Sunday, April 26, 2009

Echoes Of Childhood---Family Hero Role

Recently I found myself falling back into a childhood pattern of being the strong one who supports everybody else and doesn't let them or myself see that I am hurting too. I learned this as a child by being put into the role of family hero. I carried it into adulthood by listening to and trying to fix everyone else's problems.

One day in a recovery program, I learned that I didn't have to be anybody's hero and I didn't have to carry the role of the strong one for everybody else either. As you can see, I haven't been doing it perfectly, which is another one of my issues---expecting me to do everything perfectly or I am not good enough. These are all echoes from my childhood.

My brother who is younger than I am called two weeks ago to say that he had been having chest pains for several months. He had gone to the doctor recently and found out that something was wrong with his heart. On Tuesday, April 22, he went to a heart specialist for tests to find out what was wrong. Tuesday evening I called him. He was back home. He had expected to spend the night in the hospital recovering from whatever tests and procedures the doctor decided to do.

The tests showed that he has a 30-40% blockage that is inoperable because it could shift the blockage and cause worse damage. He is on medication to see if stimulating his heart will make any improvements. He was told he can go back to work on May 4.

As soon as I got off the phone with my brother, I started to cry. I was supposed to call my sister but instead called my best friend because I knew she would be ok with me crying. She allows me the space for the frightened child in me to come out and cry. I talked and cried for awhile. My friend listened and gave her support while I talked and cried out my fears. I didn't even know that I needed to cry until the tears started and my throat was clogging up with emotion. I thought I was handling this situation pretty good. I guess I still have room for improvements.

I told my friend that I had to call my sister and let her know what the doctors had told my brother. My friend told me that I could have shared my tears with my sister and let my sister see my vulnerability. That is difficult for me to do because of the hero role that I was given as a child. I realized that my friend was right. That is why I am writing this article. My sister reads my blog. Showing my vulnerability to others, especially my family, is still hard for me to do.

The hero in me still wants to be everything to everybody. She wants to be strong for everybody else and doesn't want to need anybody else. I can't do that. It isn't even realistic to try to do that but I still sometimes catch myself trying to do just that.

Showing your vulnerability is difficult for many child abuse survivors because when you were vulnerable as children, you were hurt. Some part of me still feels that she, no; some part of me still feels that I will get hurt if I am vulnerable. I have to claim that part of me if I am going to heal. I have to go face to face, toe to toe with that part of myself and say, "It is ok. I won't let you get hurt. It is worth the risk of being vulnerable. That is how you let go of the pain."

Last night, I was hurting from all of the stuff that I have stirred up by making the committment to work on my issues again. Memories of feeling hurt as a child came up. Anger came up. My husband offered to sit down and hold me. I said no. I didn't want to be held. I was at war with my own feelings and my own vulnerability. I was angry at my dad for all of the people that he hurt with his sex addiction and his alcohol addiction. I told someone last night that my dad was a mean alcoholic. Then I changed it and said he was mean without the alcohol. The alcohol just made him meaner. I guess when I am ready, there is some more forgiveness work to do on this issue. I am not ready yet. I still have to feel the anger and hurt for awhile before I am ready to let go of it.

I received another award today. This one comes from The Filipina Mom in Denmark. It is called the KISS-ASS Blogger Award. You can find out about this award by clicking on the following link: and from MammaDawg at . I like the KICK-ASS Blogger Award too. In my current mood, it would be Kick-Ass instead of Kiss. Thanks to you, Ana for the appreciation. I am honored to have received the award whatever it is called. Like I have said in my forgiveness articles, being forgiving doesn't mean that I don't still get angry with my parents.

I also wanted to direct you to another article that is posted by Ana which is called "Deafening Silence." Go to the following link to read it: . This article talks about a recent visit to a park and is filled with practical information on what to do if you see or even suspect that abuse is happening to a child. The article lists the "Signs of Child Sexual Abuse" which are good to know. Thanks Finipina Mom for your contribution to stopping child abuse in your neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We Are Here---Survivors

I borrowed the title of this article from a blog that I want my readers to check out. The blog is called Confessions of an Onion Girl. It is written by a beautiful woman who is a survivor of childhood abuse. You will find her story of abuse at the following link: .
I warn you, this is not an easy story to read.

