I posted this entry in October 2015 but it still resonates with me:
Good Morning Writers and other Mindful Ones!
How is your life going? How is your writing going? How do you motivate yourself this week?
Please bear with me today as I have to explain a few things until I can get to being motivated and mindful.
Making the best of a bad experience
As I wrote last week again my past has gotten the better of me. It’s nothing new and somehow I would love to write about happier things, but life is as it is. So I’ve decided to make the best out of this situation and work through it in writing.
Things I haven’t known before about childhood sexual abuse
There are things related to childhood abuse that I wasn’t fully aware of. My latest therapist had told me that it is now known that all sorts of abuse (emotional, sexual, physical) actually re-wires your brain. Parts of the brain that are connected with storing memories, dealing with emotions and the connection between the left and the right part of the brain are changed or even damaged in the long-term.
There are things that are still difficult for me even though I have had the chance to experience EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy and it has nothing to do with me clinging onto old bad experiences but because my brain has been wired in a certain way when I was abused.
Difficulty in judging the danger in a situation
One reaction that is changed forever for a survivor of sexual abuse is the judging of the danger in a situation. You often react defensive or with fear to a situation that looks dangerous to a survivor but is not dangerous at all.
Like being asked to do something you do not want to do. It is uncomfortable but not dangerous to do so but to a survivor, the brain suggests a major danger and it makes the survivor appear to overreact. The truth is though you have no chance.
Difficulties to deal with stress
It seems to be much harder for survivors of abuse to deal with stresses of all sorts. As the brain is wired to see dangers everywhere you cannot allow yourself to relax which in turn increases the stress.
It doesn’s mean you can’t do anything against it
I still have trouble with both. Even though it is nowhere near as bad as it used to be it still has an impact on my life. But I understand now that it is not me clinging onto old emotions, but my brain reacting in a way that it has learned.
EMDR has already started to make my brain re-learn healthier wiring. However, a wiring that has started about 30 years ago won’t be changed within 2 years. I suspect that is an ongoing process.
Mindfulness is one good therapy
To cope with these difficulties it has proved very helpful for me to pay close attention to how I react in certain situations. To pay close attention to how I feel and in the process to figure out what caused my emotions and reactions. The “paying attention” part is what Mindfulness means. You pay attention to yourself in a certain way and respect and accept the reality that you are in.
It only gets difficult for me when I get slack with the attention and when I think:”Oh things are sorted now I am fine!” Healing from abuse is a process, not a linear cause -> give medication = healed reaction. I come back to similar experiences but will react to them differently and in a more healed way every time I deal with them.
A song often helps
Very often songs help me to learn a new lesson but mostly to keep me motivated. In my actual learning phase it is Jess Glynne’s song: Don’t be so hard on yourself!
Don’t be so hard on yourself, no
Learn to forgive, learn to let go
Everyone trips, everyone falls
So don’t be so hard on yourself, no
Read more: Jess Glynne – Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself Lyrics | MetroLyrics
I believe we often expect much too much of ourselves. If we do we get stressed out that we cannot own up our expectations which in turn makes us lose confidence. And the vicious circle starts.
The song reminds me of not being so hard on myself. That stumbling and falling are part of life and that the important part is getting up and trying it again. And again and again and again if need be.
No matter what you want to achieve in your life ~ healing from trauma, writing your novel or just being happy with yourself ~ allow yourself to be gentle with yourself and get up again because you can do it!