Tuesday Talk: (Mental) Independence Day

It's July 4th. Independence Day. This is the day Americans light fireworks and have barbecues and picnics. It's the day we fly our flags proudly, drink too many beers, and load up on hot dogs. Or at least, that's what it looks like to people who don't feel quite the same way about it as I do.

But for me - and for many Americans living with PTSD just like me - Independence Day is a celebration with symbolism unlike any other.

Independence Day is knowing that the man who made a point of sabotaging everything about you that made you feel valuable is nothing more than a scared, helpless child, clinging to whatever semblance of power he can find to make himself feel better. Even if the echoes of his words and actions still darken the colors of life's pages, independence is knowing that his skewed opinions are based on his own damaged self-worth, and that it's his own uselessness that drives his desperation to appear head and shoulders above everyone else. (Or maybe he's got a touch of NPD. Ahem. Just saying.)

Independence Day is recognizing the untruth in the words of someone threatened by the "bigness" of others because she cannot see her own - even when those words leave an undeniable scar in the deepest parts of your soul. It's taking that scar and pressing it, learning to use the pain to stay awake, and the burn of the injury to flame a fire that cannot be ignored.

Independence Day is letting go what cannot be good for you, cutting away and debriding the rotten stench of a toxic relationship, regardless of its familial nature. It's digging deep and finding the courage to walk away, even if every step is a challenge and the little girl in your heart wants nothing more at times than to return to the embrace of the familiar.

Independence Day is knowing that the man who threatened to kill you when you were 20 years old has no real power, courage, or value in your life - even if his ghost is still standing around every corner. It's knowing - and embracing - the fact that your survival is what fosters the very strength and resilience required to build and maintain the kind of "bigness" that small people find terrifying.

Independence Day is knowing that the truth is, monsters are real, and that sometimes, they are in the closet, or under the bed ... that sometimes, they are waiting to get you, they are lurking in the darkness, that they are evil and soulless and the very embodiment of all the things that make this world sometimes look so utterly, unbearably, unbelievably vile. It's knowing that you walked away from the monsters that haunted you as a child, that you survived their best efforts to wreck and maim, that you learned to get by, to crawl around the barriers of their presence. It's looking back and knowing that you outlived a demon.

For me, sometimes it's knowing that somewhere in Lake County, Florida, the specter of some of my worst torment is now covered in six feet of the earth's delicious crust, waiting to be slowly absorbed and taken back into the dirt he could never hope to be worthy of.

For proud patriotic Americans, the fourth of July is about standing up to the tyranny of the countries that, together, created the drive to make this land what it is today. It's about declaring our new country capable of making it beyond the separation from the parentage of the countries that made us what we are.

But for many Americans, for those who struggle a little harder to maintain their own semblance of mental health and wellness, there's another layer - a layer upon which "independence" has a whole other meaning, a whole other purpose. A whole other drive to keep going, to keep trying, to keep striving, to keep living. To heal, to grow, to create. To remain undaunted. And yes, in time, to succeed.

But first and foremost, apart from the symbolism and the individual meaning we can all inject into the meat of what "independence" means to us as people, Independence Day for this country boils down to one simple concept - celebrating instead of fearing the need for new beginnings, and admiring instead of admonishing the courage required to embark on them. Happy Birthday, America. Your beauty and your strength remind me every day to appreciate everything determination can accomplish, and your grit and resilience inspire me to get up every day wearing my American pride with the grace and dignity it deserves.

In my last post I featured my favorite pens, so it's only right that today's "Featured Favorite Product" is another one of my "undaunted" tools - these 7"x5" mini composition books I love using for pretty much everything. Journaling is a big deal for me - not only because it helps me unload my thoughts and straighten out the things that bother me, but because it allows me the freedom of not worrying constantly about forgetting things that might be important (one of the worst plaguing symptoms of life with PTSD). My memory issues are well-known in my circle, and it's not uncommon at all for me to forget deadlines, appointments, dates and times, information, anniversaries, etc.

Unless I have one of these bad boys handy. I literally use them for everything - planning, listing, reminders, brain dumps. Everything. I always have one of these little notebooks in my purse, in the drawer beside my bed, in my car - and I make a point to use and check them regularly. They're how I keep my life mostly running, how I keep myself feeling as organized as possible, and the single most important tool in my productivity arsenal.

Plus, they're affordable and compact, and they're attractive enough to love using without being too attractive to use. Then you tell me that I can get stock up and get three of them for just $15? I mean really, they're unbeatable.

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  1. So vulnerable and honest! I never thought of today that way but now will never forget it. As far as the notebooks...that's how I live too! Not for journalin' but for every day life as I'd be lost without them. Some are lists, names and phone numbers, to do lists, stories ideas and names, etc. They are a great resource and I'm glad I'm not the only one that has them stashed everywhere!!! lol. I know someone who could really use your post today so I'm sharing it with her. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, I'm glad it struck a chord with someone, and I hope the person you shared this post with liked it as well. #notebookbuddies

  2. Wow. What a great post. I am seeking my independence in two different ways so I really appreciated
    this post. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I'm glad you like the post, and I hope by next Independence Day, you're celebrating!


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