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Category: personal essays

Say it with me, “This is for me.”

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It’s always been hard for me to do something for myself, mentally. I give myself a hard time. I don’t always cut myself slack.

I forget that my past mistakes, and even my present situation doesn’t necessarily determine outcomes. I forget to remember that compasses can be redirected. I forget to remember that I am not what my harsh inner voice tells me. I’ve always been quite bad at talking back to the loud inner critic and telling it to pipe down, and going on about my day. This anxious feedback loop is tiring.

I know that I’m capable of stopping, looking both ways, and then crossing. I know that you and I have the capacity to bear the world upon our shoulders as we take responsibility for the lives we lead.

What I don’t quite get is why a head so full of ideas, and words and everything that makes life worth living, can feel so dull.

At this time, I feel dull and uninspired and I haven’t known just what the thing was that needed an outlet. So I sat, and I felt guilty… for sitting! Man, our brains can really do us in.

I’m working on that. Instead of punishing myself, I will instead remember that:

Busy doesn’t always mean productive. I will try my best to remember that my value is the same as everyone else’s intrinsic value, and that even the most dynamic, adaptive and exploratory people can take a minute to be… bored, without it meaning their life has lost value.

It’s okay to enjoy myself. This one is hardest for me. I don’t know why fun is sometimes awful when fun isn’t something you’re used to having.

It is so hard to move forward when it looks like you’re going backwards, or dancing with stagnation. I suppose life is a cha-cha and not a line dance.

And sometimes, it is really hard to look on my past actions and feel as though I’m an okay person. It’s hard to choose to be good to myself when I’m overcome by the weight of uncertainty, or when I feel as though I’ve done something wrong. (Most of the time I’ve realized later on that I wasn’t guilty of anything but being too hard on myself).

Maybe you feel this way, too?

I guess this is the part where I say that it’s okay to feel these very human emotions, and let you know I’m here for you.

Yes, I am here for you, and we will both be okay.

This time though, I wanted to take this time to say thank you.


Thank you for reading this blog, and sharing in your time and existence with me. If you hadn’t, chances are high that I wouldn’t be here expressing myself if I didn’t feel like I could.

Thank you for giving me the space to share with you – to be human with you.

Thank you for the opportunity to create dialogue where there would otherwise be silence.

Thank you for doing nothing with me, even when that’s the hardest thing for you to do.


I can relate.

Just a friendly reminder for the both of us:

You are not your actions. You are more than tasks, duties, and checklists. Sometimes the best thing to do, and the most⁷ important thing we need to be is here. Right here. Breathing, living, and accepting that life wont always be acceptable, or tolerable, but choosing to show up for it anyway.

You’re not doing as bad as you think you are. If you’re satisfied, enjoy it. We don’t get our seconds back.

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Paying Homage to Caregiving, and Being Taken Care Of – Part 1 of 2

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On one hand, living with a disability or chronic illness creates so many barriers; nearly all of these vary or are contingent on a plethora of routes and lives lived up to this moment/up to the onset of disability.

On the other hand, supporting someone with a wide variety of needs, such as someone in a wheelchair, or a loved one who is meeting the passage of time – that’s no walk in the park either.

It is difficult to be the helper. It is also challenging to be the one who needs help. At some point, we all will be fortunate enough to understand both perspectives and their respective realities.

If we are in this dynamic, we might find ourselves feeling guilty for what we can or cannot offer the other, both may feel inadequate or undeserving of the other at times, and because it feels as though we are on opposite sides of the fence more often than not, this can also mean we are prone to forgetting what a sacred relationship we’ve been given.

In my life, out of all of the other relationships I have witnessed or been part of, there is no greater relationship in which two people are more able to give and receive love than that of the caregiver and the loved one to whom care is given.

I have been fortunate enough to see both sides of the “helper/helpee” coin. I’ve needed help, and I’ve been there to help others as well.

One thing that I see most often from people who have Cerebral Palsy, a Traumatic brain injury, or another illness is their struggle with allowing themselves to receive the assistance they deserve.

