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.

The Selfie Trend (and Why I Joined)

I bought a selfie stick the other day. Truth be told, I used to be one of those people who laughed at the ones who had selfie sticks. I thought they were rather vain and unnecessary. I might have pointed and laughed a time or two when I saw people using them. I might have even made fun of my friend when she got one, never passing up a chance to give her a hard time about it.

Then I started hiking by myself. A LOT.

Suddenly, a selfie stick didn’t sound like such a bad idea. I bought a cheap one just to see how I liked it, and the next thing I knew, I was hooked. It was so much easier to get a photo of myself out and about. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always trust handing my phone to strangers. Maybe I’m just paranoid. (Though I certainly never mind when others ask me to take a photo of them. It’s actually one of my great delights to hand their phone back to them and see their surprise at how nice the photos turn out.)

Plus having someone take a photo of me meant that I never really knew how it was going to turn out. No one’s fault, of course; they’re not a photographer by trade. But fellow photogs can relate to what I’m saying, right?

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Can I get an amen?? (Don’t worry, Bey, we still love you.)

Even when I was out with friends, it was so much better to get the whole group in a picture with a selfie stick. I mean, some of my friends have pretty long arms, but they can still only reach so far.

Oh man, I super enjoyed it. It became a part of my usual pack. Then, just as I had grown accustomed to the joys of selfies, tragedy struck. Yes, my little cheapo selfie stick randomly died one day, and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

I tell you, though, once you’ve discovered the joys of getting more backdrop in a photo, it’s really difficult to go back to your face filling up the whole phone screen. So I did a little research and looked up good ol’ Amazon to see what selfie sticks were compatible with my trusty iPhone 8 Plus. (The phone is HUGE, which I love, but sometimes it’s hard to find things that will fit it.)

Low and behold, they not only have selfie sticks but SELFIE TRIPODS.

Selfie tripods!!!

Suddenly, my life had new meaning. If there is one piece of equipment that I simply couldn’t live without as a photographer, it’s my tripod. I don’t need especially expensive brand-new lenses. I can make do with used. I don’t need the latest Nikon camera. My D5200 has been absolutely fantastic. What I DO need is a tripod to hold my camera still when I want to get a long exposure of a waterfall, or when my hands are simply too cold to keep from shaking.

So a tripod for my phone with a Bluetooth remote? Why, it just makes sense.

Honestly, I’m probably pretty late in the game when it comes to this. I follow a lot of great photographers on IG and the like, and while sometimes they’re able to have other photogs take a great shot of them out and about, more often than not I think they’re taking advantage of the exact same thing.

So late in the game or not, I am super excited to play around with my new toy. Who’s ready to head up to Smith Rock with me?

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This picture made possible by a super special awesome selfie tripod.

Thank you, Taco Bell

To the random Taco Bell employee who waited on me yesterday: Thank you.

You see, when I went to grab a quick dinner with my brother and some of his friends, I was feeling pretty down. But one little piece of sunshine made me feel a little bit better. The Taco Bell employee that I met at the counter yesterday was bubbly, all smiles, and absolutely fantastic. And you know what made my day?

She complimented my makeup.

Oh, I know, that might seem pretty trivial to some people. But here’s the thing. That Taco Bell employee didn’t know that I’d had a complete meltdown that morning. She didn’t know how stressed I was from being in the middle of moving, and that my life was completely turned upside down right now. She didn’t know that my mother died earlier this year, and that I’m still grieving the fact that the one person who always understood me, the one who could’ve truly helped me through this whole process, is just gone. She didn’t know that I had looked at my makeup that morning and felt it was crap because I had cried through most of the application.

She had no idea.

She just complimented my makeup, and we laughed and joked around a little bit before she went on to the next customer.

It probably meant nothing to her. Just another day at her workplace, another dollar to be earned. But she made my day so much better because she saw something that I couldn’t see in the moment, and she said it out loud.

