tales of brilliant chaos
2018, DID, dissociative identity disorder, Guest Post, Uncategorized

Introducing Tales of Brilliant Chaos A New, Regular Guest Blogger

We guest posted over at Holistic Nurse Mama!  She’s amazing, sweet, and full of knowledge about health, cannabis, and well-being. She’s one of the most fantastic friends we’ve ever had, since grade school.

Bananas
2018, Annie, DID, dissociative identity disorder

Tackling Learned Helplessness – With Bananas

bananas

Yes, you read that right. With bananas.

Bananas are okay. I wouldn’t call them my favorite fruit or anything, but I like them alright. I will eat them if they are available without a problem. We usually have bananas in the house. For some reason, we didn’t get them all eaten this week and several were over-ripe to the point that no one would even try to eat them.

This was a problem. No one here knew how to, or cared to, make banana bread and Mama is out of state. So what now? Just throw them away? I thought about it. It would have been the easiest step to take but I decided to try something. I’m here alone with a kid who’s recovering from being sick and 3 dogs so why not? If it came out awful I could still throw it away.

I googled and found a recipe that looked simple enough and off I went. There was no one to ask questions of, no one to tell me I was doing it wrong, no one to assure me I was doing it right. I just did it. I realized that the risk of failure wasn’t the end of the world. I knew we would learn what not to do next time. I remembered what Rachel says a lot, there’s no learning without being uncomfortable. We can’t learn or grow confidence without risking a failure.

Is my banana bread perfect? Nope. It’s a bit mushy from too many bananas I think, but it’s good because it’s mine and I did it and no one had to hold my hand. It’s perfect because we are growing. It’s perfect because it’s still edible. Next time will be better, maybe.

A Side of Learned Helplessness?

For so much of our “adult” life, we were constantly told we couldn’t do these things. We had to ask for step by step instructions for everything and weren’t allowed to deviate from those instructions. Any failures we had were proof to our husband that we needed to follow his rules all the time. We lost any sense of independence. We had started to cook and bake before we met him, but forgot all of it during that marriage. One of Mama’s biggest frustrations with us is our learned helplessness.

Learned helpless is a serious pain in the butt. It slows down your progress in a way no one sees coming. Most of us battling this don’t see it in ourselves. We think we are behaving in a way that ensures no one gets mad. It’s true that when we are asking a thousand questions about how to do something we are usually looking for the way the other person wants it done so we don’t make them mad. Not following instructions exactly leads to trouble. Avoiding trouble is what we’ve tried to do most of our life. Sadly it ends up placing us in a pattern of learned helplessness. I would think to some extent that’s true of everyone.

For those of us with learned helplessness, we are taking it too far. We aren’t giving ourselves a chance to figure it out. Questions are okay. Clarifying is fine. Trying it ourselves without someone else close by is priceless. Terrifying but priceless. The more we do and succeed at, the more confidence we will build.

Success!

Banana bread was a success for us. Next time we decide to try something new we will remember the banana bread and remember that success. There will be a next time and it will be sooner rather than later because building successes feels good. We will combat this learned helplessness.

Reclaiming life is fun.

How are you reclaiming your life?

2018, Rachel

How Our Faith is Changing Our Life

Faith
Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

 

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 NIV

 

Faith is a tricky thing. We have always had faith in certain things. Faith that we could keep our children alive, faith that the sun would rise, faith that night would come and go, to list a few. Faith is what kept us pushing forward, even when we didn’t know what we were pushing for. From the very beginning of our collective existence, whenever that was, there was faith in something, always. The vast majority of us did not have faith in God or faith in ourselves.

We knew about God. We were raised in a Congregational church. We knew (and still know) the bible stories and we knew that we had to be good and kind in order to be in God’s good graces. We were in church plays, children’s choir, and eventually confirmation classes. We did all of that.

What we didn’t do was develop a personal relationship with God. None of us did. Many of us enjoyed and found comfort in the rituals of the church, but we never really prayed or talked to God. We didn’t feel worthy. We felt rejected and abandoned by God.

Fast-forward a lot of years and skipping a lot of things, we have finally found faith in God. We finally understand that we were never rejected or abandoned. We have been working hard for the last 5 months to develop a relationship with our Heavenly Father. The effort is there and there is absolutely a peace that comes with it.

