me there.  I can’t lie.  It sucks.  Thankfully, I know he’s not right for me and that makes me feel a little better, but it’s still hard.

Him getting married really just reminds me of that shitty time in my life when I was powerless over my thoughts.  I feel foolish, even now, for how much of an ass I was.  I’m reminded yet again of the bottomless depression and terrifying anxiety.  It draws attention to the sheer effort  that it has taken me to make it back to this place, as fractured and tenuous as it is.  It reminds me that it could happen again and that I will do anything to prevent it.  It reminds me that I am alone again; that I have always been alone.

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