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Archive for the ‘domestic violence-healing’ Category

“Everyone agrees it’s important to live in the moment, but the problem is how,” says Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard and author of Mindfulness. “When people are not in the moment, they’re not there to know that they’re not there.” Overriding the distraction reflex and awakening to the present takes intentionality and practice.

 

Do you struggle to live in the moment?

Are you safe and away from abuse but still struggle to stop and smell the flowers?

You are not alone, for many, myself included, letting your guard down and enjoying simple things can be a struggle after years of domestic violence. Most times I feel like I am doing everything that I can to avoid living in the moment by thinking about my past or thinking about what I am not doing or need to do for my future.

Living in the Moment - I finally realized why I struggled living in the moment after domestic violence

Definition of Living in the moment—also called mindfulness—is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them.

I am very aware that I struggle to stop and smell the flowers as the saying goes, “living in the moment.”  Tonight in a moment of inner reflection I realized why I struggle to live in the moment.  This sudden epiphany happened while doing one of my regular calming rituals which is taking a scalding hot bath to the glow of any resemblance of a candle, could be a fake one, real one, doesn’t matter, just the glow is what I am looking for.

Tonight as I sank in the hot bath I realized why I still struggle with fully living in the moment.

Anyway, tonight I put the candle on the side of my tub, shut off the lights and stepped into my sanctuary of bubbles. I know I really need this me time when I have gone the extra mile and added some bubbles.  Just like the glow of the candle, as far as the bubbles I don’t care where they come from either, could be some shampoo, just something about the bubbles helps put my mind in that relaxing, stress-free place.

When I take a bath like this, I am totally living in the moment.

I am one of those people that never stop thinking (talking too I am sure) but definitely thinking never stops. So here I am, laying in my hot bath and thinking about how much I was really enjoying this specific moment as the hot water started to work on my tense muscles and the candle, dark room and bubbles started to work on relaxing my mind.

So tonight I realized that other than the clarity of a hot bath, I struggled with being fully present and living in the moment.

Then it hit me full force like a punch in the gut why I am this way, as a child I lived in abuse and was surviving moment to moment, and then later in my marriage, which was the most traumatic time of my life as I didn’t know what level of violence was in store for me today, I was again, surviving moment to moment. 

I can still remember the days I drove home from work sick to my stomach, wondering what I was about to come home to. I would often stop at a pay-phone (no cell phone then) and call the Domestic Violence Hotline, sad I had it memorized in those days. I would just vent to the poor lady on the phone that I was terrified I would die today, she would beg me not to go home but I would thank her for letting me vent and I would hang up and head home.

I was living in the moment wondering, when I turned the knob was he going to come at me drunk or when I was washing the dishes later would I be struck from behind with a cast iron pan or turn to see an ax at my back.

I was living in the fucking moment alright!

I was so living in the fear of the moment for so long that now I wonder if because I had to live that way for the sake of my survival do I almost now struggle living in the moment. Does this make sense?

If I were fully living in the moment now, they are great happy moments, I have been safe physically for many years, I have a loving man that was meant for me, a great family, health, food (fell in love with a man that loves to cook and is amazing – put that on your list of must-haves) and a roof over our head and dreams of an amazing future.

Out of everything on that list, feeling safe in my own home and being able to sleep without fear of the monster in the closet means more than anything.

The reason that I wanted to share my inner struggle with living in the moment isn’t to hear, “poor me,” but to help you understand why you too may struggle with living in the moment once you are free from abuse.
Living in the Moment - I finally realized why I struggled living in the moment after domestic violence

I am sure that I can’t be the only one that struggles with this. Even if you are out of the abuse and you are safe and not worried about being terrorized you may struggle to live in the moment, especially the really good ones.

I encourage you to share if you still struggle to live in the moment or what you have done to overcome this. Just having this moment of clarity on why I struggle to live in the moment has helped me to be more fully present.  LIke they say, “you can’t change what you don’t know.”  I know this has been true for me.

How can you learn to live in the moment now? 

  • Focus, your attention, thoughts, and feelings on the task at hand.
  • If you are speaking to somebody, then your attention and energy must be focused on them and what they are saying.
  • Give your full focus on the task you are doing, enjoy even the little things from doing the dishes to sitting in the sun for a few minutes.
  • Learn to love and appreciate that you have learned to live in the moment.
  • Be kind to yourself, you do not have to be perfect, it may take time for you to feel that you are really living in the moment.  If I can do this, so can you!
  • Create morning rituals to set up you for success.

The biggest thing that has helped me is my morning ritual of coffee in bed and really appreciating that time and the taste of that coffee.  I then pray and say what I am grateful for, I really focus on my enjoyment of those moments just for me.  For me, coming up with rituals to pull me into the moment by being focused as I enter a situation to be conscious of the importance of the moment has helped.

Click to read 19 Seconds of Conscious Breathing to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.

