Reblog: Trauma Is Not Your Fault, But Healing Is Your Responsibility

I have two good friends who are going through different forms of trauma currently. Speaking with them over the past few weeks has brought a lot of tears, some laughs, and many memories of times I have wrestled with inner traumas myself. As has become common, I came across a blog post written by Brianna Wiest on Thought Catalog and her words touched several topics in conversations I’ve had with these two friends over the past month. (Sometimes I wonder if the Ever Listening Web has implanted my mind in order to bring these treasures to my world…)

The entire post rang true on so many different concepts, but I especially appreciated Brianna’s quote, “We are not meant to get through life unscathed. We are not meant to get to the finish line unscarred, clean and bored.” Though we go through Life hoping for things to be easy, can you imagine if every wish you ever wished or every dream you ever dreamed came to fruition? No challenges means no changes. No failings means no winnings. No tears means no lessons. There are difficulties in my past that I still regret, but they have also led me to become a stronger, wiser, and more conscientious woman — and isn’t that the goal for growing older? To me it is.

What happened to you was not your fault.

It was not something you asked for, it was not something you deserved.

What happened to you was not fair.

You were merely collateral damage on someone else’s warpath, an innocent bystander who got wrecked out of proximity.

We are all traumatized by life, some of us from egregious wrongdoings, others by unprocessed pain and sidelined emotions. No matter the source, we are all handed a play of cards, and sometimes, they are not a winning hand.

Yet what we cannot forget is that even when we are not at fault, healing in the aftermath will always fall on us — and instead of being burdened by this, we can actually learn to see it as a rare gift.

Healing is our responsibility because if it isn’t, an unfair circumstance becomes an unlived life.

Healing is our responsibility because unprocessed pain gets transferred to everyone around us, and we are not going to allow what someone else did to us to become what we do to those we love.

Healing is our responsibility because we have this one life, this single shot to do something important.

Healing is our responsibility because if we want our lives to be different, sitting and waiting for someone else to make them so will not actually change them. It will only make us dependent and bitter.

Healing is our responsibility because we have the power to heal ourselves, even if we have previously been led to believe we don’t.

Healing is our responsibility because we are uncomfortable, and discomfort almost always signals a place in life in which we are slated to rise up and transform.

Healing is our responsibility because every great person you deeply admire began with every odd against them, and learned their inner power was no match for the worst of what life could offer.

Healing is our responsibility because “healing” is actually not returning to how and who we were before, it is becoming someone we have never been — someone stronger, someone wiser, someone kinder.

When we heal, we step into the people we have always wanted to be. We are not only able to metabolize the pain, we are able to affect real change in our lives, in our families, and in our communities. We are able to pursue our dreams more freely. We are able to handle whatever life throws at us, because we are self-efficient and assured. We are more willing to dare, risk, and dream of broader horizons, ones we never thought we’d reach.

The thing is that when someone else does something wrong and it affects us, we often sit around waiting for them to take the pain away, as though they could come along and undo what has been done.

We fail to realize that in that hurt are the most important lessons of our lives, the fertile breeding ground upon which we can start to build everything we really want.

We are not meant to get through life unscathed.

We are not meant to get to the finish line unscarred, clean and bored.

Life hurts us all in different ways, but it is how we respond — and who we become — that determines whether a trauma becomes a tragedy, or the beginning of the story of how the victim became the hero.

Written by Brianna Wiest and updated November 3, 2019. Find the original post here.

I have two big regrets in my life. The first is not attending my alma mater straight from the beginning of my collegiate career, and thus losing a full-ride scholarship. The second is writing a blog post about one of my past relationships in a rage of emotions. Though I do not regret what I wrote, I regret allowing hate and hurt control my actions and ultimately casting a shadow on my character. I do not regret writing the post, but I regret publishing it.

With this in mind, I also believe healing must occur when we are at fault. Healing must happen to forgive one’s own actions, learn from one’s faults, and move forward with more care and kindness. Sometimes we lose control of our emotions, but it is our responsibility to clean up after the wreckage and assist with healing those who may have gotten in our way.

Both the victim and the warlord need healing to better the world.

All the best, my friends,

Reblog: A Short List Of Things Worth Doing For Self-Care

On Friday I talked about what I believe self-care truly means and how ugly real self-care can be. This might mean taking a good, long look at yourself and finding solutions — whether easy or difficult — to fix the issues prohibiting you to be your best you. Figuring out those solutions can be a chore in itself, but making habits to better yourself is hard too. Want some ideas on small steps you might be able to take? Angelo Caerlang over at Thought Catalog came up with an awesome list of thing worth doing for your self-care. Take a look!

