vulnerability and strength

VULNERABILITY and STRENGTH

VULNERABILITY and STRENGTH   Victims of abuse tend to be quite strong. We need to be in order to survive. When you begin the process of healing, one learns that vulnerability is needed. First, we as victims/survivors allow ourselves to be vulnerable with those we trust – therapists, pastoral counselors, and close friends – by sharing our stories of trauma. Eventually, later in the healing process, it is easier to allow ourselves to be authentic with more and more people. Vulnerability is part of that authenticity. “To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”                 Criss Jami Christina Rasmussen, who dealt with grief from the death of her husband, addresses this point also in a recent blog post of hers. She writes: “I think when we go through really tough times we toughen up so much that we lose our ability to ask for help. And it takes years, and in my case a decade, to see how much harder I made my life after loss because I did not ask for help.” “You don’t need to do it all on your own.” To read the entire blog post, go ...
Dance in the Rain!

DANCE in the RAIN!

DANCE in the RAIN!   When is the last time you (literally or not) took time to dance in the rain? Have you ever? What joy, if you have! I was born on a Wednesday. "Monday's child is fair of face..." By Mother Goose Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace; Wednesday's child is full of woe, Thursday's child has far to go; Friday's child is loving and giving, Saturday's child works hard for its living; But the child that is born on the Sabbath day Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay. According to this rhyme which was very familiar to members in my household of origin, I was a child “full of woe”. Considering the abuse and trauma I incurred as a child, woe would be appropriate. Labels sometimes stick though and for too long. As a child, I learned to hide my happiness from others, especially my mother. She said laughing turned to crying and punishment often did follow my show of happiness. Yet, I have memories of fun playing with friends in the neighborhood as well as good times such as playing cards with family members. I learned to dance ...
freedom from triggers

FREEDOM from TRIGGERS

FREEDOM from TRIGGERS   As I am writing this post, it is Easter Sunday in the Christian calendar. This post on freedom from triggers may be triggering for some individuals, especially spiritual abuse and extreme abuse survivors. Please take care of yourself and use your discretion. The path to freedom for domestic violence survivors as well as other trauma survivors may begin with the actual physical freedom one experiences when the victim no longer is in the environment with the abuser/perpetrator.   Leaving the abusive situation means no longer having physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual abuse and/or torture perpetrated upon them. Freedom from triggers make take more healing and more time. Many survivors suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This may include flashbacks or other emotional distress due to triggers. Triggers may include persons, places, things, smells, touch … anything that brings memories of the abuse to mind and causes angst.  Some triggers may only cause mild anxiety. Others are seemingly more powerful. Anyone, not only abuse survivors, can incur PTSD due to a trauma. In the 1970’s, Jesus Christ Superstar (the play and the album) debuted. I owned the album and enjoyed listening to the music. Fast forward almost three ...
beauty of oneself

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!   As a child or an adult, rape, abuse, and/or torture can cause a person to turn off emotionally and physically. Victims may numb their feelings and ignore their bodies. The belief that “you are beautiful!” is non-existent for a survivor initially. (Unwarranted) shame, guilty, and possibly shock is palpable. Survivors of repeated abuse learn how to shut down their emotions and physical aspects almost completely. Pain (of the physical, sexual and/or emotional type) has to be endured. You learn to close down in order to survive. For some survivors it may take a long time to let themselves feel the deep intense emotions -both unpleasant and pleasant ones.  A person may become lost inside oneself. How do you find yourself again? When a person learns how to ignore physical and sexual pain, the individual may also turn off the pleasurable aspects of one’s body. It took me a long time to realize how high my pain tolerance was. Years ago during a short medical procedure, the doctor did not numb the region. The medical assistant or nurse was appalled, but she had no control. For me, the procedure was painful; and, I tolerated it. Pain was normal ...
loving yourself

LOVING YOURSELF!

LOVING YOURSELF!   Valentine’s Day is this weekend. Loving yourself is not usually connected with that day, although Valentine’s Day is synonymous with love. These days, Valentine’s Day consists of a date night of gigantic proportions for those who are in a committed relationship or not. Some individuals boycott Valentine’s Day with the statement that they do not need a special day to show their love. Children exchange valentines or other little gifts, although some schools are banning candy as an option. Grocery stores have one or two aisles filled with Valentine’s Day candy and gifts. If you are in a relationship with someone, will you celebrate the day as a couple? Will you ignore it? Are you single? Do you feel dread at the prospect of all this “love” around you and all these twosomes (or ads for twosomes)? Whatever your plans are for Valentine’s Day, when is the last time you considered love as a verb, an action word? Do you love yourself? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Is a well-known Bible passage (Mark 31). The same thought appears in other religious circles as well as the secular world. The golden rule states, “do onto others as you ...
single moment of joy

