Trauma and Recovery

I don’t normally post such personal sentiments, but I’ve been doing a lot of processing lately because I was feeling a little down for some reason. I was having a hard time figuring out why I felt so spontaneously sad when I suddenly realized what time of year it is.

As of July 4th, it will have been six years since I made the decision to leave my ex-husband.

Six years. The same number of years that I was married to him. 

My therapist has often told me that our bodies remember trauma. So even if we feel like we’re having a good month, or are thinking about new and exciting things, our bodies remember the trauma that we’ve faced in the past around that same time. It can cause us to feel unpredictable emotionally. 

I remember July 3rd of 2016 very vividly. It was a night that I cried myself to sleep because I was so broken and beaten up verbally and emotionally, and I was simply exhausted. I remember begging God to either make it better or just let me go. When I woke up the next morning, I had complete and total peace, and I knew exactly what I had to do. 

I had to leave. 

As someone who had already dealt with body image issues and major insecurities already, it was incredibly traumatic to be constantly told how horrible I was as a person. I was a terrible wife, spoiled, selfish, ungrateful, and he often told me how much he hated me. The only compliments ever given were regarding my looks, and even then I was told that he probably wouldn’t want me if those weren’t there anymore. I tried my best to overcome these “flaws” and be the best wife I could be, but nothing I ever did was good enough, and I lived in constant fear that he would harm me or the animals if I didn’t do exactly what he wanted. 

And unfortunately, no one really knew the extent of it. To this day, there are people from the church that he and I attended who refuse to talk to me because they think that I simply couldn’t forgive his “porn addiction.” Well, I hate to break it to ya’ll, but the porn had nothing to do with it. 

The church as a whole has the unfortunate tendency to be unknowingly cruel to those of us who no longer fit their mold. I am absolutely guilty of doing this myself. I was so often very unloving towards outsiders who weren’t like me, but in my mind I was being very gracious and compassionate because they just “didn’t know the truth.” Such hypocrisy. 

The real Truth is a person, and He doesn’t give a flying you-know-what about people’s backgrounds, lifestyles or works. He treasures their hearts just as they are, and that’s really all there is to it. 

I wish I could issue a mass apology to all of the people that I’ve hurt over the years by being so pretentious and out of touch with reality. As is the case with many, I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing. It took finally being on the other side of the wrath of religion for me to realize just how unfeeling I had been in the past. 

For those who are dealing with their own traumas and abuse, please don’t be afraid to reach out for help. I know how incredibly scary it is, and I know how high the stakes are. I could have been financially ruined, and I feared for the safety of my family. It was one of the many reasons I forced myself to stay in the situation as long as I did. But there IS help available, and getting free from those chains is so worth the risk. 

Find the ones you trust, and talk to them. Get the help. Start living your life. 

Safety and blessings to you all,

K.C.

The Curse of the Creative Mind

I put in my two weeks’ notice on Monday. I won’t go into details, I’ll just say that I felt it was time for me to move on. A new chapter was ready to be opened.

However, it’s hard to not feel like a failure in these moments, because I often feel like I should be able to work things out. I think of my failed attempts over the years and it becomes overwhelming. Even with photography and writing, for example. I had pictured myself much further along by now in my personal terms of success. And as I was reflecting on this the other day, and how there must be something wrong with me, I had a sudden thought.

What if every creative person had given up on their dreams when it looked like they were impossible?

We see the stories all the time, of what stars were doing before they were famous. Jon Bon Jovi, for example, briefly worked as a janitor and even sold newspapers for a while. What if he had never pursued music the way that he did? The world would have been robbed of one of the best songwriters out there.

Stephen King always wanted to be a writer, but he had to settle for selling stories to magazines and newspapers before he finally got a break with Carrie. That didn’t happen until he was 26. While this is still pretty young for someone to find their career take off, it happened because he pursued it extensively and put in the hard work to back it up.

Harrison Ford didn’t land his first major role until he was in his early thirties, after which he spent time as a carpenter. What if he had stayed in that line of work? The world would have a very different Han Solo and Indiana Jones.

But I especially thought of Robin Williams. He always pursued comedy and acting, but he had to take his share of small time nightclubs and live performances at bars before making his way into television, all while battling depression. What if he had let that defeat him early on? What if he had succumbed to his depressive thoughts earlier? It was tragic enough that he let go of his life when he did, but can you imagine if it had happened in his twenties? The immense joy that he brought to people would have been lost forever. He was gone far too soon as it stands, but he also fought for a long time.

