Jessica Curtner

@frozeninthefire | contributor
I am a 35 year old daughter of a king, wife, mother, bonus mom, blogger, mental health advocate, childhood trauma survivor and Nurse Practitioner. RA warrior. https://frozeninthefireorg.wordpress.com/.

How Looking in the Mirror Helped Me Start to Accept Myself

Have you ever just looked at yourself in the mirror? Silly question, right? I realized a few months ago looking in the mirror is something I had not done in quite some time. Looking quickly in the morning to get ready, but never truly looking at myself. I do not know if ever realized how much I avoided looking at that person in the mirror. Until recently, I do not believe I would have even understood why I avoided seeing myself in a reflection as I have. The day I decided to investigate the mirror was after a conversation with my amazing therapist. I wish I could tell you what exactly we discussed that day, but I don’t remember much except explaining I felt like I did not like to see myself in the mirror. As I looked at the person in the mirror, fresh out of the shower and hair a mess, I felt awkward. It felt as though I shouldn’t be staring at myself. I then decided to turn on my camera and record what I looked at for about two minutes. My emotions went from, “This is incredibly weird!” To, “I truly hope my husband doesn’t walk in here right now.” To, “Why in the world am I crying? Who in the hell is this girl and why does she try so hard to hide?” And ending with a lot of laughter. After those moments, I did not have any breakthrough or change, but it opened the door for me to allow myself to truly begin to heal. Those moments and the pictures I pulled from the video I took, allowed me to look at myself and realize I am worthy of the kindness and love I give others. I am worthy of healing. The pictures are not beautiful, they are not staged and they are not something anyone would post on their social media. However, I will share these with you. What they are is a reminder it is so much more comfortable to remain frozen in the fire. The ease at which we remain surrounded in the past is frightening. The emotions you may feel when truly looking at yourself can be overwhelming. I never imagined I would cry and laugh when I tried this small exercise, but I definitely did both. I barely recognized myself as I looked into the mirror, and yet felt so many memories returning. This was the face my children look to, my husband looks at and the many patients I have been lucky to care for have seen. Yet, I barely recognized it. Throughout my life, I have watched many people in their last moments. I have held the hand of those dying. I have held a parent on my shoulder as their tears covered my scrubs after losing their child. I have felt a heartbeat return after my hands have been placed on the chest of someone stuck between life and death. I have felt the coldness of a body after the soul has left. I have watched a wife lose her husband and husband lose his wife. Yet, I was incapable of looking at and loving myself. I have never heard anyone say, “I wish I would not have enjoyed life.” Even though I was trusted to be with others in their worst and best moments, I could not believe I was worthy of looking at myself. I have the pictures I pulled from the video below. Many people stay where they are comfortable, because they are afraid of who they will become when they heal. As I type those words, I feel a little uncomfortable. The truth is it is so damn hard to see through all of the pain. It is so hard to allow yourself to grow because it is freaking frightening. What happens when the fire that shaped you dissipates and you’re left with coldness and darkness? What do you do when you’re the only person who can heal yourself enough to shine bright again and guide those around you? We have all experienced trauma , grief, pain, anger, sadness and loneliness to varying degrees. We have all hurt, we all hurt and yet we struggle to believe we are alike. We hide behind that pain and grasp at reason to