Posts Tagged Self Advocacy

Quest: Challenge Guiding Fictions or “Supposed to” Beliefs

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Last week I had some not so great moments. I could tell my self-esteem was slipping. It was like I had an engine going down and I needed to do something about it fast before I crashed. I noticed my negative self-talk was back and running rampant. I pulled myself out of it by thinking about the positive things that were going on in my life and instead of getting caught up in my anxiety, looked outward and was caring towards others. I realized this could be a little dangerous because I have just been avoiding what I wanted to say. But, I admit I feel a zillion times better and things have been going a lot better. I reminded myself that if I exhibit confidence, that then it will seep out into my relationships and interactions with others too.

The other thing I did this week was finish the next chapter in the Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence workbook, “Supposed to” Beliefs That Lead Women to Stay or Go Back. After finishing the chapters on guilt, I was amazed how easy this went. There is no doubt in my mind that leaving my abusive relationship with my ex-husband was in my best interest and the best decision I have ever made. And there is no doubt in my mind that I never want to be in an abusive relationship again. 

This week “Guiding Fictions” or “Supposed to” beliefs were on my mind. In one of my conversation with my SuperBetter ally, we talked about beliefs that have been very deep rooted in myself. These beliefs may have caused me to make certain decisions along the way in my life that I would not have ordinarily made if I didn’t have them. Some of these beliefs I have become aware of, especially the 7 “Supposed to” beliefs they discuss in the workbook chapter.

Some of these beliefs I realized I developed as a way of coping with what was going on in my life. I don’t know how many of these beliefs I’ll be able to recognize and see how they’re impacting the way I interact with the world. But, at least I am now conscious of the basic symptoms of post traumatic stress that I can now stop and question and even change what I am doing and why I am doing it, which may be the beliefs behind them. I realize that this can take a lot of work and I’m willing to do it because I’m going to feel a lot better and push what I can accomplish in life beyond what I thought was possible.

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SuperBetter: Allies & Game Quest Ideas Revisited

This week I had an interview with SuperBetter to talk about the game and it was awesome because it allowed me to step back and reflect on the game. The game has given me a lot of things I needed to help me make progress on healing from the trauma of domestic violence and other abuse history. It has given me structure I need, the ability to track my progress, Power Packs with Quests, and tips and tricks to help me get to my goals and in a fun way. And I seriously love the secret files. If people would send me cool interesting facts that apply to my day-to-day life all the time, I would probably have the equivalent of the “runner’s high” without having to run.

Re-thinking Allies

There are a couple things I’ve been realizing I need to tweak. Originally, when I went into the game, I thought I’d invite my friends as allies and there’s certain things I think each of them could help with in person when we hang out on a regular basis which I mapped out in the post SuperBetter: Allies Mission Ideas. That hasn’t been the case. I talked about it in therapy a bit. Why are my friends not really engaging in the game? And brought it up in the interview with SuperBetter. My therapist had talked about it as people have a difficult time interacting with people they know in person, online. In person, they see you in one way, and then online, differently. Plus the subject matter I am working with, healing from trauma, is an extremely sensitive and uncomfortable one. People don’t want to deal with that. Both my therapist and SuperBetter suggested I try to work with allies I meet through the game who are struggling with similar problems. I have one ally I met through the game who has been my strongest and best ally in the game. And I would highly recommend pairing up with someone in the game. 

My ally from SuperBetter is in a completely different timezone, but that is not a barrier. We interact mostly through e-mail, in a pen pal type way. I do my e-mailing in the morning and she has my undivided attention. We work through problems that we’re facing, share our ideas for dealing with them, and ask each other for each other’s support. We both have similar personality types and are dealing with very similar problems. 

Epic Wins & Better Ties to Quests (and Putting More Thought/Time into Quests)

One of the things I’d like to start doing a better job of in SuperBetter is being able to plan out or tie Quests to complete in order to reach my Epic Wins. Epic Wins, to me, are really a goal you are trying to reach for. I’ve been planning my Epic Wins around the areas in the workbook Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence and areas I notice within that week or month time span that I am having a particular problem with. When I started SuperBetter, my big focus was on Negative Self-Talk and Hypervigilance because I know I was driving people around me nuts by doing it and they were being addressed early on in the chapters of the workbook. I am guessing the workbook is set up in the way it is for a reason. But, the workbook is not the end-all be-all and therapy is only one hour a week and I use it to bring the things I’m really struggling with to each week. I feel like if I want to really get better, make progress, and continue to keep it up, I’m going to have to make it more part of my day-to-day life. But, it also can’t be miserable and difficult. It has to be fun and rewarding. Some of the Quests I thought up in my 2 posts, SuperBetter: Game Quest Ideas and SuperBetter: Allies Mission Ideas, I haven’t even actually put them into my SuperBetter game! And there’s stuff my ally and I talk about that are great ideas, I also haven’t put into the game. So it’s time to put some real effort into this and make it really fun and rewarding.

Here’s some examples of my current Quests, most of which are from the Power Packs “Social Resilience in 5 Minutes a Day” and “Stress Buster”, that map up to my Epic Wins.

