Mental health, Relationships

Ugly Truth 35: Anger is Actually Sadness

Anger is one letter short of danger. “ -Eleanor Roosevelt

Dear Readers,

In a society that encourages violence and diminishes heartfelt feelings, it is no wonder that most people forget to remember anger is a secondary emotion. Anger is our psychological kevlar. It is there to protect us from emotional anguish and discomfort, as well as to communicate with others in a social setting. Anger is necessary, but what I’m curious about is what people are doing to detect and manage their primary emotions in a way that is constructive.

Anger, while useful, can often derail and distract from the heart of the matter. When managed poorly, it can even cause more harm than good. So I asked myself, why on earth are we skipping the acknowledgement step?

The truth is, no one likes to be vulnerable. So rather than speak up and say those measly but meaningful sentences, we explode. Why is it so hard to say, “You hurt me.” or “I’m sorry.” Why is it easier to fling into a rage that will escalate your vitals, often leaving you feeling drained or embarrassed? I once heard anger described as the bodyguard to sadness. Perhaps too many of us are unwilling or unable to articulate our grief, and so we cling to anger because despite the physical discomfort, it remains an emotional sidestep.

I have struggled with depression most of my life. So often my symptoms manifested as anger or irritability, but I never made the distinction. All I knew for certain was I wanted to be sad in peace, and something as small as daily obligation would send me into a fit of frustration. Likewise, when confronted by the harsh words of friends and lovers, I was extremely defensive. I would deny, almost to the point of delusion. I would accuse and avoid to dodge the pain of an honest conversation. I’m not proud of this, but the truth is it taught me a few things.

1.) The ability to empathize with yourself is invaluable.

Often times we forget that the seat of all our relationships begins with the one we have with ourself. Much of my formative years in therapy involved developing my inner dialogue away from criticism and contempt toward self love. Think about it, what kinds of things are you saying to yourself on a daily basis? If you can’t be honest with yourself, you can’t be honest with others. Most importantly, the ability to comfort yourself alleviates that need from your friends and family who may go to frantic efforts to do so.

2.) It’s okay to be vulnerable.

As members of a pull-up-your-bootstraps society, you may find that others may be denying or dismissive when it comes to heartfelt subject matter. I encourage you not to let their discomfort be your own. These moments can teach us a great deal about ourselves if we actually address them instead of suppress them. When I find myself in these types of situations, I try to imagine the worst case scenario. Then I ask myself if I can live with that outcome. In most cases I can, therefore, I have nothing to lose in being vulnerable with others. The truth is, I have gained a great deal of healing and wisdom in these moments of genuine companionship. Scientific research continues to support the fact that we are social creatures, and a sense of connection to our community alleviates distress. The key is finding those who are worth suffering for.

3.) Accountability starts with communication.

Taking ownership of our emotions and the way others treat us is not always easy. However, the consequence of not doing so seems to be much greater. If you make a mistake, apologize. If you are wrong, say so. If someone hurts you, let them know. If someone tells you you are hurting them, modify your behavior. Communication seems like the simplest road to resolution, and yet we avoid it because it makes us vulnerable. Scroll back up if you still need help with that.

Most of us know by now that anger is a surface emotion, but it’s the knitty gritty of what’s underneath that is truly the most rewarding self work you can do. Next time you get angry, ask yourself why. Perhaps you’re struggling with fear, depression or inadequacy. Perhaps you deny, attack, and avoid because it’s just too painful. Perhaps you’re hungry, tired or lonely. Perhaps you’re like me, and you get angry the moment you feel like you’re stretching yourself too thin.

If you want to see improvement in your relationships and overall happiness, it begins with your sense of self. Ask yourself, do you know how to comfort yourself without behaving impulsively or unfairly burdening others? When was the last time you were truly vulnerable with someone? Are you communicating your needs to others, and responding to theirs in a mature and constructive way?

The truth is, anger is often sadness – we just don’t know it yet. While anger can be a useful vehicle, it requires a great deal of practice, self awareness, and willingness to change to truly examine and manage the whys. It’s not easy, but that which is truly worth it seldom ever is.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Relationships

Ugly Truth 32: Relationships Are Conditional

“Your love is as stable as you are: It’s not about how good a person makes you feel, but rather what good you can do for them.”
-Criss Jami, Killosophy

Dear Readers,

As we move through life, we may find ourselves in a state of change where we have no choice but to suddenly evolve. If you know me personally, then you know my walk has been anything but traditional, and not without mistake. Which is why coming to grips with myself and getting it right – maybe for the first time – has provoked in me a momentous life change. A change for joy, love, truth and choice. I have known since childhood that I have a capacity to fall in love with women, but nothing could have prepared me for this.

