Why I will never tell you to “be happy”!

(Having peace and contentment today without being happy.)

As I have hinted at in a previous post, I decided to go on a grand adventure. It is very early on Saturday morning where I’m at. I’m actually in Thailand. I booked my trip with three days notice. Spent the 72 hours packing and figuring out how I would ever make this work and with much trepidation, I was on my way. Chronic illnesses set aside and knowing I was bordering on completely crazy for doing this, I boarded a flight in San Francisco.

It’s been interesting so far. I have been out of my country, but never to the East. There have been some very warm hearted moments, like watching a Japanese family sit in front of me on my flight to Tokyo care for their toddler so lovingly on a very long flight. The couple also were extremely loving towards each other and watching them work together to get a toddler calmly through a nearly 12 hour flight was awe inspiring for me and healing as I saw the way parents are supposed to do it. This tiny little boy was probably the most loved child I ever saw. For the first time, I saw a child being parented, and I didn’t have any worries about “Tiger” as they called him. It was also fun for me and my own inner children to play peek a boo with him and talk to him despite that fact that he didn’t speak English, and I know nothing of Japanese. Sometimes playing with small children just for fun is nurturing for the soul.

I’ve had some not so nice moments too. As much as I’m finding some peace in Thailand, and even a touch of energy, I was reminded today by a very subtle cue that the sex trade industry is illustrious and cruel here. It made me intensely sad and heartbroken and angry that the abuse of young women and girls (probably boys too) is just accepted here and part of normal culture. I guess I didn’t expect it to be so obvious and public. Nonetheless, I found myself in a deep funk as being reminded that people are being currently traumatized is very hard on me.

I did do something good for me and different. I reached out to people as I was extremely jarred and having a huge trauma response to this. I got some not so great feedback like “you’re overly sensitive”, “be happy you get to go somewhere”, “my life is more difficult than yours as at least you are away”, and probably the worst offender, “get over it”. On the flip side, I got some pretty amazing feedback. A friend told me to light some candles and say a prayer. I texted an old therapist who sent a decent length text that I can’t make a synopsis of, but it was very supportive, and my meditation guru scheduled with me to do meditation via FaceTime in just a few hours from now to become recentered and back to my place of peace.

With all of this, I realized I came to Thailand to get back to my middle path. It was validated for me and I validated for myself that it’s ok to have intensely sad feelings for people being traumatized, but it’s also ok for me to have peace in myself and be on my healing path. I can have both, which is the center in my eyes.

I love that I just reached out. I love that I got feedback, helpful and angering. I just love that I tried something new instead of sitting with my intense feelings as I am literally alone thousands of miles from home.

So the point of this post is to tell you why I never tell people to be happy. I tell people to be peaceful, content, have abundant hearts, follow their path, and the list goes on, but I will never tell you to be happy about something. I’ve touched on this a few times in this blog, but happiness, at least for me isn’t real. It’s an extreme that I’m not striving for. As a child and into adulthood, my family always told me to just be happy with what I have. To be happy about everything no matter how awful life was. I pretended to be happy really well. People thought I was happy. Reality is that I was a suicidal mess most of the first 40 years of life.

It’s why I now strive for contentment and peace and abundance and even some elation at times. It’s the middle for me. It’s real. Peace inside is real for me. Contentment is real and feels better than the emotional extremes I experienced before.

So today was hard. It was also insightful as I realize I feel others pain so deeply that I take it on myself to the detriment of myself. I feel it could be a clue into why I’m so sick. Taking on the world’s pain is an underlying major stressor I have always dealt with. It’s a big reason why I never completed my Ph.D. In clinical psychology. At that time, especially, I couldn’t have had any separation between my pain and others. I’m learning though.

Today was hard. It was also full of lessons. I recognize the beauty of my feeling for others, but today I also recognize the beauty in caring for me. I also recognize that more people support me than I realize if I just allow it.

So have a peaceful and content day that is full of the middle. I am going to.

Love

Lizzie

What the heck happened to me?

(No reason for this picture. I just took it as I was driving yesterday evening and reminded me of how lovely it is to go outside and be inspired by something that happens everyday like the rise of the moon)

I have realized that I have doled out a whole lot of advice about living well and with peace, and I haven’t been following my own advice. Time for me to own up to my true feelings and admit what’s been happening this past month.

My natural state is to be positive and optimistic and do whatever I can to help myself remain that way even in the worst of circumstances. Well, I found myself in a circumstance that I just couldn’t help myself out of. I had 2 infusions of solumedrol about 5 weeks ago. It’s a very potent steroid that has numerous nasty side effects. I found myself very sick after these two infusions. My right side of my body went numb, my head throbbed 24/7, and my already crazy immune system had become compromised leaving me with the worst infection that 2 rounds of antibiotics wouldn’t touch. With being so sick, I couldn’t do much. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t write, and definitely no art. The worst part was that I was so contagious that no one could come over for a few weeks.

