Crisis Text Line (CTL)

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If you are interested in doing volunteer work that you can do from home, here is an idea for you:

While working as a Crisis Telephone Counselor for Crisis Hotline (CHL), we assisted CTL when we could so I am familiar with this organization. Now that I am no longer employed or volunteer with CHL due to having relocated, I have entered the volunteer program at CTL. Though I have been through a version of their training as a continuing education requirement and having been through CHL’s training, I am finding the CTL volunteer training to be very beneficial. This is a rewarding endeavor and for those who like doing things for others anonymously, this is your ticket. All training and working on the texting platform is done from your computer at home. You set your own schedule and the text line is open 24/7 so working it into your personal schedule isn’t difficult.

If you are nervous about crisis support, let me reassure you that you will be well-trained and their training includes live observations. Also, you will have all the tools you need right in front of you. All texts are monitored by a supervisor who is always available if you get stuck or need assistance. Though it is a mandatory reporting agency for imminent risk of suicide or homicide as well as child abuse, the reporting is actually done by the supervisor, however, these instances do not occur often. The way I look at it is “It’s just a conversation.” There is no script but you will learn active listening and productive conversation.

Rather than quote all the information regarding CTL, I am posting their FAQ sheet. You can also go to crisistextline.org

Text START to 741-741

FAQ

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Texting in
Data
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Volunteers
Our Approach

TEXTING IN

Q: HOW DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK?

A:

  1. You text 741741 when in crisis. Available 24/7 in the USA.
  2. A live, trained crisis counselor receives the text and responds quickly.
  3. The crisis counselor helps you move from a hot moment to a cool calm to stay safe and healthy using effective active listening and suggested referrals – all through text message using Crisis Text Line’s secure platform.

Q: WHO SHOULD TEXT IN?

A: We exist to help anyone in crisis at any time.

Q: WHO ANSWERS THE TEXT MESSAGES?

A: Crisis Text Line crisis counselors are both rigorously trained volunteers and employees of our crisis center partners.

Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN I TEXT IN?

A: You’ll receive an automated text asking you what your crisis is. Within minutes, a live trained crisis counselor will answer your text. They will help you out of your moment of crisis and work with you to create a plan to continue to feel better.

Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE ACTUALLY ANONYMOUS?

A: Yes. Crisis counselors only know what texters share with them, and that information stays confidential. We take your anonymity seriously. Check out our terms of service here.

Q: HOW MUCH DOES CRISIS TEXT LINE COST?

A: We do not charge texters. If your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon, texts to our short code, 741741 are free of charge. If you have a plan with a different carrier, standard text message rates apply.

Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE SHOW UP ON MY CELL PHONE BILL?

A: Nothing will appear on your bill if your cell phone plan is with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon. If your plan is with another carrier our short code, 741741 will appear on your billing statement. Read about how this happened here.

Q: WILL CRISIS TEXT LINE WORK WITH MY PHONE?

A: Crisis Text Line works on all major US carriers, and most minor regional carriers. However, shortcodes (like 741741) are not allowed on many prepaid plans like T-Mobile’s.

Q: I HAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE WHEN I TEXTED IN, CAN I TEXT IN AGAIN?

A: You can text in again, if you are experiencing a crisis. However, you should not feel dependent on us. Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for long-term counseling, in-person therapy, or a friend.

Q: HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT TO TEXT WITH A CRISIS COUNSELOR?

A: Our goal is to respond to every texter in under 5 minutes. During high volume times, such as at night or when people are talking about us on social media, wait times may be longer.

Q: IS THERE A CHARACTER LIMIT WHEN TEXTING CRISIS TEXT LINE?

A: Yes, our system is only able to process 140 characters in one message.

Q: WHY AM I RECEIVING AN ERROR MESSAGE OR NO RESPONSE AT ALL?

Sadly, there are some carriers who have not adopted the use of shortcodes–and the small percentage of people with these phones, can’t use Crisis Text Line. (We hear that sometimes you get an auto-error response. Sometimes nothing at all. We know this is shitty and we wish those carriers would enable us). If your phone carrier doesn’t enable shortcodes, here is a list of hotlines you can call.

Q: IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY TO REACH CRISIS TEXT LINE BESIDES TEXT?

A: Yes, you can reach us through Facebook Messenger. Access to message Crisis Text Line is located through Facebook’s Safety checkpoint. This is accessible by flagging a user’s post.

Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, DOES ANONYMITY APPLY?

A: Yes. We do not have access to your Facebook profile. The only know information about you that we’ll know is what you share with us.

Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHO HAS ACCESS TO THE DATA?

A: Three parties: you (in your Messenger thread), Crisis Text Line, and Facebook.

Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER AND I WANT MY DATA DELETED, WHAT DO I DO?

A: Message us back with the word ‘LOOFAH’. We’ll scrub your data from our system, and make a request to Facebook to do the same.

Q: IF I REACH OUT VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER, WHICH TERMS OF SERVICE APPLY TO ME?

A: By contacting Crisis Text Line through Facebook Messenger, users agree to Facebook Messenger’s Terms of Service, as well as Crisis Text Line’s Terms of Service.

