Thoughts on Relational PTSD

I recently heard George Bruno talk about relationship shell shock or PTSD on his YouTube channel, quite honestly relational shell shock was not something that would have come to mind. As it relates to my fear of entering back into the dating realm. However, I do believe that it is true non the less.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a huge desire to meet an amazing woman and unfold a new chapter of life together. And yet, I’m scared. Scared of what you ask? Entering another relationship with a woman who judges me on the merits of my life, and how much money there is in my bank account.

Yes, money is important but it is the only important factor and value in life. I’m scared to meet a woman that is never happy, constantly up and down and hardly ever encouraging. I want the opposite, but as I said in yesterday’s entry, that kind of woman is one and a million. And honestly very different than today’s typical westernized woman.

There’s days where I think that I’m okay, and ready to start a new chapter. And other days where things hit me and think to myself “do I really want this?” The apostle Paul says that if you burn with passion, it’s better to marry. Well, that’s me! Even though I’m scared as ####!

Maybe you, like me are wrestling with this or something similar and you wonder if you will ever experiences a newness in life. How we begin to heal? Two avenues we must take:

Pray- talk to God, ask him to not only help you heal but also the courage to move on.

Take risks: Why? Because that is the overall method to healing from trauma, you have to face it on some level. That doesn’t mean be careless, be wise and calculated and vet a person well. But take risks and then if doesn’t work, dust it off and move on. If we stay where were at things will never change.

          

Thoughts On Trauma 2: Leaving Trauma Behind.

In the last blog, I discussed the reality that many people have trauma to some degree. But is how one chooses to acknowledge their trauma to walk in health and healing. This is accomplished, not by white knuckling our way toward wholeness, but confessing a need of God’s grace and intervention, along with healthy members in community.  The key word and what we be the focus of this second entry, is the word healthy. Simply put if you are seeking to be healthy, you can’t simply surround yourself with people who are unhealthy.

Now, before you raise your hand in objection, hear me out. I’m not implying that because one is seeking a healthy life- or sobriety even. That one must strop loving or caring for others in your life that aren’t. Sometimes though, to find health, healing and clarity. We may have to leave what we once knew to find new horizons in life. No, this is not easy and yes it is extremely scary. Some people may actually write you off, because of the path you have chosen to embark on. So be it, sometimes others simply will not understand your journey until much later in life. Relationally in my own life, I have been prayerful waiting, praying and seeking a woman who is fairly healthy (physically, emotionally and spiritually) that is happy in herself and communicates well. In prior relationships, I’ve dated women that have a lot of emotional baggage and didn’t really have a handle on their inner selves. To be fair however, I was FAR-FAR from healthy. The narrative in my mind was “I’m broken, she’s broken lets be broken together”. This sounds well and good, but if two people aren’t walking toward healing and becoming more whole. It’s like twenty car pile-up. In the Christian sense, we are broken sinners, but Christ has made his sons and daughters new creations in Christ. Looking back, I was an overly sensitive man, who honestly lost sight of his masculine self. One who was afraid to speak up, disagree or stand up for myself. I kept my mouth shut most of the time, afraid to rock the boat. This is not how a man nor any person should live. It became all about making them happy, and sadly forgetting my own sense of mission in life. You can say that my “addiction” if you will, was different in a way. But over the last several months, I’ve had to cut some ties, learn a lot hard realities and find peace being alone. I’m happy to say that I have found peace being alone and a much deeper joy in my walk with God. Yes, the desire to date, marry and God willing be a father some day is there. But I want a healthy relationships, not built on chaos and disorder. I want to bring health and joy to my next relationship, the same way I’d want the woman that I was involved to do the same. Now, I’m not saying that there would never be difficult moments with two healthy people, of course there will be. But when you are healthy, you won’t go back necessarily go back to your old coping ways. Necessarily because there’s always a chance. But when a person or two people are healthy, they will completely forsake the old ways. If you know you could be a happier, whole person, take the steps to do so. Nothing happens over night, but as long as you keep moving forward you can become the person you desire. Will you fall on your face again? Yes, so you get up, dust off, maybe dress your wounds and move on. Don’t settle, don’t be afraid to embark on the journey you know you must.            

