Jump to content

Tigerswallowtail

Member
  • Content count

    50
  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Tigerswallowtail

  • Birthday January 14

Profile Information

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

Previous Fields

  • MembershipType
    Survivor

Recent Profile Visitors

496 profile views
  1. I crawl into my shell

    I've started college for the first time. There are many things that I am enjoying and am excited about. I am starting to get to know some of my classmates and am hoping to form some new friendships. I love the class I am in, English Composition 110. This is the only class I am taking this semester. I was advised to do this to help ease into college life. I think it was a good choice. But then I tried eating in the cafeteria a couple of times. I felt like I did when I was a kid and moving around and having to change schools in the middle of the school year. That being the new girl with no friends, trying to find where she fit in. It's a large room full of people, none of whom I know. I look around trying to find a place to sit. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of empty seats, even whole tables where no one is sitting. That isn't the problem. It's that I don't have a friend to sit with, to talk over how the day is going, what classes we like, what teachers we like. I pick a seat and start to eat. And I find myself retreating into my shell. I literally start to hunch over a bit, keeping my eyes on my food, rarely looking up. It's like I erect a shield around me to hide. I don't like this feeling. I want to feel confident. I want to be a part of a group, not off by myself feeling like an intruder or worst, an outcast. I read a verse from Proverbs the other day about one that has friends must first be friendly. That means I need to sometimes be the initiator in making new friends. I feel I am doing ok with that everywhere else on the campus. There's just something about the cafeteria room that is intimidating to me. I have to believe that this is just a phase that will soon pass. That soon I will know enough people that I can sit with someone and have an enjoyable meal together. But for now if you are looking for me during lunch, I'll probably be hiding in my shell. It's safe in there.
  2. When the bottle explodes

    I had a session with my T a few days ago. I had been looking forward to it as I had a lot of good and exciting things to talk about. I was going to be starting my first class at the local college and felt like I was making forward progress in my life after feeling stuck for so long. Let's just say that I cried, no, bawled, through most of the session. Not what I was expecting at all. I guess I had a lot of bottled up emotion and it just exploded. Not pretty at all. One of those times where I left feeling exhausted and emotionally drained. So, what happened?? I had just completed a 4-day/3-night babysitting stint. My brother's kids were at our house (I live at home with my parents) during that time. We had 5-8 kids, depending on the day as the 3 oldest were helping their parents with an event during part of that time. Things went fairly well, but let's be honest - having that many kids can be stressful. The weather wasn't helping things either with snow and ice and extreme cold. The day of my therapy session it was snowy and very windy with some drifting. When I arrived, my T asked how the roads were. I replied that I really didn't noticed as I was fighting a war in the car. I had swapped vehicles with my parents as my van is leaking anti-freeze and my dad was concerned. It's a long drive to my T and I thought it might be better if I drove their car. I forgot that I hate to drive it and why. The seat is torture for me to sit in and I can't get it adjusted to fit me. The headrest tilts forward, putting my head at a bad angle causing neck strain. I have chronic neck/back pain and it was very painful. My hip was flaring up too. I was almost in tears as I was driving. I had to use a tapping technique to try to calm myself. I felt so guilty for being so upset. I felt like I should be grateful that I had a car to use, not all worked up because the seat didn't fit me. On top of the seat issues, my coat was driving me crazy. I had worn a cardigan sweater under my coat for extra warmth. Only problem was due to my large wrists the cuffs were too tight and were restricting my arm movements. I was feeling confined and starting to get a bit claustrophobic. By the time I got through telling my T all of this, I was crying in earnest. She told me it was ok to have both feelings of gratitude for the car and frustration at the real discomfort I was experiencing. As we continued to talk, the subject of my health problems came up and how I can't afford to go to a doctor. She strongly urged me to pursue getting public aid to help until I can get on my feet financially. I cried even harder. This was not how I had envisioned my life to be like by this point in time. Growing up I'd always assumed I'd get married and have a family. Instead, here I am struggling to get to the point where I can support myself and live on my own. To have to admit that I need help is not easy. I took that step when applying at the college as there is no way I can pay for it and I am getting help. But to take it further and get on public aid... My T was comforting and encouraging, reminding me that this would just be temporary and that my situation is what it's there for. She pointed out all the steps I'm taking to get to the point where I won't need aid and that I'm not just being lazy, looking for a hand-out. (Let me be clear, I know that there are many out there who really do need help and I don't think they are being lazy. I just struggle with feeling that is how others will view me.) I met with a close friend last night and shared about this with her. She also was encouraging me and reassuring me that it was ok and nothing to be ashamed of. I did manage to dry up my tears by the end of the session (which lasted 2 hrs by the way!) and handled driving home ok until I stopped to grab a bite to eat on the way home. The check oil light came on and was dinging loudly at me along with a message saying that the oil pressure was low and to turn off the engine. What??!!! Here I was driving this car because Dad was worried that mine would have problems and now I was having to deal with this! I pulled into a parking space and called home. Dad had me check the oil and we determined that it was just the crazy computer getting its sensors mixed up and that the oil was not a problem. I made it home without any more problems. So, yeah, it was a day when my bottle exploded. I guess I need to be more careful not to try to cram so many emotions into it, but to let them out as they come! When will I learn this lesson, I don't know. It has been my coping skill all my life, this cramming down my emotions. But that doesn't really work anymore.
  3. The Gift of a New Year