Q: WHAT ARE ALL OF THE CRISIS ISSUES YOU TRACK? CAN YOU ADD MORE?

A: See the issues we track at www.crisistrends.org. If you’re a researcher or practitioner with interest in another issue, submit your suggestion in the form at the bottom of www.crisistrends.org.

Q: WHO CAN APPLY FOR ACCESS TO CRISIS TEXT LINE’S DATA?

A: Data access is available to approved academic researchers. The application will be available here in late January 2016. Otherwise, please visit www.crisistrends.org to see the latest trends in how texters are experiencing crisis.

DONATE

Q: HOW CAN I DONATE TO CRISIS TEXT LINE?

A: You can donate via Paypal (link here) or by sending a check to:
Crisis Text Line
Attn: Finance Dept.
24 West 25th Street, 6th Fl
New York, NY 10010

Q: IS MY DONATION TO CRISIS TEXT LINE TAX DEDUCTIBLE?

A: Yes! Upon receiving your donation, we’ll send you a thank you letter that clarifies your donation is tax deductible.

FINANCIALS

Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE REALLY A NOT FOR PROFIT?

A: Yes, we are! Here are our latest financials as proof.

Q: HOW IS CRISIS TEXT LINE FUNDED?

A: We’re privately funded. This means we receive funding from foundations, individuals, and corporations.

Q: WHERE CAN I FIND CRISIS TEXT LINE’S FORM 990?

A: 2014 here and 2015 here.

Q: I SAW YOU RAISED A BUNCH OF MONEY (WOOHOO!) FOR THE ORG. WHERE IS IT ALL GOING?

A: We are focused on three main initiatives: (1) supporting our Crisis Counselor community with better products and more emotional support, (2) integrating with tech companies to provide support to users inside things like After School, Kik, YouTube, and Facebook Messenger, (3) white labeling our service for other orgs and locations– providing a free text service for the National Eating Disorder Association and cities like Newark and Atlanta.

PARTNERSHIPS

Q: WHO CAN PARTNER WITH CRISIS TEXT LINE?

A: We partner with not-for-profits, colleges and universities, and corporations. Want to partner? Fill out this form!

TECH ISSUES

Having technical issues with the site or text line? Check out our Help Center.

MEDIA

Q: CAN I GET MARKETING MATERIALS WITH THE CRISIS TEXT LINE SHORT CODE TO SHARE WITH MY COMMUNITY?

A: Absolutely. Download our Volunteer Flyer or Text Flyer.

Q: WHOM I CONTACT FOR A PRESS INQUIRY?

A: Email support@crisistextline.org

VOLUNTEERS

Q: HOW CAN I BECOME A VOLUNTEER?

A: We are always accepting applications! Apply Here.

Q: WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A VOLUNTEER?

A: To become a Crisis Counselor, you must:

  1. Pass a background check – that means no felonies and no violent or sex-offense misdemeanors
  2. Have a US Social Security number (in order to complete the background check)
  3. Be at least 18 years old
  4. Have access to a computer with a secure, reliable internet connection
  5. Commit to volunteering 4 hours a week for 1 year

Q: WHAT’S THE TIME COMMITMENT OF VOLUNTEERS?

A: We ask our volunteers to commit to volunteering 4 hours a week for 1 year. Volunteers are able to break up their commitment into two 2-hour shifts each week if they would like.

Q: HOW ARE VOLUNTEERS TRAINED?

A: After a rigorous application process, our volunteers complete a 34 hour training course over 6 weeks. This includes ongoing simulated conversations and personalized feedback from our experienced trainers as well as 8 hours of on-platform observation. Training content is based on best practices in crisis counseling and Crisis Text Line data.

Q: WHEN IS YOUR NEXT CRISIS COUNSELOR TRAINING?

A: We accept applications on a rolling basis. A new training cohort starts every two weeks, so apply whenever you want! We’re excited to meet you!

Q: WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A CRISIS COUNSELOR VOLUNTEER?

A: Check out our blog to read stories from our volunteers.

Q: ARE VOLUNTEERS SUPERVISED?

A: Yes. Our experienced supervisors oversee and assist our volunteers, when necessary, while on the platform.

OUR APPROACH

Q: IS CRISIS TEXT LINE COUNSELING?

A: No, our specialists do not counsel, but rather practice active listening to help texters move from a hot moment to a cool calm.

Q: WHAT IS ACTIVE LISTENING?

A: Active listening is when someone communicates in a way that is empathetic, understanding, and respectful. It includes focus on the texter and thoughtful answers.

Q: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRISIS TEXT LINE AND THERAPY?

A: Crisis Text Line is not a replacement for therapy. Therapy includes a diagnosis made by a doctor, a treatment plan of action, and a patient/therapist relationship. Crisis Text Line helps people in moments of crisis. Our crisis counselors practice active listening to help our texters find calm and create an action plan for themselves to continue to feel better. Crisis Text Line’s crisis counselors are not therapists.

Q: WHO STARTED CRISIS TEXT LINE?