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Thoughts on Trauma Part 1: Healing first

The other night there was a lot of reflection being done, there I was sipping my whiskey. Depression set in mildly during the day, so that probably didn’t help. But in my reflection, the concept of trauma surfaced to my attention.   Trauma (in various compacities) is something that many of us deal with. I’m no stranger to trauma, as having cerebral palsy and all the pain that I’ve had to endure because of it, has left it’s finger prints on me. My first operation, I can remember being brought back to the pre-op room, there my parents had to leave to go to the waiting area.

What honestly went through my mind as a child, was that I was being abandoned.  Sure, that fear and panic produced an irrational fear. But the point is these moments in my childhood, had a great effect on most of my life. As mentioned before, a lot of us have our own trauma. Some more severe than others. What that should do then, is that should give humans grounds to show empathy and connect with one another. Healing comes in simple form when we can say the words “Me Too” to quote Rob Bell from his book Velvet Elvis. When we are willing to be vulnerable, that is when I believe God truly begins to heal us. The most profound lesson that I’ve ever had the privilege of learning, is that we cannot heal on our own.    

We need to confess that we have a problem, that we cannot conquer it on our own, and that we need God to work in us by his grace and community to walk along side us. Even those of us who try and white knuckle our way towards healing eventually get burnt out by trying so hard. Of course, this takes a lot of humility, gumption and inner bravery to admit any of this. Again, people wear masks (no pun intended), we try and appear as though we don’t need help and do things on our own. And while a fair amount of self-sufficiency is great, no man- woman is an island to themselves.    

 It took me such a long time to face my own trauma in my life, more often than not when I thought I was making progress, the fear and panic only seemed to get louder as time went on. Confusion set in , and the thought came to my mind “why am I not getting any better?”  

“Why am I still so afraid?” And the answer, for me anyhow, was that I was still looking to people to save me from my trauma, to save me from myself. Well  meaning people can help and provide wisdom and some comfort. But only God can heal us and give us the peace we crave. So, in this moment, I deeply want to you to know that God loves your more than any other person on earth could. You are not so far down the road, that you are out of his reach. It’s ok to admit you need help, not only from God but from others. You have purpose to complete with your life, and someone else can benefit from your own story. Go fourth today, knowing that the past doesn’t define who you are.

   

Being Healthy To Attract Healthy.

I woke up this morning with this question at the forefront of my attention:

Why Do I keep attracting the same kind of woman into my life?

It’s an honest question, and a life changing one at that. The same can be asked if you are a woman that just so happens to be reading this. You could easily ask yourself why you keep bringing the same kind of men into your life. Several years, an old friend of mine and myself, were having a beer after a bible study. Just the way I like it- beer and bible. Or bible and beer , however you want to say it.

Anyway, my friend asked me a very bold question, that actually pissed me off greatly in the moment. He asked Brandon, why do you keep attracting the same woman into your life over and over again? As first I was so blindsided and confused by the question, I took another sip of my beer, set it down still holding it and asked: what are you getting at? He looked at me and said:

“Bro, you keep attracting all these women that have all sorts of problems, their not actually healthy for you.” Again I felt anger rise within me, I looked at my friend and said “bro, doesn’t everyone have problems and baggage? “ Well yes he replied, but maybe you could find someone that had a lot less problems and was on a healthy path in life.”

I can understand if you’re offended after reading that, after all I was too. But do you know why I was so offended? Because my friend was right, and he was willing to offend me in the name of me seeing truth.  With my last few relationship’s, they have either had commitment issues or were honestly unstable in some ways. I don’t mean this to come across in a degrading way, I only want to communicate truth. And to be fair, some of the past women I’ve dated could say a thing or two about me.

