You feel stuck, like you can't possibly move on. You feel as if you will never reach the surface and breathe again. You feel life is doomed, there is no way out. You feel like you can't possibly have a future because your past has a tight grip on you. What if you could though? What if you did some hard work on yourself to get to a point in which you felt good. In which you felt strong and confident and are able to handle and do things you never imagined? Are you ready to live your life the way you are intended too? Where do you start you ask? Right here, I'm going to share another 3 part series on some work I have been doing in hopes that some of you who feel this way may be able to work on yourselves and get to a better point. Up first we have addressing the past.
During quarantine I have been forced to take a deep look inside myself. Prior to quarantine, I was working with my therapist on addressing my past. Therapy has been put on hold due to the current situation. I'm at a point where I am fully ready to live my future but there are some things still holding me back. Somethings still have a pull on me so I've taken this time to work on those myself. I always recommend working with a therapist (and it may take you a few tries to find the right one) but at this point, I have learned all I need to in order to be able to continue the hard work at home. I have created my own 3 step process to creating the possibility of living my future and wanted to share this process so that maybe others can benefit from this in their own lives.
I recommend only doing this if you know how to stay well grounded. If you have an emergency mental health tool kit prepared in case memories bring up painful emotions and you are sent sideways (been there many times myself). The biggest part of my healing came with knowing how to ground myself. When I attended my PTSD program a few years back, the first 6 months before we delved into trauma was about grounding and how to calm oneself and have compassion. It's important more than ever to practice self care and self compassion. You have to be in the right mindset and space to be able to open up and work on yourself. You have to feel safe, mentally, emotionally, physcially. Find and create a safe space and have your grounding kit nearby.
The three steps are:
1. Addressing the past - Let's face it
2. Creating boundaries - The most important thing you have to do
3. Self improvement - Defining a future in relationships
Initially I created these as a means to define what I wanted in a future partner and relationship but I have found these apply to all areas of life. The important thing to remember is that these pieces flow together, meaning you can start with one and go back and forth between the three. I started with addressing the past but while working on these I was also noting boundaries I needed to create and things that were important in future relationships. There were also days where I as working on self improvement and future relationships and it brought up things I needed to address from the past. Start with one and your mind will guide you where it needs to go.
Addressing the past, one part of therapy no one likes to face. It is the key, it is a critical place in which you need to address in order to live on fully. Let's face it, life can be unfair, unjust, tragic, traumatic, heartbreaking, gut wrenching and miserable. Many of us will go through situations and events that change us. Many of these situations and events have the power to hold and control us unless we are able to face them. I promise it will be messy, emotional, challenging and frustrating, but once you face them, the heaviest burden you carry will be lifted. It takes time to get to this point. For years I was not ready to lift that heavy burden of power but once I started to piece by self back together bit by bit, I knew addressing my past would have to happen. This is mostly where EMDR came in, it allowed me to address the past and make new connections so I could severe the cord of power it held over me.
Now it's time to severe your cords, but how do you do that? You address your past. You face those life changing events with compassion, empathy, kindness and care. The most important thing to remember when doing self work is to allow space for your emotions, feelings, and thoughts to have a safe space to be released. There is no right or wrong way to address the past. Pick a place that has meaning to you, someplace that is almost meditative or makes you feel vulnerable. You can be still or have movement, You can get all dressed up or wear your sweats. You can bring blankets, a snack, something to drink. The tools you have in your grounding kit, the ones that bring you out of an attack, use those or have them close by.
Take a time in the present moment when you feel emotions. These emotions may bother you, make you ponder why you feel them, make that criticizing voice in your head speak up. Take those emotions and sit with them. Explore them. Find out where they come from. Was there a defining moment or perhaps a lot of smaller moments that added up. What is the power source of those emotions and feelings? Where do you feel those emotions? Be empathetic towards yourself, give yourself compassion. Breathe into those feelings. Look at those situations for what they are. Write them down, I can't express how powerful writing things down is. You take what is in you and you release through writing. When you begin to work through these feelings, thought and emotions, you will see things starting to come together. You may even have some aha moments. You may recognize that a certain event provokes certain emotions and you may even learn some of your triggers. Write it all down. Write the event, write the emotions, write where you feel them and any additional thoughts you have to them.
I'll give an example. For a really long time I had this heavy feeling of guilt that I carried with me. It was a yucky feeling that lived in me on a daily basis. I vaguely understood that this guilt stemmed from Ty and Jacob dying. But I could not pinpoint the moment it began. With the help of my therapist, I worked through this feeling. I started to explore the situations in which I felt this emotion strongly, what did it relate to, when did I feel it, were there any moments in time that I could think of. It didn't happen suddenly, but after a few sessions I was able to pinpoint that the emotion of guilt was largely tied to Ty's death. He was breech, my doctor advised and recommended some "exercises" I could do to get him to turn. That turn most likely caused him to die. Hello guilt, wholly shit the guilt was strong there. I had been able to pinpoint that one situation which held so much power over me. In identifying something from my past I was able to label it. I was able to see the web effect from that single experience and how it had impacted me to that day. I worked through that event and all the feelings, thoughts and emotions that were tied to it. It was a messy web of a hot mess. It impacted so much of my being but once I pinpointed it, once I began to address that moment in my pass, the web became untangled. I was able to work through and cut the power chord. It still may catch me off-guard some days but for the most part, when I allowed myself to address that, it freed a very heavy burden on me. It let me define things in my present that I had been struggling with. Guilt led to shame, which led to self confidence issues which led to low self-esteem. One event held much power over me and my life and I carried it with me for so long, I worked on it though, I addressed that horrible feeling from my past. That is not one I would have done alone. Somethings need to be addressed with a therapist.
Once I addressed the past, I was able to take pieces from that situation and use them to piece together my future, I was able to identify certain boundaries I needed to create and things I wanted to look for in the future. I would not be the person I am today without all my hard work and a life saving therapist. I'm at a point now where I've had years of therapy and I can start to address things from my past by myself.
The important thing to remember is self care and self compassion. If it's too much, stop. If you find that you can't do it yourself, reach out. Start small and go from there. Pick an emotion, any emotion and go from there. Let your body and mind take you to where the root of that emotions stems from. Explore, be open minded, sit with it. Addressing the past not only helps you clear some things up but it give you a greater understanding of boundaries you need to set and things you may want in the future.
When you think about where your life is and where you want to go, how do you get there? What is stopping you? There will be situations beyond your control, that's life. Do what you can with what you have. Write it out. Write down anything that may come up. You may think of a situation that made you feel less and you know you don't want to feel that way again so take that situation and set a boundary. Use that boundary to think about what you do want in the future, what does it look like, how does it feel?
I know this blog post may seem vague in guidance but I'm not a therapist. I highly recommend working with a therapist on issues of the past that are traumatic. I would only suggest doing this if you are well grounded and have done a lot of trauma work in the past so you know how your body and mind will react to you taking a trip down memory lane. If you are in a good place mentally, give it a try. It can even be for small things, maybe fears you have. If anything, addressing the past may allow you to see the person you have become with all your awesome quirks and uniqueness. It may explain a lot for you and help you understand why you are the person you are today. If you want more though, go for it. It has been really helpful for me to work my way through past relationships to help me understand who I am, what I want, where I want to go and who I want to be.
As always, feel free to comment or send a message to share your experience. Up next we will be working on setting the ever so important boundaries!
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