Now, I’m certainly not trying to compare myself to someone like Stephen King or Robin Williams. But it gave me a little bit of hope to think that there is value in the people who give us the creative arts. Books, movies, theater, craftsmanship…it all ties to together to make this world a little more beautiful. We need all manner of jobs, but we need entertainment as well. It gave me a renewed sense of determination in pursuing my dreams and the things that bring me joy.

I believe that our creative outlets usually reflect our inner state of mind. When we are happy, sad, angry, pensive…it manifests itself in our work. (This also proves true in most jobs, but that’s a blog post for another time.)

So for a small moment, I just want to encourage my fellow creatives. It’s hard to fight through the failures and rejections. To stay positive when you just want to give up. To ignore to the negativity of those around you. But when you overcome these obstacles, you become stronger. Resilient. Unbreakable.

Stay strong, my friends. I know you can do this.

Wildfire Season

Well, as many have probably seen in recent news, my beautiful home state of Oregon has experienced some of the worst wildfires we’ve ever seen. I won’t go into the political side of things (though I most certainly have my own opinions about it), but I will say that I am so grateful to our firefighters who are bravely facing the oncoming flames.

It breaks my heart to see such destruction, especially for the people who have lost their homes and/or businesses due to this catastrophe. We’re Oregon Strong, and we’ll get through this, but there are some days when it’s hard to stay positive.

We experienced the density of the smoke here in Central Oregon. It rolled in like a thick layer of fog.

At the worst of times, I couldn’t even see the houses at the end of the cul de sac that’s barely half a block away. This was particularly unfortunate for me, as I’m allergic to smoke in general. I relied heavily on antihistamines and prayed daily for the safety of our poor wildfire crews. It was easy to grow restless. I live in Oregon for a reason, and it’s primarily because I like to spend copious amounts of time outdoors.

This is a time when we are reminded just how easy it is to take simple pleasures for granted. Being able to go for a walk. Keeping the windows open for long amounts of time. And for many of us, being able to visit our favorite trails. I’m utterly devastated that some of my favorite hiking spots in the entire state are going up in flames. I’m almost afraid to learn about just how much damage has taken place, when it could have been prevented.

But I digress.

For now, I will look at the many photos I have of these places and I will be thankful that I got to enjoy them when I did. I will savor these moments of clean, pure air now that the rain has finally washed away the stench of smoke. And I hope that I will not take for granted the moments that make this life so special.

Be blessed.

The Steadfast

Safe to say life is a little crazy right now. People are wondering what the future looks like, whether or not they’ll have a job to come back to, how this will affect their kids, etc.

I don’t have any real words of wisdom other than hold on to your “constant.”

What I mean by that is the thing that gets you through the worst of times. For me, I happen to believe in God. I’m not a very stereotypical Christian anymore because there’s a lot of theology that I happen to disagree with. I won’t get into the details of that, but the one thing that has stayed constant for me is my relationship with God.

Perhaps you’re a spiritual person in a different sort of way. Perhaps you’re not spiritual at all and you find hope in logic. Whatever your constant may be, hold onto it.

I like to think of it the way I do my favorite mountains. I happen to live in beautiful Central Oregon, and because I was born and raised here, the mountains have been a part of my skyline for as long as I can remember. There are three in particular that are incredibly well known in this area, generally referred to as the Three Sisters.

Sisters1

This is from my absolute favorite viewpoint. It’s hard to capture in a photograph, but you’re so close to the mountains that you can see the details of their ridge lines and the rocks and crags on them. It’s amazing.

Because I know this area so well, I always know where the Three Sisters are located. From my particular hometown, you can see their peaks from almost any part of the city. It doesn’t matter if they’re covered by clouds or fog, or if the sun has set. I know they’ll always be there.

That’s kind of how God is for me. It doesn’t matter if there are times when my own clouds of anxiety keep me from seeing Him in the moment. He’s still there for me.

So I repeat, whatever your “constant” is, hold onto it. This, too, shall pass, and we’ll come out the other side. But whatever you need to do in the moment to help get through it, be patient with yourself. It’s going to be okay.

Hugs to you all! (Digitally, of course, so we’re ten feet apart.) 😀