Mental health, Relationships

Ugly Truth 58: The Teachings of Adversarial Love

“I’m coping with my trauma by trying to find different ways to heal it rather than hide it.”
-Clemantine Wamariya

Dear Readers,

Welcome back to the Deskraven Blog where we unearth the ugly truths of mental illness as it relates to life, love, and happiness.

In my spiritual quest to process and release the trauma that binds us all I began to learn about the lasting impact relationship injury can have on future intimacy, as well as the soul contracts we may not even realize we’re tangled up in. In general, insecurity is not a personality trait of mine, but recently I have been feeling more of it so it prompted me to look inward.

In examining my past relationships I realized they all hurt me in their own way, and I no doubt casted my own pain toward them. Indeed, no one escapes companionship unthwarted. While seeking out my relationship patterns I noticed they would invariably come to an end around the two year mark like some sick clockwork. Likewise, I found myself chasing the unobtainable, often seeking those who lacked a promising foundation, let alone mutual respect and reciprocity.

My current relationship offers a stark contrast to control dynamics and the threat of an invariable end, and yet I found myself soaking in a tearful uncertainty as if past transgressions were any indication of what the future may hold. A large part of therapeutic work involves accepting the good that is being offered to you without question, however, I find value in dismantling previously held beliefs that result from mistreatment. Am I deserving of love? Am I capable of sustaining another blow? Do I have unresolved hurt? The answer to all of these is a resounding yes.

True love is passionately engaging, but more importantly it is practical and mature. It never seeks to harm, create jealousy, or endorse possessiveness. Love remains the most written about subject in music, film, art, and other areas of the creative industry. Even the Bible offers a famous and promising passage: love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Within my reflection I found a most reoccurring theme of fear that surfaced as a product of hate, manipulation, infidelity, trauma, and abuse. In the past I was consistently exposed to lying, cheating, stealing partners. Partners who tore me down. Partners who informed me of my inadequacy, my inability to communicate, and left me with the kind of manipulative circular reasoning that would make even the most sound mind question her sanity. Partners who indicated to me I would be nothing without them. Partners who physically restrained and abused me. Partners who resorted to name calling and weaponized my vulnerability. Partners who robbed me of my peace of mind, my sound sleep, and my financial stability. Partners who slit their wrists in front of me.

In the face of adversarial love I found that when I wasn’t being abandoned, I was being told on a regular basis that I was unreliable, insufficient, and incorrect – and maybe I was. I had a lot of work to do. In learning how relationships serve as a reflection of self, it became apparent that my self worth was greatly suffering. The truth is we accept the love we think we deserve, and we teach others how to treat us, indirectly or otherwise. Clearly, I needed to raise my bar in more ways than one.

Fortunately, my first liberation in mindfulness work was learning that being less controlling in how we love allows the experience itself to take precedence over the fear of it passing. In a world where autonomy has only recently become desirable, the most radical thing we can learn is the fact that true reassurance lies in the space we provide our loved ones to choose us everyday, not in the ugly jealous strides we make to exert our possession over them.

My mind can rationalize the hurt I’ve endured, and the way it contributes to my behavior. I have had to rebuild and relearn my own definitions of healthy relationship dynamics as they relate to trust, intimacy, and devotion. I have had to tap into those areas of my life that exist apart from my partner, and begin to nurture them in order to be a more loving and less wounded human. The heart and body are different creatures, however. They keep score – and if you’re not careful to grieve properly – the wound will spread to other major organs. Healing from relationship trauma begins with setting hard fast boundaries that allow you to insulate yourself long enough to do the work. Take ownership of your well-being with the understanding that no one can do it for you. Remember you are safe and capable of creating lasting change in your life. Remember the ability to discern between the idea of something, the memory of it, and the reality of it.

Sadly, many people would rather be abused than be alone. I think it’s safe to say we have all fallen for the idea or concept someone is offering us, even if the reality of it is littered with red flags. Likewise, human memory is inherently faulty. You must consider the possibility that the way you remember things, especially traumatic things, isn’t the way it went. We tend to remember how we felt during an experience rather than the experience itself. I would be the first to admit I have turned to others to validate my memories for me, and it has been very helpful.

