Coping, healing, meditation, Mental, Physical, Spiritual, Trauma Recovery

3 Reasons to Meditate

It’s More Than Just a Stress Reducer

Meditation came into my awareness because it was suggested to me as a way to quiet my mind and body once I found my way to Addo Recovery.  Shortly after I found out about my ex-husbands affairs my body went into such a high level of panic that I entered the ‘fight, flight and freeze response’ almost immediately, and because of his lying and gaslighting me, I stayed there for nearly two years.  I blew out my adrenals and my body was just in a constant state of panic. I was flooded with adrenaline and cortisol. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t function, and I could not get my mind to shut up as it tried desperately to make sense of what had happened to me.

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Addo Recovery suggested I take a yoga class to learn to quiet my mind so that I could give my body a rest from the flooding of chemicals I was experiencing.  I learned that, over time, this constant state of stress was dangerous for my mind, body, and spirit. Intuitively I knew all of these things, but I did have the knowledge I needed to pursue a solution and had no idea how to make it stop. Meditation was the solution. It was a solution that was so profound that I began practicing meditation twice a day, morning and night, almost immediately.  I have been meditating daily for almost two years. In the very beginning it was the only peace I got during the day. But, over time, I learned to bring my meditative mind with me through the day, and into a peaceful, restful sleep at night, with no medication.

The reasons we meditate are as varied as the many ways there are to meditate. In America, most people are drawn to meditation to quiet the internal chatter of the brain and to reduce stress. Meditation is, indeed, a very effective stress reducer, but its benefits – sometimes mysteriously hidden – are far more plentiful.

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According to the Chopra Center for Meditation there are 3 reasons meditation is not only good for us, but it is necessary, especially for those who are suffering from betrayal trauma:

1. Because It’s Good for Our Bodies

According to Scientists gathering data on meditation have found that a consistent practice not only boosts the mind, but it also bolsters the body. Studies bear out that meditation can help reverse heart disease, reduce pain, and support the immune system, better enabling it to fight disease.

The mind-body connection between stress and disease is abundantly apparent as science is finding that meditation can lower production of the stress hormone cortisol. This means meditators are better able to adapt to stress in their lives and its common physiologic responses, which can include:

  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sleep problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Memory impairment
  • Skin conditions

2. Because It’s Good for Our Relationships

Paradoxically, while meditation helps us tune in and turn inward to our true essence, it also helps us detach from our own egos to connect with others in more meaningful ways. Couples counselors have found when they assign their clients meditation, the couples become less angry, more self-reflective, and more loving.

When we become aware of – and honor – our interconnection with other beings, we are able to recast our perspectives, see our worries in a different light, and embrace gratitude, which is the heart’s memory.

3. Because It Can Change Our Lives

In a world rife with never-ending fast fixes, crash diets, and get-rich-quick schemes, it’s nice to know there is a proven practice that really can change your life (or at least bring about dramatic effects) in just a little time each day.

Yogis and doctors both agree: meditating – even just a few minutes of deep breathing – relaxes the brain, reduces anxiety, and decreases depression. When we feel as though we can’t afford the time to meditate, the truth is we can’t afford not to.

