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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
holiday life coach

HOLIDAY LIFE COACH

 HOLIDAY LIFE COACH   Let me be your holiday life coach! It would be a privilege! The holidays are approaching. Whether you view the holidays through a religious, spiritual, or secular lens, this time of year most likely contains extra stress. This season is stressful for those who are survivors of abuse and trauma or not. Not many are immune to the extra pressures. If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse or childhood trauma of any type, you may experience more challenges. If the abuser was a family member, seeing the perpetrator at family gatherings may be triggering. Many survivors no longer have the abuse/perpetrator in their lives at all. This physical detachment from the abuser may cause ripple effects. The possibility exists that you are ostracized (overtly or covertly) by other family members. Maybe you now feel family-less. Some survivors of childhood abuse are labeled mentally ill especially by the abuser. If you do not accept the perpetrator’s view (and others related to the abuser), you quite likely feel the added pressure of not being believed. "They are committing the greatest indignity human beings can inflict on one another: telling people who have suffered excruciating pain and ...
"little" gains

LIFE’S “LITTLE” GAINS

LIFE’S “LITTLE” GAINS   Can you name one of life’s “little” gains that occurred this month? Do you tend to mainly see the big changes or large gains in your life? If you are in therapy or a support group, do you focus on not achieving the big goals in your life? Are you frustrated that you did not land your dream job or meet your perfect mate? Life’s “little” gains may be easily overlooked. It is human to look forward to reaching that next goal of importance in your life. The road to reaching your dreams may contain a multitude of “little” gains that we blow off as not being important enough. I, as a life coach, challenge you to be aware of your life’s “little” gains! “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu Maybe you work with a coworker who you dislike or she/he dislikes you. You find common ground one day and the work environment improves for both of you. I would label that as a “little” gain for both of you. ...
courage to escape

COURAGE to ESCAPE

 COURAGE TO ESCAPE (And the COURAGE to DEAL with the AFTERMATH)   This blog post is dedicated to all those who took the risk of leaving a situation of abuse and those who are contemplating escaping from one. Whether you are a teenager who found a way to leave your home due to sexual, physical or emotional abuse and trauma or a spouse in a domestic violence situation or a victim of clergy abuse in any religious organization, I commend you for taking the steps needed to survive, to take care of yourself, and to have the courage to escape. If you are thinking of leaving a situation of abuse and trauma, the courage to escape is a necessary ingredient. Remember, you are worthy of freedom, peace and joy! Once upon a time, there was a woman who was in her late 40’s when she left one country ten years ago (2006) to protect her daughter, Megan. Yes, this is my story. The focus today is not on those early years after leaving my abusive husband and Megan’s abusive father. Today I want to share with you my journey into homelessness after my trial for custodial interference and my journey ...
incest and forgiveness

INCEST and FORGIVENESS

 INCEST AND FORGIVENESS (Generational Abuse)   Incest occurred regularly in my home-of-origin. My grandmother and my mother, separately and together, sexually abused me at a very early age. When I was still young, my grandmother had a stroke. She was moved to Texas to live with my aunt and eventually died. My mother continued the abuse, the incest, for years. My siblings were also part of the incest cycle. Incest and forgiveness is an oxymoron-of-sorts in many human beings’ minds. Incest. It seems to be a dirty word that people do not want to acknowledge let alone face. There are many articles and websites on the subject if you look for information on the topic of incest. An insightful one is written in The Atlantic. (http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/01/america-has-an-incest-problem/272459/) Incest. Mother upon daughter and grandmother upon granddaughter incest are even harder for people to grasp. Many doubt a mother could sexually abuse or torture her child. The truth is that this type of abuse happens more than we know. It is Mother’s Day as I write this post. Incest and forgiveness …. How does a person forgive a mother who emotionally and sexually abused him or her? How does a survivor forgive a ...
silence and solitude

SILENCE and SOLITUDE as SELF CARE and SELF COMPASSION

SILENCE and SOLITUDE as SELF CARE and SELF COMPASSION   The past week has been emotionally-charged. My mind and heart seek refuge in silence and solitude. As a survivor of trauma and a life coach for survivors of childhood sexual abuse as well as other forms of abuse and torture, I know to be aware of my past trauma experiences possibly affecting my present daily life. This awareness helps. Retreating into silence and solitude when needed is a form of self care and self compassion. A question I ask myself is, “Would a person who has not suffered serious trauma react similarly?” In other words, is my reaction a “normal” one? As my healing process progressed and the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms lessened, I discovered I reacted and acted in a healthier manner. In fact, I handled last week’s emotionally-charged challenges with calmness and finesse. Oh, I was not perfect! That is okay. I am grateful for my reactions and actions to last weeks’ stressors. It shows me how I am thriving! Life’s difficult experiences occurred to those around me. I, as a witness and team member, supported others. My strength and calmness benefitted them. It was a ...