I Rescued Me: The Healing Journey

Lost in my world of loneliness

I had to face my truth.

To find my way through emotions

That were making me feel so blue.

 

Now in the middle of life’s long years

There’s only one place to turn;

Inside where there lingers deflating fears

I’ll find the peace I yearn.

 

Cos I ain’t gonna run no more

My truth is standing at my door

She waits for me to call her name

So we can be one and the same.

 

Found in the debris of a broken heart

My soul is finally free

From the pain that always tore me apart

I am free to be me.

 

I am found

I am free

To be myself

I rescued me.

 

~*~

 

For the past several years I’ve traveled the healing path under the expert guidance of  a therapist. During that time I have come to realize that of all the journeys we will take while on this planet the exploration of our inner emotional and, by extension, mental world is, perhaps, the most profound; the most empowering; the most exciting, and the most liberating journey of all.

Recognizing, examining, understanding and releasing negative default programs drummed into us when we were too young to protect ourselves, is freeing. Essentially, we rescue ourselves from the lies we were conned into believing about ourselves (i.e. we’re unworthy; ugly; dumb; unlovable; not good enough; untalented … the list goes on) , and in doing so raise our self-awareness to make room for the possibility of living in a way that more accurately reflects our truth.

Free Spirit

Part of the process involves being willing and able to relinquish debilitating personal relationships; removing ourselves from unhealthy emotional and physical environments, and slaying those inner egotistical monsters determined to keep us bound to the past which is their power. Working with a qualified objective third-party helps us to find the gentle strength we need to do this. He, or she, is the knowledgeable guide gently leading us to an informed understanding and awareness of how we are in the world and how the world is with us, and why. As well, they help us to heal and release what no longer works and bring into our experience the inner resources we need to gently traverse our mental and emotional terrain with compassion, forgiveness, love and awe. Yes, awe ~ for however far we have come and whatever price we have paid we have made it far enough to finally be able to see how beautiful, strong and enough we really are.

This post opens with the lyrics of a song I wrote recently to celebrate my own hike along the healing path. I’ve been on a multi-year, multi-faceted adventure, negotiating previously uncharted and frequently frightening personal territory searching for that elusive pot of gold … my truth. This treasure has been buried beneath issues of Complex-PTSD related to early childhood trauma that, to this day, still dogs me when it comes to having any confidence about putting myself out in the world.

Writing this blog post is a first bold step to sharing my story. I want to help blow away the stigma that working with a therapist is a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s the exact opposite ~ it’s an amazing demonstration of courage and strength. There are millions of compassionate, empathic well-trained souls in the world wanting to help people reach the other side of a life-time of pain to find their own peace.

We wonder why there is so much pain and suffering in the world when it can be so easily explained. It’s a projection of all the unresolved pain and suffering we carry around with us and dramatize “out there” because we haven’t resolved it “in here.” I only need to look at my own life and the healing progress I’ve made in the past several years, with help, to know this is truth. I entertain less drama because the drama I used to carry around with me no longer needs to be stoked to make me feel alive. I feel alive in the peace I have found while negotiating the healing path.

The choice is simple … if we choose not to take the necessary steps to heal our emotional and mental life we have opted to suffer. Suffering is then what we project into our world and what comes back to us until we choose to make it stop ~ either by seeking help or by opting for the unthinkable which, as we know, is a great public concern in our times.

One day I decided I just didn’t want to suffer anymore. I chose to take control of my destiny by seeking help. I rescued me, and if I can do it, so can you.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

(I’m presently documenting my healing journey in a book entitled, I Rescued Me: A Journey out of the Shadows of Complex-PTSD. It is my hope that by sharing my experience I can help others to find the courage to seek help with a qualified therapist, heal their lives and begin to thrive. Release date TBA.)

 

Punch the Monster

Be authentic;

know who you are.

Understand what’s

buried beneath those

mountainous feelings of

inadequacy,

fear,

suffering,

depression,

despair,

grief.

Be prepared

to walk deep into the

cave of your misgivings;

to poke the monster,

Vulnerability, and

hear its high-pitched

squeal that shuts you down

or sends you running.

Be prepared

to punch the monster

in the nose and say,

“No more!

No more will I be

ruled by the unseen

terror that lies

dormant within.

No more will I

allow it to undermine

my truth and sway

me toward the lies

that feed

its hungry belly.”

Be prepared

for the struggle that is

that step from the dark

pit of toxic unknowing

into the light of pure truth.

Be the David to your inner

Goliath; slay the monster

and rise victorious. It is

your right to be

authentic.

