Publisher - August 2022

“I can choose to let it define me, confine me,
outshine me or refine me. I can also choose to move
on and leave it behind me!”

There are lessons to learn in almost every moment of any given day. Basically, if you’re breathing, you can be learning. However, there is a big difference between educational learning and life lesson learning. Educational learning is easy to pick up as you go about your day being exposed to new facts, news, how-tos, words, etc. However, in order to learn life lessons, you have to not only be breathing, but also paying close attention.

My first job out of college was challenging. I was the only female sales rep in the off-premise division (selling to grocery stores and convenience marts) of a state-wide wine wholesaler. The one thing my boss taught me quickly was how important it is to be teachable and coachable, which are two different things. Teachable means you can learn; coachable means you can put what you learn into action. Fortunately, I had so much ambition, I was willing to be both. I wanted to soak up every bit of knowledge and implement it as soon as possible. This is an important trait because it drives growth. Being teachable and coachable is the path between novice and expert, bored and stimulated, stagnating and blossoming.

In order to learn life’s lessons and mature in handling issues, solving problems, calming conflict, not needing others’ validation and becoming your best self, you must be alert, teachable and coachable. As I have gotten older, I have become so aware of opportunities for this sort of growth, it’s almost like I have thought bubbles pop up over my head as I go through the day. However, it hasn’t always been like this.

I have dealt with my fair share of problems. From my childhood, which I won’t go into, I developed panic disorder and suffered with it for 23 years. Through much work and therapy, I no longer experience panic attacks or even anxiety—PRAISE! Don’t get me wrong, I still worry, stress and get down from time to time, but I don’t allow it to take over me like it used to. But recently, I was in a situation where it all came screaming back (and screaming is the appropriate term) as I was instantly transported back to my childhood of hatred and fear. I was driving when the person on the phone blasted me with the most vile words, accusations and lies. (I have been indoctrinated all my life to listen to—and believe—these words.) My body shook violently; I couldn’t control my legs or keep my foot on the gas. My fight or flight was at 911 heights. I was definitely aware and alert. I realized at that moment, I have PTSD.

But, I am not worried.

When your body reacts so viscerally, it is simply information, knowledge—a sign that what ever made your body react so traumatically must be dealt with and/or avoided. It truly is that simple. If you were bitten by a rattlesnake, your body would more than likely swell to dysmorphia, your breathing may become labored, you may even tremble uncontrollably. These symptoms are your body’s way of saying rattlesnake bites are toxic and harm you and to get help immediately. With information so clear from the reaction of your body, do you go back to the rattlesnake to get bitten again? Of course not. However, when it comes to toxic, harmful people, for some reason we tend to keep going back for more, or allowing them access.

PTSD, panic and anxiety are all debilitating and definitely worrisome, so why am I not worried? I have learned too many valuable life lessons to ever go back. Knowing I have PTSD just gives me more validation of the level of toxicity. In other words, its a big damn rattlesnake! Not only did I learn the lessons, but I have also implemented them as much as I can, and continue to implement more. So it goes back to being teachable and coachable, and I guess there is one more factor—I want it! I desire peace; I am tired of the verbal beatings. I am tired of only being told horrible things. I am at a place where peace is more valuable to me than anything else—relationships, stuff, money, ANYTHING!

I take notes in my phone when I want to remember my thoughts. I try not to let moments—good, bad or ugly—slip away if my mind starts to race with clarity. After my PTSD attack, which didn’t last more than 15 minutes, I began to decipher it. Immediately, I knew the caller had tapped into my deepest childhood fears—the ones she had helped cause. But I’m not that little girl anymore; I don’t have to give my power away anymore or ever again.

If I’ve painted a picture like I handled this like a champ, I didn’t. I went into my little girl survival mode, screamed back so hard I probably couldn’t even be understood and hung up the phone, then sat in the car and shook. (I had pulled off since my foot wouldn’t stay on the pedal! LOL! —always try to find the humor!) Here’s what I shakily wrote in my notes: “One of the wisest things a woman can do is not let other people’s actions dictate her own. I’m not saying they can’t hurt you, make you cry, or make you feel horrible, scared, crazy, invalid and belittled. BUT, you have to rise above it and always be who YOU are. Don’t let it taint you and don’t allow it to rent space in your head. You are not that; you never have been; you never will be. Amen!”

I am enough. I am valuable. I am a good person. I am a child of God. I sure hope you know you are, too.

Think Pink,
Elizabeth Millen