I have been reading stories like Onion Girl's for several weeks now online. There is quite a community online now, not like the days that I started my own recovery work from incest in the late 1980's. I thank all of you survivors for the courage that you have to write online about your abuse so that other survivors can find you and know that they are not alone, as I felt for many years.

In Onion Girl's post called "We Are Here", she says, "I realized that in our solidarity we are strong, and in our purpose to heal one another we are united. We are here."

To continue by quoting from Onion Girl's post, "We come from all walks of life. We are doctors, students, drive through attendants, IT specialists and engineers. We are Christians, Buddhists, Pagans, and any other stripe of religion you can think of. We are women. We are men. We are children as young as you can imagine and adults taking our last breaths remembering the crimes perpetrated against us, hopefully with some closure and peace. We are fat and thin, sane and insane, wild and cautious, but most of all, we are everywhere.

We are here.

Wherever you look, we are here. We are in your schools, your homes, your classrooms, and your places of worship. Our faces are written with a common sadness, but also with a common strength. We are in your reflection and in the window looking out at you, seeing you look in at us.
We are here."

I could continue and quote the rest of her article but I won't. I want you, my readers, to click on the following link and go to Onion Girl's blog Confessions of an Onion Girl to read the rest of her post.
Onion Girl wrote this to use in a speech that she was giving the next day on her childhood sexual abuse. After reading this post, you will be aware of how far reaching the arm of abuse is in our world. Everybody is affected by it. With awareness, we can change the world.

In writing her speech, Onion Girl speaks out for all of us who have survived childhood abuse and for those who didn't survive. You hear the stories more and more frequently on the TV news channels of a child who was killed by a parent or friend of the family because they were being punished and it got out of hand, at least that is what the abuser wants you to believe. Too many of our children are dying of abuse. Too many more are surviving and in the silence growing up to live as wounded adults. Most of us stop the abuse with our generation and don't pass it on to our children and grandchildren. Some of us become abusers ourselves. Some of us end the pain with the taking of our own lives. Some of us are strong enough to go on to recover. Some of us continue to live in the pain because we can't find any way out of it. Some of us share our knowledge and pain with others and build a community of love and support for ourselves. The internet has become a very valuable tool for spreading our love and hope for a brighter future for us, our children and the rest of mankind. With knowledge, the abuse can stop. Please help us to stop the abuse. Thank you Onion Girl for writing this informative post. Thanks for sharing yourself and your inner thoughts with the world.

This week, I received two awards. I received a Love Ya Award first from Surviving By Grace at and second a Love Ya Award from Heal and Forgive at . Thank you to both of these beautiful ladies for the honor that they have given me. With both awards, I am in good company. Click on both of the links and check out the other blogs that the awards were given to.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How Dreams Can Help You Heal From Childhood Sexual Abuse

From The Complete Dream Dictionary written by Pamela Ball, Chartwell Books, Inc., Edison, New Jersey, 2000, page 324:
"If ideas of rape appear in a dream, then it can be as much to do with violation of personal space as with the sexual act. Sexual rape is unlikely to appear in the dreams of sexually abused children, though the adult may later suffer from nightmares. Rape itself may only manifest when the adult is ready to deal with the trauma. Most rape dreams are based around the need for, or perception of power issues between the male and female."

Why did I search out the above quote to share with you? I had a dream a few days ago in which I was raped. I looked in my dream dictionary for more meaning to the dream than I, alone, may have given it.

This isn't the first dream of rape that I have ever had. Years ago, after I had been working on my incest issues for awhile and was learning about choices, I had a dream in which a man was going to rape me. I remember that there were two men and that I couldn't prevent the rape but I could choose which of the two men were going to rape me. I remember looking into the eyes of both men and making my decision. I knew that one would be kinder than the other. He is the one that I chose to rape me. I woke up in a lot of confusion until I realized that the dream was more about the fact that I had choices, that I could actually choose the path that my life and my recovery was going to take. That is when I really learned that our choices control the path that we take in life. Choices, which I never felt that I had as a child, gave me a sense of freedom that I had never experienced before that dream.

I do believe that many of my dreams are about healing. As small as making the choice of who would rape me would seem to others, for me, it was the beginning of knowing, really knowing, that I could make a better life for myself, a life in which I felt safe and valued. My choices, my opinions mattered. Unless you are a survivor, you may not understand how really big that dream was to me.