Sometimes we need to remember to say those little things. If you like someone’s shirt, tell them. If you notice a hair color that really catches your eye, say something. You never know what someone else is going through, and you never know who might need that little word of encouragement. It might seem really silly to you, but it could mean the world to them.

Every person has a story – you get to decide whether or not you’re going to listen to it. Just my quick two cents for today.

In Which My Brother Thinks He’s Being Haunted By a Disney Cup

How many oldies do we have on this blog? Raise your ancient hands. Just me? Really? C’mon now. Tell the truth.

Well, whatever the case, how many of you remember waaaaay back in the day when McDonald’s had those limited edition Disney glasses? I don’t remember what the heck they were celebrating, but somewhere along the line we ended up with one of them.

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You remember these guys, right? Tell me I’m not the only one.

So we’ve had this Disney glass for, like, AGES. Both Brother and I remember growing up with it always handy in the cupboard at Mom and Dad’s house. It’s a nice size and hey, it’s Mickey Mouse so what’s not to love?

Well, apparently Brother always thought that the glass was mine for some reason. I mean, heck, maybe it was at some point. It’s been too long for me to really care now. Mom, on the other hand, assumed it was Brother’s glass. So she always made sure that it ended up wherever he was.

In the most recent move, however, it somehow ended up BACK at Mom and Dad’s, so when she discovered it, she was more than happy to bring it over to our place. Now, Brother and I have been housemates for well over a year, but one can never have too much glassware. And again, it’s a pretty nice cup. I thought it was super sweet of her to bring it over, so I just stuck it in the cupboard with the rest of our glasses and thought no more of it.

I sort of forgot to tell Brother that Mom had brought it by (and he was at work during the time she was over), so one day I see him reach into the cupboard, pull out the glass and go, “Huh.”

“What?” I asked.

He shrugged. “It’s just kind of weird. No matter where I live, this cup always ends up following me.”

So apparently Mom has been just happily supplying him with what she thought was one of his favorite childhood cups, and he just kept finding it magically appear in every house he’s ever lived in. Everywhere he goes, he just opens up a cupboard and there it is again. Thus he is haunted by mystical cups that never go away.

Disney Magic indeed.

The Day My Brother’s Sweatshirt Tried to Kill Me

So I tend to do most of the laundry for Brother and myself. I’m home most of the day and have time to do it, and it’s the one chore that I really don’t mind. I mean, if I get behind then Brother will do his own, but generally speaking I try to keep up on it. I figure it’s one way that I can give back to him for all the times he’s helped me out this last year.

So the other day I’m minding my own business, getting ready to fold laundry and all that, when I go to open the dryer door. To my surprise, a small projectile comes flying out at my face, inciting a minor panic attack.

I had no idea what had just happened, until I finally saw the grievous offender when it rolled to a stop:

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That’s right. The end of one of my brother’s sweatshirts had gotten caught in the door of the dryer and when I opened the darn thing, it shot out at me like a mini bullet. I’m pretty sure I jumped a full foot off the ground:

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As I relayed this story to Brother when he came home, he started laughing so hard he couldn’t speak for several seconds. Turns out he had already known this little bugger was about to come off his sweatshirt because the other side had already done so.

“It wouldn’t be so funny,” he said between laughs, “except that it belongs to my Punisher sweatshirt.”

So…apparently I offended the Punisher sweatshirt and it decided that retribution was needed.

I’m not sure what I did to bring about such open hostility, but clearly I did SOMEthing wrong. Needless to say, I will be more cautious when taking out loads of laundry henceforth. Because deep down, I have this feeling that the sweatshirt will always be watching…waiting…until just the right moment comes again….

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Who knew that such mundane activities could be so incredibly dangerous? It’s enough to make one want to live in a bubble.

Fortunately, I am still a brave person and am willing to traverse the perilous crossroads for the sake of clean socks. After all, one still has a sense of dignity to maintain.

Despite what certain sweatshirts might think.

Love Without Fear

Boy, the holidays are already here. That’s just crazy. This last year has been a little bit of a whirlwind for me. I mean, the divorce was finalized, I moved to a completely different city, and ended up starting my own business. If you had told that me that all those things were going to take place over a year, I probably would have laughed at you.