For so many trauma survivors faith in God is a hard one. Whenever the trama was, it’s easy to feel that God has left us, that we are handling the hard and nasty on our own. I don’t want to make this simplistic at all. It’s a hard process. It’s one that requires moving forward and stepping out of the chaos, the hurt, and the pain. Especially if that is where our comfort is found. God is there in the mix of it but all of our heavy emotions are blocking us from seeing Him. We are so wrapped up in the hurt that we can’t feel His love. For some of us, feeling love is raw and uncomfortable.

It’s not until we can risk taking that baby step out of the pain that we can shake off the darkness enough to see Him. He wants to love us. We have to let Him, invite Him in so that we aren’t alone. He won’t come barging in to save us when we don’t feel safe enough to invite Him in. Why would He add more stress for us? It’s up to us to seek Him out, then He knows we truly are ready for Him and His presence won’t cause more darkness for us.

We took that step months ago and we have not only sought Him out but we allowed Him in. Life still isn’t perfect. Bad things happen. We get scared sometimes and stressed out other times. We still battle getting caught up in the chaos and darkness. We still battle the feeling of needing something to be wrong all the time. We still sometimes find comfort in chaos instead of the light, but this time He is with us and we make it through so much more quickly and with far less self-defeating attitudes.

All things are possible with Him who gives me strength.

 

 

2018, DID, dissociative identity disorder, Rachel

10 Things We Learned This Week

Learned

1.) Red Robin will soon be going strawless, as was proclaimed by a large button pin on our server’s chest yesterday. We will have to bring our own straws if we intend to use a straw at Red Robin. Our server said he has friends who carry around metal straws when they go out to eat so they always have a straw. I’m not quite sure what I think of this yet, but I do know it’s something we learned.

2.) Our fitness classes make us very sore. Hey, its proof they are working, right? It’s not a complaint but if we stay in one spot too long we can’t move easily. Encouragement to get up and move more often? Fitness is becoming a lifestyle. If only we could move our food choices to the better range more often haha.

3.) Brisk Green Tea is really good. Especially with citrus or peach. It’s a bit carb heavy, but it’s still really good and isn’t green tea supposed to be good for metabolism? It’s good, and I’m going to say it’s healthy. Maybe we will keep it as an every-so-often thing. Walmart makes a carb and sugar-free water green tea and mango peach water flavor. It’s so yummy.

4.) Sometimes what looks like rain is really not raining. It’s like a mist, a heavy fogy weirdness that comes and goes and looks like something out of a horror movie.

5.) Dentists are weird here in Washington. We had to wait 5 weeks to see a dentist that could handle a crown issue and when we got there all he could do was extract the tooth. So why couldn’t another dentist do that sooner?

6.) Sometimes people need time to process and think about things. Other people’s actions and reactions are their concern. It’s up to us to regulate our own actions and reactions and to love ourselves and others through their own struggle. It is not up to us to fix someone else or to move our boundaries to accommodate someone else.

7.)  Our emotional support dog is a complete moron at times, and we love that about him. He’s goofy, funny, sweet, and a cuddler. He’s neurotic and afraid of the strangest things, but we are pretty sure that if we were in trouble he’d protect us. We spend most of our time emotionally supporting him haha.

8.) Having a tooth extracted sucks a lot. The pain is stupid. The hole where the tooth was is stupid. The fact that it was necessary is stupid. And having it hurt 3 days later is stupid. It’s all just plain stupid.

9.) Writing here has a profound effect on our mood and how we process our life. Not writing is harmful to our emotional state and our processing ability. Not sharing on our blog takes away our ability to help people.

10.) Boundaries must reasonably set and respected all the time. Boundaries keep you safe and healthy. There will never be another time in our life where a person gets to railroad us and run all over our boundaries. This is our time to shine.

 

 

2018, DID, dissociative identity disorder, Rachel

Feeling Feelings: Allowing the Emotions

emotions

Feeling feelings is not always fun or easy. Trust me, this much I know well. It’s so much easier in the short run to stuff them, ignore them, dissociate away from them. It’s easier to deny the feelings and pretend we’ve processed them. It’s something we do very well. And something that Mama never fails to catch on to.

Yesterday was the anniversary of our marriage. It would have been 15 years had he still been alive and we had still been with him. For the bulk of the day, we felt unsettled and out of sorts. Focusing was hard and admitting we were struggling was nearly impossible. We did manage to admit it and reach out to two people outside of our home. Thank God, literally, for our accountability partner and our sponsor. Cadie talked about it a little with Mom, and we were able to admit later to Dad that it was an emotional day.