A: We were founded by our CEO, Nancy Lublin. After seeing a need for the service we provide, Nancy hired a team to build what is our current platform. The original team included a data scientist and an engineer. Hear our story here.

 

Didn’t find your answer? Check out our Help Center or email support@crisistextline.org.

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Terms of Service

Privacy Policy

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FAQs

Check out our FAQs

Help Make it Happen

Want to start a crisis text line in your country? international@crisistextline.org

We’re hiring:
Apply now

Press inquiry?

Email press@crisistextline.org
If you are in crisis, text START to 741-741.

Keep me posted

 

 

Marriage Myths Six

MYTH: YOU MAY REPEAT YOUR PARENTS’ RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS.

How you carry your childhood baggage is more important than the fact that you have any. “Nobody escapes childhood without some crazy buttons and triggers, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great relationship,”John Gottman says.

Tom Bradbury, PhD, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, coined the phrase enduring vulnerabilities for these historical triggers. Certain words and actions might dig up old feelings and provoke a reaction. Make sure you and your partner understand what sets the other off, and avoid those weaknesses.

Circumstances from your past could also prompt what psychologists call projective identification- an example is taking something from your childhood and applying it to your partner. If you had a distant cold parent, for instance, you might assume  your partner is being distant and cold too. Instead of blaming your partner’s character, explain how the actions make you feel and what he or she can do to help you feel better.

I knew a man who was so eat up with his emotional baggage that he ran the gamut from tears to violence. He used braggadocio and alcohol to cover his feelings and built a very high wall believing it would protect him from emotional pain. One never knew what would trigger his anger and/or violence. While I understood how his background played into his emotions and actions, there was nothing I could do to change it. While I was somewhat of a balm for his pain, he often saw me not as myself but as his mother.

When I met Danny, I was shocked to find that he was very much in touch with his emotions. He would let me know when I hurt his feelings rather than do the “macho” thing of acting like nothing bothered him. I fell so in love with this man! I felt safe with him because I didn’t have to guess about how he was feeling and there was no fear that I would unknowingly touch off a spark that would cause him to physically harm me.

Eventually, Danny grew tired of all the analyzing we did through counseling and discussions. That was when I began learning to lighten up in the realization that both of our lives had been so full of drama that it was stifling our relationship. We both still have things that can trigger a negative response but the truth is that we cannot judge each other with our individual pasts.

Enjoy life with your spouse! Don’t judge him/her based on your past, instead see them for the person you know them to be. Look for the good and give him/her a pass when they exhibit human behaviors. No one has a perfect marriage but we can come darn close.

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Failing to See the Forest for the Trees

My husband and I have had many discussions about minorities and he is helping me to understand that so much anger is brought about by not having the financial, emotional and educational support necessary to achieve more. I have often made the point that we all have the same opportunities even if we have to apply for federal grant or aid money. His answer is that the passive attitude borne of oppression is passed down from parent to child resulting in lack of motivation.

Because my husband is a minority in that he is Hispanic, he does understand the struggle. We see it in different ways – I want to say “What is done cannot be undone, let’s move on.” He implies that the hurt is too deep to just dismiss.

African Americans were brought to this country against their will, enslaved, objectified and some were horribly abused, I get that. Then I look at the treatment of the Jewish at the hands of the Germans and the Japanese Americans at the hands of Americans and wonder that those two peoples have overcome anger in order to find peace within themselves.

I think it may be the way the Jewish and the Asian Americans talk to their children about the oppression they experienced. Could they be passing it on much as a history lesson expressing how they felt at the time but without bitterness? Everything I have ever read on the subject suggests such. I don’t feel bitterness today from the Jewish or Asian Americans but I do feel it from some older Americans who fought in the war against Japan. I have not let that bitterness rub off on me just as I did not allow my grandfather to turn me against African Americans.

When my husband and I have these discussions, I want to cut them short when I feel discomfort. Yet I know it is because I don’t want to acknowledge the pain that discrimination brings on everyone.

However, life does not always come out even so many of us have to work harder at accomplishments with the hands we have been dealt. We may not always get exactly where we want to go but we can get to a good place. What we want may not be what is best for us or what will make us truly happy. I don’t see a problem with being satisfied with our lives, in fact, I think we can be happier having time to stop and smell the roses and to enjoy quality time with our families making do with less rather than constantly pushing ourselves to do more, be more and have more.

So what does this have to do with discrimination? Perhaps those who of us who feel discriminated against, no matter what race, mental ability, capabilities, education, might ask ourselves if we are letting small minded people keep us down. After all, we cannot change others, we can only change how we react to them.

 

Unreasonable Fear

I grew up fearing African Americans and before you judge me as a racist, read my story.

When I was in Junior High School, schools became integrated. The African American students would stand in large groups blocking the sidewalk daring whites to try to get though them. I avoided the sidewalk. There was a small girl named Sharon who started making fun of me and I did my best to ignore her. I was not that outcast who gets bullied, I was fortunate to have many friends both male and female.

