I’m nearing the end of my first two courses in my Masters of Social Work, and things have been crazy. I expected this, but my schedule did not build in the buffer of “life happens”. I’m in thick of work, school and interning at the Children’s Hospital and it can be incredibly draining. Interning at the Children’s Hospital has definitely been an amazing experience, but definitely difficult at times. Since the beginning of September there has already been 2 patients that have passed and one who is not expected to make it till next year. I appear to be holding up well emotionally, but giving of myself all day definitely has shown me the need to decompress. Thankfully I have an hour car ride home that allows me that time, but it is up to me to make use of it.
This past week I quickly saw how small blips or problems could quickly throw off my steady pace. All it took was a glitchy phone and a misplaced driver’s license and I was in tears at lunch time in my car. I felt like the two added tasks would take away all the needed time (when reality it wouldn’t). All I could think of was the papers I had to write and preparing to teach a class at my job. I was extremely thankful for Dave’s steadiness, because although there was not much that could be fixed, at the current moment I needed some rationality and stability.
This brings me to my title of strength based practice. In my studies in social work we are told to utilize strength based practice which focuses on what strengths the client has and forming positive goals (i.e. spend an hour a day with family as opposed to decreasing time on computer). The idea behind this is to develop confidence and esteem in areas that exist in order for a client to feel able to make changes in other areas. The application of this is necessary in my own life and I was extremely blessed to have Dave point out some of the positive side, when I was being irrational. It reminds me of what kind of positive goals can reinstate or add to my life (that are not too lofty!!!)
Although I wanted to do weekly yoga in class I realized that isn’t always feasible with my schedule; based on this realization here are my new goals:
1. Exercising 3-5x a week with one session being a yoga video. ( I would love this to be everyday but due to my schedule this makes me prone to failure and being self-defeating)
2. Set aside a day for school work and house chores (Tuesday) Unless I completed a majority of work on another day I need to use this as a dedicated day of work (this might help my sanity).
3. Adding mindfulness meditation to the start of my day (I’ve been telling myself this for months! Funny how one can neglect to do something so beneficial)
4. Utilize other people to help me see the positive in the situations and asking for help when I need it!
5. Blogging Bi-weekly (this might be lofty for me, but I enjoy and I definitely missed doing it!)
In the flash of an eye or the sound of the word memories can come flooding in. No matter how distant a trauma is or how far away it is in your conscious thought; it only takes a tiny thing for the mind to remember. I have had several of these moments lately. One was where I was sitting in my car and I saw someone who looked almost exactly like my 3rd rapist. Part of me was convinced and then I looked closer to realize it wasn’t. In that instance my mind was racing. It wasn’t the first time my mind had gone to those moments. In church the series has been about hope and made me remember some of my darkest moments. I started thinking of myself in the car right after it happened in complete despair believing this is all my life would ever be and wanting it all to end.
The mind is an extremely powerful thing, and learning to become mindful and connected is imperative. In these particular situations there were definitely more relative things that triggered me, but other times not so much. I would say one of my biggest struggles would be connecting emotions and feelings to the actual incident. It is one thing to tell the story and process it verbally, but it’s a whole different ballgame to have those emotions connected while it is being told. I do believe that accomplishing this is extremely important, because without the integrity between the incident and the emotion; emotions will come out sideways. Emotions will come out regardless it just a matter of where and when it does. It definitely is a goal of mine to better connect the two.
On another note I have made positive progress in regards to yoga which was one of the goals that I had mentioned in a previous blog post. I have been going to yoga once a week and it has definitely been good for me mentally and physically. Not to mention it is also been a way for me to bond with my boyfriend; since I dragged him along :-). One of the key things it teaches is how much strength mentally and physically can be built by being still. So often life tells us that in order for us to become stronger and grow we have to move constantly (whether it be physical exercise or mental activity), but it is that constant busyness that can start to actually make us weaker. Failure to give the mind and body a break can end up having negative effects in all aspects of a person’s life.
Yoga reminds me of the lesson that God tries to teach us “Be still and know that I am God”. Today I will take steps to be still and rest in God’s overwhelming grace.
