Monthly Archives: February 2014

Affirmation Cards

In a few of my previous posts I’ve talked briefly about affirmation card and the many benefits. I’m really happy that I started making and using them a few years ago after a friend of mine suggested them. They were key in me healing and becoming able to say I love and respect myself. Affirmation cards can be about anything negative in your life that you are trying to change into a positive. They can be for addiction, depression, anxiety, anger, eating disorders and so much more. You can tailor them to tie into your spiritual or religious beliefs or leave that out if you are not spiritual/religious. 

One thing I tell everyone is, give them time and use them once a day while looking at yourself in a mirror. It can be scary at first, embarrassing or a little painful. I remember when I first started them I wanted to throw up saying such nice things about myself, but after a week I started to look forward to doing it. Now I completely believe the ones I have worked on. “I am beautiful”, “I don’t need to be in a romantic relationship to be happy”, and “I deserve happiness” are three of the cards I have used, and still use the most. 

I decided to start making affirmation cards and dress them up with flower embellishments and brads. I have an Etsy shop and try to tailor the art I sell from my shop towards healing and recovery. I finally have some up! If you’d like to take a look you can find my shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/ValkyrieAesthetics

Have you ever used affirmation cards? If so, what are some of your favorites? If not, would you like to try them? Thank you for reading!!!!

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I am valuable and you are too!

Ever since I took a sensual/sexual interest in other people (I’m pansexual, I don’t pay attention to gender) I had a terrible habit of getting into a relationship and as soon as it ended, get into a new one. Many people said extremely hurtful things to me and about me. The most common was “what a slut”. It’s funny…most of these relationships never entailed sex. I did this until my son’s father and I split up. I knew it was a problem, but I literally could not stop myself. After my daughter’s father made it clear that our relationship was fake when we found out I was pregnant I realized that I could no longer run from this problem. Facing it was one of the scariest and most anxiety-provoking issues I’ve faced yet.

 

I thought, I bounced my feelings off of two very close friends of mine, prayed, thought some more, journaled, cried, had panic attacks, got angry and broke down within the walls of my therapist’s office. I finally came to the realization that this “relationship addiction” boiled down to three deep seated issues.

 

1.) I had a deep intense fear of abandonment. Growing up I didn’t have two parents who loved and cared for me, I had no stability and my needs were rarely met. I learned growing up that if you wanted a sliver of chance that someone would stay in my life and care for me is to give them everything they ask for. I was terrified to be alone.

 

2.) My self worth was non-existent. I was taught growing up that I was a complete waste of time, space and effort. I did not deserve love, affection, care…I did not deserve anything but to be ignored, beaten, abused and put down. I was supposed to serve without any hope of reciprocation. Because of this I based my happiness off of my current partner.

 

3.) I only deserved abusive, narcissistic assholes. This one plays off of number two. Because I believed all I deserved was shit, all I got was shit.

 

One thing that I want to point out, because I know for a fact I am not the only person that has had this problem. You should never in any circumstance base your happiness and wellbeing off of another person. Even if that person treats you well, loves and cares for you…this is deadly. If that person gets sick, passes away, begins to fall into depression, addiction, etc…you are in huge trouble. To make matters worse, you will always have to live with the inner dialogue that is often demeaning and dangerous. Please…whatever you do, stop living for other people. This is okay in the very very beginning (in my opinion) if you are suicidal. If you need, for a VERY short time, someone else to stay on this earth for, then okay. Once you are out of crisis mode you gotta stop that. I know it is extremely hard and paralyzingly scary, but I am living proof that it is possible. Once you start living for you, loving you, respecting you every aspect of your life will improve drastically.