In my dream of a few days ago, I didn't see the rape happen. I just knew that I had been raped as well as the other two women in my dream. I may have dreamed about the rape happening but if I did, I didn't carry those memories to my waking state. I remember leaving the two women behind as I walked and cried, walked and cried, walked and cried. I have cried over the years in my waking state with the grief of dealing with my incest issues. I have never cried with the deep, deep grief that I cried in this dream. The grief was so consuming that I can see myself stopping and just crying before starting to walk again until more grief came through.

In the next part of the dream, I found myself walking into a courtroom with people all around. I knew that I was going to tell them about the rape. That is when I woke up. Just as I woke up, I heard the word "justice" and knew that was why I chose a courthouse. I knew that I wasn't going to remain quiet as I did after my childhood rapes by my uncle and dad. I knew that I would no longer be silenced by the men.

I believe that this was a healing dream in that I deeply grieved and I was willing to seek justice for myself whether the other two women did or not. Also, those two women are reflections of female parts of me that are still living in the abuse and afraid to speak for themselves. So there is still some healing for me to do.

I have been taught that numbers are always important in dreams. In my dream there were three women, counting myself. I called a friend who does numerology and asked her the significance of the number three. She told me that the number three is about expression, creativity and the trinity. In this case, I think that the trinity has to do with my healing on the emotional, physical and spiritual levels of my being. Emotional healing also means physical healing because of the tears and pain that my body releases and no longer carries around. Any time that you let go of emotional pain, it gives more room for spiritual growth and love to enter your body and heart.

As my dream dictionary says the rape happened in my dream because I have made the decision to deal with any remaining incest issues that may come up. Because of this dream, I know that my decision is right. Divine timing is always right. I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my journey.

Thanks to Enola ( ) and Surviving by Grace ( ) for letting me know that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month across the U. S. Use this month to make yourself more knowledgable about the signs of Child Abuse and how you might be able to do something to save a child.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Purpose and Personal Power for Incest Survivors

The past week was rather hectic for me. We had family come to visit for 3 days just before we left Hot Springs for a weekend trip to meet up with friends from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We met them south of Shreveport, Louisiana for a Civil War Reenactment of the Battle of Mansfield, Louisiana and the Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. That is my husband's and son's current hobby. They dress up as soldiers and march and participate in battles from the Civil War. None of us believe in slavery of other human beings. It is a terrible thing that happened and it is a part of the history of the United States in the 1700 and 1800's. I sometimes dress up in period dress as a southern belle and participate in the dances. We meet people from all over the U. S. and sometimes even Europeans who come over to participate in the reenactments. The reenactments are supposed to be a big event in England and Europe right now. It is another way besides video games for men to play war games. Cooking around campfires and sleeping on the ground either in dog tents or under the stars is fun to do occasionally. I would not want to do it all of the time. Actually I have done that as a Union soldier in one of my past lives. I died at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia of a gun wound to the leg. I bled to death, but that is a story for another time.

In the past few weeks because of reading the two Byron Katie books that I mentioned in my previous two articles, I have started to look at any incest issues that I may still have that haven't been addressed. I have also searched out other incest or child abuse survivors online who have blogs. I found one new forum just for child abuse survivors and joined it. I have been reading stories written by other survivors and joined the discusssions that were listed in the forum. I also sent my last article "Incest Is One Of My Stories" ( ) to the April edition of the Child Abuse Carnival which comes out on April 17.

Since I am again working on my issues, I started reading one of the daily meditation books that I have which is written by Maureen Brady and called Daybreak, Meditations For Women Survivors Of Sexual Abuse. It is a wonderfully encouraging and yet realistic look at sexual abuse written by someone who has also survived the abuse. It is a Hazelden Meditation Series book. I want to share the April 6 daily reading with you.

"Purpose April 6
I will take the time to focus on my purpose and realize my path is being guided by my higher power.

We each have a purpose. Mine may sometimes feel elusive but that is not because it has disappeared; it is because I have lost awareness of it. My purpose is guided by a design of which I can see only segments at any one time. I trust I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and I do not need to do anything but wait if I cannot see an open door before me.