I can attest to the deep breathing thing.  Learning to breathe deeply and properly was life saving for me.  I was so stressed out in the beginning of this journey that my resting heart rate was over 100 beats per minute.  It was as if my body thought I was running, even if I was sitting still!  I literally felt like I would climb out of my own skin.  I was jittery and nervous and I felt scared…all…the..time. This was the state of my body and mind for 2 years without a break. I even started to wear a device to measure my heart rate because my doctor was so concerned about me.  She told me that if I could just take deep breaths and count them I could lower my heart rate and calm my mind. Breath in, 1, Breathe out, 2, Breath in, 3, Breath out, 4, and so on, until you get to 10 and then start over.  After a couple of minutes of this I could lower my heart rate down to 80 beats per minute, a more acceptable rate, still too high, but better.  At least it gave me a little bit of control over my mind and body, something I desperately needed because my whole life was out of control. It helped. Breathing became a saving grace. I took a breathing timeout all day long.  Now I am so in tune with my body I recognise the signs of stress immediately and I can just take a minute to stop and breathe to bring it all back down before I spiral out of control.  But it takes practice. Everyday.
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What I can tell you is that there is no fast fix for betrayal trauma.  It will take you making some permanent changes in your lifestyle to feel good again.  There is no way around it.  So just wrap your brain around the idea that you will have to do some things differently, probably for the rest of your life.  Meditation is one of those things. But I have found that isn’t a bad thing necessarily.  I know that if I skip a day of meditating, I pay for it the next day.  Heart rate goes back up, anxiety drops by for a visit, and I quickly find myself not in a good place. So I agree, with what is at stake, we cannot afford to not meditate! I am happy to report to you that there is hope to be found, a quiet mind is possible again, and a calm body is within your reach. My resting heart rate is now somewhere between 60-70 beats per minute.  That is physical, hard evidence that mediation and deep breathing (which is part of it) works! It works for me, and it will work for you too. And the good news is that you can get started… right now, today.
You do not have to take a class to learn to meditate, although I highly recommend it in order to learn from someone who is experienced and knows how. However, YouTube is a wonderful place to get tons of guided meditations for free.  Some of my favorites are:
Jason Stevenson (has a cool Australian accent.)
Joe Tracey (his voice is very calming.)
Kenneth Soares (is Norwegian, and I like his voice, some people don’t though.)
Check them out. See if you like them, if you don’t try someone else!  It will ruin the meditation if the person you are listening to has an annoying voice.  Find one or two that work well for you to start with and explore more options.  Many of them have meditations for anxiety, letting go, fear, and sleep. You can start there. I recommend that you do the 21/90 rule.  21 days to form a new habit and 90 days to make it part of your lifestyle. Most of the meditations are 20-45 minutes. So it’s not a huge time drain. Start out small.  I will warn you though,  I have loved this so much that I now will frequently do 1-2 hour meditations. Once you are able to do well with guided mediations then you can branch out on your own. There are a lot of ways to mediate and the internet is full of good information on this topic.  Just google “beginner meditation.”
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I can give you suggestions but if this is something that interests you then it is best to go on your own journey of discovery and enlightenment. At some point I will write about my personal meditation practice, but I would rather you do you.  It will be more helpful to you and more fulfilling if you find what works for you.  For example; I really, really like Tibetan Singing Bowls, but it took me forever to find a video that I loved.  Some of them were too high-pitched for me, some of them had drum beats I couldn’t stand, others had certain Binaural Beats* that made me feel more anxious. Until one day I found one that really is perfect for me!  I love it!  But the point is, you may not love it, you may hate it, and it could cause you to hate mediating as a result because I told you that you should love it, and you really hate it.  So go find what works for you, trust me, there is something on YouTube for everyone! Find what speaks to your body, mind, and spirit. Meditating is deeply spiritual and personal. If you don’t like something, don’t give up, find something else that works better for you.  I save videos all the time that I end up deleting a week later because they just were not as good or helpful as I thought they would be.
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I usually meditate sitting up in the morning and lying down on my bed at night. At night I use mediations that are meant for sleep so I don’t feel like I am missing something if I fall asleep, because that is the point.  So do what works best for you.  That is the great thing about meditating, you don’t have to worry about getting it right, just do it.  I also mediate with my headphones on so that I can benefit from the sounds many of them use in their mediations.  Here is some information about the sound frequencies and beats.  I love the idea that different frequencies can entrain our bodies to resonate with that frequency and helps our bodies to heal.  I need all the healing I can get so I opt for the headphones. There are meditations that are meant for deep healing with the Rife Frequencies**.  Some of them get on my nerves, but I learned from reading in the comment that listening for 10 minutes a day was enough to reap the benefits.  So read the comments too, it helps to learn from others who are also in the process.
Here are some of the meditation YouTube Channels I subscribe to:
I have also found this meditation program that is not very expensive from EOC Institute. They have a list of 141 Benefits of Mediation  to show meditation is a very good thing.
I hope this will get you started on your own mediation journey.  It is something that has made a life or death difference in my life and that is not an exaggeration.  It is one reason I chose to start with sharing mediation, it is something you can do immediately and see tangible results in a matter of days, or even hours, depending on how much you do it. All I can say is try it, you’ll like it.  You will like how you feel, and it will give your mind and body a break so you can cope with the un-cope-able.
Share with me in the comments your own experiences of meditating. I’d like to know what works for you or if you have any cool tips, tricks or meditations you have discovered.
Stay Strong, Be Sweet
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The Cupcake Warrior
* “Binaural Beats” is a term given to playing one sound frequency in one ear, and another sound frequency in the opposite ear, creating a two-tone effect in the mid-brain that is actually perceived to be one tone. This causes an “Entrainment” effect in the brain that has a variety of results depending on the frequency.
** These frequencies are based on the work of Royal Raymond Rife was a 20th century inventor who through frequency was able to cure many ailments of the body, including most common illnesses that we seek medical assistance for today.
dating, PTSD, Trauma Recovery

LDS Dating After Betrayal Trauma (PTSD)

fc3f8fbe75ca231aee3985d44ff3089fIt’s been over six months since I stopped going to Single Adult Activities. I didn’t have very much fun and the whole experience was, quite frankly, depressing. I made a single girl friend who invited me to start going to the activities with her.  I thought it was safe enough to have a “wingman” so I agreed to venture out into the church singles scene for the first time in over 40 years.  She was fun and she knew most people, so it was fun getting to know her friends and being introduced to new people. So far so good.