But it’s been so good. All of it, the whole process. I have received so much healing the past several months, and it’s partly in thanks to my wonderful support system. My family has been instrumental in helping me both financially and emotionally. Seriously. I wouldn’t be anywhere without their love and stability.

This is where I have to give a shout-out to Brother specifically.

He’s been the best. We’ve been roomies for a year now, and he’s totally helped me out with rent the last couple of months while I’ve been getting this business off the ground. He’s been my number one cheerleader and often times the reason that I didn’t just give up and go back to a regular day job.

My church family has been my other support system. I’m one of the lucky ones, guys. We’re small in number, but fierce in love. And the other night, as I had a conversation with my pastor and his wife about many different things, something awesome happened. I felt a healing in my soul that I didn’t even know I needed.

I processed this over the next few days, almost testing the feeling of such peace, but it hasn’t wavered. You see, one of the unfortunately side effects of being in an abusive situation is fear. When you leave that situation, you break off one part of the fear because that person can no longer control you through it. But there are other parts of you that still feel apprehensive.

One of those things is fear of rejection. It’s something that I’ve struggled with my entire life, even before living in abuse, and part of the reason I rushed into a marriage that shouldn’t have happened. As other parts of my heart were healed, the fear of rejection still reared its ugly head. Especially when you’ve been single for a while and haven’t had any real prospects for dating.

That was the amazing thing about the other weekend. For the first time in my life, I felt freedom to love without fear. It didn’t matter if I was rejected. Didn’t matter if things didn’t turn out the way I envisioned them. I could still choose to love and know that it’s all going to be okay.

Everyone has their moments of doubt, but you can’t let fear rule your life. Live without regret, and enjoy the journey. I’ve had a couple of design inspirations come from this revelation, and I’ll be sharing them as soon as they’re finished. In the meanwhile, I leave you with my hope for your lives:

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Photo c. Hawk’s Haven Photography & Design

Be blessed! And thanks for traveling on this journey with me.

How I picture my interactions with Pandora Radio Station as I listen to it at work:

Me: Hmm, I’m kind of in the mood for something classical. *searches* Ooh, Classical Relaxation. Let’s try that.

Pandora: All right! Here’s Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major.

Me: Ick, no. *thumbs down* Something else, please.

Pandora: Oh, so you didn’t like that rendition. Here, try Pachelbel’s Canon played the exact same way by a different artist.

Me: Um, thanks but no thanks. *thumbs down* I said I don’t like that song.

Pandora: Ah, I get it. It’s in the wrong key. No problem. Here’s Pachelbel’s Canon in E Major instead.

Me: …

Pandora: You like?

Me: *thumbs down* NO.

Pandora: I see the dilemma. Let’s switch it up, then. Listen to this cool rendition of a U2 song, done instrumentally.

Me: Wow, that’s actually kind of cool…wait. This is sounding awfully familiar.

Pandora: Because it’s a mashup of U2 and Pachelbel’s Canon! See what I did there?

Me: I hate you.

Pandora: I’ve also got a piano version of Pachelbel’s Canon. Want to hear it?

Me: THOR’S HAMMER, PANDORA, I DO NOT LIKE PACHELBEL’S CANON. It’s the most repetitive song in the history of repetitive songs, and given what’s popular today, that’s saying something. It plays the same chords in the same order over and over again until you’re ready to stab yourself in the eye socket with a fork. Seriously. I would rather listen to Coolio for twelve hours in a pit of poisonous vipers then ever hear this song again. STAHP.

Pandora: Oh, you like Coolio? I can make that happen.

Me: Uh, I wasn’t actually serious about that…

Pandora: Here’s I’ll C U When U Get There. Isn’t it “coolio”?

Me: Sweet mother potato it’s freaking Pachelbel’s Canon. Only with Coolio. Just kill me now.

Pandora: I knew you’d like it!

Me: I’m uninstalling you and switching to Spotify.