Check out my NEW website!

Hey there everyone!

So at long last, after years of procrastination, dreaming, overwork, dreaming and more procrastination, I have FINALLY started my own website. Officially. With a blog this time.

Check it out at: labringle.com . Follow me there!

While I’ve had several blogs throughout the years – the one about my travels in Paris about a million years ago, the one about healing after a lifetime of abuse, and one about searching for what comes next – I’ve decided to combine all my various interests under one header. The only thing that describes how it all comes together…

Me.

Moi.

Myself.

I.

Narcissistic? Really hoping not. Just simplest I believe.

The other blogs provided me with opportunities to hide myself behind my writing. To take shelter behind my words. To not really admit that it was me saying those things. Me writing those things.

They provided me with beautiful opportunities to spread my wings. To test things out. To push myself further. To open up my voice without all the fear of rejection and recrimination that comes sometimes when you really attach your own self to something.

They were my blogs for crawling. But now I’m ready to walk.

Don’t worry, you’ll still get to read my stuff – I haven’t changed and yet I’m completely different all at the same time.

I’ll still try to post the struggles, the inspiration, the yoga and the triumphs of life. I haven’t forgotten you.

It’s just time to start spreading my wings. Time to start trying to turn this whole writing thing into more than a side hobby I sometimes can’t seem to make time for and into something that actually supplies…dare I say it?…an income? 

Ooo that word gives me chills.

The truth is, we writers need to eat too y’all!

So join me on my search for food – through words.

See you there.

Lauren

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Healing Struggles

During my healing process, I feel as though I’ve struggled with several things. The struggle began with the external. For a long time, I would cry or panic whenever someone touched me or when I was expected to touch someone else. It was very detrimental to both my friendships and relationships.

For example, feeling safe and comfortable with hugging people, touching people and being intimate in my relationships felt practically impossible. But that took a good deal of learning to establish and recognize my personal boundaries (and let people know when they needed to back off from those boundaries!) as well.

I also found a lot of help with that through the yoga studio I practice at most frequently. They emphasize partner work during their classes. Being in a safe and secure setting and being touched in ways that are not sexually charged and are really just for healing and yoga and stretching on a consistent basis really helped me to feel more comfortable with my body. With what was going on inside and around my body. And with learning when to say no, and when to say yes, to safe and loving touch.

Learning to trust myself has been another enormous struggle. At first I thought the problem was learning to trust other people. But then I realized that in order to trust other people, we have to trust ourselves first. After all, if we can’t even trust ourselves, then who else CAN we trust?! Again, I felt like yoga was a huge help here. If I could master a new pose and trust my body to support me, and trust myself to make the right decisions for my body and health, then I could trust myself in other areas of my life as well. Travel also cultivated this sense of adaptivity and trust in myself. When we move outside of our day to day circumstances and see what we are truly capable of, we can literally astonish ourselves.

Because everyone should watch this

I watched this Ted Talks just now and I think the speaker makes some wonderful points. I broke into tears in the middle of this video. In order to end gender violence, we need to change our ideas about some things. As bystanders, we need to speak up every moment we see or hear sexist, racist, or bigoted comments. We can’t just stand up for people in the event of abuse, the development of abusers starts long before that. As a culture, we need to change our attitudes. After all,

“In the end what hurts the most is not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more true statement. What broke me most throughout my struggles with abuse and violence was not the actual abuse itself. It was watching as so many friends turned their backs on me and walked away. Whether they called me crazy or played my story off as me being overdramatic, I felt shattered by their complete disbelief in me and my experience. After my abusive ex, I lost nearly every “friend” I had. Every male friend anyways. I even felt betrayed by my best friend, who continued to hang out with my abuser afterwards. Even she thought that I exaggerated. That I stretched the truth. I sometimes feel like I will never recover from that.

But I can say this much. I never would have spent so many nights completely alone and without company if my story were not true. I could’ve just denied it. Could’ve just assimilated back into my party crowd of friends like nothing ever happened and pretended like everything was okay. Many people do just that.

But my story is true, and I will never deny that again.

I never would have watched as all my so-called friends walked away from me if my story were not true. I would not have spent four straight months of crying every day if my story were not true. I would not have spent months in counseling, years blogging, undergone treatment through yoga therapy, changed my phone number, moved away, cut off all ties with certain people and traveled for months at a time in pursuit of some shred of hope and happiness if my story were not true.

This is not just a woman’s issue, it’s everybody’s issue. Help break the silence:

http://www.ted.com/talks/jackson_katz_violence_against_women_it_s_a_men_s_issue.html

Forgiveness

I spoke in an earlier blog about the need to forgive yourself.  In terms of healing, forgiving yourself is the most important thing.  As I spoke of already, the biggest challenge and most radical change we can make sometimes is just to love ourselves.  So if you haven’t already read those blog posts, I recommend you start there.  If you have, or if you are exploring the idea of forgiving someone else, read on.