This coming August I will be starting my Master’s in Social Work and along with working will be interning 16 hours a week. I know now more than ever that I need to develop and fine tune positive habits in my life. I haven’t written in a while which has saddened me, because I know that writing is cathartic for me and it also holds me accountable. I know for sure that as busy that I might be I still need to make time to write. One of the biggest factors in developing good habits is that my internship will be at Valley Children’s Hospital. I was forewarned that it is tough and emotionally draining. I could end up assisting in grief counseling (for parents who just lost a child), families that have domestic violence, seeing extreme child abuse, and the reality of being around sick children when they pass away. I know that this experience will be amazing and will be extremely relevant to my future career path, but I know that self-care is imperative. In order to better track and hold myself accountable these are the following habits that I will plan to develop:
1. Mindful Breathing 3 minutes at least 2 times a day. This will probably be easiest to implement right when I wake up and during my lunch break. The hope of this behavior is to help maintain clarity throughout the day and to be able to stay emotionally leveled.
2. Yoga once a week. With my new gym membership that actually has yoga classes this should be easier to achieve. My options are either Monday evening or Saturday morning. Yoga will not only allow me to reap emotional benefits, but it will help my body repair from the other workouts I complete during the week.
3. Establishing and Keeping a bed time. Sleep is so imnportant to a healthy mind and body. The rest of these goals will quickly fall through if I’m not getting enough sleep. In order for me to get a decent amount of sleep I need to be in bed no later then 11pm on a weekday.
4. Drink at a minimum of 10 glasses of water a day. If my days are busy it can definitely become more challenging stay hydrated. I need to make sure I carry enough water with me to make sure that I can continiously hydrate.
5. Bring lunch and snack into work- As of lately I have failed in meal prep and I end up throwing food together and it isn’t sufficient or I go out to eat more than I should. Both of these things are not great keeping body in relative homeostasis.
6. Lastly MOVEMENT- This generally is exercise but it doesn’t have to be so formal. The key factor is finding a time to MOVE throughout the day. Whether it be running, the gym, playing basketball, walking, yoga etc.. the important part is that I’m moving
The above are the goals I would like to begin to work on and now is the time to take this one small sustainable step at a time.
Earlier in the year I posted about practicing mindfulness and yoga more, but I wasn’t as successful I would like to have been. The reality I have to think of is that life habits are not made in sudden changes, but rather in small sustainable steps. Although I definitely fell off the radar at times with my mindfulness practice and yoga there were still times that I made a point to do it. Even if that was 5 or 6 minutes. My initial commitments may have been too big initially. So I’m revisiting of trying to practice once a week, but I’m not setting a specific time of how long it has to be. I would like it to be an hour, but for now I would like to create a habit that I can maintain.
Part of the struggle that I have had with practicing yoga is although I know all the tremendous health benefits (mind and body) I still have this deep rooted idead that is still necessary to run or do some other form exercise. This is definitely connected to the obsessive nature inside of me. Thankfully I have had people in my life who have kept me accountable by telling me to do yoga and not run or do anything else. One of the benefits of yoga is learning to accept yourself and things just as you are. My hopes that I can begin to implement yoga in more baby steps that the obsessive chatter will begin to die down. When I rest in Savasana at the end of yoga class it is great time to remind me to “Be Still and Know that I AM God.” With each breath I try to quiet my mind and breathe in not only air, but God’s hope, peace and light. With each exhale I try to let go and release whatever burdens I’m carrying whether they be physical or emotional. Some days it is a lot harder to quiet my mind and I don’t always leave feeling calm, but the reality is that without discipline and practice that chatter will be screaming in my ears.
Through the quiet and learning to silence the chatter I will begin to find the godly contentment not just myself, but in the world around me. It reminds me not to charge against situations I don’t like but learning to “Just Roll with It”. So I’m taking things one step at a time, and moving forward to a goal of rest and not fighting against the world
Many great things have occurred in the past month. The Run for RAINN was extremely successful it attracted over 300 participants and raised over 14,000 dollars for RAINN (due to matching supporters) this helps over 1400 victims. I could never of dreamed how awesome it went. The day prior was another milestone. I officially entered into a relationship, and there have been so many indicators of God’s hand and guidance in this relationship. I’m very excited to see how it will grow and develop. Aside from these thing there have been thoughts that have been insidious too…..and it doesn’t surprise me. I have been digging deeper and working through many things associated with the first rape, and all that was fleshed out even more so lately I wrote the following poem shortly after he contacted me.