One day as I was walking to my friend’s house after school, a large group of African American students formed a circle around me. I was petrified because it was obvious that something was about to happen. Sharon moved to the center of the circle and started taunting me. She kept saying, “Push me!” over and over. I just stood still knowing that what usually happened in these situation was that if I made a move, the whole group would jump in and attack me. Another reason I wouldn’t make a move besides trying to avoid having my ass kicked was that I was appalled at girls or women fighting though I have to admit that I was a closet bully toward my sister. Luckily, one of the girls who was walking with us lived in the house in front of which I was confronted. Her mother came out and chased the group away. To be honest, I was petrified. I believe this happened because I was the only one small enough for Sharon to pick on.

Moving forward, where my friends and classmates might kid around with African American bully students, I wasn’t friendly or unfriendly toward them which was probably a downfall. In high school, a very large African American girl named Mary grabbed my windbreaker and ripped it off me which was not an easy feat. I said nothing. A small African American girl would tell me things like how she dreamed that my boyfriend’s car would get stuck on a railroad track and he would be killed. One night my best friend’s twin brother was beat with a baseball bat in the boy’s locker room after a baseball game by a group of African American students. I was friendly with some African American students but was still easily intimidated.

I had good experiences when I went into community college with fellow African American students so I started to get past my fear. Unfortunately, when I worked for a police department two African American co-workers claimed racial discrimination because I was transferred to the day watch and her friend was transferred to my previous watch in a move to separate the two friends in hopes of increasing productivity. Since I filled in a lot for people in key positions, it was considered a highly beneficial move by administration. I became stonewalled by the other clerical staff and when I asked someone why, they told me they could not go against these two girls and implied that they were afraid.

Because it was so painful to be ostracized, I requested to remain on my previous watch. The Sgt. was not happy because he told me that I was allowing myself to be bullied. The personnel manager and supervisory staff called a meeting of the clerical staff and a letter was read that one of the girls had written citing favoritism because I was white. They were upset because our administrative Sgt. used my work examples as the quality of work everyone should be putting out. In fairness, I had education and experience that was not the norm for the position. I took the job because it was something I always wanted to do. I never had to defend myself in this meeting because first of all the personnel manager offered to do some testing if they really wanted to know who was the best typist etc. Then one of my supervisors pointed out that I had been transferred from department to department continually and had never complained. There was no discrimination and it became clear in that meeting. After that meeting, things got back on a friendly basis because I didn’t hold a grudge. Shortly thereafter, one of the girls who caused the problem was fired for selling criminal records.

I worked a temp to perm job for a very difficult African American woman. She supervised six white Insurance Agents who had their own agency offices. She referred to them as “my white boys.” When I could no longer put up with her crude and rudeness, I quit though she begged me to stay. She made me uncomfortable by complimenting my looks in a creepy manner. An African American woman who had previously worked for her called me one day and wanted me to help her on her reverse discrimination suit. I declined. The agency had placed temp after temp in this woman’s office because no one would stay but I didn’t want the drama. I could have reported her for her racist remarks but I just wanted out.

These are prime examples of bullying yet I never recognized it as such until now. I saw it as being the target of anger for a past I had no part in. It is possible that these bullies were influenced by anger passed down from generation to generation and I did feel the fear that their forebears felt at being bullied by white slave lords. However, what purpose did any of it serve? It just repeated the same dance in reverse and did not solve anything for either side.

What I am learning today is that I cannot blame an entire race for the actions of some just as I am tired of being blamed for something I was not responsible for. We all just need to stop and do some deep reflection. We are allowing ourselves to be influenced by the hate groups and the support of their actions by the media putting it in our faces over and over again.

What if we just turned off our televisions in protest of being fed negativity hour after hour, day after day? What if  we stop looking at social media for a few days and depend on our own reflections? Its not like we haven’t seen enough to know what is out there. We are all being manipulated! Lets just stand up for ourselves and say, “Enough” at least for now and let things calm down.

PEACE AND LOVE

 

 

Anti-Depressants and Psychotherapy

I have had people tell me that they do not want to take anti-depressant medication because it will cause them to be unable to cry. I would suggest that anyone who has this experience should check with their doctors or get honest with themselves. I have been on anti-depressants for many, many years and I have no problem crying when emotion calls for it yet I do not cry constantly with no clearly discernible reason as often happens with untreated depression.

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Many people do not understand that depression is not always situational. There are those of us who have a chemical imbalance that brings about depressive  symptoms. When depression is situational, most people are able to stop therapy or taking anti-depressants after the situation comes to a resolution or they come to terms with the outcome of the situation. However, please be aware that getting off anti-depressants is not something that should be done without the guidance of a medical doctor, psychotherapist or psychiatrist who will instruct the patient in the best way to taper off the medication.

