I Haven’t Been Sleeping Again Lately

I haven’t been sleeping again lately.

This is the hardest part of living with Complex-PTSD. That the body remembers. That for most of my childhood, throughout so many years of trauma and abuse, my nervous system existed in fight-or-flight. That even now, whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed or not in control, my nervous system is conditioned to respond with that same fight-or-flight and cannot switch off, so remains in a state of hypervigilance for days; weeks on end. Sleep deprived in a way that no amount of yoga or meditation or exercise or nature or rest or the 3,694 different sleeping supplements I have tried seems to be able to overcome.

No matter how much healing I have done this is still the one thing I cannot seem to defeat. It’s cruel and unfair; that those of us who suffered in childhood have already had so much taken from us yet decades later continue to suffer in ways most people will never see, or understand.

This kind of exhaustion is debilitating and affects so much of my life. It makes me unable to feel I can manage anything in my life. It makes me want to hide from the world. It makes me want to cancel plans. It makes me unable to work, or be creative in any way. It makes me irrational and anxious. It makes me feel incapable of finding the beauty and joy in each day.

It makes me want to give up.

Instead, today I got dressed. I put makeup on. I worked for the amount of time I felt capable of. I video called a friend. I walked on the beach. I kept an appointment. I went to yoga. I did the things because I’ve learned NOT doing the things leaves me feeling in complete despair. It wasn’t all easy, and there were moments of tears. But I did the things.

It isn’t about pushing through to the detriment of my physical and mental health. It’s about showing up for myself. It’s about making the decision to not be defeated. It’s about doing the best I can with what I have to give, no matter how minimal. It’s about acceptance; letting go of the anger and grief and sadness over the life that has been taken from me and instead choosing to honour the life given to me each day.

It’s still beautiful, even when it’s hard.

It’s still mine x

The Work Of One Season Is Always Preparing us For The Next

Last year, due to Covid, I lost most of my freelance work. I found myself home all the time fighting to get published and struggling to make an income. With this I also felt like a failure, felt inadequate, and grasped for my self-worth, believing the woman I am was inherently tied to the work I was – or wasn’t – achieving. I found myself lost in a dark night of the soul with no purpose or direction or motivation to even want to face each day.

Because of this I decided to take a break from writing and work as a barista. There have been many things about this work that I’ve loved. I truly love making coffee and being part of creating a small piece of joy in people’s day. I have loved chatting with people and hearing their stories. I’ve loved having a sense of achievement at the end of each day and knowing I have an income that isn’t dependent on finding work in what has been a volatile industry.

However, living in a crazy popular tourist town sees summer become the busiest and hardest time of year. More days, longer days, exhausting days. This summer I found myself working more often than not. On the days I wasn’t working I was so tired all I wanted to do was flake on the couch and never move. My stress levels went up, my health came crashing down; both physically and mentally. I stopped exercising. I stopped eating well (or some days, barely ate at all). I stopped journalling and writing and meditating and being out in nature and doing all the things I need to do to care for myself.

Most of all, I stopped having the time and energy to spend with my children over their summer holidays. My younger ones especially felt this and struggled with my absence at a time in their lives they need me present the most.

It was a difficult decision but after much consideration I resigned from my job. I have been unsure of whether I made the right call or not; unsure whether working full-time from home was going to be the right thing for my mental health, or not.

But this morning I set my 6am alarm, made coffee, and went for the first morning walk I have taken in months. As I breathed the cool morning air I felt myself unfolding; opening up to this new day and all the possibilities and opportunities laid out once again before me; both peace and hope expanding inside me.

Walking back into my office this morning was a feeling of coming home. And I realised this hasn’t been about starting, and stopping, and finishing, and failing. It’s just the ebb and flow of seasons in our lives. If we can learn to move in and out of them effortlessly; to surrender to our winter that we may find renewed strength for our spring, this is where we will find our peace.

I needed the time away from writing. It has been the ultimate reset. But I find myself today filled with anticipation; relieved and excited to have already found work and once again be able to write and create and feel myself living again, not just existing.

The work of one season is always preparing us for the next.

This is my today. I can’t tell you what my tomorrow will look like. But I know in this moment, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Australia Day – A Day Of Mourning

I woke up heavy of spirit today.

In my news feeds, horrific stories of invasion; rape, stolen children, stolen land, families torn apart, destruction of culture, genocide. Unspeakable atrocities carried out upon the Indigenous ancestors of our country. A country where most of us take for granted the freedom and privilege of which we live, with little regard for blood spilled upon the soil we stand upon and call our own.

