Changing Directions Surviving Trauma

Monday, June 17, 2013

A change is happening in your life or has happened ****Changing Directions Series Part I

Let me start by saying I am not an expert, a counselor, no license to be one.  I am a woman who has experienced many traumas in my life and from those I learned how I coped and survived and want to share that process with others.  I am not responsible if what I suggest does not work in any way for you.  Everyone has their own way of surviving.

Monday June, 17 2013

Part One A change is happening in your life or has happened
Stories of my Life series all please read first find here.  Or:
Story of my life the early years here 
Story of my life Part II here
Story of my life Part III here
Story of my life Part VI here 
My Dv Story here

Something has happened in your life.  Many occurrences bring about change, trauma, life changing.  It may be loss of a Loved One, divorce, rape, job loss all of these take their toll in our emotions and our every being.  Having lost a child I would never compare that to the others however these changes occur and they consume every fiber of our being.

In this series these instances will be called "detours."  A change in direction from what we are used to or the norm.

I relate this to going on a trip to a place you are unfamiliar with and you see the dreaded detour signs.  Oh just great, the detours take you off in another direction than what you had planned.  You need to adjust and follow the detour path.

When a life changing event happens it detours us from our normal lives that we are living.  We are thrown into new territory that is not  known to us at all.  What do we do here?  Where do we go?  How can I make it?

The first thing is to get a pad and pen, go to a mirror, write down everything you see.  Look even deeper to inside your soul.  What is there?  The feelings, emotions, the pain, etc.  At the end write how you see yourself without the mirror.  We are oftentimes too hard on ourselves as we don't see what others see.

Now ask three friends to describe you in three words.  Write those down too.

The hardest task is looking inside at the pain because let's face it the word is pain for a reason.  You must do this to face all that is life changing in you life.

What has brought you to the detour and to Change Directions in your life?

When you have quiet time sit down with your lists.  Admit weaknesses  hurt, pain, loneliness, etc.  This is very difficult but you must find the main detour that has made you change directions.  To get back to an "abnormal normal" (Lisa Church) life we have to face the things we don't want to and live the detoured life.  There is no way getting around it.

Cry, scream do whatever you must to look at this.  Let me tell you if you have lost a child your heart will never stop hurting, we learn to live with the hurt.

Feel free to share your change if you want to email my email is  All emails will be kept private.

Join a conversation.

All of my thoughts and prayers to all

Tuesday, June 18, 2005 we will be discussing how to react when the change occurs. Please join us.

Changing Directions Series Part II - How to react when a change occurs

Changing Directions Series Part II

Obviously no two people react to a situation the same, we are all unique when it comes to reaction to trauma.

By now for most of you the trauma has come into your life, made your life take a huge detour and now you are headed in a different direction or directions unsure where to go what to do.

Let's focus, relax and take a deep breath.  I know this is hard but sit right at this moment, take deep breaths and allow yourself a few minutes to relax.  How long has that been?  How to relax here  Take a hot bubble bath, a long shower, walk, eat, whatever it takes to relax, just do it.

Allow yourself to grieve, it is normal and healthy to a point to get us through loss of a Loved One, rape, divorce, career loss, etc.  Grieving is supposed to be a healing process and in comes in no particular order for each one of us again it is different.

Here comes a tough one.  Allow yourself to laugh.  You may be like me after I lost my son Dustin.  I felt guilty to laugh or thought if I did laugh everyone would think I was "over" Dustin's loss.  Believe me nobody ever thinks that only we do in our heads.  Our friends and family love to see us laugh.  I am sure my son Dustin is so happy now that I can laugh, we did that so much.  Laugh at something, movie, joke, something just laugh.  Laughing in itself is very healing.

This series is short but you have homework...yes but no grading....that is the good thing.

  • At this point you are in life, the change has happened, where you are now, how are you grieving?  Write down each emotion and action.
  • set times to relax totally relax three times a day, set your schedule
  • call that friend that you haven't talk to forever, make the first move, yes it's hard but worth it
  •  go to a private place allow yourself to cry, talk to God, your Loved One, your cause of this change.  Scream, yell, cry and talk.  Talk to yourself, yes to yourself, we all do it, it is soothing too.
  • pick a book, any book and read one chapter
  • watch one news program national news 
  • watch a TV show completely and actually listen to it
  • allow yourself to laugh, come on you can do this
  • relax

Now for most of you none of the above has happened in a long time well it's about time, let's go let's start on helping to learn to live with a broken heart.

