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) ...
old songs and healing from grief

OLD SONGS in a NEW LIGHT

OLD SONGS in a NEW LIGHT   Have you ever heard old songs in a new light? I was given the opportunity to attend a small concert given by three gents! It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. One of the songs performed was James Taylor’s “Your Smiling Face”. I used to like listening to James Taylor. Somewhere along the line, certain music became painful for me to hear. The emotions that arose were not welcomed. It had been years since I listened to James Taylor or any of my old time favorite artists. Here I was at this gathering listening to an old song – a favorite of mine – and I was smiling. Music that was used during the abuse by Tom M. (my former husband and perpetrator) was, of course, triggering. I avoided listening to those songs for a long time. That was understandable. Yet, songs that used to bring me solace or happiness also brought sadness. Many old songs of my high school and college days (or shortly after) reminded me of several long-term, close, and special friendships that were no longer in existence or barely alive. These songs – such as “You’ve Got a Friend” (Carole ...
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 ...
spiritual sweet spot

SPIRITUAL SWEET SPOT

SPIRITUAL SWEET SPOT   When is the last time you felt a connection with someone on a deep, ethereal level – on an interior heart level – spiritual as some choose to label it? I like the term spiritual sweet spot. Take a moment, if time allows … Breathe … naturally … relax … Center yourself. Think of a spiritual sweet spot. Close your eyes, if it helps. Breathe … just be ... If you recalled a memory of connection with a person on that deep level, how did you feel as you remembered? How do you feel now? In the case where nothing came to mind or thoughts would not quiet, no worries. Try it another time, if you desire. I experienced a spiritual sweet spot recently. One of the qualities of a spiritual sweet spot is that it usually occurs without warning. One normally cannot create the spiritual sweet spot or forecast it. Part of my working landscape includes a job at a coffee shop. This job gives me the opportunity for connection with coworkers and customers of various ages. I like my customers and the feeling is mutual. The coffee shop is quite busy so my conversations ...
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 ...
seeking silence

SILENCE SEEKER

 SILENCE SEEKER   Life has been more stressful of late. I find myself seeking solitude and silence. My mind is tired as well as my body. I want the world to move a bit slower so I can catch up with all the activity and concerns. One day after crossing off items on my to-do-list, I stopped for a cappuccino. A local paper, the Boulder Weekly, includes a weekly horoscope. These horoscopes are frequently written in an interesting manner. The readings may provoke thought. Part of the reading for my sign included: “(As you know, the world is crammed with so much noise and frenzy that it can be hard to hear yourself think – or even feel.) With Healing Silence, you bask in a sanctuary of sweet nothingness for as long as you need to. Please try it sometime soon. Wrap yourself in the luxurious void of Healing Silence.” – Boulder Weekly, March 23, 2017 This week’s horoscope hit the nail on the head. A Healing Silence – Yes, that is what I desired and needed. Two days earlier, I listened to a reflection by Terry Hershey. It resonated with me. I had not heard of Terry Hershey before ...
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, ...
adventure: leaving your comfort zone

ADVENTURE: LEAVING YOUR COMFORT ZONE

ADVENTURE: LEAVING YOUR COMFORT ZONE   Adventure, which requires you to leave your comfort zone, may be easy or difficult for you. How do you definite adventure? One of Mirriam Webster’s definitions for adventure is “an exciting or remarkable experience”.  Adventure can come in small or grand sizes. It can include newness, experiencing something different, or leaving your comfort zone. Many people live in their comfort zones with no desire to experience new people, places or things. Life though often and eventually brings change. These changes may include life bigger transitions such as death, illness, loss of job, etc. These experiences force individuals out of their comfort zones. My recommendation or suggestion is to leave one’s comfort zone willingly in small or even bigger ways. This free choice exercises a muscle-of-sorts – an “I am flexible” muscle. Think for a minute or two or three. What would be an adventure for you?  If you are accustomed to leaving your comfort zone, you may choose larger types of life situations as adventurous. If leaving your safety zone scares you; doing so in small ways may fit the bill. I recently received a henna tattoo on my forearm. It was a mini-adventure ...