And  yet, when I truly began to ponder this question, I only could look back at myself. Because taking ownership of our lives, starts with the self. Realizing our pit falls and where we can improve. I began to see that it some way or another, I was attracting what already existed inside of me. I had a lot of inward battles going on, mental struggles and so on. And so naturally when you’re not as a healthy as you ought to be, you migrate to what is most comfortable to you.

On another level, there lies a savior complex where I  want to help others with their problems and become more whole and happier. The only problem with that is, is that we can hope to “fix” someone to the point of forgetting to fix ourselves. That is the most unhealthy of options, it’s as they said proverbs, like a dog that returns to his vomit.

If I desire to be a healthy person, I also believe that you want to be healthy person as well. What does healthy actually look like? For me,  it means being less hindered by the past, dwelling on it less and less and leaving it where it belongs. This is something that I have to continually work on, though I’m not as bad as I once was. It always means having better control over my mental health and even emotions, in my own life I have been of anti-anxiety and depression meds for a long time. I’ve been learning to get a handle on my anxiety and or depression by getting down to the root cause. Moreover, I am learning to pray, and lay all my fears, worries and insecurities at the feet of God. This is not to say that I’m somehow arrived at the end of my progress, no in fact I have a long way to go. But I am nowhere near who I once used to be. That to me is a healthy person, one that’s moving towards who they were meant to be. And in terms of having another relationships, in the long term sense. I want someone who is at peace with herself in her own skin, isn’t attacked by insecurity or triggered by the little things.

I want someone that can handle their emotions, now I’m sure that your thinking “That’s not possible!” All I’m saying is that, I want to be with someone that even though their having a bad day. They can still vent about their day, and I can be there to listen and give my thoughts if needed and snuggle up after. Is that a lot to ask for?

Obviously, I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet, but I’m not going to settle either. I’m going to keep working on myself and for once in my life I’m going to allow myself to be picky. You do the same, work on yourself. Improve yourself. This way the cycle can be broken and we can actually discover what healthy actually is.   

Why I love CBD: A Few Reasons

I have wanted to write this entry for quite some time now,  my reason for not doing so stemmed from the fact that I am a Christian. My faith is utterly important to me and comes before everything else in my life. That being said, I feared the backlash that a post like this might cause, but I’ve come to a point where I don’t care if fellow believers roll their eyes at me or question the validity of my faith.

I also want to clearly state, that this is not a scientific exploration of what CBD is, there is much more notable places to look than something like this. This will much rather be a few reasons as to why I use it, and why I believe others should use it too!

Reason one: As someone with cerebral palsy, I have tried nearly every muscle relaxer under the sun. In the name of coping with the pain that follows spasticity. Muscle relaxers often make me feel tired and zombie like for a few days at least. With CBD, my muscles are able to relax more naturally and doesn’t leave me feeling like an unproductive zombie.

Reason two: Much less joint pain and inflammation. Once again, as someone with CP, I am more often than not, in a fair amount of pain and stiffness. So much so that it becomes very difficult to walk with my crutches. Having used CBD for over a year now, I have noticed that the inflammation has gone down dramatically. And it’s much easier to move. Are there days where pain is still present? Yes, but it is much much less and bearable, without having to put so many pills in my mouth, that how much more side-effects.

Reason three: Anxiety and Depression, yes CBD has helped me in these areas as well, I don’t have many panic attacks anymore, and the depressive episodes are not as present. Yes, they still happen, but using CBD I find helps relieve the symptoms that are associated with anxiety and depression.

Much more, using CBD is wonderful after my workouts, and it leaves me much less sore and allows to recover faster. I’ll end with this though, I don’t think that CBD is cure all, in terms of our over all health, its also a good thing to learn coping skills, listening to our bodies, getting more sleep etc.

Yet there are more, even greater benefits to using  CBD than the ones I’ve listed above.

Here is what I use: https://johnnyapple.com/cartridges/

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Arguing Toward Peace (Why Jordan Peterson is Right).

Some days ago, I watched a video of Dr. Jordan Peterson on the Dr. Oz show, Dr. Peterson was talking to a married couple who were on the brink of divorce. The wife had the papers all ready to go, but she had not signed them yet.