For some, it may be a matter of pride, modesty, or sheer self-reliance; for others, and I suspect for all of us who have had to look to others for support, and in harsher circumstances, survival, the issue is a matter of much more than surface-level traits. With this in mind, I’d like to express my perspectives on what it felt like to be in each place drawing from my own, perhaps limited, but no less truthful experiences.

To the beloved well-meaning caregivers:

You’re doing the best you can with the tools you’ve been given. These resources are often limited and scarce, and it is you, the advocate, nurturer, and lover who often bears the brunt of your family member’s/patient’s/client’s frustration. I see you. I personally thank you. You are doing God’s work.

If I may, I’d like to remind you that the resistance to your help isn’t out of stubbornness or a desire to be contrary: Resistance is often just a big word for fear. Fear of being of too much, fear of being seen as more of a taker than a giver, fear of facing the prison we sometimes find when seeing our atrophied legs or degenerating muscles, or our declining mental health.

We know we’re difficult to be around. We know you’re tired. We feel that. We know we’ve been in eleventy-seven different moods by the time night falls. We know, no matter how much your good heart denies it, that sometimes we ARE the reason you’re burnt out.

We want you, our caregiver, to know its okay to be tired, and yes, we know you’ll never admit to this because you dont want to hurt our feelings or cause us to feel as though we’re a chore to be dealt with.

Sometimes that makes us, the loved one you’re taking care of, sad. Not because you’re doing something wrong or because we are ungrateful, but because we want your life to mean more.

We don’t want to be the reason you’re held back. We love the quality of your care and of the neverending reach of your love; so much so, that we would also love to share the gift of you in your entirety with some other well-deserving people too!

We often feel as though you’re chained to us by unfortunate circumstances, and we forget that you’ve chosen to care for us because you love us. Sometimes we need to be reminded that you’re here by choice, not because you got stuck with us. Remind us that we didn’t get any less cooler just because we need you more than before.

I’m willing to bet we both forget why God placed you with us: because you have more than just the capacity to love us best. You’re also really good at it, even when you think you’re falling short.

You know just how we like our coffee, pancakes, and sometimes you have to put us to bed or remind us to eat, take our medicine, or tie our shoelaces. You manage to do these things without making us feel worse about the fact that you’re probably the only one who cares enough to do these things.

Let’s not forget your remarkable and convincing arguments on why we’re not the burden we see ourselves as: It is a core belief system you’re working with when helping someone who is disabled in some way.

Speaking from the perspective of someone who is disabled but also works as a volunteer crisis counselor: There’s so much pain involved in asking for help than one might realize. In a sense, it is similar to a collapse of self.

Asking for help is more than just succumbing to percieved weaknesses or afflictions. Oftentimes, grabbing the hand of someone who reaches out to assist you says a great deal not only about one’s level of trust in the person, but of their trust in the world as well.

If I grabbed onto someone else’s lifeboat before I found yours, and the last person tried to drown me under the guise of saving me, I’m going to think twice about accepting your help, even if you’re trying desperately to drag me to shore. Re-establishing trust/building rapport/showing me your intentions is important.

Asking for help is revealing to you that I am a vulnerable human being. It is giving someone access to a wound we would really not like to be shamed for.

There’s a reason no one likes unsolicited advice and hovering, though the intent is to help. Sometimes it communicates that a person may not have enough faith in the bond that is shared, or in the abilities of the person you’re advising. After all, if you’ve told me I can come to you, will you keep giving me advice, or would it be better to let me explain to you what my needs are, and then you help? How can you help if you don’t know what my needs are? Jumping in to help can tell the person that you doubt their abilities; ultimately, you don’t trust them. They will respond in kind, even if you’re intent was the opposite.

Asking for help is an art, just as much as giving it is. Trust that the person you are caring for will come to you after you’ve built a bond, and they will come to you; otherwise, it can come across as nagging, harassment, a sales-pitch or manipulation.

See? All of that is required before someone can comfortably depend on you, especially if they’re disabled and need to keep boundaries in place more so than another.

TLDR, if we bite back, we’re scared. It’s not that we don’t love you, it’s probably just that we’ve forgotten that you love us.

The Purpose Of Welcome Home Healing (Part Two)

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It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.