One of my jobs as an incest survivor is to regain my personal power. My relationship to power was distorted by the perpetrator's abuse of it. When I am living in my past, I become powerless again. I feel weak, prone to victimization, and crumble easily at the thought of needing to take action. But in the present I can learn to come into my power. It is not a power over, in which someone else must be oppressed. It is the power of being present in a relationship of oneness with the universe. It is the power of my faith in the notion that if I seek guidance, I will intuitively know the next right thing to do. It is the power of deeply knowing my spirit is fully entitled to the life I have been given. I do not need to barter for this power by giving up parts of myself."

The above passage was so important to me that when I read it the first time, I put 4 large handwritten stars on the page to call my attention back to the page for any future readings.

Before I got into a recovery program, I knew nothing about personal power. I knew about power over another person. I lived my childhood up until I was 19 under the power of my abusive father and the apathy of my mother who played the role of victim. I knew about abuse of power and I knew about victimhood. To survive, I built walls around the inner person that lived in FEAR. When I first started in a recovery program, I learned how unhealthy walls were for keeping you out but they were also keeping me in as a prisoner of the abuse and all of my fears.

FEAR was the voice in my head that told me that the universe was not a safe place. FEAR was the voice in my head that said to not trust you or myself because you couldn't protect me and neither could I.

The opposite of fear is fearless. Fearless is taking stupid risks that can get you hurt or taken advantage of again. Neither is healthy. I have given away parts of myself because I didn't know that I had the choice to do otherwise.

Personal power means having an opinion without having to weld power over others or without using that opinion and power to hurt others. In the beginning, I did both of those things. I discovered that learning new ways of behaving sometimes means swinging like a pendulum from one extreme of behavior to its far opposite until I find the middle and balance where my actions are no longer extremes. Personal power is about not allowing others to hurt you. It also means not using your power to hurt others. Personal power gives you the freedom to be yourself and also allows others to be themselves. Personal power is not about controlling others. Live and let live is one of the slogans that I learned in Al-Anon that I use today.

For any child abuse survivors who are interested you can find a forum of child abuse survivors at the following link. You have to sign in with an email address and a password.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Incest Is One Of My Stories

Who Would You Be Without Your Story? Dialogues with Byron Katie, page 70:
"We use our story of another to delude ourselves. I heard a woman say, in one of the sessions yesterday, 'I just realized that my father did what he did not because of me, but because of his story!' Did you hear that?"

When I read that, for a few seconds, I couldn't breathe. Not because I was rejecting the idea, but because it is so true. I recognised the truth as something that I have known for awhile.

As a child, I believed that the incest was my fault, that it happened because of something that I did or because I was bad and was getting what I deserved as punishment for my existing. Even as a young adult, I still believed those thoughts about myself.

By reading Byron Katie's book and looking at my own thoughts, today I know that these thoughts are no longer correct. Actually, these thoughts were never correct. But because they were my thoughts, I did believe them. Now I don't. I believe that the incest is just one of my stories, one of many, that I am starting to be ok with dropping from my mind. Katie doesn't ever ask you to drop your stories. She just asks that you be willing to look at what your life would be like without those stories.

The incest was done to me because it was my dad's story that he created. I was one of the participants because I believed my own stories.

We are coming out of the Winter season. Spring has begun with mostly warmer days but with some of the storms and chill of winter trying to hold out a little longer.

Because of the work that I have done on my incest issues which are my stories, I have been in an extended Winter in my life. Sometimes working on your issues can make life seem harder than it appeared when I was in denial and stuffing emotions rather than living them. Life seemed harder for awhile because the anger, sadness and hurt were out in the open rather than being hidden. Hidden, they were still causing problems but the problems were not as obvious as when the emotions are being openly expressed and felt.

Winter is the death of the old. Spring is the birth of the new.
Winter is wearing a coat of sad heaviness to protect against the hurts of life. Spring is releasing all of those thoughts and allowing joy into your life.
Winter is holding on to the old. Spring is letting in the light and newness of Life.

Now I am entering the Spring of my life. Spring means new growth, flowers blooming, green life beginning to come up out of the ground and new leaves showing on the trees again. The Spring of my life means being open to all experiences and experiencing new pleasures daily, exploring all that there is to explore. Spring is knowing that Life is glorious each and every day.