I have a friend who refused to take anti-depressants because she didn’t like the way they made her feel. I spent time with her after our not seeing each other for a while and she was like a different person. She was happy, positive and upbeat images.duckduckgo.com because her doctor put her on an anti-depressant that worked for her. My sister has gone off her anti-depressants from time to time because she is very health conscious and didn’t want to take pills. She has gone back on them every time because if you need them, you need them. Unfortunately, there are times that a person has to try several different anti-depressants until the right one for them is found. It is understandable that one would get frustrated and want to give up but when the right medication is found, it is worth the necessary journey. There are anti-depressants that I cannot take because I metabolize medications slowly or because they aren’t a good fit for one reason or another. The medication my friend has found that works so well for her is one that I cannot take. I have had it prescribed and/or suggested by doctors because it would seem to be the perfect medication for me but it has the undesired of inhibiting my focus.

Another thing about anti-depressants not always understood is that it is sometimes beneficial to change to a different brand or strength after a period of time. I have changed several times over the years because there is a more current, more effective or more beneficial drug or strength for me.

I have tortured my mother all my life by trying to get answers or justifications.

There seems to be a stigma about psychotherapy just as there is about anti-depressants. That stigma can be quite dangerous because depression can14867860-broken-heart-carried-on-a-stretcher-by-box-men destroy not only one’s quality of life but can destroy one’s life itself. I have also heard that some will stop psychotherapy because there comes a point when they cannot stop crying. This is a valid point because emotions that have been stuffed inside or ignored are released by talking through experiences or opening up about thoughts and/or needs. This phenomena is referred to as “getting your feelings” and is an important point in therapy. Rather than being something to be avoided, it is a desired effect of therapy.

Anti-depressants are so widely prescribed these days that some researchers think that the symptoms could be caused by poor diet, lack of sleep or evolving changes in the environment. I believe those could be valid causes as I also  believe that the tendency to have depression can be passed down from generation to generation as mine seems to have been. In Ala-non, we learn that when you have a sudden and/or temporary change in mood or experience depression-like symptoms, you might ask yourself if you are hungry, lonely or tired. I have found that any one of these three conditions will cause me to experience a temporary anger or depression.

If you are hesitant to seek treatment for your depression, I encourage you to re-visit your decision by doing research and having a discussion with a physician or psychiatrist. You may be in serious trouble long before the realization hits you or even worse, it may not hit you until it is too late.

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Grief

14867860-broken-heart-carried-on-a-stretcher-by-box-menI don’t think many realize that grief is not just about the loss of a person to death. There are many types of losses and each loss is as important as the next. The most difficult losses for me are the loss of a relationship or of a dream. I don’t know about you but in my earlier years I thought it would be easier to lose a love to death than to lose them in life. To lose someone who is still living, you know that they are still out there living their life without you and it not only hurts but it can give you a sense of desperation.

In order to truly accept a loss, we must grieve. If you do not grieve, you will keep running from the feelings and someday, somewhere you will blow up and wonder where your reaction came from. It is referred to as “coming out sideways”. “Coming out sideways” is when your reaction to a situation is actually due to emotions left over from a past situation that have not been dealt with. When you don’t grieve each loss, the emotions build up until you can no longer contain them and they have to come out somewhere.

Grief is not fun so we often try to avoid it by putting our attention to other things or any other thing. In crisis counseling, many callers had a situation they had not grieved. It could have been the loss of a job, a friendship, a home but whatever it was, they would admit that it had an impact on their lives and left unresolved emotions. Each person grieves in their own way but there is a model that grief typically follows and it is referred to as The Seven Stages of Grief and are as follows:

SHOCK & DENIAL-
You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. YouTetsu420full798969 may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.

PAIN & GUILT-
As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable 2592pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.

You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn’t do with your  loved one. Life feels  chaotic and scary during this phase.

“DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS-
Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, aI am O.K. today.

long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

ANGER & BARGAINING-
Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for 7822968-gay-couplethe death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.

 

THE UPWARD TURN-
As you start to adjust to live without your dear one, your life becomes a images.duckduckgo.comlittle calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your “depression” begins to lift slightly.

 

 

RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-
As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you stock-photo-young-blonde-needlewoman-fitting-dress-on-dummy-248408176will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.

ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-
During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to12358046-vector-illustration-of-justice-scales accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.

You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.

Recover from Grief.com

Though this version of the model covers loss through death, it can be applied to any type of loss. When you experience an anger or depression for which the reason cannot be pinpointed, ask yourself “What is missing?” and/or “What has changed?”. You may have to think back in time but there will more than likely be some feeling that you have been avoiding or running away from.

Rather than thinking of crying as being a weakness or self pity, see it as cleansing. Crying is a release of pent up emotion and is healthy.

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Infidelity Part Three

While I would like to make excuses for them, their actions affected my life. When I look at my early adulthood, I know that I also grabbed excitement over good judgment. I can blame my parents lack of boundaries and disregard for their moral upbringing as setting a poor example for me to follow. I could say that their parents were too strict so that the taste of freedom was overpowering. But what of me, I knew right from wrong no matter how I try to spin it. My parents were not strict and they always allowed us to voice our beliefs and position in any given situation. Infidelity on my part has not been one of my transgressions but what of my other transgressions? As long as I know right from wrong, I have to take responsibility for my mistakes. However, I strive to remember that though I make mistakes, I am not a mistake.

