Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have

Epigenetics and family trauma A link to a short but interesting piece on epigenetics and healing trauma.



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When it comes to avoiding I am a master of sorts. For the purposes of this post I’ll stick to one issue though. My counsellor gave me an exercise to help me get started writing in a way that includes my emotions. I’d mentioned I wanted to write a memoir but I have a tendency to write from my head instead of my heart so she gave me a writing exercise. But I’ve been avoiding it since I saw her last (May 20) because it requires me to write about something traumatic then reflect on how I feel after writing it. There’s four days of exercises I’m supposed to do and each day requires me to monitor how I am feeling but I just can’t seem to do it. Also, I’m supposed to do it consecutively so no breaks between the four days. That is probably another reason I’ve been putting it off because I dislike the thought of having to write about painful experiences from my life in a concentrated manner with need for focusing on my emotions.

Another reason I am probably avoiding the writing exercise is because I feel reasonably well and don’t want to feel miserable because I wrote about something traumatic and had to stay with my emotions. It’s perfectly normal to want our positive feelings to last and our ‘negative’ ones to be short lived; but avoiding our negative feelings regularly isn’t healthy. For the most part I don’t ignore my less favoured feelings it’s just the idea of having to illicit them intentionally isn’t really appealing. Of course I might not experience the glut of negative emotion I’m anticipating yet I could also experience much worse and be ‘knocked flat on my back’ so to speak. So what to do? Bite the bullet and be done with the exercise before my next counselling appointment this Tuesday, or put it off and get around to it when I feel ready? The second option is kinder but my natural impulse is to simply do what needs to be done and ignore the detrimental effects on me.

Perhaps I’ll sleep on it and have a clearer idea in the morning on what to do.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

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Don’t Legalise Forced Child Marriage! (Petition Link Above the Pic)

Child bride.

Any minute now, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will vote to legalise forced child marriage. 

If this legislation passes, there will be no minimum age to legally marry. A girl’s father would legally be able to accept a marriage proposal, and a girl would be prohibited from resisting her husband’s advances and leaving the home without his permission. This law is a recipe for life in domestic and sexual slavery. 

Currently, with the legal marriage age at 18 and the prohibition of forced marriage, Iraq has one of the most progressive policies on women’s rights in the Middle East. This law would be a huge step back for Iraqi women’s rights! 

We may not have much time to stop Iraq from legalizing forced child marriage and a lifetime of domestic and sexual slavery for girls and women. Urge the Prime Minister of Iraq to strike down the Jaafari Personal Status Law today! 



October: The Month For Deaths

My mother died five years ago yesterday and my grandmother died this past weekend. It’s been a difficult month for me.


Death (Photo credit: tanakawho)

First my grandmother took a stroke then a week later was dead. I joked with my counsellor on Tuesday that it was a pity my grandmother couldn’t have died last month so I’d only have one death to deal with this month! Of course my mother died five years ago so technically my grandmother dying only makes it one death but it’s the timing of it. It just triggers me.

Yesterday I felt extremely tired so couldn’t post anything. I didn’t do anything special to mark the five year anniversary of mom’s death either. Just couldn’t muster up the energy. Took a nap then turned in early for me (9:30 pm). Dealing with deaths and processing serious things in counselling left me quite tired.

The funeral for my grandmother is this Saturday and I am not going to attend. I discussed it with my counsellor and said I didn’t think I’d gain anything from going. Instead, I’d just be triggered by family in attendance. My sister, niece and dad are going so at least they will be there. I just can’t handle being in a place where they pretend the dead person never had flaws and speak about them in glowing terms. You may recall from my previous posts that my grandmother was very abusive to her children. The obituary one of my aunts wrote is a complete whitewashing of her life into something I couldn’t recognize.

I seriously hate phoniness and my mom’s side of the family that would be at the funeral are all phony. The ones not attending are more realistic. It doesn’t matter to me what they think when they find I have not shown up for the funeral. They can think what they like as they always have done.

©Natalya, 2012-2013.


Grandmother Died Today

Well my grandmother died earlier today (Saturday). I don’t feel much of anything at the moment. We weren’t close and I didn’t exactly love her so I’m not sure if I “should” feel anything now or not. She took a stroke a week ago in the nursing home she was in and couldn’t swallow afterward. As she also had dementia and was in a very poor state no food or water was pushed on her. Thus; it was a matter of waiting ’til she died “naturally”.

