Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holidays - Tough for Victims and Survivors

Hello friends...

It's been a while since I last blogged, but it's super great to blog again.

We are in the middle of a tough holiday season for many who are victims and survivors of violent crime.

I know several individuals who have suffered tragically, some recent and some with distant memories, but to them it seems like yesterday. Events haunt them still today.

For me, not having my mother and brother around for the holidays is difficult. Honestly, words cannot describe the loss I feel, but if I had to put it into words for others to understand, I would simply say, I cope with reoccuring thoughts and emotions. While I cannot change what happened, I can change my reaction to it.

The holiday season can trigger immense feelings and pressure. Birthdays, anniversary of deaths, wedding anniversaries and other important dates remind us sometimes of the amazing times we shared with our loved ones. These feelings range from depression and sadness to feelings of loss and anger. We also can feel grateful, happy and relieved, but I assure you that it is a roller coaster and not one emotion spared.

To cope with my loss during this holiday season, I stood outside today, breathing Edinburgh, Scotland's fresh air while looking out onto Princes Street Gardens, just beneat the Edinburgh Castle. Being in a special place helped me to appreciate the wonderful gift of life. Earlier in the day, I wasn't so happy though. Leading up to my visit to Scotland's museums on Princes Street, I felt sadness and an overwhelming feeling. It felt like I was all alone and quite isolated. I was by myself and with no mobile phone to call anyone. So, I had to rely on my coping ability to kick in.

Before kicking in though, I reflected on a time in my life when life wasn't so great. I thought about the times when suicide was the first thought inside my head. I remember how difficult life was then and I knew I did not want to return to that moment in time. Thank God and many family, friends and strangers who helped me get through those tough times because with their help, I got through. Now, my support systems are strong. I get through easier, but times are still difficult.

Remarkably, I have learned amazing coping skills to deal with my emotions. I breathe deeply, meditate, keep busy and engaged in many activities that give me great rewards. I read, write, watch movies, think about happy times, travel, talk with friends and go out on the town. These are just some of the things that help me cope. Also, I think about the less fortunate who do not have an opportunity like me to use their coping mechanisms.

These individuals can be found on our streets, in abusive homes, at war, held hostage, kidnapped, held against their will, sexually trafficked and other places where their survival is the ultimate challenge. The holiday season for many of these individuals is unbearable.

There is a way to deal with the problem of troubling holiday loss and grief though. There is help and there are ways to pump yourself back up.

Take a moment to simply breathe. Be in the moment. Breathing relaxes you and slows down your heart rate. Taking things one second or moment at a time puts you in place to be able to deal adequately with the next moment. I believe that we would not exist without the breath and if we value it, we may be able to understand how it helps us. I used the YES course as a way to help me cope with stress and my overwhelming feelings. You can find these courses at The Art of Living Foundation teaches you how to find the inner peace you desperately search for through controlled breathing. I found my inner peace and I continue to enhance my life by breathing and meditating.

If you do not like meditating or breathing, talk to someone else about your issues or write about them privately. Sharing your feelings and issues will release you from feeling isolated. Bounce your feelings off someone you trust, you may find that you are not the only one to be suffering from the holiday 'blues'.

Remember, we all need each other to survive. Whether you are a victim, survivor, or know someone who is coping with loss reaching out this holiday season is a must. Save your life or save someone elses. I feel much better since I reached out to my support system.

I wish you all a happy holiday season.

Til next time...

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