BIG CHANGES ARE A COMING

Change is a part of life.  Sometimes, though, it seems that changes happen so fast and furious that it’s hard to maintain any kind of balance.  It feels, at times, like the world is even spinning faster than ever.  We want everything right now.  We ask or pray for something in our lives and do not understand why it doesn’t instantly manifest.  Some changes are welcome, some not so much.

My life has been changing in huge ways for the last several years.  Since there seems no way around this, I’ve decided to embrace it.  So my word for 2017 is CHANGE and my phrase is EMBRACE CHANGE.  I think my biggest change I encountered last year was getting married, which was/is a wonderful thing.  I am happy to say that I am finally in the perfect (perfect for me) relationship and married to the right person for me.  Still, going from single, living alone to married and suddenly having someone around all the time is an adjustment.  Not a bad thing, just different.  Luckily, even though my husband and I both work at home and we live in a pretty small house, this has not been an issue.

One change I’ve been wanting to make for a while now is figuring out a way to combine both of my blogs since I find trying to write two completely different ones impossible. I never wanted to have A Little of This That and the Other (www.alittleofthisthatandtheother.blogspot.com) be anything but a happy place to share my work and that of my friends.  At Long Last Heard, this site, was about my sexual assault and to a larger degree,  my past life and how I got to where I am now.  The two sites are extremely different.  After my wedding I came up with a new domain name and a ‘plan’ to have only one blog/website.

I still have not figured out when I want to launch it, though I will tell you the new name:  Exactly the Same but Different.  This is a phrase I have used for many years and in talking with a very good friend, it was obvious that this was the new name.  Because my life now is exactly the same as it always was, but different.

Another HUGE change that is coming in the next few months is we will be moving.  Egad, just writing the word here gives me the willys.  I have lived for almost 15 years on Coronado and the idea of leaving all that is so familiar to me is a bit scary.  Truly, I know that leaving will be a good thing and Jim and I need a house/space that is ours and not just mine that he moved into.  It is good and it is frightening at the same time.  We are even contemplating leaving San Diego altogether, which also adds to my anxiety.  Again, I know this is a good thing, it just doesn’t always feel like it is.

Hence, my desire to EMBRACE CHANGE this year.  Change is good, right?  I am going to keep saying this to myself until I believe it.

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A CHANGE OF PLANS

For a long time, as a society, we seemed to think that once it was decided what we wanted to do or what we wanted to be when we ‘grew up,’ we could not change, that we had to stay in our chosen fields, to stick it out, even if we were not happy with what we were doing.  These days, though, it is not unusual for people to have several, if not many, different careers.

As many of you know, I have had my own business for 24 years now.  While I enjoy what I do (custom home furnishings,)  I can get burned out and long for something different.  The truth, though,  is I am very good at it.   I love to create beauty for people’s homes and their lives, and I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  That being said, as you may also remember me writing about desiring a chance in my life right about the time I was sexually assaulted.  My attack resulted in me launching this website with the intention of helping other women who had been through a similar experience.  You may also remember that I posted pictures of my dream/vision board, which I had made in July 2012, about a month after the sentencing of my attacker to prison.  What I did not say at the time was how more specifically this vision board came about.  Just the other day, though, I came across what I had written the day we made our boards.

Rather than just making the board on my own, my local Hoffman facilitator held a special gathering, apart from our normal monthly meetings, where we did guided visualizations to help us clarify what we were hoping to manifest into our lives.  What follows is the notes I took from the various exercises we did.   Keep in mind that I was still a good four months away from finishing my EMDR, and, as it turned out, a few years away from being truly through my experience:

 

“Message from Spiritual Guide –  pay attention to ALL that is happening to you; it is ALL happening for your highest good.

What do I believe is preventing me from manifesting my vision?   Fear

Elevator question – What are my self-limiting beliefs that keep me from having what I truly desire in my life?

(What I got from the elevator exercise)  Very fancy elevator opens to a very pattern-rich (floral sky, striped trees, plaid grass, color everywhere) scene that is a cross between Dr. Seuss, H.R. Puff-n-Stuff and Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, where everything is make-believe and happy and where nothing bad happens.  It feels like the happiest place on Earth (sorry Disneyland.)  Everyone is smiling, happy and helpful.  The sun is shining.  I don’t really seem to be a part of it though.  I am looking into a place I’d like to be.

