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 ...
trusting yourself

TRUSTING YOURSELF

TRUSTING YOURSELF   A lesson I was forced to learn late in life was to trust myself. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (including incest and human trafficking), I was not my own person. I did not have a chance to form healthy boundaries. People owned, used, and abused my little body and continued to do so for years. As for my mind, I had contradictory influences forming my intellect as well as my emotional state. On one hand, I received a good education including decent moral teachings during my high school years. On the other hand, I was given messages of my unworthiness and stupidity on a daily basis from my family and other abusers. Along the way though, I learned enough. My instincts became tuned. A skill I used to survive was repressing the memories of the abuse and becoming numb on many levels (including emotionally). My many years of living with my former husband (perpetrator of abuse, torture and brainwashing) enforced my low self-esteem and self-worth. I was a capable, intelligent woman (although I barely realized it). The few jobs I had proved that point. On many levels, I was average. When my daughter was born, ...
loving yourself

LOVING YOURSELF!

LOVING YOURSELF!   Valentine’s Day is this weekend. Loving yourself is not usually connected with that day, although Valentine’s Day is synonymous with love. These days, Valentine’s Day consists of a date night of gigantic proportions for those who are in a committed relationship or not. Some individuals boycott Valentine’s Day with the statement that they do not need a special day to show their love. Children exchange valentines or other little gifts, although some schools are banning candy as an option. Grocery stores have one or two aisles filled with Valentine’s Day candy and gifts. If you are in a relationship with someone, will you celebrate the day as a couple? Will you ignore it? Are you single? Do you feel dread at the prospect of all this “love” around you and all these twosomes (or ads for twosomes)? Whatever your plans are for Valentine’s Day, when is the last time you considered love as a verb, an action word? Do you love yourself? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Is a well-known Bible passage (Mark 31). The same thought appears in other religious circles as well as the secular world. The golden rule states, “do onto others as you ...
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 ...
new beginning 2016

A NEW BEGINNING

A NEW BEGINNING   Today is the final day of 2015. Will you spend this evening looking back at the previous year or years? Are you willing to let go of what was? Are you willing to not dwell on what wasn’t?  Isn’t it interesting how many of us make resolutions for the upcoming year? In reality, each day is a new beginning. As a culture, a new year does represent a new beginning for each of us. It is the time to reflect on the past year and to make plans for the future. How will you make 2016 better?  Do you want your life to be different in 2016? What are your dreams and desires for this brand new year? Have you repeatedly attempted to change the same problems? Are you stuck? Does fear holds you back from making real change occur in your life or within yourself? A friend sent me an e-mail that contained a quotation that may be attributed to Thomas Jefferson. I had never heard of it. Since then, I have seen the quotation in several places. It is funny how that works. Synchronicity, I wonder. “If you want something you've never had, you ...
peace

PASSION for PEACE

PASSION FOR PEACE   It may appear obvious that I have a passion for peace! My e-mail address and my website title contain the word “peace”. I write of seeking silence within myself. It is in that silence that I am able to reach a deeper and more intense level of peace. The depth sometimes carries over to my everyday life. Where did I get this desire for peace? Was I born with it? As a child, I hated when voices were raised or when anger was apparent to me in the silent actions or facial expressions of those around me. I became an excellent detector of a person being upset. As a little girl, I soon found I could not soothe anyone’s anger or frustration. My best bet was to become invisible. I did not take on a caretaker role or a co-dependent role of trying to make it all better – not overtly. I became as quiet I could. It seemed best not to draw any attention to myself. My skills used to being invisible became quite good. Nothing mattered though. Invisibility did not work. I was still used and abused. Peace only existed when I was able ...
single life after domestic violence or abuse or torture

SINGLE LIFE as a SURVIVOR of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE and OTHER FORMS of ABUSE or TORTURE

SINGLE LIFE as a SURVIVOR of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE and OTHER FORMS of ABUSE or TORTURE   Are you now living the single life as a survivor of domestic violence and/or other forms of abuse or torture? How do you view the single life? Are you afraid to enter into a romantic, loving relationship with someone? Are you jumping from one romantic relationship to another (even though these relationships are not healthy ones for you)? Are you afraid to be alone? What are your fears? This topic was brought to mind because of the deep loneliness I feel at times. A friend and spiritual mentor sent me a few quotations on loneliness in response to an e-mail I sent her. These quotations were: “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” – Maya Angelou “The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.” – Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven “There is the solitude of suffering, when you go through darkness that is lonely, intense, and terrible. Words become powerless to express your pain; what others hear from your words is so ...
Christmas Wish List

A SURVIVOR’S CHRISTMAS WISH LIST

A SURVIVOR’S CHRISTMAS WISH LIST   When I was a child, I would write a Christmas wish list. This list would include gifts I wanted Santa to bring me. My mother would order most gifts from catalogs which provided fodder for a child to dream which presents she would prefer. The majority of the gifts under the tree were clothes items that were definitely needed. I do not remember many of my childhood presents that were not clothes. Chatty Cathy was a gift one year, as well as Lite Brite. My heartfelt wishes though were to be loved, cherished, and protected by my mother and others in the household (and outside of it). Unfortunately, abuse continued year after year; and, I would end up with a demeaning, abusive marriage that lasted for decades. This marriage included decades of domestic violence, extreme abuse, human trafficking, and no everlasting real love. Fortunately, I am free from abusive relationships and situations. I am on the road of freedom which includes the gifts of peace and joy. Today I found myself writing a Christmas wish list. Whether Christmas is a religious holiday to you or a secular one or nothing to you, thinking of ...
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 ...