Tigerswallowtail

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About Tigerswallowtail

  • Birthday January 14

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Female
  • Location
    Illinois
  • Interests
    Piano, Harp, Crocheting, Hiking

Previous Fields

  • MembershipType
    Survivor

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  1. I am loved

    As a child I learned the age old song "Yes, Jesus loves me!" I grew up knowing that I am loved, but recently realized that I haven't truly believed it in my heart. I was sharing with a an older friend who was my coach in a group I was a part of. As I told her my story and the struggles I've been going through, she gave me some things to think about. She challenged me to show myself the same grace and love and compassion that I would so readily show to someone else if they were to tell me their story of past abuse and pain. And then she reminded me that Jesus loved me. I began crying. Something similar happened during a session with my T. Why did the thought that Jesus loved ME trigger the tears? Perhaps it is because I struggle with loving myself. I never feel like I can measure up. Whenever someone compliments me on something I've done, my first thought is what mistakes I made. When someone says something kind about my character or say how they admire me in some area, I inwardly cringe thinking of all my flaws and the feeling that if they knew the "real" me they wouldn't regard me in the same way. I think the feelings of shame and guilt that I first felt when the abuse was happening have clung to me all these years. I know that it wasn't my fault, that I was just a little girl not physically strong enough to resist and too young to understand what was really happening, but those feelings don't go away. It colors how I view myself even now. How to break free from those feelings? How to really believe that it wasn't my fault and not just know it in my head? Lately I've been trying to focus more on truths than on the lies. Statements of affirmation, such as I am loved, I am a new creation and I am forgiven. To be honest, I don't feel worthy. I don't feel worthy of love. I don't feel worthy of praise or admiration. What makes me worthy? How is my worth determined? Perhaps there are many answers depending on who you ask. For me I know that I have worth enough to cause Someone to take abuse and die a cruel death because He loves me. Now to truly accept that love, deep in my heart. To really believe in my heart that I am precious in His sight. To know that when He looks at me He doesn't see my faults and imperfections, but rather the person of strength and beauty I am becoming through Him. To be able to say with confidence that yes, I am loved. To be able to say with feeling, "Yes, Jesus loves me!"
  2. When the tears fall

    This morning the tears were falling. It started during my quiet time (a time when I pray and read the Bible and some devotionals). I was trying to relax and had started to list all the things that I have fears about, trying to give them over to God. I would start each one with "I am afraid of/I am afraid that..." As I worked my way through my fears I could feel my muscles relaxing. And then I got to "I am afraid that know one will love me" (in a romantic, life's partner, soul mate sort of way) and I began to cry. For most of my adult life I've kept myself busy and just tried not to think about being single. I figured I would get married some day and was determined to make the most of the time I had until then. But I wasn't really being honest with myself. Instead of acknowledging my deep longings I just shoved them down. Now that I have been going to my T, I have been trying to let the emotions come and let myself feel them. I feel that my emotions are at odds with themselves. On one hand I struggle with trust issues with men. I am doing better, but still have a ways to go.On the other hand I have this desire to experience married life to the fullest. I want the companionship of a man that is in love with me and sees me for who I truly am. I want to do life with a partner. I wrestle with the "Why?" questions: Why isn't any guy interested in me? Why am I still single? There are other questions too, but more than any I struggle with "Why doesn't anyone love me?" I know that my family (parents, siblings, nieces & nephews, etc.) love me. I know that my friends care about me. But there is a hole waiting to be filled with the love of a spouse. So I found myself at breakfast sharing what had happened with my parents and the tears began to fall again. As I poured out my hurting heart, my parents moved to either side of me, comforting me and being there for me. They assured me that even though they don't understand why I'm still single, it's not because of my past. What happened to me as a little girl doesn't make me unlovable, or undesirable. I still don't have the answer and I know there will be more times of tears over this issue, but that is ok. I am facing my pain and my fears and some day I will be stronger. So, I let the tears fall.
  3. Finding my voice

