May 3, 2013
I lay here awake, feeling trapped in my memories. Being triggered into flashbacks, and reminders of days gone by. I try to escape the pain through activities or modes of tuning out yet they remain to block me from fully engaging in the moment or connecting with people intimately. Sometimes life feels too complicated and too difficult to let people in.
I am taken back to my youth, when I was in high school. A time of great confusion and a time of tremendous growth. I was taken in by an incredible spiritual mentor who nourished me in my faith, and took the time to learn about who I was. I trusted him, I needed him. He taught me much about relationships, spirituality and life. But some how through it all, it started to feel more complicated. In many ways it felt similar to dating. Too much time alone in places not meant to be – his house, with his family, many car trips and the adventure to the camping area where he baptised me.
One event changed everything, yet it changed nothing. The beauty of denial and the inability to grasp the reality of that which you hope to not understand. I am not sure how the trip to the camp site came to be, but I remember him driving us to Clark Creek, which was at least a 30 minute drive from where we lived. When we arrived we walked around the campground where we had youth camp where I recommitted my life to Christ, then to the creek where I was baptised. He persuaded me to take a swim with our clothes on in the creek. It was really cold, and I remember feeling uncomfortable yet enjoyed the time together. When we went to the car, my clothes were clinging to my body from the dampness. He wrapped something around me (a sweatshirt I believe) and ended up touching me on my breast. I felt fear and vulnerability of what was to come, especially since we were alone by the creek miles from home. He was my youth pastor, this wasn’t making sense. He proceeded to act like nothing happened and we drove home. I thought it must have been an accident, yet the situation created a sense of wonder. What will happen next? Can I trust him anymore? What really happened? Everything changed, yet it seemed the same. I continued to see him for many more years, both alone and with his family or other youth.
It has been over 20 years ago that this situation took place, yet I can see that it created spiritual blocks that are difficult to break. Though I can’t blame him for all of my spiritual conflicts, I realize it contributed to my personal trauma when it comes to the church and spiritual leaders. It didn’t help that my family life also had inconsistencies of spirituality and dysfunction which probably drew him to me in the first place. I have spent years in therapy, spiritual work and doing personal recovery, yet I feel at a loss of how to completely heal the wombs. A few years back I attempted to reach out to some of the church leaders in this church, and to my former youth pastor, but resistance and denial indicated that more loss was likely than personal gain from any connection to these people about our relationship. I am not sure why I expected more, I just assumed that someone (besides my therapist) would be interested in what I had to say. Regardless, his complete denial and defensiveness of any outings taking place, made it pretty clear that he wasn’t willing or able to look honestly at what happened.
So where do I go from here? There is no answer really, as not everything has a clear pathway. I can continue to seek healing, and remember that brokenness in all of us, including myself. I have done many things in which I regret, and am grateful for the forgiveness, love and grace I have received. My heart somehow has to find the balance between openness and being aware, allowing the Spirit in, while being discerning of what isn’t God but the humanness of people. I pray that God will bring healing to each of us on this path of finding freedom and peace through the brokenness of our past, and our current reality. There is always hope – hope for a brighter day!
2 Comments | Daily Living, Recovery and Healing, Spirituality | Tagged: child abuse, church, faith, forgiveness, healing, pastoral abuse, ptsd, recovery, sexual abuse, spirituality | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
February 25, 2013
As I have run into many old friends and acquaintances this past week, I am reminded of how I feel stuck in a time zone. I have played a variety of roles over the years, and built many relationships. Different situations and time periods have brought out different parts of who I am or who people perceive me to be or how I perceive them to perceive me (generally not the same thing). When I run into a variety of people from different time zones, or different role periods, I find myself confused, as if I am struggling to feel solid in my identity.
Over the past 14 years I have belonged to a community of people from a place I call my “church home”. I love what the church brings – hope, love, faith, service, community, strength, and relationships. It also brings for me confusion, judgement, conflict, vulnerability, and questions about my beliefs and experiences. In my church home, I have gone through periods of sporadic involvement, little involvement, outsider, regular attendee and active leader. In many ways, the best and worst parts of me have been known in this community I call my “church home”.
As I walk the halls of the church building I feel like the wind is blowing in a variety of directions. I see teenagers and girls who are in my coaching world. The place of today, and where I spend much of my extra hours and devotion. I also run into people who were active in a mom’s group which I led, or a committee I was on, where we connected together for a purpose and passion. Then I turn around to the people who were around in the middle of my darker/addicted mind-set, watching me spin out of control. Next to them might be the person who recalls my early fibromyalgia days, and has compassion for my illness. And then, almost worse than the rest, is the new leaders and attenders, who are completely unaware of my existence and history, seeing me as “the newbie” or “nonexistent”. I can’t make sense of the history and the various feelings that emerge from within. How do I change and intersect these places, and block out the negativity that can haunt and paralyze me?