 

Fear of abandonment. Yes, this is another very difficult hurdle, but overcoming it is possible. One of my beliefs is that if you want something bad enough and you don’t give up when things get hard, you will get there. Perseverance and a positive attitude will get you anywhere.When you start working on loving and respecting yourself you will start weeding toxic people out of your life and surrounding yourself with people who put positivity back into your life. You also begin to realize that even out of a relationship you are special and strong. You no longer require another person to hold you together. A really great way one of my dear friends described it was: “Basing your happiness and self worth on another is a huge burden to bear”. Even if you don’t mean it that way, my friend is completely correct. It is a massive burden to be someone’s only source of happiness. I have personally seen people fall apart over the burden and I have personally broken down due to the same burden a loved one placed on me.

 

Changing how I felt about myself was the key to fixing these issues. My dear friend suggested that I write up affirmation cards. At first I put it off, scared at the idea. Looking at myself in the mirror used to make me physically ill. After a while I listened to her and I will forever be grateful. I wrote on little notecards things like: “I deserve happiness” and “I don’t need a partner to be happy and whole” and “I am beautiful”. I ended up making upwards of twenty. I forced myself to go into the bathroom and receipt each card OUT LOUD while looking at my reflection. It truly was painful at first. I felt embarrassed, like I didn’t deserve to be saying such good things about myself. Pretty soon though, everything changed. I started believing every word that I spoke and I still do. Remember when your abusers told you horrible things about you? They pounded them into your head every single chance they got? You started believing it because it was all you were hearing. It works the same way with positive change. Flood your mind with positivity, happiness and THE TRUTH. You are beautiful, worthy, strong and capable. You are of sound mind and deserve the best! Don’t settle for jerks, don’t settle for broken and tore down. Seek out your value and don’t let anyone take it from you again.

 

My best relationship advice I can give anyone is take time to heal and “analyze” a failed relationship. Don’t obsess about it, but analyze the red flags you ignored (or didn’t see), the needs and wants you weren’t getting met, the things you could have done differently. Time is your friend. TIme will not only help you heal, but it will help you see things clearer and better yourself for next time. Make a list of what you need and want in a relationship and the things you consider a deal breaker. Once you have some time being by yourself (and focusing on loving and building yourself up) very slowly ease into dating. Do not get physical with them, don’t make promises, don’t get too close too fast. Rushing into anything is almost always not a good thing. I can’t tell you how many times I was blinded by “love adrenaline” and thought I knew the person. Yeah, I thought I knew them and the next thing I knew I was being abused and thrown out like trash. I have also learned that taking your time can make things that much more enjoyable and exciting.

 

One more thing I want to share, that will hopefully very clearly demonstrate how I have changed concerning relationships. In the past when (especially a man) would approach me about being physical with them I would shut down. Now? I make sure that person knows exactly how I feel about their stupid and arrogant idea. I don’t let people even talk to me that way anymore. I deserve respect and if you can’t give that to me, you get the Hell out of my life. Just because a man or woman says they want you, doesn’t mean they want you. They may just want to use you. Not always, but a lot of the time. If you don’t take the time to get to know each other…love each other, it will just be using. You deserve good things, don’t settle for crap.

 

 

 

Breaking the silence.

The first account of abuse I can remember today was at age four. I was an innocent, happy, loving and gentle four year old that was in love with being alive. I was abused physically, emotionally, and sexually. No one deserves abuse, especially a child. As I grew up, I was victimized again and again and again. Every single time the perpetrator was someone I knew, usually a family member or friend. Having more than one abuser strengthened the lie I was told that I was bad, dirty and deserved what was happening to me. I began to believe that I was born to suffer and be beat and broken. I made friends with people who took advantage of me, I stayed around family members who hurt me and I picked lovers who tortured me. For a long time I have kept secrets…secrets of my abusers. Why did I do this? Because I was afraid to die. I was afraid that one, several or all of my abusers would track me down and kill me. If you need a second reason…it was also because I was afraid of what this harsh world often thinks of victims. That they must have deserved what happened to them.