    I am typically known as the quiet girl. At least until you get to know me and earn my trust. Get me talking about something that I am passionate about and be prepared to listen for awhile. But really, I tend to be the listener and when people will ask if I have anything to say I usually to turn the conversation back to them. I am especially quiet if there is conflict involved. I'd rather avoid it and will often try to placate and try to diffuse the tension. I am trying to change, to find my voice and freedom to express my thoughts and opinions. In the last week or so, I've started to speak out, unable to remain silent in a situation any longer. It has been a big risk, it still feels scary and I've struggled with doubts wondering if I did the right thing. I had a session today with my T and she assured me that I did everything right and was very pleased with my progress in finding my voice. It is so hard to break old habits. I kept silent about my abuse for 6 years before finally telling my mom. Even after that I still didn't talk about it much. I didn't talk about how I struggled with flashbacks. I never knew when or where the thoughts and mental images would crop up to torment me. I didn't tell people that I struggled with anxiety/panic attacks when out in public around strange men. I just put on a brave front and tried to live life. But that has changed now 35 years later. Now I have ongoing dialogue with my mom, my T and my close friends. I tell them how I am doing, I talk about my struggles. I even have started opening up more to my friend B. He hasn't given up on me these two years that we've known each other, but would each time we talked be sure to ask if there was anything I had to say. To open up to him has been a big deal for me as I have major trust issues with men. He has been a good friend, one I want to keep. I know it won't go any further than just a friendship, but he has helped me in my journey to healing and I'm grateful. So watch out world! I am finding my voice and will keep silent no longer.
  4. When my heart hurts

    I am sitting here, trying to find words to express what I am feeling. This has been a rough week. I took a risk in actually voicing my opinions and concerns about a situation. I care about the people involved but it was so hard and I struggle with doubts about how I handled it. In the past I would have just remained silent, but I couldn't any longer. I desire with all my heart that there can be healing and restoration. I know there can be, but also know that it can get darker before it gets better. What do I do when my heart hurts so, and I am not sure what the next step is? I pray, constantly. I seek out those that I trust and can confide in, sharing my pain and knowing that I have their support and that I'm not alone. Sometimes I'll write in my journal. Right now it's been hard to collect my thoughts, there is so much tumbling around in my mind (stress, anxiety, replays of the conversations...) It's hard to quiet my mind and I find myself trying to just distract it by watching a movie or reading. I still haven't started playing my harp. I need to tune it. I keep thinking that I'll do it, but I let life get busy and in the way and another day goes by without touching it. I know that it would help my emotional state. Just quickly strumming all the strings as I walk by is soothing. How much more when I actually play it? Reading the Psalms is comforting to. The author knew what it was to be distressed, to struggle with anxiety, to feel like nobody cared. At times he was running for his life. His family life had major issues and there was abuse between his children. He knew the heartache of seeing those he loved suffer. I can find the words to express the pain in my heart, and find the words that remind me of my hope. This may feel like a dark night, but I'm trusting that dawn will be coming soon.
  5. My Safe Place