After you have done the above write in your journal how each made you feel.  Be honest if you actually felt good for a change.  I am giving you suggestions it is up to you to work your program.  Journal, Journal, Journal!

I know you don't feel like doing this crap but for yourself and the ones that love you please try.

You can share your results, email me or keep it to yourself, private.  No pressures to share.  Just do it!

Love, thoughts and prayers,

Changing Directions Series III - making the change work for you

Now here we are, working through some self realizations, facing our trauma.  If you have done your homework you should be ready for this section.

One thing to remember, the most important thing of this whole series is, the pain will never leave you, it is with you for life.  The goal is to learn to work through the pain.  I know it sounds crazy but it is very important to know this.

Did you do any of your homework at all?  The homework is important even if you absolutely do not feel like doing any of it just choose a couple to do.  Slow and steady.

Obviously the change in our lives is not what we wanted.  Never in a million years did I ever believe that Dustin, my only child would get killed in a car accident at the age of 17 and I, his Mom would have to bury him.  I am not in a place where I want to be.

This series is perhaps the most difficult.  We don't want to be where we are but we are here now what?  What happens 2 years from now we will still be in the grieving stage of the first week or month?  We shouldn't be, I know believe I know it is brutally, brutally difficult to keep going.

Start a journal, write something everyday even if it's one line, write.  Maybe start a website or some of you have Facebook pages for the loss Loved Ones.  Start a cause in your Loved One's name and work it.  As for grief talk about your Loved One, friend, or loss to everyone you see.  They will feel uncomfortable but you will feel better.  Talk, talk, talk.

I had a friend that had lost her daughter and she was having the most difficulty I have ever seen coming to grips, to go out of her house.  The reason she said was that she loved her daughter more than her other friends had loved their children.  Not so, we all grieve so differently but we loved our children just as much.

Starting back into your new "abnormal" (Lisa Church her daughter's site here) normal life will have to happen or you will just wither.  I know a Mom whom I met at one of our Get Togethers that had not been out of the house is 10 years except to go the store.  We embraced her, made her laugh and know that it was ok.  She is a lot more active now still living with the pain but back to her "abnormal" normal life.

Here is comes:  How to make the change work for you

I don't mean forgetting, we are here, there is a detour we must see what this road has for us.  It may mean nothing without your Loved One but in my opinion they want you to live life.  My son told me, "Mom, life is too short.  Get out there and live, go do stuff, have fun!"  Now that he is gone I don't think he wants it to be any different for me.

The first time I went with friends for a drink I sat there and it seemed like I was in another world looking looking down at the whole room laughing and having fun.  I had to listen about their children, etc.  I was just lost and hated it and didn't want to do it again. I did do it again and my friends came over hugging me saying, "It's good to see you out, Dusty is loving this."  Soon it just got easier and my ears didn't hear the kid stories, well ok some but I tuned them out. OR I shared a Dusty story and they accepted that.

Each time I went out it really did get easier even though I would come home and just cry and cry.  I had survived it and so can you.

Here is the hardest part of all.  We have to "choose" to do something or nothing.  It's hard, detour road is jagged and you get scars on top of scars but you get to your first destination.  A plateau of sorts where looking back it seems that you came so far in a month or two.  

You have to choose:
  • To work this series
  • Do the homework
  • Share with others that understand
  • Your recovery will depend on you
In no way at all am I suggesting to choose to forget, we never want to forget, we want to get past the valley.  To get to an "abnormal" normal.  Our normal is gone forever.  I know it seems that everything is tossed up in the air and that our heart is sinking more and more into that black hole with no way out.  There is if you choose to.

For you to heal somewhat you have to work at it.  There is no magical wand to wave to zap it all away.  Our broken hearts remind us of love that will forever and always be in our hearts.  Love is a wonderful thing but yes there are times when it hurts too.  

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.  Please pray for me too.
"Together we can make it!"