The problems for me, began when I started have panic attacks and anxiety at the events. What should have been fun, was  instead, overwhelming.  My PTSD would take over and a harmless dance became a war zone, fraught with danger and landmines. Triggers were everywhere.  Just walking into the building was a Trigger. The most prominent one was: I shouldn’t be single!  If my Cheater hadn’t betrayed me I wouldn’t even be here!  Why did this have to happen to me? How did I even get here? Then all the emotions of the trauma of betrayal would wash over me like a flood of emotions – and suddenly I was drowning.

I never shied away from meeting new people or social situations, but this was too much, especially for an empath.  I could walk into any given room of singles and suddenly feel overwhelmed by what I call, the collective “singleness cloud of pain.”  I could sense the collective “singleness cloud of pain” before I even opened the door. It was a thousand feelings of grief over lost love, through either death or divorce, coming from hundreds of people gathered in the same room. It was stifling! Each of them were at the event in the hopes of trying to find someone, anyone, to ease their own cloud of pain.  If in that moment, I added my own pain into the mix, it became unbearable very quickly.  I would barely arrive at the event, with hopes of having some fun, only to be greeted with this innate feeling that I should not be there, I didn’t belong there, how did I end up in this group of people whose common denominator was profound loss?  I would feel the hot tears well up behind my eyes, ready to spill down my freshly primped face.  The urge to run was intense.  Luckily, I usually came with girlfriends, so I had to stay.  I forced myself to stay, and like it. I reminded myself of a child who is forced to take bitter medicine – it tastes horrible, but it’s good for me!  I would choke down the tears and not make my friends feel guilty for having their own fun.  I dutifully danced with the souls brave enough to ask me, I would have pleasant chit-chat with people around me, I made a herculean effort to make my own fun, but all I wanted to do was go home, get in my pajamas and pull the blanket over my head!

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Why was this so painful?

The LDS Singles in the Salt Lake and Utah Counties literally have something going on every night of the week!  It is a veritable gold mine for the lonely and single. There is plenty to do, lots of opportunities to socialize and mingle.  I could go “have fun” every night of the week if I wanted.  But I did not want.  It was too much on my emotions, feelings, and psyche to just manage to attend something once a week.  All summer I tried to force myself to become a bona-fide single woman. I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t wish away, deny, or pretend that I couldn’t feel the common thread of sadness from everyone who was there. Instead of “I see dead people,” for me it was “I feel broken hearts.”  It was too much.  So I stopped going last September.

From what I understand from talking to my therapist and other singles, my reaction isn’t that uncommon.  An overwhelming number of singles, especially Sisters, report; “I just couldn’t do it.”  I don’t blame them.  Neither could I.

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Then an amazing thing happened.  I met someone.  He likes to dance.  I like to dance.  So he came into town and we went to a dance, or two, together.  It’s amazing how having a date insulated me from all the sadness in the room.  I could be there and have fun, real fun!  I could enjoy dancing with a man who loved being there with me.  It was heaven! Now that I am actually dating someone, I am so glad there are so many singles activities in my area.  It gives us a place to go to engage in wholesome and uplifting activities together while we get to know each other better.  And I feel better about bringing my own happiness and positive energy in to a space that needs that boost.  Being there is finally good.

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I had a lot of guilt from people close to me to just “get over it,” or “you will find someone better.”  I played the guilt trip in my head by saying to myself, “what if my person is at the dance tonight and I don’t go?” Even that wasn’t enough to make me go, until I was ready. People close to you mean well, they have your best interests at heart, but they can’t know when you are ready. Only you can know that!

So here is my bottomline, Singles Activities may not be for you, right at this moment.  But give it an honest try.  If it’s not for you right now, I totally get that!  But think about trying again later.  It can be good place to be, when the timing is right.  For the recently traumatized, that timing may take a little while.  Be kind to yourself.  Healing takes time.  Trying on your single suit might take even more time.

When it’s right, you will know.