    Thank you @ContinuingMetanoia for your comments and for praying for me! I made it through the first two days of class (English Composition 110)! I love it! I'm enjoying my teacher, he is passionate about what he is teaching and his goal is to help us become the best writers that we can be. So far I've not had any issues or bad vibes. I'm starting to get to know some of my classmates and hope to make some new friends.
  4. The Gift of a New Year

    Thank you @Exdancer1986 for your encouraging words! I went today to the college and went thru the process of applying and getting registered. If everything works out with the financial aid, I should start my first class Jan. 16th!!! I'm so excited! It went well today, was nervous especially during the placement test (did bad on the algebra one). At least that part is over. My teacher will be a man. Hoping I do ok with that. Thanks again for writing! I have read some of your posts and hope things will all work out for you too.
  5. The Gift of a New Year

    I love New Year's Day. It always feels like a new beginning to me. A fresh start. A blank page waiting to be filled with the story of the coming days. This year the holidays have been rough for me physically. Spent a lot of time in bed with headaches or overall body aches so severe that it felt like I had a bad case of the flu. Despite it all, I was able to get together with family for the annual gatherings and I was able to play my harp for the special services at my church. I stayed up late New Year's Eve, thinking about this coming year and dreaming big dreams of what all I hope to accomplish in it. I am excited and feel like I have a purpose again. There for awhile I was feeling a bit lost. I had made some changes but wasn't sure what my next step should be. I had started taking some online courses that are free. One is for journalism. I wanted to improve my writing and have thought about maybe trying to get some freelance work that would use that skill. I'm not really interested in working for any news media. I also am taking a course on using computers - a basic IT course. What I know about computers is basically what I've just picked up on my own. Some of the jobs I've looked into require some computer knowledge, so thought this course would help with that. I am enjoying the courses, but I still didn't feel like I knew what I really wanted to do with my life. One day I was browsing a website of a local college and saw that they have a program to become a certified Sign Language Interpreter. I didn't think too much of it and went on looking at the other courses. The next morning when I woke up I had one of those lightbulb moments, where you all of a sudden see something that has been right in front of you all along. I knew at that moment what I wanted to become - a Sign Language Interpreter! This isn't something new for me. Back in 3rd or 4th grade they taught us the Sign Language alphabet and a few signs. I loved it and never forgot the alphabet. Then in my teen years I found a course on video with a book and spent that summer learning what I could from it. There was a deaf lady at a nursing home that I would visit regularly and I got to practice some with her. Then in my 20s I had two deaf friends that I spent a lot of time with and picked up a lot more signs from them. They starting coming the church I was attending at the time, and I would try to interpret the sermons and songs for them. I'm not sure that I did a very good job, but I think they were able to at least get an idea of what was being said. Life kept going and our ways parted and my signing days retreated to a thing of the past. At times I feel the urge to sign, especially when singing, but have forgotten a lot. I really want to take the course (it's a 2 year course) and get my Associate's Degree while I'm at it. I am confident that I will do well and am so excited! There are so many different areas that need interpreters. I also have been leaning towards becoming a counselor, but maybe will focus on being able to interpret for those who need counseling. I can hardly wait to see how it will all work out. I am going in a few days to the college to talk with someone there about applying and figuring out how to pay for it. At the moment I am almost literally broke and the only income coming in is from teaching piano which isn't enough to live off of. Along with the excitement and anticipation there are feelings of nervousness and some anxiety. I've never gone to college and was home schooled from 5th grade on up. I did get my GED this past summer and did well on it. I struggle with braving the unknown, going to a place I've never been before and talking with people that are strangers. I struggle with wondering what they will think of me as I am in my forties and still at home with my parents. I wonder how many men will be involved and how I will handle it if there are any. Will I have panic attacks? This is something I will be doing completely on my own. I won't have my sister or one of my parents with me. And yet I feel ready to take it all on and to face it with courage and determination. I know that I will make new friends as I get to know people and that eventually it will feel familiar. I am dreaming big and with God's help I plan to make those dreams come true!
  6. Why can't I relax?