The thing is, these people were not down in the dirt, classless people. Too many people believe that to cheat you have to be low class, to be an alcoholic you have to be non-productive and passing out in the gutter, to be an domestic violence abuser you have to be a blue collar worker. Bullshit. Regardless, this was a most embarrassing and painful time in my life and when I learned to emotionally detach in order not to feel. I have been cheated on and I was so detached that I am not sure I even cared. Perhaps I didn’t care enough about the person but I think it was more “love or a relationship at all cost”. When I had enough I just walked away and looked forward to a new start, not letting myself feel anything. You see, anyone who cheated on me believed that I would always be there when they were through “sport fucking”. I could tell  you that they didn’t care about me but that would not be true, they always wanted me to be there when they wanted more than just a “lay”.  I would make myself stay until I was sure I wouldn’t go back. I tortured myself in order to see the ugly truth. If it happened to me today after learning a lot about how I got to be the way I am, I would be destroyed emotionally but I would walk away because I deserve better.

 

 

Infidelity Part Two

When I was in my late twenties, my father went through what I would have to call “the middle-age crazies”. There was a young girl who was living with an older man in the neighborhood. My dad hired her to do some work for him in his remodeling business. She claimed her significant other was abusing her so my dad talked my mother into letting her stay with them. My dad started to stay up talking with this girl late into the night. The thing about my dad was, like me, he was very friendly and never met a stranger. We all thought he was so innocent that he didn’t realize how things looked to the rest of the world. I cannot tell you now how innocent he was or wasn’t, not after this incident. But let me give you an example: My mom came home from an out-of-town convention. She rode with some members and co-workers so when they brought her home, they came in to say hello to my dad. There was this early twenties girl having a drink and my dad was in the shower. As the story goes, my dad picked up this girl hitch-hiking and agreed to take her to the next town that was about 20 minutes away. He told her that his wife was on her way home so he needed to wait until she got there and they would both take her. He brought her to the house and fixed her a drink and went to take a shower. My mother believed this story because Dad always appeared to be so naïve and goodhearted.

My dad continued to commiserate with this young woman night after night regardless of my mother’s anger, she told him that the girl had to go. She went and my dad went with her saying that they were in love and eventually even saying they were going to have more children. OMG! My brother and I tried to talk sense into him but he was insulted that we didn’t think a young girl could be in love with him. He was offended that we were siding with my mother and wanted nothing to do with this girl, after what my mother had done to him. I was very emotional over their impending divorce. My mother was actually distraught and her drinking escalated. I received many drunken crying calls until I started ending the call as soon as I discovered she was drunk. You can’t reason with a drunk. During this time, my mother showed more emotion than I had ever known her to have.

Mom found out that the girl had a hysterectomy and couldn’t even have children. Mom tried to talk to my dad about it but he wouldn’t believe her. She talked to the girl and she told my mom that “they” didn’t want my parents’ home that “they” only wanted his business. My mom told her that she had better not hurt my dad. That was when I discovered that my mother was all about unconditional love. She insisted that my aunt, my mom and I go visit my dad at his apartment one night. The girl had split by then after finding out that my dad didn’t have any money. Somehow my dad ended up coming back to my parent’s  house for the night. Now I know that this part is crazy but as I told you, I was emotionally stunted. I actually cried because my mother wouldn’t let my dad sleep in their bed. I felt really sorry for him. My mom had to talk me down, it was ridiculous but I can still remember how it felt.

My dad and mom reconciled and were very close. They finally realized that neither of them wanted anyone else to be parent to their children or grandparent to their grandchildren. Dad had a major heart attack and mom spent every moment she could with him, even staying with him at the hospital and driving to work an hour and a half away. She took care of him and they were happy until he died.

Continued Part Three

Infidelity

My parents were avid members of the Church of Christ when I was very young. They did not drink but I have almost no memory of those days most likely due to the molestations. I blocked out much of my early childhood due to having been molested by my grandfather and a babysitting church member as well as having been prompted in sexual acts by a neighborhood teenage boy. I only mention the molestation as it relates to the lack of memory

As I have written before, my parents started hanging around with people a group of young couples that like them had stable family lives. That is, until they were romanced by the feeling of freedom that alcohol gave them. I could see my parents becoming wilder with every get-together. They were functional but spent a lot of time with these friends, two of which died tragically. While I grew to hate (strong word that I normally don’t use) the two men, I loved and love the two women. I am not going to get into the details of that scene but if you are interested, read my post “Dramatic Exits”. Suffice it to say that I was confused at the change in my parents’ behavior.

My father was an industrial painter/sandblaster and he traveled. If the company paid for his lodging, we went too and sometimes my mother would leave us behind and go be with my father over a weekend. I had separation anxiety so I hated it when my mother was away. I was known to cry when she was leaving and she would end up taking me with her. I still have separation anxiety but that is a whole other subject.