stay hidden. We look for reasons to protect our heart and mind instead of allowing the pain to happen and the light of others to fill our lives. We fight and hate for pain we can never take away. We lose those we love instead of accepting our own mistakes. We judge instead of holding the hand of those who have fallen. We leave ourselves frozen because we are afraid of what lies beyond. We say yes and no because we may hurt someone’s feelings all the while hurting our own. We lie to one another to make life seem easier and to ease the pain of each other without realizing the only true way to ease pain is through honesty. Pain will heal when the hard questions are asked. Pain will heal when we grow from the stories of others. Pain will heal and we will grow when we stop carrying the weight and expectations of everyone before us. It is frightening to heal because the joy that comes from authenticity has been shamed for so long. The joy that comes from dancing in the rain instead of waiting for the storm to pass has been looked upon as childish. The joy that should fill our homes is often lost in the expectations of the world around us. My sweet friend, the healing journey is so long and so difficult. It is like climbing a waterfall in the middle of the rain. You are not the stories that happened to you. You are not the stories that happened to those you care about. You, my sweet friend, are the survival guide that comes after. Your story will change the world. You may not see it because you’re still surrounded in the fire, but that fire is fueled by the unhealed debris of others. It is a warm place to hide when the world seems cold, but eventually, it will devour you. You will lose yourself in the very thing that kept you safe. Don’t worry, that’s what grace is for. I believe grace is not just something you give to others, not just something God gives to us. Grace is the very things that allow you to rise up and become everything you have ever dreamed of. It happens the moment you do for yourself the same things you believe you do not deserve. Grace is knowing those around us may not deserve forgiveness in our eyes, but realizing forgiveness is not for them, it is for you. I challenge you to forgive, whatever it is that is holding you back, forgive. I believe when you forgive, you can use the strength and lessons from those moments to prevent others from feeling the same pain. I challenge you to look in the mirror. I challenge you to make every decision be a decision toward your most authentic self. I challenge you to create boundaries, but tear down walls. You can be kind and still remain safe. I challenge you to believe for one moment your kindness and compassion are vital to healing the world around you. Understand pain, anger, trauma and sadness will never completely go away, your grief over moments that should have been different will be the reason your future becomes exactly what you have always wanted. This will not happen until you allow that pain to sit in its place and be recognized as a stepping stone rather than a ceiling. When we begin to understand remaining frozen in the fire and leaving the fire provide the same amount of fear, we will be able to heal. We are all afraid to hurt. We are all afraid of being disliked. We are all afraid we are not worthy enough. Just as we are all afraid, we might be missing out and not living our true purpose. Yet, just as the joy of others brings you happiness, your joy will bring others happiness. Healing is not a straight line, there is no right or wrong path. You must start walking. There is no right or wrong way to begin, you do not have to wear certain shoes or clothes. You just need to head in the direction you have always been afraid to go. I promise when you begin walking, when you look at that person in the mirror and tell them they are worthy of happiness, you will begin to find your own light and the darkness will no longer be as frightening. A version of this article was originally published on the author’s blog, Frozen in the Fire.