    @ContinuingMetanoia First off, Welcome to AS! I've only been on here for a few months, but it has helped a lot to have a place where I can write what I am going through. It was nice to get your feedback. I am enjoying reading "Jesus Calling" and also "Jesus Always". It helps me to stop and reflect and make it personal.
  7. Living with pain

    This will have to be short as I don't have much time, but I need to write. Pain has been a daily companion for me, whether it is physical or emotional. I really can't remember what it's like to wake up without physical pain. How much of it is related to my past abuse and the emotions I struggle with because of it, I don't know. The last two weeks have been really bad, with headaches almost every day. Some to the point where I've had to cancel plans/work and go to bed. I have been doing better emotionally, but today not so good. I think the headaches are just getting to me. There are some good things happening. I think I finally am getting some direction for my life, this new me that I am discovering. It is hard though to not worry about if the headaches will keep me from being able to realize this dream, or keep me from being able to hold down a regular job. I'm trying to not let those thoughts discourage me from pursuing these changes in my life. But it is hard to not let my old habits of fear shut me down. This is a new day, and a new year is coming with new possibilities. I won't let the pain and fear hold me back.
  8. New Girl

    Hi FOUND, thank you for the welcome! Tigerswallowtail
  9. Another Day Slips By

    I woke up this morning eager to see how the day would turn out. I realized that after my morning counseling session I had the rest of the day free. I decided to take advantage of it and do something. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the temperature was decent. Thoughts tumbled around my head of what I possibly might do, but didn't get a decision made before going into my counseling session. My session today was an easier one. I went into it feeling bad because I'd not completed my assignments from the last one. The assignments were difficult ones, dealing with my past abuse and I'd had a rough week physically and just couldn't face trying to do them. My counselor assured me that it was ok and to just do it when I can. We then focused more on my struggles to feel like an "adult" with still living at home with my parents. I'm very grateful for a place to live until I can get things figured out and get a decent job. My goal is to get to the point to where I can support myself financially and live on my own. But in the meantime I have to figure out how to cope with living with my parents. So often I still feel like a kid/teenager despite being in my 40's. My parents are really good at trying to treat me like an adult, it's often just little things that are more of an issue on my part and my automatic inner responses to their opinions or suggestions. I left the session with things to think about, but for once didn't feel emotionally drained. I headed to my van trying to think what to do next. I wound up just watching a few episodes of a show on my kindle and then grabbed something to eat. Before I knew it, the afternoon was halfway over. I had hoped to maybe go for a hike, but wanted to go somewhere I'd not been before. I googled hiking trails near me and found a place that sounded interesting so I headed there. It wasn't hard to find and was close to where I was. I pulled into the parking area, only to see a sign that hunting was in progress. I decided that I didn't want to take a risk of getting shot at, so turned around and left. I ended up in a parking lot of a park in a small town. I just stayed in my van and finished reading a book, "It Wasn't Your Fault" by Beverly Engel. There were some good things in there about self-care and self-compassion. The sun was starting to go down and I headed home to grab a few things before going to my favorite coffee shop. I struggled with feeling like I'd wasted a really good day for doing something outside. I know the weather isn't going to be as warm with winter approaching and today was so nice. I felt guilty and then I was feeling frustrated that I felt guilty! There was nothing wrong with what I did, so why did I feel like I made poor choices and let the day slip through my fingers? I was feeling like crying. Not the way I wanted my day away to end. When will I get to the point where I'll stop criticizing myself so much and second guessing my decisions? Next time I think I'd better have a plan figured out ahead of time. Then maybe I won't feel like the day just slipped away from me.
  10. Why can't I relax?