1. Getting enough hours of sleep.

Your brain is sharper when you are not sleep deprived. I totally get how hard it is to achieve 7-8 hours of complete rest every night, but once you make a habit of sleeping early, you will notice a positive shift in your behavior. You will wake up the next day less irritated and more of like a functioning human being. So set a consistent bedtime every day and train your body to stick with it no matter what.

2. Writing down your thoughts and feelings.

Journaling has changed my life for the better and I 10/10 recommend it for everyone. There is something very therapeutic about writing everything that is living inside of you. The clean, empty spaces in your notes seem like an invitation for you to understand the way you think, the way you feel, and the way you handle different circumstances in this world. Journaling is a way for you to look back one day and see how much you have evolved as a person. It will be a proof that you survived your toughest days. The words that you wrote will be an inspiration for you to keep going.

3. Working out every day.

I used to hate people who talk so much about health and fitness. But recently, I’ve realized that if there is one obvious thing that makes me different from them, it is that they look happier than I am. Apparently, when you do exercise, your body releases this thing called endorphins which happens to be the chemicals that help you be happy or whatever. So I tried working out for a few days just to check if it’s true, and girl, have I been feeling lighter and more stable lately? You bet.

4. Going out for a walk.

A good way to declutter your mind is to go out there and sync yourself with nature. By taking long walks, you get to hear your thoughts really well. You can make unbiased decisions about the little issues that bother you. The ground beneath your feet will remind you that the best things really come for free. You don’t have to necessarily fly on the opposite side of the world just to figure out how satisfied you are with your life.

5. Weeding out negative people.

If people have been scheming and talking poorly about you when you’re not around, it’s probably best that you detach yourself away from them. Nobody deserves to feel like they’re wasting their time hanging out with the wrong ones. You shouldn’t hold yourself back from going after what you want because you’re waiting for someone to catch up with you. Time plays an important role in your growth. It’s okay to separate ways with those that are only causing you to slow down.

6. Buying books and actually reading them.

Reading helps you become more sympathetic. It’s a chance for you to know and experience what it’s like to be in somebody else’s shoes. It provides you with valuable information that you can use in the future or even in your day-to-day life. It’s nice to sit down, drink a cup of tea or coffee, and do nothing but read. Life doesn’t always have to be wild and crazy. Sometimes you also have to learn how to calm your mind and be still.

7. Allowing yourself to eat the food that you want.

There are better ways to lose those extra pounds other than starving yourself. You aren’t going to live for eternity and I’m pretty sure that you don’t want to look back someday regretting the times that you deprived yourself of good foods. Go ahead and stuff your face with that meal that you want. Give yourself a break and have a cheat day. There is a time afterward to burn those calories. But right at this moment, allow yourself to satisfy your cravings.

8. Accepting that some things just don’t work.

You can like somebody so bad but if they don’t feel the exact same way, what’s the point of chasing them? The right person will smoothly sweep into your life. Stop banging your knuckles on the doors that won’t open. Some things just don’t work. And the sooner you accept that truth, the more chances you have in finding someone who can actually fall in love with you.

9. Defining what’s important to you.

You will not be blindsided by anything or anyone once you have a concrete idea of what truly matters to you in this world. Your priorities are your guide when the road in front of you is fuzzy. Life may bring you to different places but if you know who you are, you will never be lost. Nobody will be able to take away your voice or even silence you. And no fear can shake up your foundation.

10. Having quiet time.

Maybe the reason why you can’t think straight is that you’re afraid to tune out the noise around you and just be alone with your thoughts. It’s true that confronting your problems is hard. But if you keep running away from the devils that haunt you at night, you will never feel one hundred percent at ease in your life. Embrace the quiet times that you get once in a while and use it as an opportunity to solve some issues from your past. Learn how to be okay on your own. Because in the end, the only one who can truly help you and save you is you.

Written by Angelo Caerlang for Thought Catalog on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Find the original post here.

So what do you guys think? What is self-care to you? I would love to hear how you strive to become a better version of yourself.

With you and for you,

The Ugliness of Self-Care

Today I want to talk about self-care. True self-care. Not the romanticized and trendy version the world is constantly pushing down our throats. Not the bath bombs and face masks and #treatyourself high-dollar purchases and ritual meditations the world seems so eager to focus on for peak lifestyles.

No, I’m talking about real self-care. The self-care that is often a very unbeautiful thing.

