Mango Media

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Excerpt

What I remember most is what happened after.

I’m sitting in my car, staring out the windshield. It’s raining, and it’s late, maybe 3 or 4 in the morning. The wipers are on but the car is not. I watch them spread the rain across the windshield (badly on the right side, that wiper has been broken for years). I listen to the rhythmic squee for a while, staring, not quite able to turn the car on and drive myself home. My thoughts don’t seem to want to take an order. I’m not physically hurt, I’m fine. I’m fine. I think I’m fine. But I left my best friend’s house at 3 or 4 in the morning in the rain because I needed to get the hell out of there. And now I’m sitting here across from his apartment, listening to a broken windshield wiper, not getting the hell out.

I don’t know how long I sat there before I finally figured out I could turn the car on and go home. Sometimes I try to remember, really get the details in order, sort out what happened, go back to the beginning and think it through til the end, but it’s difficult, like trying to get ants to walk in a straight line. It gets mixed up with other memories—the other times he’d tried to touch me when I didn’t want him to. Or when pushed me into a dark room and locked the door behind him. Or trying to leave earlier that same night, sitting on the stairs, my coat half on, him pleading with me to stay, me making him promise nothing would happen. I remember enough, anyway.

When a bad thing happens, you have to survive twice. First you have to survive the thing itself. You have to be physically alive after the thing has happened. That’s certainly key to the whole process. But then you have to survive again, to get through the consequences of the thing that didn’t kill you. You have to figure out how to be a person in a world where your trust in people or your faith in what you think the world is has been shattered. Survival is a gift, but not always the kind you want. Sometimes it’s like the worst of Grandma’s Christmas sweaters, because still existing after a terrible thing happened is confusing and painful and sometimes itchy and definitely comes back every Christmas.

So survive we must. However long it takes, we need to create a container of safety before we can start dealing with the devastation of sexual assault. We need to see that whatever we had to do to survive at the time was what we had to do, and we survived, goddammit. It doesn’t matter if we smoked ten thousand cigarettes or dated all the wrong people or pushed away everyone we cared about or drank ourselves to the bottom of the ocean. Your desire, your will to power, your creativity, your ability to love and connect and fuck and feel don’t completely die unless you completely die. Whatever happened, if you’re still alive, you can heal.

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The Clutter Connection

The Clutter Connection

How Your Personality Type Determines Why You Organize the Way You Do
edition:Paperback
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Eat Real to Heal

Eat Real to Heal

Using Food As Medicine to Reverse Chronic Diseases from Diabetes, Arthritis, Cancer and More
edition:Paperback
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A Life Full of Glitter

A Life Full of Glitter

A Guide to Positive Thinking, Self-Acceptance, and Finding Your Sparkle in a (Sometimes) Negative World
edition:Hardcover
More Info
Excerpt

Positive Thinkers Cope Better With Stress When I was younger whenever I would get a message that I needed to meet with a teacher or boss, I would spend the rest of the day engulfed in worry. Bullets of sweat would run from my forehead. My palms would get sweaty. I was certain I had done something wrong. How could I do anything right? I worry that entire day about what that ominous meeting could be about. Maybe I failed. Maybe they were mad. Maybe somebody has said something terrible about me and I was going to have defend myself. I would spend every hour until the meeting running over every potential negative reason and every catastrophic potential outcome. By the time the sit down was scheduled, I would have to drag my anxiety ridden, stress ball self into the room only to find out I just forgot to submit some paperwork or some other mundane thing. All my fears. All my anxiety. They were pointless. The stress I carried with me through everything I did that day was unnecessary. A huge amount of my precious emotional energy was like a kid on the night of their twenty-first first birthday—wasted. Most of our day to day stress—just like mine in this example—is self-created. When research stress I was surprised to find that stress itself doesn’t exist in an event, but rather in our perception of an event. In simple terms it means no matter what happens in life, you have the ability to be in the emotional driver’s seat. Pessimists (aka my previous self) approach common-place life situations with the expectation they’ve done something wrong. In the previous example, I used to assume that the only reason a boss or teacher might ever speak to me is because I had done something wrong. This type of thinking created additional heartache for me. It also closed me off from opportunities, friendships because I assumed that people were entering interactions with me only for negative reasons. This also affected my ability to manage my stress in the long term. Optimists on the other hand (aka present day moi) don’t apply a sentiment to a situation until all the facts needed to fairly assess it are available. It’s not that I’m assuming in the same situation that something amazing is going to happen. I’m not sitting anxiously, counting down the hours until my next office pow-wow so I can get some super fun prize. I’ve simply stopped assuming anything at all. If the event is negative, I benefit from the fact I haven’t been mulling over it, dissecting the situation and creating a million and one negative outcomes in my head. As a result, I am more prepared to manage the real results of the situation. I’m also less likely to overreact as result of all my extra ( and unnecessary) pent up emotion. I am more able to resolve whatever issues, if any, that result. I should share that this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn. In the early stages of my career when a problem would arise, I would have to tell no less than every single person in my office, the door man, and several strangers I wrassled into conversation on the street before I could put the issue to rest. Sometimes even that wasn’t enough. I’d find myself like a car caught in quicksand—spinning my wheels with all this excess emotion and getting nowhere. Venting our issues, while seemingly harmless and perhaps even possibly therapeutic, can cause us to fixate on a negative incident rather than invest our energy in resolution. This story always serves to remind me that I have a choice in where I invest my energy. Most of the stress in my day to day life can be avoided or even reduced by keeping an upbeat attitude. Research has found that optimists not only create less stressful situations, but also experience stress less overall than others. As a new found optimist I find I tend to let go of negative events more quickly. This keeps stressful situations from piling up and becoming overwhelming. I’ve also been able to build better support systems, because I’ve stopped assuming the worst of every situation I enter. When stressful situations arise, Im able to reach out to my friends and rely on them to help me through. In short choosing to see the good in things the has resulted me having better relationships, less stress, and helped me let go of some of my baggage. I think we can all agree that the world could use a few more people that leave the baggage at home.

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