But in almost all of those cases, we brushed off just how hard. Not because we didn’t trust them, but because we weren’t allowing ourselves to actually feel it. We just let the sadness touch us a small bit and siphoned off the rest.  We woke up this morning feeling better, but also realizing what we did yesterday. We opted to not feel it. We opted to not be a bother, or a distraction, from other people’s day and tasks. We opted to shut it off.

The healing isn’t going to happen until we start dealing with the pain. More than that, however, we need to start feeling all of our emotions. Feeling them, identifying them, and accepting them. We’ve been through enough therapy, and we have a degree in psychology, so we know that we have to do these things in order to heal. We also know that we have decades of pushing the emotions to the side.

In order to do these things, you have to be able to identify your emotions and learn to let them out. That’s a bit hard to do when you aren’t fully aware of blocking them. I think, in our case, we need Jenna to help point out when we are blocking them. We also have to put the effort into being mindful. Each of us has a responsibility to do that. We have to be aware of ourselves and each other, and we need to focus less on being in the way of other people.

We’re going to have to work on being as kind to ourselves and each other, as we are to others outside of the system. I’m fairly certain that most people need to work on being as kind to themselves as they are to others. Maybe that is the starting point for feeling emotions.

What can you do to be more aware of your emotions?

2018, DID, dissociative identity disorder, Parker

5 Ideas for Good Self-Care

Self-care

When thinking about self-care it seems like the options are endless. There are so many sites talking about self-care and listing things in a very rushed way. I think we’ve all seen lists of 50+ things you can do for self-care. That’s not entirely what I want to discuss here. We, all of Brilliant Chaos, write this page for ourselves as much as, if not more than, for others. This list of 5 ideas for self-care is going to serve as a reminder to us and hopefully, help out others. Please be in touch with yourself so you know what will help and what can harm you.

Get Out of Bed and Shower

So for some, this may seem like two items. For others, this doesn’t look like self-care at all. I can assure you that almost nothing feels as good as being clean and washing away the grime. Showers are also a symbolic thing for us because they wash away the negative feelings we have about ourselves and our body. We always leave a shower feeling safer, more centered, and happier. When we are feeling really bad, we often forget to take a shower. Stinky and smelly do not make us happy.

Easy Resistance Exercises

We all enjoy exercise. For the last 4 months, we have been doing Zumba and/or Pilates (but mostly Zumba until this week) regularly. We always feel better after working out. At home, we have light hand weights and we can even use canned food if we need some weights. Just a few minutes of working our muscles helps a lot and it helps regulate our blood sugar too!

Craft

This one can be tough to do when we feel awful. It’s hard to bring yourself to get the stuff out and actually come up with something creative. It’s a struggle but it’s a struggle that helps in the end. When we accomplish something, it feels good. Yarn is our therapy a lot of times and lately cross-stitching. We haven’t done much scrapbooking or card making in a while but that always helps too. We need more stamps.

Go Outside

Being outside helps raise the mood. The sun, even the rain for us, the breeze, it all helps. With or without the dogs, being outside makes a huge difference in how we feel after a while. A walk gets the body moving and being outside just feels good sometimes. Get in the dirt, weed something, plant something, help make something grow. Being dirty is tough but you can follow it up with a shower.

Read a Book

I’m not kidding when I say we have a library in our house, not including the Nook. Grab a book, any book. Read a kid’s book. Read anything. It will help separate yourself from them the emotions. Good books take you away from yourself and immerse you in a new world. Pick up the bible and read stories in there. I thought the story of Jacob and Esau was really captivating. I didn’t expect the bible to have so many interesting stories and thought-provoking situations in it.  Not really sure what I expected there, to be honest.

There you go. A few realistic and important self-care steps.

2018, DID, dissociative identity disorder, Maddie

Proud, Finally.

proud

It’s been a long time since we, any of us, could say that there was any reason to keep going in life. Just as short as three years ago we knew we were only alive to keep the kids safe. We had no purpose at all, and no reason to exist beyond the kids.

While to some extent that’s still true, our purpose now goes far beyond just keeping the treasures alive. Growing in our faith, growing with God, we are understanding that His purpose for us is far more than just the kids. The kids were absolutely part of our purpose, there’s no denying that fact. They are amazing kids who will one day do incredible things. They have purposes of their own.

Our purpose is not going to be found dwelling on our inequities. It’s not going to be found living in the shadows of our past and in the judgments of others. Our purpose is coming from God. We will follow His path for us and do the work He wants from us. It’s not something we can do alone, but with Him, we will be successful.

