Being Brave

This year has been a brutal year for me. I have faced some of the scariest most humbling experiences of my life. I have spent nearly 15 weeks in hospital with a number of complications and challenges. I was gassed and robbed in my home and then I lost my brother who was, and always will be my hero.

On Monday 7th of October I stood up in court and testified against the people who robbed me and finally my body said ENOUGH! An overwhelming sense of anxiety and a feeling of complete desperation flooded over me. It all felt like every part of me was unravelling rapidly. I felt terrified and exhausted and basically like I had reached the limit of what I could take.

There are many people in this world who can relate to panic attacks and anxiety and the overwhelming feeling of deep grief. And there are so many people who don’t reach out and ask for help in this situation, however my greatest teaching this year has been to just put up my hand and ask for help.

As a society we have developed a belief system that we need to constantly put on a brave face and pretend to be ok in order to make other people comfortable, when actually we just need to own the emotions we are feeling however scary and real they are.

To be brave is to know when you need help. To be brave is to ask for help and say I am not ok. I am not coping and I feel like I am drowning. There is such societal stigma around depression and anxiety that many people don’t speak out and ask for help and that is a very dangerous thing.

The fear of judgement and rejection is so great that people often feel it’s better to pretend they are fine and hide behind a mask than to face the gruelling journey of unpacking and healing the parts that feel broken inside. I have learnt this year that no matter how much I have tried to put on my big girl panties and pull myself towards myself, I have struggled to keep it to together.

The combination of traumas I have experienced both physically and emotionally compounded and my body simply said no more. I became anxious and had massive panic attacks and realised that this was not something I could simply “will” myself through.

I have had to face the fact that I have full blown PTSD and that the best healing was to face all the scary stuff in a supportive way through counselling. I have had to realise that no matter how much my logical, analytical brain is trying to be “FINE”, I am not fine and am taking strain.

A deep deep sadness enveloped me and it feels like I have lost my joy. I put one foot in front of the other on a daily basis while at times feeling completely numb. There are so many moments that have flashed in front of me from this year that have shaken me to the core and unbalanced me as I don’t like being out of control. It’s an extremely uncomfortable place for me.

I apologise if my vulnerability and humanity makes you uncomfortable and disengaging but I really don’t care. You see I choose to feel the roller coaster of emotions and rather understand with true courage and conviction what it is to live through these great challenges.

I choose to confront all that makes me uncomfortable and feel off kilter. I am fully aware that I am not my “old” self but that I am just who I am and the best part of me is that I feel deeply and care deeply.

While my generosity and willingness has at times seemed like a dumping ground for bullshitters, con artists and narcissists, I am choosing to no longer be that dumping ground. I am a real fan of Brené Brown and while reading her book Rising Strong I discovered a paragraph that resonated with me and helped me to realise that it’s ok to not be ok.

“The opposite of recognising that we are feeling something is denying our emotions. The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. our job is not to deny the story, but defy the ending – to rise strong, recognise our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. this is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how the story ends.”

So as you start your day don’t forget to be curious and check in with where you are emotionally, physically and mentally and never to the disservice of yourself by masking your vulnerability and truth as in the end the only person it harms is you.