When I was around 9, we lived briefly out of state where my dad was working. My mom, siblings and I went to Texas for a holiday and were staying with this neighbor and his wife. They put all of us kids to bed and went to a New Year’s Eve party in the neighborhood. Being my vigilant self, I stayed awake in self-protective mode. I became aware that mom and this neighbor had come into the house and were arguing. According to him, my mother was flirting with one of the neighbors who was married and he was lecturing her. Mom had come back to the house because she was determined to leave and go spend the night at her mother’s house. She was going to leave us at the neighbor’s house. I started to cry so mom took me with her. When we got to my grandmother’s house, she and my grandmother argued about my mother screwing up and running home to mama. When we got to another couple’s house where my siblings ended up, mom stayed in the house leaving me in the car for a long time. Eventually she came out and it was obvious that all was forgiven and we headed back to my dad. When we got back to my Dad, my mom left the house and my Dad went looking for her. When they got back, I heard them arguing and the name of a man my father worked with was mentioned. At the time, I thought my mother cheated on my dad with this co-worker of my dad’s. When I left  my ex-husband after he gave me a black eye, my mother told me that she had found a woman’s panties somewhere behind the house. She says that my Dad and his co-worker had two women to our house. She said he was the first to cheat. Because it was my mother’s way not to say anything negative about my dad to us or to allow us to speak negatively about him, she allowed him to expose her infidelity to us but never told us that he was the first to cheat. We moved back to Texas when Dad’s contract was up.

As relationships developed, I became aware of some pretty ugly stuff. One of the men, our next-door neighbor, beat my mother at a hotel where she was supposedly attending a business meeting. I don’t know the truth of the situation but her story is that he followed her there because he thought she was having an affair and beat her up. The story doesn’t make sense and I think it is probable that my mother was indeed having an affair. My memory of that night is spotty as is typical of my early memories  When my dad came home we three kids were in bed. My mother was crying and I heard her telling him what happened. My dad went over to their house, through the garage and into their back door. Our three bedroom house was fairly small and the houses in the neighborhood were close that I could hear the scuffle. I can’t tell you how that ended but I can tell you my dad had a quick temper. My parents and that couple did not speak for a long time until their young son who was close to my mother, came over and told mom that his mother wanted her to come over and have coffee. It was a ruse on his part but that started the forgiveness process. I still can’t believe that my parents would forgive what happened.

Later, we ended up moving because my parents felt that the man was too intrusive. Once, he called our house and told my father that my mom was having an affair; he had been spying on her. I was on the other end of the line eavesdropping. As I have said before, I was and am hyper-vigilant, you can see why. I wish I could tell you that eventually the relationship between these people and my parents ended but though it has waned and they rarely see each other, my mother still visits with them periodically. My mother says I should forgive this man because it was all blamed on alcohol but he is one person that I cannot be around, he has always made me feel uncomfortable.

As a preteen, I spent the night with my aunt and her niece once and we were talking girl talk. I told them that this man raped my mother because that is what I believed. Needless to say, she told my uncle who was my mother’s brother and he told my parents. I had a “talking to” about telling family business or some such thing but I am not sure that anything was explained to me at that time. That may be when I was told that he was the reason we moved.

My parents graduated to joining the Elk’s Club and hanging with other partying couples so things started to get worse. By then, my mother had worked at several jobs and was working in retail. She got her jobs by knowing people since we lived in a small town. She worked late hours in a nearby town so I became surrogate parent and wife (not sexually). My dad took me to the store where I bought groceries. I cooked his breakfast, made his lunches, ironed his clothes, my sister and I cleaned house, and I cooked family meals, if you could call them meals. I was not in an abusive situation but I was resentful. As my mother’s emotional distance with my dad and her drinking escalated, he would talk to me about his suspicions that she was being unfaithful. I hated it! I didn’t want adult responsibilities and confidences, I wanted the innocence I could never remember having. I wanted the parents I never remembered having. I wanted them to want to know that I wasn’t o.k., to ask how school was, what was happening in my life, why did I miss so much school but they were so caught up in their own growing up that my siblings and I were being left behind. Thank God, the parents of my best friend who lived in the same neighborhood treated me as one of their own and my parents treated her as one of their own so I had some guidance. Eventually, my dad caught my mother with another man and came home and told my siblings and me all the details. I can’t believe that when my mother came home, she was unhappy with him but as I remember, we still went to our lake house for the weekend, so confusing. As the arguments progressed, my father left and went to stay with his mother. Mom was out a lot and when she came home was usually drunk. My dad tried to talk us into going to live with him at my grandmother’s house and we felt guilty because we were very attached to our mother and didn’t want to leave our home. I repeated that same loyalty with my abusive ex-husband.

My dad ended up in a hospital with tuberculosis he contracted from a co-worker. He was in the hospital for several months and supposedly he and my mother reconciled. However, her children knew that she was still cheating on him. My mother has admitted to me that she prostituted herself. I was told later by my sister-in-law that Mom had sex in return for alcohol. She actually introduced us to a man she was having an affair with and we were very uncomfortable. My dad says the man eventually “dumped her”. While he was in the hospital, my dad called me at the teen club to ask where my mother was. I was embarrassed and resentful. Before he went into the hospital, he told me that my mother couldn’t love me or she wouldn’t be neglecting me as she was because Mom hadn’t picked us up from the swimming pool. Dad later denied to my mother ever having said this; my own father called me a liar. I know that my mother loved me but she was not present in the lives of my siblings and I. She came into my room while I was in bed one night and kissed me on the forehead and said, “Goodbye”. According to my brother, she had been out with the guy she was having an affair with and apparently decided to leave us . She didn’t and I’m assuming she realized that emotionally she could not leave her children. I am unsure as to what her thought process was but she didn’t leave. That she didn’t leave does not remove the feeling of abandonment but I suppose in a way, she had left a long time before that.