Self-care is usually the ugliest thing you have to do each day. It’s when you sweat through your clothes during an intense workout to diminish your stress levels. It’s finding a second job to have the funds for an actual savings account. It’s choosing to turn around and walk away from a toxic friendship even through the heartache. It’s sitting down to make a budget spreadsheet with a stack of long-forgotten receipts. It’s figuring out a way to love yourself despite your faults and failings and self-inflicting hurtful thoughts.

Self-care is building yourself and your life into something you do not need to escape.

Self-care is not a deliberate break from Life to do trendy yet basic things like taking a bath or reading a book or binging Netflix. Resorting to any activity due to absolute exhaustion, unwavering anxiety, or self-loathing is not self-care. Read that last sentence twice more, friends. Does this sound like you? I completely understand.

Once upon a time I believed the world’s vision of self-care as well. A few days ago I came across an old journal where I had challenged myself to allow at least 30 minutes of “self-care” each week. This meant I was allowing a half hour on a weekly basis to attempt to find some solace from my constant internal pressures. Looking back, I can see now how depressed I was when creating that journal page.

It was at this time in my life when I exhausted myself on a daily basis. I attempted to keep up with fake friends and worked towards society’s ideal body-type and over-scheduled my free time with community involvement in order to have a better outward appearance. I would do anything to stop myself from realizing how relentless my own thoughts were that told me I wasn’t good enough, or worthy enough, or beautiful enough. Thus the self-care I deemed appropriate were those made trendy by social media and celebrities — usually being some sort of beautifying regimen.

Basically, these were acts we women are expected to be good at. I ended up spending more time trying to get the best camera angle of my yoga mat or choosing the perfect filter of my candle-lit salt bath than I did actually performing the “self-care.”

It goes to figure that so many “self-care” products cost a small fortune. The world in which self-care is a trend is a cruel, ironic one. Since when did getting out of bed call for your friends applauding you on Facebook? When did turning your phone off deserve a trophy? When did staying active or washing your face or burning a candle require bragging rights? Only in an extremely unhappy and numb world…

Self-care is often ugly.

Self-care usually takes doing the things you least want to do. It is letting yourself be unexceptional. It is choosing to be normal. Self-care is not caring about what the world thinks of you but rather what YOU think of you. It is looking at your failures and disappointments, and readjusting your Life to point in any direction other than your self-perceived expectations. It is being yourself and loving who you are.

If you find yourself continuously seeking to indulge in the world’s “self-care” then you are disconnected from real self-care. You’ve numbed yourself by avoiding the sharp edges of Life. When you never allow yourself to feel the chaos of a messy house, the disappoint in a failed project, the pain of a rejected relationship, grief, sorrow, or any other real feelings, then you’ve been robbed of becoming the best version of yourself possible.

Life has ugly, rude, and aggressive edges. This is a fact. And hiding from that truth is not self-care.

Rather facing that darkness is caring about yourself. By allowing chaos and disappointment and pain into your life, you’re actively learning how to overcome that darkness. You’re rolling with the punches to ultimately have the light to shine through in forms of authenticity, happiness, and love.

In other words, you must rage through the battle to win the war.

So, post that trendy picture on Instagram of your bubble bath. And if you need encouragement from your online friends for continuing to get up in the morning, that’s okay. But start to realize how these tactics are not self-care. Instead, coming to terms with who you are, why you are the way you are, and what it’ll take for you to love that quirky person in the mirror is what self-care is all about.

Ugly edges and all.

Be good to yourselves, my friends,

5 Reasons Life is Better Without Your Ex

The county fair was last week and, as is the usual tendency at the fair, my friends and I ate unhealthily while we walked aimlessly around and ran into old classmates and colleagues. One of the groups we happened to run into contained a kid from my high school who was also once one of my campers. (He’s now a sophomore in college! Oh, how quickly he grew up!) As we did our quick five-minute catch-up, he asked me how Army was doing. I was a bit surprised he hadn’t heard of our break up being that it was over three months ago, but I gave my well-rehearsed, polite response, “Actually we aren’t together anymore, so I’m not entirely sure.” To which he gave me the mixed look of sadness and sympathy accustomed to those transitioning through a break up. Then he proceeded to pat me on the back and tell me that I will find someone new and I will get over the heartbreak.

His words, meant to make me feel better about being single, really got me thinking. I have done a lot of reflecting over the past week on my own life and the state I am in at this exact moment. It was not until that exact moment that something struck me: I am over it. I’m over the heartbreak and the sadness and the pain. I’m over him.

A day after the fair, I went on a first date. My date with The Golfer (perhaps I’ll expand on this subject in the future…) just solidified this revelation. Here I was enjoying a great evening with a new person and I could honesty say to myself, “I want to see where this goes.” That means I was considering the future, and not looking back to the past. I’ve moved on and I was/am ready to move forward.

