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 ...
anger embers

RESIDUE of ANGER

RESIDUE of ANGER   Recently a residue of anger entered my world for a short time period. This anger was toward the institutional systems that years ago separated my daughter, Megan, from me and placed her with the abuser, her father. This misuse of institutional power is a much more common situation than most people realize. Although I have covered this issue in therapy, in my personal relationship with God, and in my daily life – the outrage and frustration reappeared. It took me more time than I would have liked for me to recognize the signs of the indignation. For whatever reasons, I tend to take anger out on myself via not the best self care or eating habits. As soon as I recognized the residue of anger, all became clear. Wow, here I was once again quite mad at institutions and the people involved. I let myself sit in it for a relatively short time. Actually once I acknowledged the indignation; it became unnecessary to sit in it for long. I knew grief was underneath the anger. Deep sadness for the years lost for Megan and I as mother and daughter still exists. The trauma to Megan and ...
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 ...
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 ...

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SPOUSAL SEXUAL ABUSE, PARTNER ABUSE, INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE, DATING VIOLENCE

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SPOUSAL SEXUAL ABUSE, PARTNER ABUSE, INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE, DATING VIOLENCE   Many names exist for abuse against another person in a relationship. These titles include: domestic violence, spousal sexual abuse, partner abuse, intimate partner violence, dating violence, and others. Recently several people have brought domestic violence to my attention. I will use domestic violence (DV) as my main label in this article; but, please know that that covers a wide range of abuses – sexual and not. Domestic violence or partner abuse does not have to contain sexual or physical abuse. It can be emotional, mental, and/or spiritual in nature. Power and control is what the abuser seeks. First, a friend forwarded me to a link of Dear Abby’s. She responds to a woman who writes of sexual abuse in her marriage. http://www.kansascity.com/living/advice-columns/article59319388.html  Marital or spousal rape is a subject that is not frequently addressed. Next, I shared my thoughts on domestic abuse (partner abuse) from my own life with someone in a letter. Below is part of what I wrote: “When I was in the abusive situations – both my home of origin and my marriage – I did not have enough time to clear my head ...
awareness and acceptance

CHANGE via AWARENESS and MINDFULNESS

CHANGE via AWARENESS and MINDFULNESS   Awareness and mindfulness may be the first steps to actual change. My friend’s daughter is in fourth or fifth grade. Her class has a special project for the month of February which has the option of including the entire family. The focus is on health. A one-page form for each person is available to allow them to see their progress as they check off each item successfully completed. The items include: Four to five servings of fruits and vegetables Two hours or less of TV daily One hour of exercise daily No sugary drinks What a good idea! Whether a person checks off one or none of the boxes each day, attention is brought to the subject. Conversations are started. My friend and I talked about which goals are the easiest or hardest to reach. This school project happens to coincide with a few weeks of the Christian Lenten season. Many Catholics “give up” something for Lent. Others choose to “do something” during Lent. In either case, Lent and the school project both provide venues to notice our behaviors and to improve our actions or thoughts. To notice our defects of character or our ...
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 ...