Let's start today by the definition of work as a noun and as a verb.  I got this from Goggle definitions and it is perfect and found here .

Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.
Be engaged in physical or mental activity in order to achieve a purpose or result, esp. in one's job; do work

Please go back and read the above definition for work about three more times.  I want your to grasp the meaning and the concept of the word work.  It is a word we hear often but to really work through the changing of direction we need to completely understand the full meaning.

Activity involved in mental effort is where we will start.  The Changing Direction Series so far has been preparing you for the mental activity; getting ready to actually start doing the physical activity in changing directions.  To be engaged in a physical or mental activity to achieve a purpose.

If you have read my stories which I hope by now that you have you can see I have been just about as low as I could be after the death of my son.  No Mother expects to burying their children or as people would tell me, "Do you know you are living my worst nightmare."  Duh, yes I know I am living that nightmare you don't need to remind me.  It is one of the ultimate unexpecteds in life.  At one point I couldn't laugh, leave my home, just barely functioning, all I felt was the "black hole" sucking me in deeper and deeper with no way out.

The day I got into my car to go to work, was one block from my house and I was lost.  I didn't know where I was.  The day I was so scared not knowing how to get home to my safety net.  The day I had to call a friend to come to get me even though it was difficult to tell her where I was because I truly didn't know.  After she got me and my car home I breathed a sigh of relief to be in my comfort zone.  This was the day I decided I had towork on me to change and to get better.  I didn't know how that was possibly going to happen but I knew it needed too.

If you can say to yourself I really can't live this way anymore then it is time to work on changing directions and making the change work for you.  If you have cried an ocean of tears, slept days away, didn't want to take care of the remaining children, if you just wanted to spend your day grieving then I am telling you it is time for you to start working through the change.

Hopefully you have been journaling since the change in your life happened.  It doesn't matter if you are a writer or not just write something everyday.  This is a wonderful start.

The following is how I worked through the change in my life almost two years after.  What I did may not be what works for you but deep inside something is speaking to you about what you should do to help yourself.  We have to help ourselves work through the change.  Nobody else is feeling the emotions that you have or the wear on you physically.  You will know when it is time to work and when you know don't fight that urge to do something to help yourself.

I feel at times we become comfortable in our current state of grief, depression, hopelessness, etc.  We have been here for so long now it just make sense to stay in the state of mind.  You accept that this is how life is suppose to be from now on.  I say "Wake up, look around you, you know better."  This is scary when the horrid life we are living becomes easier to live than trying to work yourself out of it.

My solution was to finally seek professional help.  All my life I thought counseling was for the weak at heart.  Well guess what?  I was the weak at heart because it was broken and aching I had to seek a way to soothe it.  If we have the flu we take aspirin, etc so why shouldn't we want something for this pain?

I started seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist at the same time.  I figured I was going at this head on like a train rushing down the tracks.  No holding back, I needed help.

The very first thing the psychologist wanted to do was to put me on meds.   Wait a minute.....those are for weak minded people.  Again, Well guess what?  I was weak minded if I couldn't go out of my house and when I did I may get lost.  My mind was weak.  This was one of the hardest parts for me to accept.  I had always been a strong person, I was the one all my friends came to for their problems.  Now I had the problems.  Decisively with no going back I agreed to medication.  Inside I was shaking at the thought of taking medicine.  I hated to take any kind of pill now to take medication daily was just against my grain of thoughts.

I started taking the medication and for the first week all I did was sleep.  I thought now this can't be right, I can't sleep all day long.  A friend of mine said, "Take them at night."  Huh, well I never thought of that.  So I took my meds at night and after about three weeks I started to feel a change in direction coming on.

Interest came about my house, my yard, my friends and family.  The feeling was so breathtaking and I felt some fresh air come into my being.  I could take a deep breath and it felt delightful.  Feelings that I hadn't experienced for two years were coming back to me.  

I had made another change in direction in my life.  I was changing before my eyes and I could feel it coming on.  Let's not forget that my heart was still broken, I still cried for Dustin, I was still grieving in my heart.  I was coping better and able to start to live my new "abnormal" normal (Lisa Church) life.