    Sometimes I need a place to retreat to, to calm my mind and emotions and regain a sense of peace and quiet. When bad memories start to plague me, or if I am struggling with anxiety I try to remember to go to my safe place. This was a tool that my first T gave me to work with towards the beginning of my seeing her. Many reading this probably know what I am referring to but for those who don't know what I am talking about here is a brief explanation. It is a mental exercise where you imagine a place where you feel safe. It can be a real place or something you just imagine. You close your eyes and try to visualize it and work your way through the five senses. For my safe place I chose my grandparents' farm. I would spend time there during the summer and it was a quiet place out in the country, a welcome change from living in the city. I close my eyes and start to go through the list of what my senses would experience on the farm. I see a bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds drifting by. I see the many flowers that my grandmother had growing in her flowerbeds. I see the butterflies flitting around. I see a humming bird and hear the rapid beating of it's wings. I hear the chug of the engine of my grandpa's tractor. I hear the song of a red winged blackbird and the wind blowing through the trees. I feel the warmth of the sun on my skin and the breeze on my face. I feel the rough rope of the swing in the tree and the motion of swinging back and forth. I feel the grass beneath my bare feet and the soft fur of the cat that I pet. I feel the roughness of the bark of the tree I am leaning against. I can smell the freshly cut grass and the scent of the honeysuckle. I can smell the baling twine and the fumes from the tractor. I can taste the sweetness of a freshly picked strawberry and the sourness of a gooseberry plucked from the vine. I take a deep breath and open my eyes. I am back in the present but still retain the sense of calm that I had while visiting my safe place. Another way I try to regain some calm is by meditating on a Bible verse or two. Recently I spent a lot of time thinking about Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God;.." The word "still" in this verse means to sink, relax, sink down, giving me the image of when floating in water or nestling down into something comfy and just relaxing. It also means to let go, something that can be hard to do at times. This is not just a letting go, but giving whatever is stressing me over to God. There are so many things right now that I need to just let go and relax about. I am so tense. I wake up in the morning and my jaw is clenched and the muscles throughout my body are so tight. I take a deep breath and try to consciously relax and it works for a minute. Until I let out my breath and then everything tenses up again. Time to be still and spend a few moments in my safe place and let go, turning my problems over to God.
  6. A Cloudy Day

    It is cloudy and chilly out today. Kind of reflects my emotions. I woke up tired and as the morning progressed I struggled with feeling like I need to cry. I feel like I lost a day yesterday. I had a lot of things needing my attention, but just sort of crashed and didn't do anything. So this morning I was thinking of all the things I didn't get done and feeling guilty. It got to where I started to have an anxiety attack. I was literally feeling sick to my stomach with it all. I didn't give in though, and pushed on through. I just focused on the task at hand and then on to the next. Soon I was moving about getting some chores completed that I've needed to do for days. I started to feel better emotionally too. Why is it that the things I know will help me to feel better emotionally and physically are the things that are so easy to not do and are the hardest to get back into the habit of doing? I've started writing my story in the "Your Story" forum. It is emotionally draining, yet at the same time it is freeing to be able to write about it. I don't want to use this blog to write about what happened, but rather write about what I am going through now on my journey to healing. But I am glad to have a place that I can write down the memories. Hopefully the more I can do that, the less hold they will have on me. Back to the things that help me - Get more sleep. I know I need to, but have been staying up late and getting up early. Not a good combo. I need to settle on a regular bedtime and rising time and then stick with it. I feel so much better when I get enough sleep. You would think that it would be a no brainer, but it is just too easy to stay up reading or watching a movie or... Write in my Journal. When I am consistent with this it is amazing how much easier it is for me to get to sleep. My brain isn't trying to remember things since I've written it down and it can afford to shut down for the night. Plus it is a good way to process what has happened that day. There is more, but I think I will focus on these two things for the rest of this week and see if I can't do better. Maybe then I will start to feel like my day is sunny regardless of the weather outside.
  7. Favorite Color

