sacred cycle - gratitude

SACRED CYCLE: a GIFT for SURVIVORS

SACRED CYCLE: a GIFT for SURVIVORS   Sacred Cycle is a non-profit organization started by Heather Russell. This summer and fall of 2017, I had the privilege of participating in Sacred Cycle’s pilot program. What a precious gift! I am smiling as I write. My heart is filled with gratitude. Heather Russell recognizes that abuse and assault survivors often do not stay present in their bodies. She explains this concept in an interview located on this KDNK link: http://kdnk.org/post/nonprofit-palooza-sacred-cycle Participants are given the option to mountain bike, hike, as well as other options to connect with one’s body in the present moment. Therapy during this time helps survivors continue to heal. In the fall, a retreat was held in a beautiful location for the five of us participating in the Sacred Cycle program. Heather and others joined us providing workshops and/or support. We even enjoyed the delightful and delicious food of a chef each day! It was a weekend of gracious giving and receiving. The nurturing aspect was amazing. I had no expectations of the Sacred Cycle retreat. My intention was to keep my heart open. Most likely each one of us – pilot participants and support persons – has ...
homeless and domestic violence

HOMELESS and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

HOMELESSNESS and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PERSPECTIVE from a MOM   Once upon a time, my daughter, Megan Ellen, and I stayed in a shelter as we were officially homeless. I, as a protective parent at the time, was coping with life on life’s terms. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was part of Megan’s life and mine. The shelter was decent. I was grateful for a place where Megan and I could sleep and be. The staff was compassionate. Yet, it was a hard living situation for us and for others. It was not “home”. Megan and I were staying safe. I was protecting my daughter from the person who abused her – her father. Fortunately, Megan was in school and doing well in spite of her life circumstances. October is the month set aside for domestic violence awareness. Domestic violence (DV) is a huge societal problem. (See:  http://roadtofreedomandpeace.com/domestic-violence-spousal-sexual-abuse-partner-abuse-intimate-partner-violence-dating-violence/ or my other blog posts on the subject.) Many mothers and children experience homelessness after leaving a domestic violence situation. “There is more than one “official” definition of homelessness. Health centers funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) use the following: A homeless individual is defined in section 330(h)(5)(A) ...
rediscovering childhood passion

REDISCOVERING a CHILDHOOD PASSION

REDISCOVERING a CHILDHOOD PASSION   Reading was a childhood passion of mine. It was an inexpensive form of entertainment and a way to escape the world of abuse. I read almost any book I could find in my house. As the youngest child in the family, many books were over my head. It did not stop me from reading them! My sister, Linda, belonged to a book club. I enjoyed reading international cookbooks and the classics. Biographies and fiction enthralled me. Years later, I sought out the classics to read them with an adult perspective and understanding. Career counselors and life coaches often ask a client what was his or her childhood passion. What activity did you enjoy as a child? The career counselor or life coach may wonder if a childhood passion might hold a key to a possible career. In my case, reading lends itself to knowledge, insight and enjoyment. I have not found a career of reading! My mother valued reading and education. She was an avid reader who kept a list of all the books she read over the decades. I have many memories of her trying to catch up on a weeks’ worth of newspapers ...
past abuse and health

PAST ABUSE and HEALTH

PAST ABUSE and HEALTH   My mother died two days before reaching the age of 70. Most women on my mother’s side of the family died before the age of 70. Generational abuse ran in my family of origin. Past abuse and health are connected. Studies show that past abuse can affect a survivor’s health years later. The violence, trauma and abuse may have occurred in childhood, adulthood, or both. Alexis Jetter, Jennifer Braunschweiger, Natasha Lunn, Julia Fullerton-Batten wrote an article titled, “A Hidden Cause of Chronic Illness”.  Adult women who have endured and escaped from domestic violence relationships may find themselves dealing with physical issues years later. The article is worth reading and includes the following: “Domestic violence (DV) has an insidiously long half-life. Women who left their abusers five, 10, even 20 years ago and believed they had closed that chapter of their lives now face far higher than normal rates of chronic health problems, including arthritis and hormonal disorders, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, chronic pain, severe headaches and irritable bowel syndrome. As a result, these women spend nearly 20 percent more money on medical care than other women. Annual U.S. medical costs attributable to domestic violence, including years-old ...
trauma moment

ONE TRAUMA MOMENT OF MANY AND ITS IMPACT

ONE TRAUMA MOMENT of MANY and ITS IMPACT   Individuals who suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) have been subjected to trauma of a long duration. As a survivor of decades of abuse and torture, my situation was ongoing and filled with trauma. I will focus on one trauma moment for this post. Before doing so, below is information regarding C-PTSD for those who are interested. Maybe one day, I will devote an entire post to the subject. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states the following: "What types of trauma are associated with Complex PTSD? During long-term traumas, the victim is generally held in a state of captivity, physically or emotionally, according to Dr. Herman (1). In these situations the victim is under the control of the perpetrator and unable to get away from the danger. Examples of such traumatic situations include: Concentration camps Prisoner of War camps Prostitution brothels Long-term domestic violence Long-term child physical abuse Long-term child sexual abuse Organized child exploitation rings" (https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/ptsd-overview/complex-ptsd.asp) Pete Walker writes: "The causes of Cptsd range from severe neglect to monstrous abuse. Many survivors grow up in houses that are not homes – in families that are as loveless ...
smidgen of hope