~*~

When we have no understanding of who we are, or what makes us tick, we cannot be authentic. It’s just not possible. All the fears, anxieties, and other negative feelings that keep us stalled in a debilitating life pattern are driven by what we don’t know about ourselves. It takes courage and shining a light of curiosity into the cave of our unknowing to unearth our truth, remove the obstacles that prevent us from living it and be authentic. It’s a heck of a journey and worth every moment.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Daily Prompt: Authentic

 

 

No Rush

Rush …

A fast word.

Adrenline-fed.

Exhausting.

~*~

I learned the hard way to change my life-long pattern of being “in a rush.” Years of adrenal fatigue the rude wake-up call.

Let me give you a tip ~

S-l-o-w d-o-w-n.

There really is no rush.

Thanks for visiting,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

No Return

To churn

is to change,

our life

re-arrange.

Like butter

from cream,

to rise from

a dream.

A process

profound,

turns our lives

upside-down.

To change

is to churn ~

one-way ticket;

no return.

~*~

When we make desired changes in our lives or take steps to live a dream we often forget that for a time there will be some discomfort; some churning of our inner world as we move into a new level of consciousness. Every transition brings uncertainty as we process and let go of what has been and make room for what might be. And once we’ve made that shift in awareness there’s simply no going back.

Be well,

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Daily Prompt: Churn

Forgiveness …

The pain is deep ~

You put it there.

Not that you knew it,

You were simply sailing

Your oblivious sea

And I, being an innocent,

Was caught in your toxic

Wake; my life line

The place in my Soul you

Could not reach.

*

I forgive you.

I forgive because

Drowning in the pain

Of you hurts only me,

I forgive because

The power is within me.

I forgive to be the peace

I want to see.

I forgive to be

Free.

~*~

Personal freedom begins with forgiveness.

May we all be the peace we wish to see in the world.

Be well,

Dorothy

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2015

Freeze and Thaw

Daily Prompt: Fight or Flight

Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

~*~

As someone who’s spent her life surviving the slings and arrows of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the point of almost burning out my adrenal glands, I suppose I could speak volumes on this subject.

To the overwhelmed nervous system almost anything can trigger the heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness of the adrenal rush … and not in a good way.

My adrenalin responses have rarely been justified, but when you grow up  feeling constantly under threat of something you lose sight of what constitutes an appropriate adrenal response. Not that you’re even in control of it. It just is, stimulated by whatever trigger pokes its way into a painful point of subconscious memory.

A life time of living in chronic survival mode is hard on the adrenal glands. (As is a life spent chugging down energy drinks, but that’s a discussion for another day.) They do burn out, and chronic anxiety is one of the results. Until I became aware of what was happening beneath the surface of my anxiety there was no way I could change it.

This awareness was finally raised during a trip to Sarajevo in March 2009, when the war-wounded city reflected the incredibly deep wounds of my own emotional trauma. Anxiety attacks in benign circumstances triggered three flight and freeze reactions during our one-week stay, reactions over which I had no control. Since we were travelling with a group of virtual strangers there was the added stress of shame attached to it.

Yes, you need to know that freezing is also a response to trauma.

In simple, primitive terms, this is when prey under pursuit will drop to the ground and play dead so the predator will lose interest and leave them alone.

My freeze ~ the clamp of anxiety. The desperate need to getaway without knowing where is safe to go. Stuck. Immovable. Traumatized. Invisible. On a continuous playback loop.

Since Sarajevo it’s taken years of therapy to get my frozen emotional core to finally thaw. The experience is a bit like the sensation of regaining feeling in your hands and feet after a bout of frost bite. Years of frozen feelings melt into a stinging liquid form. The pain all too present … but it must be felt to be acknowledged and, ultimately, released.

I’m reminded of the time I attended an NFL game in Buffalo with my ex-husband and his family, maybe 20 years ago. It was December, 15 below and snowing, and I was not dressed properly for the occasion. By the fourth quarter I was in the first aid room with thermal blankets wrapped around frozen feet (and a husband angered by the fact he’d had to miss that last quarter).

The agony of the thaw was indescribable. There were a few moments there where I felt like I’d rather die than endure the grief of feeling my limbs come back to life. However, once the worst of it had passed, and I could feel my feet and hands again, the pain of the experience became nothing more than a passing memory. I can recall the incident now as the source for a funny story or, for that matter, a teaching moment.

Feelings that come up while thawing are painful, but they must be felt in order for us to be completely free of them.

The first step, however, is awareness.

