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This area is reserved for the tidbits I know hope will be of interest to my readers. Check back often for regular updates. 

 

Check out this article about the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomena, including a list of organizations which strongly oppose this sick trend, and have implemented various means of helping women who have been sexually victimized.

 

Were you raised by a narcissist? Chances are you were if you suffered any form of childhood abuse. The Little Red Survivor website is filled with excellent articles examining the many faces of narcissism.

 

It's been a long time coming---7 years to be exact---but finally email notifications for new BD posts is available. Sign up today and never again miss another post. You know you want to!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Kate Is Rising has an excellent Survivors Resources page which directs you to numerous websites dealing with issues of abuse, healing and recovery. Please bear in mind that the information on these pages may be triggering.

 

 

There's lots of good stuff at the Dissociation Blog Showcase, including a list of 180 blogs dealing with some aspect of this disorder. 

 

 

On the Overcoming Sexual Abuse site there's an article entitled, "It's Not About You Mom" which I could have written myself. I bet many of my readers could say the same!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Entries in Healing (70)

Wednesday
Sep282016

So You've Decided to Heal

Dear Brave Soul,

Don't laugh, I call you this because, even though I don't know you, I know the amount of courage it took you to face up to the fact that you need to heal. And then from there to decide, okay, I want to do this. I want to heal. You've perhaps come to the conclusion, as I did years ago, that time itself does nothing but age you. It doesn't heal, it simply moves you physically further from the season of your abusive childhood, offering you no healing properties in the process.

And so here you stand (or slump, or lie facedown on the floor, whimpering) with a steadily growing conviction (that you need healing) morphing into a coherent resolution (I want to begin the healing process). The good news is, you've taken the first step which will set all kinds of things in motion. The bad news is, you've taken the first step which will set all kinds of things in motion.

Your decision to begin a journey of recovery from your traumatic childhood is going to stir up all the memories you've been trying to shut out for years, or decades. You will wonder why you ever thought dealing with your childhood was such a great idea. No one told you it would be this painful! What's the point, anyhow, if all you have to look forward to is more pain?

The point is that by facing and confronting the memories your pain will begin to be manageable. Some days it won't seem like it because some days you will feel raw, and everything around you will feel like salt in your open wounds. But not every day will be like this. Like everyone else, you will have your good days and your bad days. Some days and weeks it will seem as if your entire universe revolves around your healing, and you're right because it does, at least initially. In the beginning of the journey you're about to embark on, you will necessarily have to focus on you and everything that made you who you are. You can't accomplish this without looking back from where you've come. It's unavoidable. But you won't have to live simultaneously in the present and the past forever, at least not to such an extreme as is required in your early season of healing. 

Life will seem not to change much, perhaps for a long while. You must expect this so that you can be tender with yourself (or, if you're a multiple, your selves). You must believe, even in the face of no such tangible evidence, that one day you're going to come into your own. You mustn't crack a whip over your own head in a frenzy to force yourself to arrive there before you're ready. Your abuser did that when he introduced you to sexuality on his timetable. You mustn't continue what he started. Forcing yourself to move faster than you are able to along your journey of recovery and healing will stall you out. Healing takes time; it can't be rushed or forced. 

You will have nights when every cunning demon in the universe seems to be whispering your name in your ear like a contemptuous taunt, nights when sleep is like an offended friend who has turned his back on you in disgust, and refuses to return. Nights when you recall with clarity every detail of your abuser: the color of his hair, the pores of his sweaty face, his favorite brand of aftershave which you can smell again there in the night, alone. You will convince yourself that this is all you have to look forward to for the rest of your life: these night time horror fests when bits and pieces of your childhood come up like vomit, and you powerless to stop it.

In spite of this, you mustn't allow yourself to give up your resolution to recover. Though this resolution may not seem like much, it's the strongest thing you own. No one can snatch it from you, it can only be freely surrendered. You may relapse and throw in the towel on an especially hard day, but don't let that rob you of your future. There is a certain rhythm to this process of recovery. You might take one step forward and then fall back five, but that's okay, it's just part of the process and not to be taken as a permanent failure. You're not a failure, no matter how often you stumble. You are stronger than you think: you've already survived the worst thing that ever happened to you!

I've been dealing with my own recovery for close to 15 years, and I can honestly say I never thought I'd be where I am today. And yet there are moments when I despair of ever being totally free of my past. Though it doesn't loom over me in the way it once did, I must face the fact that we can only choose how to deal with our childhoods. We are never quite free of them, though the hold they've had on us can be loosened to such an extent that we can live without remembering the brunt of the abuse every minute of every day. Once we've got some mileage under us along the road of recovery we can choose what to focus on. We can choose, and make little adjustments along the way, because, well, because why not? We're in charge of our lives now!

Some days I just sense that I need to address certain issues. For me that usually means I need to deal with my DID system, something I don't like to do. But for every day like that there are many, many more where I barely think of what was done to me in the first place that made my many personalities necessary in order to survive.

As you head out into the first steps of your oh-so-brave journey, with nothing more than your wobbly resolve to guide you, hear my blessing over you from one overcomer to another:

May you find the footprints of those who have gone before you to help guide your way, and encourage you in the heat of the day and the cold of the night.

May you gift yourself with all the time in the world you need for your journey, remembering it is the journey itself that brings the healing you so yearn for, for there is no destination at which you will magically arrive.

May you allow yourself to be the intelligent, sensitive person you've always been beneath the heavy, dreary weight of trauma and abuse.

May you find like-minded souls for friendship, nurturing and as a source of encouragement along the way.

And, may you some day find yourself on the other side of your worst struggles and fears, standing strong as you cheer others on, away from the past of their victimization into their true place under the sun.

All my best,

 

 

 

 

Sunday
Sep042016

Passing the Torch

Sometimes I'm weary of the whole DID thing. If it were simply a lifestyle I decided to try out to see if I liked it I would have said long before this, "Uh, thanks but no thanks." 

Recently I read The Minds of Billy Milligan. I found this true account of multiplicity quite intriguing, and that's another thing I don't much care for, that I can read about DID in reference to someone else and even admire that person for persevering and knowing so much about their system. But when it's me and my system? I get exasperated. Impatient. Angry. I don't see one single thing to admire about my own management of a group of insiders I barely know. They are strangers to me, I'm barely aware of their existence most of the time. Reading the Billy Milligan story gave me a bad case of DID envy. I mean, everyone but me (or so it seems) who lives with this disorder knows their system inside and out. Why don't I know mine? Is it because I put up resistance? Are they deliberately in hiding from me, and if so why? If they are here to help then why play hide-and-seek?

Another thing that gripes me is that I'm turning 63 next month and here I am still plodding along not dealing with something I should be dealing with. I've never figured out why this is so hard for me. I can't get to the bottom of it, it's all a murky mystery. I've a sinking feeling it's never going to get any better than this. As Jack Nicolson's character said, "What if this is as good as it gets?" Well it probably is. I mean if I haven't figured this out by now what are the odds I will at some later date when my health is failing, and my memory too?

This is one of those posts that have no real resolution. I didn't think when I began that by the time I reached the end I'd have arrived at any conclusions. So in that respect I'm not disappointed. I'm slightly relieved that I took the time to write this; I'd forgotten how good it feels to blog about my troubles. Whether or not anyone is reading it feels good to write it.

I spent nearly the entire day working on the revision of my poetry book. I don't mention DID in these poems, but they were written about the time in my childhood when I was mauled and raped by my abuser on a regular basis. I'm at the point of editing and so of necessity I must read every word, something I absolutely don't relish. Hard to write such poetry in the first place and double hard to read it later at different stages in your life and not feel as if it's all whining. I swear at one point I wanted to yell, "Just get over it already!"

All kinds of mixed up thoughts ran through my mind while editing. In addition to "just get over it" I found myself thinking, rather defensively, that if I hadn't been raped for 8 years I wouldn't have had to write such poetry in the first place, and wouldn't now be having to edit it in the second place. And then I thought how writing about such violence is supposed to be healing, and sharing your sufferings in the form of writing can be like passing the torch to someone whose pathway has been ill-lit and scary.

So. Here I am passing the torch. I do this in the poetry I so despised today. Forging ahead with the editing even though everything and everyone inside of me was protesting, is me handing that torch over. Everytime I make no explanations or excuses for my often quirky behavior to someone who doesn't know its source, I'm passing on the torch. Because how easy it would be (and has been for much of my life) to laugh along with someone else about what a goof I am, how I can't do anything right and my memory has more holes than swiss cheese, etc. I must make a choice whenever I am met with another's humor or scorn at my ineptness at this whole business of living. I can hide inside my shell, laugh along with them, make up something that sounds halfway credible...or I can do none of those things. Instead, I can take one for the team. Not just my unique little team of insiders but also in the bigger sense of the whole DID community, however small or expansive that might be. If I take one for my team then I'm not adding to the misinformation that's already out there circulating about us. I'm not encouraging the stigma attached to this mental illness by scoffing at it or making myself the butt of a joke.

Passing the torch and taking one for the team--these are two things I can do even though I don't understand the world inside of me. And for now that will have to be enough.

Thursday
Apr162015

Beauty in What Remains

Somewhere I ran across the phrase "beauty in what remains," and it got me thinking. How often I've rued the fact that the biggest portion of my life is spent in dealing with my traumatic childhood. You know, as much as I see the need for continued growth and healing, I don't want everything to be about what happened to me on Brightwood Street.

Is there any beauty in what remains? Or did I emerge from the season of childhood stripped of everything human and good and salvageable?

It's easy to slip into the habit of seeing evidences of my brokenness in just about everything; after all, every aspect, every nook and cranny of my being were affected by the ravages inflicted on me by my stepdad. But is that all I'm left with? Is this to be the way it goes for the rest of my life, these constant reminders of those childhood rapings?

The other day, sitting in my car at my granddaughters' school, the person parked next to me blasted their radio. A song from the year I left home, at the age of 15, pounded into my head. I rolled up my windows, but I could still hear and feel the music pulsing all around me.

That was a particularly difficult year for me. I reunited with the father whose absence from the last 8 years of my life had turned him into a stranger I wasn't sure I could trust. I knew the heart of the father whose love had enfolded me during the earlier years of childhood, but what about this man? Was his father heart still to be trusted, or had he changed over the years? I now lived with my father and two older brothers; for all I knew my new home was full of danger at every turn. I hadn't known during those earlier years as the apple of my father's eye that men were to be feared. Now, I knew it all too well.

Listening--involuntarily--to a song from that year kick-started a ripple effect of depression throughout my entire system. This is why I've cut myself off from most music, this is why. I was back in the year 1968, living with the family I'd longed for during the 8 years of my stepfather's reign of terror, but I didn't know them and I hardly trusted them. I had no life skills, nor did I have any clue that the stepfather wasn't the only predator I'd encounter.

That year I hid from my father a vicious rape from the friend of a friend, burying it as deep as I could so no one would guess the shame of that violation. When a man twice my age tried to rape me later that year, I also kept it to myself. Would telling my father have set something into motion? Something that might vindicate me? I couldn't risk the possibility that, like my mother, he might remain passive, unmoved by my sufferings. Better to keep my mouth shut, then.

All this came back to me as the golden oldie came to an end. I sat perfectly still as the song faded, a new thought filling me with cautious excitement. What if instead of allowing triggers to pulverize me, I go one step further? What if I give myself permission to consider how far I've come in the decades since those horrible events?

Yes, I thought, that was an especially horrible year for me. It should have been anything but. That should have been the best year of my life, for not only had I escaped my mother's home but I'd also been reunited with those I loved best. But look: I'm not anything at all like that scared, frozen teenager who couldn't even give herself permission to feel outrage at what had been done to her.

Look how far you've come, I told myself, with growing wonder. You've survived the worst pain, shame and violations imaginable...and you're still here!

I don't ever have to go through that year, or any year, again. Not even one solitary moment or event has to be repeated. It might be repeated in memory, but I will never again physically experience the weight of my stepfather's gut slapping against my pelvic bone, or the terror of the older man attacking me in the dead of night. The memories are painful, but they are only memories. I don't live there anymore, I am here now: here in the present I've  arrived at through sheer stubbornness, and a faith that lit my way, one step at a time.

The memories will come, for as I've said I'm surrounded by triggers everywhere I go. It can't be helped. Even if I never left home there would be triggers: glancing at the bathroom counter and remembering my stepdad plopping me down on the cold counter, naked and riven with shame. Lying in bed at night, half asleep, and suddenly not being able to remember where I am. Is it my old childhood bedroom? I lie in the fetal position, listening for footsteps approaching my door, all my senses on high alert . . .

No, triggers are everywhere, for it's the memories I hold that jump-starts them. That can't be helped. I'm not going to guilt trip myself for experiencing them when they surface. I'm not wallowing in them though, that's the main thing. They may surface, but I can choose to not drag out the memories from the need to wallow in self-pity.

Beauty in what remains? Imagine a child's mind as a beautiful stained glass window, made up of gorgeous colors, reflecting the sun and illuminating all around her. If someone comes along and smashes that beautiful window, the remaining shards and slivers of color would retain their original beauty, but there would no longer be a substantial whole through which the child views the world, and interacts with it.

My mind has been shattered; from time to time I discover remaining shards shining their mute beauty, and I'm infused with hope. Even if that hope lessens, it gets me through the next patch of rough spots until I can once more catch my breath, take it easy, and revel in the knowledge that I have, once again, moved forward. Yes, I must look backwards in order to work through my past, but I can begin to teach myself to use my triggers as a measuring stick of my growth, rather than as sticks with which to beat myself up for having been such a stupid, shameful victim.

I like the idea of beauty in what remains. I like the idea that there is even something of the original me remaining!

 

 

 

Saturday
Oct112014

What Lies Beneath

I'm going to write this the best I can but it won't be enough.

For most of my life I've been fighting the darkness, not only in the sense of not wanting it to consume or destroy me, but I've mostly been fighting to keep it hidden inside me where it belongs. That's been my life's agenda, though I didn't realize this until very recently.

When a dear friend told me (in response to my asking) why she had a such an enthusiastic response to a bit of my writing, she told me that it didn't have the singsong quality to it typical of much of what I write. She said the writing in question was raw and didn't attempt to muffle my pain, and every word wasn't perfectly manicured. Perfectly manicured. That resonated: my mother was always perfectly manicured. My stepdad (my abuser) got manicures. Our lawn was always perfectly manicured.

I asked for this person's opinion because I value it, but her response broad sided me. I didn't know much of my writing was written in singsong. Did I even know I tend to muffle my pain? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that I try to find something, any small thing, in every post that is of a positive nature. But I thought that was in contrast to the raw and the ugly, not in place of it.

I'm so glad I took the plunge. I'm so glad I asked for my friend's perspective on my writing because her assessment was the dash of cold water in the face I so needed.

Do I muffle my pain? Yes, I can see that I do. I muffle everything. Why wouldn't I when I've lived for decades believing I don't have the right to my own feelings and thoughts, much less responses to abuse?

I smooth everything over. When I was a teen being raped repeatedly by an older man, I drove my pain underground, did my best to forget it. What was the point in telling anyone? I didn't believe it would make any difference at all except to make me the painful center of attention I didn't want. I didn't ask for it and I didn't want it.

I never told my father what this man was doing to me. I never told him of the abusive relationships that followed. I smiled and nodded, I lived my life in singsong, truth be told. I did. I do. And now that I know it I can see beneath the surface (varnished like the deceptively beautiful hardwood floors of the House of Incest from childhood) to the rottenness that lies beneath.

I've been surrounded since a young age by alters who each play a role in my extensive denial. Yes, they are me but they're not really me, they're separate from me. So if one of them holds my body memories captive and I need those memories back, I feel that something has been stolen and held hostage. It's like all these different parts of my body and soul, parts which were torn to pieces and parceled out, are strewn about between these parts and nobody asked me, is it okay if I take this? Can I keep this? Did I create these parts to help me survive? I'm told I did. I don't remember doing so, which leaves me feeling as if these strangers just crept into my psyche, moved in lock, stock and barrel without permission or invitation, and went to work on me like a bunch of vultures. Who said they could keep all these things or that I wouldn't some day want them back?

Something's stirring deep within, an unrest rippling through my system. Or through me? Them or me? Me or them?

What lies beneath is anything but a mirror image of the singsong life I try so painstakingly to portray to those in my 3D world. It is painstaking, it's exhausting and unfulfilling and there is no one to pat me on the back, or say nice job, or to even acknowledge that I do everything within my power every day of my life to hold myself together so there isn't some ugly explosion.

What lies beneath is what I need to explore.  Because it is ugly and as raw as any old, festering wound that has never healed I need to do some deep sea diving. These are my depths, they belong to me.

Ultimately they belong to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday
Aug242014

This Crazy Life of Mine

I don't know what I mean to write.

Sometimes the need to write overwhelms me even (and especially) when it seems I haven't much to say.

My childhood years of abuse and trauma come to me sometimes like a dream, a dream wrapped up carelessly in an old, priceless shawl whose radiant colors have faded with time. Sometimes the thought of my childhood so wrapped up nearly leaves me breathless with dread mingled with excitement.

I dread the retelling of what never should have been. Excitement grabs me when I consider all that my story can mean to someone else who has known and endured the shame of covert acts of sexual terrorism, of those moments in time equivalent to the endless minutes I spent hunched atop my mother's washing machine, naked, alone and waiting to be abused.

I'm excited because I have something to give away, something that cost me every bit of my soul. In the act of giving lies the dread that it may be misunderstood, scoffed at or heartlessly tossed aside.

But I am used to mocking; I grew up being the subject of much mockings. Surely I can bear more of the same for the sake of those few who may read my story and weep in that good and pure way which cleanses and uplifts, readying one to go on to take more steps and fight more battles.

Oh, it's not over yet.

I live a dual life, at any moment here in the present in all my nana-ness, while the past is a slow steady stream of vignettes playing upon my mind's eye from some decrepit movie projector.

I am me, a sixty year old woman who is just learning to cry out my sorrow.

I am her, the laughingstock little girl carrying heavy burdens and hiding them within the pages of fiction I can't quite get enough of.

When I was little my Dad was everything to me. He loved God so much that I did too, and this made of us a sort of trinity which suited me well and leant to my days and nights a sweet stability and comfort.

There isn't any bemoaning my childhood so much as simply wondering at its twists and turns.

Sorrow has expressed itself and no doubt will continue to do so infrequently now that I am becoming familiar with its intonations. I'm grateful for a respite, but I don't fear her reappearance anymore. She is part of me, a part of me I haven't wanted to acknowledge, let alone explore.

Today I'm neither happy nor longing for death. I'm not particularly joyful, which is not to say that some little ray of joy couldn't zap me out of nowhere, for instance as I'm reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, or when I get a whiff of an especially pleasing scented candle.

The way I see it, I'm about one step above simply existing. I don't long for anything else, not now. Maybe some other day. Today is all about being, just being.

And so I sit and wait for whatever it is will grab me next, be it an old, old memory or a new thought that takes me in a whole new direction.

My life is mine, is what I mean to say. Others nearly robbed me of its possession but it's still all mine. Even and especially the dark, unmentionable acts which crushed me, those moments in time when I hardly knew my name and despaired of ever laughing again.

I might laugh today. Today I might laugh. It's hard to say what I'll do today with this crazy life of mine.