Tag Archives: rediscovering me

Workin it out

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Not much makes me feel more awesome than a good workout. I love a variety of workouts, but these days I spend most of my time in Body Combat, Butts & Guts, and working with a personal trainer. I also love me some Turbo Fire and Taebo.

Having some sleeping issues lately. I’ve got worries. Not a ton of worries like I used to, but stuff keeping my mind too busy to relax. The more I workout, the more I’m too tired to stay up all night. So that’s a benefit, in addition to the fact that I feel healthier, I’m losing some inches and fat, and gaining some strength and muscle.

What I thought today while working out is…it’s the same as my healing. It’s just me and my mind and my body that have to get through it. My trainer doesn’t ultimately care if I meet my goals. Meeting those goals is on me. Just like healing. I still go to therapy and I completed some groups and those things are terrific. I have awesomely supportive people in my life. But none of that is any good if I don’t work on my mind and my body to push through the memories and the muscle tension and the moments when I completely shut down.

I made the decision a few years ago that sexual assault would no longer rule my mind and my body and that I would make big changes that honored who I am. I’m so proud of the big changes I’ve made and the new patterns I’ve created for myself. But I get lazy. Just like sometimes I don’t wanna workout, so I make excuses. I guess the main thing is that I always come back to the hard work. I keep plugging along, workin it out.

I can do it. But it is hard sometimes, you know? Really hard.

I took a big risk this year by asking to be 1 of 5 survivors picked to talk publicly about our healing journeys at an event in April 2018. And I got picked! I’m so excited!! But also terrified. I need it. Somehow when I attended the event this year I just knew that I needed to do it. I have been a spectator at the event the last three years. It is powerful and awesome. And I decided while sitting there this year that it’s exactly what I need to push through the last step in my healing journey. Sure, I’ll always have some work to do to stay on track, just like going to the gym. But this goal will keep me from being lazy.

I gotta keep workin it out. To be me. At the gym and for this event and for the rest of my healing life.

KK

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Maybe it is all me

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I read a Facebook post once that was called You’re Allowed to Leave and it had many statements in it that I really value.  Statements that have been so important to the last 6-8 years of my life.

Statements like

  1. “You’re allowed to leave someone you love if they’re treating you poorly, you’re allowed to put yourself first if you’re settling and you’re allowed to walk away when you’ve tried over and over again but nothing has changed.”
  2. “We sometimes look at leaving as a bad thing or associate it with giving up or quitting, but sometimes leaving is the best thing you can do for yourself.”
  3. “Leaving allows you to change directions, to start over, to rediscover yourself and the world. Leaving sometimes saves you from staying stuck in the wrong place with the wrong people.”
  4. “Leaving opens a new door for change, growth, opportunities and redemption.”

And it made me miss writing and paying attention to the blogs I follow.  I need to remember those things more often to stay present in my life.  To remember how far I’ve come in rediscovering myself and growing.  To remember that it’s ok to change, it’s ok to ask for change, and that where I am now is so much better than feeling like I am to blame and I am broken.  So much better then believing that my ex was right in saying “maybe it IS all you” when I commented that he wasn’t taking marriage counseling seriously because he was just waiting to hear that it was all my fault.

I can always tell when I’m getting complacent with my mental health.  Because I start to think about all the things I decided I would do when I left my marriage, some of which I didn’t do.  And in every conflict I feel like “yep, it really IS all me.”

I know that’s not true, don’t I?  But I go right back to it when things go wrong.  And then I wind up here, where I start thinking that it MUST be true, it is me who is not capable of healthy relationships.

And then I remember it’s ok to protect myself first.  To love myself first.  To remind myself of my value.

And that still feels great.  I really do know that I am not to blame for everything and that I am not broken.  I know that I own my feelings–as a victim, a survivor, a mother, a friend, a coworker, a girlfriend, and all other things I identify as in life.

I have written lots in the last couple years, but published none of it to this blog because I started to want to hide again. Not because I’m unhappy, not at all. I just started to wonder if I needed it.

I do. Not for recognition, but validation. And accountability. If I publish the things I think, then they feel real and I read them again and again when I need each reminder.

And because guess what? I am doing some really awesome things in my life.

I’m in a relationship that I value deeply and when we go through tough stuff, I know that we will get through it together. Not because I feel like I have to, but because I want to.

I am good at my job and I like it. I feel valuable and I love the people I work with and the people I serve in my role.

I’m still in therapy. I need it like some people need meds. It’s what makes me process and understand things without just laughing everything off and never being vulnerable.