3 thoughts on “Being Brave

  1. Wow I feel like someone finally gets it. From Aug 2018-Feb 2019 I lost 8 people….9 if I count myself….in August I lost my 93 year old grandfather (my wise person), the day of his funeral my 49 year old cousin overdosed on dilaudid, less than a week later my 53 year old cousin had a widow maker heart attack…I continued my stressful job as a probation officer, but was feeling so off but I could not explain it…I left my husband for 3 months, I went back in 12/2018…I felt fickle and crazy in my head. Then mid December 2018 a coworker in his 50s who had been the picture of health (you know the one who jogs at lunch and eats healthy) died after shoveling snow, 3 days later another coworker was found dead at a work meeting when he did not check out of his hotel , and a retired secretary passed as well. I was still working but was feeling hyper vigilant…always on red alert. In feb 2019…a deputy in my county answered a call … a welfare check of a possible suicidal person…he killed the deputy, his dog and himself. It devastated our town..then .in the same week….a woman about my age was at work and her estranged husband entered her workplace and shot her in the head and killed her instantly ….that was the final straw for me….I felt like it happened to me…I could feel it all and the recurring thought was that ….her abuser was the last thing she saw. A civilian in her workplace shot the abuser 3 times but he lived….he was just sentenced to 51 years and is not eligible for parole until he is 100+ years old. I’m still working but agitated, on red alert, noises and yelling are bothering me…the secretary escalated a situation in our lobby of our felony probation office where I work. I get up to check out the situation that no one else seems to notice. I deal with it but I’m crying and the kind of crying where you are SO MAD you cry. My mgr asks me if I am ok….I reply NO I AM NOT I want to know why we work for a state government office and we are allowed to talk like that to people….then she replies….he deserved it. I was so angry that she did not deal with it and understand that an office shooting could easily take place in our office too and we had just had 2 deaths in our county ….why was NO ONE listening…I was so mad and my coworkers were saying calm down which mad me even matter…I said I don’t need to calm down….what I need to do is pack my shit and leave….I did just that. I drove to a local shopping plaza about 15 minutes away and sat in my car. I was coming unglued. What I did not know at the time was that I had complex PTSD from a life time of people pleasing, abuse, being everything to everyone, and all my trauma came back like it was all happening right now. I was eval at a psych hospital but not admitted…I began 3x a week therapy march 2019 and still go weekly. I also have major depressive disorder and anxiety and panic attacks. I was broken. I was taken off work from March 4 to June 17,2019. Rather than my so called friends and coworkers of 10 years rallying around me to say hey she is just NOT ok…they just disappeared. No one called, checked, texted…they were just gone. It was like I never existed and I was crushed. I loved them….but they needed and used me and when I was no longer there for them to suck the life out of … well I was useless to them. I see them at work and they don’t even speak. I cry almost every day at work. It’s torturous and uncomfortable.

    Back story is I’m a people pleaser, I am wide open ….how can I help…empathetic, sympathetic and the go to person in a crisis both at work, home, and my family…siblings mom etc. I was married to an asshole who was abusive and broke my leg when pregnant with his child, he was a narcissistic alcoholic and I finally got away from him which took 4 yrs and 600 miles away with my son age 5 in tow. I started a new life, got married again and he helped me raise my son who is now in college.

    I discovered thru ALOT of therapy that I need to have boundaries. I wonder all the time when I am not people pleasing and rescuing people who am I? I have had days in bed, suicidal thoughts, dark thoughts, medications and EMDR therapy. I am learning to set boundaries but people are really not happy when you do that…they want you to ‘change back ‘ to how you were before, you and I know we will survive but we are forever changed. I returned to work in June and 2-3 people talk to me….not the people from before who I was friends with for 10 years….they seem like I have the plague or that crazy is contagious. Mental illness stigma is so real even now… I put on the ‘ false face’ and go to work. I’m the sole income for my family of 3 since aug 2019 my husband and a 3 level spinal fusion. He can never work again or lift more than 20 lbs ever. I carry the insurance…I hate it. It triggers me and it’s a struggle. I lay in bed 30 minutes every morning talking myself into getting my uniform and gun on and going to work. What do I want? To resell on ebay, to junk shop and resell, to stock up my Etsy store that I began years ago, to paint furniture and sell it…breathing new life into something headed for the landfill…. if money was not the problem that’s what I want to do BUT I have not made or done one crafty thing since all this happened . March 2019 I went on leave. In April I broke my ankle ugh.

    All this to say I understand about the abandonment of those you called friends who failed to show up…my expectation that you would be reciprocal for all I had done for all the people and family that I was there for because I loved them. To suddenly feel unloved, unworthy, devalued…totally worthless and crushed to the core. My brother thinks you don’t need meds and my sister says why don’t u get some more therapy.

    I’m 52 and I have done for everyone all my life since age 12 and I want to do what makes me happy but feel the pressure of taking care of husband and college son. How do I get past that guilt and take a leap of faith and know that God’s Got this? Sorry for the word gush…I read your blog and thought how similar our stories are about friends, abandonment and PTSD and loss of loved ones. I lost my father in 2005 and all the deaths above. I really don’t know how I’m still alive, but I am and in need of a new purpose…something that makes me feel good about me…

    Thank you for reading this long post. My brother, sister and niece all have auto immune diseases. I have read that stress plays havoc on those disorders. Hope you find relief soon. Hugs.

    Tammi

    Ps I found you on Pinterest totally by accident or fate!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your Story Tammi. I hope that you continue to find healing in your counselling. What I can say is that through these intense experiences and the trauma I have had the blessing of discovering what I needed to change and how I could do it. I am doing things that make my soul smile. Just follow your intuition we as women all have that gut feeling and often we ignore it but now I follow that all the time. If something doesn’t feel right I just don’t do it

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