Link here: Dr. Jodan Peterson saves a marriage 

The wife had said that she didn’t go through wife signing the papers yet, for the soul purpose of there being hope still. Which I applaud and even find admirable. Dr. Peterson said a lot of good things in the three minute clip, but the one thing I found to be absolute gold was when he uttered the words:

Argue Toward Peace

Argue toward peace… Which is something we don’t do as Americans, why? Because we all want to be right, we all want to hold onto grudges and resent and not forgive and move for the better. Now most certainly, there’re times when it is right to walk away from a relationship and even family, if it is completely toxic and no parties want to meet in the middle.

Arguing toward peace, requires a few things

One: Letting go of your ego, meaning that one stops thinking about only about what they want. And why their right, actually hearing the other side. This can even be said in light of our political climate as well!  Who would have thunk? Once again I know it can be difficult to control our emotions when we are bitter, frustrated and angry. Lord knows, that I suck at this myself.

Its easy for me to blow and raise my voice, and even harder for me to step away and breath for a moment. Yet, that is what we must learn to do more and better. Scripture informs us that fruit of the spirit is:

Love

Joy

Peace

Forbearance

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

And-self control.

Furthermore, scripture says Blessed are the peacemakers  (Matthew 5:9). The reality is, we could all do a lot better at being peace makers, that doesn’t mean holding firm to our own convictions, or stepping into battle when the time is right. But it does mean, that we learn to make peace with those we love. For example, my girlfriend and I have made an agreement not to go to bed angry, This is partly a biblical approach and partly logical.

I hate going to bad with any sort of anger or frustration it literally robs me of all joy, makes me toss and turn and takes me away from my true self. That usually leads me to call my girlfriend to apologies, which of course leads us both to feel at peace. Arguing toward peace, means sitting down, and calming talking through things, not screaming and holding onto how they hurt you or vise versa.

It’s about knowing that things are with fighting for, even when the world tells us to give up and start afresh. Not doing the relational hard work to reconcile our differences with one another. Arguing toward peace, in my opinion must become the new norm for us as a society.

And only when we have exhausted every option, is it worth giving up. In closing, I’d like to say also, that arguing toward peace Does NOT Mean allowing someone to walk all over you, cheat on you and even be physically abusive with you.  Arguing toward peace is a methodology,  that is to be used to facilitate healing in the lives of two people or even a group of people. But never under violent relational circumstances.

Blessings

-Brandon

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Cerebral Palsy. Body Image and Internal Healing.

I’m starting to see a correlation between cerebral palsy and body image, this correlation stems from being in contact with numerous people who live with cerebral palsy through social media. In this particular regard, I’m speaking about having a negative self image.

You may look at the image of me below, and not think that I am “fat” all, but when I look at myself. That is what I see.

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When I look at the sides of my stomach, I think “Ugh gross” then I start thinking or obsessing over what I eat and upping the intensity of my daily workouts. Which is not a bad thing at all. It is a problem though, when you are in the middle of your workout and you can’t stop dwelling on how disgusting you feel and look.

I posted that above photo on instagram a few weeks ago, lots of people said that I looked great, or that we all had those feelings, or even “that’s just skin!” The comments were heart warming and helped me to think more positively.. For awhile, but then I would find myself in the downward spiral of self destruction and sabotage.

My workouts have consisted of lots of burpees, probably two-four hundred every single day. Along with Kettle and Bar Bell lifting. I sweat a lot, recover well but am utterly hungry the rest of the day.  Nor am I afraid of eating my carbs, protein and Beer… My one beer after work.

The engine is constantly stoked, and I’m constantly pushing my mind and body.. But there is this area of my life, that needs change. I’m tried all the thought stopping methods, all the positive affirmations etc. And still nothing helps the crap shoot stop.