Let’s just say this was a recipe for disaster. As no one could come over, I started to lose myself in the thoughts that no one cared about me at all. Keep in mind, people were calling and texting, but I was sure the world had forgotten all about me. I still have this deep desire for people who will never give me love or caring to give it to me. So, I fell down that horrible hole of depression. It became so bad that I had decided that absolutely no one cared, and I came up with a suicide plan that I was going to do yesterday. I’m still here!!

I will tell you, I’m not exactly sure what changed my mindset or even got me through the hump, but sometimes all I can think is divine intervention. With all of this going on, I realized that I am only identifying as a trauma survivor and a sick person. I told all of you to get out and live life the way YOU want to and do the things that make YOU happy, while I stayed in my bed in total misery forgetting that I am a human too with many facets, and not just a diagnosis.

I started antivirals for my chronic Epstein Barr virus that the nurse practitioner at my neurologist’s office began to take seriously. I am actually beginning to feel a tiny bit better with some energy, which is a precious treasure in my life.

Best of all, I am going to do something that brings me peace and makes ME happy. I am taking a trip Wednesday very far away to a place where the entire culture embraces taking the middle path and living the spirit of the Tao. I am nervous and excited and scared and elated all at the same time. A very dear therapist once gave me the advice to feel all the feelings. That’s what I’m trying to do. I am excited to be in a country where smiling at others and holding doors open and courtesy, human connection, and centeredness are values shared by much of the population. Pretty different from the US I would say.

So, I’m taking my own advice and living without regret. I hope my trip goes well and that traveling is smooth and I reconnect with myself and the values of my worth as more than what the little I’ve allowed myself, especially these past few weeks.

My trip is huge, but I encourage everyone to do something to connect with your true nature and being and essence as we are more than what we believe ourselves to be. If you take the time to read my blog, I know you are beings of light and love and needed and wanted and loved. Remember it in those dark times. I wish I would’ve listened to others telling me this these past few weeks. Lesson learned. Listen to those who have your true nature in mind and genuinely love you.

Love

Lizzie

(PS I’ll let you know where I’m at when I get there. I don’t want to jinx any of it now!)

Replace Misery with Joy

This is a bit of a piggy back on my last post, but I feel the topic is important considering how many people I know that are needlessly suffering.

So, if you suffer from PTSD or complex PTSD, or have just had a lot of bad events in your life, you are probably still torturing yourself with the past. I would like to offer an alternative.

When I got really sick and realized my life had changed completely, I realized that I was absolutely done with being in emotional turmoil all the time. I wanted to live a joyous life, the best I could, given my circumstances. Do I still get bouts of depression, of course. The big switch for me is that I was tormented by my family pretty much my entire life until a year ago when I decided to leave them behind and start over alone. They had caused me so much grief in the way of horrible depression, anxiety, too many suicide attempts to count, and countless hospitalizations in psych hospitals. That is no way to live. The sad thing is, many of my friends who deal with what I’ve dealt with in my past are continuing to live this way.

Here’s an insight: YOU DON’T HAVE TO!!!!! You are in charge. If you are still actively engaged with an abusive person, get away and quick. Your life will significantly change for the better. You will find yourself more calm, and best of all, you can begin to heal your emotional life.

I can only say this from very personal experience. I know getting away from abusive people is extremely difficult as maybe they financially support you or you feel you absolutely need them. There are ways around this, and with a good plan, you can have freedom, which will result in joy.

If you live in a totally safe situation free of abuse, please treat yourself well, and pat yourself on the back for making a safe life. Don’t torture yourself with anxiety, self doubt, believing the inner critic, or feeling suicidal. You are safe. You made it. Work on cultivating joy instead of self hatred.

Let’s face it, we have all been hating ourselves for far too long. It still rears its ugly head in my life, but I am actively cultivating a life that is joyous and abundant. If I can do it being bed bound, in a ton of physical pain, facing brain surgery, you can do it too.

Please do it. The best, most wonderful people are suffering. Don’t you have just a small spark inside of something you’ve always wanted to do that you could begin today to make your life worth living and joyous? I know I do.

Love

Lizzie

Learn a Lesson From Me

(This picture was taken just days before I had gotten sick this time around. My son and I had enjoyed natural hot springs and taken a hike. I felt really free. I had no idea what was coming. Late January 2018)

I wrote this text today to a very dear friend who suffers from PTSD and debilitating anxiety. She is very young and a bit of a “project” for me. A project in the sense that I want her to have healing from what ails her much sooner than I did at 41. I love her like a daughter and consider her a bear cub of mine. I shortened her name to just “R” so not to out her identity. So, R, this whole post is dedicated to you and your healing journey and to all others who are working hard at making good lives for themselves. Please learn from my mistake. The text follows:

“R, please learn a lesson from me. If there’s something you want to do, do it no matter how bad your anxiety or PTSD symptoms are. There may just come a day that all the amazing things you want to do are suddenly ripped from you and the only places and things you can do are in your imagination. Live life R. Do the crazy, fun things you want. I hope you never end up disabled as I’m not only disabled, but full of regrets for the inhibitions my anxiety and depression caused me for years. If I wasn’t so scared, I could have had a life I could be looking back on fulfilled knowing I did what I wanted. Conquer your anxiety! And just live! As I can’t do much of anything.”

