Tuesday, September 27, 2022

I understood what it was like to discover I wasn't alone


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 26, 2022

I had a therapy appointment this morning and was talking about the research on random acts of kindness. This part of the article is the one that I am dealing with the most.
“People tend to think that what they are giving is kind of little, maybe it’s relatively inconsequential,” Dr. Kumar said. “But recipients are less likely to think along those lines. They consider the gesture to be significantly more meaningful because they are also thinking about the fact that someone did something nice for them.”
It was very easy for me to help other people. It was devastating to discover that other people had a hard time wanting to help me. I am grieving the loss of one of my best friends, my rock and biggest supporter. Gunny passed away in January. The months following got harder and harder and I knew I needed help again. I lost someone that did a lot of nice things for me. 

During my appointment, I talked about how I feel grateful for people in my life but the thing is, they can't understand what I do helping people with PTSD. They can't understand the books I'm writing and most of them don't even want to read them because they aren't interested in anything tied to mental health, even works of fiction. Gunny not only understood all of it, but he also read everything I wrote. He even corrected my typos and let me bounce things off of him when I wasn't sure if I was on the right track or off the rails.

Anyway, back to the article so you can understand the rest of what I want to say better.
The Unexpected Power of Random Acts of Kindness
New York Times
By Catherine Pears
on Sept. 2, 2022

In late August, Erin Alexander, 57, sat in the parking lot of a Target store in Fairfield, Calif., and wept. Her sister-in-law had recently died, and Ms. Alexander was having a hard day.

A barista working at the Starbucks inside the Target was too. The espresso machine had broken down and she was clearly stressed. Ms. Alexander — who’d stopped crying and gone inside for some caffeine — smiled, ordered an iced green tea, and told her to hang in there. After picking up her order, she noticed a message on the cup: “Erin,” the barista had scrawled next to a heart, “your soul is golden.”

“I’m not sure I even necessarily know what ‘your soul is golden’ means,” said Ms. Alexander, who laughed and cried while recalling the incident.

But the warmth of that small and unexpected gesture, from a stranger who had no inkling of what she was going through, moved her deeply. read more here

For 40 years, I helped people because I knew what darkness was like. I knew everything surviving could do to them and why it did it. Above all else, I understood what it was like to discover I wasn't alone, to read what experts discovered long before I even heard the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In other words, I knew what it was like to come out of the darkness of it and into the light of healing from it.

When I helped other people, it helped me heal myself. I felt a sense of being worth something in this world.  Writing the third part of The Lost Son Series, I felt more connected to the darkness of the story than to the light in it. Words of suffering stung and words of comfort began to feel like empty words people use to make themselves feel more comfortable discussing uncomfortable topics. Part one, The Lost Son Alive Again, and part two, Stranger Angels Among Us were leading up to the part I'm working on now and were supposed to be the most empowering of all of them. It got so bad for me that I knew I needed to go back into therapy again to help me heal from losing Gunny.

So far, I am starting to feel more connected to the circumstances of hope and empowerment than to the suffering and heartache. I told my therapist that all I can do for people is help the understand what PTSD is, help them spiritually so they don't think God did it to them, and then, send them to experts in mental theft trained to help them. I'd love to be able to wave a magic wand and take away all their heartaches but I can't. All I can do is help clear the way for they can begin to find what they need.

I also told my therapist a couple of weeks ago that I dreaded getting an email or phone call from someone looking for help from me because I was so drained, I had nothing left to give. Over the weekend, someone needed my help and I was able to give it. So, not only is my therapist helping me, she helped me get to a place where I could help someone else again. I'm not healed enough yet to be posting all the time online again, but I'm getting there!

Next time you have a chance to do something for someone else, no matter how small you think it is, remember my story and know that while you may think what you do isn't such a big deal, it may be the thing someone else needs at the time you do it.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Still healing


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 19, 2022

It is still hard to think about being able to offer hope to anyone trying to heal, but I think that is what is needed right now. The political divide is like a thorn in my soul because of all the people I once called friends. I love a good debate, but I love the truth more. I have always been more like a sheep in Matthew 25, than a goat.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Some of the people I thought were my friends turned out to be more like goats. My real friends are still there for me. I feel blessed to have them in my life. I am trying hard to focus on them and less on the goats. I still miss having Gunny in my life. That is the loss I am trying to heal from. He was the only one that understood what I do, and why I do it, as well as why I've done it for four decades. He was able to put politics aside, and so was I, because we valued everything else about one another. 

My therapist suggested I focus on the fact that how people treated me, says more about them than it does me. I hate having something I tell everyone else said to me, but I have to face it, sometimes that is exactly what we need to hear, even though we may not want to hear it. At the end of the day, we realize that we only have power over what we do and not what as done to us.