There will be a small service for the benefit of my aunts and dad who had an attachment to her. Personally, I never was able to form loving feelings for her because my mother had always told me about her when I was growing up in a very negative light. She had abused her children severely and I just couldn’t develop the warm feelings one does for their grandparents typically. The maternal grandfather was a pedophile so I didn’t think much of him either. Mom kept my sister and I away from her parents when we were growing up because she never forgave them. So not meeting my grandmother until an adult it was harder to form loving feelings for her.

I’m not sure there is any merit to my attending her funeral service given I’ll have to see family there I prefer to avoid. Is it really beneficial to attend a funeral service when I don’t feel anything for the deceased? Granted it is “proper” and “expected” one attend their grandparent’s funeral if able to but “proper” and “expected” are in the realm of inauthentic  and I try to be authentic. So, what to do? Hmmm. I know I will just have to meditate on the dilemma and see what comes to me that way.

How do you deal with death of family members you don’t love?

©Natalya, 2013.



Day 27 of 30 Day Challenge

Question: A problem you have or have had in the past?

Well I am late again answering this one because I saw my counsellor yesterday and didn’t have

Counseling Service

Counseling Service (Photo credit: Andreas_MB)

much energy for writing. Guess I’ll talk about the problem I mentioned to my counsellor. Recently I found some photos of my mom from earlier in her life where she looked much healthier than when I knew her. My problem was blaming myself for this turn of health in my mom like I was responsible for her becoming psychologically unwell. In a sense I wanted to take responsibility for her behaviour and what happened so I could have a bit of control. But my counsellor got me to reflect on this reasoning and realize its problems.

I was a child and didn’t have control over my mom. Her health was her responsibility and she frequently neglected looking after herself. So I was able to feel better knowing it was not something I could have done anything about. She wanted to have me and I didn’t cause my twin to die or anything else that happened after my birth. These are all things I knew anyway but the photos triggered uncertainty in me in spite of what I already knew and had made peace with at an earlier time (or thought I’d made peace with!).

It’s a complicated situation and I feel too tired today to elaborate. Ultimately, I have gone back to realizing what I already knew prior to finding those old photos and feel acceptance once again. Triggers can be tricky since you usually don’t see them coming so this has been a good lesson for me. I am not immune to triggers and need to be mindful of what my triggers are so I can try preventing them in the future (or at least mitigating some of their impact on me).

*The picture of the door is more institutional than I was looking for but I figured it would suffice.

©Natalya, 2013.


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Using the “parent within” to help the inner child

Using the “parent within” to help the inner child.

Excellent post! Dr. Jenner is spot on with his observations and assertions. A must read for any of you that have been abused or neglected by a parent or guardian.

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Day 2 of the 30 Day Challenge

Question: Where would you like to be in 10 years?

This is a hard question for me to answer. I hardly know where I’ll be in a year, let alone 10! Actually, I just try to take each day as it comes and focus on being as present as possible; after years of dissociation from childhood trauma I appreciate ‘the moment’ more so than the future. Mindfulness has really taught me to slow down and be aware of how I am feeling NOW. So right NOW is important to me but I do consider the future sometimes. However, when I do it tends to make me anxious because I haven’t quite figured out the HOW when it comes to realizing my goals and dreams.

In short, providing I haven’t dropped dead, I would like to have found my significant other and have some type of paid work I enjoy, as well as a furry companion in 10 years. Presently, I am unemployed and single so I have my work cut out for me! LOL However, 10 years is a long time and lots can happen. Certainly the last 10 years of my life have seen many changes (some good, some not so good). Overall I have faith my life will turn out in the way that is best for my personal growth. I also have faith that good things will happen for me so I am not going to focus heavily on the HOW, rather I will simply work on the WHAT. What do I want is probably the best thing for me to focus on because I have always found setting a clear and strong intention to be my best ally in achieving my goals/dreams.

©Natalya, 2013.



What is Normal?