Ultimately, you should never go into any kind of relationship that asks you to compromise fundamental parts of yourself, or your ability to communicate them effectively. While no relationship is perfect, your heart will never seek to change or fix the right partner. While some work is required in every union, there should also be equal parts natural flow – that space that allows you to rest in the love and peace you’ve created for one another – free from doubt, stress, and drama.

Finally, the spiritual perspective teaches us about the potential for soul mates and twin flames. The idea is that they are sent by our higher self for our own soul’s growth and development. There is a lot to unpack here, but that is another Blog for another day. For now, ponder all that you have learned from those who have hurt you the most. It may feel impossible, but seek out the value of your suffering. Our perpetrators have the potential to be our greatest teachers.

True love is a victory march, not a sprint or a competition. Do not let your past overcome your successes, or cause a great dividing disservice to your current life. It is important to honor your grief, even your regret, but don’t allow it to take up residence with what you value now. Don’t allow the actions (or inactions) of others to invent dissatisfaction or breed contempt in your relationship. Whenever I catch myself slipping, all I have to do is look at her – and remember the way she casts the very light I could never manifest for myself on my most ambitious days. Oozing with gratitude never fails me.

Discuss: How has your past impacted your current relationship? What is your communication like with your partner? What lessons have you learned from those who have betrayed you?

**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, Parenting

Ugly Truth 30: Today My Son Was Diagnosed

Dear Readers, Today, I fell to tears on my way home from work after a losing sleep battle at 5am, chronic pain, and the challenge of another trying day for my son. Today, Zachary was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Today, I grieve for my son; for the way things will always be harder for him, for the way he can not yet apply insight toward his behavior, for the friends and caregivers who will misunderstand him and unwittingly make things worse, for the way he covers his ears when noises are too loud, for the way his IQ soars but his social life suffers, for the way I fiercely attempt to guard his self-esteem, for the way I fear I wont be vigilant enough, for those who will and do pressure us into difficult decisions, for the way he severely grapples to regulate his emotions, for the songs he sings that so many will mishear, for the constant redirection of a conformist society, for the way his intelligence will always lend itself to his awareness that he is different. If you don’t believe in these diagnoses, do me a favor and keep your opinion to yourself. I can assure you our pain as a family is very real, but it is not unattended. Zachary has received hundreds of hours of counseling, various therapies, behavior intervention plans, the benefits of countless round table committee meetings by his cheerleaders, and accommodations as his progression and challenges fluctuate. For now, I will have to rest in the years of education and instinct I have invested in. I will have to rest in the competence of the team, physicians, teachers and loving family that surround him. For now, I will have to rest in the knowledge that even when I am imperfect, I am enough. Final Summation: The ability to comfort yourself is invaluable. **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!
Lifestyle, Relationships