I’m getting my body healthy. I took my body down with stress. I saw a naturopathic doctor and it changed my life. She looked at me as a whole and found ways that I could become healthy and not struggle with the same things and just be given med after different med. and I work with a personal trainer. I’ve lost inches, gained muscle, lost fat, lost weight, gained weight, and I feel like I finally found a way to be happy in my body. Not every single day, but most.

When you’re a survivor, you can sometimes despise your body. It’s a struggle for me. But I’m so close to putting that struggle behind me, and so I took a huge leap this year and said “pick me.” And they did. (I’ll probably tell ya, don’t worry.)

All those things happening in my life? I made those things happen. I am making those things happen every day. And that really IS all me. That’s a good thing now instead of being a phrase that felt so negative to me.

If I had never left, I wouldn’t know the many things I know today. And that too really IS all me. I left. I own that. I needed that.

And I’m ok.

KK

WILD

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**This post discusses the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.  I wasn’t able to include page numbers to completely give credit to each quote because I have only a digital copy of the book and so that won’t be the same as pages in the actual book.  But I made sure to use quotes and it is not at all my intention to try and claim any of her awesomeness as my own.

This book means a lot to me.  I don’t remember why I picked it up or how I heard about the book.  But I am so thankful I did.  I just saw the movie this week and I loved that too.  Not nearly as much as the book, but the movie had all the parts I had hoped to see and all the feelings the book had me feeling.

The book was in my life at exactly the right time and reading it gave me exactly the validation I needed to make some final decisions.  To understand what I needed to do to more forward in my life.

The first big moment for me in the book was her discussion of why she chose a new name after getting her divorce.  The weekend I read the book I was alone at a cabin with just my dogs.  Silence and beauty all around me as I sat by the fire and in the cute cabin and read her story.  She says she knew if she got divorced she couldn’t stay her married name, but “I couldn’t go back to having the name I had had in high school and be the girl I used to be.”  And as I read that I knew that it had described exactly how I was feeling.

I had filed for divorce that same year and had been living alone for only a few weeks short of one year.  I was beginning to think a lot about my name and the choice I had to make in keeping the married name or “restoring” my maiden name.  To me, keeping my married name was never a valid choice.  I don’t mean it to sound as harsh as it likely will, but I just didn’t want to keep that connection to him.  It is who I became because I married him and I wanted a full disconnection from who I had allowed myself to become in our marriage.  However, going back to my maiden name seemed like going back to the girl in the corner.  The girl I didn’t like or accept.  And the girl who was sexually assaulted.  It felt unsafe and just not at all who I wanted to be again.  It was difficult for me to accept that because I also have very warm connections to that name.  I am close to my father, I was very close to my grandfather, and my maiden name is both the middle name for myself and for my son.

When I read that part of the book where she decided to choose her own name, I put the book down and just sat with those feelings.  And very quickly I decided that I would do that myself.  I would choose my own name.  I would decide later if I would keep my maiden name as my middle name, but I spent the next few minutes sitting by the fire thinking about what my last name should be once I was single.  I didn’t expect to come to a decision so quickly, and I won’t describe the personal moments that led me to my name, but it was a completely clear moment.  One of those moments that takes your breath away because it is so perfect.  I knew sitting by that fire who I would become.  And then I laughed and said right out loud to my dogs and the horses nearby, “that.  is.  awesome.  and that’s what i am going to do.”

Cheryl Strayed’s description of her feelings about divorce just hit exactly on the types of things I was feeling and had been feeling while deciding to move out and then go forward with divorce.  Reading her story validated my feelings and allowed me to give myself a much needed break from punishing myself for my decisions.

She wrote “as close as we’d been when we were together, we were closer in our unraveling, telling each other everything at last” and I understood that feeling in a personal way.  My husband and I had been close in some ways for many years, but never quite the way I needed.  I wanted a best friend to come home to and I never felt comfortable sharing my whole self and my whole, true feelings with him.  But after I moved out, a really strange thing happened for awhile.  I did feel closer to him and him to me.  We had long discussions and said things we should have been saying all along.  I felt closer to him than I had felt for years.  Which led to a period of us accepting separation as an option when we had always said if we couldn’t live together, there was no point to staying married.  So for the next 8 months, we lived separately and we talked and got together often to see if we could fix what was broken in our relationship.  We didn’t succeed, but I’m thankful for the time with him because feeling close to him then allowed us to move forward and not go through an angry, hateful divorce.  We were able to talk and be with our kids and treat each other with respect.

