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Archive for the ‘aftermath of abuse’ Category

One of my all-time favorite books is called Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. If you never read another book of self-discovery, read this one. A dear friend gave me this book a few years after I was out of the abuse.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall – how staring down that woman in the mirror can help you recover from abuse

It is set up to read a quote and then one page for the day, something to inspire you and make you think. I read that book front to back for over five years.

I would finish the book, then a month or so later pick it back up and start all over again.

Each you I was growing so when I read the same thing again it meant something different. I grew more each time I read this book.

to read the rest of this post please click here
Love & Peace,
Rebecca

 

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Okay, I hate my life, my job sucks, the kids are fighting, I have no money, I can’t breathe, my chest hurts, Oh my God I think I will die, I can’t breathe ….

Does that sound familiar? It sure does to me.

Change the record already – 15 tips to survive an anxiety attack and how to stop them (photo by Kinga Cichewicz)

I could work myself up into quite a tizzy on a moment’s notice and didn’t realize that I had the control to stop the anxiety attack. Granted taking medicine for a short time helped but the trick to stopping the attacks completely was to learn what to do before one came a knocking. To this day I am thankful that I found the ways to grow stronger as a woman, especially in the aftermath of the abuse I lived through for years.

Without this coping skill I never would have become the strong woman I am today, some 20 years later. Today I wanted to share some of the things that I did and still do today to relieve anxiety and just stay in a focused state of mind and body. I am stronger than my past. I am not my past and neither are you.

Be prepared for the storm:
Knowing how to relieve your own stress is a priceless gift. Everyone in the world can offer up ideas but like anything else, you need to find what works for you. The key is to know ahead of time what will snap you back to reality. Know beforehand what you will do when you feel an attack coming.

Talk yourself out of the attack before the attack takes you out!
Today, I allow myself to stress for a bit, just enough to know I need to take some action, then when I realize that what I am thinking about is causing me to be anxious, I count to 5 and then force myself to think of something else, it doesn’t have to be something crazy, just maybe my son’s face, a happy memory, something to tell my anxiety, nope, ain’t going there with you.

Change the record already – 15 tips to survive an anxiety attack and how to stop them. I suffered with anxiety attacks for years and still have my moments, these are real things that worked for me and can work for you too. Stop by and grab your Free Goal & Progress Workbook and Checklists (photo by Kinga Cichewicz)

 

Granted there are times I have to continue to pull myself out of the anxiety loop, but for the most part, this helps me realize that even though I may not have control over the situation, I do have control over my own thoughts and what I chose to focus on.

I have recently read about the 5 second rule by Mel Robbins and think it will help you too, force yourself to count back from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then change your thought, move and do one of the rituals you will put in place ahead of time to change your focus. Click here to review my post on how 5 Seconds can change your life!

I had been doing this on my own for years and to then read the science behind it was pretty cool.

Just Breath:
Sounds like a simple solution but when you are having an attack you forget to breath, I know this was true for me. Once you begin to cut off your breath the attack goes full force and knocks you to your knees.

Take long deep breathes. Even as the anxiety attack is taking hold, if you keep taking the deep breaths you will begin to take life from the attack and give it back to you. Your body isn’t causing the attacks, your MIND is. You are thinking something that causes your body to react.

Be prepared to break:
Do something to change the state your body is in, take a nap, make a coffee, paint your nails, read a book, play with your kids, take a bath if you can, put in a movie for the kids and sit on the back porch. If you are better prepared for the attacks they won’t last as long. The goal is to quickly change what you are focused on as that is what is causing your anxiety, shift your thoughts, stop the attack.

I don’t believe in you:
Silly but try to think of the anxiety attack as a physical being that is trying to steal from you. Don’t let it, stand firm and fight for your life. “You are not real!” Imagine the anxiety is a big balloon and each time you take a breath you are letting some of the air out of the balloon and taking it back. Soon, the balloon will fade away.

I would like to use a Lifeline please:
The best tool I had was one friend that knew about the severity of the attacks. I could call her anytime of day. The poor thing would answer and I would be gasping for breath, telling her I can’t take anymore. She would coach me through the attack and back to sanity.

She would tell me to breath. Then she would ask what was really wrong.

I would tell her and she would always say, okay, is your son safe, are you safe, is anyone in danger, is this issue going to end the world, will you die because of this and so on, helping me to realize that what ever was causing my attack wasn’t the end of the world.