Honestly, I didn’t expect us to find any real relationship with God. I was skeptical and thought it was simply a case of us trying to fit in somewhere, again. (Notice the again? We have a habit of trying to modify ourselves and each other in order to fit in.) However, it’s been about five months and our relationship with God is getting stronger. Our praying is more consistent, and almost always mostly done when we are alone.  It’s not something we do for show or in a way that could gain us any friends. It’s simply what speaks to our soul.

Having only a few of us active now helps too. The inside chaos has quieted. The words I want to write come more easily and more clearly. The desire to write never left, but it’s only now that it can be acted on. There’s so much less inside drama that we can finally think now.

I’m proud of us. All of us. Of the ones who are currently inactive, of those of us who are active. I’m proud of how we are growing, becoming, and learning. I’m proud of how we are gauging our emotional reactions, praying before reacting, and devoting time to finding out who Emma is.

I’m proud of who we are becoming.

2016, Annie, DID, dissociative identity disorder

Made to be Used

***This post was originally posted on our first blog, and then 7 months ago transferred over here. It’s raw, intense, and mentions some sexual abuse. I no longer feel the relationship with these words that I felt when I first wrote them. I know now that I don’t ever have to do anything sexual that I don’t want to. I know that life is worth living.

-Annie***

TEXT

 

Over and over again I hear voices from the past. I hear the voices speaking the words that cut me, heart and soul, as clearly as if they were standing right next to me. One of the phrases I hear often was spoken by several different men over the course of my times out front. The men who spoke these words didn’t know each other, never spoke to each other, and in most cases weren’t even aware of each other. Somehow they still managed to speak the same words. The words that now, something like 8 years later, still haunt me.

You have a body that was made to be used.

I have no idea how old this body was when the sexual abuse started. Memories and conversations with some people lead us to collectively believe it was somewhere between 2 and 4 years old. I don’t know what part if any, that has to do with our body’s sexual response system. I do know we were around 9 years old the first time those words were said. We didn’t understand them. We didn’t ask.

The words appeared again at age 17 when a man in his 40’s raped us causing a pregnancy and later a miscarriage. He performed his acts on the body, leaving it bruised and bloody while saying those words. We still didn’t understand, and we still didn’t ask. It didn’t seem like the time for questions.

At 21, the man I married said those words. This time, I did ask. I asked what those words meant. He explained that the body responds to sexual advances quickly and easily, with very little effort. That the body is always ready to serve someone sexually, whether I want to, choose to, or not. He went on to explain that I was born to serve and the body was made to be used.

Born to Serve and Made to be Used

That was a tough one. I think that was the moment I resigned myself to my fate. I tried. I gave it everything I had to live up to those expectations. My body cooperated well enough, but my heart and my actions never seemed to meet his goals. Eventually, I asked a male friend, someone I considered above reproach. Someone I saw as a guardian. Someone I trusted with all of my heart. I asked him to tell me the truth about my purpose. He did. He told me I had the heart of a servant and that my body was made to be used.

He didn’t stop there though. He told me that I was ruining the body’s children and I was a terrible mother. He told me I would only ever be truly happy on my hands and knees crawling to serve a household. That no one would ever keep me around if I wasn’t providing them with a service or a reason to keep me. That I acted stupid, didn’t try hard enough, and the best place for me was on an island inside somewhere.

I believed them all. The body never failed to react sexually when I was scared, terrified, sick, hurt, and just plain didn’t want it to react. The body refused to acknowledge the word no, and the men in my life chose to listen to the body instead of the mouth, the eyes, and the heart.

Please… always understand that how your body reacts doesn’t change your answer. No means no. No means no. No means no. And you have the right to say no.

Now, if I can keep reminding myself of that. Because I’m back, for the first time in 8-ish years. I find that I need to keep everyone happy. I need to do the chores, anticipate the moods, and keep myself and everyone else safe by meeting everyone’s expectations of who I should be.

I don’t know who I am, not completely. For now, I’m Annie. I’m 15. I love buttons, my twin sister Paisley, and our dog Howard. My favorite authors are Mary Higgins Clark and Nora Roberts. My favorite colors are teal, purple, pink, and white. I love butterflies. I do NOT want to be used. I do NOT want to serve anyone in a sexual manner ever again, please.

 

Annabelle Lynn

 

 

***This post was originally posted on our first blog, and then 7 months ago transferred over here. It’s raw, intense, and mentions some sexual abuse. I no longer feel the relationship with these words that I felt when I first wrote them. I know now that I don’t ever have to do anything sexual that I don’t want to. I know that life is worth living.

