This is a triggering time for many survivors. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, the disorder and chaos of our current government has shaken me over the past few weeks. I haven’t slept well. My sugar intake is higher than normal. My Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is more active than usual for this time of year.
I have been weepy. Angry. Depressed. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Hopeless. I’ve even had suicidal thoughts in the past couple of months, and I haven’t experienced those in several years.
But now? I’m stronger than ever. I have resigned myself to this new normal. The constant barrage of political chaos and growing activism. The daily disbelief followed by anger. The phone calls to senators. The marches and tweets and petitions.
Inspired to Focus
I recently read Rachel’s post about her watchword for 2017, which is Focus. Her desire to be present in the moment and to experience joy in the everyday resonated with me. I had just completed a round in my PTSD support group, and been deeply effected by the rock ceremony that we used to close our sessions. All of this culminated in my journey to find my own watchword for 2017.
Rachel was right: The word finds you. My word for 2017 is Nourish. I vowed to find what was most nourishing for my body, mind, and spirit. I want to feel and be strong and sane in times that seem less stable with every passing day. Fortunately, I am not alone.
As survivors, we have many years of fighting ahead of us. Let’s get ready. Here are four ways that survivors can stay strong and sane.
Here’s the thing – you matter. Stand up with your feet flat on the floor and draw an imaginary circle around you. This is the space you inhabit. You matter. Get used to it.
Stop apologizing for taking up space or existing or for being late or for your thoughts and feelings. Basically, stop apologizing for everything. I was inspired by this set of comics by Yao Xiao that changed my thinking completely.
I no longer say “I’m sorry” in situations that do not absolutely require it. So say thank you if you must, and stop apologizing.
No. Short and sweet. Say no to whatever doesn’t serve you. To people and activities and thoughts that waste your time and energy. To those things that don’t get your closer to your goals and dreams. We can’t say yes to everything unless we want to be strung out and spread too thin and exhausted and disorganized, and you are worth more than that.
Say no so you can say yes to something else. Say no so you can go after what’s really important to you.
Practice it in the mirror. Without apology or explanation.
It’s time to clean up and throw out. Look around, inside and outside yourself. There’s a really good chance that you are looking at clutter of one kind or another. Maybe your desk is overrun with papers, or your thoughts are overtaken by negative self-talk. Perhaps you have too much crap and need to downsize.
Well, friend, it’s time to clean house. Figuratively and literally.
Since my word for 2017 is Nourish, I started with the most obvious form of nourishment: food. I cleaned out the pantry. Goodbye, food that is high in sugar. See ya, tempting food that doesn’t offer actual nutritional value.
Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Underwear that doesn’t fit? Tossed in the garbage. Papers I don’t need? Shredded and recycled. Glass I haven’t used in years? To the local thrift store. Mean words that I say to myself? Checked and thrown out. Getting organized frees me up for the stuff I really need to be doing.
Own Your Shit
Speaking of mean words that I tell myself and how I numb my feelings with food, it’s time to get honest. The older I get, the more I appreciate everyone’s honesty about owning their shit.
We’ve all got something. What are your strengths? Own them. What are your weaknesses? Own them.
I am funny. I own that. I feel deeply and run myself ragged and eat french bread for dinner and love to dance. I own all of that.
I’ve got no judgement for you, because I’m too busy owning my own shit to care about how “terrible” yours might be. Taking ownership only causes me to be more compassionate and open to others, and this helps me find my people, my tribe.
I’m telling you, compassion and our relationships with our tribe is how we’re going to stay sane and strong. For the long haul.
We’re survivors. We’re worth it.
Kelly Wilson is an author and comedian who entertains and inspires with stories of humor, healing, and hope. She is the author of Live Cheap and Free, Don’t Punch People in the Junk, and Kelly Wilson’s The Art of Seduction: Nine Easy Ways to Get Sex From Your Mate. Her latest book, Caskets From Costco, has been chosen as a finalist in the 18th annual Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards, the 10th annual National Indie Excellence Book Awards, and the 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest.
Kelly Wilson currently writes for a living and lives with her Magically Delicious husband, junk-punching children, dog, cat, and stereotypical minivan in Portland, Oregon. Read more about her at www.wilsonwrites.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.