When we are young we are taught to hold ourselves to certain standards based on the words and actions of others. This conduct is often instrumental in the way we build our relationships with others. If you question your self worth, then it should come as no surprise to you if you find yourself in a relationship that is dysfunctional or toxic. Likewise, once you define what you have to offer with maturity rather than control, your relationship dynamics will change considerably.

You see, I met a girl. For the first time her stability and strength reflected my own in a way that was not only hardly comparable to anyone I’ve ever known, but also dawned on me a revelation of self that has fundamentally changed me for the better. She has revived in me things I feared would stay sleeping forever, and yet it is not in the fleeting flowery sense of an unlasting infatuation. My love for her was born from a place of enormous respect, a trait I learned is a condition of the way I love and am loved in return.

Along with respect came a list of relationship conditions that have so satisfied my life that I thought it pertinent to share with others the beauty and importance of what it means to love someone with responsibility and intention. This is not to be confused with unconditional love, but rather explores the primary concepts of the lasting relationships that we all hope for. When done correctly, unconditional love will naturally result from that free from doubt or coercion.

Mutual respect is so important and so complex that it is my number one condition. Respect includes outlining those standards I mentioned earlier, which can vary considerably from person to person. My standards include one’s ability to work hard, protect, provide, practice humility, contribute and reciprocate responsibly in all areas of life. Respect also lends itself well to admiration, which includes exceptional skill sets that I do not possess, but am greatly impressed by, such as being personable or bilingual. Alice has gifted me with all of these things and more.

When I met Alice, we were looking for nothing serious. We took our time to place boundaries and build friendship where most people dive head first into romance. This is not easy, but oh so worth it. The importance of friendship is that it carries you through hardship when the relationship goes through periods of suffering. We used this time and space to discuss everything – and when I say “everything” – I mean everything. We devoted many words and hours to discussing common goals and interests, likes and dislikes, what we were looking for in a partner, bottom lines, dreams, desires and deal breakers. We discussed living situations, finances, sex, children, religion, politics and why we felt our previous relationships had failed. We laughed, cried, learned each others love languages, and walked each other through an aggressive phase of validated fear without ever letting go of hands. We discussed our flaws openly, and kept judgment from creeping in. We built a framework to protect ourselves from the thoughts and opinions of others, both positive and negative. We do not ask the other to sacrifice fundamental parts of her being, mismanage priorities, or engage in dramatic behavior. I say all that to say my third condition of a healthy romance is communication.

If you can not communicate effectively with others, you are going to have a very hard time within your romantic endeavors. We teach others how to treat us. As such, communication requires a self awareness and vulnerability that most people are not willing to engage in. If you find this quality in someone, do not take it lightly. Likewise, if you have not developed this part of your personality free from dysfunction, or find yourself to be inherently uncompromising, you have no business being in a relationship and an ethical obligation to stay single.

In my discussions with Alice, I soon learned how important trust is to her. Trusting someone means so much more than being faithful. It is the belief that your partner will hold you with care and concern no matter what happens. It requires an err of caution, and a mindfulness for the other person when dealing in raw emotion. It means occasional reassurance and reinforcement through action. The more I got to know Alice, the more my heart grew to know a conviction so severe that I would rather die than hurt her.

Next is laughter. Alice has this inexplicable knack for positive energy and joy. The first time we met her smile completely grabbed me. I genuinely adore this character trait as her ability to be incessantly playful protects me from my own dark moods. Her laugh is infectious and my new favorite sound.

As important as humor is to me, my love for this character trait is not one dimensional. Alice’s playfulness is matched by her capacity to pull back into modes of deep thinking and feeling. Her complexity allows her a great range of spirit that I deeply share and admire. We laugh to tears one moment, and attend to the next with great strength and seriousness when the situation calls for it.

Lastly, chemistry! Physical affection isn’t everything, but boy is it important. If you have ever found yourself on a date with no chemistry, you know it can devolve into an awkward nightmare pretty quickly. Likewise, when you meet someone who can communicate with your body in a sexual and compatible way, it can be a mind altering experience that makes you question the universe and grasp the meaning of life. I knew from the moment Alice touched me that I never wanted her to stop. She has an appreciation for beauty, an attention to detail, a hyper focus in strength and tenderness that I didn’t even know I needed until I received it for the first time.

