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Archive for December, 2011

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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Everyone,

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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In a Weird Place Today

PhotobucketI am in a weird place today. I am not even sure how to describe it. I am worn out from processing my most heinous memory yet, which I wrote about here, here, and here.

I haven’t had a whole lot of room to process all of this. This is such a busy time of year with trying to get everything ready for Christmas and squeezing in everything that needs to be done before my kid is off from school for two weeks. I haven’t had a lot of time alone in my house. I have had repairmen and other workmen in and out for the past couple of weeks. I have had friends come over for favors and have been on conference calls for various reasons. There hasn’t been much room in my life for me, and I don’t see that changing until after the holidays are over.

The adult me is ready to check this new information off my list and move on. OK, now I get why I hate Christmas so much. It makes perfect sense. Moving on… The adult me also gets how much of a mind f#$% it all was – that I didn’t kill anyone, that I wasn’t actually buried, that there is no Santa, etc. In so many ways, the adult me just wants to put this all behind me.

Then, there is the child me – the part of me that was horror-stricken from being forced to kill the person I loved most in the world and then locked in a box with what I believed was a dead body. Yeah, that’s a lot for a little kid to take in. I was in the age range of six to eight, which is younger than my kid is now. I have no idea how a little kid processes that kind of terror.

I have a friend who wants to be supportive and sends me messages that she is here to talk it through, but I don’t really have anything to talk about. It happened. It sucks. I feel sad. Moving on…

I finally had some alone time on Thursday. I had Bible Study in the morning but nothing else after that. I have been tutoring on Thursday afternoons, but I had a break this week to do whatever I wanted. Yes, I have a million things I **could** be doing, but that was probably going to be my last day until after the holidays of having “me” time for the entire day.

I asked myself what I **wanted** to do, which isn’t a question I ask myself very often. I wanted to play the piano, which I did for a while. Then, I was just so tired that I thought I would take a cat nap. I woke up 2.5 hours later! I have been sleeping lately (thankfully, the insomnia seems to be over), but I don’t think I have been **resting** when I sleep. My body really needed the rest.

I feel sad and lost but not suicidal. I just want the holidays to be over.

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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Christmas TreeI had a feeling there was more to the memories I recovered last week. Before being forced to “kill” my baby sister and being buried alive with her “corpse”, I saw Santa Claus, which explains my aversion to Christmas as well as when these things were done to me. This part of the memory has no triggers.

I was in a very expensive room with leather furniture and wood paneling on the walls. (Keep in mind that this was in the 1970’s.) I looked at the Christmas tree while waiting in line to talk to Santa.

My guess is that this was at one of two places. My father belonged to a Country Club for a while, and this location would be my first choice. I don’t see the chaos that you typically see with lots of children waiting to visit with Santa. This seems like a low-key affair for a select group of children. My second choice guess would be that my abusers set it up, and this took place at some sort of exclusive club, just not the one my father belonged to.

When it got to be my turn to sit on Santa’s lap, he asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I asked if my sister and me could go live with him at the North Pole. This helps me determine my age because I had cracked the Santa code by age 8, so I was 8 or younger when this happened. Santa asked me why I wanted to live with him, and I was silent. Santa blew it off, saying something about how my parents would miss me, and asking what would I like for Christmas.

The next flash goes back to right before they forced me to “kill” my sister. By asking Santa if my sister and me could go live with him at the North Pole, I was at risk for “telling,” which is why they put me through what they did. S, my most sadistic abuser, had always told me that the consequence for telling was my sister’s life, so they followed through in their sick, staged way to keep me silent.

I was impressed with my gumption as a little girl. If Santa had been real, escaping with him on his magic sleigh and disappearing to the North Pole would have been a clever way out. Sadly, what I took from this experience was that I couldn’t trust Santa, either, and that is likely when I started thinking through whether he actually existed.

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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I find it interesting that I received very few comments on my blog entry entitled DID: Think I Lost Time Again and that the comments noted the fact that my husband and son each thought I was yelling at the other in the middle of the night. Since the comments seemed to zero in on that point, I thought I would blog about yelling.

Before therapy, I never yelled. Seriously! I was the world’s biggest doormat. I wouldn’t occur to me to raise my voice to anyone.

