Defining Resilience: Step 2 – Seek Out and Nurture Supportive Relationships

A sneak peak at a portion of my upcoming Hope for Healing newsletter scheduled for delivery August 1st. Subscribe at Hope for Healing newsletter or on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com. Thanks!

Defining Resilience

Step 2: Seek Out and Nurture Supportive Relationships

Before diving into step 2, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences.

What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?

  1. Focus on the positives
  2. Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
  3. Utilize self-care strategies. 
  4. Take action steps to create positive change.
  5. Work on healthy habit formation. 
  6. Find a guiding hand to hold.
  7. Learn to become our own hero. 
  8. Be gentle with ourselves.

Today we will cover Step 2: Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.

The day my therapist said to me, in reference to my then-BFF, “Teri, you need to put some healthy boundaries in place,” I just stared at her befuddled. I truly had no idea what a “healthy boundary” looked like. Growing up in a co-dependent relationship with my alcoholic mother, I had spent my youth playing the part of the peace-keeper and “good girl” in order to create some sense of calm within the chaos. My sister and I have discussed, on many occasions, the impact physical abuse and emotional abandonment had on our future relationships. We agreed we had no concept how to even go about putting healthy boundaries in place and why that was critical for establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, friendships, and partnerships.

Here are five “healthy boundary” suggestions followed by five relationship-nurturing ideas to incorporate into your own life:

  • You are allowed to say “no”: Practice doing it. It may be difficult, at first, but you will soon reap the benefits of more time, less resentment, and empowerment within your own life and decisions. If you do not want to do something, then don’t do it. And if someone is upset by that then you know that relationship needs some boundary work!
  • Expand your circle: One of the first indications that I was in an unhealthy friendship with poor boundaries was when I was criticized by that friend for becoming more involved in my daughter’s school activities and developing new friendships. Broadening my circle and developing a tribe of supportive souls not only shined a light on the unhealthy patterns, but helped me create new healthier habits within those friendships.
  • Notice any unhealthy habits: I had a tendency to latch on with a death-grip, almost to the point of obsession, to those who loved me even after knowing all of my deep, dark secrets. I had such a deep-seated fear of abandonment that I would spend more time trying to keep the peace and play along, even when I disagreed with something, that I lost myself in the process. Once I started to become aware of my unhealthy habits, I was able to re-direct myself toward healthy boundaries.
  • Be honest: I kept quiet for far too many years because I was afraid that speaking up would result in being left. Once I realized that I was entitled to have not only my opinion but a voice to speak it, and that the reactions of others, whether they sent me packing or not, had nothing to do with me and everything to do with where they were on their own journey, I found solace. There is a release that happens in accepting “abandonment”. Knowing others might walk away when you put healthy boundaries in place is an indication that they still have work to do in their own lives. However, many will stick with you as you learn to speak your truth, and even more will gravitate toward you.
  • Know your worth: Knowing your worth on every level and protecting it are critical to maintaining supportive and healthy relationships. Your healthy boundaries include physical (no one should touch you in a harmful way), emotional (being ridiculed is unacceptable behavior from others), spiritual (you are most assuredly entitled to your beliefs), cognitive (mind-games can be a controlling aspect in particular relationships, especially those involving narcissists). Be sure to utilize positive affirmations and practice them daily (“I am worthy”, “I am kind”, “I am lovable”, etc.).
As you move away from toxic relationships, you will notice a shift occurring as those healthier habits attract more positivity into your life. Use this as an opportunity to create new friendships. Reach out to others in support and notice as they return the gesture. Some ideas to consider:
  1. Join groups that spark your passion or pique your interest – such as volunteering at an animal shelter, a rock-climbing club, your church choir, a car enthusiasts group, a small business association, etc.
  2. Reach out to those who allow you your boundaries – notice new people who come across your path and respect those boundaries.
  3. Engage in support groups (in person or online) – such as Al-Anon, parenting groups through mental health agencies, faith courses offered through churches, etc.
  4. Write thank you notes, texts or emails to those who offer supportive roles in your life – offering gratitude for the positive support not only keeps it in perspective for you, but helps others realize the impact they are having in the lives of others.
  5. Offer your support to others – by reaching out a helping hand you can start to develop reciprocal relationships in which you help one another when needed.

