During the dark, depressing days after I separated from my abuser, I found two approaches that helped me break out of my depressing thought processes. With all that is going on with the Coronavirus, I hope sharing an excerpt from my book is helpful:
One philosophy that worked for me (during my depression phase after leaving my abuser) was to “tackle the elephant one toe at a time.” During those early recovery years, many competing life issues fought to overwhelm me: my finance, living situation, childcare, job, car maintenance, parents’ health, divorce proceedings, and my children’s health.
A few years ago, I asked my daughter to make an Easter card for my mom. At the time, my mom was suffering through the later stages of Parkinson disease and I thought a handmade card would brighten up her nursing home room five hours away from us.
I hear you’re not doing so well so I gave my mom a stuffed animal for you.
I hope you like it and don’t worry you are going to get through this.
The innocence of my daughter’s understanding of what was going on was so emotional for me to grasp.
I’ll never forget Raven’s football player Ray Rice and his story of domestic violence in 2014. Only a few years after I was separated from my abuser, the triggers were uncontrollable as Ray’s story seemed to be told, rehashed, and replayed everywhere. I got the impression that for the first time, our story of abuse took center stage on a huge platform.
To me, it seemed to be more of a curious, intriguing, I can’t believe it happens kind of story. Not a narrative that came with supportive help and actual call to action for change. But, I often hoped that something impactful might develop as a result.
Regardless of what did or didn’t happen, the continuous talk about the subject for months on end started a continuous trigger that had no boundaries within me. I never knew when Ray’s situation was going to be brought up at work, on the sports channel my sons continued to watch, or online as I read the news.
Last week, one of my blog readers asked me if I could share a few of my coping skills that I utilize during an anxiety attack. I love this question: it really made me go back to the basic question of how am I incorporating all the things I’ve learned in the past into the world that I now live in.
It’s an ongoing debate within me: have I navigated around my triggers to the point that I control my world to minimize the impact my triggers have on me? Or, have the coping skills I’ve developed enable me to be able to live a productive life in my current environment?
Last Saturday I heard myself snap at a comment my 18-year-old daughter said. My reaction to her was unemotional, insensitive, unnecessary, and extremely rude. Definitely not deserving.
I quickly recanted: “I am sorry sweetheart, I am not really mad at you. What I really am doing is fighting off an anxiety attack. Can we work on this later?”
I am not thrilled my daughter has to navigate her day around my anxiety attack. Just a few weeks ago she commented on how happy she was that I was able to get through shopping for her prom dress on a busy Saturday morning in an extremely noisy and busy store! She said she was so proud of me for not having to have to take “quiet time” to sit away to calm my nerves; she was so excited I could enjoy the entire experience of trying on dresses with her. Hearing her tell me this breaks my heart.
Prior to writing this blog, the thought of giving up sugar for Lent baffled me on so many levels. Sweets and I have such a long-term relationship; Cookies are so comforting to me after a long day. Oreo cookie ice cream instantly un-stresses the worst situations going on around me. A handful of peanut M&Ms cures any horrible pity party I am having.
Three years ago, I tried to give up sugar for Lent. I talked about my unbelievable attempt with anyone who would listen. I truly felt like I was accomplishing a notable accomplishment. In retrospect, I was doing a lot of talking but not putting a lot of action behind my words.
It was back in 2011 and I had just finished reading The Purpose Driven Life. I knew the irony of me, a domestic violence victim, reading a book by someone who publically disagrees with divorce, yet I couldn’t put the book down. My book is underlined, tabbed, and highlighted. I was absorbing every word.
At the time, my take away from the book was this: everyone needs to be in a Bible study. Okay, seems reasonable, I thought. Off I went the next weekend to find myself a Bible study in the large Methodist church I attend in eastern North Carolina.
Trigger Warning! - Adapted excerpt from Rock Bottom and Faithless
My first Valentine’s Day with Tom was in 1987, back when we were dating. It was a memory I held in secret and pulled out every once in a while, to try to soothe my fears and pain.
We were stationed in Korea at the time, and he couldn’t decide what to get me. So he got me one of everything.
A big box of candy…
A huge, beautiful card…
And a six-foot-tall stuffed polar bear.
I was overwhelmed. I had never felt so loved. Imagine being showed with so many gifts so early in a relationship – this was surely a sign of greater showers of affection to come!
I held that memory tightly during the moments I watched his steady breathing after he had fallen asleep… moments after screaming filthy names at me
I feel stuck in a revolving door of tiring and consistently selfish thoughts in my mind lately. That’s how I ended my day yesterday; totally focused on two situations in my world and how the situations impacted me. Honestly, when I woke up this morning I found my mind drained of anything positive; just yuck rolling around and around waiting for me to jump on some negative thought and toss it around for a few hours.
My daughter has been conditionally accepted at the two colleges she’s applied to. Her grades, volunteer time, church involvement is all great; but her ACT score is too low. Both schools have indicated what she needs to bring her ACT score up to and then she’ll be accepted. Definitely easier said than done.
Hi, I'm Sue
Welcome to my blog! I served twenty-one honorable years on active duty, living a double life of capability and accomplishment in the service while enduring brutality and abusiveness in my twenty-one year oppressive marriage. Today I'm happily married and have three children who are my inspiration and motivation.
My goal is to help combat the lies of abusers with the truth of God. I hope you find my words to be healing and helpful through your own life experiences.
Being separated from my abusive husband didn't make me a domestic violence survivor. It surely didn't release me from the grip of his brainwashing control and the innate power he had on me.
Read the full raw story in my new book, Rock Bottom and Faithless.