    I have an assignment from my T that I haven't started yet. We had been discussing my difficulty in really opening up and talking with my guy friend (I'll refer to him as "B"). B and I aren't officially boyfriend/girlfriend but have known each other for almost 2 years now and are good friends now. He is able to talk to me about anything and everything, and I know he really wants me to do the same. But whenever he will turn the conversation to me and ask if I have anything I want to talk about, I freeze up and my mind goes blank. I really want to be able to talk to him, but when this happens the harder I try to come up with something, the blanker my mind gets. My first T said that some of my struggle may be because silence is my coping and defense mechanism. I have made some progress, but it is still such a struggle. I had told B about my past (minus details) shortly after we met. I felt he needed to know to help him understand some of my struggles. He also knows that I am going to counseling. He has been a strong support and I know he cares about how I am doing. Anyway, back to my assignment. My T actually gave me at least three. First off, I'd mentioned how B had asked me what my favorite color was, and how I'd told him that I don't have one. I like a lot of colors, but even then there are shades/tones that I like in each color and shades/tones that I DON'T like in each color. My T said that told her that I am a rainbow thinker, or world thinker. Things aren't just black and white to me. I see all the different sides/facets to things and it takes time to process and decided which fits best in the moment/situation. She said that I'm not being indecisive, I just need time to process. Same goes when someone will ask where I want to go eat, I can't decide and will just say "I don't know, where do you want to go?" If anyone ask me what my opinion is on something, my automatic response is "I don't know." I don't like conflict and rather than risk saying what I think or prefer, I just defer to the other person. I have shoved down my own opinions and likes and dislikes for so long in deference to others that I really don't know myself anymore. So, assignment #1: I'm to start making a list of things that I do and do not like. When I told a close friend about this, her immediate reply was "how do you like your eggs?" Well, it depends on my mood, but I like hard boiled eggs (not soft), fried eggs I like sunny-side up (runny yolks but no runny whites), and I enjoy scrambled eggs. Assignment #2: I'm to stop using the phrase "I don't know" when asked what my opinion or preference is. Instead I'm to say something like "Let me think about that...". Then if I still can't think of anything I can just say that I don't have a preference, etc. My mom was thrilled with this assignment. She gets so frustrated with me when she ask for my opinion and all I'll say is "I don't know." B liked this one too. Assignment #3: When someone asks how I am doing, I'm to be more honest and not just reply with "ok" when I'm not. So, what is my favorite color? I still don't have one. I like the blue of a bright sunny sky, the red of a ripe strawberry and the orange of the leaves on the sugar maple outside my window. I like the green of a forest, the black of the Labrador Retriever's fur, and the warm brown of a horse's coat. I like the sparkling white of freshly fallen snow, the pinks and purples of a glowing sunset and the flickering yellows and oranges of a campfire. What is my favorite color? You tell me.
  8. Just re-read this and saw a typo - I meant "coffee shop", not " copy shop". Proves I'm ready for bed...
  9. Not again (computers!)

    Well, I just spent a lot of time writing and when I went to post it, I lost everything - again! Don't know if I can remember everything and it's getting late and I'm tired and will probably head home soon. I may try to retype it all tomorrow on my laptop and copy and paste so at least I'd have a copy it something goes wrong so I won't lose it again. It's been a long day. Started off by getting my plans all changed when a friend called and asked if I could hang out with her young teenaged daughter as she needed to be gone for several hours. Right after that I picked up my sister's kids to take them out for supper and take them shopping to get their daddy birthday gifts (his birthday was today and he wanted some kid-free time with his wife). I had an enjoyable time with the kids. Since I don't have any of my own I have to take what time I can get with my nieces and nephews (I have 12) to help fill the need to nurture/love a child. I can truly be myself with these kids and know that they will still love me, no matter how crazy I can get at times. I had them laughing and giggling so hard at supper tonight it makes me smile just remembering it. :-) After dropping off the kids back to their parents I headed to my favorite copy shop so I could write in this blog. I had a really good entry, the title was Favorite Color. Oh well, like I said, I think I'll try to retype it tomorrow. I'm just too tired to do it now.
  10. Thank you @Sandpiper & @Oneinamillion for the welcome! Also glad to know you like my username & why I chose it, Sandpiper. I always struggle when I have to come up with a username for something, so was glad when I was able to come up with this one.
  11. A not so good day