I cannot claim to understand the pain, suffering and grief of the generations that have come before. But I understand invasion. I understand what it is to have everything taken from you without consent. I understand how it feels to suffer at the hands of privilege and power. To have no-one there to protect you; or worse, have those who should have protected you instead choose not to. I know what it is to be left without a home, or family. To be rooted in a history of shame and be handed down only the weight of generational trauma to carry in weary hands. I understand what it is to grieve for that which you can never get back; what a lifetime of grief can do to a person.

Which is to say, today I grieve with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters and want to help carry the weight of the grief held in these hands. I acknowledge the suffering of our First Nations people. I seek to understand and recognise the ways white privilege caused, and continues to cause, division and destruction. I seek to learn more and do better that healing and reconciliation may be seen in our country.

In saying this, I cannot deny I am a proud Australian, nor do I want to be afraid of speaking this truth. I am not proud of the actions of my white ancestors. I am not proud of the way we, as a nation, have treated our Indigenous. I am not proud of the way we have always handled things. But I am proud of the way we are learning how to listen and validate the suffering of our First Nations people. That we continue to try and educate ourselves on how this suffering still affects our Indigenous people today. That we acknowledge today is not a day of celebration but one of mourning. That we seek change and compromise to find a date that will no longer divide but bring inclusion to ALL Australians.

Because to me, this is what it means to be a proud Australian. That no matter our heritage, our history, our colour or race, we will never stop fighting to do better x

(Link to full poem here – https://youtu.be/QwGhU-dRJVQ)

To Those Who Are Here To Break Cycles Of Generational Trauma

Dear heart, I see you.

I see the path your weary hands forge into new territory. I see the struggle inside this wilderness of change—the resistance you feel as you work harder than anyone will ever know, or see, to be the catalyst for change. To be the one who liberates others from the heavy chain of dysfunction, abuse, and trauma dragged down from generation to generation. The one who places her flag upon newfound land declaring, this ends with me.

There is nothing easy about breaking generational cycles. The responsibility of change carried in often-weary arms. The battle to not only heal your own wounds, but to not inflict those same wounds upon others. The overcoming of all that has come before you, the defeating of all that still tries to find its way back in.

The recognising and severing of toxic patterns. The need to take responsibility for past actions. To seek forgiveness. To learn boundaries. To reparent yourself. To fight against years of unhealthy relationships, addictions, coping mechanisms, and means of survival.

It is heavy work. Backbreaking work. Thankless work. Exhausting work. It is scraped knees and blistered hands. Faces marred with sweat and tears. It is lost sleep and unheard prayers and always wondering if it is enough. If we are enough. To do this. To be the catalyst so desperately needed.

Read more over at Elephant Journal and please remember to “heart” my article and leave a comment, would love to know your thoughts x

As a Trauma Survivor, Here are 8 Things I’m Done Apologising For.

Maybe it’s because of 2020.

Or maybe it’s because I turned 40 this year and my I-No-Longer-Give-A-F*ck-What-You-Think-Of-Me attitude has amped up a notch or two.

Either way, an undercurrent of change is churning inside me, pulling me to a place where I no longer feel the need to explain, justify, or apologise for the woman I am. For the ways I have been broken by trauma. Changed by it. Shaped by it.

I’m done trying to be who I think I should be. Trying to please. Trying to conform. Trying to be normal, like those around me. Those who have not walked in my shoes. Those who have not lived the life I have lived—suffered the way I have suffered.

I’m done saying sorry for all the ways I fall short, for all the ways I disappoint others and let them down. I’m done believing I am broken—that there is something inherently wrong with the woman I am. I’m done believing I am something to be fixed. I’m done feeling that who I am isn’t enough.

Read the rest of my article, As A Trauma Survivor, Here Are 8 Things I’m Done Apologising For, over at Elephant Journal x

To Be Honest, I Didn’t Much Feel Like Celebrating Christmas

This year has taken so much. I’m tired in a way I’ve never been tired. More than exhaustion. More than burnout. Existential, perhaps. I don’t know. I just know it has been a year of very few highs, many excruciating lows. Even more losses. Fear, uncertainty, grief. A year we will all remember, but for reasons we wish we could forget.

It’s been difficult to find joy, and today was no exception. But as I soak up the late afternoon sunshine, the sea breeze rustles the leaves and the birds call their melodies to one another and the sound of my children’s laughter rises from somewhere below me and for a fleeting moment I grasp hold of something inside me.

Maybe not quite joy, yet.

But hope.

A knowing that there is strength to rise above circumstance.

A knowing that joy may falter but still exists within us.

A knowing that in the stillness we can find our way back to peace.

A knowing that all will be well.

A knowing that love wins. Always.

For those struggling this year know you are not alone. You are seen and loved.

May hope find its way into your heart today.