Women who Love Women: Falling In Love and Out of Touch

“I seem to have run in a great circle, and met myself again on the starting line.”
Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit
Dear Readers, Something you may or may not know about me is that I have struggled with my sexuality most of my life. I have identified as bisexual, lesbian, and polyamarous before doing away with labels all together. I have been blessed to have romantic and platonic relationships with both men and women. My first sexual encounters were with females, and it wasn’t long before I started learning my preferences. In high school, I fell in love with a beautiful girl for the first time, and was then pursued by another. Unfortunately, the relationship crashed and burned due to a jealous love triangle, of which I was the epicenter. However, I never forgot how much she taught me about myself. It was this relationship that resulted in my first brush with discrimination. I was harassed at school for openly being myself. My mother cried and pleaded, begging me not to hurt her. She told me she would never accept it, and she never did. I faced discrimination from employers who preferred to look the other way, nevermind the church and always some non-believing male trying to push his way in. At the end of my 10th grade year I moved to Texas and enrolled in a new school. I was still coming to terms with myself, but remained mostly transparent with my preference for women. I pursued two girls that year while men pursued me, but neither lasted. I always knew what I wanted. Still, I stumbled with the acceptance and the inner circle dynamics that come with a definitive learning curve. After all, men and women are as contrasted a specimen as two things can be. In 12th grade I entered into an open relationship with a male that allowed me the freedom to pursue female partners. It was a delightful time in my life although, my union with my primary partner at the time was very unhealthy and soon went from accommodation to possessiveness. As a result, my relationships with women at the time suffered greatly, and never matured past casual encounters. It wasn’t until I was free from this relationship and relocated again that I began to date women exclusively, determined to be happy once and for all. And then…there she was one day, standing before me in a polka dot blouse, dark hair flowing in the wind and those puppy dog eyes. She would grow to become the greatest love tragedy of my life. I dreamt of her last night and it swelled in me an endless pool of memories and emotions. Sadly, we have lost touch which is one hundred percent my doing, but it wasn’t always that way. There were many years of love in the sunshine, missed opportunities, and the soft landing of my very best female friend. This woman and I were very different, and yet similar in all the ways that mattered. She came from a wealthy family. I did not. She was well-liked and active in her academics. I was not. She was precious, loving, and tolerant. I was not. She was social, outgoing, and daring. Still, I was not. She taught me the language of mental health for the first time, of which I was in very much denial at the time. She taught me the priority of relationships and would vocalize them often. She was loyal and unfailing to a fault, always rushing to my aid no matter the hour. She valued family, friends, and struggled with her faith. She exercised good humor, ambition, and generosity. She balanced productivity with the wisdom a day in bed can bring. She always knew just what to say, even when I didn’t want to hear it. She put others first, even when her health was failing her. She loved her sweet, sweet kitty girl – Sophie – who I miss even now. She was beautiful. I admired her. I loved her. Oh my God, I loved her. With this admission I sat straight up in bed with an epiphany blooming behind my eyes. I began to cry. I was so joyful, and then equally fearful. When I informed her, however, she did not reciprocate and the anguish struck deep. We tried to maintain a friendship, but this seldom survives once one-sided feelings come to the surface. Over time, she had a change of heart and we reconnected once more, although I think some small part of me was never quite able to trust it. My inability to be vulnerable matched her inability to communicate dispassionately which created long lasting damage in our relationship. Our arguments were often trivial but severe, a reflection I believe of the unresolved hurt we both experienced while trying to be close to one another in every capacity over the years. As time passed, things changed again and I moved out of state. Over the course of this time, countless letters and phone calls were sent and received. Once more her heart was changing and she found greater meaning in our connection. I was delighted, but also clueless about the depths of that adoration. She never informed me that she had high hopes to try again upon my return, and in my idiotic blindness I entered into another poor relationship pattern before I even considered the notion of her and I finally being together. You cannot fathom my regret. This time, the tables were turned. She was the one who was hurting, and it was simply too late. Soon, my relationship ended and once more we were both available, only this time I was too wrapped up in my grief and misbehavior to see clearly. I rejected her long before she became brave enough to utter the words – …what if? And I’ll never forget the look on her face, or the breaks in her voice. Before I learned to manage my illnesses differently, I clung to very poor defense mechanisms at the great expense of others. Whenever I found myself suffering, I would repeatedly self-destruct. I would internalize and isolate with every intention of losing everyone close to me. Ultimately, the end result was suicidal action. My warped sense of logic convinced me that by pushing everyone away, I could end my life in peace – virtually free from guilt. How sickening and self-indulgent depression can be. I didn’t see it at the time, but this is what I was doing. This was the beginning of the end and somehow, my most beloved, brilliant, beam of light got swept up with the others. Some of my friends stuck around long enough to understand, forgive, and rebuild. But she hasn’t – and I don’t blame her. The truth is, she gave me so much more than I deserved. Having been a self-sabotager most of my life, it comes as no surprise that I sucked the life out of the relationship that could have so changed me with vapid excuses like fear, immaturity, and ill-timing. I know I hurt her immensely, and I will never forgive myself for that because not only did I lose the potential of a lifetime, I mistreated my closest and most passionate friend. I cast fear and doubt into her heart. I lost a friend who saved my life more than once. Shortly after, I embraced the work of personal development through therapy, reading, and writing. I grew in more ways than I can count. Sadly, this relationship suffered the most as a result of myself, and I can’t help but feel what can best be described as a double-consequence. Comprehension and change wont bring her back. I’m afraid it’s too little, too late. I will always think of her when the morning light hits the corners of a room just right because she brought me such warmth over the years. She loved me when I couldn’t love myself. She held me just right, and made me laugh with tears in my eyes. She visited me in the hospital. She gave me countless gifts, experiences, friends and resources. She taught me the value of accountability. She taught me the truth of having loved and lost – twice – against not loving at all. Following our final falling out, I dated a handful of girls that were lovely, some that were not so lovely, and some that just reminded me that I let go of something truly special. If I could see her now I would apologize. I would not deviate with fear. I would choose love. I hope you do too, in whatever form it takes. **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!
Lifestyle, Mental health