    Well, I will try this again. I had a post all typed up but when I tried to post it, something went wrong with the internet connection and I lost everything. I guess it fits with how this day has been going. Yesterday was so good - I was energetic and got a lot accomplished. I even applied for a part time job at a really neat coffee shop that I frequent. I woke up this morning thinking today would be the same and was excited. It was not to be. I had a bad intestinal attack from something I ate last night. I have some dietary issues and wasn't careful and I paid for it dearly. It wiped me out most of the day. This isn't the only thing I struggle with. I frequently get migraines and my chiropractor thinks I have fibromyalgia. I haven't seen a doctor for either of those as I just can't afford it. My T thinks that as we make progress in my emotional healing that some of those issues may clear up. I hope so, but I also know that they run in my family. I'm hoping that my health issues won't be a problem if I get the job. I've been self-employed and could be flexible and take a day off if I was having a rough day physically. Won't have as much freedom working a regular job. I hope tomorrow is a better day.
  12. Thank you @reglois !
  13. The Door

    The Door I'm standing before a door. I am so tired. My heart is breaking, the grief chokes me. I feel as if I am drowning. The door stands between me and the healing I so long for. I know I must go thru it and face what is on the other side if I ever want to be whole again. I have kept this door shut, hidden away, locked up. I reach out and one by one begin to remove the locks. My hand grasps the knob and then, I stop. I know that on the other side is a little girl. Once the door is open, I will have to face her. I don't know if I can bear to look into her eyes. Eyes that are haunted by fear, shame, pain and confusion. No one knows what is happening to her and fear keeps her silent. But wait, she isn't truly alone and there is One who sees her suffering in silence. He feels her pain and her shame. And He is here with me now, holding me close as I begin to turn the knob. Together we push the door open and the little girl looks up. Our hands reach out and grasps hers. Hand in hand the three of us step onto the path, the beginning of a long journey. The way ahead looks dark and foreboding. At times the tears will flow, but they will be tears of healing and release. The little girl and I exchange a look and I nod. We are ready to see where this journey will take us. We can face our fears, knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of the One Who is walking this path with us. When we stumble and fall, He will pick us up. When we grow weary, He will strengthen us. We move forward, knowing there is nothing too big for Him to handle. With His help we will make it to the end, where there will be no more pain and no more tears.
  14. Beginnings

    Any journey must start somewhere and here is the beginning of my journey of writing a blog. I've never done this before, so bear with me. I plan to use this as a journal in which I can freely express the feelings and struggles, and victories that I face day to day. My T told me the other day that I'm in the chrysalis stage and soon will emerge a new girl. There have been so many changes in my life lately, so many more that are needed. Some days the pain is so heavy and the tears won't stop. Other days are sunny and my life is full of blessings. Sometimes it takes all the strength I can gather just to get up out of bed and keep going. And yet, I do keep going and look for challenges to conquer, new things to learn. So, just a little bit about me as an introduction. I am a CSA survivor who just started going to counseling a little over a year ago. I struggled with why now? I've made it through life for 35 years since it happened. Why am I struggling so much now? Regardless of the answer, I am choosing to get help NOW. Someone shared a quote by C.S. Lewis that has been a good reminder to me: "You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending." I'm facing a lot of changes presently: looking for a new job, trying to get financially independent so that I can live on my own, learning to set boundaries, learning to do self-care, etc. The path I am walking has so many twists and turns that I can't see ahead and have to trust that it will lead me to a good place. I play the piano, harp and mountain dulcimer. Music is such a help, but so often I've been too busy to play. I want to change that and make music a priority once again. I also have a mandolin that I am hoping to learn how to play soon. I am a Christian and my faith has helped me through some of my darkest days. But I will be honest and admit that lately I've been asking God, "Why?" in regards to my past. I don't have all the answers and I may never understand the "why". There will be times when I may refer to God or the Bible, because both are such a major part of who I am. I want this blog to give a complete picture of my life, the good and the bad. So now I will continue on this journey looking forward to the dawn of a new day.
  15. I should have included in my first post why I chose the name Tigerswallowtail. My T recently told me that it's like I'm in a chrysalis that I am about ready to emerge a new girl with all the changes that I've been making. I love butterflies and the Tiger Swallowtail is one of my favorites. The thought that I'm in the process of turning all the ugly in my life into something beautiful gives me hope. I will have to say that the metamorphosis is rather painful at times, but I'm determined to not give up and to hang in there.