Here are a couple of places you can look when you are ready:

Timpanogos Singles

Orem Singles

Lehi Singles

Salt Lake Singles

Most of them have an email list you can sign up for to receive a monthly calendar of events.

Stay Strong, Be Sweet!

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The Cupcake Warrior

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Becoming, Coping, divorce, Emotional, healing, Physical, Self Care, Trauma Recovery, Triggers

Surviving Valentines Day

28a385cdfa69743e10bc96da7d9049941ce50cf481d66b56abb94ca752e1572aWhat is a trigger? Triggers evoke an overwhelming feeling of panic, fear and/or anxiety associated with a memory of a traumatic event.  Triggers can come in all sorts of packaging.  Sometimes they are smells, foods, or music.  More often than not, they are events, dates or places.  Special events that you spent with your addict can become triggers after discovering they have been cheating on you.  That restaurant you went to last year on your anniversary, the hotel you found him in bed with the other woman, or Valentines Day can all become triggers. When these triggers happen it can turn a previously happy time into feeling you would rather crawl in bed and pull the covers over your head. Triggers can be paralyzing and debilitating.  Most of my triggers feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me.

One of those days for me is Valentine’s Day.

It’s good to identify your triggers in advance if at all possible.  Make a list of your most difficult triggers so you can plan how you will work through them.  The last 3 years I spent Valentine’s Day in bed, sobbing my heart out.  All I could think about was my Cheater spending time with other women.  And then after my divorce, it killed me to realize he was spending it with his new wife.  I never felt so alone and abandoned.  Sometimes triggers make life just SUCK!

So this year, I decided, in advance that I was not going to let Valentines Day get the best of me.  I did pretty well, until my Cheater decided to text me that day.  I am pretty sure he did it on purpose because the reason he gave was lame.  It’s interesting to me to know that he was out of town and his thoughts were turned towards me and not his new wife?? So be prepared for something like that to happen.  Narcs love to reach out on days like these to make sure you will feel crappy just in case you might have forgotten them.  Just be aware.

I woke up that morning determined to give myself lots of self-care and love.  Someone told me that you can be your own best love.  Like Whitney says, “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all!”

I got my nails done a few days before to look like a box of chocolates.

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I took an extra long bubble bath with a lit candle. Did you know you can do a self massage? I did that!  I gave myself a facial too. Then I got super dressed up in red, a power color, for a meeting I was hosting later in the day.

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After my meeting I bought myself some flowers, since I bought them myself, I got exactly what I wanted! Then I went to get a fancy cupcake at my favorite cupcake shop, Cravings. It was a cute Chocolate Covered Cinnamon Bear Cupcake.  Super Yummy!

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I finished out the day having dinner with my favorite people – my kids and grandkids.  And guess what?  I got through the entire day without crying! It can be done with a little planning and a lot of self-care.  Being good to yourself is the key.  Rewriting the story is critical.

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You can overcome your triggers with self-care!

Stay Sweet, Be Strong

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

abuse, betrayal, Coping, healing, My Story, PTSD, Self Care, Triggers

Anxiety and Panic

These last few weeks I have been experiencing an unusually high level of anxiety and panic. I am not sure why. I have spent a great deal of time in my head trying to figure it out. I am anxious about a lot of things. I have been for the past two years. That is one of the big things my Cheater took from me – peace of mind.

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I don’t know what will become of me. That is my biggest worry. Can I make it on my own? Will I heal? Am I always going to be broken? Can I ever be happy again? How do I find peace in my life when everything is in chaos? And then there is the financial piece. Don’t even get me started about how much this whole mess destroyed me financially. I. Worry. About. It. All. The. Time!

He took away my security, my hope, my peace, my joy, my safety. So much loss. And the infuriating thing about it is he does not care! 38 years of my life was devoted to this man, and he can destroy my life, walk away, and just not care. That is obvious from how he just remarried 5 months later. Is it proper to not spend even a minute mourning a 38 year marriage? I don’t know. Nothing he did, has done, or is doing makes any sense to me. But I digress.

He left me broken, shredded, and bleeding out. No wonder I am anxious and panicked. Who wouldn’t be?

My days are spent in panic. My nights are spent in panic.

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When morning comes and I wake up my first thought is – I am alone. Abandoned. Then the tears come. Every damn day I cry! When will it stop? I have started to try and negate some of this by dropping to my knees in prayer. Desperate prayer. Please God help me! I cry out to find the strength to make it through the day. Most days I feel abandoned, even by God. How long must this agony go on?

I feel like my legs and feet are encased in cement blocks. It makes it so terribly hard to make it through the day.