So, there you have it! Eight carefully thought out conditions of what it takes to be in a healthy relationship thanks to the most beautiful person I have ever met. I hope to learn from her for many years to come. If you find yourself falling in love with someone, do yourself a favor and take your time.

Respect. Admiration. Friendship. Communication. Trust. Laughter. Capacity. Chemistry.

What do you require in a relationship?

Mental health, Relationships

Ugly Truth 016: Pride Gets in the Way of Love

“The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.”
Paulo Coelho, Eleven MinutesGood Afternoon Readers, Greetings from the Ugly Truth Series! This week we are talking about mental health and relationships. It has taken me two years to be vulnerable with myself again, let alone with strangers, friends, or even lovers. I have had to learn how to leave myself open all over again, because wisdom has informed me that pain and pleasure happen to use the same door. The truth is vulnerability and love are synonymous, requiring an honesty with oneself and others that most people just are not willing to practice. I never had trust issues until my divorce at the age of 27, and it isn’t because of the things you might imagine. It wasn’t that he was unloving or unfaithful or unkind. In fact, he was none of those things. It’s because he broke his promises in a way that cost me my livelihood. I gave him an additional 12 months once the relationship was already in trouble to take action, and yet he took none. His complacency grew contempt in my heart. His willingness to let me feel fear and uncertainty taught me that no one was reliable. The fact that he promised to provide and did just the opposite informed my heart that no one was to be leaned on. He was a good man, but I’m afraid his fickle demonstration of devotion was the last in a long line of many that sent me into my first sensations of trust without worth. Often times people forget how painful the inability to trust is for the person feeling it. The ability to depend on yourself alone has value no doubt, but it certainly creates a wall between you and your loved ones. Often times your demeanor will change and they will begin to feel it. After a lifetime of celebrating my ability to love big, I found myself for the first time too cold and bitter to practice closeness with even those I cherished most, and it cost me greatly.
The truth is I have never been good at asking for help.
It wasn’t until I grieved through relapse and poor behavior that I realized I was still here, and nothing would change unless I changed it. I restored my faith in humanity through flexible boundaries which allowed me to practice grace and rebuild my relationships – and it started at the heart of myself. I had to ask myself why so many people had dropped the ball? Why had I descended into patterns of behavior with less than adequate friends or partners? What had this indirect self harm cost me? What had been displayed for me as a young child? What had I come to know and expect and accept, was it correct? Was my pride getting in the way of my ability to be truly vulnerable and tolerant? Moreover, had I let my hurt turn me into the heartless guarded breed of human being I promised myself I would never become? These are big important questions that require the nitty gritty self work we all try to avoid because it’s painful. As for me, I reached a point where I had become so very isolated that I was severed even from my own emotions and ability to empathize. I knew something had to change, and it started with diminishing my pride. All of my life I had had a self sustained delusion of autonomy, but the truth is I have never been alone. When you combine the emotional walls that trauma can build with the inflated sense of self mental illness can bring, it becomes highly toxic and consequential. It was only after I began to truly hold myself accountable that I began to realize that it was not consistently exterior circumstances that were leaving me troubled and abandoned, but the waters of my own heart. I soon realized that I was intentionally holding myself back from healthy, thriving, successful relationships through my unwillingness to admit to and move from my grief. Rather than offering genuine warmth, I became irritable, rigid and overly critical. Rather than taking ownership, I began making excuses for my misbehavior and folding into layers of selfishness. As someone who had always considered herself an insightful and articulate person, I suddenly found myself tangled in a lack of expressive language. My inability to communicate left me with nothing but anger, resentment, and an unwillingness to trust anyone – even those who I had previously maintained a loyal and loving connection with. Those unwilling to put up with my uncharacteristic and self destructive behavior vanished, and soon the stranger I had become devastated my own hippie heart. The truth is I am more fragile now than I have ever been – and I don’t mind. I cry often and exercise remorse. I am learning to process and regulate my emotions differently by accepting them toe-to-toe rather than fighting, fleeing or numbing them. I used to say people should talk at their mountains, not about them. The truth is I had stopped doing both. Reciprocal love is rich and swirling and warming in all its forms – and it begins with humility and a willingness to change. Relationships fail because of broken promises and rigidity. Do not let pride steal you from the genuine communications required to bolster the love of your friends, families, partners and yourself. Life is too short to spend it grieving. Take ownership. Be not afraid. Be vulnerable. Choose love.
**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**
For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!
In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!
Mental health, Relationships

Ugly Truth 014: Relationships are Hard

“A strong relationship requires choosing to love each other, even in those moments when you struggle to like each other.”

