Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category

ImageI don’t check up on this blog much anymore, but I felt led to do so and share where I currently am on my healing journey. The entire time I was writing the Blooming Lotus blog, I was active in Bible studies, particularly those written by Beth Moore, who is a Christian speaker and author who is also a child abuse survivor. Nobody who knows who she is thinks of her with the label of “child abuse survivor,” though, and that is what I am seeking in my own life – to discover who I am outside of the label of “child abuse survivor.”

Two of her Bible studies have greatly impacted where I am now: Breaking Free and Believing God. In March 2013, I was in another bad place and questioned whether I would ever be free of my past. Where was this peace and satisfaction that Beth Moore said were mine as God’s child? I set aside a full day for prayer, worship, and crying out to God, and my life has not been the same since.

For the first time in my life, I experience joy. Yes, JOY! I didn’t know that was possible for me, but it is and has been for months now. In May, I realized that the undercurrent of wanting to die was finally gone – GONE! I now know what it is like to live my life JOYFUL and without an underlying death wish. I never dreamed this was possible!

This wonderful period of joy has lasted for SIX MONTHS, even while various challenges slammed me in my day-to-day life. No matter what life threw at me, I was “standing on solid ground,” knowing that God is always – ALWAYS – in control and protecting me. Nothing that my abusers broke in me is too broken for God to heal. NOTHING!

Last month, God put heavily on my heart that it is time to heal my marriage. God had already been softening both my heart and hub’s for a number of months and even moved hub into a life decision to stop complaining and be content. I was not involved in this decision of his, and he has not complained in almost two months. This season has been challenging for me because part of healing my marriage involves healing my feelings about sex and undoing all of the lies woven into my head – that “pleasure” and pain are intertwined and that marital sex is trying to say “I love you” with the same physical action as rape.

For the last month, I have been integrating my most wounded parts, and that has been difficult. However, this time around, I know where my solid ground is, and I feel like I can reach out and touch God because He is so close to me as I heal my most wounded parts of myself. In the midst of healing the pain, I know in the very depths of my heart and soul that I am fully and completely loved. I don’t know what I will look like after this process is completed, but I am resting on the promise that God wants this part of me healed. Once this is healed, I will have fully reclaimed all of the parts of myself that my abusers took from me. I am living Isaiah 61. I have been restored!

I was always very careful not to weave too much “God talk” into this blog because I did not want to trigger anyone with religious triggers. However, I cannot blog any longer with God hiding in the background. GOD IS MY HEALER AND RESTORER!! Behold, He makes all things new! And He is making me new. After all of the trauma, pain, rage, and grief, I have been made new! If God can not only heal but RENEW me, He can do it for you, too! Don’t let ANYONE tell you that you are a lost cause. The Maker of Heaven and earth has the power to fully free you from your bondage if you will let Him.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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Blooming Lotus (c) Faith AllenHi, all.

I am still super busy with my job and such, but I do have a holiday break coming, so I decided to participate over at Lori’s Song while I temporarily have a little more time so I can offer support to child abuse survivors over the holidays. Overall, I am doing well. This time of year is always hard for me, but it is less hard than in prior years, and I am celebrating the progress. I hope all of you are doing well.

Photo credit: Faith Allen

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I hope you have had a chance to visit the child abuse healing forums at Lori’s Song. The site just launched on Friday, so it will take a while for the forums to get busy as child abuse survivors who are looking to heal join the site. The site has quite a few child abuse healing forums, including a section for learning how to thrive. I like that the forums are set up to meet the needs of those who have moved through the early stages of healing and are transitioning into thriving. Of course, plenty of support is available in the child abuse healing forums for those of you who are in the throes of the early stages of healing.

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I have previously shared that I have been helping launch a charity for child abuse survivors. The site went live today.

I encourage you to check out this exciting new resource for child abuse survivors. It would be a great place to move this community for those of you who would like to stay in regular contact.

Let me know what you think of the site! :0)

~ Faith

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Today has been a really cool day! I started a new Bible Study written by Beth Moore that is entitled Breaking Free. If that sounds familiar, it’s because I did it a couple of years ago and shared some of the concepts that were helpful to me.

Here’s the cool part – During her orientation video, Beth Moore talks about healing for the “brokenhearted.” That is a term that always resonated deeply with me. If one word captures how I viewed myself for most of my life, it was brokenhearted. I had the realization that I am no longer brokenhearted. What a HUGE, HUGE realization!

Now, I am not arrogant enough to declare myself “healed” or “done” with healing. I think that healing takes place at deeper and deeper levels as we grow. I also believe that I am blessed to be in a season of emotional rest. If history is a good predictor of the future, that season is likely to end as Halloween approaches, but for now, I have been in a wonderful place of rest and appreciating the fruits of my labors. I just want to enjoy it while it lasts!

I also noticed another area of growth today. My sister called me from the road as she is driving up to take care of momster. She hasn’t been keeping me in the loop, but she wanted me to know that she needed to travel to tend to some medical issues that momster is dealing with, and this information was relevant because she and I are working together on a project professionally, and she needs to send an email to the group explaining why she cannot be as active for the next few days. She didn’t want the first time I heard about this to be in that email.