A SINGLE MOMENT of JOY

A SINGLE MOMENT OF JOY   As I write this, the weather is sunny and warm. Tomorrow winter returns. A single day of warmth in the midst of a cold winter can remind us that spring will arrive. In the same way, a single moment of joy in the midst of a bad day, or deep sadness, or seemingly never-ending grief, or general malaise may remind us that goodness exists and that more joy is to come. Today I attended a workshop. During the break, a familiar face appeared next to mine. I do not know this person well; but, we keep seeing each other in various places around town. I was given the opportunity to listen to a small snapshot of her recent life story. It contained loss. The particulars are not important for this post. She shared a small glimpse into her journey of faith. As she mentioned the subject of joy, tears welled up in my eyes. Her eyes then shared tears also. Joy! Joy is such an intense emotion … such a glorious feeling that defies definition. Joy exists! There were times in my past when I did not know if I would ever feel joy ...
invisible wall of truth

INVISIBLE WALL of TRUTH

INVISIBLE WALL of TRUTH   Have you ever faced the invisible wall of truth? How many times have you stood on the side of the truth of the abuse you suffered when disbelievers stood on the other side? If/when you have faced the past or present of abuse (including domestic violence), how do you handle the denial of a family member who also suffered from the hands and mind of the same perpetrator? How do you explain or accept that a family of origin member knows she herself was abused, but believes you were not abused by the same family member/perpetrator? What is your response when a person (especially a child) says the abuse did not occur after stating and knowing it did? On a possibly less intense level, what is your reaction when you share your past with someone and the person responds with silence, with less or no communication later, or even states they do not believe the abuse occurred? Do you ever wonder how many individuals who respond with disbelief have a background of abuse not yet acknowledged and faced? (Statistics of childhood sexual abuse are alarming. It is extremely under-reported. Many adults do not face the ...
birthdays and beauty bring joy

BIRTHDAYS and BEAUTY: ALLOWING JOY into OUR LIVES as SURVIVORS of TRAUMA and TORTURE

BIRTHDAYS and BEAUTY:  ALLOWING JOY into OUR LIVES as SURVIVORS of TRAUMA and TORTURE   “Birthdays and Beauty: Allowing Joy into our Lives as Survivors of Torture and Trauma” may seem to be an odd combination as a topic for a blog post. Recently as I sat in a coffee shop reconnecting with a coffee shop friend who I see infrequently, the conversation quickly became less superficial. We are both survivors of childhood abuse, including torture. Neither of us speak of it much for healing has occurred. The conversation focused on our lives now and how to allow joy into our lives on a deeper level and a more frequent basis. My birthday is in the month of January. Beginning a new year and celebrating a birthday are both possible causes of reflection. When a new year and a birthday are in close proximity, there can be a double whammy effect! This year in my reflecting, I find myself yearning for more joy and beauty in my life. Frequently when you are raised in an emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abusive household, happiness or joy is not allowed. Punishment may follow moments of happiness. This is also true in homes that ...
acceptance of now - go to future

REFLECTIONS on ACCEPTANCE from a TRAUMA LIFE COACH

REFLECTIONS on ACCEPTANCE from a TRAUMA LIFE COACH   A new year has begun! Acceptance of where you find yourself at this moment may be the first step to action. Are you satisfied with your life as is? What areas do you want to change? Are there segments of your life’s situation that cannot be changed? What does that mean to you? “Acceptance does not mean we are giving our approval.” Melody Beattie wrote that statement in a Hazelden Thought of the Day. (I could only find a link to the entire short article on this site: http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/friends-family-substance-abusers/173364-language-letting-go-april-3-acceptance.html Acceptance does not mean approval continues to resonate within me. When Megan and I were going through the injustices of the court systems and other institutions, the last thing I wanted to do was accept the situation. That has also been true during other periods of my life. As a recovering alcoholic, I knew of the necessity of seeing life as it truly was. I had to move out of denial and accept that I could not drink alcohol. Until I accepted that fact, I would not and could not take the actions needed to lead a sober life. Acceptance of my ...
peace

PASSION for PEACE

PASSION FOR PEACE   It may appear obvious that I have a passion for peace! My e-mail address and my website title contain the word “peace”. I write of seeking silence within myself. It is in that silence that I am able to reach a deeper and more intense level of peace. The depth sometimes carries over to my everyday life. Where did I get this desire for peace? Was I born with it? As a child, I hated when voices were raised or when anger was apparent to me in the silent actions or facial expressions of those around me. I became an excellent detector of a person being upset. As a little girl, I soon found I could not soothe anyone’s anger or frustration. My best bet was to become invisible. I did not take on a caretaker role or a co-dependent role of trying to make it all better – not overtly. I became as quiet I could. It seemed best not to draw any attention to myself. My skills used to being invisible became quite good. Nothing mattered though. Invisibility did not work. I was still used and abused. Peace only existed when I was able ...