SMIDGEN of HOPE

SMIDGEN of HOPE   What is your definition of hope? Do you even believe in the concept of hope? I know of people who have no belief in hope. Hope to them is foolish. Hope has kept me alive in certain periods of my life. It may also have contributed to my staying in situations for too long. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word as: “A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen. A person or thing that may help or save someone. Grounds for believing that something good may happen. archaic  A feeling of trust.” -- https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/hope As a child, I hoped the abuse would stop. My goal was to become perfect. Maybe that would prevent the abuse from occurring ever again. I had fantasies of someone saving me … a Prince Charming. The idea of hoping could be considered foolish. Yet fantasies and hope (however childish) of a better life kept me alive through terrible times. As a young adult, the Prince Charming did not come. I fell into a relationship of domestic violence with torture once I left my mother’s house. Leaving the abusive family of origin and moving into a DV (domestic ...
PTSD forever?

DOES PTSD LAST FOREVER?

DOES PTSD LAST FOREVER?   PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) … Our society is now familiar with the term. Many people still identify Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with war veterans. More people do also realize and acknowledge that any trauma victim may suffer from PTSD. My readers know that I dealt with Complex PTSD. This was due to the decades of abuse and torture that I endured from birth to almost 47 years of age. Amazingly, I have healed immensely. Pastoral counseling, therapy, NeurOptimal Neurofeedback, a women’s support group (WINGS Foundation) for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and a deep spiritual connection contributed to this healing. Two of my favorite books on the subject of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and trauma are: “THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE:  BRAIN, MIND, AND BODY IN THE HEALING OF TRAUMA” by Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D. and “TRAUMA and RECOVERY: The aftermath of violence – from domestic abuse to political terror” by Judith Herman, M.D. Herman’s words on torture, etc. are illuminating. I found this book to be tremendously helpful. In fact, I shared my reflections on parts of Herman’s book on my original website that I wrote before my trial for custodial ...
just plain tired

JUST PLAIN TIRED!

JUST PLAIN TIRED   Are you just plain tired? That sentence sounds like a line from a commercial. There are times though when tiredness, lack of energy, inertia, and fatigue settles upon one’s body, mind, heart, and/or spirit. How do you cope when your body is physically worn? Do you allow your body to rest more? Are you compelled to stick to an exercise routine? Is your job physically challenging? Does your financial situation allow you the only option of continuing to push your body past its healthy limits? What is your personal response to mental fatigue? Are thoughts of problems and relationships issues roaming in your mind constantly? Rumination happens. It is unhealthy. People ruminate. It is common according to this article in the BBC Magazine titled, “Rumination: The danger of dwelling”. (Read: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24444431.) When you are emotionally tired, what are the symptoms? Do you cry more than usual? Do you find yourself often holding back tears? Is stoicism and lack of emotion signs? Are you short-tempered with strangers, acquaintances, and/or loved ones? Food may be a symptom. Eating more than needed, making unhealthy choices, or not eating much at all may occur. The song “Under Pressure” played as ...
jobs - are you frustrated?

JOBS – ARE YOU FRUSTRATED?

JOBS – ARE YOU FRUSTRATED?   Jobs are quite important to most of us. We need to work to support ourselves and often our family members. Work can also give us a purpose on a deeper level, if we are fortunate. Are you frustrated because your job does not pay a living wage? Are you frustrated because you cannot find a job? Does your frustration lie in knowing friends who are working quite hard and are quite underpaid? Are friends or acquaintances being forced to retire early and often without benefits? Have you noticed big shifts in our society? Elizabeth Gilbert answered a question of the day in a January Facebook post. The question was “WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?” In her reply, she divided life into four categories. They are: hobby, job, career, and vocation. Today I will focus on jobs. In future posts, I will write about the other ones. (https://www.facebook.com/GilbertLiz/posts/948792035202912:0?__mref=message_bubble) Gilbert’s article is interesting and thought-provoking. She writes: “You don’t need to love your job: you just need to have a job and do it with respect. Of course, if you absolutely hate your job, by all means look for another one, but try to ...
feelings in the moment

FEELINGS in the MOMENT

FEELINGS in the MOMENT   Children show their feelings in the moment. If they are happy, you see their smiles. If children are sad, they cry. Young children and older ones who are abused often learn to hide their emotions. I know I did. In my abusive family-of-origin, I was often punished if I showed happiness. I learned to hide my emotions – sadness, joy, frustration, etc. When trauma occurs, whether a single incident such as one rape or constant abuse (including sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and spiritual abuse), we often deny the emotions that occur at the time. In long-term abuse, the victims many times choose not to let the pain and hurt show. As adults who have been traumatized, it is not uncommon to minimize the impact of the trauma. Abuse and trauma have a huge impact in our lives. Once a person begins to deal with the trauma – usually with the help of therapy – the victim starts to feel the deep and intense emotions. These feelings include pain, disappointment, despair, fear, and terror (especially if non-state torture was part of the victimization). Survivors may notice where in their bodies they contain the tension. Anxiety, panic, ...