My first reaction to this news was feeling badly for my sister – not guilty for me not helping out but just sad that my sister, who is working and going to college while parenting two children as a single mother, is having to take care of yet one more person. My second reaction was that I take no pleasure in knowing that momster is in pain. I didn’t think that her pain was the result of karma or whatever. I felt badly for her that she is in pain while, at the same time, had no compulsion to get involved.

I am aware of the many ways that I have changed as I have healed, but I don’t often have days like today where I am really aware of how much growing I have done. It’s a great feeling!

Photo credit: Microsoft

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I have been mulling over the goal or point of healing from child abuse. In my early months of healing, my goal was to stop being in pain. I was having flashbacks every night and felt like I was losing my mind. My goal was to “get over this” and stop being in pain.

I am no longer in ongoing pain. Yes, I go through periods of processing pain, but I also have periods in which I feel peaceful and am not in emotional pain. Does that mean I am “done?” I don’t think so.

After a few years of healing, my goal of healing from child abuse became more about exploring the person I was becoming. My actions and reactions were different from what they used to be. Instead of being the world’s doormat, I could be a b@#$% when needed, and as time went on, I even learned to embrace this facet of myself. I learned new ways to interact with the people in my life and the world around me. I wound up growing distant in some friendships and developing healthier friendships with different people.

I have heard different theories over the years about what the “end game” to healing from child abuse is. Some people tell me that I need to process and process until there is nothing left to process. Others tell me that the ego is never “finished” and will keep spewing up stuff to process until I learn how to live in a different level of consciousness through tools such as yoga and meditation. My therapist told me that I will always have trauma issues and triggers bubble up, but I will process them faster and faster as they become speed bumps rather than brick walls. My church tells me that through my faith, I can be miraculously healed from all of the trauma and lived the rest of my life renewed.

At the moment, I am toying with my own theory that I have not heard others mention. I wonder if perhaps the goal is not to heal from the child abuse but, instead, to grow. Processing trauma was part of my growth – and a central focus for a while because I needed to work through X, Y, and Z to continue growing. Now that I am on the other side of regular flashbacks, etc., perhaps I don’t need to think about “healing from child abuse” but, instead, simply focus on growing into the person I am becoming. As I encounter trauma issues that need processing because they are interfering with my growth, I’ll process them, but I also don’t need to go looking for traumas to uncover and process, either.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Listening to Your Body

Listening to my body is such a new and exciting experience for me that I will probably keep returning to this topic as I explore it. Many of my lifelong struggles could have been simplified immensely if I had simply been able to listen to my body. All that I needed to know was right here in front of me, but I was unable to connect with my body for so long because of the disconnection after the child abuse.

As an example, I have been drinking water like crazy over the past few days but did not know why – I just could not get enough water in my body. It finally hit me this morning – I have been recovering from feeling “brain fried,” and readers have advised me repeatedly to drink lots of water whenever I am processing trauma. I have no idea why drinking water is relevant, but I drank much more water yesterday and felt much better.

Another example is my body weight. I battled an eating disorder (binge and compulsive overeating) for most of my life, and my weight has stayed 25-30 lbs over my ideal body weight for decades. I tried just about every diet imaginable, but nothing ever seemed to work.

I am listening to my body about what, when, and how much to eat, and my weight keeps dropping. I stepped on the scale this morning, and my weight was the lowest it has been since the mid-1990’s. The ironic part is that I feel like I eat all the time!

My body does not want three large meals a day. Instead, it wants five smaller meals, and one of those meals (my afternoon snack) can even be junk food (but not chocolate) as long as the others are healthy. My body does not want more than about 300 calories in a sitting, so my total caloric intake is probably half of what it used to be, but I feel like I am eating all the time and getting to eat what I want because what I want is now aligned with what my body needs. This is such a foreign concept to me!

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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This blog entry continues the topic I started yesterday.

I take no issue with my sister’s therapist having a different opinion of what might be going on with me than what I believe is happening. My sister’s therapist has never met me, and everything she knows about me is filtered through my sister (who posts on this blog as Lydia). Lydia’s therapist’s focus is on Lydia, not me, and on helping Lydia navigate the waters of trying to maintain a relationship with both me and momster when I am 100% cutting momster out of my life. Trying to understand the mental health status of both of us is fair game in Lydia’s therapy as far as I am concerned.

My therapist’s opinion of what is going on with me carries more weight than Lydia’s therapist’s opinion based upon secondhand information, and I am sure the same is true for Lydia if my therapist made any sort of comments about her own state of mental health. The therapist that has gotten to know the patient is in a much better position to observe and diagnose the state of mental health of the patient than someone receiving secondhand information.

The biggest difference between the momster/me situation and the Lydia/me situation is that I have a mental health professional who has evaluated me over a period of years, and momster does not. This means that if my sister needed a professional opinion on my state of mental health, I have someone who could provide it whereas there is no mental health professional involved with momster. We only have her word that she is “normal,” but her behavior screams otherwise.

My sister (Lydia) had some interesting comments after reading my accounting of what my friend said was in momster’s letter. Her reaction was the context definitely sheds a different light on the same facts. Lydia has heard the stories about the cows and the play directly from momster and received them in a very different light. She could see how my friend could have the reaction she did but also has a different perspective on what was intended in the letter.

I told Lydia, and Lydia 100% supported this, that the intention of momster is irrelevant for my decision-making on continued contact. The comments might be as innocent as Lydia believes, or they might be as calculated as my friend believes. Either way, my focus needs to be on MY reaction to the letter, not on what was going on in momster’s head when she wrote the letter. For better or for worse, contact from momster is toxic to me, and I don’t want it in my life. Lydia supports my decision, and we haven’t even talked about momster once other than this conversation after she called me about the logistical issue she was having in trying to post.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Man at DeskThanks to the momster drama, back to school activities, traveling, getting a promotion at my job, and getting sick last week, I am embarrassingly behind on reading through the comments. When I logged into my email account (where I receive email copies of all comments as well as emails from readers), I had over 500 messages – Yikes! It is going to take me a while to catch up.

My sister, who occasionally visits and posts as “Lydia,” called me about a logistical issue she was having with one of her comments, which is how I found out about discussions concerning what her therapist said about my momster situation. You can read the discussions here.

Different readers have posted different comments regarding my sister’s therapist’s views about me as well as my therapist’s views about my mother possibly having schizophrenia, so I would like to address those in my next two blog entries.

In neither case did a therapist “diagnose” someone that s/he had not talked with. In both cases, the patient (me re: momster and Lydia re: me) sought to talk with the therapist about concerns with someone in her life who might have mental health issues. The therapist’s observations were based solely on the patient’s representation of the other person’s behavior, which is always going to be filtered through the patient’s accounts of the third party’s behavior. The goal of those discussions is to help the patient work through her feelings about interactions with the other person.

Let’s focus on my situation in this blog entry…I have always known that momster’s interactions with the world was “off,” and I have numerous reasons to believe that she is likely mentally ill. I could go on for days with examples, but one of the most concerning symptoms is her hearing “G*d” audibly talking to her and telling her to do odd things. As a child, I thought that she was more religious than I was and a prophet since G*d talked to people in the Bible, but as I grew older, I recognized that the messages she was receiving were definitely odd. Her interactions with other people are simply not rational and never have been.

Momster has never sought out a diagnosis from the mental health community because she does not believe there is anything wrong with her. She truly believes that the reason that nobody else is hearing G*d audibly talking to them is because they are not prophets like she is. Emotionally healthy people tend to stay away from her because her behavior is so erratic.

I talked with my therapist about her symptoms to help me make sense of them and unravel my own reactions to having been raised by a mentally-ill woman. He never diagnosed her with anything, but he said her symptoms are consistent with schizophrenia. I did my own research and agree with him. No, she has never been diagnosed with a mental illness, but that does not mean that she is not mentally ill. I needed to have a frame of reference from my end to help me heal from my interactions with her regardless of whether she ever chooses to seek professional help, and I did not need to limit my own ability to heal from our relationship based upon whether or not she chose to seek help.

More tomorrow…

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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SunsetTaking a week off was just what I needed. I went to the beach with a friend and our two children. She had to leave after two days, which gave me lots of time for reflection as I sat on the beach while the children played in the waves.

I had some epiphanies during this trip, some of which involved myself and some that involved others. I slowly progressed back to a place of mindfulness – of feeling present in my own body at this point of time in my life. I had been in such a state of dissociation for most of the year that I had “forgotten” what it felt like to live in my body in the present moment.

I am at peace with my decision to cut off all contact with momster. My sister has been great about talking about other topics. We both have a lot going on in our day-to-day lives that don’t involve momster, and we focus on those topics when we chat. I am also at peace with another decision I made involving my ex-friend. I had the opportunity to open that door back up, but I decided to keep it shut. I need to move forward with my life, not backward, and I need to stay in relationships with people who are supportive of growth.

Throughout the year of mind f#$%’s from momster, my eyes were opened to some realities in my life that were bothersome. While I have remained aware of those realities, I am in a place of seeing them against the backdrop of the full picture rather than in a vacuum, which was how I was seeing them when I was wigging out last month. I recognize that some of these unpleasant realities are things I can live with at this time in my life. That doesn’t mean I have to live with them forever, but I also don’t have to react to every area in my life that isn’t exactly where I want it to be right now.

I also have a vision of who I am becoming and who I want to be. The theme of 2012 for me (outside of the mind f#$%’s from momster) has been the year of letting go. I am ready to let go of the anchor that keeps me bound to my childhood traumas. Of course, my childhood experiences are always going to influence my life, but they don’t need to be my focal point. I am ready to move forward into the next phase of my life, which does not revolve around the abuse I suffered as a child.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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