I often believe that the healing and transformation is in the process. Perhaps all my feelings are a way for me to be more graceful to myself and just step into the fears that permeate my whole being. I tend to believe that I have to do something to make up for the things I did that were destructive to my soul and hurtful to others. It is easy to simplify people’s responses, when I move into a shame based center. When I find my own place of peace, is allows me to be more centered and have a better balance of inward and outward focus. I may still feel the fear and shame, but my decision won’t come from that place. Maybe things will change for me if I look to receive the grace and love, than to question or seek to understand the complicated thoughts and feelings of another towards me.
I feel ready to get out of this zone. I honestly don’t know how this will happen – but I aim to at least see the next layer. Instead of focusing on what I perceive from others and the role I am playing, I can focus on the vision for myself and where the Spirit leads me in that moment. It isn’t a battle to win, I have nothing to prove to myself – this is about being open – about seeking to grow and build relationships with this community I am in. It doesn’t have to look a certain way, and I may not ever be “the leader” I once was, yet I can be someone with greater love and grace that continues to transform me from within.
Leave a Comment » | 12 steps for chronic pain, Chronic Pain, Daily Living, Spirituality | Tagged: addiction, chronic pain, church, faith, fibromyalgia, recovery, roles, spirituality | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
February 18, 2013
The winter months have been busy with coaching activities. I am an assistant coach with 3 teams, 2 soccer and 1 basketball. It sounds a bit crazier than it really is. Most days it is helping navigate young female sport players around the field or court. I enjoy the physical activity and interacting with players and coaches in a healthy atmosphere. There are usually several girls who enjoy having a female coach around (most of the other coaches are male), though I tend to be structured and disciplined, I also connect on the emotional level. My favorite thing about being a coach is connecting with the players and building them up. My second favorite is the team dynamic, and strategizing on how to create a stronger team by building on the strengths and working through the challenges of the individuals.
My biggest challenge tends to be dealing with the mental processing and dealing with conflicts that arise. Since I don’t know the game of basketball real well, it takes a lot out of me to learn the fundamentals and think about what I can do to help. Though overall the conflicts with players and coaches are pretty mild, issues still arise. As a coach, I want to make an impact on the individuals, and when I say something I wish I hadn’t said, or missed an opportunity to build a player up, I feel disappointed in myself. With about 15 coaches in the 3 teams, it is a lot of personalities to deal with, especially when I prefer to please. There is some simplicity with men, in they appear to be more direct and move on, I also realize we can be a different species, and find myself longing for a girls’ night out. Any stress (whether real or perceived) or mental challenges can zap my limited energy, and increase my pain level.
I have also been trying to build a health coaching business. I absolutely love coaching people, but don’t care for the networking aspect. I am constantly battling inner conflicts of my own values and insecurities. I believe in the food program/healthy living that is the core of the business I am trying to establish, but also realize it isn’t for everyone trying to lose weight/become healthy. I personally have felt better as I am trying to change my eating habits, and am able to do things like coach 3 teams. I love being fit and healthy. Because I am uncomfortable promoting to people, I feel like a failure because I don’t know where to find people who would be interested in such a program, and don’t want to overemphasize weight loss because it can imply that I am criticizing people. I find myself completely shutting down, and realize this has little to do with my current reality. I will keep attempting to deal with the inner conflicts so I can see more clearly what direction to move here.
I am grateful to be so involved with my family. Did I mention my husband is a coach on two of the teams? It really is a family affair in the coaching world. I think back to 7 years ago when I spent a great deal of time on the couch resting from the daily activities and energizing myself so I can connect with those around me. Though I was still involved with my family, it was much more difficult to engage in the outside world. There is no magical cure, and it takes a great deal of soul-searching each day to determine where to invest my energy. Some days it seems to work, other days, not so sure. I will keep trying, keep searching, keep praying, to find the balance and build those relationships. In the meantime I will keep making those memories on the field and on the court.
Leave a Comment » | Chronic Pain, Daily Living, Exercise, Health Coaching | Tagged: chronic illness, chronic pain, coaching, daily living, fibromyalgia, health, sports | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
December 24, 2012
Hi, my fellow writers and readers. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas.
The last few weeks, it seems everything has gone by quickly. Lots of distractions in the holiday preparations – shopping, baking, decorating and seeing friends and family. My routine and diet have been changed, and order seems to be less predictable. At times this has been great fun, and other days it can be a challenge to keep up.
