Archive for December, 2011

PhotobucketMy sister and nephews are coming into town today, and they will be here for week. That is one reason that I will be blogging sporadically. This is the only time of year they visit, so my son and I want to spend lots of time with them.

Before I can blow off everything else that needs to be done at home, I have had to work extra hard to get it finished before they arrive. This includes paying bills, cleaning the house, and doing the myriad other things that need to be done in any household. Basically, my situation isn’t much different than what is going on in thousands, or even millions, of households across the country as Christmas approaches.

My son’s Winter Break started yesterday, so I involved him in the housecleaning. I paid him to clean the house with me for two hours, and we worked very hard. After we finished sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, dusting, etc., we both dropped into my bed exhausted. I fell asleep while we were watching a TV show, and I slept like the dead.

I think I have been running on adrenaline for several weeks now. I got through a day that is typically difficult for me without any problems. In fact, I had a very pleasant day, which is unusual for me. I think I am reaping the benefits of “being with” the pain of the last cluster of memories. I am usually feeling hostile toward Christmas by now. Instead, I am at peace with it. I am not giddy and “into” Christmas, but the hostility is gone.

Back to yesterday … My son woke me after an hour, and my body didn’t want to cooperate as I cooked dinner. I felt like I was walking through water. Every movement was physically difficult to do.

I laid down in my bed at 8:00 p.m. to watch TV. My son came in my room at 8:20 to be tucked in, and he asked me to go downstairs to get him some water. I simply could not move. It wasn’t just that I didn’t want to get up – I couldn’t get up. My son thought it was a game and tried to “force” me up by pulling off the covers, taking my pillows, etc. I actually fell asleep in an uncomfortable position. I could hear him calling the dogs to his room, etc., but my body would not move. It’s like I was trapped in a comatose body. I was aware of my body’s deep breathing, but I couldn’t move.

I eventually forced myself to get up (after about 30 minutes) to blow out the candle and turn off the light. I slept for four hours, got up to use the bathroom, and then slept for another solid six hours, all with no medications to help me sleep. I have still felt trapped in that “walking in water” state today and feel like I could sleep all day. (I have two ADHD children running around the house – my son and his friend – so napping is not an option.)

I think my body is trying to recuperate from so many nights of insomnia. I also think I was getting by on adrenaline, and now that it has stopped, I am left with an exhausted body. Let’s just say I am actually feeling my age!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I have made an observation about myself that I don’t quite understand. I have cut two important women out of my life. The first one is momster, who made my childhood a living hell and who is directly responsible for numerous abusers having access to me. Why I would want to cut her out of my life seems pretty obvious.

The second woman I have cut out of my life is the friend I blogged about here. She was a good friend for the most part for nine years, and she was there for me during the early years of healing. In fact, she was the first person I had the courage to embrace deep in my heart as a friend. That friendship ended because I outgrew her. I needed to “stay sick” for the friendship to work. I couldn’t stay “sick,” and she could not endure me “well,” so that friendship is over.

The friend brought much more of value to my life, but I have absolutely no desire to have any contact with her. I wouldn’t even consider sending her a Christmas card, not because I wish her ill but because I think it would be cruel to send her mixed messages. I am out of that friendship and don’t want back in. That bond is severed. Period.

Then, we have momster, who brought very little good to my life and mountains of pain, and I felt compelled to send her a Christmas card?? Why??

Why is it so clear that the friend needs to be removed from my life 100% but that momster does not? Why is it so easy to see that sending the friend mixed messages would be cruel, but I view the same act as a kindness if I do it to momster?

I truly don’t understand this about myself. Am I being influenced by society, which says that a mother’s love is forever? Am I feeling “guilted” into this by my religion? Is there a part of myself who still holds out hope that momster will change? (I truly do not think this is even possible.)

Why do I still feel a pull toward momster but not toward the friend when the friend was better for me than momster ever was?

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Hi, all.

The busy-ness of the holidays is hitting my household in full force, doubly so with my kid being out of school for three weeks. I’ll try to blog when I can, but I won’t be able to blog regularly until after the new year.

