No Turning Back

Dear Friend,

I’ve been tentatively planning a visit to my relatives up north for the first time since 2019. When I saw the prompt from WordPress for this month is Bridge, I immediately thought about the trio of bridges my mom, sister, and I watch for as we drive north – they’ve always been our “point of no return” for the Michigan trip. The point at which we refuse to turn around, to backtrack, to cancel. The bridges themselves have held no special significance to us beyond a landmark for our annual trip.

And yet, in a way, they do somehow hold special significance for me today. Lately, I’ve caught myself thinking “it would be easy to get a position at my old job.” And it would – because falling back into well-worn patterns always seems easier than forging new ones. It’s tempting to see this life bridge as the chance to turn around, to reconsider, to lose ground, but I like to think I’ve grown past that mentality for the most part. I keep trying to remind myself that this “it would be easier” thought is simply my brain panicking at things being hard and overwhelming right now.

I’ve been imagining myself as a younger me, the one who was scared to rock the boat. I feel much like Nicely, finding myself tempted to give in to habits that don’t benefit me, yet I’m more afraid of being pulled down by the demons I’ve battled before. To that younger version of me, I say this: Yes, change is scary. Yes, things are hard. Yes, it is okay to be fried and overwhelmed and want to retreat to what is familiar. But just because something is familiar doesn’t mean it is good for us. Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

So, I’m going to keep driving north, past those bridges, and into less familiar territory. I’ll be traveling new routes and taking small detours and stopping to see the sights. I’ll be revisiting the lessons of my youth – but this time, with the wisdom of experience on my side. I hope when you encounter your own life bridges, or whatever your usual landmark for turning around is, you also remember you are strong and brave enough to forge a new path. I believe in us. We’ve got this.

Love always,

Katie

Trust

Hello Friend,

I hope you’ve been feeling loved and supported lately and if not, I hope you feel that way soon. I see you. I’ve been there, too.

Today, I’ve been thinking about trust, particularly the scene in Disney’s Aladdin where he asks “Do you trust me?” and Jasmine replies “Yes.” 

What must it be like to so easily answer that question with yes? For those of us for whom trust doesn’t come easily, the instant response is more often no, hell no, or laughter followed by a no.

Of course, there are usually at least a few people in our lives for whom we can easily answer “yes” but it’s often only easy when previous situations in the relationship show the ongoing presence of support, understanding, and reciprocity. 

I have a friend who frequently mentions she has deep trust issues which make it hard for her to form new relationships. I completely understand her fear and wariness and I also see that she feels frustrated with and trapped by her fear. While I don’t feel ~fully~ trapped by my own fear to the same extent, I definitely have had similar moments more often than I care to count. 

From childhood onward, I know I remain painfully shy and introverted, and that already makes it difficult to make new friends. My own history of misplaced trust, which resulted in hurt feelings and lessons learned, could easily make me want to avoid new relationships entirely. Have you had thoughts like that from time to time, too? Honestly, some days the fear and wariness still get the better of me, but I try very hard – very, VERY HARD, to believe in the good of others. To believe it is safe for me to trust and try again. To have faith in the kindness of others as I have faith in my own. It’s not easy, obviously. It takes a lot of work and reminders to self and baby steps when it comes to letting my walls drop.

I remind myself: “This person is not that person and it is unfair to hold them accountable for the actions of others.” I pay attention to when I find myself comparing a new person’s actions to patterns I’ve experienced in the past. I observe and I ponder and I weigh the current facts against triggered memories. I freely admit I’m still overly cautious, too, but I’m working on being a better communicator, so I’ve been trying to make sure I discuss “red flags” when they arise. “Hey, when this happened/was said, I took it as _____. Is that what you meant?”Or “I could absolutely be interpreting this wrong, but when you said ___, I heard it as ____. Am I interpreting this correctly?”

Honestly, just from a calming anxiety standpoint, this willingness to stop myself from “mind-reading” by instead just asking what was meant or if I’m taking things the wrong way has been huge in terms of helping me feel less like “EVERYTHING is ALWAYS my fault” because obviously not EVERYTHING is my fault and while there are situations where I’ve been at fault, it isn’t ALWAYS my fault. It has also been helpful to catch myself when I have thoughts of “Why is this happening TO ME?” It’s not ALWAYS happening TO me, it’s often just happening. The situation can suck, can be hard and unfair and painful, but that doesn’t always mean it is happening to me. These pauses to check in my own interpretation of events have been helpful in allowing me to feel more secure and safe in my existing relationships and I’m hopeful they will continue to help me in future relationships as well. 

I can’t claim to have the right answer when it comes to trusting others. I know I’ll probably still place trust in people that I shouldn’t from time to time, but that’s okay. I’ve learned from past relationships and I’ll learn from current and future ones as well. I’m just at the point right now where I’m working on being more open to opportunity, to expanding my circle of friendships and finding my place in various communities. If you are also struggling to be more open and trusting, I promise you aren’t alone and it is absolutely okay to be exactly where you’re at in terms of trusting others. I am choosing to have faith that you and I will both continue to find other friends and chosen family on this path we’re walking. I hope that someday, hopefully not too far distant in the future, we’ll feel safe and strong enough to trust that in any situation we’ll be okay because above all else, we’ll trust ourselves (I know, I’m still working on that one too – progress is slow but progress is progress).  

Wishing you well today and always,

Katie

Out of the Chamber – this battle has been won.

Wide angle top view of the Initiation Well with no tourists in Sintra, Portugal
ID 115038471 © Saaaaa | Dreamstime.com 

Hello dear friend, 

As mentioned at the close of yesterday’s post, the remainder of my recovery journey to now had a few other bumps. I’ll be discussing those moments of backtracking before continuing with how positive things have been. As with previous heavy topic posts, please note that this one may be a painful read, at least for the first few paragraphs – if you want to skip it, I understand. The post does include mentions of suicide, so if that is a trigger for you, please go ahead and avoid this post, or proceed with caution. Okay? Okay. ❤ 

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Not in my blood…

Selfie with bulldog
March 2018 – Depression – when even cuddling with Gunnyroo failed to draw a real smile…

Hello dear friend, I hope you are well. 

I’ve decided to split the discussion of 2018 into two posts – this first one will deal with what is arguably the worse months of my life to date and the second will deal with going from utter and complete darkness to fully believing the universe has my back.  As with yesterday’s post, I know this one is a hard read, so feel free to skip it if you worry it will trigger you in any way, or proceed with caution. Okay? ❤

As I think back on the first half of 2018, I can’t help but think of the Shawn Mendes song “In My Blood” – I don’t think there is another song that better encapsulates my mindset from October 2017-July 2018.  

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