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I had an interesting “vision” (for lack of a better word) last night. The first half is safe for all readers. I have included religious triggers for the second half of the blog entry.

As I have shared before, the holidays are tough for me from Halloween through New Year’s Day. I still don’t know why. I feel tense as bedtime approaches, have trouble staying asleep, wrestle with nightmares, and then feel exhausted the next day. Last night, I was praying about all of this, especially for relief from the pressure and emotional pain. Here is what I “saw”…

I was walking in the parking lot of my church toward the church building. I “zoomed out” so I could see myself from the outside, and I was this buff warrior woman, like an Amazon. (Trust me – Nobody would describe me physically like this!!) I had bulging, strong muscles, and I was tall. I was a powerful warrior.

Then, I looked in a full-length mirror and saw a skinny, scared little girl. She was wearing a thin, cotton nightdress holding a teddy bear in one hand, and she looked terrified. She was the complete opposite of the powerful warrior looking in the mirror.

That imagery was powerful for me. I have grown into a powerful warrior, but I still see myself as a scared little girl, which means that I ACT like a scared little girl rather than a powerful warrior when I feel threatened. I was able to see the irony of a huge, powerful warrior hiding in a corner when the “threat” could be easily overpowered. I am no longer the helpless little girl I see in the mirror. I need to see the warrior when I look in the mirror.

***** religious triggers *****

So, then I prayed about how to stop seeing myself as a helpless little girl and start seeing the truth. I immediately remembered what we have been learning in our Beth Moore Bible Study, Believing God:

  1. God is who He says He is.
  2. God can do what He says He can do.
  3. I am who God says I am.
  4. I can do all things through Christ.
  5. God’s word is alive and active in me

In our last lesson, we focused on #3, which is the hardest one for me – believing that I am who God says I am, not who my abusers said I am. Beth Moore recommended memorizing the following things that the Bible says about God’s children: they are forgiven, accepted, blessed, chosen, adopted, and redeemed, all because they are loved. It is going to take me a while to get there, but at least know where to focus my energy. That vision is a powerful way to do this.

Image credit: Amazon.com

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On my blog entry entitled How to Move Past Betrayal by a Mother Figure, a reader posted the following question:

Question: Are you able to create an alter part as an adult? I’ve never been diagnosed as DID, only have severe PTSD….am I able to create an alter “good mother” part to help comfort me when in need? Or is it simply a visualization technique? ~ AllyValentino

I can only speak for myself – I started creating alter parts when I was very young, and I have always held onto the ability to do so. So, yes, I do have the ability today to create an alter part if I feel that I need one. This is not something I choose to do very often, but it was incredibly healing for me to create a “good mother” alter part at the time that I did. I used that alter part in ways to meet my needs.

I would visualize her rocking my frightened parts when I was triggered. I would practice making eye contact with her as she said the words, “I love you,” to me. I still cannot do that with anyone in real life, but I find “receiving” love that way to be incredibly powerful and healing. When I have insomnia, I will visualize the “good mother” sitting next to my bed or outside my door with a shotgun in hand. I trust that she will keep me safe (even though I know she is just an alter part) and am able to sleep.

My guess is that anyone could do similar visualizations and potentially reap some benefits, although I cannot speak for anyone else since my experience is different. I have used visualization in powerful ways without creating alter parts, such as visualizing sitting in a chair across from my deceased father and telling him the things that I needed him to hear. There were no alter parts involved, but the visualization helped me achieved much-needed closure. For this reason, I am hopeful that doing a similar visualization could be healing for some of you who do not have alter parts.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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On my blog entry entitled We are the Ones Who Heal Ourselves, a reader posted the following comment:

I met a girl [alter part] last night. She told me she lives in a peach colored room that the others built for her to keep her safe because they love her. There is no door in the room and the windows are very small so no outsiders can crawl through and hurt her. I don’t know who she is exactly, or how old, but she is very young. She said the others hid her because we would all die if she died. I have a vague recollection of the building of this room. I know it has white carpet and lots of soft and fluffy white bedding and that no one can get in. Except I think I remember going there before. I’m confused. I’m too afraid to tell anyone or post this on my own blog, so I will leave it here because I think you might understand. ~ Anon

I understand much better than Anon could possibly realize. I, too, have my own version of a safe room, and I think visualizing such as safe place can be amazingly healing for child abuse survivors whether they have alter parts or not.

Here is what my “safe room” is like. It has no windows at all so nobody can crawl in. The room only has one door that has a doorknob on the inside only, so if an alter part wants to go to the room, he or she can close the door from the inside, and nobody (not even I) can open the door from the outside.

Inside the room is a canopy bed that changes colors at will. When I was in elementary school (during the worst of the abuse), my best friend had a beautiful pale yellow canopy bed. I really wanted one myself, but my parents said that it would just collect dust. When an alter part enters the room, the canopy bed is that shade of yellow but can change colors at will.