Merry Christmas x

To The Woman Trying To Find Herself

“What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I’d done something I shouldn’t have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I’d done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything differently than I had done? What if I’d actually wanted to f*ck every one of those men? What if heroin taught me something? What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?” ~ Cheryl Strayed, Wild 

To the woman trying to find herself.

This is for the woman trying to find herself when there is no trail to hike. When you do not have 1,100 endless miles stretched out in front of you; when you do not have 94 days of solitude to lose yourself in. When you do not have nature in all her wildness and beauty to soothe and heal your fragile soul.

To the woman trying to find herself somewhere amidst work, family, and other responsibilities. Somewhere between the 6 a.m. alarm and the late-night crawl into bed – exhausted once again.

Somewhere in the lonely hours of the night when your mind moves too fast, the minutes too slow. Somewhere in the hustle of each day when you are captured by a fleeting beam of sunlight upon skin or the evanescence of sea breeze upon warm summer air or the breath of wind as it stirs the crest of pine trees above your head and you know you are being called back to yourself, but cannot get there. We can never get there — it seems.

To you, dear woman, who is lost and without a trail to find your way home. I know what it means to be lost. Lost somewhere in the middle of the woman you once were and the one you are yet to become.

Read the full article over at Elephant Journal x

I Beg Of You Not To Love Me (Poem)

And you, with lips that bleed with the sacrifice of your heart.

I beg of you not to love me.

Find a girl whose contours do not snag beneath your touch, who has not traded her tears for thorns, her skin for armour.

A girl who does not forgo sleep to map escape routes on the back of her eyelids but instead makes her home below the shelter of your collarbones.

Make sure her constitution has been stitched together with straight lines and even spaces; that she has not been woven remiss with paradox and inconsistency.

A girl who does not bleed alcohol and exist in metaphor.

Whose stories can be read in journals impressed with seaside daisies and late summer memories, not scrawled in jagged scars upon her skin.

A girl whose worth is not rich in the currency of shame and apologies.

Who does not wrap her fragile shell in a bandage of words, hoping to hold intact chalky bones that threaten to crumble away with sadness.

Who says she is fine.

She is not fine.

Do not believe the poets; the ones who tell you there is beauty in brokenness, who swathe ugly truths in pretty words and label it art, like virtuosity will ever be enough to soak the bloodstains off the floor.

There is no beauty in brokenness.

Only broken inhabits brokenness.

Do not love a girl like me, a girl too inept to be trusted with such precarious birth.

Who does not understand love when it has only been spelled as goodbye.

Who knows the taste of trust only as kisses from a razor-blade tongue.

Who does not know how to exist without one foot stretched out, holding the door ajar.

Do not love a girl like me who drapes herself in garments of tough pretence to belie the vulnerability beneath.

A girl like me, whose untamed heart betrays her with its wild abandon at the wanting in your eyes; who does not know how to love in half-measure but only with the magnitude of the entire universe that gathers within her flesh.

No, do not love a girl like me.

Find a girl who is sure-footed and able.

For I, I am too familiar with my own heart; the delicate glass of which it is fashioned, so susceptible to causing us both to bleed should it shatter beneath the weight of your fingers.

What I mean to say is, I am so afraid of love

I would rather not love at all.

~ KP

The Patron Saint Of Lost Chances (New Poem)

Acknowledge your grief.

It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant it seems, you are justified in your grief.

In your loss. In your sadness. In all the cancelled plans and lost opportunities. In all the dreams and anticipation and hope clutched so tightly to your chest that has been taken from you. In all the moments you never had and will never get back.

This year has taken so much from all of us.

Don’t compare your grief to anyone else’s. Claim it. Own it. Allow yourself to feel it.

Your grief is real. Your grief is valid.

I Gave Up A Purpose-Driven Life For A Curiosity-Driven Life And This Is What Happened

A few months ago, I went through a dark night of the soul—the darkest I had dwelled within for years.

Initially, I put it down to burnout or perhaps pandemic-related exhaustion. No doubt these factors contributed, but I knew there was something deeper affecting me that I couldn’t shift.

I had lost direction. I had lost purpose. I had lost passion.

Worse, I had lost me.

Because of this, I began to feel like a failure.

I felt ashamed that I was unable to be productive or achieve goals. I felt inadequate in my comparison to others who appeared so driven and focused. I felt that without any significant contribution to the world, my life was of little worth.I didn’t know what I wanted anymore.

Everything I had thought I wanted no longer gave me joy or fulfilment.It all just felt exhausting.

Then, I listened to a podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert that changed everything.

Read how giving up a purpose-driven life and taking the plunge into a curiosity-driven life saved me, over at Elephant Journal, link below x

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2020/11/elizabeth-gilbert-helped-me-find-a-curiosity-driven-life-how-it-made-me-breathe-again-kathy-parker/