How Playing Marco Polo In a Crowd Helped My Anxiety

Our city puts on a large firework show on July 3rd. My husband is a police officer in town and works during this event every year. He is the social butterfly of our relationship. If you know me even a little you know I struggle with large crowds and to be honest the past year of the pandemic has increased that anxiety significantly. Not only do I find large crowds to be a huge anxiety trigger for me, I especially dislike unorganized events. You know the ones where you must figure out where to go, where to park, where to sit etc… The only way I can stick to making myself attend such events is to know that the kids are excited to attend. Even then sometimes my anxiety over what if can kick in. I am the person who becomes incredibly excited when events are cancelled. I am sure you’re probably thinking I live like a hermit. The truth is once I am at the event and all the “what ifs” are answered I have a fantastic time. I imagine this trigger pops up from a traumatic event which occurred in my childhood at a festival in our town. Don’t worry, I’m working on it. On July 3rd I loaded up all the kiddos grabbed a drink for everyone and began driving around town. I wanted to find a location that we could truly enjoy the show without interacting in a large group. A place where the kids would feel happy and I did not have to feel drained… If you have children, you know none of those plans ever work. Typically, I would just give in and go with what everyone around is doing. You know park near the large crowd and feel as though I must do what every other parent is doing. Instead I continued to drive until I found a parking spot that would normally make me incredibly uncomfortable, because I do not like to do anything that could potentially be against the law. Not because I am afraid of the consequences so much as the actual interaction with any human telling me what I have done wrong. The thought and fear of that make me completely ill…  Funny for someone married to a police officer, right? As I pulled my vehicle next about 30 feet away from a yield sign in the middle of the grass, which was a perfect firework view spot, the kids became very excited. This location would be epic! It provided the perfect view and it was a beautiful evening. Each kiddo chose where they were going to sit. The older boys sat in the back of the van facing the river where the firework show would begin. The girls claimed the top of the van outside of the sunroof, after all they are teen girls and have no issue being in the center of the show. Our youngest son loves his momma to say the least and although he was interested in sitting on the top of the van he didn’t want to be away from me either. This meant up until the show began he switched places frequently. Once the fireworks began the kids were talking, laughing and of course trying the newest TikTok trends. In the past I would have worried about what people around us may be thinking, if we were being too loud, if we were blocking someone’s view (even though I always ensure this is not the case) and every other potential situation that may make those around us uncomfortable. My youngest son is 9 and as we were sitting on the ground together he said Mommy, yell “Marco” and see if anyone around says “Polo.” My initial reaction was “No buddy, they won’t hear me. They will get upset. They probably won’t respond.” He again said “Come on Momma, it will be funny.” I then realized that to ensure the comfort of those around us, I was not being authentic to who I am as a mom. I want the kids to laugh and play. I want them to use their imaginations to bring joy to others. I want them to be the joyous humans they were created to be without worrying their joy may bring discomfort to others. I want them to live outside of the box I have tried to fit into for so long. I was not being an example of the life I hope they will experience. Instead I was creating sadness in my child while trying to people please. So I looked at my son, gave him a big hug and said, “You’re right buddy.” Then I yelled louder than I have ever yelled in public “Marco” and people around us joined in. This continued with laughter and smiles from not only my children but the families around us. While none of us were close enough to even see each other’s faces our voice echoed in joy and happiness. As if we’d all been friends for a long time. Most of all in that moment the smiles from my 9-year-old and our girls was something I will never forget. I wish I would have recorded the first time I yelled “Marco” that night, but instead I cherished that moment. It did, however, happen one more time before we left to head home. My sweet friend, just live in joy! Wake up and make the decision to stop limiting your happiness. Had I chosen quiet, the truth is no one would have been any happier, they would have never even known. Yet, my son and my heart would have felt sadness because I was not brave enough to experience that joy. I have had moments like this throughout my entire life. The stories however usually end in me choosing comfort over joy. Self-preservation and protection over the possibility that my joy would make someone else unhappy. Through my healing journey I have come to the realization that joy only occurs in the times we allow ourselves to be brave enough for an experience that may have previously caused us sadness. Joy is when we live beyond our control and allow life to happen to us instead of around us. After any trauma, grief or pain it is natural to want to protect yourself from feeling those feelings again. I truly believe this is why loving someone unconditionally is difficult for so many people. The unconditional part leaves you open for loss of control. It leaves open the possibility that someone else is going to do to you what another person did. The biggest problem with this, is our lives then become a tribute to the pain rather than a tribute to what you have overcome! Yell “Marco” at the top of your lungs and wait for those who respond with “Polo” and a lot of laughing.