It took about six months before I was completely ready to go out with friends and the first time was still extremely difficult but I did it.  I laughed for the first time that the laughter felt good, healing and fun.  The thought of what people thought if they saw me laugh didn't even enter my mind.  I think they were relieved to finally see me laugh again.

For my to  work through my change of directions it was to seek counseling and to give in to medication to help me through.

Now for your change in direction what is going to work for you?
  • talk to a pastor
  • talk to a friend
  • do some of the homework options daily
  • seek counseling
  • start medication
  • meditation
  • exercise
  • self help books
  • design a website
  • blog about it
What worked for me may not work for you.  You know deep inside what will help you work through your change.  The ticket is deciding to do something about it and be willing to work both mentally and physically through your change.  Don't sit in your life now and do nothing and expect a change.   Albert Einstein quoted "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results."  I am not saying anyone is insane however at one point in my life I felt like I was.  The concept of doing the same thing day in and day out and expecting that the pain, the hermit like condition will just magically disappear will not be effective.  You have to work mentally and physically towards your healing and new direction in life.

Today I can say I go anyplace that I want.  I shop, laugh, I live BUT I still grieve for Dustin.  I still cry for him, sometimes I scream how unfair it is for him not to be here.  All of those feeling still exist the difference is the choices I made to assist me has allowed me to  start living my "abnormal" normal (Lisa Church) life.

What choices are you going to make?  What work are you going to do to get through this change in your life?

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
"Together we can make it."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Changing Directions Series - Surviving

Here we are on the last day of the Changing Directions Series: Surviving

The traumas that I have survived:
  • The loss of my brother William (Billy) Dean his website here
  • Domestic Violence
  • Divorces
  • Loss of my only child Dustin Davis his website here
  • The Love of my LIfe having a massive Ischemic stoke more info here
  • The loss of my Daddy
  • The loss of my son's best friend Luke who was in the accident with him but had survivors guilt, he died of an overdose, he lived with us a lot before Dustin died.  his FB page here 
  • Being a Caregiver
  • Having my 83 year old Mother move in.  Love her to pieces, she is my rock.


My brother Billy

Me and Billy

My precious Dustin and two with me

My Mom and Dad, one Mom and I and one with Billy as a baby

me and Luke and Luke and Dustin (I always try to hide my gum!)

It would not be stretching it to say that I have survived several traumas.  My fiance's stroke, loss of my Daddy and the loss of Luke was within a year.

Did I think I would lose my mind?  Yes.  It was so arduous to say the least.  I slept a lot, cried and kept asking why?  You know we never know the reason why.  That in itself is haunting.  

Going back to the death of Dustin.  I have to admit Mr. Webster does not have a word to describe what happens to you and what goes one, indescribable.  It hurts like hell and you feel a sense of hopelessness and most of lost.  A child is a part of you and when gone a part of your goes with them and that is so very true.  Never again are we the same. 

The main reason I kept going was I wanted to keep his memory alive.  I didn't want anyone to forget him.  He lived and breathed don't forget him.  This alone kept me doing a lot of things.  We had a scholarship in his name, scheduled walks in his name, and I did the website which was about the most soothing of all.  When you have lost someone all we have left is pictures and memories.  Keeping the memories vivid by writing down in fear of forgetting, holding each photo tight and in a safe place, protecting them because now that is him for me.

I survived.  I carried on despite the hardship and trauma. I remained functionable for a while then sought help and medication to facilitate the troubled heart, soul and mind.  I had to admit that I was weak and needed the help.  I worked at it for about one year to get myself to a comfortable point.  It didn't happen instantaneously it was not a spring but a marathon.  I survived.

When Michael had his stroke with me in the same room everything around me went swirling like a tornado spin.  Frantically I called 911.  So many thoughts were going through my mind.  What now?  

The doctors at The Ohio State Medical Center explained what had happened to Michael in detail with drawings.  It occurred to me I didn't know that much about strokes. Well let me tell you the doctors taught me everything I needed to know and answered all of my questions and I had to learn quick.

Michael went to Dodd Hall Rehab at The Ohio State Medical Center on February 15, 2011.  The nurses, doctors, therapists, social workers were in my face either asking questions or teaching me something.  I had no time to grieve, I had to be there to assist in his healing.  The therapist expected me to learn the physical  occupational and speech therapies so I knew how to apply them and keep working with him.  His recovery was going so well.  He was in in patient therapy treatment from February 15, 2011 until June 23 the day he got to come back home.