Epictetus
Picture of the author
Hey there, is this your first time seeing me? I love you. ↨♥

In Part One of the Purpose, or story that inspired Welcome Home Healing to come to life, we talked about some tough stuff that I experienced. If you would like to read it, please do so here, it does have a trigger warning as it mentions abuse in various forms.

Part two is where I’ll show you how we can take our power back — how we can move from victim to victory – from powerless to empowered.


Step 1:

Believe that you will heal the way you’re meant to.
When we first come out of the F.O.G. (fear, obligation, and guilt) that has caused us to stay silent about our abuse, we are often so overwhelmed and overburdened, that we come to doubt our ability to heal. We’re so beat down and used to abuse that it colors our world and vines ensnare our soul.

We come to truly believe that we are doomed to be in despair for the rest of our days. We see healing techniques and mindfulness as jokes, as bullshit, to be honest. I’ve been there. Some days I still feel that way.

But. Believing in our God-given right to feel better, and in our ability to reintegrate ourselves back into life – to trust again – is the first step to rebirth and growth into ourselves. I have been fortunate enough to find a trusted therapist to show me where the light was, and I encourage you, gently, to do the same.

(I will post resources that may help you, depending on your situation). If you need assistance feel free to contact me, and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.




Step Two:
Rediscover, and reinvent your world on your terms.
When we’ve been mistreated, abused, bullied, whatever term you wish to call it, our power has been taken from us. In severe cases, our inner selves, our inner world, and even our imagination. We lose our ambitions, our goals, our drive.

white and gold mandala wall tapestry
No mud, no lotus.

The painter who paints will cease to paint, the writer will cease to write, the speaker will become mute, the passionate lover of people, of animals, places, and comedy sitcoms, will morph into someone who is indifferent. When this happens, it shows in their surroundings, in their environment.

To give you a real-life example, the first thing my wife and I started doing after she left her toxic environment behind, was redecorated our house, the way we wanted.

picture of cozy work desk with dim lighting
♥ This is where I typed this post for you. ♥

Next, we got hanging light fixtures (I think they were actually meant to go outside) but we made it work by placing them on detachable hooks and draped the lights around our living room.

Then we got a small water feature that continuously has a stream of water flowing. The noise and visualization help us stay grounded.

We then moved on to smaller things, like putting pictures of our loved ones on corkboard near our workspace.



Picture of corkboard with family and friends pinned to it.
Corkboard!


We put flowers in a vase to spruce up the room. (They came separately.)

Lastly, we got these cool tapestries as wall art from amazon.

woodland tapestry with hanging lights

Step 3:
Trust your progress.
Progress, recovery, growth, rebirth, the road back to yourself, and other homecoming processes, or life after abuse, is not linear. It is not a straight line.

You will relapse. You will miss the abuser. You will wish to revert back to what is familiar rather than running out into the wild unknown; because that’s friggin scary right?! Right?

This is normal. This is natural. It is human nature to be drawn back to what is familiar, but familiar is not always what’s best for us and can hinder our recovery.
During these times, it is important to be gentle with yourself- to comfort yourself – and gently bring your awareness back to how far you’ve come.

You are in control now, of your life, and your choices. You can cope. You can trust again in time with boundaries and a healthy amount of self-love.

So, although you may stumble, you can still walk forward. Walk slowly or baby step if you must, but you will come to realize you’ve worked too hard to stop or to turn back.

I believe in you.
I love you.

Christmas with the puppies.

Welcome Home
You’re Safe here.





The Downside To The Upside (And It’s Cause & Effect on Mental Health)

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Why We Need To Talk.
(Yes, About Our Feelings)

Constant positivity leaves no room for the full spectrum of the human experience.

 

The concept has the potential for debilitating an individual and society. Take the idea of The American Dream as an example. Though well-intentioned, true happiness is often lost in the act of striving to attain the dream. People love their families. Therefore, they attempt to work, sweat, and hustle in the search for a better life.

A human needs a purpose,

 

I do not discredit that. I am also not suggesting settling in poverty, nor am I implying that wanting more out of life is some kind of pseudo-sin.