We plan on spending the holidays with family members, and making phone calls to our loved ones. We tend to spread it out over a few days, as it is less chaotic and makes for easier and more meaningful conversations with people. We spend more time playing games with the kids, and cooking/baking in the kitchen. We enjoy a Christmas service and reflecting on what matters to us.
Christmas is one of those holidays where I like to create the best of memories. I hope for family peace, family fun and a sense of the Spirit around me. I enjoy giving and receiving the gifts from people who care about me.
As much as I hope for the best of memories, often the holidays can bring sadness and anxiety. Life is full of conflicts, losses, personality conflicts, past issues, and health problems. The more I can accept this as part of what makes us who we are the more I can dive into the greater meaning of Christmas.
Christmas for me is about love, peace, forgiveness and hope in my relationships with God and other people. It isn’t about perfection, finding the best gift, or having a life without conflict. As I learn to see God’s light shining like a star, in the midst of what is before me, the clearer vision I will have of how to reflect and act in the moment in front of me. I pray that this season guides me to what is of most importance, bringing a foundation for the start of another year.
Merry Christmas All. Elissa
Leave a Comment » | Daily Living, Spirituality | Tagged: Christmas, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, hope, relationships, spirituality | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
December 24, 2012
The holidays can be very difficult for many people. This is a beautiful blog written about depression and suicide, and ways to seek help. We are not alone and can make it through one minute at a time. Elissa
Cathy's Voice Now
I reach out my hands because I have been there.
I haven’t written a blog post since last week. I started writing several times only to discard it. No words seemed right after the events of last week. I will say that my heart breaks for the families, friends, and community of Newtown. I decided to wait until closer to Christmas and share some of the joys of the season and to share the lessons and treasures of this past year.
However, something happened today that made me change my mind. This afternoon I saw a facebook message from a friend offering her prayers and condolences to the mother of a 15-year-old young man. As I read the posts of the past day, I realized the young man was only a couple of weeks older than my grandson. I didn’t know him but he was part of the group of…
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Leave a Comment » | Chronic Pain, Daily Living, Uncategorized | Tagged: chronic pain, depression, suicide | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
December 6, 2012
I am feeling energized as I am eating healthier. My pain level seems to be slowly decreasing, though it is still there. My back pain is easier to deal with, though I hope to be able to eventually sleep on my back again. I notice that I am able to make it through a day much more than in the past. At times I still have bad days, especially if I feel stress or have a cold, but overall every day is so much better than 6 months ago.
I am trying to reduce some of the chemicals and unhealthy products I use each day. As I run out of supplies, I am aiming to buy more organic beauty supplies. I bought some make-up from Pure Minerals that feels great on my skin. I also am trying some organic shampoo and conditioner. I have noticed that my hairs feels silkier (even before the shampoo change), and perhaps this is due to the extra nutrients and water I take in each day.
This is the first time in a long time where I lost weight in a healthy weight. Most of my recent weight loss was due to stress or changes in medications. I have always been happy when I lose weight, but my body still felt drained even though I weighed less. I enjoy shopping at the discount store for smaller clothes, and not having my stomach hurt in my tight jeans. I feel lighter and it helps me stay motivated to make other changes.
Being the goal person I am, I am looking to my next step. I plan on continuing to add back different food into my diet to see if there is any effect. I am starting back on a regular weight routine with the P90 book to build up my muscle. My teenage daughter is interested in doing it with me, so it makes it more fun and keeps me accountable. I also will continue to build my network of friends and support through blogging, reaching out, and health coaching. I love having people around me for support. Thank you all who have shared with me.
Leave a Comment » | Chronic Pain, Daily Living, Food, Health, Pain Management | Tagged: chronic pain, diet, exercise, fibromyalgia, goal planning, health, organic, weight loss | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
December 6, 2012
I am beginning to appreciate the phrase “two steps forward, one step back”. For me it would be more accurate to say “pause, one step forward, a pause, a little sideways, then start over again”.
The first pause is my time of pondering the vision. I love being in a dream mode and the times of reflection are really valuable. I often start out thinking and planning what I am going to do. This can be really productive to think about what steps I want to make, and decide whether previous actions were necessary. Often I find the passion in this stage, that helps me take the next step forward.
Taking one step forward is crucial for progress. I need to just do something on my action list to move in the right direction. Though my favorite place is the vision state and planning, when I move forward, I have more opportunity to plan greater dreams. As I take the time to write regularly, I can envision myself as an author someday, and my blogging will aide me in this direction. When I take a step towards my health by beginning new exercises, I can see why I have made such a choice and the results exercise has on my body. Every step forward leads me closer to being more of who I want to be and what I dream of.