Blessings & Babble

Our daughter has been on a tweenage metamorphosis of late. Some days she’s clad in nothing but boys’ Nike attire and others she is lounging poolside in her cute little bikini sporting her Ray-Ban-esque Dollar Store knock-off shades. As she wriggles her way toward thirteen, a re-decorating of her cocoon was obviously in order. Out with the puppy calendar, pastel-colored name letters, and all things fru-fru-ish. In with a basketball comforter, tree lights strung about her walls, fresh white paint on the once-pink mirror, and a huge Nike swoosh hung proudly (next to the giant teddy bear . . . some things are a must keep no matter how grown up you think you are).

I was fortunate enough to inherit some inspirational decor in the process: “Live the life you’ve always dreamed of. Be fearless in the face of adversity. Never stop learning. Use your imagination whenever possible. Recognize the BEauty that surrounds YOU. Remember where you came from, but never lose sight of where you are going.”

Yes. So much yes.

I spoke to my mom this morning. About twenty-three times. Okay, only about seven, but still. She was drunk and depressed. I have avoided that combo since my childhood. She babbled on about my dad visiting her (scary thought considering he’s been deceased for nine years), wearing a winter coat all night because she couldn’t sleep, how my sister Katie was coming over to take Katie to lunch for Katie’s birthday (I’m still trying to figure that one out), hugging her new picture book and crying, asking me to call the Bureau of Motor Vehicles about my nephew’s car, needing me to call back and wake her up because she was still sleeping (um, no, Mom, you are awake and talking to me right now), and arguing with her dead friends.

You are right to tell me I should put her in a nursing home, have her declared incompetent of self-care. After all, I found out she had attempted to walk to the liquor store at eighty-two years old because she ran out of vodka. In eighty-something degree heat. But, she hitched a ride halfway there (insert eye-roll here).

However, in a day or two, my phone will ring and my bright and cheery mom will start in with her sober chatter, “Hi, TT! How’s my beautiful daughter today? If you have time, will you stop by and show me how to use this new vacuum you bought me? And pick me up some cranberry juice on your way. Did I tell you about the meal I’m planning for my party tonight?” And I’ll hear all about her social events for the next week . . . dinner parties with gourmet foods all cooked by her, movie nights with her old lady friends, rosary group, and noon mass at St. Rose. Sober and coherent and oh-so-self-sufficient.

Leaving me and my sister in that limbo land. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t. A pendulum existence between she-is-going-to-kill-herself-with-booze-and-pills and why-the-hell-did-you-stick-your-obviously-fun-and-perky-mom-in-a-nursing-home?

So, here I sit. Contemplating my new office decor.

“Live the life you’ve always dreamed of.”

Is it my duty to spend my days scurrying about making sure sober Mom is nurtured and drunk Mom lives? The life I’ve dreamed of certainly does not include either.

“Be fearless in the face of adversity.”

Why is it easier to face my own demons and confront my fears than it is to make a decision about where my mom should live? Perhaps because it’s HER life and not mine. This should be my mom’s decision, yet the only choice she is making is the one that’s haunted me since my teen years, when she told the family therapist, “If you are asking me to choose between alcohol and my family, I choose vodka.”

“Never stop learning.”

Joining Al-Anon was not so much eye-opening as it was a spotlight into my soul. Listening to others speak my thoughts, cry my tears, and confess to my lifelong fantasy of walking away from the chaos wreaked by my addict mother. Learning to end my co-dependent relationship with my mother has left me feeling more battered than the days she’d scream for my dad to hit me. How do I let go of my deeply ingrained Catholic guilt? Is there a way to let an old drunk hit rock bottom without shouldering the fallout? Who else will be there to clean it all up? (asks the over-achieving peace-keeper in me)

“Use your imagination whenever possible.”