(Then the question asked was, What is your vision for the future?)    My vision is to help women who have been victims of sexual assault by giving them a platform where they can tell their stories, anonymously if necessary, so that they are able to heal themselves emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually.  I also am affecting change in the ‘system,’ in how victims are treated though the entire process.  I see myself teaching the police. EMTs, DAs, and any and everyone who comes in contact with the victim so that they are more compassionate and understanding.  Just as it takes a village to bring up children, I think it takes a village to help heal those who have been harmed.”

 

 

I find it very interesting that my vision was so clear even though I was still in the middle of my healing process.  What changed for me, however, was/is the fact that most women simply do not want to talk about such a horrific event in their lives.  While I do understand the reluctance, I also feel that it is important they do it anyway.  Unless and until someone is ready to talk about it, though, there is not a lot I can do to ‘make’ them talk.  Nor do I want to.  Because of this, I changed the focus of this site.  Instead of a platform for others, it is simply a place for me to continue to tell my story.  I hope in this that it is clear that healing and recovery are possible if you truly want it and are willing to do the work.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not, but my experience is that it is absolutely vital.

 

MAKING CHANGES

I wanted to name this post ‘Transitioning;’ however, given the huge life changes that Bruce Jenner has made into Caitlyn Jenner, the word seemed more than a little inappropriate for what I am doing these days.   Instead, I went with ‘Making Changes.’   And, really, the changes I am making have to do with my business and this website, and not huge life changes.    As most of you know, by profession, I am a seamstress.  I sew, plain and simple.  I specialize in home furnishings…slipcovers, window treatments, pillows, cushions, bedding, anything for the home.   My business has been booming the last year or so, which means I work a lot and sew all the time.  This is both good and challenging.  Since I am working long days, sometimes 10 or more hours, I am understandably tired and feeling like I have to write is just adding to my tiredness.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to write and have a lot to say; lately, though, I don’t always have the energy to do it along with everything else I am doing.

I have started posting on my Instagram (tamerieshriver) more often to promote my ‘real’ business.  The cool thing about Instagram is the ability one has to post multiple places at the same time.  When I post something there, I also share it with @sewtamerie and Facebook.  I am still posting a daily quote on both of my Facebook pages, which automatically posts it to my other Twitter @tamerieshriver.   When I post on this site, this goes out to both my Facebook pages (personal and my At Long Last Heard page), my LinkedIn, and @tamerieshriver.  It’s all so confusing, and, apparently, necessary since so much of how business is conducted today is through social media.  And then there is my other web site, A Little of This That and the Other,  which I post on each Friday.   Can you see my dilemma?  Lots to do and not a lot of extra time, which brings me to the whole point of this post: I will continue to write posts for this site, will continue to tell my story (and believe me there is a ton I’ve yet to tell) and will not be so concerned if I feel unable to write and post once a week.  If you want to keep up with me, I’ve given you lots of other options.

WORK, WORK, WORK

After my sexual assault, though I did my best, I really did not work for over a year.  Because I had a traumatic brain injury and was unable to think properly, work was very difficult.  If someone wanted a square (read ‘normal’ here) pillow, I could do it because I’ve made about a million and don’t have to use my brain or think how to make it.  If there was any variation, though, I simply was unable to do it.  Or if I did, it took me forever.  Over time I healed and so did my brain.  Looking back it seems like the Universe was right there for me as far as the amount of work I had.  While dealing with my attack and getting my mind and body through the trauma, I still had work, but not a lot of it.  Enough to somewhat get by.  Now, that has changed drastically, which is actually a good thing.  No, it’s a very good thing.  To me, it means that I am truly healed.  Oh sure, I have my moments when I wonder if my brain really is working, but that could just be how I am, with or without a TBI. I literally have so much work these days that if I think about it too much, I feel like going to bed.  It’s hard to get much done while sleeping, though I’ve tried.

So, today, because I have a deadline for the job I am currently working on, and it is necessary to stick to these due dates as much as possible, and because I am a member, I am going to the San Diego Zoo to see the new giraffe baby.  Sometimes a mental health hour or two, if an entire day in not really feasible, is necessary.  Then I can come home and get back to work.

UPDATE – I did go to the zoo and even got to see the baby giraffe!  The picture isn’t so good because I was far away and it is thru a fence, but I still got to see him/her.  Because the baby was born yesterday afternoon around 1:30p, they are not yet sure of the gender. Even from a distance, it was still pretty cool to see.  At birth, the baby was 6’1″ tall and weighed 150 pounds!

