Being Present: Self-care for Survivors

Being Present: Self-care for Survivors

i Jan 21st No Comments by

If you are a survivor, you know the feeling. You are just sitting there and notice your switch is turned on—and not in a good way. Being activated (or triggered) means something pushed a button and you’re taken back to your trauma, or you might feel kind of numb, maybe your brain won’t stop going.

Being activated is common for survivors. I think of being activated as a source of information about our bodies, a pain at times, but part of being human.

After my friend was sexually assaulted, I was reminded of my own trauma, and had a lot of feelings. My therapist taught me about self-care and I made a mini-‘zine for my friend about the topic, which you can download for free here: Violet Defiant’s self-care zine issue #1

Feel free to print and share!

Firecracker is the kind of person who has one million ideas, and knows how to follow through. This is how the self-care drive for The Firecracker Foundation came up. We’re asking the community to bring self-care items to the box at NEO Center between January – March.

Self-care is important to help survivors of trauma feel like we know how to be in our bodies. As a form of community care, we will collect useful items and tidbits about self-care for the next few months. The items you donate will make a direct impact on a group of individuals who have survived sexual trauma in childhood.

I agreed to take organizing the project on, so please contact me at katie@thefirecrackerfoundation.org if you have any questions.

Until then, here are some tips I’ve been gifted along the way on being present. When learning to be present, you might try some simple grounding techniques:

Taking a full, deep breath.

Planting your feet square on the ground.

Reminding yourself of who you are, where you come from, where you’re going.

Getting out, even if to a public place where you can be alone around others.

Meeting up with a friend.

Having the privilege of a good therapist to validate your feelings of grief, or rage, shame, or unbelonging…

Putting your hand on your heart is known to have a calming neurological benefit.

Writing it out. Stretching it out. Keeping a schedule.

Laughing, in a hard, genuine way, until you make the face you do when you laugh, face all scrunched up.

Telling yourself you are here. You are real. You are fierce and irreducible.*

*Firecracker’s personal favorite.

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Kathleen Livingston is the co-chair of the Advocacy Committee and a community organizer at the Firecracker Foundation. She is writing a collection of nonfiction essays on consent. One is on consent as self-care and community care.

A survivor says thank you.

i Jan 6th No Comments by

Dear ones,

I fully intended to begin this year with a message of gratitude about your giving.

In 2014, you gave big and you responded beautifully.

You did.

The proof is in every minute of a wildly successful and inspirational year.

However, something came across my desk today that I think you need to see.

A letter. Unsolicited and filled with kind words.

Take a moment and read what you’ve done. Are you ready?

Dear Tashmica,

Thank you for all you do for others, but in this instance for what you did for me.

I attended Soulfire and found myself hit in the stomach as I read someone’s story…at the words “I believe you”.

I have long felt something happened to me as a young child, that I told someone, and that they did not believe me.

I have had incidents over the years where feelings have reared their ugly heads but I did not have a specific memory of the event(s?), so I did not feel worthy of bringing it up (also, a therapist once didn’t believe me).

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Photo credit: Luke Anthony Photography

Your event was so very nurturing and I felt safe enough that emotions poured from me afterword. I scheduled an appointment with a different therapist…this time a great one. Maxine Thome (in case you need to refer adults) has helped me face my demon, though I may never know what it looked like. At this point, I no longer care.

Just knowing I have been trusted with my truth, that my experiences add up, that my siblings are now supportive, and that I have a solid resource if I were to need help along the way, has been freeing and healing.

I have been carrying this weight for probably close to 60 years. It’s never too late to get better, but it sure makes me want to help you reach these kids early.

I honor you and the work you are doing. Thank you for helping me on my path to wellness.

Wholeheartedly,

Anonymous*

You need to know the impact you’re making in your community in real time. 

Thank you for creating a community where survivors of any age feel nurtured, supported and believed.

I promise to update you on your year end goals soon. For now, enjoy this goodness.

Sincerely,

Firecracker Sig


*I called and over tea asked for permission to share this message with you. In an effort to help others, this individual obliged. I am grateful.