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Living in the Moment - I finally realized why I struggled to live in the moment after domestic violenceLiving in the Moment - I finally realized why I struggled to live in the moment after domestic violenceliving in the moment after domestic violence

 

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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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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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Dedicated to slain officer’s Tom Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz, their families, co-workers, community, and pets, especially Ace.

Violence is not the problem; it is a consequence of the problem – Jim Wallis

German_Shepherd_police_dog_tribute

Dedicated to slain officer’s Tom Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz, their families, co-workers, community, and pets, especially Ace.

I wrote this around 6 years ago but never posted it, while looking at some past writing I stumbled on it and felt that this was something I needed to share as nothing has changed over the years. I decided to post this on January 24th, on the anniversary of this event.

That night, some 6 years ago on January 24, 2011, I sat glued like the rest of the state as we saw a house being turned to ashes; even wood beams and concrete were not safe from what happened today. Riddled with bullets, tear gas and death, for the safety of everyone involved, the house was destroyed.

to read the rest of this article click here 

Love & Peace,
Rebecca

 

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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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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

Dream_Focused_Inspirational_Poetry_children_adults

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It is amazing the small decisions that can really change your life, your mood, everything.  No matter where you are, there are decisions you can make.  Sometimes we are surviving in the moment and the decision to survive is all we have. If you are in that place today, know that it can change, I am proof of that.

Yesterday my family went off to volunteer at a Triathlon for the disabled.  I did not go as mommy really needed a just me day as I can’t remember the last time I had one of those, if you are able to make one of those happen, do it, even if you can’t have a full day, take what you can get, sometimes an hour or two can change your outlook and mood.

While my family was off doing good in the world, I was home thinking of how I could do good for Rebecca.

I had been struggling recently as I had been on pretty much bed-rest for 4-5 months with migraine associated vertigo, never heard of it, great, you don’t’ want to.

It is basically a thief that slowly steals your life and sentences you to dark rooms, headaches and sunglasses pretty much 24-7 with the bonus of feeling like you are on a very fast merry go round!

The good news is that I was able to return to somewhat of my normal life a little over a month ago but I have not been able to get back any of the focus I had before then.

Most days I was going through the motions of what needed to be done but wasn’t writing which is my biggest passion, of course I was thinking about writing because that is what I do, I think too much and often struggle to get out of my own head.

 

Well today was a different day mentally and I really don’t think this would have happened if I had been surrounded by others, the silence and solitude helped bring out a change.

I slept late because next to writing and my grandson, sleeping is my favorite thing to do.

Not long after being up today I had that normal urge to write, the one I usually push  down as it doesn’t’ seem as important as other things like cleaning the house, but today was different, I put my laptop on my bed and began doing some writing, nothing here just some other projects that began to get the juices flowing.

I hear of writers that don’t know what to write about but I never seem to run out of ideas, I just run out of the follow through to put the words on paper and sometimes to just hit publish.

After a little bit of writing I put Youtube on my tv from my phone, which I love to do and the video I wrote about yesterday that talked about how counting down from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 can change your life.  The fact that I had gotten the juices flowing and then seeing a video that inspired me prompted the post from yesterday. You have a 5 second window to change your life, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 …

Once I felt I had filled that void I had in me for sometime, I went to the pool where we live, they had just redone this area and put in those large cabanas like at a resort and I was the only one there on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, had there been someone bringing me cold drinks on demand, it would have been Heaven.

Actually it was, I took a nice dip just to cool off then I laid on the biggest bed and spread out.  I listened to Pink and worked on a much needed tan.

Soon after my guy and girl came home, tired as could be.  Unlike me, they worked very hard today, they gave out water and cold towels and assisted those that needed assistance to medical after a long hot Triathlon.

They came home with amazing pictures of people that looked like they had all odds against them but never let it stop them, it was very inspiring.

lady mentor

Back to my reason for writing today, this is now Monday and I was able to get up earlier, get a few things done and sit down here to write this, it may encourage you to take some time to yourself, it may not.

Having that one day to myself yesterday (which did not included chores) has helped to jump start my productivity again, something I have been trying to get back for months.

 

Again, it is the little things that matter and the little decisions that can change your life.  I am all about changing your life by changing your focus and that is so true for me.  You get what you focus on, stop focusing on what you can’t change.

I had often focused on a horrible past as it seemed to have such a strong hold on me as though I had never really gotten free.

Funny as I reread this for errors I wonder if I write all of this just for me, to remind myself of what is important. Writing is an amazing gift to give yourself, it is sometimes like a therapist but much cheaper.

I highly encourage you to write, even if you do not want to share it with the world you can journal privately.

Ladies, it is time to be free, if you are out of the violence and struggling to heal find some rituals that can quickly bring you back to this minute and what you want moving forward.

This was one of the hardest things for me and at times still is today but each day is that fresh start to create the life you want. How that ritual cup of coffee can help you stay Committed & Focused!

I would love to hear what you did or are doing now to get past your past.  What did you do to move forward and heal?  Have you drastically changed your life for the better?  If so, please share your story for others, stories that encourage can change another life.

May you get a few minutes silence and solitude today.

Love & Peace,
Rebecca

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