I felt suffocated, so suffocated by my father! So much so that when he came home from the hospital and I was at home sick (again), I cried when he walked through the door. He thought I was crying because I was happy to see him but it was just the opposite. I resented his coming home because I felt burdened. He even laid down in my sister’s twin bed in order to spend time with me. I know how this sounds but I wanted to scream. I know that I should have felt sympathy and been glad he was out of the hospital but I was emotionally smothered. Perhaps as I look at it now, his presence forced me to acknowledge my own feelings that I was stuffing or ignoring about what was going on with my mother.

My emotional growth and maturity was stunted at that time, age 15. I couldn’t cry for a year. The next time I cried was when my parents talked divorce one night while the three of us were on our way out to dinner. It was the first time I spoke out. I told them how stupid they were being and that there had to be something that brought and held them together. I was 16 at that time. I wish I could tell you that the cheating stopped but it continued well into my adulthood.

Mom was quite a flirt especially when she was drinking and it was an embarrassment. My dad would just laugh and say, “That girl!” She would act my age when my friends were around so they thought she was cool but I wanted a real mother.

My dad’s friends, who I suspect were his friends to have an excuse the be around her, would come by our house unexpectedly when my dad was not at home. We lived off the beaten path so were they “just in the neighborhood”? as they proclaimed?  I think not! My sister and I would sit in the room with them as baby-sitters so that my mom could not have sex with them. No, she wouldn’t do that with us in the house but we were still vigilant. Oddly, my sister and I never knew that we were both doing the babysitting thing until we were adults.

Continued Part Two

 

CONTROL😬

Control is an illusion. When we most believe we are in control of a situation, we are actually out of control.

I believe the driving force of the need to control is fear. An acronym for fear is “False Events Appearing Real”. We fear what will happen if we let go and let life happen. I have found that when I let go of trying to control the world around me, my life is fuller and a lot more peaceful. When I keep the focus on myself, my relationships are better and I am less anxious. It is not an easy thing to do, letting go, especially when the need to control life around us was developed out of necessity to help us survive physically, mentally or emotionally. It’s hard to tell ourselves that part of our lives is over and there is no longer a need for what is sometimes called “white knuckling” (holding on so tight that your knuckles turn white). Like an addiction, letting go has to be done one minute at a time because the need for control touches every area of our lives. Try asking yourself in each situation:

  • “What am I afraid will happen?”
  • “Is my fear really logical?”
  • “What am I running away from?”
  • “What am I hiding from?”
  • “What will happen if I don’t try to control this situation?”
  • “Am I helping or hurting?”
  • Is this my business?

I struggle with control issues. In the past, I could spot them in others but didn’t see them in myself until I realized that I have a need to control what others think of me. When I came to that realization, I began to look at possibilities in other areas of my life. I see it in my writing, the need to give every detail of every situation in order to ensure that the reader perceives what I have written as I believe they should. I cannot control what someone takes away from my writing just as I cannot control what people think of me. Every person is made up of life experiences and they have developed their individual beliefs, interests and opinions. Still it is difficult to let go of the illusion.

I feel that I have to make excuses or give reasons for any thing I say and/or do so that I can control how it is received. I try to make others understand why I am the way I am. It may be acceptable in this venue because we are all striving to learn from and support each other but it doesn’t work in my everyday life. My new goal is to accept myself as I am and stop worrying about what other people think of me because I cannot control their perception of me in any way. We have a saying in Ala-non, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” It took me a while to make sense of this saying but that was because I didn’t get the concept behind it. Yet, when I look at it as meaning as, “I cannot control what others think of me” the meaning is clear.

If you believe in God, the concept of “letting go” is simply “Let God and Let God.” Letting go is learning to trust that things will work as they are meant to. I have a friend who has a sticky note on her mirror that says, “(her name), Thanks but I don’t need your help today, Love, God.” Another tool that some of my friends use is a God Box. When something is worrying you, write it on a piece of paper and put it in your God Box. Once you have placed the problem in his hands, let go of it. This will only work if you let go of the situation. I have a tendency to turn it over then take it back, turn it over, then take it back like a Yo Yo.

God doesn’t expect us to let go of the steering wheel. For example, we can’t say, “I can’t pay my bills God, you take over” and sit back and wait. He expects us to use the knowledge and tools we have to solve problems to the best of our ability. If you are not a believer, the concept of letting go still works. When we try to control a situation, we usually end up making the situation worse, so just let go.

The burden of trying to control everything around us is stressful and exhausting and it’s not our job. What would life be like if we just put that burden down and put that energy into something more positive? Would it feel like freedom?

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