I remember seeing myself in the mirror back in May and being unhappy with what I saw: the girl looking back was sad, angry, and confused. Now, though, looking back it seems surreal that I was so hurt by a person I hardly think about these days. I cannot believe how much stronger and independent I have become since the time with Army. I thought we had a great relationship but I realize now that just because I wanted it to be great didn’t actually mean that was the case. We were good for awhile, but we weren’t meant for the long haul. And I’m happy with this knowledge.

Seeing my life now, I am content. However, I know how difficult it can be to see the bright side of things following a break up. So this post is a big reflection for myself, but is targeted at those who are going through the rough patches right now. Take solace! Life goes on and there are still plenty of reasons to be happy without the person you split from. So for all of you out there who might need the relief, I have constructed this little list of reasons why life is better without having your ex in it:

1.  You become stronger.
I learned this mostly with X’s and my end. Without someone to lean on, you find that you have to pull yourself together and start functioning on your own. This may seem cliche, but it’s true! When I broke up with X, I was broken. It took me months to become strong enough to even consider life without him. However, I finally gained the strength to open my heart again, and that is when I met Army. And though that relationship didn’t work out either, I did not break again, I just cracked a bit. The healing time was quicker, the mindset was clearer, and my future is brighter as I now know I can handle the worst and still find happiness in myself.

2.  You focus on your own self-improvement. 
One thing I’ve noticed not only in my own relationships but also while watching my friends’ is that when you are “with” someone for an extended amount of time, you place your own self-improvement on the back burner. You’re no longer going out and trying new things. No new hobbies, no new skills. Now that you’re single, you have the chance to learn new things and try new experiences. So get out and do them!

3.  You have freedom.
Once you’re no longer in a relationship, you are free. You no longer have someone to answer to or check in on where you’ve been or what you’ve been doing. You can hang out with anyone you like (either gender), watch the movies you enjoy most, and eat the food you enjoy without being concerned about anyone else’s feeling but your own.

4.  You can meet new people.
Sometimes when you’re in a serious relationship, social skills suffer. If you meet someone new, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to actually get to know him or her. I mean, you don’t want this new person to get the wrong impression or for our SO to think something is going on when it isn’t. So it is easier to just say hello, swap niceties, and then forget this new person altogether. Thankfully now you can smile and meet and learn about new people as much as you want without worrying about anyone’s feeling or the time they may take out of your relationship!

5.  You learn to be alone.
I believe this is one of the most crucial lessons a person can learn in his or her life. It was not until I was single that I went to a movie by myself — and the result was so inspiring that I went again the very next day! I no longer had to wait for movies to come to DVD because my SO had no interest in the same things I did. And, more importantly, I no longer cared what others in the theater thought if I sat by myself. I had control over my own life and I reveled in that knowledge. Learning to be alone is the most empowering lesson you can learn, and it makes life a lot less scary.

Now, I want to make something clear: this list is what I have learned during my time being single after relationships that were not meant to work out. I am a BIG believer that all five of these reasons why my life is better without my exes will and should be present in the relationship that will last in my future. In a happy and lasting relationship…

  • … you are never weak. Your partner does not cause you to crack or chip. Troubles will occur but you work together to hold one another up and strengthen each other. You are able to strive to function on your own because you already can, but you have a great support system behind you to help.
  • … you continue to learn every day. No matter how long you and your partner have been together, you’re never bored. You either learn a new hobby together or alone. You’re comfortable enough to have similar interests and to have individual wants and desires… and you’re both okay with simply being happy with the other’s hobbies even if you personally do not have the skill set or passion.
  • … you never feel trapped. This covers both #3 and #4. If you cannot do things on your own every now and again, then the relationship is unhealthy. Trust is a huge part of this; you trust your partner and they trust you. There are never any questions into your faithfulness to one another if a new person enters our life. There is also compromising, which is a huge component to any functional relationship. You give and you take on everything, and you’re willing to do so because you know it’ll make your partner happy.
  • … you never actually are alone. Even if you’re physically alone and doing something by yourself, you have the knowledge that you’re returning home to someone who cares for and loves you. This, in the same way as learning to actually be alone, makes life an easier and less scary place.

Writing this post has been exciting for me. I now look in the mirror and see a girl with potential. She has lost a bit, but that loss has not dimmed her demeanor — it has only forced it to glow brighter. I am proud of where my head is, where my life is heading, and how strong I continue to become. And though the future is still clear obscurity, I’m more than willing to take the plunge knowing full-well I am not only a better person but that I am now unbreakable.