This & That

First of all, the winner of the Rupi Kaur book is … Brienna! Congrats!

I know I have a lot of advantages. But right now, they all feel diffused by the failed negotiations I have occurring with my uterus. CRAMPS SUCK.

I have had so many fun opportunities to speak lately: spoke at a high school where students were reading Truest; spoke at a local university for a group of lovely journalism students; spoke at the 20th anniversary of Inkstone, the literary magazine whose staff I was on in my undergrad years. I was able to share a few scenes from Salt Novel, and they went over GREAT, to my joy and relief!

Remember how Truest is coming out in Germany? I saw the German cover!

Don’t you just love that mouthful of a title?! It means something akin to “Fortune or Whatever May Come.”
I have so much to do. Alas, I am curled up in the fetal position, waiting for my Ibuprofen to kick in. TMI, maybe. Sorry if so. Thanks for letting me be real in this space.

Guest Post: My ERP Experience

With her permission, I am sharing a comment from ashley1234567890, one I found particularly insightful.

And here she is …

I went through ERP and had fantastic results. It was a huge blessing for me, and I thank God that he gave me the courage to try it.

I am no expert, but i did have a really bad case of OCD, which got a lot better after ERP, so here are my recomendations, that in hindsight, were key to my success.

NOTE: my ocd did not get worse with ERP (it got so much better) even though the treatment was very intense!

If you qualify for ERP therapy, and you are considering it, then do not let fear keep you from going. The only caveat is to make sure you find an expert who treats ERP because it is specialized therapy. For example, my therapist was willing to meet me outside of their office for exposures, because my ocd spiked at a particular place. I also recommend finding someone who has experience with whatever ocd you are facing. For example, my therapist had experience with germ ocd, harm ocd, religious ocd, sexual oreintation ocd, etc… so i knew they were highly qualified. they should also give you exercises so you can do your own exposures.

As for ERP, It seems counterintuitive at first, since the patient will go through exercises and narrations that are asking them to run towards their fears (instead of running away from them), which in turn causes anxiety to spike, and while super anxious the patient will be asked to temporaily stay in that state while resisting compulsions that are normally used to reduce the anxiety. If you face the obsession and not give in to the compulsion, then the cycle breaks, which in turn makes you less anxious. That is where “exposure and response prevention” comes from.

My treatment was gradual at first (small fears first then you move onto bigger ones) also, my initial exposures were designed so that anxiety was moderate so I could handle it, and then over additional sessions, they were changed to more intense ones.

For me, it took me about 12 sessions to complete treatment. I noticed some big gains after the first couple of sessions so i knew it was helping. After treatment i am a new person. I still have the ocd, triggers, and the spikes, but it does not cause much distress anymore. Before ERP my distress level was a 10 and it was constant. My life sucked.

So heres an example of what what ERP might look like. let’s say you have germ OCD. You may be asked to touch a door knob and not wash your hands afterwards for 5 minutes. As the sessions go on, and you grow stronger, you may be asked to do the same excercise, then refrain from washing for 15 minutes. Eventually, beloeve it or not, you will be able to do the excercise then not wash at all! Or, one exposure may be a narrative, where you write a short story, and in this story you get a little dirty, or exposed to germs, etc… over the treatments, the story may get more and more disgusting and intense, so you will be in a situation that gets really dirty, and theres no place to wash up etc…

As the sessions and exposures go on, the anxiety for each trigger gets weaker, which in turn makes the spikes less intense. Consequently for me, the ocd got better over time.

Again, the key is to find a qualified expert who has a lot of experience in OCD and ERP, because you will be asked to do things that will make you feel temporarily uncomfortable and the therapist will need to work with you at the right pace so that you are not overwhelmed. They should be willing to leave their office to do an exposure where you need it. So for example, if you are afraid of heights they should be up for going with you to a balcony etc… to face that fear.

Like some of the previous comments, I was anxious before starting too, and I was scared that it would make my condition worse. But i was wrong! that’s just the ocd trying to keep you in the bad place.

In fact thats how i first came across this blog. Jackie had wrote some content on ERP and it gave me the confidence to try it. Thank you jackie you are such a blessing from the Lord! Hopefully this post will do the same for someone else!

Everything

I was going to post today about the resurrection and what it means to me, but I hardly know where to start. How can I summarize “everything” into a blog post?

It’s an answer I try to show every day, in my choices, my speech, my words. 

Thank You, Jesus. Let my life praise You.  

Why is it Called GOOD Friday?

Screenshot_20170414-191853
Growing up, I was always confused about why the Christian church called this day Good Friday– the day that Jesus Christ was put to death. I knew the story: the blood, the nails, death on a cross, the method used for criminals. I had learned about crucifixion in gory detail, and how the one crucified would struggle to breathe in such a position, how Christ would have needed to lift his body weight just to get a breath– his body weight pressing against the spikes nailed through his feet. I knew about the hours of darkness, the quaking earth and breaking rocks. About the curtain of the temple being torn in half, top to bottom.

My family would go to a Good Friday service, the front of the sanctuary bearing a cross adorned with a drape of purple fabric. Sometimes we would hold a railroad spike in our hands. We would always take communion: a small tab of bread to represent Christ’s broken body, a small sip of grape juice to represent his blood.

And I would wonder: why is this good?

I remember as a passionate, deep-thinking, sensitive child thinking, I wish I could have stopped this nightmare.

My God had been ridiculed, beaten, and killed. Why was this good?

……………………………………

Friday is good because of Sunday.

Because Friday was not God losing the battle– it was part of the battle plan all along. It was a well-conceived, strategic move before the checkmate.

Because, as I said above, the curtain of the temple was torn in two— this represents our direct access to God, where before we needed a priestly intercessor.