Newborn giraffe at the San Diego Zoo, 20 May 2015

Newborn giraffe at the San Diego Zoo, 20 May 2015

A CREATIVE LIFE

When I was 5 or 6 years old,  I wanted doll clothes for my Barbie dolls, but my mother wouldn’t buy them for me.  She said,”They are too expensive, and they are not made very well.”  So if I didn’t want naked dolls, I had to learn how to sew.  If you ask her, she’ll tell you that she taught me to sew.   This isn’t true, although I am certain she helped me to the best of her ability.   My grandmother, her mother, was the one who really taught me.  Since my entire reason for learning how to sew was to make doll clothes, this was pretty much all I made for the first couple of years.  By hand.  I cannot remember exactly when I graduated to a sewing machine, but I do remember the first dress I made for myself when I was 8 years old.  It had 3 arm holes (on purpose) and was a wrap-around dress.  It had only the side and shoulder seams, and the whole dress was banded on the raw edges, so really easy.  I chose a yellow (we are talking school bus yellow) kettle cloth, which I do not even think is made anymore, and orange binding.  Yikes!  What I wouldn’t give to still have that dress, though.   As far as I know, there isn’t even a picture of it.  Bummer!  By nine, I could install a zipper, and I do have a picture of that dress:

old family pictures

I continued sewing, mainly because my mother would buy me fabric whenever I wanted it.  Unlike today, fabric used to be inexpensive, and it was far cheaper to sew your own clothes.  I never had to worry about anyone wearing the same thing as I had on.  I never took Home Economics because by that time I was too far advanced.  The truth is, I could have taught the class.  I did make money sewing while in high school.  I was on the swim team and every Friday before a meet, we had outfits that we had to wear.  The skirts were some kind of purple cotton, and  I ended up making the skirts for all the girls on the team.  Apparently, no one’s mother sewed.  I probably got $10 a skirt.  I also made and sold Holly Hobbie dolls for $15.  Those things were a lot of work, but, I guess for the time, that was pretty good.  Also, these were not dolls to be played with; they were to be sat on a shelf and admired.  If someone wanted to buy one for their daughter to actually play with, I wouldn’t sell it to them.

I took my sewing machine to college with me and used to get up super early to sew before my first class.   I always had new clothes, and would make my outfits for special occasions, usually the night before.  I was always aware of just how long something would take for me to make and I would always wait until the very last-minute to do it.  Some things never change!

I always sewed.  Except, that is, when I went off to Europe to model.  I could not take my sewing machine with me then.  Whenever I was back in the States for even a week, I would drag out the machine and whip up something to take back with me.  When I moved back to the States for good in September of 1990, I continued to model, but started sewing on the side.  I made vests, teddy bears, all kinds of things.  I retired from modeling sometime in 1992 or 1993, and then realized I had to get a ‘regular’ job.  I got one at Loomcraft (a Calico Corners-type store) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago.  The store did custom labor for the home, and though I had never done much of that kind of sewing, other than simple curtains or pillows, I decided that was what I would do.  I worked at Loomcraft for 2 years, until I had enough business to quit and sew full-time.  I am proud to say that I never once poached a customer from the store.  It would have been easy to do that, but it was against the rules.  I built my business back then the same way I do today – word of mouth.  And as anyone who is self-employed knows, you work many more hours a week than 40, but at least you are working for yourself.

Today I am happy that my mother forced me to learn to sew.  It has allowed me to have my own business for the last 23 years.  I have the best clients and each one of them comes to me just as my very first one did.  My business has gone through several name changes through the years until several years ago when I changed it to A Little of This That and the Other.  Even though I only make things for the home, I don’t want to limit myself.  You never know when I might decide it’s time to start a line of t-shirts or bathing suits or yoga clothes.  This way, I’m covered.

I have always lived a creative life and cannot imagine living any other way.  Creating beautiful things for people’s homes gives me great joy.  I get to go into all kinds of houses that I would normally never go into.  I’ve been in 14 different magazines over the years, although this has never gotten me work.  Still, I love to see my work in a magazine.  As of right now, I am awaiting a home in Carlsbad, CA that was shot for Coastal Living and another home on Saint Simons Island, GA in Country Living.  I never know until it comes out exactly which of things I did will end up in the magazine, which is really hard.  But when it finally does come out, I am excited and happy to see my work in print.

My other creative outlet is writing and this web site.  It is a completely different kind of creativity and something I have done for most of my life, as well.  Telling my story, at times, is hard.  I think it is important, if for no other reason than to help me make sense of my life.  And in the process, if I help others, then so much the better.  It’s all a part of the healing process.

14 NOVEMBER, 19 NOVEMBER 2011

14 November

Therapy was tough today.  I almost cried.  The tears just wouldn’t come out.  It was when I was talking about Andy.  Also, Susie said she thinks my talking is my tears.  For now.  That’s probably why I am talking so much about the attack.  To everyone I see.

