I moved this weekend. It has been a challenging transition, as I have had to go through an arduous process for acceptance into my new residence. I was down to the wire with my time window. My anxiety was peaking. I didn’t have a way to have a back up plan for my plan. I had to contend with myself. So, I moved through the process in the following ways.
Tip One: Acceptance
Accept that whatever situation you are in is, in fact, an anxiety causing situation. Don’t deny yourself that truth. Don’t feel ashamed about feeling anxious. Everyone was telling me that it would all be okay. They were right. It was. Yet, in that moment that it was NOT alright, I had no guarantee that it would be. So, I just said “Yeah, you’re right, it’ll be okay.” But I didn’t mean it. Inside I was very anxious.
So, I accepted that yes, this was a stressful situation, and my feelings of worry were valid. Things weren’t set in stone yet. That’s an unsteady feeling for anyone, much less a trauma survivor. My first step of dealing with the transition was to accept that it absolutely was a valid situation to feel anxiousness over. I did not war against this emotion in me.
A step beyond acceptance is radical acceptance. This is when I have accepted that there is nothing I can do to change the current situation. It is in this moment that I breathe a lot. I stay very inward focused on my physical body. I stay aware of tenseness in my muscles, a sign my agitation might be growing. I listen to my heartbeat. I pay attention to my physical feelings as well as my emotions.
Tip Two: Self Soothing
It is great to have people we can vent our worry out with. Yet, I find that most often, doing so can cause my anxiety to rise. For me, the act of too much discussing of my worry and anxiety is almost a fueling of it at times; especially if it’s not a solution based anxiety, meaning there is no specific solution. Only patience is the answer. Now I must carry myself through this act.
During self soothing I focus on my thoughts. I avoid negative thinking like:
- Nothing ever goes right for me
- It’s probably all going to fall through
- Do I pack?
- This is too much chaos!
- I’m freaking out!
Instead, I live and think as if it is already happening. I packed. I imagined myself in my new space. I jumped on Pinterest and looked at some ideas for my new space. I envisioned the pallet I was going to create. I imagined my art in the walls. I saw myself finishing the sequel to Cult Child and making more art with new surroundings and inspiration.
I had a message telling me for sure I was approved, just a few signatures needed to be finalized. I just didn’t want to have to be left with just two days to move everything. I knew the many trips and hauling in a short time would leave me sore. I knew this was the root of my anxiety. So, I sat with that. I asked myself.
What is the worst that can happen? Sore muscles and back? I listed the ways I would soothe; baths, resting, laying down, hydrating, taking it easy unpacking. I focused myself away from the worry of being left to move in a short time to the fact that even if I get sore and exhausted, it passes and life continues on. I thought about how lucky I am to have a great friend and family to help me.
When I was a child, I wasn’t held when I worried or cried. I didn’t have anyone to tell me that it’s going to be okay! So I can forget to reassure myself.
I radically accepted that this transition was not going to go exactly how I wished it to go. I accepted that I would survive moving with IT, instead of it moving with ME. I breathed and said okay, I’m stepping into this change. I left complaining behind for reveling in the joy of a transition I’ve been waiting a very long time to make.
Tip Three: Celebrating!
When the change is over, absolutely do NOT forget to celebrate yourself. Not in a, collapse on the couch and and say “whew, I got through THAT!” kind of celebrating. No. Take time to sit and really revel in every moment when you wavered and worried and kept going. Laugh with it. Tell yourself, damn I’m amazing. What seems like a small step to some is a major step for us. We deserve to celebrate.
Order some take out if it’s been a while. Buy a new shirt; go Goodwill hunting. Write about it. Make something new as a gift to yourself. Something. Anything. Pause to take a moment and really truly celebrate that you got through that thing you worried so much about.
When I was a little girl, no one ever said, “Good job! Wow!” I wasn’t asked about my hopes and dreams. I wasn’t told I was exceptional in any way. Because of this, I can forget that it is okay to humbly celebrate myself.
How we trauma survivors are able to move through change, or sudden change, is centered within the confounds of our own thoughts. We learn the art of self mindfulness and awareness. We learn to put our needs first in a way which keeps us healthy.
Acceptance. Soothing. Celebrating.
Remember that it is perfectly acceptable to take care of you. Do not shun yourself. Love yourself.
I soothed myself through my transition. Now, as I write this, I am peacefully soaking in my new living room view and the beauty of my city.
In battle, small platoons take hold positions. Their leaders converse and strategize. It is neither a battle they plan to fight nor a war they wish to start. It will be a complete conquering, and this must be a smooth sweep.
Such things are not decided upon quickly. Every angle is inspected thoroughly and repeatedly. This takes skill and strategy. The aim is to hold awareness of the whole. Forward movement of this kind must be slow.