As I moved forward in living alone, I referenced the book often. I read parts of it over again and looked back at my favorite quotes a lot. I liked living alone and I still do. Cheryl Strayed wrote “Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.” I like that because to me that is one of the best things in the world…being alone. And I’m thankful that I can be alone and be comfortable and happy. I’ve not always been good at it because I didn’t like myself. It’s one of the best benefits I’ve received from therapy. I know now that I can be alone and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I want to be completely alone all the time or forever, but when I am I know that I’m still with a person who’s pretty great.

I lived alone for about a year and a half before the day of my divorce arrived. And even though it was the day my marriage would be ended, I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel happy or relieved or angry or scared. I just felt like it was what was necessary to do what we had already done in separating ourselves and agreeing that although we loved each other, we just didn’t work the same way we once had and that wasn’t enough for me. I kept thinking of this quote from the very same book, “I didn’t feel sad or happy. I didn’t feel proud or ashamed. I only felt that in spite of all the things I’d done wrong, in getting myself here, I’d done right.” And no matter what else I was feeling, that day I just knew I had made the right decisions for me.

In moving forward now in my life, I still think of Cheryl Strayed and her story often. I’ll probably read the book again someday. There are a lot more quotes I read and think about on an almost daily basis.

Although our experiences in life were not the same, I understand the enormity of the quote ”what if I forgave myself?” Her quote goes on, but that’s the part I cling to because that’s what I have left to do with the girl in the corner. I must find a way to forgive her. And to accept that she is a part of me. A part of me who deserves forgiveness and love.

Thank you, Cheryl Strayed, for being brave enough to share your story. It has played a large part in my healing and my ability to move forward each day to rediscovering me.

KK

Taking on the girl in the corner

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***I kind of feel like this post, and many to come, should have some kind of trigger warning in addition to the fact that sometimes I will add sexual assault disclosure warnings.  But I am not sure what kind.  So let me just say please be self-aware when you are reading this post and any posts going forward for awhile.  This is very new to me and I have not spoken about it with the majority of people in my life or disclosed it publicly.  I have barely been able to recognize and name it and accept it myself.***

Well, here it goes.  I have committed to another 12-week Adult Sexual Assault (ASA) therapy group and it starts a week from today.  It is technically the same group I did last year.  The topic and goals will be the same and there will be a disclosure.

But for me, and I can’t even believe I am saying this, I think it might be scarier this time around for me.  The last group was extremely tough in many ways and disclosing that college rape experience was SO challenging.  However, even though I needed to rid myself of some blame, guilt, anger, fear, and shame, the completely logical side of me lived every day knowing that it really had not been my fault at all.  Getting through the group last year was about making a declaration, shaking off the shame, and recognizing that I have the right to complete healing in order to rediscover the me that was lost and ashamed and terrified. The level of healing that I have experienced from completing that group has been just awesome. I am thankful every single day for that group therapy success.

This time I will tackle some experiences with a specific person from my past that in my head are much more complicated AND that will force me to examine, discuss, accept and cooperate with that girl in the corner.  The one I avoid and ignore and cover with laughter.  And for the last 7 months or so, I have gone back and forth in my individual therapy between being ready to tackle this and trying to convince myself (and my therapist who wasn’t buying it) that it’s fine if I never deal with it because it doesn’t really affect me on a daily basis.  But it does and I don’t like that.

The worst part of taking on the girl in the corner is that I don’t like her and I don’t even feel like she is worth my time.  And I am ashamed of her.  And I sometimes even hate her.  And I don’t feel like anyone will believe her.  I judge her and disregard her.  I call her names and I blame her.

For anyone reading this post who hasn’t followed my previous posts and feels confused, that girl in the corner is me.  A younger me.  Somewhere between 16 and 20 most of the time.  And once in awhile she’s 38 year old me.  And I shoved her in the corner a long time ago, never to be dealt with again.  Or so I thought.

For this session of group, I may be disconnected or distant or crazy or mean or many other things.  Maybe I’ll be fun and happy most of the days.  Maybe I’ll look like I’m listening to you and have to ask you to repeat yourself.  I really have no idea what to expect.

So for now, I just want to say that I have great people around me and you each know who you are and what you mean to me.  If I don’t call enough, or laugh enough, or respond enough, or reach out to you it is NOT because you don’t mean the world to me or I don’t trust you or want and need your support.  This fight for healing is going to be difficult.  Because today, I can’t even talk about the experience as rape or sexual assault without immediately victim-blaming my very own self.

And that is a miserable feeling.

One I am proud to say I am ready to leave behind to continue rediscovering me.

So look out girl in the corner, I’m coming to rescue you and learn to love you again.

KK

A New Year and a Look Back

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A lot can change in a year. And for me, 2014 was a really big year for change.