Artist: Marie Jameeson

Artist: Marie Jameeson

This past Tuesday I met with my new counsellor for some individual counselling. We discussed (I discussed) a variety of things but one thing I said sticks out in my mind, that is I said I wanted to stop apologizing for who I am all the time. I don’t literally apologize to everyone all the time for who I am but it feels like that’s what I’m doing. It feels like I try to be “normal”, fail and apologize to whomever is asking me why I haven’t done such and such. I hate it. Does anyone else do something like this? Try to fit someone else’s version of normal then end up making excuses for yourself  when you can’t meet their standards?

I’m sick of trying to be someone I’m not. People are going to have to get used to the fact I am NOT going to please them. This happens mainly with my family where a relative asks me why I haven’t done something or other yet and I end up trying to think of a reason that will either get me off the hook or garner sympathy. Both are actions I dislike and don’t want to keep on doing. I shouldn’t have to do these things but no one else in my family acknowledges the gravity of abuse that occurred-both for themselves and in my own case. All of my aunts and uncles and remaining grandmother experienced abuse in some form. But they won’t address it and I feel unable to talk with them about my experience because of their own denial. How can I expect any form of validation from a group of abused people in denial? As far as I know I’m the only person in my family to go to therapy-apart from one aunt I never knew growing up.

From now on I will do my best to resist trying to be someone I’m not for my relatives. If they can’t accept me for who I am I’ll just make sure our communications are minimal and infrequent at most. We already don’t talk very often and a lot of this is to do with the fact there has been some tension since I began behaving more authentically a couple of years ago. Since then the communication has become limited and I can’t say I’m sad about it. Although I do wish my relatives could be more open to greater authenticity in how they live their lives and the way I live mine.

What do you do with dysfunctional family for communication issues? Do you avoid the people or have you learned how to be honest and not be bothered by the tension this often creates with unhealthy people?

©Natalya, 2013.



A Mixed Bag

426283_384264288265634_70141815_nYesterday was my first portfolio workshop session. We had a good turnout compared to the few who came for the information session a few weeks ago. Our group is about 8 people of different ages and backgrounds. It was a humbling experience to see some had not managed to have an easy life but were doing their best. I felt that many of the things I’ve done and took for granted were actually more than some manage to accomplish. So I suppose it was a reality check that provided me with a sense of greater perspective. Perhaps it was a feeling of gratitude for what I have been able to do in my life even if I don’t always feel successful.

Later I ruined things a bit by eating dairy and having egg salad not long after. Both things can give me trouble digestive wise. Dairy more so though. My stomach felt awful and I didn’t enjoy my afternoon at all. By evening I was feeling a little better once the Gravol had done its job.

556890_516649315021559_1692846626_nToday I had my first appointment with my new counselor. She’s a lovely person that I immediately connected with. She reminded me of my last psychologist I had before leaving university. Unfortunately she’s an intern half way through her time at the place I go so we have three months together. I’m going to go twice a month because it’s $40.00 each appointment so more than that would be too much for me. My dad is actually the one paying so I am very grateful he is doing this for me. Hopefully the six sessions I have with my new counselor will help. I felt like I was able to open up and shared quite a lot about my history, including abuse I’d suffered (although not the specifics). It felt good to have my concerns and feelings validated.

Actually, come to think of it, that appointment I had today with my counselor was probably the only time I’ve ever been able to comprehensively tell my ‘story’ on the first meeting. My trust levels have increased a great deal so I felt like I could share a lot and didn’t feel anxiety. In the past, when my mom was still alive, I’d go to therapy and have anxiety about disclosing certain things. There was a lot of shame and secrecy left in me then so sharing wasn’t always productive. I often withheld information and repressed a lot. This time I felt a willingness to disclose as much as I could in a cogent narrative. The fact I managed to recall as much as I did and the dates to go with the stuff surprised me in a good way.



I’d gone to my counselor today worried about what would happen and had a very positive experience, apart from the tears (crying) and jamming my middle fingernail in the door to the counseling office. Although I’d been concerned about who I would be working with I realized those concerns didn’t impede me from sharing my history once there in person. My worry was about if I’d like the counselor and if I’d have to ask to see someone else; luckily, my experience went well and I feel quite comfortable with this new counselor I have. Too bad she’s only around for three more months (end of April). All the same I think 6 sessions will go a long way toward me feeling better about myself. I’m feeling hopeful.

©Natalya, 2013.