Then I spend an hour in scripture study. And I do mean study! This is the only hour of peace I have everyday. It’s the only time that my mind doesn’t wander. That I don’t wonder about – him.  When I study the scriptures I feel peace, comfort, safety. It makes so much difference I wish I could study all day. But I can’t.

The rest of my day is spent doing those things I must do interspersed with the things I need to do just to stay upright. I work at recovering from betrayal trauma all day! I work at it -HARD! It’s exhausting. Never ending. I resent needing to do this because of what someone else did to me. It isn’t fair. I did nothing to deserve this. But I am the one who has to work hard to fix it. He, of course, does nothing. Typical of a coward.

Here is what a “normal” day looks like for me:

  • Wake up in tears
  • Try to get out of bed, it usually takes me an hour
  • Take the dog out
  • I don’t eat because I am never hungry in the morning
  • Study the scriptures for an hour
  • Do my “dailies
  • Cry again
  • Then I am too exhausted to do anything else so I soak in the tub with epsom salts for 1-2 hours
  • Get dressed. By now it’s noon
  • Maybe I eat something and can hold it down without barfing
  • Take the dog for a walk and pick up the mail
  • Write in my journal
  • Cry some more
  • Attempt to do something productive, laundry, cleaning etc.
  • Start dinner
  • Eat dinner
  • Watch TV with my daughter while I dread going to bed
  • Go to bed and cry

Sounds great, doesn’t it? I’ve been reduced to barely existing.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong

abuse, Becoming, divorce, healing, My Story, PTSD, Self Care, Trauma Recovery, Triggers

EMDR Therapy Intake Appointment

I took a break from therapy over the holidays. For anyone who is recovering from betrayal trauma you will understand why I would need a break. It’s grueling. I was doing something related to recovery every.single.day. I was just exhausted. I needed a break. So I went through the holidays, therapy free. It was glorious. And horrible.  I felt like all of my support was cut out from under me.  Cold Turkey. I did my best to pretend I was a normal person.  I wasn’t.

I quickly learned I still needed it. I was far from healed. And…I was out of money to pay for it.  I knew I didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing either. I loved LifeStar but it had become painful to just walk into a building that reminded me of how much my Cheater did not love me. How awful he was to me. How he berated me after every appointment. I still can see the hatred and disgust he had on his face when he looked at me when we went to our sessions.  I now know that hatred and disgust was probably directed at himself…not me. He didn’t want to be there because he still had not given up on all his other relationships. (I found out later that he NEVER stopped cheating on me, not once.) But it felt like he hated me. In some ways, he did.  He hated me for reminding him how disloyal he was to me.

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During my 3 month-long retreat from therapy,  I started hearing about EMDR. It stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. The first time I heard about it what from the therapist at the ER a year ago when I was so distraught over my husband’s behavior it sent me to the ER. Yeah. There is that. The next time I heard of it was from Scabology, I follow her on Instagram and Facebook. You know how something God wants you to do will usually come up, over and over, from several different sources in a short period of time?  This was like that.  I know it was a God thing, a tender mercy. I started hearing about it  from other trauma survivors I knew in person, and those I follow on Instagram and Facebook. It seemed that this was actually helping them overcome their trauma! So I started to research it, because that is how I roll. Here is an awesome site to help you get a feel for it. You can read a FAQ here.

All I know is I do not want to feel like this anymore! I am tired.  I am exhausted. I am wrung out. I slug through everyday feeling like I am swimming in a pool with concrete weights around my wrists and ankles. It’s hard. Too hard. Nobody should feel this way because of something someone else did to them.

My angel Bishop agrees and so do my kids. So, together,  we are all starting on “Operation Recover Me.”

Friday I went to my first Intake Appointment at Addo Recovery.

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Here is me waiting for my first appointment, feeling small and vulnerable…again. I hate it when I have to tell the story all over again. I wonder how many more times I have to do this? As I think about everything that’s happened to me I start to cry again. I hate him for what he has done to me!

They are very thorough. I am impressed by their approach to healing – an overall wellness approach dealing with my entire life.


Before I ever got there they had me do a 48 page assessment online to measure my trauma.

Before I share any of the results, I knew my trauma was high. It’s nice to have that validated. I like charts and graphs and they had plenty of those. A stark picture of where I am now.  More importantly, they have a clear road map of where I need to go from here and how to get there! That is such a relief!  I can’t even tell you how amazing that is to me!