Beside the bed is a toy chest filled with any toy the alter part wants. Next to the toy chest is the one toy that I always wanted as a little girl but that my parents never bought me, no matter how many times I pleaded for it. If you were a kid during the mid- to late-1970’s, you will likely remember the Fisher Price toy castle that was all the rage during that time. It folded open and had the members of the royal family inside. There was a drawbridge and a plank at the top that a toy person could fall through and wind up in the dungeon. Just about every kid I knew had one, and I would always gravitate to that toy on play dates even when my friends were sick of the toy.

Most importantly, the room is cozy warm and located right inside of my heart. My alter parts were “frozen” during the abuse, and as they “thaw out,” they tend to linger in my stomach (causing me to binge eat) or my thighs (which is where I hold my fear). If an alter part is not ready to integrate, I invite him or her into this safe room, and my heart is big enough to hold one safe room for each alter part. The alter part chooses when to open the door up and integrate.

Photo credit: Fast-autos.net

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Plant (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Many child abuse survivors fail to appreciate the power of their thoughts. Our thoughts are what keep child abuse survivors in bondage long after the abuse ends, and our choice to change our thoughts can propel child abuse survivors out of despair and into hope. Choosing the right thoughts can redefine our lives. Every thought that you have channels your energy.

I saw a poster that showed a person climbing a mountain. The caption read, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you will be right.” There is so much truth in that poster. If you think you can, then you have thoughts like The Little Engine That Could. If you think that you can’t, then you will sabotage your efforts by channeling negative energy that thwarts your efforts.

I believe the power of our thoughts can contribute to suicidal feelings. Suicidal thoughts are feelings, and feelings always pass. However, when we attach our thoughts to our feelings, thinking things like, “It’s hopeless; I might as well give up,” it is like flooring a Corvette the wrong way down a one-way street. We can very quickly find ourselves in a very dangerous place if we are not mindful of the energy we are channeling.

On the positive side, we can channel our energy to propel ourselves through the healing process. By choosing to stop negative internal messages and replace them with positive ones, we can turn the tide of how we are feeling.

About a year ago, I made the choice to say the following messages to myself multiple times a day, “I love you. You are safe. I’m sorry.” I chose these three sentences because they were the three messages that I most needed to hear in my childhood. I did not believe any of them, but I said them repeatedly anyhow. In time, I grew to believe them. I found that I could ground myself anytime I was triggered by saying these messages in my head.

More recently, I started telling myself that I am healed, integrated, and whole. While I had reached a place of healing, I had trouble believing it. Channeling my thoughts in this direction helped me to see that I really had healed.

If you are struggling in any area of your life, monitor your internal thoughts. Change the way you talk to yourself, and you will change the direction of your life.

Related Topic:

Trauma Thursday: Traumatized Child and Healing Through Mantras

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Orange Flowers (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Visualization is a powerful healing tool that I do not see used nearly often enough. My intuition drew me toward using this tool: I do not recall reading about it anywhere. Adding visualization to your healing toolbox will be very useful along your healing journey.

What do I mean by visualization? Let me explain by example.

I repressed most of my emotions from childhood, but I was most disconnected from my rage. I honestly did not believe that I had any anger at all. I used to joke that I had a very long fuse that only “blew” once a year. Most of the time, I consciously felt no anger, no matter how justified anger might have been in a situation. I was a walking doormat because of this.

My therapist assured me that I had anger to process, but I had no idea how to access it. I used a few tools and became aware of having rage inside of myself, but none of the tools I tried really helped me to work through it until I stumbled upon visualization.

While I was lying in my bed resting before falling asleep, I closed my eyes and “saw” myself as a young child about to be abused. I could see the basement clearly and my abuser about to harm the child me. Then, the adult me ran into the room and kicked the ever-living $@#% out of my abuser.

I allowed the visualization to get as graphic as it needed with no filters. Sometimes it would get very gory and disturbing, but this was just a sign of the depth of my rage. As I allowed the adult me to beat up my abusers and protect the child me, I could feel the rage pouring out of my soul. The more I did this, the less I struggled with anxiety. I began to feel more at peace.

This is just one example of the power of visualization. You can also use it to shape your future. For example, let’s say you struggle with binge eating. Visualize yourself as a person who is no longer enslaved to this disorder. See yourself wearing loose clothing, and think about how great you would feel. See yourself at rest and no longer needing to “stuff down” your emotions. Do this for just a few minutes and then stop. This plants a seed toward moving in that direction. Now that you have “seen” yourself freed from the disorder, you will begin moving toward that goal. You won’t be free overnight, but if you do this every day, just for a few minutes, you will move toward this reality.

Related Topic:

Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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