What is with the second pause? For some reason I am finding that in the middle of my progression towards my goals, there seems to be many pauses that slow me down. Some times this is circumstances such as illness and/or a crisis. Other times I am feeling overwhelmed or lose sight of where I am going that I can’t seem to gain ground or get moving.
The sideways’ journeys always seem to happen for me. I get distracted by other things, or become so focused on one aspect of my goal that I lose sight of the big picture. I start thinking about new dreams and ideas, get lost in the lives of others, or just move without thinking. Though it feels like this is taking me away from what I want, often the lessons here can lead me more to who I want to be. It may seem slower, but if I am going sideways there is a reason for it. The wisdom gained here may be exactly what I needed to better prepare me for my next step. I also gain new relationships from the people nearby.
As I continue in my inconsistent cycles, insights are gained, relationships are developed and goals become fulfilled. At times I wish it was a more linear path for me, yet I imagine this would feel too predictable and boring. As I learn to accept my personal detours, I will be much happier, and incorporate all my cycles into creating a deeper and more meaningful life. Perhaps in time the detours will become less, as my vision is more clarified. However, in the mean time I will continue to absorb all of my reality in this journey of life.
Leave a Comment » | Chronic Pain, Daily Living, Goals, Health, Pain Management | Tagged: chronic pain, detours, fibromyalgia, goals, journey | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
November 29, 2012
Recently I have been having an inner battle with exposing the darker sides of life in order to reach out to someone who is struggling. Much of the time I feel content in dwelling in the blessings of life and portraying an optimistic viewpoint. I prefer to dream, plan, and encourage others to live in the moment, follow their values and seek meaningful relationships. Talking about chronic pain, mental issues, dysfunction, crazy thoughts I might have, and addictions are topics I would rather stay in the shadows, or allow a slight exposure for a sense of humanity. However when someone is hurting, it is hard to look the other way.
Sharing about the darker side can bring panic and fear. What will people think of me? Will I lose respect from people I care about? Will they use the information to harm or threaten me in the future. Integrating these parts of myself can bring shame and fear of abandonment until full acceptance gives grace. I prefer to compartmentalized and move on losing this part of myself verses taking these pieces as the masterpiece they can become.
Opportunities always present themself in life. Every difficult situation I have encountered has the potential to bring good, especially as I face the truth and find strength to move forward by both digging deeper and taking steps to make necessary changes. I feel this responsibility to offer my experience, my compassion, possible guidance to resources, and wisdom that has guided me along the way. I also need to be open to learn, to hear, to challenge my viewpoint, so I can learn what others have to teach me and to see the beauty in their life. I don’t know if it will make a difference, but I can’t ignore the opportunity.
What I know to be true is that each of us has a unique path – what works for one doesn’t always work for another. However, my greatest growth and wisdom has come from hearing stories, seeking truth and prayer, and finding resources through people and words of wisdom. My greatest teachers have all have different opinions and values in some area, yet can still be a guide for enriching my life and growing spiritually. I have learned to connect more easily with those who come in humility, willingness to listen, gave some hope, cared about me and were able to enter into the darker aspects of both my life and their own. They had an inner strength , compassion, grace and love, and wisdom from their own experiences, yet were open to learning from the experiences of all they came into contact with.
May each of us keep our hearts open to allowing life to unfold in the most mysterious of ways – seeing the light shine in the darkness.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening because of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in our lives.
2 Comments | 12 steps for chronic pain, Chronic Pain, Daily Living, Spirituality | Tagged: 12 steps, addiction, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, relationships, spirituality, step 12 | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
November 26, 2012
I can’t believe that I am finally off my medication. The pain still lingers in my body from fibromyalgia, but in many ways it seems better than what the narcotics did to my body over time. The pain is more consistent, not fluctuating around my medication doses, where the intensity would increase as my body became reliant on the drugs for relief. Though I did experience almost pain-free moments, the overall experience currently isn’t that much different from when I was on medication. Has my body finally started to heal itself?
The psychological part of taking medication is still active in my brain. I feel this panic sensation at certain times of the day, thinking I forgot my medication and feel fear at the potential for great pain. It only takes a split second for me to remember that I don’t need the medication, yet the automatic reaction still lingers. I no longer have to hide my medication when I am out of the house, or spend time cutting up my medication. I don’t have to concern myself with the stereotypes of opioid users, though the stereotypes still exist with people who have fibromyalgia (including my own shame around it). It will probably take some time to get used to this new reality.