If you’re anything like me, you were raised in a conservative church atmosphere that preached forgiveness as a necessity to being a good Christian.  Growing up, I was taught that I am required to forgive someone, no matter what they did.  No matter how they wronged me, or how sick and messed up they are.  In this version of forgiveness, I was told that it was my job to tell that person that I forgave them, and then it was their decision whether or not to accept my forgiveness.  That view was then supported by my abusers.

“You have to forgive me, or otherwise you’re a bad person,” my brother would say after he’d hurt me.  No wonder I viewed forgiveness as a terrible, horrible thing.  Forgiveness was essentially a license awarded to my abusers that allowed them to continue hurting me with a cleansed conscience.  No wonder I, for the longest time, refused to forgive.

Well guess what?  I’ve got a bone to pick with that type of forgiveness.  Maybe I wanted to explore my confused views about forgiveness.  Maybe I wanted to know if that’s really all there was to this big, overused, misunderstood word, “forgiveness.”  I couldn’t shake the feeling that some people really found peace through the action of forgiveness though, so I had to look into it.

The following is what I discovered in my search for forgiveness:

The most important was the radical idea that forgiveness is not for someone else.  It’s not so that my abuser’s conscience can be assuaged.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean that I give someone permission to hurt me again, permission to be in my life again, or permission to do anything at all, honestly.  Forgiveness is for myself.  Forgiveness is a way to let go of the past a little bit, to find some peace, some release.  It’s something I will never let my brother know that I’ve done.  I will probably never tell him that I forgive him.  Because again, my forgiveness is not something for him to accept, it’s something for me to let go.

Forgiveness is not easy.  It’s NOT required.  And honestly, if you’d like, you can go your entire life without ever forgiving someone or some situation.  But that’s not how I want to live.  I feel like if I cling to something my entire life, whatever it is, a bitter thought, a tragic flashback, my childhood abuse, anything negative, that I will allow that negativity to permanently have control over my life.  And I don’t want that.  I choose to take control over my own life.

But forgiveness didn’t come naturally.  Like I said, I had to forgive myself first.  I had to find healing within my own life first, compassion for my situation, kindness to my body, mind, and soul.  I had to go through counseling, support groups, yoga therapy, travel halfway across the country, start dating again, read countless self help books, and talk to what seems like a hundred other survivors before I could even consider the idea of forgiveness.

So what made me finally decide to forgive my abuser?  It was the blinding knowledge that I knew he couldn’t defeat me.  The realization, again after years of healing, that what he did to me would not control the rest of my life, because I wouldn’t allow it.  It will not ruin the rest of my life either, because I refuse to let hurt and bitterness govern the rest of my days on this planet.  I am confident now that my life from here on out will be ruled by love, by compassion, by my ability to set boundaries and stick to them, and by my ability to recognize red flags and avoid allowing negative influences into my life again.

Ultimately, forgiveness is my way to finally, finally, be free from his control over my life.  Forgiveness does not mean that my brother is back in my life.  It does not mean that I will ever allow him to hurt me again, because I most certainly will not.  It doesn’t mean that I trust him, that I’ll talk to him all the time.  In terms of outward manifestation, my decision to forgive him will not change how our relationship of hardly seeing each other or ever communicating works.  But that’s okay.

Because I have forgiven myself.  I have forgiven him.  And the feeling is one of beautiful, sweet release.  My life is now completely my own.

One with Nature; fight depression with sunshine

Maybe you’ve heard of this idea.  Pocahontas and Fern Gully and recently, the over-rated combination of the two, Avatar, have lauded the qualities of a simplistic, outdoorsy lifestyle.  While movies may be dramatizations, and animated movies are most certainly fictional accounts, there is some truth to the idea that when humans spend more time in nature, they are happier.  For those of you who don’t believe me, check out this page on the National Wildlife Federation Website, that underlines some of the benefits of outdoor play.  Specifically, the article speaks towards the benefits for children, but is there really that much of a difference fundamentally between a child’s needs and an adult’s?

Now, I’m not talking about going out into the deep wilderness by yourself with only a pocket knife type of nature experience.  But just spending a little time outside each day can help improve mood, fitness, and Vitamin D.  Take a walk in the park nearby, go for a bike ride, lay in the sun to check your email or read a book.  There’s science behind the idea that sunshine really does make you happier!

While obviously, a significant amount of dedication and work is required to heal from traumatic experiences, this is a simple way to give yourself an extra little mood boost.  If you are anything like me, when I experienced depression, all I wanted to do was curl up in a dark, cool space and hide beneath my covers.  But that just makes things worse!

So here’s a simple solution; go outside.  That’s it.  Exercising outside would be ideal, but even just sitting out there can help.  Here’s the challenge, for those of you who wish to accept it; start spending 10 minutes every day outside for the next 2 weeks, and see if your mood improves any.  If you have any experiences that you’d like to share about this topic, please post them in the comments section below this article.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!