Year after Year
I long to hear
The truth behind the smile
Flattery to only beguile
Or genuine, mixed with Failure
I swear it will cure
False Hopes, Resounding Silence
The hook goes out
I comply in psychosomatic obedience
Power & control in your hands
If I only knew your goal
Will you enter my land?
Or are you egotistically inclined
When will I let you be denied?
End the Chaos of my Mind
-God Give Me Strength-
There is something in me right now that makes me really want to write to actually literally confront, but I don’t know if I’m being irrational and if the timing is right for me to do so. For me to do this unplanned or spontaneously could be risky hazardous for my personal well being and I believe that it is something that I would mentally or spiritually be prepared for. The idea began to stir in my mind more due to things at my job. So many times you hear it; that the perpetrator was a picture perfect military member. This allows them so much room, because why would the all star be a rapist? The truth is that appearance of being an exceptional service member is such a common theme among perpetrators. I know that for me that confrontation will not mean I will hear an apology or even admittance of their behavior. That is what I have to be so careful of when it comes to my intentions. If my intentions are anything other then allowing myself to express myself then I’m setting up for failure and pain on my part. I feel as if my mind is all over the place right now. Need to find more cohesiveness to my thoughts.
I’ve always had such mixed emotions about my birthday. Usually there have been negative connotations due to not being where I want to be in my life. The idea that I see that as evenly remotely true is absurd, because although many of the things I’ve foreseen for myself have not occurred I have accomplished MUCH! This Saturday will be the 2nd annual Run for RAINN and I already have more participants then last year, and aside from raising money I’ve been able to make a difference in the life of other survivors. I need to remember the reasons why I do this.
As much as I can see the positive things in my life I seem to be overwhelmed by tears on the eve of my birth. I feel alone, which seems ridiculous but I do. I just felt like wanting people around today. I guess part of it is knowing how busy I will be tomorrow that I thought maybe I would do something night. I know that people are not psychic and I have accountability to that, but sometimes I want to feel as if someone has the time or notices me. In the past my birthday has been any other day or where I have taken myself out to eat by myself and treated myself. I’m so used to that idea that any other expectation seems facetious and I don’t raise my hope in others.
I feel as if I’m being utterly ridiculous, but my emotions are haywire. Although I know there are many other factors in that, but all the same I’m struggling and tonight I feel alone. I wish I could convince my feelings what my rational mind knows.
I know I haven’t written in awhile. I miss it. I’ve been incredibly busy planning this year’s Run for RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network). I had a stop a moment today and just say how mysterious and amazing God works. The past few weeks have been particularly challenging and emotional. March brings the anniversary of my first sexual assault.
Today is the anniversary of the day that the pattern and shape of my life forever changed. I was raped March 24th 7 years ago today, and although I shed some tears over it yesterday God has been working to redeem such a dark day. The real irony of it all is that the first perpetrator decided to contact me this month (he usually does the anniversary month of the rape) and although that was upsetting; what happened today outweighed that! First off I found out that I got into California State University of Northridge’s MSW program. I was shocked and elated. Last year I got rejected from three schools. Then finally I found out that the article I wrote to be released for the local newspaper was published! Link is as follows: http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/article/20140318/PRESSRELEASE/403180301/ . It was incredibly scary to let that out in a public way, but I’m always stressing that there is no shame in sexual assault and by speaking out I’m propagating that truth!
God has had his hand on my life in so many ways and I can see many positive things beginning to unfold; that I’m literally in tears of all that God has done. Continuously using my darkness and redeeming it for his purpose and to shine light and hope! There is also a virtual 5K this year for my Run for RAINN to enable people all over the country to run in solidarity for survivors. I already have people in Florida and NYC who whill be running for RAINN!
The following is the link for the run: http://www.active.com/lemoore-ca/running/distance-running-races/run-for-rainn-2014