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 ...
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 ...
living with uncertainty

LIVING with UNCERTAINTY

 LIVING with UNCERTAINTY   Life is impermanent. Living with uncertainty is a challenge. People die. Jobs are gained and lost. Health fails. Accidents occur. A cancer diagnosis is given to you or a loved one. A child is born. Therapy ends. Tragedies occur. A person is raped. A marriage is celebrated. Financial loss causes homelessness. Life is uncertain. How resilient are you? Do you move easily with the ebb and flow of life? Do you hold on tightly to what you have in fear you will lose it? What control do you have? When I lived in the extreme domestic violence marriage with Tom M. (abuser and perpetrator), my life was quite consistent. Financial security existed. Travel was a given. Clothes were affordable. We had decent health insurance as a family unit. We owned two cars. A middle class life was ours. I was a stay-at-home mom who homeschooled my daughter, Megan. Abuse and torture occurred almost daily. It was a certainty. Abuse was a certainty in my life for almost 47 years (from the day I was born into my family of origin until my relationship ended with Tom M.) A severe price was paid by my daughter and ...
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 ...
energy

ENERGY

ENERGY   Recently shingles awoke in my body! The most surprising aspect for me was how shingles lowered my energy level. I was so very tired. Although my mind wanted to accomplish a certain goal, even a quite pleasurable activity, my physical body had little power to act. This fatigue of such intensity contrasted with my normal energy levels. As I age, I do notice a lessening of stamina; but, this fatigue was quite different. I have friends of all ages. Elderly friends tell me of tiredness due to illness or aging. This decrease of vitality is life-changing. There are positive aspects as well as many negative ones. To accept with dignity and grace the new limitations on one’s lifestyle is challenging. A person’s gifts modify to fit the situation. Many find new ways to continue to serve others. One younger person I spoke with recently discovered she had thyroid problems. Now that her thyroid issues are being solved, she finds her vim and vigor are so much stronger. As I was discovering how life is as your push yourself to do even the smallest things, she was finding delight in her body’s ability to do so much in one ...
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 ...