 

A human is taught by society that if he is not happy, he is flawed.

 

 

Think, for instance, if there was ever a time that you told someone you were unhappy. How did they respond?

 

Did they ask you to be grateful for what you had?
Did they tell you others had it worse?

If you were told these things or something along those lines, how did you feel?

Did you feel selfish? 

Did you feel bad for feeling bad? 

 

The good news is that with understanding and acceptance of all emotions, mental health issues in society are likely to decline if we teach each other that our value will not change if we are mad, sad, in despair or indifferent. There are three key points worth mentioning: acceptance, dialogue, and surrender (not necessarily in that order).

The first adverse effect that can occur from repressing negative feelings may not seem like a negative consequence at first, but it can be, especially as the person enters into adolescence and adulthood. When a person feels as though they have no one they can share their emotions with, they become self-reliant to a greater extreme. How can this be a bad thing?
While it may not be a considered a hindrance in the person’s developmental stages, as this is the age they are required to learn how to perform tasks independent of their caregiver, such as tying their own shoelaces or counting to one-hundred,

 

this need for autonomy is not meant to remain static.

 

 

For example, this very same child may be well-behaved and self-sufficient but may struggle with emotional regulation as they grow older.

 

As they enter primary school, children may be faced with more emotional issues than what they can handle on their own, and may not even possess the language or emotional intelligence to let their caregivers know that they are being teased or if there’s a particular child he cannot resolve an issue with.

 

Therefore, the child becomes withdrawn and aloof.

Since no proper dialogue has been opened about the child’s concerns, the cycle becomes reinforced, and self-esteem is lowered.
Secondly, this is why,

 

dialogue surrounding feelings and emotions no matter how intense they may be, absolutely need a space to exist in each person’s life experience.

 

The effects of not communicating are much more detrimental to individuals and their families compared to feeling temporary discomfort that will open doors to solutions while simultaneously giving everyone involved the opportunity to be on the same page with one another.

 

Dysfunction only begets dysfunction unless we are willing to roar even when we are in pain. We must remember that we are not our suffering. Suffering is a part of human life; it is natural.

In contrast, repression asks us to go against our very core selves. This is more unnatural, in my opinion than becoming overwhelmed by our emotions.

 

Feelings such as doubt, anxiety, fear, and all of the emotions we see as negative are often the catalyst for creating a new, enhanced version of the self.

 

After working through the initial discomfort, we are then free to explore our needs that have been unmet and create our own opportunities to meet them. If staying oppressed becomes more comfortable than the gift of freedom (that only we can give ourselves) we essentially accept defeat until we are empowered to make different choices.

This is why I encourage anyone, as soon as they can, to advocate for themselves.

 

This can come in the form of seeking therapy.

We are not a victim to our circumstances for longer than we need to be. There are, of course, obstacles to be overcome.

Things rarely get solved overnight. What we do have, is the ability to decide. Often when we suffer from mental illness, it is hard to think clearly: we can still choose.

We are always free to choose. Even if we ask for help, we are still responsible for our own liberation through our own personal hells.

Yes, it is easier said than done but not impossible.
When our minds work against us, our compass is our soul.

Though many have argued that mind and soul are the same entity, (or that they are not, or that the soul does not exist) we have the power to switch the seat of the soul.

We do have the ability to put ourselves in the driver’s seat and go from unproductive rumination and transition ourselves into the higher position of the soul, thereby moving from victimhood to empowerment.

This is soul work!

We do need help during transitions, lest we move forward in an incomplete state. We will think we have moved on from the trials in our past, that is until we discover that we have not. The phrase ‘rearing it’s ugly head’ seems to encompass this phenomenon. Notice the terminology here: ‘ugly head’ could mean the dilemma came to pass through an unhealed, neglected part of the mind. We can prevent these effects by nurturing the unhealed parts of ourselves, by befriending that which hurts us.

Resistance requires energy. Often when we get caught in cycles of shame, depression, addiction, or any other loop, we are resisting that which needs to be nourished, watered and examined before we can break any cycle.

Surrender breaks all chains, all circles, all hurdles.