Stress & Muscle Tension

  • Learn About Stress
  • Find an Oasis
  • Doing the Meditation Deed: The One-Time-Only 25-Minute Challenge (OK so I did all the others but haven’t found 25 minutes to meditate yet. I must do this Monday night!)
Avoidance
 
  • Find a Dentist
  • Make a Dentist Appointment
  • Track when I won’t ask question to avoid conflict
  • Go to places or do something I associate with my abuser

Self Advocacy

  • I am thinking of loading the “Being Awesome” Power Pack for this area
  • Ask for Help – regular reminder to ask for help (or anything, including “excuse me”) which is something I have an insanely difficult time doing and should probably get to the root of, why?
  • Say Excuse Me to ask someone to move – I need to make this a regular Quest
  • Stop Negative Self-Talk

Social Anxiety

  • Pay It Forward – Do something nice for someone in your life. I did this yesterday! 🙂
  • Give the Gift of Experience – This will be done Tuesday and I can’t wait to hear their reaction! 🙂
  • Three Things That Rocked – Write down 3 things that rocked over 5 days (recurring Quest)

Hypervigilance / Anticipation

  • React instead of anticipate
  • Broken Babel fish game – Draw cartoons from the week of things I’ve heard, what I thought they meant, and what they really meant

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Quest: Understanding Guilt

This week I started the chapters on coming to terms with guilt in the workbook Healing the Trauma of Domestic Violence. Other than starting the workbook, these have been the hardest chapters so far.

The chapters have you address:
1) Guilt about leaving your abuser (e.g. Failed marriage, leaving someone who is dependent on you, etc.)

2) Guilt about why you were in the relationship in the first place and what was the first sign that you should have left (first signs that he would be abusive)

3) To think about a time where you think you should have left but didn’t and reasons why you didn’t leave at that time and to evaluate whether those reasons were good enough to warrant staying

4) To think about if you did leave then, what would have happened?

I think if I filled out these questionnaires a year ago my answers would have been very different and exhibited a lot more guilt. So I have come a long way but it was still very hard to think of all the emotions that went into those times and decision making.

I had very clear, cut and dry answers to these questions.

1) Guilt about leaving your abuser (e.g. Failed marriage, leaving someone who is dependent on you, etc.)

I knew the reasons I felt guilty about leaving, but I also knew they are irrational now. There were several more than these but here are some examples.

Reason: Failed marriage and breaking my obligation to it
Why It’s Irrational: It is much more important to be safe and healthy, mentally and physically.

Reason: He depended heavily on me emotionally and financially.
Why It’s Irrational: He is resourceful and is plenty capable of taking care of himself. I need to worry about my needs, safety and well being.

Reason: People will judge me poorly
Why It’s Irrational: I know plenty of people now who have gone through divorce and they feel this way, that people will judge them for being divorced, for their marriage failing or even for ever being in the marriage in the first place. First of all, this is also you judging yourself this way because those thoughts do cross your mind when you think of others who are divorced. Second of all, it really doesn’t matter what other people think. You need to be happy, healthy, and safe. The people who are going to judge you poorly, you don’t need them in your life anyway. The people who really care about you are going to understand and love you no matter what.

2) Guilt about why you were in the relationship in the first place and what was the first sign that you should have left (first signs that he would be abusive)

I remembered clearly the first event that should have clued me in that he was abusive and I should have left then. It was very early on in our relationship. I don’t know why it didn’t shake me up more and why I didn’t say anything to anybody to ask whether it was acceptable or not. From therapy I learned this was most likely because it was behavior I was used to from growing up and I didn’t know any better. But, things got much worse from there on and yet I still stayed and thought it was acceptable. Now I know it is not and anytime I find some behavior questionable in a relationship, I should talk to someone about it, with a family member or close friend.

3) To think about a time where you think you should have left but didn’t and reasons why you didn’t leave at that time and to evaluate whether those reasons were good enough to warrant staying

I remembered a point in time where I was so close to leaving to stay at a hotel or friend’s place, but I gave in to his pleas and went back in the house. The workbook has you identify two main reasons you didn’t leave at that time. Mine were:

A) I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone because they would judge me and him poorly so I couldn’t deal with being alone in a hotel or calling a friend and having to tell them what was going on to get out of there for a night
B) I had work obligations the next day and felt like I couldn’t just drop them or call in sick

Thinking back on these reasons, these were pretty weak. I also did end up leaving about 9 months later. I did call a domestic violence hotline, my family and a friend. These people did not judge me poorly and work was understanding.

4) To think about if you did leave then, what would have happened?

I thought if I did leave then I would have gone back with the stipulation that he needed to get help with his behavior. I think this would have made things much worse and I could have ended up dead.

But, like I said, I did leave 9 months later and with great advice, I am very much so alive, safe, happy, on the way to recovery, and looking forward to my future.

When SuperBetter posted about Post Traumatic Growth, the idea Post Traumatic Growth is no joke. I can certainly say, unlike many others around me, I have a new view on life. Everything in life is an opportunity and every opportunity is amazing. I wish everyone could feel like this. This past year and a half has been the most amazing time of my life and I am really looking forward to getting better, stronger, and fulfilling my goals. So there you have it. You can get over your guilt and move on with certainty and courage.

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