I learned ~ through psychotherapy, naturopathy, hormone therapy, equine therapy and other important sources ~ that the freeze response, which had become my go-to place when overwhelmed by circumstances beyond my control (rooted in early childhood trauma), had created a debilitating life pattern affecting mind, body and spirit.

I learned that what we harbour in the way of resentment, fear, jealousy and the like becomes our master and we its slave, and that this plays out in our lives in unhappy and insidious ways. Panic/anxiety attacks, addiction, lashing out or anything else that numbs the mind, body and spirit are all manifestations of the freeze response triggered by overwhelming events.

As horrible as those anxiety-ridden moments in Sarajevo were for me, they taught me it was time to be honest with myself and seek help. The kind of help that would allow the thaw, the healing, to begin and bring to life again the parts of me that had been playing dead.

Freezing was how I’d made myself invisible. If I was invisible, no one could see me; no one would abandon, reject, abuse or hurt me ever again. In the process I had become stuck in the pattern of abandoning, rejecting, abusing and hurting myself. It had to stop.

It’s been almost six years since my rigorous, sometimes hellish and incredibly cleansing journey began. A veritable trip through the refiner’s fire. Still, if I had to choose between who I am now and who I was before the thaw began, there’s no doubt what I’d do. Even knowing how tough it’s been I’d go through it all again to unearth my truth and free myself of the pain that had frozen me in chaos.

My heart and mind are open; my adrenal glands are functioning more optimally and thus my nervous system is becoming more robust. I’m finally able to live my life more on my terms. I’ve learned to live in the moment; to leave the past behind and to allow the future to be what it will be.

Finally, I feel free to be me.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

~*~

Useful resources:
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The acclaimed guide to stress, stress-related diseases and coping ~ Robert M. Sapolsky
Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma ~ Peter A. Levine
Riding Between The Worlds: Expanding our Potential Through the Way of the Horse ~ Linda Kohanov
In An Unspoken Voice: How the body releases trauma and restores goodness ~ Peter A. Levine
Mindsight: The new science of personal transformation ~ Dr. Dan Siegel
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome ~ James L. Wilson

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

A Gentle Sense of Pride

Daily Prompt: Proud

~*~

“What are you proud of, mom? I just don’t get why you’re proud of me.”

For most of my life I’ve had difficulty acknowledging, let alone having pride in, my accomplishments. My therapist tells me it’s because I wasn’t able to see myself. And she’s right, I never could see what the big deal was about anything I achieved.

When people told me they were proud of me it would go in one ear and out the other. It just never registered. Mostly, I guess, because I could never feel pride in myself.

Growing up disconnected ~ through dissociation, etc. ~ does this. I was never really in my experiences, so even when they happened to end well (miracle of miracles) the end result had little meaning. I couldn’t feel it.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was smart, but struggled to connect with it. There was too much else (of which I was unaware) in the way, so feeling proud was difficult.

My therapist has been working tirelessly to help me change this.  She wants me to be able to see and acknowledge what I’ve done in my life and feel proud of what I’ve achieved in the face of a great many emotional obstacles.

She tells me she is proud of me for all that I have overcome to get to this point  ~  a point where I can truly start to thrive instead of merely survive. It’s only in the past couple of years I’ve finally started to grasp what she’s saying.

A New Trajectory

Last year I made important decisions that altered the course of my life; sent me on a new trajectory of healing that demonstrates just how far I’ve come.

Bear

Completing the six-month Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning certification (FEEL) program in the last half of 2014 was a major accomplishment for me. Certainly I acquired new skills that paved the way to a career as a practitioner of equine experiential learning, but perhaps more important was the personal healing work achieved along the way.

It was challenging work to be sure. Every exercise, every assignment provided an opportunity to step into uncharted personal territory and create a new life map. As time passed, trauma was released; many tears were shed; and a healthier self-image ~ one in which I could begin to see my strengths and personal power ~ began to emerge. Seeing my life through the mirror of the horse gave me the courage to see my Self and do what needed to be done to change my life again.

Of course, that journey continues. The FEEL program launched me into a deeper personal understanding and provided important life skills that I can use going forward. It also showed me how I, with the aid of the horses, can be an empathic catalyst for change in the lives of others ready and willing to walk the equine experiential healing path.

Many friends and family told me how proud they were of me when I achieved my certification. My husband was particularly supportive and thus especially proud.

Still, what really matters is that I recognize what I achieved and feel a sense of gentle pride in that accomplishment. For this is something I have experienced far too little of in my life.

Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015