When I first began to experiment with various medications prescribed by my doctors, I was in a great deal of pain. I couldn’t imagine living my life in this type of pain every day with no end in sight. I am grateful that my doctors were able to believe me, and give me some relief from the pain. I have no doubt that I needed something, but can’t understand why today, my pain is less. Perhaps my body was better able to adapt with less stress, and better eating habits. Over the years, I have tried many things to relieve my pain, and understand that a magic cure is probably not out there that works for everyone. If this were the case, we wouldn’t have disease. I imagine that the process of disease and healing is a complicated one, though there are many things we know help most, there are many things we don’t know.
The beauty of my own ignorance is that I can’t make claims for other people, nor give a clear path to follow. This makes the process a personal one, each discovering what works best for them. As much as I would like to help others have greater healing, I am not a healer. The blessings of a story, is that we can listen intently, and take the pieces that resonate with us. My story is in a sense interwoven from the stories of others. Constantly experimenting for greater health, both physically and spiritually. I hope that as I continue to make changes to my life, that I will continue to have less pain, and perhaps be cured from what ails my body. However, of greater importance to me is that regardless of my pain level that I will continue to grow in a way that brings me spiritual peace and hope, as well as deeper relationships with those around me.
Blessings to each of you on your own journey….
1 Comment | Chronic Pain, Daily Living, Health, Pain Management, Spirituality | Tagged: chronic illness, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, health, opiods, recovery | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T
November 19, 2012
I am excited about my own journey towards greater health and being part of this journey with you. When I began a new food plan in October of 2012, I had three hopes for myself. 1. To become a health coach as I love coaching other people. 2. To lose 10-15 pounds, as I carry all excess weight in the middle increasing my rate for heart problems (which run in our family). 3. To reduce my symptoms from Fibromyalgia – lesser pain and greater energy.
My particular plan consisted of both vegetarian and gluten-free options. I have always wondered if certain food items could contribute to my health problems. Though I am not yet sure whether it is the change in the food choices and/or the nutrition in the products, I am certain that it is changing my life. My energy has increased drastically, and I am on my way to being drug free because of the reduction in pain. I can’t wait to edit this section with “I am not on medication”. I have found hope after years of struggles. I also have lost 8 pounds so far and have about 5 pounds more to go .
I love the simplicity of this program. I can take things step by step – making changes and learning as I go. I have never cared for cooking, so the easy meals work. I have learned how to cook fish for the first time, and prefer this over chicken any day. My favorite meal is the cappuccino drink once I learned to use the blender to stir the mix with boiling water. I also enjoy the puddings, the shakes and the brownies. I eat the cereal for my “to go” food or emergency food, since the bars have gluten in them. I always liked cereal.
I have spent the last month trying to incorporate the program into my life. I strive for a life of integrity, and desire to live out the words I say in my personal actions. I have read through the book and utilized the study guide to learn some nutrition fundamentals I thought I knew. I have also enjoyed listening to numerous support calls to understand some of the challenges we face and ways to work with them. I was surprised how the simple things could make a difference, and how much there is to learn. Fortunately I can take all these lessons step by step, which is the best way for me to make changes. Much of my hesitation regarding a program switched to amazement at how much wisdom and support was offered to aid me in becoming healthy.
My biggest struggle is social situations. I am still learning how to deal with eating around people and managing the peer pressure I feel, or think I feel. I miss my skim milk and still crave breads and pizza. Fortunately, these situations are limited, and most of the time I am grateful for my new health, less pain, more energy, and that my jeans aren’t tight.
More about the program can be found at http://healthcoachelissa.tsfl.com/. You can also send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or if you want me to send information your way. The idea of this program is to achieve greater health through changing your habits. This could include losing weight, reducing health problems and medications, being more fit, understanding healthier living, learning about nutrition and more. I have been greatly impressed by what I have learned so far, and am excited to share it with you.
On a personal note – I have been married almost 20 years and have 2 middle school daughters. I have a degree in sociology with a minor in psychology. I love reading memoirs, blogging, learning, planning and researching. I enjoy traveling – whether camping, visiting relatives or going to Hawaii. My favorite fitness activities are coaching soccer, racquetball, weight lifting, yoga, and running.
Leave a Comment » | Blog, Chronic Pain, Daily Living, Exercise, Food, Health, Health Coaching, Pain Management | Tagged: chronic illness, chronic pain, coaching, diet, fibromyalgia, fitness, gluten free, health, medication, vegetarian | Permalink
Posted by Elissa T