These are the words a client of mine shared about her rape. She agreed that I could share it with you.
Before I was violated, life comprised of work, home, family and other interests. I was impenetrable and unbreakable, young, in love and working at a job I was really into...until that one moment which stole everything from me and robbed me of a life I no longer dream of.
1. I wish I didn't know who he was, because it makes being around the people that I do know so hard!
2. I wish I could be normal again. Being who I used to be is one of the most difficult things to get back. I can't be the regular me with people anymore.
3. For a really long time it was easy to pretend that it never happened. I knew it did, I was there, it happened to me but somehow pretending it didn't and blocking it from the present was easiest because it allowed me to cope with the here and now.
4. I wish I didn't remember... But the details play themselves over and over in my minds' eye, and I can't stop the flashes nor can I stop feeling the emotions that come with it and I see myself back in that dark place, time and time again. And I wish I didn't!
5. I wish I didn't have sleepless nights and I wasn't consumed by thoughts of it happening again. I wish I could just close my eyes and drift off into the night. But I can't because the sounds of the night keep me awake with thoughts of what ifs...
6. Where did I go wrong, how did I become this person I don't even recognize, this person I don't even like. I don't even trust myself to make decisions that are best for me, because my track record is not at all impressive.
7. I wish I didn't feel so broken and helpless and so so damaged. I wish I wasn't traumatized in the way I was and that fear and anxiety didn't rule my life. But it does...and I'm struggling to keep my head above water so I can breathe; when breathing is so hard...
8. I wish I didn't shake so much when thoughts overwhelmed me. I wish my stomach wasn't a pool of mush when I felt pain or insecure. I wish I could stop dying inside each time I hear his name, smelt the cologne he was wearing or even thought I glimpsed him.
9. I wish I didn't panic each time someone accidentally bumped into me, or passed too close to me or even tried to get my attention for some unknown reason.
10. I wish I could send my windows down and enjoy a sunny or windy day or just some fresh air breezing through the car, but I'm too scared to even do that...because he might see me, and I can't be seen...not by him, not by someone who knows him, not by anyone...
11. I wish I was stronger and bigger than he was and that I'd fought back harder, I wish he'd failed in his attempt to hurt me, but I really wish that I'd won...
12. I wish I wasn't so emotionally weak and fearful of intimate situations! I wish I had the courage to let someone in...even for a second just to see what it felt like...but how can I trust them to not hurt me when I can't trust myself to not do the same?
13. I wish for just one moment I could laugh with careless abandon and throw caution to the wind, but then the one moment I thought I didn't need to be cautious catches up with me, and I realize how much one moment can change everything... I wish I wasn't stuck in that one moment!
Before we start, let’s get an operational definition of “emotional baggage”. I’d like to use one presented by Drs. Les Parrott and Neil Clark: “History is what has happened in our lives. Baggage is how we feel about it. Your psychological perspective on your past determines, to a great extent, your personal health and vitality.”
Therefore, this applies to how you have perceived a variety of experiences over time. Your lenses are coloured by parental upbringing, education, religion, spirituality, your village/town and nation, race, socio-economic status, travels, friends, media exposure and more. They all have had some role to play in how you feel about your past to where you are now.
Just how do you break years (sometimes decades) of pain, paranoia, self-doubt, fear, anger, defenses? You do it with honesty, persistence, patience, true support, and faith in you and your journey. Here are a few ways to get started:
“Sometimes the past should be abandoned, yes. Life is a journey and you can’t carry everything with you. Only the usable baggage.” ~Ha Jin
Women today have more on their plate than ever before. Juggling a spouse, children, a home, career (or diverse careers!), doing charity work, being a friend, and engaging in their hobbies – no wonder women are basically exhausted. Many are doing it all without any assistance. Professional women have additional emotional concerns as they navigate the workplace and the usual challenges found there.
Women know they need to take better care of themselves and are admittedly doing so in many ways. There are several paths of self-care: exercise, diet, meditation, spirituality, journaling, art, even spa days. There is a plethora of natural options available for anyone who desires to find relief. I am going to focus on aromatherapy – specifically, essential oils – those wonderful smelling oils in the amber bottles! This is a simple way to incorporate another layer of self-care into daily life without too much effort.
Essential oil is the product of steam distillation of plant materials (flowers, leaves, roots). These oils are volatile and very aromatic. Most importantly, because they are derived from plants, they do have medicinal/therapeutic value and must be thoughtfully handled. But do not be daunted, some simple tips and you will be fine.
The oils below are readily available due to their popularity. I have included the Latin name which you can refer to, just to be sure you have the correct species of plant from which the oil is derived.
Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) – Help with depression, insomnia, headache and sore muscles. A very popular and truly calming oil.
Geranium (Pelargonium asperum/graveolens) – Eases anxiety, offers adrenal support, assists with exhaustion and depression. Calming, uplifting and balancing.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Alleviates mental fatigue. Stimulating!
Lemon (Citrus limon) – Eases sluggishness. Also stimulating.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) – Banishes negative thoughts, depression, and alleviates headaches. Cooling. Extra note – the scent or even a drop on the tongue eases nausea!
Patchouli – (Pogostemon cablin) – Works on depression, anxiety and lethargy. Grounding and balancing – very earthy.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – Helps with depression, anxiety, stress. Balancing.
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) – Alleviates anxiety. Soothing.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) – Promotes confidence, courage and success.
So…how do you use them?
One of the safest ways to use essential oils is by breathing their scent in. This can be achieved with a diffuser (electric or ceramic) which can spread the scent throughout a room or many rooms (peppermint is excellent in a diffuser!) A mobile option is putting a few drops on a clean cloth, cotton ball or even in some salt to take with you.
To use on the skin, PLEASE research your oil to be sure you will not have any negative reactions. The usual patch test of a small area on the inside of your forearm will suffice. Try to not use the oil directly from the bottle (“neat”) as it is so very potent. The best way is to use carrier oil. That is just another oil that will “carry” the scent and healing properties of the essential oil, but not in such a potent way. Excellent carrier oils available locally include olive oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil and grapeseed oil. Add a few drops of essential oil into some of the carrier oil to achieve the scent you want and you are set. Your nose is your best guide.
To get you started, an easily available, quality brand is NOW Foods which I see almost everywhere. There are hundreds of brands out there and I urge you to try as many as you can as some quality of scents will resonate better than others. I personally have about four lavenders and each one is a bit different – but all are high quality. Takes a bit of trial and error. If you ever end up with an oil you do not like or sadly, is poor in quality – do not throw it away. You may be able to use it in household cleaning products. A little online research and you will be duly informed.
Make sure to keep your essential oils in a cool, dry place in no direct path of sunlight. If you blend your oils, never do so with mental implements and always store in an amber or cobalt blue-bottle/jar – again, away from direct sunlight.
My hope for anyone who reads this, is that you will feel informed and ready to take the first of many natural and healthy steps toward self-care as you navigate through life!
I hear it almost daily: “I hate Facebook” “Dat ting is Macobook/Fassbook” “I refuse to have an account” “I closed my account” and much more.
Granted, I hear even worse than that! I’ve had people admit that they stalk others on FB. An old secondary school classmate and I were chatting and she mentioned she’d added a particular person to her account. I was surprised since I know those two NEVER got along (and may never). Her response? “I don’t like her, I just want to see what she doin’” Really? You want to peek into that woman’s life, just to see what she is up to? To what end? See if you are doing better than her? Scoff at her accomplishments? Make yourself feel good (or bad)? I was fascinated. How much time are you wasting?
Then there is the usual – becoming involved in other people’s drama (family, work, politics, etc.), hooking up with past flames while you are married (that never goes well folks), having a platform to air your grievances – much of which should not be aired – only to be hastily deleted off the wall. Sharing things with people you normally would not. How many of the 500+ “Friends” on your page truly care about you and your life? How many are even seeing your posts? How many are wishing you ill? How many truly want the best for you and your family?
Sounds negative? Well, it is true. I would hazard that only a handful of your online friends is invested in your status updates, your pictures and your wellbeing. Which brings me to – what can you actually do with your personal FB page to make it a much more pleasant place?
Let’s talk a bit about motivation. Why do you have an account? Some choices are:
If you prefer those above options – then stop reading now and keep everything as is.
If however, you find that after a FB page perusal you find yourself drained, anxious, frustrated, angry, jealous, questioning yourself in a negative way, comparing yourself and your life unfavorably to others, judging others – then time for a fix-it!
So what to do?
Feeling better? Excellent.
So what do you do next? Populate with better things.
I did this a year ago. A steady diet of positive quotes, loving friends, fun videos, interesting articles, uplifting news stories, and NO drama – has been amazing for my system. I find that I look forward to seeing what is in my feed and the handful of friends I have on there are mature, positive, kind people who genuinely encourage me to think out-of-the-box and follow my dreams and I, in return, am supportive of them.
This may sound simple – but FB can be seductive and insidious if you are not paying attention to what you are allowing into your life. And I am deliberate in my use of “allowing” because you do have a choice in what you feed your mind, soul and body. This is very much an exercise in improving your mental health! Choose wisely.