There are 8 criteria for a PTSD diagnosis according the DSM-5.  They can test for 7 of them in this assessment, the 8th one is evaluated by a therapist. I present significantly in all 7 of them. PTSD has the following 4 diagnostic clusters:

  1. Re-experiencing spontaneous memories of the event, recurring dreams, flashbacks, or other episodes of prolonged psychological distress.
  2. Avoidance – refers to upsetting thoughts, feelings or memories that are reminders or are associated with the upsetting event.  (See criteria C)
  3. Negative cognitions and mood represent and infinite number of feelings such as isolation from others, a marked diminished interest in activities, or a distorted sense of self. (See Criteria D)
  4. Arousal is marked by restlessness, aggressive, or self-destructive behavior; sleep disturbances; hypervigilism; or other related behaviors.  This is the “fight” of the body’s innate fight or flight response.

This chart shows how my ex husband’s addiction has affected the different areas of my life, past and present. Anyone who thinks that addictions only affect the person, need only look at these charts.  Addiction has a severe and profound impact on those who have relationships with the addict! The denial and blame criteria are how my Ex’s denial and blame impacted me.  What is significant here is the therapist says that this is so bad that it is what amounts to a prisoner being tortured.  I was tortured.  The lying, gaslighting, denial, minimizing, rationalizing, blaming that my Ex did to me amounts to torture.  Awesome.  No wonder I am where I am. I am messed up!  But at least I am smart enough to know it so that I don’t drag someone else through my crazy before I get myself put back together!

This next chart shows the impact on me in having an intimate relationship because of what my Ex did to me. Relational sexual difficulties is that I do not trust enough to be that vulnerable again.  As you can see, I am most impacted by issues associated with trust, body image, and I really, really want revenge!  I have always been a very trusting person, sometimes to the point of being a little naive.  Those days are long gone and I doubt they will ever return.  I fear I have swung too far the other way and I am not likely to swing back anytime soon.

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The part of the test that was most concerning to me is my stress, anxiety and depression scores. I will not show those results because they are not presented in a chart form.  However, 8 months after the divorce, my stress is still moderately high. I am not too surprised, because I have a lot of difficulty managing my stress.  I feel stress, even when there isn’t a reason to be stressed. But my anxiety and depression are still categorized as extremely high. Off the charts high. That concerned the therapist. She said people who present that high are a high risk for suicide. I don’t feel suicidal most of the time, but I would be lying if I said it doesn’t cross my mind more often than it should. I have panic and anxiety attacks ALL.THE.TIME.  Sometimes, I have them because of a triggering event, but I also have them for no visible reason. Out of the blue something will just reduce me to a hot mess!  I don’t know what could happen to me under the wrong conditions. That scares me. But it’s also why I need to do this. My ex isn’t worth it. I know that now, more than ever. He is, well, not good enough to tie my shoes. The reason I divorced him was to save myself.  I best be starting that process.  It is past time.

This is why I am where I am now. The saving of me. Let “Operation Recover Me” begin! It’s time!

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

betrayal, PTSD, Trauma Recovery, Triggers

Trauma Response Rescues

Do you know what a “Trigger” is?

A “Trigger” is any event that brings up old feelings of panic and danger even if there is no danger around.  It is a PTSD response very similar to what war veterans experience.  One minute you are fine and the next you are not.  the emotional response happens immediately and without warning when a Trigger presents it’s self. Triggers can be places, people, times of year, events, holidays, weather, smells, sounds, music, memories; anything can be a Trigger. And because of this it is nearly impossible to avoid your Triggers! Triggers bring up past trauma unexpectedly and with such force that often it can feel like you are actually reliving a traumatic experience. This really sucks!

The part about my Triggers that angers me off the most is my ex-husband doesn’t give a flying flip that he has done this to me or his family.  He doesnt care in the least.  If he did care at all then he would be working to alleviate the triggers and the pain that comes with it.  Instead, he is off chasing his new girlfriend because he “deserves some happiness.”  I know I am not alone in this.  My kids suffer, and my grandkids suffer.  We all suffer the devastation while all he cares about is his own happiness.  So here we are having to deal with these difficult emotional responses without any assistance (even financial assistance) from the perpetrator. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

I have a triggered response everytime I drive by the hotel where my daughter caught my husband in a hotel room with another woman.  When I drive by this hotel I burst into tears and re-live the whole ugly experience again and again.  Because of a series of business meeting I have had this week I have had to drive by this particular hotel 6 times this week. It has been brutal!  I could have gone out of my way to avoid it, gone another way, but I am determined not to let these experiences run me or my life.  So I chose to just power through it this week. But how do you do that?  How do you face something so painful head on?