I am working on that and asking myself a lot of questions. I am looking back and asking what did someone do to me when I needed help before, as much as asking what they did for me before. It's a safe bet I won't be turning to those that hurt me before. Turning to them won't help fill the empty part Gunny left behind. Expecting my husband to do it won't get me anything but aggravated since he tries to listen but ends up trying to fix me instead. He does hug me when I cry about Gunny because he knew how close of a friend he was, plus he liked him too. (Ok, well he thought it was strange for a woman to have a close male friend until it dawned on him that the majority of my friends were male since I used to work with mostly men.)

Anyway, so far I managed to get through editing more of my new book and beginning to feel more connected to the hopeful parts of the story than just the dark parts. I am hoping this one will be more positive than the one I wrote after Gunny died. I went back and read the other one and it was more hopeful but it was also done when Gunny was still here.

So, if you are struggling and feeling as if the goats in your life hold more power over you than the sheep do, maybe it is time to take another look at them and see what they really are inside. Let that be your guide to a happier you. Don't expect them to change. If they treated you like crap before, they will probably do it again. If they cared about you before, they'll probably do it again too!


Thursday, September 15, 2022

Can you hug yourself?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 15, 2022

I am still on healing hiatus and going through therapy to work through the grief of losing one of my best friends. It's hard. What I'm learning is that while I have great compassion for others, I don't seem to have it for myself,

This became clear on my way home from one of the appointments. I am a hugger by nature. While thinking about what the therapist said, I realized I am unable to hug myself.


This site started to help veterans and families heal from trauma and expanded to include everyone else, like me, heal as survivors of trauma. It is, as it was, a way of changing the conversation of PTSD from "victim" to "survivor" with the power to determine the rest of your life on your terms and not what others do or how they treat you.

The first way to hug me is to use my compassion for others to express what I see in this country with our rights being taken away by the same people screaming about their rights and what they believe should have the power to remove them from them all others.

I think a great deal about how this all is like the Salem Witchcraft Trails. Too many do not know that because zealots decided what they believed was worthy of killing those who were different. What happened in Salem was the basis for the Bill Of Rights, insuring that what people believed was equally protected in the 1st Amendment.

Legal Legacy of the Salem Witch Trials
From the History Channel
On October 29, 1692, Phips dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer, a decision that marked the beginning of the end for the Salem witch trials. By May 1693, Phips had pardoned and released all those remaining in prison on witchcraft charges.

In the years to come, judges and juries (and even one of the main accusers) apologized for their roles in the trials. Then in 1711 Massachusetts passed legislation exonerating those executed as witches and paying restitution to their families.

Nearly a century after the crisis in Salem, during debate over ratification of the Constitution, anti-Federalist delegates (successfully) argued that the document needed a "Bill of Rights" to guard against the violation of individual citizens’ fundamental freedoms by the federal government.

Such arguments may have implicitly drawn strength from the negative example of the Salem witch trials, when accused witches were deprived of even the most basic rights they should have been granted under English common law.

I am a Chaplain and Christian, however, I no longer attend services. I listen to people on TV talking about what they believe as if any of it should be considered as speaking for all Christians. We are not all the same and do not believe the same, which is why there are so many different Christian denominations. We are all free to choose to belong to whatever group we want or not attend at all. Considering less than half of Americans attend any type of religious service at all, it is deplorable that Christian Nationalists want to rule over all.

These zealots attack people making personal medical decisions about their own bodies and removing their right to believe what they want. Some believe that human life begins at birth when God breathes life into the body and they become a living soul. Some believe that while the zealots claim to be pro-life, they prove they are simply pro-birth instead. They claim to be in membership of followers of Jesus, yet fail to do what He preached for the sake of the living.

What gives them the right to decide what other people have to believe? What gives them the right to think they are entitled to stand in judgment of anyone needing to make one of the most traumatic decisions about what is happening in their own bodies?

Do they have a right to believe what they want? In this country, absolutely. So does everyone else. Do they have a right to interpret the Bible in any way they want? Sure. So does everyone else. They fail to see that.

Do they have the right to say what they want? No doubt about it, but again, so does everyone else. Too many politicians claim that they are being silenced and their supporters feel the same way, however, they fail to see that everyone else has the right to disagree with them while they enjoy the right to say what they want and then complain about being silenced in the next sentence they utter.

I am appalled listening to some of the zealots and with some others, they make me laugh by how much they get totally wrong, but they have the right to be as uninformed as everyone else. Their supporters have the right to believe them or not. That's a wonderful thing because no matter if we like what they say or not, we all have the choice to listen to them, or not.

Going back to the need to hug yourself, while other people get things wrong, or think unlike you, that doesn't mean you need to stop liking yourself. It doesn't mean you have to stop speaking your mind just because some people won't hear you. If other people won't try to comfort you, you can comfort yourself. If you have no one to talk to that will understand what you need to say, then find a therapist or group. When you get to a time in your life when you realize you can't hug yourself, that's time for you to take a look at all you have to give others and begin to give it to yourself!



Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Kathie Costos on healing hiatus


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 25, 2022

Since my best friend Gunny died in January, I have been struggling. He was my rock and the voice in my head telling me to not give up on myself, or what I do. Every time I wanted to give up he pointed out that I've been doing this for so long, that it is a part of me and in my DNA. If I stopped, I'd stop being me.

I have never been reluctant or ashamed to ask for help when I needed it, so today I went to see a therapist to be evaluated. It's depression, plain and simple. I have been writing the next part of The Lost Son series and while I was editing it, I notice how it was getting pretty dark for a book intended to offer hope. I knew I needed help. Without Gunny keeping me going, it was depressing the hell out of me because no one I know could help with it. 

They care about me and I care about them, but this is something they don't know anything about. I am always telling people I helped to go to a mental health professional. I can only do so much. I knew it was time for me to do the same.

I am taking a healing hiatus while I work through this. The therapist suggested I watch The power of vulnerability 
Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, and love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.
I am glad I did. If you are among those who do this kind of work, keep in mind that Brown had to see a therapist too! This video has been viewed almost 59 million times!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Alex Wagner, fascinating and infuriating



Alex Wagner is fascinating and infuriating because of her second show last night on MSNBC. I wanted to watch because she was covering what is happening in Florida with teachers being subjected to such extremes, that the shortage of teachers has caused the state to offer veterans positions, simply because they are veterans. (Needless to say, I am glad I moved out of Florida after 15 years there.) Her coverage of what teachers are going through with their training as the state is sinking to a whole new level of indoctrination of "Christian Nationalism" was fascinating.

It was the discussion that was carried out throughout the rest of the show that infuriated me.

She was interviewing Jelani Cobb, dean of the Columbia Journalism School. He is brilliant and Wagner is clearly intelligent. So how is it they missed the biggest point of all?

They missed the encapsulation of the many different Christian-based faiths into one use. Most of us are no longer wondering why Christianity itself has become an uncomfortable thing to belong to.

This is why the Constitution's 1st Amendment is something that needed to be first. It allows people of all faiths to choose on their own what they believe and to believe in nothing. It gives all people the right to speak freely so that no one can say only certain thoughts can be spoken. It gives the press the right to report. Other laws are in place to insure that the rights of others are not violated because of what some freedoms grant them to inflict damage onto others. You cannot slander anyone or you get sued.

All the other Christians out there trying to live as people of good deeds and trying to do the right thing have been slandered because of what the fringe Christian Nationalists try to do to everyone.

Is that really a problem, or just an abstract worry?
It is a serious problem. When nationalists go about constructing their nation, they have to define who is, and who is not, part of the nation. But there are always dissidents and minorities who do not or cannot conform to the nationalists’ preferred cultural template. In the absence of moral authority, nationalists can only establish themselves by force. Scholars are almost unanimous that nationalist governments tend to become authoritarian and oppressive in practice. For example, in past generations, to the extent that the United States had a quasi-established official religion of Protestantism, it did not respect true religious freedom. Worse, the United States and many individual states used Christianity as a prop to support slavery and segregation.
In other words, when you hear people saying the word Christian you may simply assume that you are included in the discussion of what nationalism is doing to the country.

If your faith is strong, you can stand up against this assault with confidence, defending that which you believe. If it is weak, then you may just go against the core of your soul and capitulate to their whims. If we do not defend all people of all faiths in this nation, then what are we willing to become?

Do you think that they will only go after non-Christians? They will not stop there. They will keep eroding all they can until they become the very thing the founding fathers reviled. They will be as the Pharisees were, hypocrites!

All of us of good faith, no matter what that faith is, need to stand up to them and make sure that reporters open their eyes to the fact that there are over 200 different Christian denominations in the US, but not all citizens are among them. The truth is, less than half the population attend religious service, no matter what group they feel connected to. Needless to say, there are also non-Christian-based faiths here are well. 

We may not agree on what we believe but I think we all agree that should be left entirely up to each one of us to decide on our own and not have it forced on us, especially with our tax dollars. That is what all these new laws and regulations are funded by. All of our tax dollars pay for these politicians to take away our rights to believe as we choose to.

I don't know about you, but too many members of my family served in the military defending the rights these elected people want to take away. I want my rights defended as much as I want my neighbor's rights defended and it is appalling so many of us are afraid to even speak out to defend others or even our own.

Start finding out what you are voting for when you decide who to vote for instead of what party they represent. I want to know if they represent the rights of all, or just for some. I want to know if they are true to what they claim, or simply claim it hoping no one notices they are liars. It is time for us to make the devil tremble in the details of the truth.

The truth is, God was pro-choice because He gave all of us free will to decide for ourselves!




Watch Alex Wagner Tonight Highlights: Aug. 17