Please take this message to heart everyone. A very special therapist once said to me “feel the fear and do it anyway”. I wish I would have followed her advice before I became so sick. My fellow warriors in struggling, do your best to make your life what YOU want and do the things your heart desires. Please, if you have an able body, get out of bed or off the couch that anxiety is telling you that you need to stay in to be safe. Safety is being good to yourself, continuing on despite adversity, and having peace in your heart.

I challenge everyone to do one thing, no matter how small to make your own life just a little bit better and to show anxiety or depression that YOU are in charge. I think I’ll start with painting again tomorrow. What will you do?

Love

Lizzie

A Huge Pile of Mess

(An image of my mom filling my head with lies that still govern my life now)

Sorry I’ve disappeared for a bit. Ever since I had those infusions 3 weeks ago, I have been beyond sick and in so much pain that I didn’t even know this amount of suffering was possible.

I’m seen as a pillar of strength to so many and seen as inspirational to a lot, and now that I’ve had to draw some serious boundaries on what I’m capable of doing for others or supporting others, I’m getting a whole lot of nothing in return. So honestly, I’m really bitter. I’m in the worst place possible with my health and it’s a rare day that my phone rings or anyone messages me anymore as I can’t support other people right now. I have a couple, but they are busy with their own lives, and I appreciate what they can do.

It’s the people I spend countless hours helping that I just can’t do it right now that have stopped that make me intensely angry. It makes me angry as all these screwed up ideas that my mom planted in my head get reinforced like, “only happy people deserve love”. I know that’s a bunch of ridiculous BS, but it’s proving true in my life over and over. Yes, I slammed the door on a bunch of toxic people as they couldn’t support me, but why was that? Was it because I became very sick and was no longer “happy”. I was never happy previous to really working on my trauma this past year, but they thought they knew a happy Lizzie. So, maybe it is true. Maybe people have no interest in real connection.

All I know is that I’m alone, in the worst physical pain of my life where I can’t even enjoy reading or writing or doing my art or anything meaningful I’ve managed to create in these four walls.

What I do know, is I’m often curled up as a sobbing little ball of mess as no one apparently cares or at least that is how people are acting. Sorry all, I’m not happy right now and if that’s what’s expected for me to have people around, I’ll choose to be alone.

Going back to sobbing now as I’m in so much pain.

Love

Lizzie

The Joys of Illness

(Feeing sick, but content and peaceful)

I will say there is a certain amount of joy in being chronically ill as well as having complex PTSD. You probably wonder how I could ever find joy. Becoming so horribly and chronically ill has snapped me out of so many of my distortions of living that complex PTSD had forced upon me. For example, my perfectionism got thrown right out the window with chronic illness. When you barely have energy to shower, there is definitely no energy to put on a pretty face and make perfect hair. I like it as I don’t feel like it most of the time anyway!

It also snapped me out of black and white thinking and into a place of taking the middle road. There are no absolutes in life when chronically ill. In fact, the middle road is a the best and most peaceful place.

Chronic illness also taught me that I just don’t care. I care deeply about certain people of course, but I dropped so many people in my life as I realized they just dragged me down and I really don’t care about any of their drama anymore.

I’ve also become “selfish”. I am selfish with my time and energy as there is so little of it left that I get to choose how I use it and who I spend it with. This usually means it is devoted to only the most special people in my life and activities that I want to engage in.

Best part of all?? Retired at 40!!

Anyone find they are breaking old patterns for any reasons?

Love

Lizzie

Who Knows You’re Strong

This picture is from a few days ago when I had just started to receive infusion treatments for autoimmune issues that are pretty serious and was told this was going to truly help. I was full of so much hope that I was going to get some energy back, a bit of vitality, and even get in a hike before the snow falls on the Pacific Crest Trail.

A few hours, post infusion, I was sicker than sick. I managed to get in for my second one, and was literally crying as I left the infusion center as I was in so much pain. I skipped the third and have been trying to lay low with a cluster of symptoms that are making me feel horrendous. I found myself getting extremely heartbroken and disillusioned that I will never feel well. I had to put a big old STOP to that! As the truth is, I have a life. It might not be the life I had envisioned for me, but a life nonetheless. My mind is mentally stronger than it ever has been. I genuinely have more hope than ever, and the best part is, I am surrounded by good people, as long as I don’t push them away. So no, my life isn’t ideal for pretty much anyone, but yes, my life is ideal for me. It’s slow. It has time to reflect. It is full of time to rest. It is full of time for me. I dream of hiking the mountains I can see from my window. I yearn to swim in ice cold clear mountain lakes miles from my house. For now, I have to stay put. I can go to those places in my head and see them from when I went before. I can write about those experiences and relive them when I read what I wrote.