I started 2014 with many conflicting emotions and a rather high level of anxiety. I didn’t trust myself and I felt trapped by many of my own thoughts. I was thinking about buying a house or trying to decide on continuing to rent, and I had all of the stress that went with those decisions. I was getting ready to start my 12-week group which was one of the scariest things I have ever faced. I was at the end of a divorce that I agonized over for way too many years. I was helping my teenage daughter cope with the change of living in two homes and helping us both deal with the fact that my now adult son was living out on his own and not in our daily lives.

That’s a lot of stuff. And really those things were just daily life from January to April, which left a lot of year left to live.

Thankfully, 2014 started out a bit full of stress, but became a year of fabulous positive change as well.

I bought my house on May 27 and they only considered my income and credit.  ONLY ME.  I did it all on my own and that felt awesome.  Moving is always stressful, but this was a lot more fun because as I moved in all the decisions were up to me.  I could put colorful things and things that mean the world to me everywhere I wanted and that makes me feel comfy and good.  One of my greatest friends got to visit this summer and helped me settle in even more and decorate my sunroom, which is a really awesome space.

Spring and early summer was also a time for a lot of excitement, a bit of giggling, and a dash of anxiety as I began a positive new relationship and experienced a first date for the first time since 1995!  Scott and I went to high school together and reconnecting with him all these years later has been really, really great.  He and I reconnected at a time when I least expected to be taking any time for dating, especially any dates that would lead to an actual relationship.  I was in the middle of my therapy group, just a week divorced, and kind of a mess of feelings.  But from our first messages to each other, we have never stopped talking and he has very quickly become the best friend a girl could hope to have by her side through whatever comes our way.  In just 8 months together we have had many of the best times I could imagine ever having and we have also faced a lot of challenges…and whenever I feel like my “stuff” is just going to be too much for him, he is right there to tell me that I’m worth it.  He has listened to me scream, yell, doubt myself, doubt him, be stubborn as a mule, and cry my eyes out.  Scott is thoughtful, understanding, spontaneous, dedicated to who and what he loves, smart, respectful, a great listener, charming, trustworthy, a great father, a fabulous dancer, and makes me laugh each and every day.  I love you, Scott.  Thanks for being you and being in my life.

Going through summer was fun not only because of my new love, but because I got to become more and more settled in my home and finished up the first and most difficult therapy group after 12 long weeks.  Being a part of that group with the other terrific women I met and grew to care about so much was more rewarding than I imagined it would be when it started.  Disclosing my sexual assault experience was liberating and began a healing process that I had buried and ignored for a very long time.  I feel very fortunate to have met the people who helped me go through that process.

I have continued my individual therapy and it has brought with it some new challenges that I can now manage with better coping skills.  And I love that. Fall brought some personal challenges, some a surprise and some things that were just buried under the more obvious things I have faced that are now ready to come out.  I like that therapy place where I can say anything and get an unbiased opinion on how to handle it, when I could have done something differently, and when I really did a great job of communicating and maintaining my personal boundaries.

I also love that no matter what happens to me each day, the first person I think of to tell is Scott.  I always sold myself short on that part of my relationships.  I always felt my girlfriends were the people who should be there for that stuff.  I love that Scott has become my best friend.  I still value the love and friendship of my best gals, but I adore knowing that my partner in love has my back and loves me no matter what ridiculous thing I do or say.

This fall, I wrote a post about Thanksgiving being difficult for me.  And I love that I could get to Alaska for Thanksgiving.  Spending time with my friend there is like a reset button for me, she and I have known each other for so long there is a complete relaxation to being together.  I love her family, and being around her just makes the crazy in my head easier to bear.

Looking at December and the end of 2014 seemed SO far away just a minute ago.  But all of a sudden, there it was right in front of me.  And as years go, it was a really great one even though it started out a little tough.  Letting go of my marriage was difficult, but we have maintained a relationship that allows us to continue to love and parent our kids the best way possible and I am proud of that.  Celebrating the holidays with my kids has always been a favorite thing for me and this year was no different.  The way our family looks has changed, but the love we share is still the thing that puts a spring in my step and can bring a smile to my face anytime I think of it.

2015 has started off better than any year for quite a long time.  I look forward to the new and exciting things ahead and the continued healing I will explore in my therapy and in a new group I will be starting soon.

I hope your year will be great too.  You deserve it!

KK

Asserting myself…maybe

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I’m still avoiding the girl in the corner. Mostly, I think I know why.

It is very difficult for me to talk about it because I never have fully discussed it outside of my disclosure night in my last therapy group. That night, information and realizations came out of me that I had never admitted to myself. In fact, I blatantly ignored the information that I was aware of and denied there could be anything I had not fully recalled.