Not to forget I had to get our home ready for him.  Had to have a ramp built, bathroom redone, furniture moved, rugs put up as we have all hardwood floors which made all of the therapist so happy.  Michael also learned he was a diabetic so I had to learn injections and all that went with the disease.  Cooking was low sodium, low fluid, low carb diet.  Try fixing meals that met all of those criteria.  He is still doing outpatient therapy and takes about 32 meds so I have to be on top of my game.  Guess what?  I survived.

The month of June Michael was in rehab at Dodd Hall and my Daddy was at The Ohio State Medical center very sick.  My Mom refused to leave him so she stayed with him the entire time 24/7.  I spent my days walking back and forth to keep track of all that was going on with both.  I hated to leave my Daddy when I would have to go to Dodd Hall to tend to Michael's needs.  I only missed two days of being at Ohio State Medical Center from February 15 to June 23.  So obviously I was left to take care of our bills and now my parents bills also.  There were days that I thought I would lose my mind.  Guess what?  I survived.

When Michael first came home I believed that I could handle everything on my own without outside help.  It didn't take me long to realize I was not Superwoman.  He now has an aide eight hours during the day and two hours in the evening.

My Daddy had to go to a nursing home.  Guilt ridden as I told him I would never put him in one.  I spent my days going back and forth as again my Mom would not leave his side.  So of course I worried about her too.  July 11, 2011 my Daddy passed away.  Devastation was in my life again.  This was Daddy and I was his girl.  I felt I had to be strong for my Mom so my grieving was done privately.  No words to describe losing a parent either.  We were so close.  Guess what?  I survived.

 Me and Mom and Mom

My Mom did not want to live in their home in the country so she moved in with Michael and I.  She is 83 years old and more active than me.  Her and Michael are perfectionist and I am so far from that.  Now they do drive me crazy with that.  Guess what?  I survived.

The phone rang and when I answered it I was told that the squad was at Luke's house with a non breather.  Immediately I started to hyperventilate because I had just learned he was suffering so badly from depression and survivor's guilt that he was now addicted to heroin.  I knew it was him and it was.  He was pronounced dead the next morning.  I would text and talk to him daily.  He was gone.  It was surreal.  When I went to the funeral home early as I knew I would whale and bawl so I wanted it be without a lot of people around.

My Mom and I walked into the funeral home and there were pictures of Dustin and Luke everywhere.  Flashbacks came fast and hard.  Everyone would see me and come to hug me and ask me how I was doing.  Did they really want to know? Luke was holding a picture of Dustin with raffia and a rose around it.  The rose was from Dustin's funeral.  Guess what?  I survived.

The only reason I survived is by doing what the other parts of this series has been talking about.  I had to make myself work the process each and every time a trauma happened in my life.

I journaled, I sought counseling, medication, talked with friends and wanted to get through it as unscathed as possible.  It was not easy and again it didn't happen overnight.  I still grieve for my brother, Dustin, Daddy, Luke and look at Michael and ask why I actually grieve for him too.  How terrible to trapped inside your own body.

Books are good to read to help you understand some situations.  The most important thing is that I want to survive.  I wanted to heal.  I wanted to live my "abnormal" normal life which kept changing on me.  I fought with all that was in me.

So today what are you going to start doing to survive?  What work will you do to help yourself?  Nobody is going to do it for you.  The will to survive has to be stronger than the will to give or get used to being in pain.  Being in pain is the easy road because there is no work involved.  It just is and there so oftentimes we go with it.  Is that going to be you to take the easy road?

I am here for you.  My email is so email me with your concerns or questions.  Join a group in your community or one online.  You just have to do something to survive.  Doing nothing will bring your health down and then what?

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you that are trying or not trying.  Changing directions in life is not easy.  I have had to do many times.  Guess what?  You can do it too.

My God bless you all.

Soon I will be making booklets to be used in a group situation to enable help to those who need it.

I am now accepting speaking engagements.  Please contact me here for prices.  There will be weekend seminars available, day seminar, and just guest speaker options.