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 ...
joy and freedom

JOY and FREEDOM

JOY AND FREEDOM   Joy and freedom is a glorious topic for a blog post! When one has survived the horrors of abuse and torture, freedom is especially precious. Sometimes human beings can take freedom for granted as well as joy. Recently I had an extremely short chance encounter with my former defense attorney, Alan Rosenfeld. Alan Rosenfeld with my former public defense attorney successful defended me when I was charged with custodial interference. I was a protective parent who attempted to keep my daughter, Megan, safe from further abuse from her father and others. The jury trial ended in a hung jury. Charges were eventually dismissed. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Alan Rosenfeld as an attorney and as a man. His continued commitment to help battered women and their children is remarkable. (Alan’s website is: http://alanrosenfeld.com/) Later that day I had a phone conversation with a dear friend. As we shared our lives, I was sitting on a bench by a creek. It was quiet around me except for the sounds of the ducks walking on the thin ice. Day ended and evening began. As I walked, I saw the Christmas lights in the park as ...
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 ...
gratitude challenge

GRATITUDE CHALLENGE

 GRATITUDE CHALLENGE   October has arrived! Autumn is here. Thanksgiving will arrive in six weeks! Readers may remember that this time of year brings gratitude to my mind. I am offering my readers a chance to participate in a gratitude challenge. Megan (my daughter) and I used to keep a blank piece of paper on the refrigerator starting in October. This paper became our gratitude list. Whenever the mood struck, one of us would write something that caused us to be grateful. (See my blog post: http://roadtofreedomandpeace.com/gratitude/.) I removed the list after Thanksgiving. The lists were kept to glance at each year. Unfortunately, the sheets of papers were left in my former apartment in Germany when I left abruptly to protect Megan. The lists and memories remain in my heart though. Gratitude exists in my heart! The gratitude challenge is quite simple. Make a gratitude list of your own this October and November. Maybe you will even choose to keep two separate lists. A community or family list could be on the fridge and a personal list could be kept by your bedside (or in another safe place). Make sure the list is where it can be seen or where ...
cat's comfort zone

COMFORT ZONE

 COMFORT ZONE   Do you find it easy or difficult to step outside of your comfort zone? Are you a creature of habit? Many of us are. Do you desire change, but draw back when you arrive at the line of demarcation between comfort and discomfort?  What holds you back? Take a moment and look at the photo of the cat in the tree looking at the moon. Do you think the feline is a creature who lives in the outdoors and is in its comfort zone? Or do you imagine the cat was accustomed to a cozy indoor lifestyle and decided to leave its comfort zone for a night? It is something to ponder for a moment or two. What does the cat see? How does it feel? Maybe it is an outside cat who sits on the tree branch often and is in its comfort zone. Maybe this feline is lonely though and is deciding whether to take a chance with human beings to find a new home. It makes me smile to imagine the cat is an inside creature who decided to leave the house. Maybe this cat is sitting on the branch filled with a sense ...
"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 ...
freedom

FREEDOM LIST

 FREEDOM LIST   Today I am introducing the idea of a freedom list. I like gratitude lists, as my readers and friends know. Gratitude brings forth a sense of joy or peace especially in time periods when life seems gloomy and despair is near or here. When I was first in a 12-step program, the idea of a gratitude list was introduced to me. It became a yearly habit each October or November to put a blank piece of paper on the refrigerator. My young daughter, Megan, and I would write whatever either one of us was grateful for on any given day. Some items were funny, some poignant, some unusual, as well as the normal things that evoke thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, I would remove the list. After several years of gratitude lists, it was interesting to reread the recordings of our gratitude. Growth occurred. No matter what was occurring in our lives, there were always many items on the paper. Gratitude existed. July 4th, Independence Day, always brings to mind my own independence. Thoughts of victims still in domestic violence relationships, incest, or other type of abusive situations weigh heavy on my mind also. My heart goes out to ...

SIGNS of HEALING

SIGNS of HEALING   You allow yourself to face the past and present abusive situations in your life. You find the courage to deal with the truth of the abuse in your past. If you are currently in a domestic violence situation or any situation of abuse or trauma, you admit it and find help. Healing becomes a strong possibility. You have an inkling that you are worthy of a better life. You do not doubt your memories. You do not continually question how could this person who should have loved you and protected you be a perpetrator of abuse and/or torture. You accept that, sadly, the person who “should” have loved you committed abuse against you. Life is not the way you want it to be. It is the way it is. You arrive fully at acceptance – not approval – of the trauma that occurred.  You do not have to prove that the abuse happened. Some people may label you as mentally ill, especially the perpetrator(s). Your therapist, friends, and others (including survivors) believe you. The urge to prove the abuse occurred is no longer with you. It is enough that you know it did. You are no longer ...