How Playing Marco Polo In a Crowd Helped My Anxiety

Our city puts on a large firework show on July 3rd. My husband is a police officer in town and works during this event every year. He is the social butterfly of our relationship. If you know me even a little you know I struggle with large crowds and to be honest the past year of the pandemic has increased that anxiety significantly. Not only do I find large crowds to be a huge anxiety trigger for me, I especially dislike unorganized events. You know the ones where you must figure out where to go, where to park, where to sit etc… The only way I can stick to making myself attend such events is to know that the kids are excited to attend. Even then sometimes my anxiety over what if can kick in. I am the person who becomes incredibly excited when events are cancelled. I am sure you’re probably thinking I live like a hermit. The truth is once I am at the event and all the “what ifs” are answered I have a fantastic time. I imagine this trigger pops up from a traumatic event which occurred in my childhood at a festival in our town. Don’t worry, I’m working on it. On July 3rd I loaded up all the kiddos grabbed a drink for everyone and began driving around town. I wanted to find a location that we could truly enjoy the show without interacting in a large group. A place where the kids would feel happy and I did not have to feel drained… If you have children, you know none of those plans ever work. Typically, I would just give in and go with what everyone around is doing. You know park near the large crowd and feel as though I must do what every other parent is doing. Instead I continued to drive until I found a parking spot that would normally make me incredibly uncomfortable, because I do not like to do anything that could potentially be against the law. Not because I am afraid of the consequences so much as the actual interaction with any human telling me what I have done wrong. The thought and fear of that make me completely ill…  Funny for someone married to a police officer, right? As I pulled my vehicle next about 30 feet away from a yield sign in the middle of the grass, which was a perfect firework view spot, the kids became very excited. This location would be epic! It provided the perfect view and it was a beautiful evening. Each kiddo chose where they were going to sit. The older boys sat in the back of the van facing the river where the firework show would begin. The girls claimed the top of the van outside of the sunroof, after all they are teen girls and have no issue being in the center of the show. Our youngest son loves his momma to say the least and although he was interested in sitting on the top of the van he didn’t want to be away from me either. This meant up until the show began he switched places frequently. Once the fireworks began the kids were talking, laughing and of course trying the newest TikTok trends. In the past I would have worried about what people around us may be thinking, if we were being too loud, if we were blocking someone’s view (even though I always ensure this is not the case) and every other potential situation that may make those around us uncomfortable. My youngest son is 9 and as we were sitting on the ground together he said Mommy, yell “Marco” and see if anyone around says “Polo.” My initial reaction was “No buddy, they won’t hear me. They will get upset. They probably won’t respond.” He again said “Come on Momma, it will be funny.” I then realized that to ensure the comfort of those around us, I was not being authentic to who I am as a mom. I want the kids to laugh and play. I want them to use their imaginations to bring joy to others. I want them to be the joyous humans they were created to be without worrying their joy may bring discomfort to others. I want them to live outside of the box I have tried to fit into for so long. I was not being an example of the life I hope they will experience. Instead I was creating sadness in my child while trying to people please. So I looked at my son, gave him a big hug and said, “You’re right buddy.” Then I yelled louder than I have ever yelled in public “Marco” and people around us joined in. This continued with laughter and smiles from not only my children but the families around us. While none of us were close enough to even see each other’s faces our voice echoed in joy and happiness. As if we’d all been friends for a long time. Most of all in that moment the smiles from my 9-year-old and our girls was something I will never forget. I wish I would have recorded the first time I yelled “Marco” that night, but instead I cherished that moment. It did, however, happen one more time before we left to head home. My sweet friend, just live in joy! Wake up and make the decision to stop limiting your happiness. Had I chosen quiet, the truth is no one would have been any happier, they would have never even known. Yet, my son and my heart would have felt sadness because I was not brave enough to experience that joy. I have had moments like this throughout my entire life. The stories however usually end in me choosing comfort over joy. Self-preservation and protection over the possibility that my joy would make someone else unhappy. Through my healing journey I have come to the realization that joy only occurs in the times we allow ourselves to be brave enough for an experience that may have previously caused us sadness. Joy is when we live beyond our control and allow life to happen to us instead of around us. After any trauma, grief or pain it is natural to want to protect yourself from feeling those feelings again. I truly believe this is why loving someone unconditionally is difficult for so many people. The unconditional part leaves you open for loss of control. It leaves open the possibility that someone else is going to do to you what another person did. The biggest problem with this, is our lives then become a tribute to the pain rather than a tribute to what you have overcome! Yell “Marco” at the top of your lungs and wait for those who respond with “Polo” and a lot of laughing.

Community Voices

Owning your story # Frozen in the Fire

<p>Owning your story # Frozen in the Fire</p>
6 people are talking about this
Community Voices
Community Voices
wbj

I'm losing my fight

#CheckInWithMe
I really thought that if I could just hold myself together while I finish my dissertation then I would be fine
That I'm only struggling so much bectof my dissertation
My #Depression is doing good
But it's not
It's taken me less than a day from submitting it to fall down
I was in deep #denial
I don't know what to do
Who to reach out to
I've got no #Motivation to do anything
It's a #viciouscircle of doing nothing and feeling low
Please help me

7 people are talking about this
Community Voices
wbj

I'm losing my fight

#CheckInWithMe
I really thought that if I could just hold myself together while I finish my dissertation then I would be fine
That I'm only struggling so much bectof my dissertation
My #Depression is doing good
But it's not
It's taken me less than a day from submitting it to fall down
I was in deep #denial
I don't know what to do
Who to reach out to
I've got no #Motivation to do anything
It's a #viciouscircle of doing nothing and feeling low
Please help me

7 people are talking about this
Community Voices

What if

<p>What if</p>
11 people are talking about this
Community Voices

What if

<p>What if</p>
11 people are talking about this
Community Voices

What if

<p>What if</p>
11 people are talking about this