So this post may not be so much about trauma or complex PTSD, but it is proof that even under the most adversary of circumstances, life is there.

Remember that people around you admire your courage no matter how much you think it doesn’t show. My 11 year old son looked at me today and said, “Mom, you are the strongest person I know”. In my mind, I thought he was just disappointed in me for never being able to do much as I’m just too sick. His “strength” was about my character and made me realize that even if I become the most horribly, physically weak person on the planet, I am still strong. I am strong because I choose to do well with my life despite so much set back.

Who knows you are strong? Do you know you are strong?

Love

Lizzie

Shout Out to the Ones that are Suffering

I want to spread the message that if you are hurting today and find absolutely nothing good in this world this afternoon, Good for you!! We can’t be inspirational all the time, or even any of the time for most. Finding meaning in our pain is a lifelong process that some of us are lucky to find a little bit, or if you’re super lucky, you will use your pain to make a life worth living for YOU!

I give this shout out today as I found out a third person I’ve known now in 5 months committed suicide as they just couldn’t get over the pain of their life. It takes courage to live as long as you can when you feel so awful. It takes courage to secretly live a life so painful that no one even knew this person was suicidal. How courageous that they protected us all from their pain so we could all be ok while they were suffering the ultimate suffering?!

I absolutely don’t advocate suicide, but I understand what brings a person to that point as I have been there more times than I ever admit. But there was also courage in this person’s choice. Am I intensely sad they are gone? Yes. Am I intensely befallen with grief that I couldn’t help? Absolutely. Am I intensely enraged that another friend of mine is dead because they couldn’t see the beauty I saw? More than you can ever imagine. I am happy in that I can only hope they are finding some peace before their spirit moves onto whatever is next. Well, “happy” is the wrong word, it’s more like I find solace in hoping they are finding some peace.

I also just want to give a shout out for all my friends that I’ve attempted to help this past week. So many of you are completely lost in the pain of depression or allowing others to hurt you. So I applaud you for making the choice to live through it. I admire the courage you are all engaging in to make it another day when people around you cause you to question your goodness or you are believing your inner critic telling you that you aren’t good enough. Shout out Shout out Shout out for continuing on as I’m getting sick of my friends dying.

If you’re having a particularly rough day, contact me. If you know me personally, then contact me personally. If you don’t, send me an email via this blog.

Today I am sitting with gratitude that I can share what has made my life better. It’s not that my life is amazing and easy, but every moment gets the slightest bit better, even the super painful ones.

I promise to share more of my personal story and how I came to this place. I have just been contemplating how and what to tell as I don’t want to do it in a triggering manner, but a way you will all see that it was a lot of work, and I come to this place in complete honesty of knowing a life that was beyond hard.

Just remember, shout out to the suffering today!

Love

Lizzie

Disappearing Act

Are you an amazing magician that can disappear when you need to the least? I am! What I mean by this is we have a tendency to disappear and not talk to anyone when we need help the most. Why do we do this? If you have any kind of trauma, our trauma taught us that if we are suffering, there will never be anyone reliable or safe to care for us if we really need help. Unfortunately, these were the times we were taught to go it alone.

I write this as 3 different people in my life have disappeared for a bit. One said something along the lines of not being in a space to talk to anyone. Another said she was going through a hard anti social period, and yet another has just been trained to be alone as a lifelong way of dealing with the world. It makes me terribly sad that my friends go hide by themselves when they hurt the most. What hurts even more, is that I understand why. I feel like no one wants to see me pain. Sometimes, it definitely gets validated that no one wants to see my pain. BUT, the new way of doing things for me IS to reach out. I have different levels of people I can tell what really hurts. I have a friend on the other side of the country that I can tell everything and never overwhelm her. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a person I can contact and just say, “I’m having a bad day. Could you please help me reframe what is good in my life?”

What I have definitely learned is that reaching out, just a tiny bit, helps so much. I may need to cry my huge tears and feel horribly painful emotions for a bit first, but then I do reach out. I let people know my struggles. Having a very very very small circle that walk beside me helps a lot. Thank you to those of you who work so hard at keeping me following the right path to healing.

If you are hurting today and doing a disappearing act, reach out to me. Your emails to me are life saving and life changing to me. I love hearing from you and supporting others the best I can. You can also feel free to comment. (Remember when commenting, you never have to give a real name if you want to stay anonymous. I understand!)

Love

Lizzie