-Annie***

2018, Alayna, DID, dissociative identity disorder

Crawling to the Ceasefire

art artistic black and white blank
Photo by Lynnelle Richardson on Pexels.com

 

Crawling
Crawling in my skin
These wounds, they will not heal
Fear is how I fall
Confusing what is real
There’s something inside me that pulls beneath the surface
Consuming, confusing
This lack of self control I fear is never ending
Controlling
I can’t seem
To find myself again
My walls are closing in
(Without a sense of confidence I’m convinced
That there’s just too much pressure to take)
I’ve felt this way before
So insecure
Crawling in my skin
These wounds, they will not heal
Fear is how I fall
Confusing what is real
Discomfort, endlessly has pulled itself upon me
Distracting, reacting
Against my will I stand beside my own reflection
It’s haunting how I can’t seem
To find myself again
My walls are closing in
(Without a sense of confidence I’m convinced

That there’s just too much pressure to take)

I’ve felt this way before
So insecure
Crawling in my skin
These wounds, they will not heal
Fear is how I fall
Confusing what is real
Crawling in my skin
These wounds, they will not heal
Fear is how I fall
Confusing, confusing what is real
There’s something inside me that pulls beneath the surface
Consuming (confusing what is real)
This lack of self control I fear is never ending
Controlling (confusing what is real)
Songwriters: Brad Delson / Chester Charles Bennington / Joseph Hahn / Mike Shinoda / Robert G. Bourdon
Crawling lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management
Driving home from our fitness classes yesterday I was scrolling through radio stations and I heard this song. I stopped to listen to it because it used to be a song I identified with strongly. It was a song that I (Layna) used to use as my personal theme song, a mantra of sorts.
The best way I can think to describe the hold this song had on me was that I could use it to justify not moving forward.  There was a song about how I felt deep down to my core, why should I have to try to move forward?  The last line says it all “This lack of self-control I fear is never ending.”  Or the line “These wounds they will not heal.” I used this song as permission to not heal.
The pull these types of songs had on me made me feel perpetually angry and mean. I hated myself, I hated people who liked me, I hated God, and I hated life. It became so bad that Dad refused to allow me to listen to these types of songs anymore. Mom flooded us with K-Love because she felt better with the positive songs.
Fast-forward a few years and I happen to find myself hearing this song. Again the song and the lyrics became stuck in my head. This time though, I could relate in a different manner. The lyric that stands out the most now is “Fear is how I fall, confusing what is real.” It’s a reminder that fear will hold us back. Fear is what confuses us and makes muddy the thought processes to healing and hope.
The wounds that would not heal are starting to heal. I have a part in this. I have to heal in order for us all to heal. I, personally, have to let the light hit our dark places. I no longer serve to protect our darkness. I have to serve balance now. I have to learn it and apply it and protect our system by helping us all learn to balance it all.
We will now call for a Ceasefire. We will fight for a better end.

for KING & COUNTRY Lyrics

“Ceasefire”

How do we save a life
Pointing fingers?
How can we end the fight
This way?
When blame is the truth we’re preaching?
And lies are what we’re believing?
No one ever wins
When the goal is to settle the scoreOne by one we will call for a ceasefire
One by one we will fight for a better end
One by one we could rewrite the headlines
Standing side by side
One by one, love is building an empire
One by one, reaching out to our enemies
One by one we will make it to the finish line
Standing side by side
Ceasefire

I will be the first to say
I’m far from perfect
But grace was made for those who don’t
Deserve it
So easy to cast the first stone
It’s harder to search your own soul
No one ever wins
When the goal is to settle the score

One by one we will call for a ceasefire
One by one we will fight for a better end
One by one we could rewrite the headlines
Standing side by side
One by one, love is building an empire
One by one, reaching out to our enemies
One by one we will make it to the finish line
Standing side by side
Ceasefire

Teach us how to live humbly
Love unconditionally
Transform our hurt into hope
And grant us Your peace
Teach us how to live humbly
Love unconditionally
Transform our hurt into hope
And grant us Your peace

One by one we will call for a ceasefire
One by one we will fight for a better end
One by one we could rewrite the headlines
Standing side by side
One by one, love is building an empire
One by one, reaching out to our enemies
One by one we will make it to the finish line
We’re standing side by side

Ceasefire …

This song is now my own person new theme song. We will make it to the finish line. We will live up to and on the path that God has planned for us. We will let Him transform our hurt into hope and we will work hard to build the empire through love.
Ceasefire…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd9OhYroLN0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvfs2TUj-D4