– Dave Willis, The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles

Good Morning Readers,

There are many kinds of interpersonal relationships, but for the purpose of this ugly truth, we will be talking about romance.

Even the healthiest relationships encounter blunders from time to time. No matter how much you love someone, you may find that their quirks don’t always mesh well with your own. Relationships are hard because communication requires practice, patience, acceptance, apology and maturity. You can not demand your partner be on the same page as you, but if you’re lucky you will find yourself in the same book. No matter the discourse respect should never be lost, and settling should never be mistaken for compromise.

Take a moment to consider the difference between hearing and listening. It is important to learn the signals of your loved ones while also maintaining boundaries. There are certain things I wont tolerate, and that’s not a bad thing. Likewise, I try hard to be more flexible toward others whose common sense may not match up with my own. I delight in the joys and successes of my partner as if they were my own, as well as the grief and the sorrow.

If your relationship is going to be successful then you need to put the work in. Anyone who says they don’t want a relationship they have to work on is being delusional. Sharing time, space, and life with other human beings is tough, even with people we really, really like.

What has brought you the most success in your relationships?

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Mental health

Trauma Confession Series: Confronting Abuse

One person may really feel that getting justice, coming out, and not hiding is necessary and a part of their healing. Some feel that exposing the perpetrator is helpful, whereas others feel quite the opposite.” Rachel Elliot, Thrive Therapy & Counseling Dear Readers, Welcome back! It appears this Trauma Confession Series is reaching many of you in need. I want you to know that I am eternally grateful to have my hand held in this corridor through the loving words, affirmations, and encouragement of so many of you. Thank you, Readers. As indicated in the above quote, choosing disclosure versus non-disclosure when faced with abuse of any kind is an extremely personal and consequential decision. Many resources encourage you to write a pros and cons list before making a decision since each individual’s suffering is relative to their own set of circumstances and support systems. For me, I believe it is paramount that I not only name my abusers publicly, but that I also inform them of the memories, the cost, and the aftermath of the abuse. Confrontation is not only about awareness, but taking back the power. This is significant because many instances of abuse, especially sexual assault, hinge on this shifting control dynamic. Now that I’ve decided to expose my story, how will I go about it? Why must I go about it? The How There are many ways to confront another human being in their wrongdoing. You may choose to write a letter, engage in a verbal conversation, speak over the phone, or record a video. In my opinion, the method is not as important as the execution. Some might openly disagree with me and say that the last thing a monster deserves is tactful communication and grace. However, I believe this is important for two reasons. One, it allows you to lead by example in terms of how one should carry their anguish when engaging others. Second, this display of character, regardless of how it is received, allows you to show your abuser just how much you’ve gained back despite being derailed by inexplicably horrific circumstances. Processed grief is highly sophisticated, and generally more impactful than flailing with open wounds. Therefore, it is important to allow yourself due process so you can execute confrontation from a position of strength, rather than victimization. That said, I think writing letters will suit me best. It will provide the pause necessary to say exactly what I intend to in a way that is highly personal. The Why Some survivors of abuse may deeply struggle with the notion of confrontation, ultimately choosing not to. That’s fine for them, but not for me. In general, I am a highly passive introverted individual so confrontation is always to be circumvented. However, this is an exception since abuse is a violation of self, predators thrive on avoidance, and wholeness will always supersede public opinion. Additionally, I know for a fact that in at least one of these cases, my perpetrator favored other young girls as well. This tells me that I am not the only one, and swells in me a rage there are no words for. While I will never be responsible for the choices of others, I am obligated to speak openly about it due to the very nature of my being, and my passion for crisis prevention. Ultimately, my theory is that this encounter will bring my trauma full circle so I can very simply, let it go. Finally, if you take nothing else from this post then take this: When navigating the waters of abuse confrontation, you do not have the luxury of expectation. Let me say that again. You do not have the luxury of expectation. Many people often hope highly of their interactions with others when faced with serious subject matter. These false aspirations may drip with fantasy dialogue, or the response you needed as a child but never received, or silver-tongued apologies. Not only is this rare and unrealistic, you may even find yourself faced with blatant denial, social consequences, or additional abuse. You may receive nothing at all, and you have to prepare for that. So, you must articulate what you want to say with tact, understand how and why this will take place, and drop all glittery wet dreams of reconciliation or remorse. Next week, the final chapter of this series will be published in two parts. I will feature the confrontation letters, and coach you through the resolution so that we may finally be free from our childhood nightmares. **If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!** For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide! In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!