Hey friends! Hope you are all doing great!
With so many talking about stoping the stigma, I thought I would do my part to help! Just this week I reacted to a trigger with an old, very unhealthy, coping skill! Honestly I thought I had worked through this one a few years back. This nasty reaction just showed up out of nowhere, after I felt hurt by the action of another. It wasn’t pretty.
Good news though, just in one day, I was able to process the trigger, understanding why I acted negatively. I am here to tell you, It was exhausting, I forgot how this way of thinking totally can drain you!
The following day at work, I shared my trigger with a safe and trusting friend. A short while later, she came up to my desk and asked me “So now that you have been triggered, how will you use self care?” Wow! This is exactly what I needed to hear and the reason we all should share our stories with someone you trust.
Luckily for me, my husband has also done hard work to understand some of his own unhealthy coping skills. Although he doesn’t share as openly as I do, I know he has shared with others one on one. Since he is so private, I wanted to let you all know he has given me permission to share he is in therapy.
I have seen a change in the way my husband reacts to certain triggers that once caused him so much stress and anger. I am so proud of him, I know the courage it takes to look deep inside of yourself to make positive changes. I can’t tell you how much this means to me, expecially since he is a total “man’s man”. His hard work has shown me he loves me and our marriage enough to make the necessary changes for a successful marriage.
I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me that my husband is doing the hard work. There is no gift on this earth that could mean more to me. I have always said “actions speak louder than words” and this action is by far the best! Thanks honey!
So back to my trigger, sadly it was my husband who was in the receiving end. It wasn’t pretty, however since we both understand what triggers each other, I was able to apologize, then we talked about how we can better handle in the future. In the past, this process would have taken days and instead of working through it, we probably stored it away to use as a weapon in the future.
Today is a much better day! I am taking that self care day my friend suggested writing and watching some SEC football (Go Bama!). So here is a big shout out to my friend! Thank you for caring enough to remind me that it is okay to go backwards, but when you do, make darn sure you take care of you with some self care!
I can’t tell you enough how important self care is for all of us, expecially after a negative trigger or your feeling a lot of stress. For me, my favorite ways to “self care” are writing, listening to music and spending time with God. I also like to de-clutter my home, walk, make a graditude list. But today, it is writing.
Self care can also be sitting in a warm bath, reading a novel in one day. It can be exercising. A long warm bath. Journaling. Taking a walk or hiking. Meeting with a counselor. Unplug from social media for a day. Having lunch with a friend. Whatever yours might be, make it a habit. It really helps you unwind and feel less stressed.
Listen I get it, I know there are still some of you who think therapy is a sign of weakness or just a way to blame your parents for your childhood, but I promise you, talking to someone is nothing like this at all. Therapy is a way to work through life events such as the death of a loved one, divorce, miscarriage, abuse, or any event that is causing stress or unhealthy actions in your life. A therapist or counselor will help you understand what is causing your stress, then help you discover new ways to handle how we react to those stresses.
Here are just a few examples of unhealthy coping skills: using alcohol or drugs; defensiveness; sleeping away a problem; using ultimatums; negative body language like rolling your eyes; over eating or under-eating; lack of communication; gossiping or venting (in moderating venting can be good, however if it is just spreading negativity and there is no change, that is when it is unhealthy); manipulation; withdrawing or isolation; gambling; overspending; anger towards others; reacting before thinking; staying too busy; playing a victim. I know there are many more. If you are struggling and your life seems stuck because of an unhealthy pattern, it is okay to reach out for help.
And for those of you who are reading this and thinking how in the world could I share any of this, I will tell you I no longer let shame stand in my way. I have come to a place in my life that I just can’t worry about stigma or what others will say behind my back, especially since so many of you are loosing your battles. God changed my heart many years ago and placed two terrific therapist in my life. So it is a no brainer, if I don’t share, I am not following His path. I know He has my back and beleive me, whether you know it or not, He has yours too.
Just the other day while checking out at the front desk after a doctors visit, one of the young kids checking me out starting sharing his story, using humor. He laughed and said he needed lot of therapy. I replied without hesitation “boy don’t’ we all need a little help learning positive ways to handle stress, I have no idea how I would have made it this far without it”.
Then the young girl next to him, who is very shy and has checked me out a few years now, looked at me and said “Did you really go to therapy? I have heard it helps so much, can you recommend someone?” I smiled at her and said of course and gave her the name of my husbands, then I gave her the name mine. I said to her while giving her the name of mine, “if this is for you, she only takes referrals” then she quickly said “it is” I smiled then told her to let her know I referred her. She smiled telling me “thank you so much for sharing this or I might never have tried to find someone”. I smiled and said “your welcome, good luck, you will love her”.
Just another reminder how important it is to share our stories of healing and victory, never feeling shame or stigma.
So if you are reading this and you know you rely on unhealthy ways to handle life and all its stressors, I encourage you to find a counselor, therapist, pastor, social worker, someone to help you to learn healthier ways to react to stress. Your life will have more joy and your relationships will be so much richer!
Believe me, I am far from perfect! I make all kind of mistakes. I can be messy. I still tend to isolate myself. I have bad days. I can easily go backwards, using old unhealthy reactions, without notice. However, now I am able to understand and process why I am reacting unhealthy and can quickly find a healthier way to react or solve a problem.
I still have to make a conscious decision each day to use what I have learned. Some days, I fail miserable. Then there are some days the healthy skills that were taught to me come much easier, just like taking a breath. It is hard work but so worth it!
And on a side note, let me share this with you. I have seen five people in my own circle of family and friends, just in the last five years, start their own journey of learning healthy coping skills. These are folks I never in a million years thought would reach out.
So never be afraid to share your own stories, you never know who is listening.
And as always, in everything in my life, I give ALL the Glory to God.
Love to all!