    I am tense, all the time. I honestly can't remember what it is like to not have my muscles all in knots. Lately it's been worse. My jaw clenches so hard at night that when I wake up my teeth ache and when I go to eat breakfast I feel like it's a bit of a struggle to open it to take a bite. My neck and shoulder muscles are so tight and knotted and I can never get them to relax. I go to bed at night and feel myself tensing up. I lay there, trying to relax, trying to focus on the different muscle groups and trying to let the tension go. I take deep breaths. I feel it starting to ease up for a few seconds only to have everything tense up again just as bad or worse. My T reminded me that I've been under a tremendous amount of stress lately. I was talking to my chiropractor about it the other day. She agreed that the muscles in my neck and shoulders weren't just tight, but there are actual knots in them. She asked if I was still seeing my T. I told her that I was and she said that hopefully as I continue to work through things and gain emotional healing, that should help ease some of the tension. I told her that the only person who's ever been able to truly get me to relax is one of my young nieces. Somehow her small hands work magic and not only can she get the tension to go away, but she can actually put me to sleep! She would come up behind me while I was reading to her and her siblings and start massaging my neck and shoulders. It wouldn't take too long before I'd actually start slurring the words that I was reading. The kids all thought it was great fun. My chiropractor laughed along with me as I told her about it, but then she said something that really has me thinking. She said that I was able to relax with my niece because I fully trusted her. If that is so, what does that say about all the others who have tried to give me a neck massage, but I just couldn't truly relax with them? Does that mean that at some level I didn't have complete trust in them? I'm talking about people that are close to me, that I feel like trust shouldn't be an issue. I discussed this with my T this week. She said for one, my niece is just a child which causes me to not have any fear that she would hurt me, physically or emotionally. She asked what my relationship was like with her. I said she is very much like myself, a sensitive child and she also is a touchy-feely girl and always liked to cuddle. As for the others, she wants me to start thinking through all the "safe" people in my life and to try to re-program my brain that it is ok to trust them. Not exactly sure how to go about that. She probably told me more, but I've already forgot if she did. Definitely will need to discuss this further with her and ask for clearer direction in what I need to do. She also asked me where I felt totally safe. I don't really have a place like that. At least, not safe from tension. I don't mean that where I am at is tense all the time, but rather that I can't shake the feeling that something will happen to cause tension, a constant feeling of "waiting for the other shoe to drop". Some of this is a mindset, a habit that I just automatically revert to. A default that needs resetting. But I also long for a place to call my own, where I could truly relax and feel free of outside tension. I know that this world is full of strife and tension and that I would do well to find that inner peace that I can take with me wherever I am. In the Bible God promises His peace for those who seek Him and learn to abide in Him. If I am struggling this bad with tension, I'm afraid I've not done well at the abiding part. I started reading "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young as my T recommended it. It keeps reminding me how important it is to keep my focus on Him. Someday maybe I will truly learn this lesson and be free from the tense muscles and knotted stomach.
  11. 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!"
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
×