~ Faith

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I have shared before that I am trying to learn how to “be” with my feelings. I am trying not to analyze them or avoid them. My therapist advised me to do this years ago, but it doesn’t come naturally for me. Who wants to sits around feeling “bad” for days or weeks on end?

For whatever reason, this is what I have felt drawn to do this time around. I have been in a cocooning place, not really wanting much interaction with the outside world. That’s unusual for me because I am a social person. While I do need “me time,” I also draw energy from connecting with other people. However, for the past few weeks, I haven’t been calling many people. I have withdrawn into my shell.

I actually saw some results from this over the past couple of days. Wednesday was less hard. I guess that’s the best way to word it. It felt like I had been carrying weights for a long time, and now some of the weights had been removed. I didn’t feel “good” or “happy.” It just felt “less hard.” I was appreciative of that.

Thursday was even better. I felt “lighter” and more present. I noticed more things around me when I went to the gym and otherwise went about my day. I actually felt like connecting with other people. I called my sister and had lunch with a friend. I was amazed that I actually felt this way, especially with the holidays so close. I am typically getting “worse” by now, not better. I have been trying to observe all of this without analyzing it, which isn’t easy for me.

Sadly, that place did not last. As I engaged in the world again, I found myself getting triggered a lot. I guess that is to be expected at this time of year for me. I am very sensitive to anything that can in any way be construed as criticism at this time of year. I am also very sensitive to other people’s energies, so I can “feel” other people’s negativity.

Perhaps this is a normal part of reengaging in society after disengaging for so long. Again, I am trying not to analyze it, but old habits die hard. I am also trying not to react but just “to be.” I am trying to let go of my own negative reactions to other people’s negativity, and I can see progress there as well.

One piece of self-analysis I was unable to avoid was connecting that I think I am sensitive to other people’s criticism (as I perceive it – I doubt any of these people intended criticism) because I am already working so, so hard through my stuff right now. As Michael shared before, there is no public acknowledgement for all of the hard work I have been doing. I don’t need a to-do list of more changes I need to make. I need to honor how far I have come and don’t need anyone else giving me more to change.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Hi, all.

The blog entry I wrote on Monday entitled Making a Difference in the World is part of a blogging challenge for a charity called Vittana. Vittana had some technical issues earlier this week, so I just got the language to insert at the bottom of the blog entry. I checked the charity before participating to make sure it is legit. I welcome all of you to do the same and let me know if you find anything of concern.

Nobody should feel pressured to participate in the challenge, but I want to invite anyone to participate who **wants** to do so. In a nutshell, you loan money (I believe the minimum loan is $25) to a specific college student in a third world country who doesn’t have the funds to complete college. (You choose the student yourself — profiles are online.) College costs as low as $2 a day in some of these countries, so at $25 loan is a HUGE contribution (versus here in America where that barely buys you a cup of coffee!).

After the student graduates, he or she pays you back. From my research online, it looks like the repayment rate is in the 97-99% range, which is incredible to me! Then, you can withdraw your repayment or apply it to toward another student. I plan to do this myself (although I need to get my kid to school right now — I want to take my time in choosing which student to sponsor).

Again, NOBODY should feel pressured to participate. I am choosing to participate in making a loan and blogging about making a difference because I believe this is a worthy cause. This blog’s primary focus is healing, not fundraising, so feel free to ignore this opportunity if you don’t feel drawn to it.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Yesterday was a good day. My kid woke me up at 3:30 a.m. with a nightmare (that part wasn’t good). I couldn’t sleep, so I knocked out a lot of my work in the wee hours of the morning. I was so tired that I laid down that afternoon and woke up two hours later. My son and I then went out to dinner, just the two of us, and had a great time. We played a couple of board games after dinner. It’s been a while since I have truly enjoyed myself like that.

In the middle of all of this, I received a card from momster. I was annoyed because I was finally beginning to notice that things weren’t as difficult yesterday. I was hopeful that I was finally making some progress toward ending this cycle of grief. Then – WHAM!! – an envelope from momster. Just seeing her handwriting on the card triggered me.