I think that when I was growing up, I never felt that I mattered, that I was not important.  I think I still feel that way a lot of the time.  I mean, and I know I’ve said this before at various other times in my life, I’m 51 years old and I have nothing to show for it  —  no husband, no kids, no house, no money.  Oh sure, I have a talent for making beautiful things, and a portfolio full of pictures of those beautiful things, but what does that really mean?  I think I’m trying to make myself feel relevant.  I know there are quite a lot of people who would miss me if I were gone, but what does it take for me to feel that I matter while I’m here?  I think writing my autobiography is a step in the right direction.  Also, writing about what I’m going through now.  I cannot be the only one who is experiencing it, though why no one else has come forward or no one I know has ever been attacked, I can’t figure out.  No one talks about it.  And I can’t seem to shut up.  And then there’s the annoying little voice that keeps saying, ‘Why do you think what you have to say is important?’ and ‘Why do you think anyone will even be interested or listen or care?’ and ‘Maybe I am the only one who this matters to.’  

And seriously, what’s the worst thing that can happen to me for writing it all down on my blog?  No one reads it?  I only help myself get through it?  Well, so what?  The whole point is to get me through it and if I happen to help someone else along the way, great.  If not, well, I will have still helped me.  It’s not like anyone is really reading my blog these days anyway.  I do need to figure out a way to increase my readership AND have people leave comments.  I want, no, I NEED to know that I’m not just wasting my time.  (Note- The blog I am referring to here is http://www.alittleofthisthatandtheother.blogspot.com and even before the attack I was having a bit of trouble posting on a regular basis.  After, I tried to go on as if nothing had happened, occasionally making a veiled reference to something, but never coming totally clean.  After I launched this site, I foolishly thought I could do posts on both.  That has not happened.)

19 November 2011

Slowly, but ever so slowly, I am realizing I have a very deep sense that I simply do not matter.  I, of course, l know this is ridiculous, and yet, the feeling is still there.  This was pointed out to me last Monday in therapy.  When I was talking about how mean my brothers were and how I got no relief from Mother until I took the drastic measure of running away from home, Susie asked me if I felt that I didn’t matter?  I said, yes, and I’ve thought about it a lot this past week.  I’m not sure why I feel this way.  Oh, I can understand why I would have felt it before, but not after Hoffman and all the subsequent work I’ve done to deal with my past.  Apparently, though, it is still there.  Rats!

The Hoffman gathering today was pretty powerful for me.  The topic was Gratitude.  My first thought was, ‘of course I am grateful for everything.’  And then I thought more about that and realized it was the perfect topic for me because, although I am definitely grateful for a lot of things, I am not nearly in the frame of mind I was pre-attack.  I can’t even thank God for my island anymore.  That has got to shift for me.  I am working on it, but maybe I really do need to ‘fake it ’til I feel it again.’  Kind of like the releasing resentment prayer that Mike sent me.  I’ve been doing it and I’m pretty sure I’ve done it for more than 14 consecutive days and I’ve yet to feel any less mad or resentful towards cockroach boy.   Still, I’ll keep doing it.  It certainly cannot hurt anything and may be helping me in ways I am not even aware of.  (Another note – the releasing resentment prayer I mentioned here is an amalgamation from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and says the following: “God, please help me show ____ the same tolerance, compassion and patience that I would cheerfully grant a sick friend.  This is a sick person God.  Save me from being angry and resentful.  Thy will be done.  I ask for everything that I want for myself to be given to him.  I ask for his health, his prosperity and his happiness.”   Say it for 14 consecutive days and see if it doesn’t help you release your resentment.  Remember that this is for your peace of mind and serenity, not his.)

10 NOVEMBER 2011

From my journal…

“I feel like I am a ticking time-bomb and I am not sure when I’ll explode.  Mostly, I feel okay, and, at times, I can even ‘forget’ about what’s really going on.  What makes this so hard is not knowing when things will happen.  I put this quote on my Facebook this morning:

“There is sacredness in tears.  They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.  They speak more eloquently than ten thousands tongues.  They are messengers of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love.”  ~Washington Irving

If this is true, that tears are not a sign of weakness, but one of power, then I must be the weakest person on the planet.  I certainly do not feel like I have any power at all.  I have understood for a long time that I have no control over anything but my reaction to things.  In this case, I can’t even control my reaction because my brain chemistry is all messed up.  I feel more out of control than ever.  And I look fine to the outside world.  When I look in the mirror I still don’t see the real me.  I’m not sure where she is.  Perhaps locked away until it is safe to reemerge?