I have imagined chunks of my life away. Sometime I wonder how much time I squandered day-dreaming my escapes. As a kid, my sister and I would lie awake in her rainbow-comforter-clad waterbed, dreaming up our lottery-winning adventures. We would buy our parents the white house with the blue roof near Grandma and Grandpa’s place in Covington. Then we would buy a camper and never look back. Today I dream of living my island life with no desire to look back at the chaos of addiction. Is that an acceptable use of imagination?

“Recognize the BEauty that surrounds YOU.”

Be. You. In gold letters.

Be.

You.

I spend every day noticing something beautiful in my life. From sunsets to ladybugs (I noticed both of those today!) to peaceful moments after the babbling phone calls.

Is there beauty to be found in her nonsense? Perhaps by being me, in all of my glitter-shitter glory, I can recognize the beauty that is my mom’s lesson. She has taught me to appreciate the moments between the mayhem. In all honesty, she’s taught me to appreciate the blessings within the torment, as well.

“Remember where you came from, but never lose sight of where you are going.”

I look like her. Especially as I age. I act like her, too. That’s mostly a good thing. She’s kind-hearted, likes to throw parties, loves to laugh, has deep faith, appreciates the value of friendship, and cries over sappy birthday cards and the Budweiser dog commercials. Yep. I’m my mom. In so many ways.

However . . . I really hate vodka.

Weekly Book Launch Update February 25th

Weekly update:

I welcomed 17 new members to the book launch team putting us at a total of 854 members on board with a reach of 200,125. Which means I reached my February goal. Yay, yay, yay!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

My overall goal is to have a quarter million reach and I am less than 50,000 from that goal thanks to all of you! #thankyou

For March, I’d like to hit 1,000 team members and surpass that 250,000 reach mark. We can do this! And I truly believe it’s “we” because I would not be achieving all of these goals without my amazing support system.

I continue to work slowly on the final edits on the proposal. I want to make sure it is flawless before submitting in April. After the content edits are completed, I will have a proof-editor review it to check for any final corrections. Then it’s off to Hay House before the Hay House Writer’s Workshop submission deadline.

The podcast continues to grow. Inspirational and motivational interviews abound. I love the connections I continue to make through this venture. Plus it’s super fun! If you are looking for hope, healing, inspiring stories or some motivation . . . check out The Healing Place Podcast on iTunes or Blubrry.

I am excited to be speaking in 2 days at The University of Cincinnati Clermont College. I feel honored every time I’m invited to stand in front of others to share my story of hope.

And Sammie Doodle . . . I love that dog! She is scheduled to visit several schools over the next few weeks. We are also planning on collecting more items for a homeless shelter visit. I will reach out separately when the time comes for that. You can follow Sammie on Instagram or her Facebook page. She also has her own website at www.sammiethedoodle.com. Links for her social media pages are on the website.

Wishing you a peaceful and joyous week ahead ?

P.S. Feel free to invite friends to join this book launch page so we can reach 1,000 by the end of March.

Weekly Update – Book Proposal

Weekly update!

This week has been fairly quiet on the book-front. The completed proposal is in my editor’s hands. She will have it back to me by the first week of February. Then I can edit away!

As for the book itself . . . I am so excited to have an outline to work with and a plan for it. Finally. As I’ve told so many, I’ve been writing this book for years. In, what feels like, circles. Always coming back to “what is it I am really trying to say?” I knew in my heart and soul I didn’t want it to be a “woe is me” story all about my trauma. I wanted it to be about hope and healing and the journey toward joy, yet knowing the trauma has to be a part of it.