I called a friend and found out she was at my son’s school. (I was on my way to pick up my son from school when I checked the mail and saw the card.) I asked my friend if she would wait for me and open the card. I had told myself the last time I received mail from momster that I would no longer open anything from her, but in the moment, I simply froze. I was triggered and wanted to cry.

My friend opened the card and read it. It was actually very low key for momster (thank goodness). In fairness to momster, I did send her a Christmas card (I was torn on that decision), so she is probably just reciprocating. She wrote very little on the card and didn’t even write in my name on it. She also included a “hug coupon,” which made me think, “Yeah – Good luck with that!” My friend gave me a hug (but not for the coupon), and I asked her to throw the card away.

I didn’t stay triggered for long, which is HUGE for me! I decided that I wasn’t going to let momster have the power to ruin the evening I had planned with my son. We had a great time eating dinner out and then playing board games afterward. I am making progress!

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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On my blog entry entitled In a Weird Place Today, a reader posted the following comment:

I need some help on how to get over being tough about all the abuse. I know it all happenned but I can’t cry for all the horrible things that happenned. My uncle was the abuser but my parents drilled into us kids be tough and brush of the hurt feelings and move on with life. I can’t move on with life because I can’t get past my feelings. My parents buried the abuse and never would talk about it. I was raped and tighted up at the age of 8 plus more that I won’t go into to. I don’t sleep when actually I’m a wreck. I need some help from other survivors. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. My therapist is great and working with me on this but I want to express my saddness and pain. ~ JMM

The inability to cry is common for child abuse survivors. Some child abuse survivors are unable to cry at all. (Side note – Child abuse survivors who are unable to cry for any reason seem to be more vulnerable to cutting and burning as forms of self-injury – they cut or burn their emotions onto their body since they cannot express them in any other way.) Other child abuse survivors are able to cry but not in connection with the trauma that pains them the most.

I fall under the second category. I have always had a lot of dissociated sadness. I used to be able to cry at the drop of a hat. I would cry at commercials and at the end of any movie with a touching soundtrack. However, when dealing with my most traumatizing memories, such as when my dog was slaughtered in front of me , I could not cry. I could tell you exactly what happened, but I was unable to shed one tear over it.

Because I could not cry, I felt a heavy weight on my chest whenever I thought about my dog. I tried and tried to get myself to cry but couldn’t. Then, I finally managed to muster up a single tear, and it was a huge relief. Just that one tear washed out an enormous amount of pain. Later, I was able to connect the emotions back to the memory and cry for my dog while listening to a sad song. Crying helped me wash the pain away. I cannot listen to that song without grieving for my dog.

What worked for me was to put myself into a position where I would shed tears and then switch gears. For example, I would watch a movie that I knew would make me cry. Once I was crying for the characters, I would think about something sad that happened to me. In time, I managed to reconnect the tears with the memories.

I am not sure how to start the process of crying if you are unable to cry under any circumstances. Perhaps some readers who have been in that situation can share some ideas.

Related topic:

Connecting the Emotion Back to the Source

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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PhotobucketOn my blog entry entitled In a Weird Place Today, a reader posted an excerpt from a blog entry entitled The Truth About “Feeling Sorry for Yourself”….. I am so grateful to have learned about that blog entry because it has really helped me clarify where I am emotionally right now.

The following paragraph summarizes the blogger’s position on feeling sorry for yourself:

When experiencing hurt, anger, frustration, sorrow, depression, dissapointment….etc. there is a natural urge which leads towards healing. If we were to “go with the flow” on feelings alone, most of us would probably feel really sorry for ourselves for a while, comfort ourselves, and then, find ways to feel better, and eventually get back into the game. ~ Illusions at Powerful Intentions

I think this explains very nicely where I am right now. I have felt the need to withdraw from most people in my day-to-day life, but I haven’t been able to articulate why. I am coming to realize that I need to “be” right now. I need to “be” with my feelings of grief. I don’t want anyone else cheering me up, distracting me, or trying to fix it. I don’t want to analyze what happened in the past, what I should or shouldn’t be doing now, or what I need to do in the future. I just want to “be.”