Kim recommended I watch some YouTube videos about sexual assault in the military.  The one thing I took away from “Angie’s Story’ was her saying that PTSD does NOT go away on its own, that without help, you will always suffer.  Also, that it took a year (oh, crap) for her symptoms to fully manifest.  So then I think, okay, fine, I’ll just go about my life until that happens, except that isn’t how it’s working.  It’s like I am half in, half out. I can’t move forward, I can’t pretend or will myself past this, so I sit, stuck in the now.  The fact that I get out of bed every day is quite an accomplishment because all I really want to do is stay there.  Right now, the symptoms I do have are manifesting themselves as depression, though I am not depressed.  Going on an anti-depressant doesn’t seem the way to go because it will be masking the very feelings I need to feel in order to move through the trauma.  Talk about a catch-22.

And then I go back to the fact that I wasn’t actually raped, that, really, I wasn’t hurt very badly at all, that physically I’m healed, so why aren’t I healed emotionally and mentally?

I am so close to starting to write about this on my A Little of This That and the Other blog.  I feel like I am alone and I know that’s crazy.  I am feeling an overwhelming urge to talk and write about this on a much larger scale than I have already.  I think the biggest ‘issue’ I am having is reconciling what is going on with what I believe.  If I believe everything happens for a reason, that there are no mistakes, no accidents or no coincidences, then what happened, happened for a reason.  That I can accept.  And I’m pretty sure the reason is to move me to the next chapter in my life.  I get that, and can even be grateful.  What I am NOT getting  is why I cannot override the negative with the positive?  Why, even as I’m saying the words, the opposite feelings are what keep showing up?  Why I am unable to ‘will’ what it is I want?  Why, if our thoughts create our future, that what I think today, creates my tomorrow, what thoughts did I think to bring this violence into my life?  I KNOW I never thought these thoughts.  And, really, how much trauma can I possibly endure without checking out completely?  Yes, I am determined to stick around AND I can’t help but think I have already passed my breaking point, and so far, have been stronger than that very small part of me that doesn’t want to stay, that doesn’t want to be here.   When does it get better?  When does the pain stop?  All I can think right now is the pain is so unbearably acute  that I can’t feel it at all, that that’s the reason I’m not crying, the reason I can’t allow myself to feel anything.  For now, I guess that going through the motions is as much an accomplishment as anything.  I am doing the best I can and I feel like I’m not doing much of anything.  Round and round I go.

9:45a  What if I really don’t deserve to be happy?  What if only certain people are destined to have all they want and the vast majority are meant to lead lives of mediocrity? To be forever searching, but never finding?  To always be mostly unhappy?  This is a world that I do NOT want to live in and a reality that I cannot, no WILL NOT, accept.  With God, all things are possible.  It doesn’t say, with God, some things are possible or a few things or even most things.  It says ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  I have to believe this.  I cannot, and will not, let one incident in my entire life determine or dictate who I am and how I’ll live the rest of my life.  No way, not how.  And still, I wonder…

12 noon – Well, I did it.  I made it official.  I posted on my blog, came out to the world, so to speak.  I declared my intention to write, although I mentioned photography first, and then writing.  No matter, it’s out.”

 

It’s funny, in an interesting, ironic way, that I ‘came out’ about my desire and intention to write, but made no mention of the impetus behind it.  And going through my journal of that time last year is actually a lot more difficult that I thought it would be.  At the time, I both knew and didn’t have a clue as to what I was really going through.  I so wanted to be healed and finished with the entire process, never realizing that length of time it would ultimately take.  Looking back, I think I thought if I didn’t ‘hurry up and get better’ that that meant I was weak or that there was something far worse wrong with me than ‘just’ having been sexually assaulted.  Remember, this was only 5 weeks or so after the attack.  And one of the things that did come out in therapy was my tendency to be incredibly hard on myself.  I cut myself no slack.  I thought if I wasn’t perfect, no one would stick around.  It took me a while to, first of all, even understand it, and secondly, to start being more gentle and loving to myself.  Something far worse came out, as well, and that was the hatred (yes, a real hatred) of myself that I wasn’t even aware of.  I would have laughed if you had told me I actually hated myself.  Turns out, I did.  There are reasons why that manifested and I will get into them at a later date.  For now, suffice it to say that this made my healing from the attack that much more difficult.  In the end, though, I did what I had to and worked through it and was able to put that piece behind me.  I’m telling you that EMDR is the most amazing thing.  Without it, I certainly would not be where I am today.  That is also a subject for another day.