I was told that they loved me. I was told that they cared, and this was how people who loved each other proved it. I was told that I was bad. I was told I was a slut. I was told that I was a piece of trash. I was told no one would believe me. I was told if I struggled I would be killed…or my family would be. I was told that a husband could not rape his wife. I was told many sick lies. Do you see what I just said? LIES. I was told LIES. abusers lie to their victims to induce deep and paralyzing fear. They do this to ensure you will keep THEIR nasty secret. You are innocent, you are clean and beautiful and worthy and do not deserve to be harmed. The brainwashing sets in fast, but you can reverse it.

Today was one of the most difficult days of my life. I wanted to write this short entry to tell you that. Today I struggled bad. Today I drove myself to a city where many horrible things were done to me that changed me forever. I went to the police station and it just so happened to be across the street from one of the locations of the abuse. It was hard…no it was VERY hard. I took a deep breath in the car and I looked at myself in the mirror of my visor and said out loud: I am doing the right thing. I walked in and I retold the abuse that spanned many months to a police officer. She took my statement and she comforted me. I was blown away by how well she was trained for this. She knew that I would second guess myself, that I would become fearful and sick. She knew that I would hear the lies in my head and want to dart for the door. She reassured me and helped reorient me. I am very thankful for the people behind the scenes in this process…you know who you are (if you ever read this) and I am very thankful for the friends who support me when I’m strong, and more importantly support me when I am struggling to hold on. I always say…there is nothing wrong with having help. When a storm comes the captain needs more men to help on the ship. Get the help you need, keep your eye on the goal and hold fast.

I know that coming forward and breaking the silence is extremely painful and scary. The thought of it even can induce pain and panic. I strongly believe this is one of the hardest things a human being can go through…but it is possible and in most cases it helps a lot. I can tell you that I feel great relief and confidence already. I am still scared, but I am no longer ruled by my fear. It took me 26 years to get here, so be gentle with yourself. This takes time. I still have many many many more miles to go. I just want you to know there is hope, help and healing. You don’t have to live in the darkness anymore, afraid to live your life. It is them that should live in fear, not you. You aren’t alone, I am with you! I love all of you.

Your friend, Dandi

Why we need coping skills

Effective coping mechanisms are very important to have and implement every day. In my life they have helped reduce stress and reduce the probability of a breakdown or panic attack. They have also helped me come back down from a full-blown crisis. There are millions of ways to cope with uncomfortable feelings and situations. Unfortunately some methods of coping are not only ineffective, but deadly. My go-to coping skills for the majority of my life (before getting on my healing path) were self-injury, writing, drawing (and for a few years) abusing drugs. Two of those were great. They were positive, effective and did not take away from the quality of my life. Two of those were very dangerous and at times nearly fatal.

 

One important thing to know about coping skills is to never rely on one. Branch out, brainstorm, look them up online, talking to other people. It is very good to make a list of as many as you can and have several copies of the list around the house. If you can, have one at work too! Many times I find myself in a position where I can’t use a coping skill I often rely on or suddenly, for that particular situation the usuals don’t work.

 

During one of my many hospitalizations all of my art and writing supplies were taken from me. The nurses said they were doing this to keep me safe from myself. Of course, I flipped the Hell out. Writing my stories and drawing are my strongest, most effective coping skills. I also don’t respond well to being controlled by anyone. I got very upset and I shut down. I ended up harming myself that night. The next day my doctor had the occupational therapist come to the unit and speak with me. Both the doctor and the OT disagreed with the unit nurses about taking the tools necessary for me to vent, cope and move on.

 

The occupational therapist gave me several sheets of printer paper and a blue crayon. (I still have these sheets of paper). She told me if I could come up with 50-100 better ways to cope with my feelings than self-harm they would give me all of my art/writing supplies back. I came up with over 300. This exercise not only helped me earn back my things, but it taught me a very valuable lesson. There are millions of other ways to cope than the ways you are used to.

 

Not all coping skills help every person. Not every person benefits from drawing like I do just like I don’t benefit from running (as a coping skill) as others do. It is good to keep them in mind though. Like I said earlier, for one reason or another sometimes you may find yourself in a position where you need to try others.

