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 ...
silence and solitude

SILENCE and SOLITUDE as SELF CARE and SELF COMPASSION

SILENCE and SOLITUDE as SELF CARE and SELF COMPASSION   The past week has been emotionally-charged. My mind and heart seek refuge in silence and solitude. As a survivor of trauma and a life coach for survivors of childhood sexual abuse as well as other forms of abuse and torture, I know to be aware of my past trauma experiences possibly affecting my present daily life. This awareness helps. Retreating into silence and solitude when needed is a form of self care and self compassion. A question I ask myself is, “Would a person who has not suffered serious trauma react similarly?” In other words, is my reaction a “normal” one? As my healing process progressed and the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms lessened, I discovered I reacted and acted in a healthier manner. In fact, I handled last week’s emotionally-charged challenges with calmness and finesse. Oh, I was not perfect! That is okay. I am grateful for my reactions and actions to last weeks’ stressors. It shows me how I am thriving! Life’s difficult experiences occurred to those around me. I, as a witness and team member, supported others. My strength and calmness benefitted them. It was a ...
Reflection on Thanksgiving

REFLECTIONS ON THANKSGIVING

REFLECTIONS ON THANKSGIVING   My desire this week was to write an inspiring post on the topic of Thanksgiving and gratitude. As usual, I must speak honestly and from my heart. These weeks from mid-November to my birthday in January are hard ones for me. Each year these months get easier, but not easy. These reflections on Thanksgiving and this time of year are ones are want to share with you. Holidays can be difficult for all of us – survivors of abuse or those never abused. Expectations may be high. Some prepare and hope for the perfect day(s). Others may have expectations of sadness, family discord, loneliness, etc. for that are what has occurred frequently. Some may try to ignore the actual day or the entire season. How do you handle the holidays? The time period from November 20th to my birthday in January is filled with anniversaries for me. I remember dates. My mother used to remember dates. These dates mark significant occurrences. Besides the past anniversaries, holidays in general included more abuse – especially ritual abuse and extreme torture perpetrated by my ex-husband, Tom M., and others. There is no need to list all the anniversaries or ...
joy and the power of music

JOY: AWARENESS AND EXPERIENCES OF JOY AS A SURVIVOR OF ABUSE AND/OR TORTURE

JOY AWARENESS AND EXPERIENCES OF JOY AS A SURVIVOR OF ABUSE AND/OR TORTURE   There is a street musician, a drummer, in my city who brings joy to my heart and others. This performer wears an African mask and a costume as he drums. I have witness the changes in his performances over the years I have watched him. This season, he has welcomed children, teens, and adults to drum along with him. I sit, listen, watch, and enjoy. The rhythm of his drumming brings calmness within me. JOY. What an occasion to witness people’s joy. Most little children lose their initial fear and gently hit the drum with pleasure. There are a few little ones who confidently pound it. Children of all ages experience the freedom. Teens and college students tend to lose their inhibitions and shyness. Glee shows on their faces. Several adults, experienced in drumming or not, lose their facades and just are in the moment. Pleasure and joy shows. Strangers are asked to take photos so individuals can have a record of the moment. A small segment of community is formed for a very short time. These small kindnesses and connections remind us of our humanness ...
Halloween - Holy Days - Mortality

HALLOWEEN AND HOLY DAYS (Meaning for Survivors & Thoughts on Mortality)

HALLOWEEN AND HOLY DAYS (MEANING FOR SURVIVORS & THOUGHTS ON MORTALITY)   Halloween and holy days, such as All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, Day of the Dead, and changing our clocks all occur within the next several days. Halloween has been a topic of conversation lately with a few of my friends. It is a secular holiday now ... one of candy and costumes. As a child, I liked Halloween. It was fun to dress in simple homemade costumes and to be free to roam the neighborhood with my friends. Receiving candy was great! My mother did not make a big amount of money in her job. We did not lack for food. Candy and sweets were limited due to financial constraints. As a kid, owning all that free candy was icing on the cake. In the Catholic calendar, All Saints’ Day is on November 1, 2015, the day after Halloween. All Souls’ Day is on November 2nd. Day of the Dead is also celebrated on November 2, 2015. I use the word “celebrated” because it is a Mexican tradition to celebrate the dead on that day. It is a joyous occasion. The Catholic Church has a tradition of ...
Gratitude

GRATITUDE

GRATITUDE   The past week or two have been rough ones for me ... and, when times get hard, I remember gratitude! We all have difficult days or periods in our life filled with challenges. Survivors of abuse and trauma may sometimes fall into old habits that do not work for us anymore. Or maybe life starts to seem like one big challenge after another when you add the healing journey and the pain that entails. Yet, the healing path also contains joy and freedom. Sometimes we do not notice the positives; or, if we do notice, we push them gently aside as not so important. Also, there are times when dealing with the pain is a positive in itself! Going through the hard times, the pain, and the challenges make us the strong, resilient, compassionate survivors that we are today. The first time I gave serious thought to the subject of gratitude was when I began attending 12 step meetings for my alcohol problem in December, 2002. Gratitude and gratitude lists are important aspects of recovery. Believe me, when your thoughts are concerning your next drink and you are dealing with huge life stresses, gratitude may not be first ...

ACKNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE AND KNOW YOUR BODY (AS A SURVIVOR OF ABUSE AND/OR TORTURE)

ACKNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE AND KNOW YOUR BODY (AS A SURVIVOR OF ABUSE AND/OR TORTURE)   Our bodies as victims of rape, incest, domestic violence, abuse and/or torture suffer when the trauma occurs. The trauma affects us physically, mentally, emotionally and often spiritually. Many times, especially if the abuse is repeated, a victim escapes her body and the pain through dissociation. When the incident (or incidences of abuse) ends, the victim can become separate or stay separate from her or his own body. Often times, survivors are not very aware of how their bodies feel at any given point in time. Many survivors treat their physical bodies poorly. Self harm, cutting, alcohol, drugs, and overeating are common. If you ask a survivor where they feel anger, sadness or any emotion in her body, the person may not be in touch enough to answer. Eventually through the survivor’s healing process, the body is acknowledged, experienced, known, and loved. There are many healing modalities. Trauma-based yoga (and yoga in general) has been shown through research to facilitate healing. On September 12, 2015, I attended and presented a workshop entitled, “Survivor’s Resume” at the WINGS Foundation Conference in Denver, Colorado. The WINGS Conference is an ...

Non-State Torture, Ritual Abuse, Extreme Abuse

NON-STATE TORTURE, RITUAL ABUSE AND TORTURE,  EXTREME ABUSE   As a survivor and a life coach for non-state torture, ritual abuse, and extreme abuse survivors as well as other types of abuse survivors, I am well aware of the immensity and intensity of this subject. In order to even begin to write this post, I need to take a deep breath to reach deep down within myself. To speak of sexual abuse, clergy abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, and rape takes courage. Most people know someone who has experienced one or all of these types of abuse. Many people believe they have not met someone who has survived torture or ritual abuse or mind control. Those subjects are still somewhat hidden. Many survivors keep their past of surviving ritual abuse and torture to themselves for fear of being disbelieved and/or thought of as mentally ill. I know. I was disbelieved (as was my daughter). I was also given a diagnosis of schizophrenia by a German court-appointed psychiatrist. (Read: www.hopeforus.wordpress.com). It can be easier to give someone a mental illness label than to believe that person and face the truth. In my journey, I have connected with quite a few ritual ...
freedom after speaking of abuse and/or torture

FREEDOM TO SPEAK OF THE ABUSE AND/OR TORTURE

FREEDOM TO SPEAK OF THE ABUSE AND/OR TORTURE   When was the first time you felt the freedom to speak of the incest, rape, abuse and/or torture you experienced? Did you always recall the abuse or did you put it aside, repress it, or deny it until you were forced to face the truth or until you were safe and strong enough to do so? If you always remembered the abuse or are in a current abusive domestic violence relationship or relationship with abuse of any kind, sharing your story with someone is the first step to healing. To those, like me, who repressed our pasts (of sexual abuse, incest, human trafficking, physical abuse, ritual abuse, and/or torture); we had to awaken to ourselves. Individuals have asked me how I can be so open with my life’s story. Some have questioned the relief I feel after sharing my extensive history of abuse, incest, and torture. This post will begin to answer those inquiries. At age 45, I began to recover bits and pieces of my gruesome past. These memories arrived almost always when I was alone. Fortunately, I was in therapy at the time I started letting the abuse return ...

FORGIVING MY MOTHER FOR INCEST AND ALL THE ABUSE

FORGIVING MY MOTHER FOR INCEST AND ALL THE ABUSE   Forgiveness is a highly charged word for many of us. Incest is a word that many people want to ignore and avoid. Incest – a dirty, secret, taboo that seldom occurs is what too many humans want to believe. Putting forgiveness and incest in the same sentence can cause a collective gasp. It also may cause some of you to stop reading. Please don’t! Somewhere along my healing journey, I forgave my mother, Mary Ellen, my mom. This forgiveness was not a one-shot deal. I forgave her, got angry again, delved further into the wounds and the hurt, let time pass; somehow forgave her again ….. It was a cycle of healing and forgiveness. Each time the forgiveness became stronger and sturdier as the wounds healed further and the hurt dissipated. Oh, the pain and the hurt are not totally eradicated – not do I expect them to be. As an online life coach for incest survivors as well as other abuse and trauma survivors, I have no expectations or opinion that a client or a survivor needs to forgive anyone. It makes sense that each individual looks inside oneself ...