After CF today, I came home, ate and then went to wash my stinky self. There I was, looking at my body with contempt. And then I thought, “this has to stop!” Truly the only thing that gets me through life is my faith. So after redirecting my thoughts back to it, I whispered to God:

“God, you don’t want me to hate my body, I know that. Help me to see myself differently, as you do.” At that moment, something clicked on inside of me. I’m not saying that you have to do, as I do, that is something that you have to decide and work through for yourself.

What I am saying though, is that these destructive thinking has to stop, or at least be put in its rightful place. A vast majority of therapists would saying that working out is killing me, and steer me away from it as they would most addictions. But I don’t think that that is the end all be all solution.

Yes, some things might need to change, or pause. But this is less a physical issue, and more a mental, emotional and spiritual issue. And until those issues heal, nothing we change the way we long for.

So! We have to understand that this is going to be a long journey, with plenty of ups and downs and twists and turns. We have to accept where we are at. I know that this is something that will not want to be heard, you might spend lots of time in a wheel chair, and be on lots of meds. Okay, we can work with that, the fact is that we cannot give up.

There are plenty of exercises that can be done from a seated position, plenty of ways to even build stamina too. I should get on making videos regarding these topics. Yet the biggest component is learning to take care of ourselves from a place of love and not so much a “I have to” but an “I want to” there’s a huge difference.

Change your forward thinking: Think less on your image, and think more about prolonged health, mobility, strength and focus. So that we can be the strongest version of ourselves, not so much for ourselves but for others.

The internal healing is more tangible than we believe, more closer than we think. Much like any medicine though, it takes time for the benefits to show up, but rest assured. Through discipline and diligence change will come.

Blessings!

-Brandon

 

 

 

 

Day 1: Fighting Back

I have decided to start posting each day that my eyes and mind don’t consume porn. I’m doing this in spite of fear, ridicule and rejection. No matter how people view me or what they think. I’ve made it 90 days before and with God’s help I’ll do it again. That being said, here we go.

Day 1

I’m wrestling with the idea of this is an actual addiction, or simply a dirty habit. After all, it’s not really interfering with my life in massive ways. But man, does my mind and body crave it.The temptation comes between early mornings and when I know i’ll be alone for awhile.

The truth is, I know I’m far better than this. Better, meaning that I am not better than anyone else, but better in the sense that I am better than this addiction, vice, habit whatever we want to call this thing.  Regardless I don’t want this thing to interfere in my life down the road. I honestly believe that real freedom is possible.

Even though my insides scream other wise, I could sit here and feel sorry for myself, I could think of every justification. But that is rubbish, it’s all filth. It’s time to clinch these fists and fight.images

Fighting My Addiction Part 2

I believe that one of the hardest elements of fighting any addiction, be it porn, sex, food, drugs or what have you. Is actually believing that you can fight back against it. The truth is that when we have been bogged down by addictive patterns for so long it can be extremely difficult to believe that anything better can become of your life.

Being that I fight my own addiction daily (porn), there was a time when I deeply believed that I couldn’t break free from the grasp that addiction had on my life. So I basically surrendered myself to this addiction, believing that it was now my master. Eventually though, I became sick of looking at pornography and quickly realized that it was never really that satisfying as people made it sound.

And if we’re honest, we might very well say the same thing. We also have to remember that simply because people choose porn over a real person, yes very little to do with them actually  being “satisfied” and more to do with the wiring in their brains being so high jacked.

There are some therapists who claim that there are some people, whose brains will never be the same because of how much exposure they have had to pornography. While that might be true, it does not mean that things cannot get better. Far too many in medical/ helping professions have very little belief in faith and what inner strength and courage can actual do.

When I first started walking away my own addiction, it was the most difficult challenge I have ever had to face. Everyday that I fought the temptation grew stronger. There were many times when I had no choice but to get on my knees and cry out to God for help. There were many times when I would call a friend or spend lots of time in the gym. Anything to get myself through the tempting moments. Slowly but surely, days started to stack on top of one another.

By God’s grace, my desire to look at poronagraphy became less and less. And I began to desire a real relationship, with a real woman. Change is possible, healing is possible, hope is possible. You just have to be willing to commit to a daily fight. One that you will not win on your own.

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