No matter what it looked like on Friday– the end of the world, I’m sure many of Christ’s followers thought, and certainly the end of hope— Sunday was just around the corner. Sunday, the resurrection, the culmination, the checkmate, the victory. It was all part of a master plan, one that we– nearly 2000 years later– can see in full, even if our brothers and sisters at the time could not. We can see the rescue waiting just around the corner. We can say, This is good.

……………………………………

Years ago, I attended a conference where I heard a sermon by Louie Giglio that I will never forget. It profoundly moved me and helped to shape my worldview. The bottom line of it is this: when the bottom drops out of life, we can still have hope — because of the cross.

If you will do just one this for me this entire year, would you please watch 1 minute and 38 seconds of this sermon? I’d love to have you watch the entire thing, but please at least watch from 24:45 to 26:23.

From the foot of the cross, the cross appeared to be the worst thing– from the perspective of history, we Christians see it as the best.

And we can trust that God is at work even in the times that are hardest. This is why I have hope.

……………………………………

This is so core to my identity that I put it into my book in the form of a parable.

Silas tells West that he believes that God is in control, even over the bad things, and she asks him why.

“Writers know that the climax comes before the resolution.” He was quiet for a second, then said, “Not just in fiction, either, West, but in real life too. How many times has the worst thing turned out to be necessary? Or even the best? Rescue wears masks, you know. It’s why people say it’s darkest before the dawn. Sometimes things take a long time to make sense. Could be years and years—or only a weekend. Or they might never make sense. But that doesn’t mean you stop trusting that the world is being rescued.”

Or only a weekend.

Good Friday, everyone. I’m looking forward to Sunday.

Maundy Thursday

Thinking of the passion this morning.

JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hematidrosis (also called hematohidrosis) is a very rare condition in which a human being sweatsblood. It may occur when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress, for example, facing his or her own death. Several historical references have been described; notably by Leonardo da Vinci: describing a soldier who sweated blood before battle, men unexpectedly given a death sentence, as well as descriptions in the Bible, that Jesus experienced hematidrosis when he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44).

Cutaneous hemorrhage
According to Dr. Frederick Zugibe (former Chief Medical Examiner of Rockland County, New York) it is well-known, and there have been many cases of it. The clinical term is hematohidrosis. “Around the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form. Under the pressure of great stress the vessels constrict…

View original post 202 more words

Preparing for ERP Therapy

I find myself constantly coming back to the basics: exposure therapy works; it is hard but not harder than life with OCD; prepare your support system.

Blessings to everyone who tonight is battling this enslaving disorder. I think of you all the time. Today I had multiple opportunities to share about the freedom I have found. It is always good for me to remember what I have come through and how much joy was on the other side.

It was worth walking through the fire. I have NEVER regretted ERP.

JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

Lately, I’ve been talking to some brave, amazing people who are planning to tackle cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), specifically exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP).  I know it’s the right next step, they tell me.  Any advice?

Glad you asked.  Here are my suggestions as you prepare for ERP.

1. Read and research!  Don’t go into this (incredible but difficult) therapy with your eyes closed.  I believe that the more you know about what ERP entails and what will be expected of you, the better.  In fact, I have a friend who had done enough research on it that he realized only one or two sessions in that he knew more about ERP than the therapist did– instead of wasting time, my friend was able to stop meeting with that therapist and find an expert in ERP.

2. Have an open heart.  ERP is not the same…

View original post 212 more words

Rupi Kaur’s Milk & Honey, Empowerment, & a Giveaway

In some ways, 2017 has come at me hard. I’ve had less motivation and time to write than I’ve had in years. Online dating is like a battlefield. I’m still figuring out my sleep patterns.

But then again, I’ve been made stronger: I am figuring out how I work best, experimenting with different schedules, reading a book every week, learning so much about writing and otherwise. I am taking control of online dating, and I am treating myself well. I am learning how to honor myself, if that makes any sense. It probably doesn’t.

Let’s just say that this week was intense. So many tears, so much persuasion from men. I have cried with shame because of how weak men have made me feel, but I have also cried with celebration because– in spite of their best efforts– I have made my own decisions. I have respected myself even when I’ve not been respected by men– and then I have actually turned around and demanded respect.

I’m becoming empowered.

rupi kaurLast week, I read Rupi Kaur’s incredible collection of poetry, Milk and Honey. I read it in one sitting– just breezed through so many pages letting them administer to my heart– and when the book was over, I felt so much stronger because of it that I bought a second copy.

For you.

Ladies, if you need some strength, please comment below. You don’t have to tell me details, but please tell me how I can encourage you, pray for you, support you, etc. One of you will win my second copy of Milk and Honey.

Please remember:

dragon rupi kaur

I Will Say This

I read Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur today in one shot. I adored it. It was raw and empowering.

Online dating is still happening. My squad of new friends is incredibly eclectic, and honestly, they are making me love the internet. I adore my new friend J, who rocks awesome wheels; my friend S from Kashmir; my friend J2, two weeks sober. Where else can you talk to some guy online and then see him in your local Chipotle a few days later? I have met a BDSM master, a Universalist, a man whose parents were rebel fighters against Fidel Castro, and the funniest single dad, who also understands my anxiety.

I’ve also met a ton of creeps. (Click here ONLY if you are willing to see men become feminist mince-meat.)

I’ve read a handful of great books– reviews to come soon.

Novel revisions: I needed a new approach, especially in the past week, when I was basically smacking my head against a wall over and over and over … and then feeling guilty about it. I decided to not write on weeknights and to tackle revisions on the weekends, at least for this precise season.

In fact, that is what I am off to do now! Send creative energy and good thoughts my way!!

xoxo Jackie