 

Just off the top of my head, here is a great list of coping skills I use.

 

  1. Drawing

  2. Painting

  3. Creative writing

  4. Journaling

  5. Writing an angry letter then disposing of it in one way or another (Grace also talked about this in her blog for me)

  6. Crying

  7. Screaming

  8. Venting to another person (but don’t turn it into obsessing about the problem)

  9. Watching a funny or calming movie or television show

  10. Listening to music (do watch out though for the effect sad music can have…please be very careful with this. Sad music is great, but it is also very powerful. It actually aided me in relapsing a few times).

  11. Meditation

  12. Praying to your higher power

  13. Holding and petting an animal

  14. Calling your therapist. (This can also be a great exercise in overcoming feelings of inadequacy. If you are in an emotional crisis you deserve to talk to someone and if you have a good therapist they won’t mind you are calling. And if they do…you may want to look into firing them and getting a good one)

  15. Exercise (swimming, fencing, football, hockey, running, martial arts, etc)

  16. Tai Chi (OMG this is a fav of mine. One psychiatric hospital-the Veterans Affairs psych unit in Battle Creek, Michigan offered this for us several times a week)

  17. Playing an instrument-this includes singing!

  18. Writing lyrics

  19. Cooking or baking

  20. Eating. (Again, be careful you aren’t overeating. Overeating and undereating are not positive. Both of them can harm you physically as well as emotionally, but if you are hungry…feed your body. If you are not well nourished you are in no shape to be fighting emotionally. You DESERVE to eat.)

  21. Sleeping. (yet another function of our body that we need. If you are tired, make sure you get some sleep.)

  22. Laugh. (Seriously…look up funny stuff. I do this almost every day. Look up jokes, look up funny pictures…something to make you laugh your ass off.)

  23. Positive affirmations (especially in the mirror. Look at your reflection and reciete these positive statements OUT LOUD. They do help very much as long as you do them very often. The more you hear yourself say them while looking at yourself, the more you believe them)

  24. Go to church (whatever form suits you whether it’s a Christian church or a Buddhist temple. If it works for you and helps you get closer to your higher power do it).

  25. Read spiritual material

  26. Play a game

  27. Go to a 12 step or support meeting of some kind (This has literally saved my life more times than I can count. There are online meetings if you absolutely can’t leave your house at http://www.stepchat.com/ )

  28. Go to a meeting or gathering (www.meetup.com offers some great ones in many different areas and usually your local library and recreational centers have them as well)

  29. Color in a coloring book. (For me this is very similar to playing with a zen garden. It helps me view life a little simpler. It often reduces my anxiety a great deal. It is also wonderful if you have DID and have “littles” **littles are child alters**)

  30. Self soothe. (Engage in activities that appeal to your senses)

You are wonderful and you deserve to feel good and love yourself. I know it’s not easy and that it can take years to believe…but it is okay to love yourself. This is not selfish or wrong. Loving yourself is the key to having a happy, healthy and successful life. If you love yourself then you can start dressing the way you want to, asserting yourself, not settling, expressing yourself the way you want to and so much more. Sometimes I still have days where I struggle with loving myself, but overall I am doing 300 times better than I was just two years ago. I can tell you that the quality of my life has gone from: fuck this bullshit to I can’t wait to experience more. Be gentle with yourself and realize this stuff takes time and that is okay! You didn’t fall into this blackhole of crap in a night (it’s usually a process of things spiraling)…you aren’t going to heal overnight. Try to remember that everyday, every hour, every minute you are making progress so long as you don’t give up.

 

I hope these suggestions helped! If not, that’s okay! There are SO many more out there. Here are some great websites: http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/DiscoverIt/Articles/Pages/99-Coping-Skills.aspx

http://awarenessadventures.blogspot.com/2013/03/100-coping-skills.html

http://www.suzannewelstead.com/resources/SafeCopingSkills.pdf

 

What are some of your coping skills? Do you have any inspirational stories on how implementing your coping skills saved your life? Feel free to share!