I buried that girl in denial and shame. And part of me would really like to leave her right there.

Sometimes, you come in contact with people in life and you just wonder what possible good they are offering the world and the people around them. You know the people I’m talking about, don’t you? People who are just mean for no good reason. People who are aggressive or manipulative, or both. People who just say or do awful things without even knowing what they are talking about or why they are doing whatever it is they are doing. This blows my mind.

I was not a nice teenager, and I’m certainly not going to justify any of my bad behavior, but you can excuse teenagers for acting out some or being mean to some degree because they just aren’t fully developed, functioning people.

Here’s what bugs me the most right now about wanting to face that girl in the corner: I am scared of what she will do and say.

I have exactly 2 very challenging people in my world right now. And when their behavior gets to a certain point, I allow myself to think and feel in ways that the girl in the corner controls. I don’t like it. I haven’t learned to control it.

So there it is. I feel like I can’t.

On the logical side of my current self is someone who is well-aware that speaking my full mind to these 2 folks would be all wasted breath because they are not ready or able to hear what I have to say. This logical side is intersecting with the person inside me who just wants to defend myself and explain some things and make them understand and yes, just plain hurt them in return for the things they have said or done that I have allowed to hurt me. But again, that is because the part of me that isn’t done with therapy still feels that sometimes I can control or own other people’s reactions or feelings.

I can’t. That’s a thing that really sucks sometimes about communication.

But now I have new information that is causing me to regret one situation where I did not speak my mind. One situation where I have learned that with self-control and compassion, I could have asserted myself and that would have been perfectly acceptable and would have been just what I needed. I am a couple of weeks into group and last week this realization hit me like a 2×4 across the face. I can BE successfully assertive EVEN IF the person reacts in a way I don’t like or that doesn’t give me an opportunity to feel better about the situation. I have still done what I needed to do to feel good about myself. I have asserted myself. Successfully. Because the reaction of that person isn’t what controls the success of my learning to be assertive.

Bam! I love that realization.

I wish I had that realization a few months ago, but I didn’t, so I didn’t assert myself with either of these 2 jerks. And with 1 of them, that really bugs me. Worse yet, I allowed myself to get talked out of asserting myself. You know why? I sure don’t. That’s not typically me.

Now, my group facilitator would say that I still have the right to assert myself now even though the actual moment has long passed. And I understand that she says that because, again, the reaction of the person is not the successful outcome/measurement to me asserting myself. So who cares if I am a few months late in asserting myself? Well, I did care, but now I am beginning to feel that I cared for the wrong reasons. I let shame and ick from the girl in the corner get in the way of what I need to be happy.

Today I was driving some distance and I do some of my best thinking in the car. And what I learned today is that in the spirit of letting that girl in the corner start to heal, I MUST assert myself. No matter what the reaction. Especially when not asserting myself is holding back my healing.

So look out world, I’m about to rediscover my assertive self.

KK

Going back

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Well, I’m going back for more. More support. More information. More learning. More validation.

More group therapy.

I wasn’t going to do it. And then this week happened. It’s the worst week I can remember having in a very long time. (No, I do not want to talk about it so don’t ask.) And just as it is about over, I realized I have ignored some very large moments in the past week or two that I needed to give more attention.

The first was running into a member of my last group. It was really great to see her and talk about how we are each doing. It was extra great that it was specifically her because she struggled a lot and I have hated not getting to know if she’s ok. She is. And that’s awesome. I ran into her at the end of last week and it was great, but I brushed it off as just a strange coincidence.

I know that is not the case now.

Just when this week became what I thought was a total loss, I got a voicemail from the facilitator of my last group. She wanted to offer me a spot in a new group starting next week. I brushed off the phone call and waited for the voicemail, which I listened to and then also brushed off.

But this afternoon I had a trigger moment happen that took my breath away and really knocked me down for awhile. And now all I can think about is the fact that neither of those two things–running into the group member and getting the phone call–was a coincidence at all.

They were moments I desperately needed.

Moments where my intuition was trying to say “how are you doing because you look like you need some support.”

And that’s true. I do.

So since it was a crap day and I couldn’t make the return call without being a mess of tears, I emailed the facilitator to say please put me in the group if the spot is still open. I sure hope it is still open for me. And I’m hoping some of my former group members will be in it too. Reconnecting would be really nice.

It’s important to really listen to yourself. And I do that fairly well most of the time. But I need to stop being lazy about it. It’s easy to ignore my own stuff right now because things have been going really well for me. That’s awesome and I’m glad to be where I’m at right now.

But I can’t forget about taking care of me. Not ever again.

So I’m going back. For me.

KK