 

Rather than fighting off shame, sadness, and pressuring ourselves to feel happier or cheer up, would it not be a better idea to become good friends with negativity?

 

After all, we would not know one without the presence of the other.

Adversity Is A Gift

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In the words of Viktor Frankl, “What is to give light must endure burning.”

Over the years, I have come to learn that the adversity I have experienced is a gift to me. Without it, I would be able to help no one. Without it, I would not know what it means to be thirsty due to adversity. I would not know my own strength. To pass through life without an opponent is the real tragedy.

On February 2, 1993, my teenage mother was being notified that I had had three strokes and would be deaf dumb, and blind. I spent three months in the NICU before she could even take me home. I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy shortly after I was born. Yet, even as an infant, I was blessed with a fighting spirit. Today, I can hear, speak and see. Although I cannot walk, a wheelchair is not enough to defeat me. It is easier to bring giants to their knees when you are sitting down. I consider my beginning quite fitting for the life that I would eventually lead. In a sense, I was born with boxing gloves.

My mother was a beautiful woman who taught me altruism, compassion, and is the reason I have never met a stranger. She passed away when I was 10 years old. I still remember the day my relatives sat me down to tell me the news. My grandmother put my hair up in a ponytail, while my dad seemed to be searching for a way to say the unthinkable. I remember looking at the lamp that was near me as my dad said, “Your mom went to sleep on her birthday, and she never woke up.” I said, “You’re kidding, right?” My grandmother told me that they would never joke about something like that. The last thing I remember was hearing myself wail for about two seconds before I wiped my tears and watched cartoons.

I was given a day to decide if I wanted to go to her funeral, as I was still very young and my family was unsure if I could handle it. At the tender age of 10, I remember thinking that I would instead remember my mother the way she was; I knew she was not the body in that casket. Fearing that I would regret it later in life if I did not go, I went. The funeral is a blur; I remember not wanting to sit near the casket. I remember being afraid to say goodbye. I remember being afraid of her lifeless body. It was odd to feel afraid of your mother.

People have always said that when someone dies, it looks as if they are sleeping. It did not look as if she was sleeping. She looked more like a painting that evoked a surge of emotion, too much emotion. Still, I could not look away. Oddly enough, I think the thing that bothered me the most was that I could not see her feet. The top of the casket was open while the bottom was closed. So, I just kept asking, “Where are her feet?” I suppose, in order to make sense of the reality, I had to correct the picture. I did not cry that day. I have spent many years questioning whether or not I was a good person because I did not shed a tear in my mother’s funeral. Some have thought ill of me for it, while others have said, “You did not cry because she didn’t want you to cry.”
It rained that night. My family told me of how in some traditions, that when it rains at a funeral. The person is there with you. Today, I am still comforted by the sound of rain.
After my mom’s death, I spent a lot of time in foster homes. I also spent a lot of time thinking I deserved to be there. I realize that I can go into more detail. I could tell you all the horrible stories of what happens to children in foster care, but I do not wish to allow anyone or anything to steal any more of my life from me. They no longer have the power to do that.
The bright side of being in foster care was that it taught me to see people as human, always. One girl had cut up and down her arms but helped me to get dressed in the morning for school. She was an artist. I met a little boy who had fetal alcohol syndrome. He had been left on the steps of the building after his adoptive parents found out they were pregnant. He would often ask me, “Carla, do you love me so much?”
I met another little boy who was mute and had not spoken a word in the three years he’d been alive. I would often ride in the backseat of the car with him. To this day, I still remember him blowing me a kiss. This was the first time he’d ever done that.

When I recall these people and these memories, I often wonder where they are today. They are part of the reason I would like to be a therapist that specializes in trauma. With the right tools, I plan to do that. I know that those children are thirsty for love in the same way that I was once. I wish to be water for them, though I would never fully extinguish their fire. I know that it would also help them give light to others.
As of right now, I work as a volunteer Crisis Counselor. It is because of the past pain that I was able to calmly talk with multiple people who are on the brink of ending their life. A few have even thanked me for helping them live through the night. I wish to use my education to give back. With the help of others, we can all live to see another day.

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