I swear just being asked those questions usually helped me to calm down. Eventually as I learned to ask myself those same questions I didn’t need to call my friend each time. If you don’t have someone to call or reach out to,

Break something to stop your breakdown:
Sometimes, no matter how hard I tried I just needed to break something. While this isn’t something that I have done in years, in the beginning I did it often. I don’t know what it was, but anything would work. It was usually a poor coffee cup thrown in the sink and I hated when it was a coffee cup I really liked. Eventually I learned to throw rocks or eggs at trees in the back yard or one time I took ice cubes and threw them on the ground, it was as if this act helped release some of my anxiety. My son would often laugh at his silly mother and that would be enough to bring me out of it.

Change the damn record already:
Years ago I would play the stress over and over in my head, always focusing on the worst that had happened or the worst that could happen. Eventually, I would work myself up in to a full anxiety attack by playing the same old record in my head. I can still remember painting my son’s room when I really didn’t want to but I had promised. I was in the room where I had been almost killed and I didn’t even realize that I was playing thoughts over in my head. I was getting more anxious and could barely breath. I walked outside, sat on my porch and started to realize what I was doing. It was a growth moment for sure. I realized I didn’t have to paint the room today, I cleaned up the supplies and relaxed the rest of the day. When I returned to paint the room the next day, I felt great.

Have your go to music or action ready:
To help myself destress from everyday life I learned that for me playing a certain few songs would snap me out immediately, for some reason the tape for River-dance gave me energy, Bach as well. Find what works for you. Many times to clear my head a good old hot bath and a few candles would do the trick. The true trick is to force yourself to only think good things while you are in the bath. If you focus on the issues you won’t relax. Even if you just stare at a candle and clear your mind you will feel so much better after your bath.

Knowing how to de-stress before the stress is full blown is the key.

Talk and Share:
I encourage you to talk to someone you trust. It may not be family, it may be someone that you don’t know online or over the phone. Sharing what happened and how you felt will help you to move on. The worst thing you can do it keep it inside, thinking that makes you stronger. Letting it out and moving on makes you stronger. Keeping it in may allow it to return to your life one day. Break that invisible chain.

Read and Write:
I often encourage women to read, it helps you to see that there is a way out of the depression that is often felt when leaving an abusive relationship. I tried to read during the abuse but my abuser belittled me and I finally gave up trying to better myself. I actually secretly wrote a novel during the abuse. It was my only sanity. I had to hide it for her ripped up the first copy. You are writing for you, not for anyone else, just keeping a journal and looking back years later shows your growth.

Know in advance what makes YOU smile:
Find something that is for just you. Anything that makes you feel a bit better. It doesn’t have to be a day at the spa, simply fixing your hair on a day that you don’t want to helps. Painting your nails, buying a new comforter or perfume. It doesn’t have to cost money, find simple things that you like to do. Make your pretty smile a priority. You wore it upside down for way too long. You are what you decide to be, not what someone else led you to believe.

Physically move if you are in the place you suffered:
Ten years after my husband had been removed, I remained living in the same apartment.  While I felt most of my scars were gone,  I still had nightmares but the day to day was better. I will never forget when my then 16 year old son said, no matter where I look in this apartment I have a bad memory. I felt my entire heart break, how had I never thought to move from the apartment where so much pain had been? Within 6 months my son and I moved, now life was not perfect but it took us out of the physical environment where so many things went wrong.

When in doubt, talk to a professional:
I hesitated at first but after placing my son in counseling I was encouraged to go too. I had thought since the abuse was over I was fine. Never mind the constant anxiety attacks and the fact that I was living off of only coffee and stress. It was one of the best things that I ever did for myself. I was able to share things that I would never share with another soul, even my closest family and friends.

You know, things that you can’t even believe you put up with. It was an impartial party that helped me through the grieving process. Yes, grieving. Even though you are most times happy to be away from the abuser you had lived that life for so long you feel alone and empty. Your routine of suffering in isolation is suddenly gone most times. If you are like me I was unable to talk or even have an opinion in my home with my husband so suddenly having someone encourage me to share was difficult at first.

Once I got over being embarrassed that I cried each time I opened my mouth I just let it out. I would then come home and read and write in a journal. When I later looked back at the journals I was amazed to see how much stronger I had become, one day, one boo hoo session at a time. Don’t mask the pain with drugs or ignorance. Let the mask go.

Share what works for you to help others:
What do you do to stay inspired and strong and deal with anxiety? I would like to ask that women who visit please share something here. This is a frequently asked question of readers. What do I do now. Please share what you have done and keep doing to stay strong. Your tips will help other women who seek this wisdom.