dissociation-triggersI have learned that when triggers come it is because your pre-frontal cortex (thinking brain) has been hijacked by your limbic brain (emotional brain).  To beat back the trigger you must access the  pre-frontal cortex and put it back and charge.  As you learn to do this you can quickly disarm the lymbic brain, redirect the thought patterns, and put the pre-frontal cortex back in charge.  This works for any kind of panic or anxiety response.  The idea “control your thoughts, control your destiny” is really very true.  Gaining power over Triggers is getting back the power over your mind.  Triggers won’t go away, but you can lessen their effects, and with practice, stop them as they are happening.

dementors-dudley-615x356
My ex-husband is a dementor. He sucks all the happiness out of his family members and leaves them for dead.

I was reminded of what triggers are like while watching Harry Potter with my daughter last week.  Triggers are like Boggarts, they are not real, they look real and they feel real, but they are just your worst fears manifest. The students of Hogwarts were able to fight them with a spell… “expecto patronum!”  The Boggart was vanquished and thrown back into the box by most of the students.  Except some Boggarts are scarier than others.  Demetors are the scariest. I have come to think of Triggers as Dementors, they suck all the happiness right out of you! For a while Harry had to have help fighting against the Dementors.  At first, he couldn’t do it alone.  It took practice!  But when he eventually needed to rely on himself to do it, he was able to becuase he practiced. Beating back Triggers, especially the scariest ones, is a lot like that, it will take practice and patience with yourself.

So here are a few tips and tricks for putting your thinking brain back in charge:

Breathe – deep, mindful breathing. Breathe in, hold it for the count of four. Breathe out slowly whild counting to four.

Affirmations – Repeat your affirmations over and over until the trigger subsides. Make sure you have a list of daily affirmations that support areas where you are struggling.

Count and tap – cross your arms over your chest and touch your hands to your shoulders.  Begin counting.  As you count tap every other shoulder.  Do this for a count of six and then start over.  Continue until the fear and panic subside.  It will usually take about 15 to 20 sets of these.  It also really helps if you deep breathe with tap.  Breathe in , 1, Breathe out, 2, and so on.

Count your blessings – it is surprising how simple this is and how well it works.

Prayer – Prayer is a powerful antidote to Triggers.  Use it to pour your heart out to your Heavenly Father  and ask for help in overcoming your Triggers. He will tell you what will work best for you!

Read an interesting book –Keep a book around for this purpose.  In times of triggers I often open up my scriptures.  Its the book that works the best for me!

Work on a project – keep a craft or other project handy you can work on.  Crocheting, knitting or cross-stitch are all great for anxiety because of the counting aspects to them.

Workout – working out does wonders for releasing endorphines that will lift your spirit and improve your mood and outlook.

Go for a Walk – Walking outdoors and breathing in fresh air does wonders for the mind and the soul!

Mindful Meditations – there are a number of Apps that will help you with this.  Search the app store for mindful meditations, self hypnosis and meditation.  You will find plenty of free and paid apps.  Some of them you can try before you buy.  I have used Surf City apps, Happify and Head Space with lots of success.

Call a friend – sometimes you just need to talk things out with a trusted friend.  Call her. It will help.

Call your sponsor – if you are in a 12-step program then you will have a sponsor you can call when you are having a tough time. She will be a great listening ear and resource.  Your sponsor often understands in ways a friend can’t because she has traveled the road you are now on.

You can see that these remedies for trigger responses are also self care.  As you make an effort to do your “dailies” of self care you will build up a muscle memory response to triggers.  Over time you will automatically start to respond to the triggers in more helpful and healthy ways.  This is one of the reasons that self care is so important to do everyday!

What are some of the things you do to help overcome your triggers?

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

betrayal, Coping, healing, My Story, Trauma Recovery

“Lord, Save Me!”

When I think about my life now I have this feeling of anxiousness.  Sort of like I am going to crawl out of my skin.  You know that feeling, right? Somedays it is absolutely paralyzing.  I don’t know what to do first.  I feel scattered and tossed about by every whim of the day, like a feather caught on the breeze.  Floating around out there, I am not quite sure where I am going to land.  I long for the feeling of being settled, secure and safe. Grounded. Rooted in something solid.  I don’t like feeling like a feather. It causes me to feel vulnerable in ways that are uncomfortable.  I want to feel like an oak tree.