There is a connection that happens between our souls when we have those “me, too” moments. The haunting beauty of my story is that it paints with a broad trauma brush, touching different people in different ways . . . yet, the vast majority of those folks are striving to live a more joyous, peaceful and purposeful existence. And many are stuck. Not knowing quite how to do move forward.

This is my tale from trauma to triumph, the “how to” for getting oneself unstuck from the muck.

* * * * *

Tomorrow, I have a meeting to discuss the website development. Excited to move forward with that, as well! Wish me luck.

* * * * *

A beautiful and incredibly talented friend painted this unicorn shadow for me. It hangs next to my desk in my writing space. I smile at it every day.

 

My Muse Rocks

Holy wow!

I did it.

I finished the book proposal. I told myself I wanted it done mid-January. And, look at that. Turned it in to my editor by Jan 15th! This sample chapter turned out even better than I had dreamed. Inspiration was flowing through me. #mymuserocks

As I conversed with my amazingly talented editor, Alee, earlier today, I have to admit I was pretty blown away by how this process is unfolding. It’s as if the stars are aligning and I am seeing the path before me in this magnificent illumination of light. As Alee and I tossed around branding ideas for my new website, the themes for all of my endeavors came into clear focus: healing, hope, empowerment. She loved the idea of “hope for healing” which was the Tristate Trauma Network’s fall conference Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) banner theme.

This book, Unicorn Shadows . . . a story of hope.

Our Sammie therapy dog role and our Sammie’s Bundles of Hope Project . . . healing through therapy animal services and a hope-inspired project.

My podcast, The Healing Place Podcast . . . a safe space to share stories of healing and hope.

My upcoming speaking tour with a brilliant friend and leader in the TIC arena . . . continued sharing of the “hope for healing” message.

These four areas of concentration are practically full-time jobs in and of themselves. Yet, I find myself energized and in a constant state of creative movement. I should be exhausted! However, here I sit, mulling over digital makeover suggestions; talking to the President/CEO of Hay House Publishing, Reid Tracy, on the phone during a Q&A session tonight; creating new business cards with my soon-to-be-released www.teriwellbrock.com displayed in happy purple font; designing labels for our Sammie’s Bundles of Hope “Hope Folders” for care-givers;  and editing my sample chapter in the book proposal.

This is really happening.

My suggestion to anyone out there hoping to make their dreams come true . . . take one step toward that dream right now. Research something. Make a call. Send an email. Write your short-term or long-term goals out. Put your dream out into the universe on social media. Then tomorrow . . . take another step. And the next day . . . yet, another. And do not stop moving toward that dream until you are sitting in your favorite space one evening, around 8:15 pm, and your heart starts to smile as your soul whispers to it, “This is really happening”.

Adventures in Soul-Sharing

Hay House Writers’ Workshop collage

Adventures in Soul-Sharing

My little sister, Katie, and I hopped on a Frontier flight out of CVG, headed for Orlando, FL, on October 20, 2017. This was a big flippin’ deal for me! The girl with a thirty year history of severe panic attacks had decided her dreams were bigger than her fears . . . and the present-day pull on my soul was greater than the haunted whisperings of my past. I sent up a few prayers. Okay. I sent up a few hundred prayers, climbed on board (but, not before caressing the smooth white finish of the jet, peaking out from behind the end of the jet bridge, reminding it to “fly safely”) and strapped myself in, a rosary in one hand and my favorite green fluorite stone in the other.

My bag o’ coping tools!