The building of momentum need be quiet and reserved in a space of occasional observation. Each step should be focused on, momentarily pushing others aside until their turn arrives. This the weaving of human life.
There are targets to decide. Which ones hide and which ones are irrelevant? In this battle the score is the core. Straight in. No diversion. Implosion. Precise decision.
Wait and wonder is a skill that works in sync with timing. When the unknown is contained, let it view itself free. Then enact the deeds piece by piece, strategically.
The way of the warrior sees all. It holds integrity and passion. It surveys the landscape quietly, momentarily, while dancing still in movement. Invisible, the warrior slides into position, hidden and becomes the all of what is to come. They each arrive alone, gathering to become the storm.
When I was a small girl and well into puberty, I lived an abused, contained life through which I was disallowed any individual choice or voice. As I grew into my early preteen and teenage years, I found secret ways to write small poems and release emotions I needed to purge. In the Alaskan tundra, down off of Richardson Highway, on a cult compound, deep inside forests of evergreen trees, are the remnants of thirty five-year-old paper journals I hid there as a child.
After leaving Sam Fife’s Move of God cult, I spent my life writing, not as a forced concentration, but as a part of who I am and was. I have always written in journals, on remnants of paper, glued or tucked inside of those journals, and jokingly laugh that when I die, my sons and grandchildren will have a field day going through my writing. I sometimes envision my granddaughters as older women, laughing as they read my thoughts and the most secret parts of my heart.
When I decided to open up my online store, Designs by Vennie, I passionately wanted to have products which are unique to the inspiration of writing out our trauma and documenting our triumphs. I also wanted to wear my cause, Survivor Voices.
Last year was a year of creating digital art and taking photographs. I was releasing so many of my memories through the layers and collages I created. I chose the ones which impact me the most as covers for my journals.
I created t-shirts and matching caps to support wearing this cause of us survivors being able to own our voice. We have the right to speak our truth. We have the right to be believed. We have the right for justice and respect. We are not mentally ill. Our abusers are. I want this apparel to be a simple statement which can start a strong conversation.
I loved this watch because it has multiple colorful bands to choose from and brings color into my wardrobe. It’s also sporty and inspires me to go take walks, since it is sweat proof and sporty. We survivors deserve to love ourselves. We should go outside and get into nature to remind ourselves that life is worth living. Wearing a watch is also good for the writing process. If you have a memory or thought to write in your journal, you will be able to immediately note the time, which is an important part of documenting our journey.
May your life be filled with color. May your pages be filled with the truth of you. May you proudly wear your voice, start a conversation and without shame, tell your story.
Where do I go when I float?
Away from the frayed tentacles
Of memories and ligaments,
Strained from twisting, turning,
Child, they said, this hurts me
More than it hurts you. No.
I go back to moments and sit,
Quiet inside the hopelessness it’s
Good to remember this; to never forget
Lest I leave behind the reasons why
I fight until my brows ache.
You got lucky if you didn’t get raped.
It takes the soul away; flight, it
Wanders in dark nights and mires,
Like quicksand, it is the hand of
Every time we were violated
Again and again and again.
Rock with the sadness, my loves.
Hold it bravely in your tender arms,
Like a baby you can re-love the child;
The defiled despair living there
In the core that is shattered and torn.
Fly with the visions, sweet thrivers,
Take back your mind. Release the ghosts.
You are not that anymore; not the
Forgotten child in the chains
Of monsters and madness. No.
You face yourself in the mirror;
Command the past and swaddle
It into the depth of your soft heart.
“You loved me,” I said, “when I was at my lowest. Yet, I didn’t quite know you were loving me. I was in tears so many days. You held me. Together we traveled the tunnels of rewound memories, finding ourselves sometimes on clouds and others in quagmire. Through these times, these deep struggles, you were always there, even when I wasn’t aware of your presence. Now, as I look into your eyes, clear and concise, I am elated that you were patient. You waited. You got to know each part of me explicitly. We have grown into one moving energy, crafted through the moments I struggled to find you, calling you to please come to me as you were wandering. Today I am grateful. Today I say thank you. Thank you for returning to me; for finding me and being inside my wholeness.”
“You’re welcome.” Replied the girl in the mirror.
The rain is folding in waves against the windows. I close my eyes into moments of lull. In the intricate weaving of life, a flow emerges. Remain steady. Stand ready. I am swaying on cusps, seeing into futures, and I delight at the hope before me. This choice I have been given, to live a life of noticing the smallest things, is the most precious gem I hold. My gold is woven in possibilities and endless patterns of emerging change. Sunsets have no ends nor sunrise beginnings. It is an infinite timelessness merging days into slow minutes. Everything can change in an instant. Tides turn as I row with the ebb and flow. This sea is more vast than I can see. Endlessness is filled with rhythm and hope. I am home no matter where I roam because life is always surging. I was born with portals for DNA, and so I travel the waves through distance. This is my time.