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For immediate Free access to my Goal & Progress Workbook and Checklists click here

I am not a trained therapist and only share my experiences and what has worked for me, seek additional help if needed, your health is important.  For more information and resources check out NIH National Institute of Mental Health Publication

 

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Photo-Bigger-Tolerations

Stop Tolerating – Start Living. My favorite time of the year is the week between Christmas and the New Year, during that time I decide what my major 3 goals will be for the following year, one thing I strive to do is have them all written down and set in Stone by New Years day or that week at the latest, by set in stone I mean they have been written in my goal journal and entered into a PowerPoint that I update yearly and as my goals change, posted on the bathroom mirror and written somewhere so that I see them from my bed.

to read the full article click here

Love & Peace,
Rebecca

 

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Do you struggle with depression and anxiety after domestic violence?

I still struggle now and then and wanted to share where I find support. 

I just love Ted.com, I often just go there to find talks that will inspire my day. On this day I was very moved to shared a talk by Nikki Webber Allen about not suffering along in your depression.

Much of what she shares I felt too, feeling that being depressed and having what is labeled GAD, generalized anxiety disorder made me inadequate. How was I supposed to share that and coach women?

Over the last few years I have finally accepted that this is part of me, it routed way back to when I was little and we dodged gunfire in our home, hid around corners and ran in the middle of the night. Then, adulthood came and I learned more about life and feared my own shadow.

Do not suffer in the silence of your anxiety and depression

The point is, don’t be silent anymore, nearly everyone you meet is dealing with some form of anxiety and or/depression, some it goes quickly, for others like me, it becomes part of who I am, I just learn how to be in more control over it.

Do you have an inspiring video to share?

 

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I wrote this poem years ago and still read it daily to stay inspired and focused:

Dream Focused

Focus,
Focus,
Focus,
Look at nothing else
Put on all your blinders
Or what you want you will lose sight
Concentration is important
Even though it may not seem
If you wish to have what you want in life
You must focus on the dream
Live it
Feel it
Be it
or nothing you will have
For those without a dream in life
Wander down the path
Someday you will feel frightened
Lost and all alone
Close your eyes and search your soul
For something to pull you through
A memory
A dream
A promise of tomorrow
The fate is in store for you must first be thought by You!

 

Today I was reviewing advice online to help rebuild self-esteem after abuse and this article was to the point, don’t try to fix everything, be patient with yourself. I wanted to share the link to the article after reading this part as I have often shared the same advice:

Be patient with yourself. Think about how you’d treat a best friend who had just been through your same situation. You likely wouldn’t tell them to “get over it already.” Let yourself take as much time as you need to sort through your emotions, feel what you need to feel and slowly come back to a positive outlook on the future.

The site offers a ton of resources such as forums and groups to support you in the aftermath of abuse, for teens and adults.  My goal is to provide you with resources and this looks like a pretty good one.  To read the rest of the article click here Rebuilding Your Self-Esteem after abuse.

If you have a site that offers support or know of one please share it in the comments, we are here to help each other heal, if not, what was the point of all of this?

Love & Peace,
Rebecca

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Full of Self Esteem

Full of Self Esteem

Hello Beautiful Ladies, Gents Girls and Boys,

This post is for all of you.  The photo above is when my daughter was younger, maybe 5 years old, she was full of confidence and knew she was beautiful, really, she would tell us this all the time and you had to pull her away from any mirror.  Sadly, now that she is about to turn 10, things have changed.

I was watching a talk on www.ted.com, one of my favorites places to learn and educate myself, check it out.  Today I watched a talk given by Meaghan Ramsey, it was about the self esteem and self image of our youth.  It reminded us of when we were little and would kiss our reflection in the mirror.  We loved how we looked, even with red cheeks, drool running down our face  and chubby little legs.  As we age, suddenly we never look good enough and we base how we feel on how others say we look.

This talk hit home for me because just last night my daughter told me with such excitement, “no one has picked on me at school since Monday.”  It was Wednesday.  She has been dealing with low key as I call it normal mean kids at school.  She is almost ten.  She had long hair and really wanted it cut to her shoulders recently.  After months of begging me as I loved her long hair, we let her get it cut.  She was so excited because as a benefit she found out her hair was long enough to donate it to locks of love so that a little girl or boy could have the joy of hair.

She got ready for school the next day, looking a few years older and super confident.  She bounced her new look as she headed off to school.  When I picked her up that day, she was another little girl.  When her sad little face got in the backseat I asked her what was wrong.  She told me that all day long she was picked on and told she looked ugly and that she looked like a boy.  Even her closest friends made fun of her.  My heart just sank for her.