The flight was smooth. I may have even taken a millisecond glance out the window, just for the sake of saying, “Yeah. I looked.” I lost myself in my Mindfulness coloring book, focusing on the strange joy which dances around my head as I watch the white of the page transition to neon and glitter shades as my gel pen scurries between the lines. Katie and I chatted about writing our books, wondering out loud what awaited us at the Hay House Writers’ Workshop, and celebrated the idea of experiencing our first-ever sister trip. Alone. No parents. No kids. No spouses. We were on an adventure together, reminiscent of those nights before Dad’s bedtime stories, spent pretending Katie’s waterbed, clad in its rainbow comforter, was a boat, lost and adrift on a vast blue ocean. We could see the island in the distance . . . a yellow throw rug in the shape of a hang-ten foot . . . too far to swim toward safely. Sharks were surrounding us. Yet the boat was sinking! We would dive from the bed, belly crawling our way through the shark-infested waters, yelling to each other, “Save the babies! Save the babies!” And one or the other would scoop up the Drowsy Doll, in her pink polka-dotted pajamas, blonde hair sticking straight up on end from too many years of being carried around by those locks. The other would grab the naked doll we had named Johnny, giving his belly a good squeeze so he would return a long squealing doll cry from that squeaky hole in his bottom. We always made it safely to shore, snuggled up and giggling on the foot rug, grateful for the momentary reprieve from our real-life traumas. Our grown-up adventure was bound to be the same.

Teri & Katie – ages 5 and 2
Katie & Teri – flight to Orlando

We worked our way through the maze of the Orlando airport, tired and ready to crash in our resort room, eventually chasing down the Super Shuttle, as it pulled out of the parking space on the transportation platform. Scurrying into the back seat, I buckled myself in, and contemplated throwing my travel blanket over my head. I-4 traffic, at rush hour, on a Friday night. Oh, boy. I do not drive on highways. Ever. Or bridges. I have issues even being a passenger on little highway jaunts. Reminding myself I was on a soul-adventure and my calling to share my “story of hope” far surpasses my over-ingrained phobias, I took a deep breath and prepared myself for departure.

“We must pick up one more passenger,” announced the driver, his accent thick.

Where is this person going to sit? On my lap? I pondered as I tried to scooch over closer to my sister.

As the woman climbed into the backseat, she joked about fondling me, in her attempts to find the seat belt latch positioned under my ass. I laughed along and helped her out by crawling on top of my sister. Cozy. This could either help my highway nerves tremendously or trigger some of my “feeling trapped” anxiety. So, I came up with the ultimate in solutions . . . I closed my eyes!

A voice from my left addressed me about ten minutes into our ride and asked, loud enough for all to hear, “Teri, why are your eyes closed?” Yep. My sister.

Have you NOT been paying attention for the last thirty years?

Deep breath in. “Because I have highway anxiety. Closing my eyes helps.”

Then the voice from my right chimed in, “Really? Do you mind my asking why you have highway anxiety?”

I’m an open book. So, I shared the quick version of my trauma history and resulting C-PTSD diagnosis: alcoholic parent, physical abuse in childhood, multiple molestations, date rape, bank robbery with a co-worker stabbed with a hunting knife, bank robbery with a co-worker shot and murdered. Just the highlights. My eyes sealed shut even tighter.

The voice from the right, even softer in tone than a few moments earlier, “I am a trauma therapist.”

My eyes shot open.

Are you fucking kidding me? Of all the people in the world to squish in next to me on a shuttle ride, through rush hour traffic on a crazy busy highway in a city far from home, she turns out to be a trauma therapist! You rock, God!

My eyes locked onto the gentle gaze of a beautiful soul. Our smiles exchanged in new-found friendship. Paulette, the trauma therapist from Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada, began sharing calming strategies. “Move your right foot up, toes lifted, while keeping your left foot down. Now alternate. Back and forth. As if doing a dance. One, two, three. One, two, three.” My feet tapped to the soft lilt of her instructions. My mind focused on the waltz happening in this shuttle. Far from the traffic zooming by, I was caught up in learning a new coping skill.

Almost an hour later, we halted the conversation, as we pulled into the Omni Resort drive. Our chatting had not paused since the moment Paulette had reached out with a hand to hold in heavy I-4 traffic. I now had an armful of coping strategies to add to my already overflowing toolbox of learned skills. I guess it’s time for a bigger toolbox!

The adventure had only just begun . . .