My ex-husband’s addiction has severed me from everything that anchored me to the solid foundation I once had.  The love of my life. Our family. Friends. Church. Nothing is the same anymore. All of it shattered into a million pieces. Floating.  Out there is my life, somewhere.  I want it back. Here’s the rub, I will never get it back and I know it.  Getting my life back is utterly dependent on the choices of another, who has no interest in choosing me, choosing us.  So here I am. Starting life over…at my age. Geez!  Life is so unfair. This really bites!

Sometimes, like today – I wake up feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. Monday’s are the worst!  I have so many things I could be doing, should be doing; working on my business, keeping up with school work, recovery work and housework. Where do I begin. Sigh. My life is a mess.  I know it is a mess.  I want it back.  Where do I start? I need a plan. Something SOLID that I can sink my teeth into! Let’s make this week count!  Darn it!

I’m scared.  So frightened of the new week.  Can I get it right this time or will I ultimately end up checking out and wasting my time on things that have no worth? Can I create something beautiful out of the chaos? I know I can, I have done it before, but I am in uncharted territory here.  I have never been in this position or anything remotely like it. There is no frame of reference, no similar experiences, no map…nothing. I suppose that is why it feel so unnerving.  There isn’t anything in my past experience to relate it to, so how am I supposed to know what to do? I need a plan. Something simple.  I can’t handle complicated at this point.

I had an epiphany this morning during my scripture study – EPIPHANY – I like that word.  It’s fun to say, and it’s a big word that makes me feel smart! Anyway…where was I…oh, yeah…scripture study.

I am studying by topic this year.  My one little word for the year is FORWARD.  Can you tell I am and ready to move out of the chaos that is my life? So I am researching and studying everything in the scriptures, conference talks, or words of the Prophets that have to do with pressing forward.  I could write several blog post on what I am learning, but I will save that for another time.  Today, I mentioned I had an epiphany. Something that will help me create order from the chaos…

It’s actually pretty simple.  “Lord, save me!” Peter’s exact words when he stepped out of the boat and walk on the water in his effort to come unto Christ. The most amazing thing about this story to me is Peter stepped out of the boat in the middle of a raging storm to walk on the water, so great was his desire to go to his Lord!  He was conquering the chaos as long as he kept his focus on Jesus, but the second he noticed the storm raging around him, he sank. Like a rock. (Peter, the rock!  Get it?)  Peter taught me an important lesson here.  Chaos can abound in my life, the storms will rage and anxiety can overwhelm me, but if I keep my eyes on the Savior, I will not sink into the depths of the sea and become overpowered. And then those powerful words for those times I falter and I am overpowered – “Lord, save me!”

So here is the plan for this week:

When life is an overwhelming blog of chaos and an unorganized mess. I cry out, “Lord, save me!”  This is the only way to do it, I believe.  Who else is mighty enough to save me?  No one!  Who knows what is best for me?  Who has my back?  Who knows what I need to do first, next and last?  He does!  All I need to do is to ask.  However, there is a certain amount of effort I have to make on my part to tap into His powerful saving grace. I cannot just go about my life, getting myself into a tangled mess and then expect Him to miraculously step in and keep me from drowning.  I have to do my part.  But what is my part?

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.  Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the words of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father; ye shall have eternal life.” (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 31:20)

I draw your attention to two parts I must do; 1. Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, and 2. Press forward feasting upon the words of Christ. From these two things I gathered that I cannot reasonably expect Him to save me if I don’t make Him a priority in my life.  Being steadfast means to have commitment, dedication and perseverance.  Feasting means more than a casual snack with the scriptures. The formula is clear; I make Him a priority + ask for His help = He will save me!  Easy huh?  Well, no.  Not really.  This is hard work. I need to make the effort to draw near to Him. For me, this is totally worth it though.  In a life of unknowns and in uncharted territory this seems to be the only way.

If I have ever needed Him more at anytime in my life, it is now!  Most days I feel like I cannot go 5 minutes without crying out, “Lord, save me!”  This week I am going to make this a priority to place my focus on Him and what he wants me to do, then maybe I will start to see  better forward progress than I could make on my own. I whittled it down to 4 steps:

  1. Focus on Christ to make Him a priority on my life.
  2. Feast upon the scriptures.
  3. Ask Him what he wants me to do first, middle and last.
  4. Tap into the power of His grace by including Him in the process, don’t go it alone.

The Father’s plan, the Savior’s Atonement, and the ordinances of the gospel provide the GRACE we need to PRESS FORWARD and progress, line upon line, precept upon precept toward our eternal destiny.” Elder David A. Bednar

Tell me how you make beauty out of the chaos of your life –

“Stay Strong, Be Sweet!”

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior