Monday, September 24, 2007

Trip to India

To my subscribers, I am on the airplane flying to India, as you read this. My friend and I are scheduled to fly out of the Little Rock, Arkansas airport a little after noon on Monday, September 24, 2007. We will fly to Atlanta, Georgia. After a layover in Atlanta, we will fly to Paris, France. We will get into Paris, France in time for breakfast on September 25. I have never been to France before. If we get in on time, we hope to see some of Paris but it will depend upon where the airport is located and how much time we have before we fly on to Bangalore, India. We will spend a few days in Bangalore before traveling by taxi to Puttaparthi, India. If you don't know, Bangalore is in southern India. Puttaparthi is about 70 something miles north of Bangalore.

To anyone visiting the blog for the first time. Welcome. Stay and look around. If you like what you see, feel free to subscribe.

I will be offline from Monday, September 24 until I get back home on Monday, October 15. I don't get home until late on October 15. It will take me a few days to get settled back in so I am not sure when my next article will be posted. I will be journaling about my trip and intend to do future articles about my experiences in India and at the main ashram of Satya Sai Baba, a Holy Man in India. Have a glorious time while I am gone. I sure intend to.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pre-India Trip Feelings

Here I am less than 24 hours from leaving for India. I went to church this morning and one of my friends announced to everyone that I was leaving for India tomorrow. Another friend came to visit a short time ago to give me a hug good bye and to give me $20.00 to bring her back some souvenirs. I have told my son where my passwords to the computer are, just in case. No I am not expecting any problems and I do have a practical side that likes to cover all the bases.

I have emailed everybody that I will be gone and asked those that email me a lot to hold back on everything but what they consider the essential emails so that I don't spend a month sorting through emails. I canceled some of my subscriptions to things that I no longer read anyway and started a "Sites to Resubscribe To" for those that I am interested in subscribing to after my trip. I have run across some great sites in the past week that I want to remember to check out when I get home so those are in that folder too.

I am excited. I am tired. I am ready to go. I don't want to wait until tomorrow to leave. Did I say, I am impatient???

I have packed and reduced the stuff in my big suitcase 3 times this week. It is so hard for me to not pack everything that I might possibly need for the next 3 weeks. The big suitcase can't be over 50 pounds or I get taxed more. I think it weighs 46 pounds. I have taken everything out of boxes and put the contents in loose which goes against my sense of organization. It also cut down the weight of the suitcase. I took out my little bag that has all of my bathroom things so well organized because it weighed quite a bit by itself. I haven't gone any where without that bag in at least 5 years. Like I said, I like being organized.

This is the first Sunday that I haven't posted an article since June 1. I feel unsettled, restless, excited, scared (just a little). I am being honest here.

I am bored because I want to get going. I am ready to be active, moving forward, not sitting, waiting. Did I say, I am impatient. My husband will tell you that I get a little crazy when it comes to traveling. Well, not actually traveling, it is the getting ready stage that I tend to lose it. I really do become a shrew trying to get everyone out the door on time. Once we are in the car, actually traveling, I am ok, back to my usual, calm self. Then I have to apologize for my behavior of the few hours before. I try to control myself and I still lose it. Maybe that is why Daniel is staying home instead of going with me to India. All he has to do is drive us to the airport at 7:30 in the morning. I would like him to go with me to share the experience and then I am glad he is staying home because he won't like all of the sitting that is involved in the trip and at the ashram.

I think I will go see if something is on TV or meditate or read a book to pass some time.

Or I might do some writing. As I find myself getting ready to leave my computer and blog behind for 3 weeks, things that I want to write about are just flying through my mind. I am taking my journal and a second notebook to do any writing for future articles that come to mind. I am going to spend more time meditating while I am gone also. I will have plenty of time on the plane and on layovers to either read or write over the next two days.

Well, I am running out of steam and words so I will just say, "Miss me, just a little bit while I am gone. I know I will miss you. Have a glorious day, week, month, year, life."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Books about Sathya Sai Baba, Holy Man From India

"A Word to the Reader
Sai Baba is referred to as Sathya Sai Baba, Sai Baba, Sai, Baba and Swami. The Sanskrit word Sathya means absolute truth, Sai means divine mother, and Baba means divine father. Swami is a name of respect and affection.
I consider Sai Baba to be an individual personality as well as a divine being with the same divine attributes that are worshipped in the deities of all the world religions."

The above words are taken from the book WITH LOVE MAN IS GOD written by Samuel H. Sandweiss, M. D., Birth Day Publishing Company, San Diego, California, USA, 2004.

The following is a list of the books that I have read about Sathya Sai Baba over the past 10 years. For anyone who is interested in learning more about Sai Baba, these books are a good start.

Sai Baba, The Ultimate Experience by Phyllis Krystal, Aura Books, Los Angeles, 1985.

Sai Baba, The Holy Man . . . . . . And The Psychiatrist by Samuel H. Sandweiss, M. D., Birth Day Publishing Company, San Diego, California, USA, 1975.

The Darmic Challenge, Putting Sathya Sai Baba's Teachings into Practice Compiled and Edited by Judy Warner, Leela Press Inc., Faber, VA, USA, 1995.

My Baba And I by Dr. John S. Hislop, Birth Day Publishing Company, San Diego, California, USA, 1985.

Walking The Path With Sai Baba by Howard Murphet, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach, Maine, 1993.

Sai Inner Views And Insights, 30 Years with the Avatar by Howard Murphet, Leela Press Inc., Faber, VA, 1996.

Sai Baba, The Embodiment of Love by Peggy Mason & Ron Laing, Gateway Books, Bath, UK, 1982.

Sathya Sai Baba And JESUS CHRIST, A Gospel For The Golden Age by Peter Phipps, 3rd Edition, Distributed by Sathya Sai Book Center of America, 305 W. First Street, Tustin, CA 92780, USA, 1996.

Know Thyself, Sathya Sai Baba's Messages in His own Words by Gerard T. Satvic, D. K. Fine Arts Press Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi - 110 052, 1st Ed. 1995, Reprint 1998.

Sai Baba Gita, The Way to Self-Realization and Liberation in this Age Compiled and Edited by Al Drucker, Sai Towers Publishing, 3/497 Main Road, Prasanthi Nilayam 515 134, India, 1998.

Words of Jesus And Sathya Sai Baba Compiled by: Dr. H. K. Takyi, F.R.C.S. and Kishin J. Khubchandani, Pune, India, 1986.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why Am I Going To India Again?

"Why are you going to India again? You have been twice already. Isn't that enough?" These are the questions that my husband asked me when I first told him that I was going to India again. These are the same questions he asked again, when the trip became a reality, instead of just something that my friend and I were talking about doing. Several friends and family members have also asked these questions.

Why am I going to India? I ask, "Why not?" It is a wonderful adventure. My first flight to India I had never been on an airplane before that trip. My first flight on an airplane took 22 hours to get to our final destination of Bangalore, India. We flew out of Little Rock, Arkansas. My husband assured me that if I didn't like flying, I could get off of the plane and fly home from either of our first two stops---Atlanta, Georgia and JFK in New York. For a month before we left, my husband made sure that I knew about every plane that crashed any where in the world. He was really afraid of my flying, especially since it was to several foreign countries. This was in pre-911 days. Security was different then. From what I have seen, I don't know that it is any better but the restrictions are a lot more complicated. I forgave him because I know his fear comes from his love for me. When I went on my first cruise a few years ago, he reminded me about the movie The Posedon Aventure. You know the one where the ship gets hit by a tidal wive and turns upside down. It is a good thing that I love him too. I would think that he really doesn't want me to go. I have invited him along for each trip. He has his own things he wants to do, going to India isn't one of them.

My friend Sherryl and I are going to fly to Bangalore, India where we will spend two days in a hotel before hiring a taxi to drive us to the small village of Puttaparthi north of Bangalore. The main ashram of Satya Sai Baba is located in Puttaparthi, the small village that Sai Baba was born and raised in.

The main ashram, Prasanthi Nilayam, which means Abode of the Highest Peace, is located there. Puttaparthi is located 180 kilometers north of Bangalore. I don't know how many miles that converts too. Sai Baba's mission is "to help humanity wake up to the innate divinity within themselves and all creation and to see that the principles of Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Love and Nonviolence govern all human relations and activities." This information and quote came from the book, JOURNEY to Sathya Sai Baba, A Visitor's Guide written by Valmai Worthington, Leela Press, Inc. Faber, VA, U. S. A., 1995.

My friend and I will be gone from September 24- October 15, 2007. Three weeks seems like a long time and it is, but I am never ready to leave when the time comes. I miss my family while I am gone. I don't usually call more than once or twice while I am gone. Because of the time difference, it is difficult to find a time to call my husband Daniel when he is awake and not working. Also, southern India is 11 1/2 hours ahead of Arkansas time. Calling home isn't a simple matter of picking up a phone and calling. There is one place in the ashram that has phones for calling out. You wait in line until your turn. The operator connects you and then you put in the phone number. You talk to whoever you called and then you pay for your call and it is someone else's turn to use the phone.

Being in the presence of Sai Baba is wonderful. I don't see auras on a conscious level but people who do say that his extends outward a long, long way. Most of us have auras of just a few inches out from our bodies. Sai Baba tells us that he is God and so are we. He says the difference between him and us is that he remembers who he is and we have forgotten our Divinity. He tells us to stay home and worship the God of our choice. He says something that I have always felt in my heart and that is that we are all God. The Divine is in each of us, not "out there" some place. If I don't have to visit him, why do I, and so many others, travel every year to see him? Being in his presence reminds me of my own Divinity and that connection feels wonderful. A friend from church saw me soon after I got home from my first trip and he told me I was glowing. How could I be around that purity of energy and not be glowing. It is very difficult to come back into the fast paced life of an American after spending 3 weeks in India.

I see these trips as Spiritual Retreats for me. I come home rejuvenated and refreshed. I come back home to green salads, a soft bed and a hot shower. In India, you drink bottled water to keep from getting sick. You don't eat any food that has been sitting out for the flies to get to. If it isn't hot, don't eat or drink it. At the ashram, you do a lot of walking. Showers are luke warm, at best. There are two types of bathrooms. The India bathrooms you squat over a hole in the floor and you clean yourself with water and your left hand. You do not extend your left hand to anyone to shake hands. (My friend is left-handed and she forgets this rule occasionally.) There are also English bathrooms where you have regular commodes. You take your own toilet paper with you to India. I buy the biggest rolls of toilet paper that I can find and take three rolls since we are there for three weeks. On our first trip, our bathroom shower came from a bucket and a dipper. We had a faucet in the wall and a drain in the floor for the water to drain away. Man, do I look forward to a hot shower when I get home. I do not like cold showers. I appreciate my creature comforts more when I get back home.

For our beds, we go and watch some Indian man put straw into a mattress that he then sews together. When you leave the ashram, men come and collect the mattresses to be taken apart, refilled with a new cover and resold to the next person. The beds weren't too bad if you piled two mattresses on top of each other. All you need for cover is a sheet and mosquito net. Don't forget your mosquito repellent. I make my own or buy those made from essential oils. I don't like the regular store bought kinds.

Travel in India is much more difficult than in the U. S. Most people when they find out that we are going to India want to know if we are going to visit the Taj Mahal. No, that is in northern India and we are way down south just above Bangalore. It just isn't that easy to travel the distance from southern India to northern. We would spend a lot more money and take a much longer trip to do that.

Every where we travel is by either taxi or motorized rickshaws. Traveling the streets and roads of India is an adventure all its own. Everyone drives by using their intuition and their horns. You have air pollution and noise pollution combined. In the U. S., I would be terrified to drive the way they do in India. It is a highly evolved skill to drive solely by your instincts. Instead of frightened, I felt exhilerated. It truly is incredible the way that they drive. In both of our first trips, we only saw one minor accident. A motorized rickshaw had lost a wheel. Traffic consists of big trucks, buses, taxis of all shapes and sizes, motorized rickshaws, motor scooters with one-three people on them, bicycles and pedestrians all moving in every direction at the same time. That is where horns come into the picture. They honk "hello", "good-bye", "I'm coming through." "Look out." "Get out of my way." and probably a little cussing through in for good measure. It really is exciting. Americans couldn't begin to think about driving this way. Sometimes you find yourself holding your breath. Sometimes you have to gasp. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the thrill of some of their seemingly narrow escapes.

Do not think that I am making fun of anything Indian. I am not. I have mixed feelings about what I have seen of the country. It is a harsh looking land. Our first trip was in the summer and I don't remember seeing any green, not even grass. Everything was shades of brown. That trip we followed Sai Baba to KodaiKanal, a small mountainside village that was cooler during the summer months.

I have at least two past lives in India. One I got from a dream. In the dream, I was an Indian man from a rich family. I know this from the clothes that I was getting dressed in. I was on my way to a party wearing heavy, rich, brocade like material with a turbine on my head. I had this dream during my first week of my first trip to India.

The other Indian lifetime, I was a very sick little girl who was healed by Krishna and became one of his devotees. That is all of the information that I have about that lifetime. It came from an acquantance who is a psychic.

I have mixed emotions about the country but not about the people of India. I loved the people that I met. Some of them were quiet and shy. Some of them are loud and boisterous, especially the young boys who want you to buy their wares. I had one man who insisted upon selling me a bracelet. I said no. He actually put it on my wrist as I was walking away. I laughed and removed it and put it back on his table. Another man tried following me on to a bus to sell me a dress that I wanted but thought his price was a little too high. He was still trying to get me to buy the dress as the bus drove off. Some of the children just capture your heart. Some of the beggars will break your heart if you let them. Before you get off the plane, you are told do not give money to the beggars. We gave them food occasionally but no money. Our first trip to Bangalore, I cried as we drove along because of a beggar lady and her baby. You want to help them but giving them money just perpetuates the beggar businesses. Sai Baba and the Indian government want the beggars to find other ways to make a living. I had to close off a part of my heart in order to deal with this part of India.

Well, I guess if I am going to have anything left to write about when I return then I should stop writing. I didn't know that I was going to tell you all of this when I sat down to write today. I ask that you envision my friend and I having a wonderful adventure and learning whatever lessons come our way from this visit. You will hear all about them when we return from India. In the mean time, while I am away, have a glorious three weeks. I know I will. Namaste.

Prelude To Forgiveness

I know that I should have written this article before the one on Forgiveness Is For You, Not The Other Person but I didn't. I had to get those feelings and thoughts out of the way first. I just spent some time reading articles on the Carnival Against Sexual Abuse. I left comments on the blogs of two very courageous women who are dealing with the effects that rape has left them with. I ended both comments by telling them not to let anyone try to push them into doing forgiveness until they were ready. That is my number one tip on how to do forgiveness.

1. Don't let anyone try to push you into doing forgiveness until you are ready to do it. You will know when the time is right for you.

2. People who try to push you into doing forgiveness before you are ready usually do so because they have unresolved abuse issues themselves. I can't say that this is always true. In my experience, it is true a lot of the time.

3. Don't let anyone tell you to simply forgive. They don't know what they are talking about. The feelings and pain inside of you are not simple. Forgiving is not a simply process.

4. Just saying the words, "I forgive you." doesn't mean a damn thing, if you haven't done the work to get you to a place of releasing your pain. It just keeps you in the pain longer and gives you a reason to judge yourself.

5. Don't listen to anyone, yourself included, that says, "You should be able to do this by now." Shoulds don't do anything but give you a reason to abuse yourself with shame and blame.

6. Before you can truly forgive, you have to stop "blaming". Take responsibility for where you are right now and move forward.

7. Let go of any shame and guilt that you may be holding on to for what happened to you. You weren't the one who didn't take no for an answer if you were raped. If you were raped, believe it. You didn't make it up. Yes, incest is rape. That was a big one for me to accept. Rape doesn't have to be violent to be rape. Date rape doesn't have to be violent to be rape. Shame and guilt belong to the abuser, not you.

8. You have to feel the feelings and just sit with them for awhile before you can release them. This can be really hard work. For myself, I would eat, read, watch TV, run away, go shopping, try to fix anybody and everybody else's problems before dealing with mine. You can distance your self from your own problems with denial and addictions. Neither help the situation. You can pretend that the abuse isn't affecting you. Guess what, pretending can keep you in the pain. Pretending doesn't stop the pain. Ignoring it doesn't help either. The pain will show up as an illness to get your attention. I have done all of the above. They don't work. You can be smiling on the outside and still hurting on th inside.

9. As Lisa from reminded me in my last article on forgiveness that forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. Just because you forgive the abuser does not mean that he/she can be back in your life. My dad was a raging alcoholic until the day that he died alone and probably frightened. Given the opportunity, he probably would have acted out sexually too. For my protection and the protection of my children, he was not a part of our lives even though I forgave him a year and a half before he died.

10. Forgiving is not saying that what was done to you is ok or right. Abuse is never right or ok. That is my reason for doing this blog and in particular this set of articles on incest and forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean the abuse did not happen. It does not mean that you were wrong in accusing your abuser. The responsibility for the abuse is with the abuser. Forgiveness does not change any of that. It does not change the past. What forgiveness does is to release you from the pain of the past. Forgiveness gave me a sense of freedom that I had never experienced before. Forgiveness can give you peace of mind.

11. Forgiveness does not mean you won't still get angry or cry or be hurt by someone else's hurtful words or acts. You can learn to recognise those feelings for what they are and release them right then or a few days later, if you choose to. You aren't stuck with the emotions in your body.

12. Forgiveness means freedom to be you, the whole you. You no longer have to hide from the abuser or yourself.

13. Forgiveness means you can let go of the secrets that were holding you back. You have the strength and compassion to reach out and help others because you have learned compassion for yourself.

14. Forgiveness means learning to love yourself, no matter what. You deserve to be in a better place. To whatever is necessary to take care of yourself and to provide you with a "safe" space.

15. Forgiveness means not carrying the weight of the world around on your shoulders any more. You don't have to be or do anything that is detrimental to your well-being.

16. Forgiveness means you can sing the song, "You Are So Beautiful" and mean every word of it. Smile the world can be a better place. Feel the sunshine of a new day shining down on you. Love yourself. You deserve it.

If you see anything that needs to be added to this list, please leave a comment. Let's see how big this list can grow. In the mean time, everybody have a glorious day.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Forgiveness Is For You, Not The Other Person

Daily Word, July 22, 2007, page 36:
"Releasing the past and embracing forgiveness, I am refreshed and renewed.

Dear God, my deepest desire is to know You more and to fully experience Your love. In tune with You, I understand the importance of forgiveness, and I forgive.
As I forgive others for any misguided words or actions, I myself feel uplifted in spirit. Your love has the capacity to open my eyes and heart to the realization that because no one except me owns my happiness, no one can take my good from me. You are my all in all, and I strengthen this awareness in deep meditation.
I forgive myself for any thought of myself as anything less than Your beloved child. I do not blame myself for what has happened or not happened. This is a new beginning. Releasing the past and embracing forgiveness, I am refreshed and renewed."

You can subscribe to Daily Word at Daily Word, 1901 NW Blue Parkway, Unity Village, MO 64065-0001 if you like what you just read.

As my title says, forgiveness is not something that you do for the other person. Forgiveness is something that you do for you. Until you can forgive, you continue to carry around hurt, anger, hate, sorrow---all deep emotions that affect your body, the way you see yourself, the way you see other people, and the way you see your world. Not forgiving can keep you stuck in all of these emotions.

These emotions can affect your body by keeping it stressed out with high blood pressure, hurting from arthritis which is anger turned inward, or in the extreme, by creating cancer which can be anger and hurt eating away at you. So many illnesses can come from holding the emotions of hurt, anger, hate and sorrow in your body over a long length of time.

These emotions can affect the way you see yourself by striking at your self-esteem and self-love. Because of hurt, anger, hate, and sorrow, you may see yourself as undeserving. So, as I hope you can see, forgiveness is really for you. The other person isn't being hurt by your unforgiveness, your anger, your hate, your sorrow. Often, the other person doesn't know or doesn't care what you are feeling.
When I started writing this article, suddenly everywhere I looked was something about forgiveness. I put the article away and decided to wait and sit for a little while with the feelings and information that was coming my way. This process has been going on for the past two weeks.
One of the first articles that came my way was from Adam of Adam's Peace with his article called "Pragmatic Peace: Forgiveness" found at . Adam immediately caught my attention when he asked the question, "If a child in your family were sexually molested, would you be able to forgive their abuser?" Please go and visit Adam at his blog. Be sure to read the comment that I left after Adam's article. Then come back and read the rest of my article. It was Adam's article that caused me to sit with my own article, waiting for the final pieces to fall into place so that I could finish writing this. Then Adam left a comment at the end of my article "Mixed Emotions Keep The Hurt Alive . . . " which you can go and read if you haven't already.
While I was waiting and processing the feelings, I happened to watch two movies on TV. The first one was the musical "Rent". I love musicals. I had no idea what the movie was about other than being a musical when I rented it. The phone kept interupting me watching the movie so I missed a lot of it and the DVD messed up twice also. There were two places in the movie that I sobbed. One was the death of Angel, a Drag Queen who was the heart of the "family". The other scene was the near death experience of one of the women at the end of the movie when she was told by Angel that it wasn't her time to die. The "family" in "Rent" consisted of two straight men, a straight woman, two gay men and two gay women. It was an odd assortment but they became a real family who cared about each other. Why was I crying? Because I felt the loss of never having a close family that I felt loved me in the way that these characters loved and worried about each other. The second movie had a more traditional family and again I cried. On both nights, I chose to stay with the feelings and just let the tears fall. I haven't cried that hard in a very long time. I realized that writing these articles was the cause of the feelings. They have been building and needed to be released as part of my own forgiveness process.
Forgiveness doesn't just happen once and then you never have to do it again. I can't tell you how many times I have forgiven myself and my abusers. Part of forgiveness, as Adam addresses in his article, is letting go of the blame. Blame doesn't do any good. All blame does is keep you stuck in the abuse. Blame attracts more abusers to you to continue the abuse. Blame keeps you in the victim mode. Blame keeps you holding in the anger or exploding and doing your own verbal abuse to others. I have done both in the past. So, one of the first steps in forgiveness is releasing the need to blame yourself and others.
Next, in my processing about forgiveness, just this week, I ran across my Healing Runes which I haven't used in probably a couple of years to do a reading. I reached in the bag and pulled out three Runes. The first one was Ehwaz. Want to guess what it means? Forgiveness. The second Rune was Algiz which is Boundaries. The third Rune was Jera, Patience. Earlier in the week, I had just decided that one of my future articles would be on Boundaries and I have twice this week told someone that as a Saggittarian, I am not always patient. I had to laugh.
From The Healing Runes written by Ralph H. Blum and Susan Loughan, on page 102-103, I want to share with you what it says.
"A life in transition draws upon forgiveness in order to make peace with the past. Receiving this Rune, you are asked to consider: Who is it that calls out to you for forgiveness? To whom do you call out?
To all of you who find the courage in your heart to forgive those who betrayed you, this Rune brings a blessing.
Forgiving someone who has hurt you, and making amends---these are two faces of forgiveness. This is a third face as well: Consider whether receiving this Rune, at this moment, may be an invitation to extend forgiveness to yourself.
. . . . . . . . It has been said that to cling to resentment is to harbor a thief in your heart. For resentment robs you of your energy, your strength, your peace of mind and, ultimately, your ability to heal. It is not part of our nature to withhold forgiveness. . . . "
This Rune goes on to say that for those who cannot forgive, close the door on the past and get on with living your life. In order to forgive, you must have the courage to face anger and rage and release them. Forgiveness is about "clearing out the old". When we forgive, we then find joy.
I had gone from tears a few nights before to laughter over the "coincidence" of drawing these particular Runes. Do you really believe it was coincidence? I don't. Our inner guidance takes us where we need to be to get in touch with the information we need if we will just pay attention.
The next information came to me from Christine Kane in the form of her article entitled, "HOW DO YOU FORGIVE SOMEONE?" found at . Christine starts out by reminding me that forgiveness has so many different levels. She also says that "people sometimes want to hold on to the idea of themselves as 'victims' of something or someone - they will fight to keep that victim identity alive by fighting any idea that challenges that identity." Christine states that forgiveness and self-responsibility challenge continuing to identify yourself as a victim.
In the middle of all of this, my dad's birthday was on September 9. I felt sad for the father/daughter relationship that we never had. Much of the forgiveness issues that have come up for me over the past two weeks have had to do with me releasing the fairy tale wish that I had grown up in a normal family. Why do we cling to this fairy tale and refuse to let go of it when it just causes us more pain? This is finally the final piece of the puzzle that I have been working on for the past few weeks.
I can release the pain that I was causing myself by not wanting to release this fairy tale image of what my life should have, could have been like if the incest had never happened. This isn't the first time that I have had to release this image from the possibilities that my mind can create. Nothing is going to change the past. I can change my reaction to the past. I can surrender to the feelings and the tears, as I did earlier this week. Then I can chose to release the pain of the past. I can forgive myself for again creating this pain.
Forgiveness allows me to feel compassion for myself. It allows me to move on with my life. Forgiveness allows me to feel without hurting all the time, without sorrow and grief being my constant companions. Forgiveness allows me to grow into the next step of being.
So, my questions to you are, are you ready to give up being a victim? Are you ready to forgive so that you can have a better life? Are you ready to forgive so that you can feel better about who you are? Are you ready to forgive so that you can experience joy instead of hate, peace instead of fear, freedom instead of captivity?
Forgiveness is not for the other person. It is a selfish act that you do for yourself to help you heal. It does not change what was done to you. It does not change the other person. Forgiveness does not say that what was done to you was right or should ever happen to another person. Forgiveness does not change the past. Forgiveness allows you to surrender the hurt that was done to you. Surrendering allows you to wake up to a better day. Forgiveness makes you a stronger, more compassionate person and allows you to start to trust yourself. Do it for you. You deserve it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Carnival Against Sexual Violence: Help Get The Word Out!

Carnival Against Sexual Violence: Help Get The Word Out!

Check out the above site if you are an incest or sexual abuse survivor or know someone that is. This Carnival is full of stories and pertenance information.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Mixed Emotions Keep The Hurt Alive---Incest May Be A Part Of My Life Series---Part 6

Warning: Reading the following series may be injurious to your peace of mind. They are intended to be. Without knowledge, we cannot prevent child abuse from happening. Go beyond this point at your own risk. Join me for the painful, frightening, emotional, freeing journey.

My last article in this series talked about Family Secrets and why letting go of them can be so difficult. It is because of those family secrets that breaking the silence isn't an easy step to take. Another reason for the difficulty is what this article is about---the mixed emotions that the victim feels. I hate using that word---victim. Even today, I feel a knot in my stomach just thinking about those days. Even today, I still get "emotional" about this subject. I watched a movie last night that helped me to get in touch with some of my own tears. I cried and cried and cried. I realized that my tears had nothing to do with the movie, even though it was sad. What I had touched was some of the deep hurt and sadness that I am, even today, still carrying around inside of me. I realized this, while I was crying and allowed myself to cry until the tears stopped.
Yes, these articles can still cause the tension to build up in me. Writing about the "secrets" can still make me, not exactly fearful, but at least uncomfortable because some part of me is still not comfortable with this whole process. You would think that I would be after all of the years that I have talked about the incest.

The difference, that I am just beginning to realize, is that I am truly writing about it for the first time with no holding back. Writing for me makes something more real. You would think that living it was "real" enough. Talking about it was "real" enough. Writing about it for all of you to read is taking it to another level for me. In the past, I would attempt to journal about my emotions at different steps in my recovery. I didn't dare write about it when I was a child experiencing the abuse, because, you see, I didn't even think that my journals were private enough not be to violated as well. I couldn't take a chance that someone would read what I wrote and discover the bad person that I really was. They might discover that the "me" that I presented to the world, wasn't "ME". Then I would be known for the liar that I really was.

Today, I have "run" away from sitting down to write this article. I have put away the dishes, washed other dishes, cleaned the bathroom, thought about going out to the store, anything not to sit down and write tomorrow's article. I am still not "ok" with my own emotions. The intensity has always frightened me. Sometimes, the anger and hate feels so all consuming that it could swallow me whole and anyone else that gets too close. Now, most days, I don't feel that way.

I think that sharing my current process of writing is as important as sharing my past experiences with you, my readers. I don't want to give the impression that I am totally "recovered". I don't know if that will ever happen. The process is more important than the destination in our lives anyway and I want you to see that. I don't know that "Recovery" is a destination at all. I think it is the process, the journey that is most important, so I am going to take you back in time to read what I wrote in a journal entry on Tuesday, May 13, 1986. Here goes.

On Tuesday, May 13, 1986, I wrote the following entry in one of my many journals that I have tried to write over the years.

"No matter how angry I get. No matter how much I think I hate my Dad, I still love him and want him to love me. That is what hurts so much. A child needs and should have a parent's love. With the incest, he took that away from me. He shattered my world---my self-respect, my value as a person. My self-confidence was destroyed. I don't know what's supposed to be normal behavior in a family. I always felt that my Mother had closed herself off to all feelings, all pain. I couldn't reach her, touch her, talk to her, tell her that I loved her, tell her to make him stop. I couldn't hurt her by telling her."

These words came from one of the many pieces of journals that I have started writing and then stopped writing over the years. Sometimes years would go by before I would pick up the journal and start writing again. Why would I start to write and then stop? Each time that I would start to write, a little more of the pain would come out. I would get frightened and stop writing again. Each little piece, I can look back at and still see the pain that I was in. I still didn't have the tools to "feel" the pain so that I could heal it and then release it.

Each little awareness would peak though the covers that my mind and body layered them in so that I could survive. Our mind does what it can to protect us. That is what flashbacks do. When I experience a flashback, I have learned to take that as a sign that my mind or body is telling me that I am now strong enough to deal with this situation or this person. Flashbacks let me know that I am ready to "face" whatever it is that I need to face at this time, whether it is emotions, situations, other people or myself.

I have learned that love and hate are opposite sides of the same coin. Very often they reside in my mind and body side by side. When I wrote the above journal entry back in 1986, I was still 3 years away from having the support groups that Al-Anon and ACA (Adult Children Of Alcoholics) provided me with. Even so, I got the quiet realization that the mixed emotions sharing the same space in my mind and body were what was causing me all of the pain and distress that I always carried around with me. Not dealing with these emotions was what caused me to suffer migraines on and off for years. Even today, I still haven't learned to deal with the internal pressure caused by not acknowleging these two extremes, I still get an occasional migraine. It hasn't been enough to just say, "I know you are here. I release you." There are underlying issues still to surface, before I stop "doing" migraines.

Here is what I wrote just last night about the process of journal writing in the past and right now.

"Why would I start and stop the journal writings so many times over the years? Each time that I would start to write, as now with these articles, feelings would start to surface. In the past, I would start to get in touch with the feelings, get frightened by the intensity of the feelings and would then put away the journal for 3-5 more years. I would start the whole process over again.
My response to the feelings that would come up was to stop the journal writing and to stuff the feelings with food and to concentrate on taking care of other people, anything to stay away from the feelings that I was afraid to deal with. I put walls around myself to keep from being hurt.

In some ways, I became like my dad trying to control everything in my life, including the people closest to me. With my husband and kids, I leaned toward becoming the dictator that my dad had been with me as a child. I felt that if I could control the circumstances and people around me then I could be safe. I could be happy and no one could hurt me again. (As I was just writing this, I got the sudden realization of just how terrified my dad must have been. Boy, did I ever repeat this pattern in my life!!!)

I wasn't taught about healthy boundaries as a child. Neither of my parents were taught this either. The only boundaries that I saw were those fueled by rage or those forged by walls of silence. I have used both at different points in my life. (Make a note to myself to do an article on boundaries.) In using rage as a boundary, I became like my dad.

In using silence as a wall I was like my mom. I kept people from getting to close with a huge wall of enforced steel made of silence. No one could get in. What I didn't realize was that I couldn't get out either. The hurt, rage, and sorrow were held in, but joy, happiness, contentment couldn't get in."

Neither of these boundaries were healthy. They kept me in and other people out. The process of chipping away at the stones of these walls took years of work on my part. I do realize, that while, they were not healthy, they did enable me to survive an abusive childhood. During my first steps of recovery, I started removing the bricks one at a time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Why Do I Blog?

On August 24, 2007, Rory at CleanCutBlog asked the question, "Why Do You Blog?" You will find Rory's article at My answer to Rory's question is as follows:

"I blog to make sense of my life. That is what is behind my first thought of blogging to help others. Maybe, just a little bit, I like the sound of my own voice. Boy, does that sound like I have a big ego? I hope that I have a healthy ego, not an overbearing one. Gosh, you sure got me to thinking with this article."

Rory then replied that he would be interested in hearing how my line of thinking progresses. Well, here it is.

"Why do I blog?" is slightly different than "Why do I write?", but there are also similarities.
Writing could be on a much smaller scale where I write strictly for myself or to share my thoughts with a few friends.

Blogging is writing on a grander scale. Blogging puts my writing out there for the world to see. I would be lying if I said my ego doesn't get a thrill out of that idea. Does that make it any more right that I should blog? Not at all. It just says that a part of me likes the recognition. Does that take away from the fact that I blog so that maybe others can benefit from my experiences? Not at all. Does it make me a bad person for wanting recognition? No, it makes me human.

I have always written down my thoughts in an effort to understand my own thought processess. I have always written as a form of self-therapy. If I can "see" my thoughts in writing, maybe I can better understand myself. Maybe others can understand me better by reading my words. Don't most of us just want to be understood?

I, sometimes, write out my anger at myself or my husband or the world. Sometimes, I write about being hurt, or being sad. Sometimes, I just write to say, "I don't understand." Less often, I write out of despair and loneliness.

Do you know what it feels like to be surrounded by people and feel that you are totally alone? I do.

Do you know what it feels like to be so full of joy that crying is the only possible way to express yourself? I do.

Do you know what it feels like to be so full of rage that you are afraid you could hurt someone? I do.

At different stages of my life, I have written about all of those feelings. Now if I feel those things, you will read about them on my blog. My blog, now, as my writing has always been, is a barometer of where I am on this Spiritual Journey that is my life.

Back on August 3, 2007, Geoff at Tapping Creativity found at asked, "Why Do You Write? My answer to that question was a little different than to Rory's question of why do I blog.

"I write because I have no choice. The words come and have to be put down on paper. I have written since I was a child afraid that someone would find what I had written and know my secrets so as a child I wrote about things of no importance to anyone. Today I have no secrets. Today I write about the important things or at least what's important to me. I write because maybe I can, through the sharing of my experiences, help someone else out of their pain sooner than I was able to come out of mine. I write because I am inspired by people like you. I write because I am inspired by the struggle of other survivors."

Check out Geoff's site to find out why others write.
So here are my questions to you.

"Why Do You Write?"

"Why Do You Blog?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Family Secrets---Incest May Be A Part Of My Life Series---Part 5

In this series, I have been talking about "breaking the silence" for several weeks. In my last article, K-L left a comment that said, "The biggest clue for the insidious nature of the abuse came for me when I read that you didn't tell your sister until you were in your late 20's . . ."

K-L went on to say, "I just can't imagine . . . because it says so much about the huge amount of blame and responsibility you must have taken on as a child for this happening to you.
Why should the abused be afraid to speak up, be afraid to stand up, be afraid at all . . . ?"

You can find the article which inspired this comment at .

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, "Secrecy is the practice of sharing information among a group of people, which can be as small as one person, while hiding it from others. That which is kept hidden is known as the secret."

Under "Natural and sociological secrecy" Wikipedia continues, "Humans attempt to consciously conceal aspects of themselves from others due to shame, or from fear of rejection, loss of acceptance, or loss of employment. On a deeper level, humans attempt to conceal aspects of their own self which they are not capable of incorporating psychologically into their conscious being. Families sometimes maintain 'family secrets', obliging family members never discuss disagreeable issues concerning the family, either with those outside the family and sometimes even within the family. Many 'family secrets' are maintained by using a mutually agreed-upon construct (an official family story) when speaking with outside members. Agreement to maintain the secret is often coerced through 'shaming' and reference to family honor." This information plus more comments about secrecy can be found at This description of secrecy could have been written about my family.

Here are some of the lies and secrets that I grew up with.
1. Having sex with him meant my daddy loved me.
2. What we were doing was a secret that I couldn't tell anyone, especially my mother.
3. As long as I did what I was told then Daddy would still be faithful to my mother rather than going out with other women. He told me this.
4. My dad told me when I was older that men only wanted one thing from women and that was sex.
5. Sex was shameful and something that you did in secret.
6. Girls should not have babies unless they were married.
7. Pregnant was a dirty word.
8. Protect my mom from being hurt, at all costs.
9. Grown-ups are always to be obeyed, no matter what they tell you to do.
10. Never let anyone see you cry. Tears are a weakness.
11. No one was allowed to get angry except Daddy.

Yes, as K-L said, the secrets of incest are insidious. Incest affected every part of my life. I learned not to trust anyone, including myself. If you grow up in a safe and loving environment, then you learn to trust. I didn't.

Instead, I learned to fear. I can't tell you how old I was when I learned to be afraid. Because I lived in constant fear, I wasn't even aware of it until the night that I decided that I had to leave home or lose my mind. I was 19 years old. Fear had kept me home longer than most young adults.

I recognized fear for the first time on a Friday night. Daddy had been drinking since he got home from work around 6:00 p.m. I don't remember specifically what my sister was supposed to have done that my dad got upset over that night. Most of the time, if my dad and sister were together in the same room, an argument would start. My sister was a typical rebellious teenager in the early 1970's. With our family life, she was given plenty of reasons for rebelling. I remember that she smarted off at my dad trying to defend herself from his verbal attack.

Daddy decided that he was going to use his leather belt and whip her with it. This whole incident took place in my mother's kitchen. My mother, brother and I were present listening to the argument between my dad and sister. When dad started taking off his belt, I stepped between my dad and sister. He told me to get out of the way. I told him that I wasn't going to allow him to hit my sister with that belt. He told me that he would whip me instead.

For the first time ever, in my life, I smarted off and told him to go ahead if he thought he was big enough. My mom and brother then stepped between dad and me. Daddy hit my brother with two swings of the belt before my mom could stop him.

My sister and I ran out the back door and around the house and down the road. We didn't know what to do. We just ran down the road away from Daddy and his rage.

It was at that moment, running down a dark, empty, country road, with no where to go and no one to run to, that I felt and knew terror for what it was. At that moment, I knew that I had lived in terror for a long time and hadn't recognised it for what it was before that night. When we realized that we had no where to go and we couldn't run anymore, we walked back home and went to bed. The next day was "normal" with no one talking about the night before.

So, for me, terror was the biggest secret of all. I had not been aware, before that night, that terror had been my constant companion. I now had the awareness.

Many more years passed before I had the tools to face the terror and begin to whittle it down to a manageable size. In an ACA meeting, I admitted to myself and everyone else that the fear that I was carrying around was this blackness that filled the entire room that I was in. The weight of it had been almost more than I could bear at times. That was the night that I began releasing the fear. Small bit by small bit, I chipped away at the fear. Today, fear is no longer my constant companion. I have learned that facing the fear is well worth any minor discomfort. Each time that I face my fear, I become stronger than I was before.

If I got sidetracked from my original point of the story and confused you, I apologize. When I start to write about the incest, I have learned to go where the story takes me. All of this needs to be shared so that others can understand and heal from that understanding, starting with myself. Thank you all for taking this painful journey back to my childhood with me. If one person sees themself in my story and starts to heal because of it, then revisiting this pain is worth the trouble and the loss of sleep on my part.