My therapist advised me many times to learn to “sit” with my emotions. Don’t try to stuff them down with food, drown them with wine, or control them in any way – just let them “be.” Perhaps I am finally understanding this on a heart level.

I have been frustrated by gaining five pounds since the latest flashbacks surfaced. I am not binge eating, but I am doing some comfort eating. Reading that blogger’s article helped me to recognize that, while I am not wild about the weight gain, it is coming from a place of compassion and comfort.

I am still not very good at knowing what I need or how to nurture myself. I have been trying to follow whatever feels right in the moment. I have played the piano more in the past week than I have in the past year. I have watched TV and eaten cookies. I have written when I felt like it and refrained from writing when I felt like it.

I have been trying not to label where I am right now as “good” or “bad” – it just is. However, reading that article has helped me to see where I am in a more positive light.

When I have head cold, I know there is nothing I can do to make it magically go away. I accept that I am going to feel lousy for a few days. I eat some chicken soup, nap, and watch TV – little things that I know will comfort me until I feel better. I don’t think where I am right now is much different, only the pain is in my spirit instead of my body.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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As a child abuse survivor, I have seen some of the worst that the world has to offer. I have seen betrayal, pain, and trauma. Most of you reading this blog entry have seen this as well. I have also seen some of the best that the world has to offer – compassion and kindness. Ironically (or perhaps not so), I have found the deepest compassion in those who were the most wounded.

When I found Isurvive (a message board for child abuse survivors) back in 2003, I came to the site as a vulnerable and broken person. Being vulnerable was dangerous to me because, as an abused child, my vulnerabilities were used against me. I probably would have committed suicide if my love for my young child had not outweighed the very deep pain in my spirit. I was deeply wounded and did not know if I could ever heal.

At Isurvive, I encountered some of bravest and most compassionate people I have ever known. These complete strangers, each of whom had his or her own story of horrors, took time out of their lives to support me, a complete stranger they knew only through the screen name of “Faith.” At a time when I was surviving, quite literally, minute by minute as I battled a deluge of flashbacks of horrors from my childhood, these complete strangers gave me the two things I needed the most – their time and their compassion.

What is the best way to make a difference in this world? I think the best way is through compassion and kindness. You don’t have to found a charity or join the Peace Corp to make a difference. Sometimes we make a difference through the little things we do, such as speaking a kind word or offering someone a shoulder to cry on. Compassion doesn’t require a grand gesture – some of my most compassionate moments have been received through someone’s silent presence.

You might wonder how “lowly me” can make a difference in this world. My answer is through kindness and compassion. Everything you do that is motivated by kindness and compassion makes the world a better place one baby step at a time.

You have the power to make a difference. It might be through mentoring someone who is in a painful place that you once were or donating a contribution (no matter how modest) to a worthy cause. I have found that my calling has come out of my deepest wounds, and the time I invest in my calling is even more rewarding to me than to those who receive my investment.

This blog post is part of the Vittana “Make a Difference” blogger challenge. The contest invites bloggers from around the world to discuss various ways to make a difference in the world, as well as share stories on who or what has made a difference in their lives.

The winning blog post will be the post that drives the most loans to students in need. Please support this cause (and this blog!) by making a loan in my blog’s name: “Blooming Lotus.” Be sure to type that in when you reach the checkout page (example screenshot) The more loans you make the more educations get funded and the more recognition and traffic my site gets!

Please support this blog and contest by using this special link to tweet about it (You can edit the tweet before it’s posted, but make sure this link (http://bitly.com/rFeZ0f)and the hashtag #vittanachallenge is part of the tweet or Vittana won’t know you tweeted about me!)

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I was touched by Michael’s idea of a “healing tree” and have added a Healing Tree page to the site. You can find the Healing Tree page at the top of the screen between Faith’s Story and Recommended Reading.

~ Faith

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