Polyamory: Exploring Free Love and Mental Health

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Dear Readers,

Similar to bisexuality, polyamory is often misunderstood as a selfish endeavor. However, indulging in this alternative lifestyle myself for a number of years suddenly revealed to me why I grew increasingly unhappy in my long-term monogamous relationships. Before I understood this about myself, I was intensely isolated by my confusion and complete lack of joy within my invariably badly-patterned relationships. As an abundantly loving person who has zero difficulty facing accountability, this became increasingly painful. So, what does it mean to be polyamorous?

Your Google dictionary writes, “Polyamory is the philosophy or state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time.”

While pretty self-explanatory, polyamory relies heavily on consent and communication when compared to single suitors. The difference is that the individuals within polyamorous dynamics are communicating on a level of greater magnitude with more individuals, and a great deal of consideration for the other party. Some relationships celebrate dual dynamics or triads, while still others may engage in the pursuit of romance with the same individual- but not necessarily with each other. Some of these dynamics may include multiple sexual orientations, genders, and/or produce children, others may not.

The topic of consent includes the knowledge or awareness of their lover’s involvement with others and therefore, does not fall under the umbrella of infidelity or polygamy. Instead, it is accepted and embraced that one may love more than one person at the same time. Still more, some choose to participate in social hierarchy’s that celebrate a primary partner, while others choose to disperse equality evenly among their amorous partnerships.

A common misconception is that polyamory is a way to have your cake and eat it too. However, this lifestyle narrows in less on diversified sex and more on intimate open relationships. This juggling act often requires highly evolved maturity, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. Likewise, the personal labels, definitions, and dynamics vary greatly within the community itself, and therefore seemingly can not be netted into a true north.

Rachel Kieran from GoodTherapy writes, “Terms used to identify such relationships are as numerous as the individuals who endorse them, continue to evolve within cultures, and are often dependent upon the particular configuration of the couple, triad, or family at a given moment.”

In a world where we are talking about the various levels of sexuality, gender, and relationships it is important to remember that the perspectives and definitions therein are highly susceptible to context and subjective reasoning. Personally, I have found that dismissing labels or social explanation altogether while exploring my own happiness has served me greatly since I find them to be great exacerbaters of confinement.

Kieran continues, “We must challenge ourselves to confront our own values and stereotypes around sexual and relational diversity.”

So, what are the mental health benefits of an open relational dynamic? Perhaps the most obvious, expanded dynamics relieve the singular pressure often placed on one person in a conventional relationship to protect, provide, perform, and compromise. Also contributing to a healthy psychology is the emphasis on human communication, empathy, and a deeply intentional consideration for others. The awareness that multifaceted relationships produce toward one’s own truth and desire can offer a great sense of peace and freedom that may nurture any previously held depression or anxiety associated with the experience of embracing only one partner. Likewise, there is a great sense of community that may strengthen one’s sense of familial ties or resourcefulness in times of hardship for those participating in polyamory.

In short, polyamory explains the idea of free love in modern times albeit with a bit more depth and sophistication. It celebrates the power of permission and full-disclosure in our understanding of romance. It promotes self-examination and accountability. It challenges any previously held notions and relieves us of the chains of traditionalism while contributing to our intellectual wellness and sense of community.

Even for those who have trouble grasping this, the fundamental message that we love often, more than once, and in many ways seem to remain universal.

Visit the Source: Understanding Polyamory and Nonmonogamy in a Context of Sexual and Relational Diversities Presented by Rachel Kieran, PsyD
Understanding Polyamory and Nonmonogamy in a Context of Sexual and Relational Diversities Presented by Rachel Kieran, PsyD

What are your thoughts, opinions, and experiences regarding polyamorous identities?

**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!