I was always trying my best to teach her it was how she felt about her self that mattered, not the kids in school.  That is easy to say but when your child is devastated as she was, none of that matters.  I consoled her on the way home, empathizing with her feelings and weaving in the reminder that she loved her hair that morning, that she looked older and was always beautiful and that she was deciding how to feel, they were not making her feel that way.  I reminded her that only mean people would make fun of someone because of how they looked and that she was not that type of person and that made her more beautiful than any of them.

By the time we got home she was more confident, as we walked in the house, she was swinging are arms back and forth as we held hands, now swinging her hair back and forth because she loved how it felt, she said to me that those kids didn’t matter, she loved her new hair and they were just mean. This made me happy that she was able to bounce back.

The next few days the mean comments continued, I know in the moment they upset her, but her self esteem was something we worked on at home so she was able to handle it better each time.  She was learning the more she ignored them and continued to swing her hair and smile they seemed to lose interest in picking on her.

I let her know that people will pick on her the rest of her life, not everyone will like her and she will not like everyone.  I let her know that what was most important was how she felt about herself and how she chose to treat others.

This is an ongoing teaching for our children.  We can’t talk about self esteem just one time, it is like doing the math homework we hate or forcing them to read, we must address how others make them feel and how they feel about themselves daily to ensure they grow into confident adults.  It reminds me that she learns from what I say and do too.  I try to look my best and she tells me I am beautiful often, but I am sure she hears comments about my aging face or the fact that I need to drop a few pounds, but we need to be careful of how we model how we look and feel for them.

I did not grow up with the same message as she did, I was the ugly little girl with skinny legs, mad curly hair, I was picked on all the time, as an adult I did not realize the impact that must have had on myself esteem.  This would impact my life as I did not have real confidence in me until late thirties.  When I met my husband, the fact that he thought I was beautiful was enough, then when he beat me down later iwth how ugly, fat and useless I was and that no one would ever want to be with me but him, I was fully brainwashed.  I truly felt that what he said was true.  It took years before I could look at myself in the mirror and not turn away quickly. To read an older post I wrote about being able to see yourself in the mirror after abuse check out this link or search the site (mirror) http://wp.me/p1giU-9y

How do you help your children to be confident to deal with how others may perceive them?  Are you focusing on the entire child?  Imagine if we all looked the same, we could be judged on what we did, how we acted.  It should be this way.  If you teach your children to think this way, they won’t pick on others and they will focus on who they are, not how they look.

Love & Peace,
Rebecca

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Jim and Cindy have a lot in common, they have never met but both are in counseling to help them stop being abusive and learn what is causing them to be so angry and out of control.

Jim has already lost everything and knows that he is ready to change.  He discovers in counseling that he never confronted the physical and sexual abuse he and his brother endured at the hands of their father.  Jim wanted to be a tough, strong man, he now realizes even though he’d buried the memories, they still controlled him and his life.

Cindy has only recently accepted that she is abusive to her husband and children.  After a recent separation from her husband, she knows she doesn’t want to end her third marriage in divorce.  Cindy had always been jealous woman, but the the anger  she was inflicting on her family was new to her and she had a hard time accepting it.  She doesn’t want to live this way anymore.

Jim and Cindy aren’t their real names but I receive countless comments from those being abused and abusers themselves, both wanting it to end.  We all want the cycle of violence to stop, but in the end, you must either be the one that leaves the abuse or the abuser must make the decision they want to change.  Most abusers have already lost everything that mattered to them when they come to the realization that they really want to change for all the right reasons, even if they can’t get their old life back.  This is the key, they are ready for the change, not you.

I had thought for many years that if I loved my husband and endured his anger, which would indeed show my loyalty by staying, someday I would be rewarded and he would stay sober, deal with his demons, stop being abusive and we would live happily ever after.  How many of you are clinging to this pipe dream today?

Well, I am  living happily ever after, but he isn’t.  His anger killed him, at 42 he died of a heart attack.  His years of abusing his body and mind killed him.  I often felt that he had wanted to die for such a long time that this must have come as a relief to him.  He too had wanted to change which I said is key, but the next step has to be actual making the changes and committing to them. This is the one thing that can’t be done by anyone else but you.

Everything has a lesson, the lesson in this for me is that it is hard enough to get myself to follow through on things that are important to me, I have a hard time breaking bad habits.  I learned to realize that I could never change anyone else.  I would want it, wish it and pray for it, but that would never be enough.

My point, you can’t insist, force, plead or pray for someone you love to stop being abusive or to make any other change for that matter, they are the ones that have to want to make that change.

Put yourself first, don’t let the abuser change you!

Love & Peace,
Rebecca

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