Hub and I were married for over 10 years by the time I entered into therapy. Sure, we had disagreements like any other couple, but there was never any yelling involved. For the most part, I just went along with whatever he wanted until it came to issues with infertility and adoption. Hub wasn’t quite sure what to do with me because I was adamant that I wanted to become a mother by whatever (legal) avenue it took. Up until that point, I just went along with whatever he wanted to do. My son was two years old when I entered into therapy, so yelling wasn’t an issue with my son, either.

My homework every week for my therapist (T) was to work on setting boundaries. He wanted me to practice, practice, practice setting boundaries, and that was very hard for me to do. Because I had never had any boundaries in over three decades of life, this was very difficult for me. Setting boundaries happened in baby steps. I am much better about setting boundaries today than I was when I started, but I still find myself having trouble saying no and overextending myself rather than disappoint someone else.

As I healed and got better at setting boundaries, I found that enforcing my boundaries was my biggest problem, especially with family. I could say, “No,” but they wouldn’t hear me. I had taught my family over the years that I would do whatever they wanted, so they didn’t take me seriously when I said no. I would say, “I would rather not,” and then, “I don’t want to,” and then, “No,” and then a firm, “No,” and then a louder, “No,” until I reached the point of yelling, “I SAID I AM NOT GOING TO DO THIS, SO BACK THE F#$% OFF!!!!!” The other person’s response would be, “You don’t have to yell,” to which I would reply loudly, “CLEARLY, I DO!!!!”

Sadly, that dynamic hasn’t changed as much I would like over the years. When I set a boundary, family members (mostly hub and child) simply disregard it as if I never spoke. I will get more firm as I hold my ground, and then after the FIFTH time, I will yell loudly, which seems to be the first time either of them “hear” me. We continue to have the same ending to those conversations: “You don’t have to yell.” “CLEARLY, I DO!!!!”

If anyone has been in this place and has found a more effective way of getting family members to “hear” them when they set boundaries, I would love to hear other strategies. Things have improved with hub … It’s been a long time since I recall raising my voice to him. My child is another story. He has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities and is also stubborn, so we often have this exchange ending with my having to yell before he “hears” me.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I am having a difficult time writing, which is unusual for me. I have been completely exhausted from processing the memories I blogged about last week. I have ideas in my head of what I want to talk about, but I just shut down when I get in front of the computer. I am hoping that I can get through this topic since it is not directly related to what I am currently processing.

I wish we could remove all platitudes from the English language. You know what I am talking about – “Just give it all to G-d/higher power,” “Just let it go,” etc. Really!?!! If it really were that simple, don’t you think I would have done that already? (The blog entry was inspired by offline conversations, not anything that anyone wrote online.)

I have been active in my church and faith for many years and have led a bunch of different Bible studies. I know how to pray, etc. The problem is not a lack of knowledge, belief, or commitment.

People don’t say this crap to those who are suffering physically – at least, I hope they don’t! You don’t tell someone who is battling cancer, “Just give it all to G-d/higher power” or “Just let it go.” People recognize that, to beat cancer, you have fight it with chemotherapy, and it’s going to be a battle.

I truly believe that trauma is an emotional cancer that takes the same level of energy to fight, only the battle is in the mind instead of the body. I wish there was a shortcut to processing heinous memories, but there aren’t any. Believe me, if I could pray this stuff away, that would have happened a long time ago.

My guess is that people fall back on platitudes because they don’t know what to say. The thing is, I don’t think it’s that hard to know what to say. When someone shares a heinous memory with me, I know that I don’t have the power to fix it for him or her, so I don’t even try to come with the “right” words to make it all go away. I know that my job is to offer support, not fix the issue.

Platitudes make it sound like I am doing something wrong, which is the last thing I need when every ounce of my energy is going into processing a memory. I think most people cannot handle deep pain and emotion, and they don’t want to think that they could have to face that kind of pain. So, they distance themselves through platitudes – If you just do X, Y, and Z, then you won’t suffer anymore. That is complete BS!

I think Michael is the one who said something about processing memories from the subconscious to the conscious mind. I don’t know if there is a physical component as well as an emotional component. All I know is that I must process my memories to move past them, and that process is exhausting. I cannot sidestep the process through platitudes.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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